The 12 Best Gifts for Cord Cutters in 2019

It's time to stopped getting ripped off by cable providers

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Cutting the cord can be one of the most liberating things a tech owner can do. Corresponding with the rise of Netflix, cord cutting is literally cutting off your cable plan in favor of an Internet-only service. That’s because there are myriad streaming options out there, from standalone apps like Hulu, to channel-based services like HBO NOW, that basically make traditional cable packages obsolete by saving you tons of money. But it’s much more than that – cord-cutting is a culture of embracing evolving smart tech. That’s why we put together this handy gift guide for any occasion highlighting the best tech for your home, the most seamless streaming devices and everything in between.

Our Top Picks

Amazon Firestick 4K

5

Gone are the days when watching TV meant dealing with multiple remotes and tangled wires. The new Amazon Fire Stick 4K elevates the entertainment experience, introducing the next-gen Alexa Voice Remote, allowing you to do everything from turn on your favorite show to check the weather, control the lights, or play music. More than 500,000 movies and TV episodes are available from apps including Netflix, Hulu, Showtime, and Prime Video, along with millions of popular websites. Music-lovers can get ad-free access to their favorite songs with an Amazon Music Unlimited subscription. Users can also enjoy music, podcasts, and live radio through other apps like Spotify and iHeartRadio. For sharp visuals and audio, the streaming stick is compatible with 4K Ultra HD, Dolby Vision, HDR, HDR10+, and Dolby Atmos. Featuring 8GB of storage and a top-of-the-line quad-core 1.7 GHz processor, the Amazon Fire Stick 4K boasts dedicated volume, mute, and power buttons, meaning your old remote may be looking at retirement.  

Still can't decide on what you want? Our round-up of the best TV streaming devices can help you find what you're looking for.

Google Wi-Fi System

4.7

If you have cable service or not, chances are you need a reliable Wi-Fi router anyway. But when you rely entirely on streaming, those speeds have to be even higher. Enter: Google’s Wi-Fi system. The tech giant recently tasked their hardware wizards with coming up with a Wi-Fi system that provides seamless signal in your home, without dead zones. And it turns out, the trick was as simple as providing a system of mini-routers that all work the same way, positioned evenly throughout your home. Think of this as the gift of no more loading screens.

1ByOne HDTV Antenna

4

This is the sleeper gift on this lift – the thing that the recipient might not know they need until they see it in action. Even if you aren’t watching live cable TV, chances are you’re going to want to watch the big game live or that Sunday night awards show. Live network TV is still a full-fledged entertainment machine and this HD antenna lets you snag all of those channels in full HD right from thin air. Just tack it to the wall, plug in the coax and you’re good to go. It has a 50-mile range.

Still can't decide on what you want? Our round-up of the best TV antennas can help you find what you're looking for.

Sonos PLAYBAR

4.2

Honestly, much of the Sonos line would fit well on this list. Their whole MO fits the cord-cutting lifestyle. But the Soundbar is particularly fitting because it’ll connect via Wi-Fi not only to your TV (for the ultimate movie nights), but also to your favorite audio streaming services via a standalone app. And with nine amplified drivers (including six woofers and three tweeters), you better believe this skinny little system packs a punch. Roll that into some seriously cool extras like a speech clarity mode (say goodbye to subtitles) and a night mode that boosts quiet sounds and attenuates loud ones, and you have a winner.

Roku Premiere

3.8

Roku has been around for a long while and continues to impress with its wide range of affordable offerings. Now one of the best deals you can get for an all-in-one streaming device is the Roku Premiere. The Roku Premiere offers you a way to watch all of your streaming services from one device, including Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, HBO Now, YouTube, Sling TV, and more. But it one-ups the standard offering by letting you watch everything in 4K HD, making your shows and movies look like they're coming to life.

