To great fanfare, a new player in home WiFi launched this week. Well, at least the reviews did. Eero attempts to mate the coverage and performance of enterprise-esque multi-node networking to drop dead simple configuration via a number of svelte access point pucks. This is not your garden variety commoditized router. Other than some privacy concerns raised, then walked back, by CNET the consensus has been overwhelmingly positive in terms of router configuration and (largely qualitative) wireless analysis. However, despite many with challenging environments and deadspots, I wonder how large exactly is the market for a $500 home WiFi solution?

TiVo has once again launched a priority software update page, as they prepare to deploy version 20.5.9 to retail Roamio and Premiere DVRs, along with the TiVo Mini extender. There’s nothing really flashy here, as this is effectively TiVo’s Snow Leopard build — a substantial update of unsexy but critical bug fixes. Having said that, with no fanfare, TiVo blessed these very same boxes with HBO GO last week … plus SkipMode commercial avoidance will hit all TiVo Roamio models 3/10. So while TiVo the company does a piss poor job in talking up their accomplishments, they are indeed taking good care of customers. And, if you’d like to be first in line for some stability improvements, get your TiVo Service Number entered here.

ZNF regulars know HBOGo is headed to TiVo’s platform, although management has yet to say anything publicly… until last week.

The new partnership will enable Buckeye’s customers to enjoy a consistent TV experience combining TiVo’s feature-rich User Interface with a market leading content experience — the best of traditional cable content combined with diverse broadband-delivered OTT content, such as Hulu, YouTube, HBOGo, and more.

While this (surprisingly detailed) press release is specific to a new cable provider partnership, I can’t imagine HBOGo would not make it’s way to retail TiVo boxes as well. The only real question is: Will HBO Now also make an appearance for the cord cutters amongst us?

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Roku has announced plans to expand their hardware licensing offerings, beyond simply rebranded streamers and streaming televisions, with a “hybrid” box that integrates a television tuner alongside over-the-top apps. Further, new software customization will be made available to pay TV service partners “enabling them to surface content directly on the home screen or give recommendations to their customers.”


UK-based Sky TV has been leasing a pretty standard, but white, Roku box that taps into their NOW IPTV service the last few years. As such, they will be the first to deploy this new hybrid set-top, that looks a lot like the Roku 4 hotplate, with a region-specific over-the-air tuner. Roku suggests other tuner options are on the table dependent upon partners, but it’s not clear if a retail Roku STB might ever ship with a tuner to provide live OTA television. Compare and contrast to TiVo’s more heavy handed deeply integrated provider offerings – which probably says more about partner co technology than technical approach. In any event, with another $45 million in funding, Roku’s definitely working on something to keep Apple and Amazon at bay… and it sure would be ironic if the founder of ReplayTV, aka Roku’s CEO, once again gets into the DVR business.

Until recently, my 4th generation app-ified Apple TV hasn’t really been any more or less useful than my Roku 3 and Fire TV. And, for some, its launch without Apple’s rumored television service has been a significant disappointment.

However, I was recently turned on to Channels ($15) – a new app which streams live television from any HDHomeRun network tuner, So you can pipe both linear television and streaming services all through the same input and interface (although, as of yet, without universal Siri search). While this will naturally appeal to cord cutters with an antenna, those very same HDHomeRun OTA models now map clearQAM (for those with providers that still deliver, like FiOS) and, of course, there’s the HDHomeRun Prime for digital cable via CableCARD.

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TiVo Roamio OTA *with Lifetime* back in stock for $300


TiVo Mini On Sale for $69.99

Dave Zatz —  January 14, 2016

Woot’s clearing reburb first generation TiVo Minis, once again, for a compelling $70. As a refresher, the TiVo Mini extends a TiVo Premiere, Roamio, or Bolt to another TV in the same home – both live television and DVR recordings, carried via Ethernet or MoCA. And the primary, noticeable distinction of this original TiVo Mini, vs the current model (MSRP $130), is inclusion of an IR remote. So you can’t easily hide the extender inside a cabinet, as you can with the RF remote capabilities that ship with v2.


(Thanks Greg P!)

Apple TV To Enable App Folders

Dave Zatz —  January 12, 2016

Given the 3000 “channels” Roku boasts, you’d think the streaming pioneer would provide some sort of sensible organizational structure. Sadly, many owners (such as myself) are left with an unwieldy scrolling grid of providers. Yeah, we can rearrange app placement within the grid.. but there’s no way to isolate by category or viewer. And it’s not like this is a new concept as WDTV brought way more robust presentation, including tabs and folders, to the television… about three years ago.

Well, the “new” Apple TV is poised to leapfrog Roku (and Amazon) when they release tvOS 9.2 in the coming weeks. Beyond a new (and improved) podcast app and Bluetooth keyboard support, Apple will port a variant of their rudimentary mobile OS foldering feature to the big screen.

While I can’t speak to actual folder usage (as the feature is in developer beta), given Apple TV remote control fussiness, advanced app management may not be the most comfortable to implement. Yet, I’m highly confident it’ll be worth the effort and look forward to getting organized on my brand-spanking-new unit. Continue Reading…