Archives For Cord Cutting

The Curious TiVo Roamio OTA

Dave Zatz —  September 21, 2014 — 25 Comments

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The new TiVo Roamio OTA is a curious beast, In fact, we’ve fielded more questions on it than any other product the DVR pioneer has released in recent years.

Unlike TiVo’s prior attempt at targeting cord cutters, instead of lowering services fees on existing hardware, this time around they’re dropping box cost. The prior base 4-tuner cable/OTA Roamio runs $200 (MSRP), whereas the Roamio OTA clocks in at a mere $50. And, according to The Verge, the only physical differences may be limited to an empty CableCARD compartment… now that we’ve confirmed the Roamio OTA will indeed stream to TiVo Mini extenders and WiFi is present. And, with that in mind, the hardware likely costs TiVo more than $50 to market, manufacturer, and support – hence the requisite $15 monthly fee… which, depending on length of ownership, flips to TiVo’s benefit at some point (as there’s no way “guide data” runs double Netflix’s content licensing). Related, TiVo has made the business decision to exclude the Roamio OTA for Lifetime Service.

Assuming you’re OK with the monthly fee, TiVo remains the best retail DVR — not that they have many competitors. And, the ability to add extenders at $150/pop with the potential of other end points, moves it well ahead of the Channel Master DVR+. Plus, as the box advertises, the Best Buy exclusive Roamio OTA is indeed a “Streaming Player” for a handful of over-the-top services including Netflix and Pandora… with Amazon and Vudu arriving later this fall. However, for cord cutters on a budget, a used Lifetimed 2-tuner TiVo Premiere remains the best deal in town … given a massive, recent software update bringing Roamio parity.

It’s shaping up to be a splendid fall for TiVo (and us subscribers). As if a TiVo Mini fee adjustment, mega rack mountable DVR with hard drive RAID, and Android streaming weren’t enough, two highly desirable apps will be joining the party… perhaps as early as next month. Sources indicate, and seemingly corroborated by forum chatter, that Amazon Instant and Vudu are on the docket.

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Amazon will finally be a “real” TiVo app with Prime access and extend beyond Premiere and Roamio units to also include Mini streaming. Of course, if the technical details play out as anticipated, what we gain in convenience we may lose in quality when migrating from the download to stream model. Then again, anyone who purchased a TiVo Roamio manufactured after January 1st, 2014 has had NO Amazon at all – just a box logo covered by a sticker. So the benefit will be even greater for a subset of subscribers, irrespective of video bitrate.

Further, TiVo will finally get into the Ultraviolet game with Vudu who’s been known for high quality movie streaming along with that UV digital locker. Not only do both of these apps generally add value to the TiVo platform, it ups the ante for those contemplating the new Roamio OTA targeted at cord cutters. Further, should Best Buy’s 500 store experiment pan out, we could envision a scenario where this model ends up at TiVo retailer Walmart… who happens to be the company behind Vudu (and exclusive distributor of the dead OTA Boxee Cloud DVR).

Catching up with Simple.TV

Adam Miarka —  August 29, 2014 — 5 Comments

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Although our initial impressions of the dual tuner Simple.TV was less than stellar, the company has been hard at work not only updating the little cord cutting, place shifting black box, but also launching new features. Recently, I had the chance to talk to Simple.TV CEO Mark Ely to discuss some of these changes.

First, from a software perspective, Simple.TV will be moving away from Silverlight as the default player outside of Safari on Mac. Currently, if you’re using IE, Chrome, or Firefox on a Windows computer, you are required to install Silverlight for video playback of your shows or live TV. Chromebooks are not supported at the moment. A move away from Silverlight and to a more compliant HTML5 video player will allow Simple.TV to expand their device playback on Windows, but also for Chromebooks. Continue Reading…

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After something of a rocky launch, Mohu Channels shipping will resume for Kickstarter backers. Tuning and heat-related issues in the Android-powered, cord cutting widget were not hardware-based and have been resolved via software adjustments:

The issue was caused by noise induced on the signal path from the tuner front end as it traveled to the processor. The problem was resolved by changing the frequency of the intermediate carrier to a less susceptible frequency.

The Electronic Program Guide, which is the information collected from the OTA broadcast signal for the program lineup on each channel, would stick in an endless loop, causing the microprocessor to overwork

Further, beta time shifting is a go! Continue Reading…

channel-master-1tb-dvr

Channel Master has just updated their DVR+ line with a $400 model that houses a roomy 1TB internal drive – versus the original’s bring-your-own USB storage approach that requires more clutter, more complexity. We quite like the DVR+ and believe it’s a solid option for those seeking an over-the-air recorder and coming from VCR or new to DVR (whereas we suggest Tablo to our more geeky peers). The dual tuning DVR+ is super slim and super quiet, without a fan, and comes in cheaper than the competition. While the $200 TiVo Roamio may do more, with more polish, it also clocks in several hundred dollars more when considering the service fees. And, beyond Vudu, the fee-free Channel Master DVR+ intends to close the gap with several well-known audio and video apps in the pipeline “along with some other surprises for later this year.”

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Tablo TV has just released a few new features with their 2.1.12 update. Most notable include manual recording (for shows requiring additional time like sports), a Plex Channel, Closed Captioning support, and the ability to Chromecast from the Chrome browser (and Chromebooks).  You can read about all the changes on Tablo’s community post here.

Tablo recently launched their 4 tuner device last month and has been updating their software at a consistent pace. I have been a fan of the dual tuner model since launch. Looking forward to trying out these new features!

tivo-pick-me-heart

In the wake of Aereo’s Supreme Court smackdown and cessation of service, CEOs from the likes of TiVo and SimpleTV have taken to the press to pitch their case as an over-the-air replacement. But Aereo’s primary benefits can’t be replicated by these guys.

First, Aereo positioned their rental antennas where the company obviously received a strong signal. Which isn’t necessarily the case for our dwellings located in urban canyons or on the far side of the digital cliff. Second, with a shared, centrally managed infrastructure, Aereo didn’t saddle customers with the expense of hardware (or long term commitments), running only $8-12/month. Continue Reading…