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Mohu’s Airwave Is a Connected TV Tuner With Integrated Antenna for Broadcast TV

Variety logo Variety 1/4/2017 Janko Roettgers
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Antenna maker Mohu is taking another stab at combining free over-the-air television with online streaming. The company is introducing a new product called Airwave at CES that’s essentially an antenna with an integrated networked TV tuner, allowing users to stream broadcast TV to a number of mobile or TV-connected devices.

Mohu plans to release Airwave in May for a retail price of $150. The device will be availabe via Mohu’s website as well as in Best Buy stores.

At that time, the company will also release apps for mobile phones and streaming devices like Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast and Fire TV. These apps are supposed to combine live broadcast TV from networks like ABC, CBS and NBC with a selection of online streaming content. Users will be able to browse both live TV and streaming content with a grid guide similar to that offered by a cable box.

Airwave will also include a technology called ClearPix that is supposed to improve the picture quality of over-the-air broadcasts by smoothing over any pixelated images.

At launch, Airwave will only offer live viewing of over-the-air content. A Mohu spokesperson told Variety at CES Unveiled Tuesday evening that the company is considering to add DVR-like recording down the line. However, the prototype shown off at the event didn’t feature a USB port to connect to external storage, which means that adding recording capabilities may not be trivial.

Mohu is best known as the pioneer of flat broadcast TV antennas that have become a favorite with cord cutters looking for an alternative to unwieldy rabbit-ear antennas. Mohu founder and CEO Mark Buff invented this kind of antenna while working on antennas for the military, and the company has been selling them to civilians since 2011.

Recently, Mohu introduced a new website that aims to help consumers interested in cutting the cord with finding the services and devices needed to replace their pay TV subscription with cheaper alternatives.

Mohu hasn’t had as much success with launching new devices that go beyond its core antenna business. The company tried to pitch a smart TV tuner dubbed channels to consumers about two years ago, but failed to gain traction with the relatively expensive device. And in late 2015, Mohu launched an internet-connected speaker with an integrated Android tablet — only to recall it a few months later due to a risk of the device catching on fire.

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