For easier setup, the Premiere includes a free HDMI cable. And to make it easier to sort through Roku’s more than a thousand channel options on the Premiere box, you can download the Roku mobile app for iOS or Android, giving you more control from your phone. All of this is available in one package at an unbelievable $40, the lowest-priced box to offer 4K and HDR streaming.

TiVO Bolt OTA

3.3

The TiVO Bolt OTA is one of the most interesting items on this list, purely because it offers a bridge between the past and future in one device. The Bolt OTA is a DVR that you can connect with a digital TV antenna, meaning you can record, store, pause, and playback shows or movies you pick up over the air. This option is especially enticing if you already own a digital TV antenna and can pick up lots of over-the-air channels like ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, PBS, and The CW. You can record up to 150 hours of HD programming and can record up to four shows at once, just in case you have competing shows. The Bolt OTA can also stream programming from top services like Netflix, Hulu, and Prime Video. The base Bolt OTA box costs $250, but you also have to pay for the TiVO DVR service for everything to work properly. This service requires you to pay a monthly fee of $7 per month (with a one-year commitment), pay $70 annually, or pay a one-time $250 fee.

Amazon Echo Dot (3rd Generation)

3.1

One of Amazon’s most popular Echo devices, the 3rd generation Amazon Echo Dot is truly awesome. The new design is a stark contrast from the previous plastic models, with a new fabric covering that’s available in three different colors. Fortunately, the improvements to Echo Dot 3rd Gen are more than just skin deep.

As portable as ever, the diminutive size of the Dot belies its capabilities. With Alexa on board, it can call an Uber, tell you the weather, order a pizza, find movie times, or add items to your Amazon cart. It’s perfect for managing your life with reminders, timers, and creating grocery lists. Compatible smart devices like a coffee maker or kitchen lights can be controlled with your voice using Alexa.

Ask Alexa to play a song or artist through Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, and other streaming services. If there are additional Echo devices in other rooms, they can synchronize to fill the whole house with music. Plus, the most recent generation has the ability to reach volumes 70 percent louder than previous models. 

Logitech Harmony Smart Control

One of the often under-discussed drawbacks of opting out of cable is just how many devices you’ll need to catch all your favorite programming. So, to avoid a coffee table overflowing with remotes, turn to the Harmony Smart Control. This magic little box sits on your TV stand and connects via Wi-Fi to any smart-enabled device. It also comes with a completely programmable remote control (and by programmable, we mean you can get these buttons to do any combo of actions that any of your devices require). Plus, Harmony offers a smartphone app that works the same as the remote.

Streaming Service Gift Cards

Most times, a gift card can be a real “womp womp” sort of gift. But if you bundle in a gift card with one of the above devices to a service that that device will need, then it’s a really great complement. You can grab gift cards right on Amazon for most of the popular services such as Netflix, Hulu and more. For bonus points, check out some more unique streaming platforms like Tribeca Shortlist – an indie movie lover’s dream with director’s cut picks and limited run films from one of the world’s best film fests.

Philips Hue Ambiance Bulb Starter Kit

Any cord cutter is going to gravitate toward smart home devices, so it’s a safe bet to gift them something like the Philips Hue Lightbulb. There’s also an added benefit when it comes to streaming movies: you can cue up the Hue system to dim or color lighting to fit any mood. Horror movie? Go with a dark, dimmed red. Chill date night? A soft, calming blue. The bulb interacts with your Wi-Fi network, so you can control it via any smart-enabled interface.

Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best smart lightbulbs

Google Chromecast

Google Chromecast

Courtesy of Best Buy

A Chromecast is a glorified wireless receiver for your TV that is controlled via your smartphone. Use Google’s Chromecast extensions or the app to stream content from your phone to your TV. It can be a little funky when you’re trying to view standard video, but it is pretty handy when you want to project web pages or other computer apps onto a screen. The latest generation has stepped up the performance of the device, offering a more seamless integration with your Wi-Fi (supporting 2.4GHz or 5 GHz). It can stream a resolution of 1080p at up to 60fps, so it isn’t going to be supporting any ultra-HD or 4K content — though it’s important to note that Google does have an “Ultra’ version that does support these resolutions.

