Archives For TiVo

TiVo Bolt Clears The FCC

Dave Zatz —  August 16, 2015 — 52 Comments

As TiVo Bolt nears release, the clues continue to trickle out. Most recent is an FCC filing that identifies three models. As two of those very same three DVR units appeared in a CableLabs certification report, it seems safe to speculate that we may be looking at two CableCARD models and one over-the-air “Aereo Edition” Bolt. By comparison, there are currently four Roamio SKUs… two of which don’t actually “roam.” Beyond standard DVR capabilities, might this TiVo shortcoming to be resolved with all Bolt models optionally streaming video to smartphones, tablets, and perhaps other end-points down the road?


tivo-boltFrom the little we’ve seen thus far, TiVo appears to have done away with the traditional set-top box enclosure (as they did away with their in-house industrial design team). And not only may the Bolt be white and curved (?!), thanks to the FCC filing we also learn the Roamio replacement clocks in substantially smaller than existing hardware — to the tune of 40% less volume (according to one forum member’s math).

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TiVo in talks with Charter for CableCARD successor?

While we generally caution against purchasing hardware soon to be replaced, this TiVo promotion deserves special consideration if you’re in the market. Purchase a four-tuner Roamio OTA or a refurb Roamio, capable of handling OTA or CableCARD tuning, for $50 direct from TiVo and get Lifetime service for a highly compelling, extremely discounted $250.


It’s really quite the deal. However, the TiVo Bolt could be just weeks away… and we do anticipate it will replace the Roamio. As to DVR differences, it’s safe to assume a modest bump in specs and the possibility of integrated Stream capabilities. So if beaming live and recorded video to mobile devices is on your wishlist, it may be worth waiting for the Bolt with less favorable pricing.

As cable providers examine technological enhancements to reclaim and more effectively manage their finite network throughput, they’ve dabbled in both MPEG-4 encoding and Switched Digital Video. Whereas SDV manages tuning in a more efficient manner, modernizing from the MPEG-2 format results in fundamentally smaller video. And Comcast, the nation’s largest cable operator, will imminently flip the switch to MPEG-4 in some Georgia and California markets.

For customers running newer cable boxes and DVRs, the transition should be seemless. However, folks on older hardware will need to swap boxes. Those with Comcast gear need merely walk into the store to receive new Xfinity equipment or even arrange it online. But for TiVo owners, the inherent risk in purchasing retail cable hardware manifests

Series3/HD: IMMEDIATE ACTION REQUIRED! These DVRs will lose everything except local HD channels. All other HD cable channels will be incompatible.

TiVo has never disclosed model breakdown, but I’d guess 20-30% of their active DVRs are Series 3 and TiVo HD CableCARD variants. And, thus, if they had an easy fix to provide MPEG-4 compatibility to this generation of hardware they’d surely implement it. Especially given Comcast’s expected nationwide transition, ramping up towards the end of this year. Further, at some point, we fully expect Verizon to follow suit with FiOS – who’s also had a small number of MPEG-4 channels in the mix for a while. Continue Reading…

The TiVo Bolt narrative is coalescing…


We’ve seen the trademark filings. And we’ve seen the CableLabs certification. Now, by way of Google (above) pointing to TiVo’s own website (below), we can divine that the TiVo Bolt “Unified Entertainment System” will be a Roamio replacement. At least to start with. We know for certain there will be two cable-capable models and at least one over-the-air model – aka “Bolt Aereo” or “Aereo Edition” if TiVo’s page links are any indication.


Industry sources suggest this is primarily a substantive design refresh as they continue to rebrand. Indeed, these curved white set-tops are certainly unique (and won’t stack well). So, if you were anxiously awaiting TiVo 4k, I imagine we’re still tracking for 2016.



With no fanfare, Dropbox has arrived in the Roku channel store. And the video playback possibilities are highly intriguing.

Dropbox is a simple way to store and share your files. And now you can bring all the photos and videos in your Dropbox straight to your TV.

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Picking up Aereo’s assets back was one of TiVo’s more inspired marketing moves. But I wonder if it’s being squandered…

Since the deal closed, TiVo has sent out several waves of email campaigns to Aereo castaways… that may not be resonating, as TiVo, in its current form, isn’t much of an Aereo replacement.


Harnessing Portlandia to tug on those cord cutting heart-strings, TiVo ratchets up the rhetoric today as they move into with an impassioned 237 word plea. Some highlights: Continue Reading…

While I’ve been expecting refreshed over-the-air TiVo hardware, given a simplistic repurposing of base Roamio hardware for OTA and the Aereo acquisition, I hadn’t anticipated anything imminent in digital cable… especially with the ongoing CableCARD and successor uncertainty. Heck, I’d even assumed the absurd TiVo Mega was dead. Yet, CableLabs just updated their self certification paperwork… with two new TiVo models.

  • Tivo 07/01/15 PNP SCV1113 Digital Only TCD849500 STB
  • Tivo 07/01/15 PNP SCV1114 Digital Only TCD849000 STB

Historically, we could determine TiVo hardware generation from the first half of the model number and capacity from the second half. I’m not so sure hard drive is still in play these days. Yet, all prior Roamio models begin with 84, so I’d guess these similarly denoted units must be closely related and still represent TiVo Series 5 hardware. As to what exactly they are, I haven’t the foggiest.

These probably don’t represent the TiVo Bolt, which sounds more like a service. But could they be Mega variants? Hopefully not, as I really hope that initiative is dead with engineering resources better detailed to mass market products. But I could still see TiVo moving upmarket in presentation, if not storage, and perhaps these represent 4k-capable Roamio units… and you can check out my previous Broadcom chipset speculation here. Lastly, one of TiVo’s biggest retail challenges remains pricing — so whatever they’re working on hopefully reduces the BOM, with savings passed on to customers. Continue Reading…