Best Buy and Weaknees have seemingly confirmed our earlier intel that the TiVo Mini would be subject to some sort of favorable pricing adjustment. Indeed, while the DVR extender jumps in price from $100 to $150, the TiVo service fee requirement is no more — effectively lowering the price of Mini by $100 and making a Roamio-based whole-home solution far more palatable. Further, this move clears the way for fee-free Roku and Amazon Fire TV clients. TiVo’s official page has the Mini out of stock until 9/9… which is probably about when we can expect some sort of official announcement. Who’s in?
Archives For TiVo
Via an FCC filing, we learn more of TiVo’s intentions to further leverage hardware beyond their own set-top boxes:
Consumers today can purchase retail TiVo DVRs and ancillary devices that support iOS and Android products, as well as TVs (using the TiVo Mini), and that soon will support additional ancillary devices that are popular with consumers.
Back at CES TiVo displayed Roku renders while late Spring they demo-ed the TiVo experience on Amazon Fire TV… which were presented as “hypotheticals” for their cable company partners. Yet, given this new filing and impending MPEG4 transition, we’d say things are looking pretty bright for TiVo Roamio and Premiere owners.
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.
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).
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…
In October 2014, Comcast will transition its system in Augusta, Georgia, from MPEG2 format to MPEG4. This transition means that cable channels in this region will not be viewable on older equipment that is incompatible with the new format.
Roamio and Premiere units are ready to tune – having already cut their teeth on smaller scale channel conversions on Cox and FiOS. Unfortunately, TiVo Stream and Roamio Pro/Plus transcoding won’t be ready until 2015.
Streaming functionality will return in early 2015, when a software update that provides compatibility with MPEG4 will be released.
Sadly, due to innate hardware limitations, TiVo Series 1, 2, and 3/HD owners are mostly out of luck. And those in markets with MPEG4 cable programming are advised to upgrade to a newer TiVo or cable company-provided set-top.
I took a super brief look at Roku TV back at CES, but CNET is now out with a more thorough once over as pricing and timing have been revealed. And that pricing is extremely competitive, with the 32″ TCL running a mere $229. While that’s pretty darn good for a 720P smart TV with WiFi, CNET wonders if budget sets from Vizio might provide better picture quality, given local dimming… along with providing their own raft of apps. Of course, no one comes close to Roku’s breadth (even if the vast majority of their 2,000 over-the-top “channels” hold no appeal). Yet, at launch, the Roku TV doesn’t much compel me. In fact, they seemed to have overlooked some very interesting cord cutter interplay.
As with LG, “TV” is an app. In fact, highlighting the TV tile will even live-preview whatever’s being broadcast (as will any other input tile, such as a STB wired up via HDMI). But Roku’s very fine universal search doesn’t incorporate current or upcoming OTA programming. In fact, there’s no guide at all (as far as I know) – just a sidebar of tuned channels. Which, I suppose, is at least a step up from the yet-to-be-released Roku Antenna that requires you flip inputs between apps and TV.
The Roku 3 remains my go-to streamer, besting Apple TV, Fire TV, TiVo, and Xbox One. And, if I were in the market for a budget smart set, for kitchen or office usage, I’d probably go with the Vizio – that also comes in a smaller 28″ size. Alternately, I’d simply get a “dumb” TV … and add over-the-top capabilities via the relatively inexpensive and clutter-free Chromecast or Roku Streaming Stick.