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How To Scuttle The Pay-TV Set-Top Box

Many consumers can already dispense with a pay-TV provider’s set-top box (STB), but usually only in second, third or fourth rooms.

Here are some current STB alternatives:

AT&T U-verse: AT&T’s IP TV service can be accessed via an app running on the Xbox One. Homes don’t have to use a leased U-verse box in any other room to use the game console as an STB. The U-verse app, however, currently offers more than 200 channels, not the full selection of live-TV channels, and video-on-demand movies and TV shows, a spokesperson said.

AT&T DirecTV: The Genie HD DVR, launched in November 2014, sends live-TV content through a wireless connection to any TV connected to a Wireless Genie Mini client. The Genie can also send live-TV content through a wired coaxial cable using MoCA technology to a $99 Genie Mini plugged into any TV.

More important, the Genie can send live-TV content directly to select DirecTV-ready TVs anywhere in the house over coaxial cable via MoCA. A coax-to-Ethernet adapter is needed to connect the coax to the DirecTV-ready TV. Such TVs are available from Samsung (all 2014 smart UHD models and 18 2015 models), LG (eight 2015 models), and Sony (13 2015 models).

The Genie also distributes satellite- and broadband- downloaded and stored 4K content to the DirecTV 4K Ready TVs and to the Genie Mini.

Dish: The provider’s Hopper DVRs stream live and recorded content to select 2013 and 2014 networked LG TVs. The feature, however, is no longer offered on LG TVs, and no other brands offer a Dish app on their TVs, a spokesperson said.

TWC (Time Warner Cable): With the TWC TV app for Samsung smart TVs, Roku and Xbox, cable subscribers can watch up to 300 live channels and more than 5,000 on-demand TV shows and movies from up to 95 networks at home. The company requires that at least one TV in the house is connected to a cable STB.

Compatible Samsung TVs are from model years 2012 and later, TWC said.

Separately, New York-area consumers can trial a Roku option that doesn’t require users to plug a conventional cable box into a first TV in order to get service. Service starts at $9.99/month for more than 20 channels and runs to $49.99 for more than 70 channels.

Verizon FiOS TV: Consumers who subscribe to FioOS TV and FiOS Internet service can stream select FiOS TV channels and select VOD titles to TVs that lack a FiOS STB. Supported devices include Xbox 360 and Xbox One game consoles and Samsung smart TVs or smart Blu-ray players with the Samsung Smart Hub. Users need at least one FiOS STB in the house, however.