It comes in either chalk or charcoal with dimensions that sit at just about 2x2 inches, so it’s a tiny device that’s a great, affordable wireless streaming solution for cord cutters.

Amazon Fire TV Recast

The Recast is one of the latest members of the Amazon Fire family, and it fits in nicely if you’re looking to fully emulate a DVR setup without the need to pay a cable bill. At its core, it’s a hard drive that you can connect to your digital TV antenna or an existing Fire TV or Fire Stick. It has 500GB of storage that lets you record shows from your HD antenna just like you would with cable and a DVR. That means you can record the free HD signals you’re getting from network channels like Fox, CBS, NBC, and watch them back whenever you want. The 500GB model also comes with two tuners, which means that you can record up to two programs simultaneously.

Another great feature here is that, as long as you have a mobile device compatible with the Fire TV app, you can tune into live network shows (or access and stream your recorded programs) streaming from your Recast at home while you’re out and about. That all amounts to a multi-featured device that behaves like a Slingbox or DVR. And because it’s a Fire device, it integrates seamlessly with Alexa — just ask your smart assistant to record TV for you, or set timed recordings. It’s a powerful device, but it’ll only work if you have the other compatible tech (a Fire TV and an HD antenna).

Tested by

How We Tested

We bought six top-rated gifts for cord cutters that our reviewers tested for over 70 hours. We asked our testers to consider the most important features when using these devices, from their capabilities to their overall value. We’ve outlined the key takeaways here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.

What to Look for in Gifts for Cord Cutters

Antennas and DVR - If your cord cutter doesn’t have an antenna, consider an amplified HD antenna. If they already have an antenna, a DVR can help them time-shift their favorite shows just like they used to when they had cable.

Streaming - Aside from antennas for over-the-air broadcasts, streaming is a mainstay for cord cutters. If your cord cutter doesn’t have a streaming device, then this is the perfect gift. If they already have one, consider getting them a second one from that same manufacturer so they can watch on more than one TV. Add a gift card for their favorite streaming service if you’re feeling especially generous.

Smart devices - Try to find out if your cord cutter has a smart home hub already. If they do, look for smart devices that work with that hub. Some smart speakers and remotes can even integrate with streaming devices, which make them perfect for cord cutters.

Test Results: Amazon Fire Stick 4K

5
What We Like
  • Fast performance

  • Great streaming quality

  • Few cords involved

  • 4K and HDR

What We Don't Like
  • No YouTube app available

  • User interface can feel cluttered

Amazon Fire Stick 4K
Lifewire / Yoona Wagener 
Amazon Fire Stick 4K
Lifewire / Yoona Wagener 
Amazon Fire Stick 4K
 Lifewire / Yoona Wagener

“This device is really well-priced given everything that it does,” our tester said. She also noted that both that its picture quality and streaming performance were “really solid and consistent” and that it was “such a powerful product given its small size.” Another plus, according to her, was the fact it didn’t require cords or extra equipment. In terms of negatives, she pointed out that it was “overloaded with content and a little frustrating to navigate.” She added that there was “way too much front-loading of [Amazon] Prime content.” Lastly, she wished it was possible to rearrange the order of apps and channels.

Test Results: Google Wi-Fi System

4.6
What We Like
  • Easy setup

  • Great speed

  • Visually appealing design

What We Don't Like
  • Dependency on modem

Google
Google Wi-Fi System
Google Wi-Fi

Our testers loved the Google Wi-Fi System for its quick installation, the increased connection speed it provided, and its overall aesthetic. Comparing it to similar products he’s used in the past, one of our reviewers said the Google Wi-Fi “looks nicer and works equally as well.” The only negative mentioned was the fact that it doesn’t include an integrated modem. Overall, our reviewers were won over by how simply and easily the system improved their internet.

