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Wire cut terms defined

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Call it gut instinct, but it seems like a lot of people are deciding to cut the cable TV cord this year.

The people I talk to more and more are not young technicians, but longtime subscribers of cable and satellite TV who have been pushed out by the price increase after the price increase. Especially for people on fixed incomes, cord cutting has become a necessity rather than a hobby.

This story is part of TechHive’s in-depth coverage of the best streaming devices.

But like so many other elements of technology, the cord-cutting field is filled with inscrutable acronyms, similar-sounding terminology, and nonsensical brand names. After covering this space for almost a decadeit occurs to me that I never bothered to define all this slang in one place.

Let’s rectify this oversight, then, with a glossary of terms that any current or future string cutter should know:

Basic terminology of cable cutting

origin 1 The Roku home screen.

Jared Newman / Foundry

Cable cutting: The act of canceling cable or satellite TV in favor of streaming and over-the-air TV options.

Streams: In the context of television, the act of playing video from Internet sources or possibly a local media server.

Streaming service: A streaming video provider, usually delivered through an app or website. Examples include Netflix, Hulu, YouTube TV and Sling TV. Also known as OTT (Over-the-Top) video.

Streaming device: A product that connects to a television, allowing access to streaming services. Also known as a streaming player.

Smart TVs: A TV that can access streaming services without a separate streaming device.

Connected TV: A term that collectively refers to both streaming devices and smart TVs.

Streaming platform: Broadly refers to software that runs on streaming devices and smart TVs. Examples include Roku, Fire TV, Android TV and Google TV.

Streaming stick: A small streaming device that plugs directly into your TV without additional HDMI cables and uses your TV’s USB port or an AC outlet for power. Examples include the Roku 4K streaming stick, Amazon Fire TV stickAND Chromecast with GoogleTV.

Stream box: A streaming device that plugs into your TV with an HDMI cable (because it’s too big to hang on that port, like a dongle does). A streaming box typically offers more features and processing power than a streaming dongle. Examples include the Apple TV 4K, Ultra YearAND Amazon Fire TV Cube.

OTA: Short for Over-the-Air, this term refers to local TV channels received from an indoor or rooftop antenna. Here is a link to The best TV antenna recommendations from TechHive.

Types of streaming services

origin 1The YouTube TVj user interface

Jared Newman/IDG

SVOD: Short for “Subscription Video On Demand”, referring to services that mostly ask you to choose which movie or show to watch. Examples include Netflix, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+.

FAST: Industry jargon for free ad-supported television. Examples include Pluto TV, Tubi and The Roku Channel. Also known as AVOIDshort for Ad-Supported Video On Demand.

VODs: It can refer generally to video on demand, or specifically to rentals and purchases, as found on storefronts such as iTunes, Amazon Video, and Vudu. The latter may also be known as TVOD (Transactional Video On Demand), PVOD (Premium Video On Demand) or simply a la carte.

linear TV: Video that plays on a predefined schedule, similar to cable. This format is particularly appreciated by FAST services.

MVPs: Abbreviation for multi-channel video programming distributor. This is industry jargon for cable, satellite, or telco TV services.

vMVPD: Short for virtual Distributor of multi-channel video programming, the term refers to streaming services that offer a package of cable channels. Examples included Youtube TV, Hulu + Live TVAND DirecTV stream. Synonyms include live TV streaming service and streaming TV packages.

Lean package: A live TV streaming service whose range of channels is smaller, and therefore cheaper, than a typical cable package. Examples included Sling TV, PhiloAND Kind TV.

Streaming market: A seller of subscriptions to multiple streaming services, usually with their own interface. Examples included Amazon Prime Video channels, Roku Premium SubscriptionsAND Primetime YouTube channels.

BTI: Technically describes a TV service delivered over Internet Protocol, but can also be used as a shorthand for pirated streaming video sources.

Home networking lingo

origin 1An Eero Pro 6 mesh Wi-Fi router and satellite.

Jim Martin / Foundry

Internet modem or gateway: A device that provides Internet service in your home. Not to be confused with a Wi-Fi router, although some modems have built-in routers. It can also be known as a internet port or, for fiber internet providers, an ON (short for optical network terminal).

Routers: A device that distributes Internet connectivity from a modem or gateway to other network devices (clients) within the home. A Wi-Fi router gives you the option to use wired or wireless connections, assuming the client has a Wi-Fi adapter.

Ethernet: A standard for connecting smart devices (computers, smartphones, streaming boxes, storage devices, and other client devices) to form a local area network with a router at the core. Ethernet networks can be wired or wireless.

Media Server: A device that stores media files, including video and audio, and uses server software to stream those files to compatible devices on your home network. The hardware used for the media service is usually a NAS (network-attached storage) box.. Examples of media server software include Plexus, JellyFinAND DVR channels.

Network tuner: A device that broadcasts over-the-air broadcasts to other devices on the same network. Examples included HDHomeRun, TableAND AriaTV.

Television terminology

origin 1 Disney+’s Loki is available in 4K resolution with High Dynamic Range HDR10 and a soundtrack encoded with Dolby Atmos.

Jared Newman / Foundry

4K: Refers to video content with a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels or devices capable of playing such content. Also known as Ultra HD.

HDR: Short for High Dynamic Range, the term refers to video with a wider contrast range than standard content, allowing for more detailed highlights and shadows on HDR-capable TVs.

Dolby Vision: A proprietary version of HDR that can map colors scene-by-scene, resulting in greater accuracy when viewed on TVs that support Dolby Vision.

HDR10+: A royalty-free equivalent of Dolby Vision, notably supported by Amazon Prime.

Dolby Atmos: An object-based audio format that adds height dimension to surround sound on compatible soundbars or A/V systems and speakers.

First Person Shooter: Short for Frames Per Second, which measures how smooth motion in video is to the human eye (the higher the better). A frame rate of 30 frames per second is typical, but a frame rate of 60 FPS is especially important for sports programming, so it’s worth paying attention to this spec when evaluating live TV streaming services.

Did I miss something? Let me knowand I’ll add it to the glossary. And for more advice on how to finally ditch cable, subscribe to my Tagliacavi weekly bulletin.