Archives For Remotes

TiVo Revises Roamio Remote

Dave Zatz —  October 18, 2014 — 19 Comments

tivo-slide-pro

By way of the FCC, we learn that TiVo intends to refresh their Roamio remote. And, as this is a “permissive change” filing specific to the original TGN-RC30 hardware, the in-place upgrade is likely driven by component availability and cost, perhaps with some performance improvement.

  • Change of PCB pattern size
  • Change of Component size, shift of component.
  • Add component, delete component.
  • Antenna location shift
  • Antenna Chip size change and location shift

Meanwhile, as previously revealed, an RF remote will likely be bundled with the next iteration of the TiVo Mini and, coincidentally, I just received a new TiVo Slide Pro remote (pictured above)… because my Mini has had trouble receiving IR commands deep inside the TV stand. Fortunately, the Slide Pro does include learning capabilities and I’ve programmed the power button to simultaneously control both TV and 5.1 Vizio soundbar. And, once Amazon Instant and Vudu hit in the next couple weeks, I’ll surely put that QWERTY keyboard to work.

By way of The Donohue Report and the FCC, we learn that Comcast is poised to launch a voice-control remote for the Xfinity X1 platform. Whereas Amazon’s Fire TV remote similarly incorporates a microphone, Comcast’s offering extends well beyond search … inheriting functionality from the Xfinity mobile app. While holding down the microphone button, some sample commands from the user manual:

  • WATCH CNBC
  • FIND The Voice
  • SHOW ME all Eagles games
  • SHOW ME all kids movies on HBO
  • RECORD The Biggest Loser
  • LAUNCH Pandora
  • GUIDE
  • WHAT SHOULD I WATCH?
  • WHAT’S ON NOW?

It’s not yet known if all new Xfinity X1 rentals will be bundled with the voice activated remote or if it’s an optional accessory (for a fee). But it’s certainly a welcome addition, even if it doesn’t also possess Roku’s handy headphone jack.

tivo-ondemand-remote

By way of the TiVo Community, I learned that, despite cessation of service, Charter-branded TiVo remotes live on.

And why this might matter to you is the handy On Demand button, in relation to Comcast’s completion of the TiVo Xfinity On Demand rollout to retail DVRs. Yeah, TiVo’s On Demand interface is still old school and you may not care for that Charter logo, but I’m betting one will be corrected and the other you’ll tune out. Which I why I reached out to my pals at TiVo retailer Weaknees to learn more.

The back story isn’t so interesting, but the team kindly offered up the pair of remotes we’re giving away. Entering is as easy as it gets — simply leave a comment if you want in. We’ll choose two winners at random in a few days. Should you fail to win, Weaknees has additional ebay inventory of new On Demand TiVo remotes for only $15 a pop. Good luck!

A Tale Of Three Remotes

Dave Zatz —  April 12, 2014

remotes

While we rarely have the inclination to tackle a full-on review (like Adam), the $99 Amazon Fire TV streamer that we tracked so closely ahead of launch is worthy of a few posts. Overall, it’s a solid debut… but not quite ready to displace the similarly priced Roku 3 or Apple TV, for those that have already outfitted their televisions.

I’m always fascinated by the decisions companies make in regards to the remote control, which is the primary interface to their TV-based experience. Take the now defunct Sezmi for example – they originally promoted a unique and beautiful remote… only to launch with an off-the-shelf skinned variant to save a few bucks. While that alone didn’t sink the product, a clunky clicker earns no fans. By comparison, TiVo is quite well known for their iconic and practical peanut… still going strong well over a decade now.

In the small streamer category, and without the need for channel number buttons, all entrants have gone for similarly small remotes. None more minimalistic than Apple’s metal sliver of a thing.

remote-profiles

While it’s beautiful to look at, it’s not at all ergonomic, prone to misplacement, and knee-capped by such a tiny IR emitter window – requiring pretty darn good line-of-site for remote control. Further, the “back” function isn’t entirely intuitive and there’s probably not enough buttons in general. By comparison, the Fire TV remote falls somewhere between the Roku 3 and aTV in sleekness and thickness, relying on AAA batteries versus Apple’s CR2032, and is more comfortable hold. Amazon reproduces Apple’s 4-way disc, which is useful and more attractive than Roku’s cross – although Amazon’s build quality isn’t equivalent to Apple as mine is a bit jiggly.

Unlike Apple, Fire TV and Roku do not require remote line-of-site: Fire TV is Bluetooth only, while Roku is more flexible in communicating via WiFi Direct and IR — meaning all your universal remotes are supported. And, along with that RF communication, comes additional features. Fire TV provides a mic to feed Amazon’s (incomplete) voice search functionality, whereas the Roku 3 ships with a headphone jack (and volume rocker) allowing you to stream content without disturbing a sleeping partner. The more bulbous AA-powered Roku 3 remote also integrates Hillcrest’s Wii-esque motion control, along with A/B buttons, to power a very limited number of gaming apps.

Of the three, Amazon strikes the best balance of form, function, and iconography although it could benefit from a bit more heft and girth. And while it doesn’t include Roku’s instant replay button, Amazon has competently addressed this feature via the transport controls interaction.

tivo-slide-pro-remote

Based on a prematurely published blog post, we’ve learned that the refreshed TiVo QWERTY remote leaked by the WSJ and FCC docs is the real deal and presumably launching this week. The backlit TiVo Slide Pro Remote features both IR and RF capabilities that link to a single TiVo box. Beyond the obvious keyboard convenience, when mated to a Roamio (versus Premiere or Mini), the Slide Pro provides an audible remote finder. While the cached post mentions learning capabilities in passing, TiVo’s updated support page elaborates — and the feature previously seen on Glo and Slide remotes does indeed make its triumphant return. Pricing should drop any day now…

Update: The Slide Pro is now available for purchase via TiVo.com and ships in two forms: one with a RF USB dongle to support Premiere and Mini hardware, and one without as Roamio has RF built-in. Unlike the lofty $90 pricing of the original TiVo Slide, both versions of the new model run a reasonable $50.

(Thanks Link & Philip!)

New TiVo Remote On The Way

Dave Zatz —  October 25, 2013

new-tivo-remote-fcc

By way of the FCC (1, 2), we’ve learned a new TiVo remote and RF USB dongle are on the way. While the rear looks quite similar to the new TiVo Roamio remote, due to a short term confidentiality request, we’re unable to confirm if this is the incoming Roamio Slide with QWERTY keyboard or merely an accessory to bring the updated button layout and RF control to TiVo Premiere and Mini hardware. Related, we wonder if this mysterious device will return learning capabilities to TiVo’s remote stable. It probably won’t be long until the answer presents itself…

tivo-roamio-remote

If your household is anything like mine, you might find you’re in need of his and hers TiVo remotes – one for each nightstand. Fortunately, new Roamio owners now have that option… as TiVo has launched a Roamio Remote accessory for $29.99:

  • Award-winning peanut shape in a more compact size and with new “back” button for use in apps.
  • Control power, input, volume and mute of your TV and/or audio receiver.
  • IR/RF signal removes line-of-sight requirements, ideal for in-cabinet setups.
  • Press the remote finder button on your TiVo Roamio™ Plus or Pro to have the remote play a TiVo jingle so you can easily find it.

Officially, the remote only supports Roamio hardware. However, Continue Reading…