TiVo-Roamio-OTA-dealThe new TiVonomics got you down? Fortunately for you, TiVo is blowing our select Roamio inventory post Bolt intro. And this Roamio OTA is bundled with Lifetime service for a very attractive $300. For comparison, the 4-tuner Bolt starts at the same $300 but, after year one, requires either $150/year for ongoing service or $600 for Lifetime. Granted, Bolt does 4k… but, with a limited selection of content, it’s likely not yet a motivating for most. The main thing you give up is the Bolt’s controversial new look and integrated stream capabilities. One is likely irrelevant and the other can be corrected with an even more capable $130 Stream accessory, should you so choose. But you better strike while the iron is hot as TiVo will run out of inventory at some point and will surely cease sales once the OTA-only Bolt is unveiled later this year to prevent cannibalization. (Thanks David!)

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While Philips Hue HomeKit-compatible gear isn’t officially expected until October 6, the A19 Starter Kit has begun appearing at various retail locations. Indeed, I literally got my hands on the v2 hub bridge. It’s smaller and squarer than the existing model, with a nicer matte finish and generally more tasteful presentation… that is entirely irrelevant since you’ll be plugging it into your router somewhere out of sight. There are three indicators, plus a glowing ring that surrounds the much larger pairing button.

As Philips moves the line to HomeKit, pricing of Hue bundles looks to remain unchanged (in the US, anyway). What’s not yet clear, but should be revealed within the next 48 hours, is the cost of a standalone HomeKit bridge to retrofit the bazillions of Hue homes that sport iOS (like mine). Also unclear, as I’m pretty sure an App Store update is required, is the extent of Siri voice control. For example, will it best Amazon Echo’s existing but limited (tho useful) Hue interaction?

UPDATE: The HomeKit replacement hub has popped up on Amazon for $60… But I’m waiting to learn more about Siri’s capabilities before making my purchase.

As we continue to hunt the elusive Roku 4, a source has provided the below image… which, after a long absence, indicates the triumphant return of S/PDIF optical audio to the Roku platform. And what makes this detail even more compelling is that Amazon has dropped optical from their competing 4K Fire TV this generation, to the consternation of some.

roku4-rear

Beyond these restored audio capabilities, which we’d expect from a flagship streamer, we know the Roku 4 serves up 4K video hand in hand with 802.11ac wireless for the first time. A previously disclosed full frontal photo (below) more clearly depicts a new elongated form (“the hotplate“) and from the FCC filing we know there’s a handy new finger-depressable reset button on the bottom. What we don’t know are specific 4k-specific details, like HDMI version or potential support for HDR. Plus, it’s unclear what that sensor or port on the top of the Roku is all about. Lastly, and possibly related, I’m hopeful Roku’s got some software surprises for us. Continue Reading…

Didn’t I tell you Best Buy would be the place to get Amazon’s 4k Fire TV ahead of the official October 5th release? Whereas I’d assumed in-store inventory was ripe for abuse, it turns out the advantage was gained via online sales. Folks who’d pre-ordered had units shipped early on 9/30. And, as you can clearly see from the imagery below, they’ve started arriving. This slip-up isn’t on par with, say, iPhones arriving ahead of official reviews, but I can still appreciate as a gadget agent of chaos.

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tivo-hatBeyond TiVo VP Margret Schmidt operating well out of her lane to periodically chime in on the TiVo Community Forum, the site that TiVo once bankrolled hasn’t seen much company participation in recent years. That changed today with a marathon QA session handled by TiVo Chief Marketing Officer Ira Bahr. I appreciate his frank engagement with the community and his message (even if the Investor Relations group may not).

Ira provides quite a bit of insight into their market strategy with Bolt and intention to keep the hardcore happy with a more suitable product offering next year. I still think the Bolt has an uphill battle, as currently presented… but perhaps there’s time to deliver a more economical cord cutter-centric “Aereo Edition” this year or flip up pricing should they receive the lukewarm response I expect.

A sampling of the good stuff, chopped up and reassembled: Continue Reading…

Verizon launched a new online video service of some sort  — and I suspect I might too old, too cranky, or just too discerning to appreciate it. However, if you’re a VZW customer like me, creating a go90 account from your smartphone will net you a bonus 2GB of data for a period of three months. So why not?

Go90

(Thanks Chris!)

The New TiVonomics

Dave Zatz —  October 2, 2015

Along with the introduction of the TiVo Bolt comes a slew of pricing and policy changes. They’re probably good for TiVo, Inc. But the adjustments are largely unfavorable for TiVo customers (and potential customers).

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The devaluation of Lifetime service is the most painful for longtime TiVo fans. Under the “All-In” rebrand, the fee has been raised to $600… without the traditional $100 off for existing customers and without it being offered at time of purchase. Which means you could be rolling the dice. Who knows what the scenario will be a year from now when a year of bundled Bolt and Roamio Pro service expires. Also impacting existing customers is the end of multi-service discount (MSD), in which folks get a few dollar break for each additional DVR on a monthly plan. Fortunately, those who currently possess discounts will retain them… as long as they make no adjustments to their account.

But here’s where it gets weird. And this is going to mess up uninformed people who pick up used TiVos on ebay, craigslist, and the like. Series 1, Series 2, and Series 3/HD TiVo units without Lifetime service will no longer be activated. Based on the support note, it also seems like folks with effected hardware on an annual plan could end up with a brick when their term expires. Fun times. Of course, with MPEG4 killing a number of TiVos in Comcast’s footprint and the loss of Amazon and YouTube apps, those S3/HD models are less compelling these days. But, as they’re continuing to support Lifetimes units (for now?), why not also keep the lights on for units in the basement someone may want to reactivate?

Can’t wait until October 5th for your 4k Fire TV fix? Best Buy has already started lining shelves with Amazon’s new model, clocking in at the same $99 (and potentially cheaper than the incoming Roku 4). And while I didn’t partake (today), I’m far more interested in Amazon’s streamer knowing TiVo support is just around the corner.

FireTV4k

I assume many of us would prefer the HDMI dongle form factor in many situations. However, my experience with the Fire TV Stick wasn’t the greatest. Plus, beyond my Amazon-specific quirks, there’s really only so much you can cram into these sorts of gadgets before they melt and wireless reception will always be a concern. So, box it is — more power, more ports, and more clutter (unless you get tricky). Continue Reading…