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Cut the cord with Tablo's over-the-air DVR for $100

Normally $140, the Dual Lite can record (or stream) two channels at once. Plus, the best smart-home bundle I've ever seen.

The Tablo over-the-air DVR can stream live and recorded shows to your TV and mobile devices -- even away from home.

The problem: You're more than ready to ditch that pricey cable subscription, but you still want to be able to watch (and record) local channels. An antenna connected to your TV can deliver the "watch" part, but recording will require a little extra gear.

Something like the TiVo Bolt OTA, right? (OTA stands for over-the-air, meaning broadcast TV.) Yep, but that box will run you $250, plus $7 per month, $70 annually or $250 for a lifetime guide subscription. That's $500 all-in, if you go for the lifetime option. Meanwhile, Amazon's Fire TV Recast is largely fee-free and has built-in storage -- but it starts at $230 (frequent sales notwithstanding).

Read more: The best live TV streaming services 

Another, cheaper, option: For a limited time, Amazon has the Tablo Dual Lite OTA DVR for $99.99 shipped (plus tax). It normally sells for $139.99. (If that price disappears or you'd rather shop elsewhere, Best Buy has it for the same price.)

The Tablo is a little different than your typical DVR. For starters, it plugs into your router, not into your TV. That's so it can stream live shows and recordings to just about anywhere: phone, tablet, PC, game consoles and, of course, streaming devices like Fire TVs and Rokus.

It also requires both an antenna and a USB hard drive. The latter is easy -- you can use any drive you already own or pick up something like this WD 2TB external drive for $71. To be fair, the aforementioned Bolt comes with 1TB of storage built in.

As for the antenna, something like this $27.95 amplified internal job might do the trick -- but the challenge could be positioning. If your router lives near a window, great -- the antenna may have an easy time pulling in channels. If it's more centrally located, now you may have to do some wiring to accommodate the antenna. (This is true of just about any OTA setup, really.) 

Read more: Best antennas for TV cord cutters

Even if you already have a hard drive and antenna on hand, there's an additional cost to consider: Like TiVo, Tablo charges extra for its TV-guide data, which really is essential for a good DVR experience. Your first 30 days are free; after that it'll run you $5 per month, $50 annually or $150 for life.

What I find particularly cool about the Tablo is that it can stream live and recorded TV outside your home -- great if you want to watch, say, a Sunday football game while traveling. 

Of course, the similar Sling Air TV streamer (with add-on DVR option) is fee-free, and it's currently selling for $80. And now that many live-TV streaming services (Sling, YouTube TV and so on) also offer DVR options, you may find all this to be unnecessarily complicated.

Your thoughts?

Now playing: Watch this: How to cut the cord for $10: installing an indoor antenna

Bonus deal: Google Home Hub + Google Home Mini + TP-Link Wi-Fi Smart Plug for $74


All this for $74?! Sold!


Holy smart-home bundles, Batman! I thought the Google Home Hub for $70 was a killer deal. But check this: For what's sure to be a very limited time, Tink has the Google Home Hub, Google Home Mini and TP-Link Smart Wi-Fi Plug HS105 for $74 shipped when you apply promo code TINKMAY1 at checkout.

Needless to say, that's an insanely good deal, though the wording of the code makes me think it's soon to end. But I was able to get as far as checkout with a final $74 price, and here's the proof:

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Grab this while you can, cheeps, because either a sellout or termination is imminent.

Originally published on Oct. 22, 2018.
Update, May 2, 2019: Availability and bonus-deal changes.

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