My Top 10 Holiday / Christmas Gift Ideas for Cable Cutters

Christmas lights

This is my third annual holiday gift guide for all of you Cable Disablers out there. These are gift ideas for those who have already dumped cable, or who want to. Compared to having cable, these gifts can save thousands of dollars over the years. What could be better than that? There should be something for every gift-giving price level.

1. Roku

This year, my number one gift idea for cable-cutters is again, the Roku. The big deal for me was that they added voice search – much easier to use than the letter-picker. Roku also has the most channels of the set-top boxes. These are not only great for watching Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video on your TV, but also a lot of other free and paid content. Note, if your gift recipient has an old tube TV, make sure to get them a Roku Express+ which has composite video outputs (not the Roku Express.. I know, very confusing).

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2. Chromecast

The affordable Google Chromecast is a perfect stocking-stuffer for someone who doesn’t mind using their laptop with their TV.  This allows you to mirror almost anything that is in your computer’s browser onto your TV.  It also works with some Android phones.  It’s a bit more techy than Roku or Amazon Fire, so make sure the recipient is comfortable with say, installing a Chrome browser extensions (which is required for this to work).  Also, there are some great free trials for Google Play and Hulu Plus which are worth more than the product itself!


Get Google Chromecast at Best Buy.

3. Amazon Echo / Echo Dot

The Amazon Echo has nothing to do with TV.  It’s a voice-controlled music player with Siri-like capabilities. It connects to your Amazon account to play any MP3s which you have purchased from Amazon, or music from a variety of other services like Pandora. It also responds to other commands to set timers, play the news, give you the weather, and so forth. It’s a great gift for someone who loves music and has a lot of music on Amazon, and who is into tech gadgets.

4. ChannelMaster DVR+

Channel Master DVR+This is my recommended solution for those who want to record broadcast TV shows.  It has a workable user interface, reliable operation, and most importantly, no monthly fee for the channel guide!  Read my complete DVR+ review here, or purchase it directly from the manufacturer.

Channel Master DVR+ Bundle - subscription free digital video recorder with web features and channel guide (CM7500BDL3)

4. Tablo TV

If you need a whole-home recording and playback solution, then check out Tablo TV. It will record from broadcast TV and play back on any TV that is hooked up to a Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, and a variety of other streaming boxes on your WiFi network. You hook your antenna to Tablo, and it streams wirelessly to each TV.  So as a bonus, it eliminates the need for a lot of antenna cable in your home.

5. Mohu Leaf Antenna

This is my favorite indoor antenna for beginners because it grabs a lot of channels, it’s easy to use and set up, and can be easily hidden.  Just make sure the recipient is in an area that has stations; most big cities are fine, but the suburbs or boonies can be problematic.  Enter their zip code into the Station Finder to be sure.  Also, consider getting them an upgraded RG6 coax cable, at least 30 feet long so the antenna can reach a window. Read my full review of the Leaf here.


6. Cable Cutter Aerowave Antenna

This is another great antenna that I use. In my testing, it was slightly better than the Leaf at bringing in those pesky VHF (Hi-V) channels. It’s more expensive, but might be worth it if you’re having reception problems. It comes with a high-quality RG6 coax cable, so no need to buy it separately though.

7. Amazon Fire TV and TV Stick

The Roku offers stiff competition in the set-top box category, but the Amazon Fire TV is still a quality box. They’ve expanded their voice search to include over 90 channels including Netflix, Hulu, as well as Amazon Video. Plus, you get access to Alexa, their voice-controlled assistant in the Amazon Echo.

8. Apple TV

The app ecosystem is now open so we there are now a lot more apps for Apple TV. The new Apple TV has voice search, a “must have” feature these days. If you need a gift for an Apple fan-boy or girl, this is a good choice. It’s the only set-top box than can play content from iTunes!


The new Apple TV 32GB

The new Apple TV 64GB

9. Your Previously-Viewed DVDs

DVDsI admit we have entered “Cheapskate” gift territory here, but hey, times are tough.  Giving your old DVD’s might not be the best idea in a lot of cases, but I recently went to a Yankee Swap where I gave a pack of ten of my used CDs and it was one of the most popular items.  Are you really going to watch those movies again?  Why not give them to someone who hasn’t seen them?  And, you’ll save the environment by not giving something that has to be manufactured.

10. A New LCD TV

Before you balk at the cost of a TV, let me say that the prices of TVs are insanely low now and the quality has never been better.  If the recipient has a tube TV, a new TV will allow them to attach an antenna without having a converter box.  Plus, “smart” TV’s have Internet connectivity and allow you to get services like Netflix and Hulu Plus.  Finally, inch for screen inch, these new TVs use less power than tube TVs, which will save money in the long run.

Do you have any good gift ideas for folks who want free and cheap TV?  Please share your ideas below! – Brian

  • Rick Minor

    I just got a Fire TV stick when I signed up for Directv Now. If you want Directv Now get an apple TV, or wait until they get a Roku app. The Fire TV works well on everything else.

    • Hi Rick,

      Thanks for the comments. Did DirecTV Now not work on the Fire TV?

      Thanks,
      Brian

      • Rick Minor

        It works very poorly. Lots of dropouts and buffering. There has been some effort to resolve these problems by DTV, but they have a long way to go to catch up to Netflix, Sling, or PSVue. Some problems related to # of people streaming (worse during prime time), some networks worse than others. Besides Fox Sports RSNs are incorrectly configured and black out local teams normally shown on the RSN.

        • Hi Rick,

          Thanks for the head’s up!!

          Brian

  • Elizabeth

    I can help get you the lowest prices DirecTV or Dish. I can also help with Charter, Time Warner, Dish Net, Hughes Net, AT&T, Century Link, etc…. Email me at 1stchoicesolutions2015@gmail.com.

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  • Nelson

    Just purchased the Amazon Fire TV for a friend and she loves it! She is also a cord cutter with antenna TV, WDTV media player, and now the Amazon TV! I side loaded XBMC on the Fire TV for her which really expands her options! The fact that you can side load APK’s on the Fire TV is a huge advantage over the Apple TV, ROKU and Chrome stick.

    I myself have not had cable in 10 years and am never going back. Once my bill reached 139 a month I was done! With so many other options out there now being a cord cutter is never better!

    • Hi Nelson,

      Thanks for your comments! I didn’t know you could install XBMC on Fire TV. Love that. Thanks for sharing!

      Brian

  • Anonymous

    I have been using a converter box and antenna for years. I graduated from the “rabbit ears” to the round, then the flat antenna. Then I found the Mohu on one of these sites and it really improved quality and numbers. My 1989 TV finally gave up the ghost and I caught one of those new fangle 32″ LEDs on Freaky Friday for $200 including tax. I also sprung for a better cable, 30ft long one and the combo is unbelievable. No wonder the cable and dish companies are trying to cut off our free TV.

    • Thanks for sharing your story! Glad it worked for you! – Brian

  • Valerie C.

    Under “Poor Man’s Chromecast”, you mention VGA and audio cables, but most modern tv’s have HDMI input that match most modern laptops. That’s how I connect these days.

    • Hi Valerie,

      That is a great point! Many older laptops don’t have HDMI, but some of the newer ones do. I will add that!

      Thanks!
      Brian