Xumo Has Free Surfable Channels for Hisense, Sharp TVs

LAS VEGAS – While getting rid of your cable or satellite subscription can be great for your wallet, it does have the unfortunate side effect of making channel-surfing a thing of the past. When all of your content is story-driven fare from Netflix or Amazon, what role is there for using a TV as background noise? Xumo, a streaming service that helps small online channels find big audiences, has a solution. By working directly with TV manufacturers, Xumo can make Internet channels function just like their cable counterparts, and now the feature will work on both Hisense and Sharp TVs.

What Is Xumo, Anyway?

In case you haven’t used it before, Xumo is an app that you can find for just about any streaming device, smartphone, tablet or smart TV. It acts as a gateway for a variety of smaller services that may not want to develop their own channels for every single streaming platform, such as Funny or Die, CBSN, GQ and Fox Sports. Basically, it’s a way of delivering a ton of short-form videos from smaller-but-still-recognizable online channels.

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How Does It Work?

I met with Xumo at CES 2017 to learn more about its new features. Suppose you have a Hisense or Sharp TV. If you have an HD antenna or a cable or satellite subscription, you can surf channels up to about 100 or so. With Xumo’s new functionality, you can keep surfing past that limit. Each new channel will simply be one of Xumo’s offerings. (112 is People, 116 is Time, and so forth.) One interesting feature is that, like traditional channels, Xumo channels will resume after you turn the TV off and on again. Traditional streaming apps require users to boot up the TV, then go into the app and find individual programs again. The service will offer 60 channels altogether.

Pricing and Availability

Xumo itself is free, although you’ll need a compatible Hisense or Sharp TV, which will run you anywhere between a few hundred and more than a thousand dollars. It’s worth pointing out that Xumo already has a very similar service available on LG TVs. Other smart TV manufacturers, like Samsung and Vizio, still offer a Xumo app, but without the live channel functionality.

Why Should You Care?

Xumo representatives explained that while Netflix may be your first destination for dramatic narratives, cord-cutters don’t really have access to TV as background noise – news, sports, comedy specials and so forth. Based on audience metrics, Xumo users tend to turn on the service in the morning and evening, perhaps while doing other tasks, like cooking or getting ready for work. If you’ve been hesitant to cut the cord for fear of losing white noise, Xumo can assuage your concerns.

Marshall Honorof

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.