Archives For TiVo

TiVo Tests Free Hardware (Again)

Dave Zatz —  September 23, 2014 — 12 Comments

tivo-roamio-free

TiVo is once again testing the market with free DVR hardware. And, this time around, it’s the 4-tuner TiVo Roamio that handles cable and over-the-air (but not at the same time). Instead of charging $150-200 at $15/month, TiVo is giving away the Roamio … for those willing to commit to two years of service at $20/month. You can bet their motivation is to reduce the barriers to entry, as they’re similarly experimenting with via the new $50 Roamio OTA model. Yet, given retail distribution via the likes of Best Buy and Walmart, this particular offering may remain an online exclusive. Civilians can check out the promotional pricing here, while our military counterparts have additional options to consider here.

With Vudu and Amazon Instant soon set to join the likes of Netflix and YouTube, as TiVo begins redefining themselves as a “Streaming Player,” we have a few usability enhancements to suggest. Because, as it stands, getting into TiVo’s over-the-top apps requires quite a few clicks compared to a Roku. So my first suggestion is simply repurposing the TiVo button on the remote – a double click would bring power users straight to the existing (or better) app menu. Next, as to the menu itself, instead of a vertical listing of services featuring logos of varying widths, I’d like to see a grid of standardized app buttons for quicker access and recognition, along with improved provider parity. Lastly, TiVo’s mobile app should be updated for direct app “dialing” as available to Roku owners since 2010.

The Curious TiVo Roamio OTA

Dave Zatz —  September 21, 2014 — 32 Comments

roamio-v-roamio-ota

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.

Not that you’d ever doubt us or our sources, but TiVo has gone ahead and confirmed a modernized Amazon Instant app is in the pipeline … by accidentally releasing it a bit early to a subset of customers.

Whereas the current Amazon Instant app is downright ancient by Internet standards, the new take is visually rich and streams Prime videos – something many of us have been clamoring for. We’re also under the impression that the new app will be made available to TiVo Mini extenders in an official capacity and beyond the requisite Roamio and Premiere upgrades.

As to the premature release pictured above, it appeared alongside the existing app and isn’t yet entirely functional. Further, someone at TiVo obviously realized their mistake as it was removed after 4 or 5 hours. Yet, we now know both Amazon and Vudu are coming real soon – November at the latest?

(Thanks Sam, Sully, and HarperVision! Two pics via Ikrion.)

tivo-android

Two years after TiVo introduced streaming capabilities, Android owners will soon get in on the action. However, whereas iPhone and iPad owners have enjoyed both streaming and video downloads, presumably due to security issues, the Android crowd won’t be taking shows offline – according to the newly updated compatibility chart, shown above. However, they will receive cellular streaming ahead of iOS. Score? As to the ‘droids we’re looking for, TiVo hasn’t yet posted which Google-centric devices will be supported by TiVo Roamio and Stream hardware. But, given TiVo OS 20.4.4 release notes, all should be revealed towards the end of the month. (via TCF)

RecordonallChannels

TiVo’s Fall Update has begun rolling out – with TiVo Roamio, Premiere, and Mini boxes on the priority list slated to receive software version 20.4.4 as early as last night. Deployment is expected to conclude in a few weeks. Package highlights:

  • Record series on all channels
  • Extended timelines up to 6 months for Season Pass recordings
  • Updated HTML5 Spotify app
  • New Home Shopping Network app

On the surface, this isn’t so interesting (and I say that as a Spotify subscriber). Although tracking down Season Passes outside of the 14 day window will come in handy for many. Including TiVo themselves when customers (no longer) migrate busted SPs to new DVRs. However, behind the scenes, this update lays the groundwork for Roamio Android streaming to debut towards the end of the month – finally! Further, based on VP Margret Schmidt’s release notes, it appears Amazon Instant and Vudu apps are tentatively scheduled for a late November update. 2014 is certainly shaping up to be a great year for TiVo owners.

By way of Engadget and the FCC, we learn there’s a next gen TiVo Mini in the works. And it’s a curious little beast. While there’s nary a reference to traditional WiFi frequencies, as requested by both RCN and myself, RF communication is present in the form of Zigbee – the up and coming home automation protocol. At this point, it’s unknown if this is intended to provide an existing partner like Control4 more hooks or signals TiVo is entering this space with aspirations that they or a cable partner control my new networked GE bulbs. But it sure is interesting… and possibly sheds some light on the TiVo Mini price drop, that expires in early January with this new hardware having a standard 6 month short term FCC confidentiality request in regards to photos and user manual. Having said that, CEDIA starts tomorrow and TiVo wasn’t shy about pre-announcing their $5,000 24TB DVR server slated for 2015. Stay tuned.