Test Results: 1ByOne HDTV Antenna

4
What We Like
  • Small and thin

  • Good reception

  • Great value

What We Don't Like
  • Needs to be moved for certain stations

1ByOne HDTV Antenna
1ByOne Antenna
1ByOne HDTV
1ByOne
1ByOne Indoor HDTV Antenna
1ByOne indoor Antenna

“I definitely consider myself of the cord-cutting generation, so the fact I can watch some live TV with this product is terrific,” raved one of our testers. Our testers particularly liked that the antenna functioned well, was affordable, and was small enough to easily hide. One of our reviewers did warn that the signal wasn’t always perfect, however, particularly with bad weather: “You sometimes have to move the antenna around your room for different stations,” he revealed. Still, as one of our testers concluded, “This product is definitely worth it.”

Test Results: Sonos PLAYBAR

4.2
What We Like
  • Incredible, rich sound quality

  • Nice design

  • Great smart features

What We Don't Like
  • Could use more input/output options

  • Kind of pricey

  • Heavy

Sonos PLAYBAR
Lifewire 
Sonos PLAYBAR
Lifewire
Sonos PLAYBAR
Lifewire


Our tester found the sound of the Sonos PLAYBAR to be of “premium quality” and also enjoyed the handy smart features. “With the ability to control the soundbar from your smartphone, and the ability to independently control other Sonos speakers, we have to give a nod to the software here,” he said. Our reviewer didn’t like the price, however, explaining, “While this isn't the most expensive speaker around, it is a pretty high price point to justify for the average consumer.” He also noted, “It doesn't feature HDMI pass-through or even Bluetooth functionality.” Overall, our tester thought this was a good option for those who “buy into the Sonos ecosystem” because he says you’re essentially paying extra for the brand and its convenience. 

Test Results: Roku Premiere

3.8
What We Like
  • Small

  • Fast setup

  • 4K and HDR supported

What We Don't Like
  • No power or volume buttons on remote

  • No voice controls

  • Sluggish at times

  • Fuzzy picture quality

Roku Premiere
Lifewire / Yoona Wagener 
Roku Premiere
Lifewire / Yoona Wagener 
Roku Premiere
Lifewire / Yoona Wagener 
Roku Premiere
Lifewire / Yoona Wagener 

Our tester liked the “slim profile” of this device, arguing that it “has an appeal over other streaming devices that are like big black blocks.” She also noted that it was very easy to use and liked that she had the option of streaming 4K HDR content—especially for the price. However, she did think its picture quality left something to be desired: “It was mostly good, but wasn’t good or great consistently,” she said. She also noticed “some sluggishness when trying to select items or move in and out of menus or apps.” Lastly, she pointed out that it doesn’t support 5Ghz bandwidth: “I do think that ultimately made the difference in the spotty picture and responsiveness,” she observed.

Test Results: TiVO Bolt OTA

3.3
What We Like
  • Easy to toggle between apps

  • Helpful guide feature

  • Good picture quality for live TV

What We Don't Like
  • Lengthy setup

  • Poor picture quality for recorded TV

TiVO Bolt OTA
TiVO Bolt OTA Remote
TiVO Bolt OTA Ports
TiVO Bolt OTA Screen
TiVO Bolt OTA Buttons

Our testers found the TiVO Bolt OTA helpful for the convenience of having all of your streaming apps in one place. “I really like the ease of toggling between live TV, Hulu, and Netflix at the push of a button,” one of our reviewers commented. “It's much easier than streaming from your phone and having to switch apps and HDMI settings.” Our testers also thought the picture quality when watching live TV was good and found the guide to be super helpful. On the flip side, one of our reviewers warned that the DVR recording feature was not great and said he experienced poor picture quality and a few technical issues. Our testers also noted its bulky size and lengthy setup.