Hands On The Insignia TiVo TV

Dave Zatz —  September 19, 2011

After a few fits and starts, Best Buy has loaned us a 42″ Inisgnia TiVo TV ($700). Of course, what makes this solution unique is not only that the companies have produced a “smart TV” but also that it’s a TiVo without a DVR. I’m still digging into the set, but wanted to run a quickie overview of the interface and rundown of a few select apps. As you can see from the video above, TiVo’s Netflix and YouTube app have finally been modernized and look quite nice. Best Buy’s app platform partner Chumby also sees prime billing running several preloaded apps along with a highly compelling display mode. More to come…

18 responses to Hands On The Insignia TiVo TV

  1. Is the TV CableCARD ready or does it need a cable box?

  2. No CableCARD, it natively tunes over-the-air HD and/or one can hook a cable box or DVR up to it. In one corner of my house, with precise antenna positioning it appears I can get exactly one channel – that’s how I’ve got it configured at the moment.

  3. Does it have a System Information screen? What software version is it running? You would think that it could possibly offer streaming, but with most people probably using the built in wi-fi, that may cause too many headaches and support issues.

  4. I took a picture of the System Info at Best Buy on one of my recent visits, but didn’t compare version numbers yesterday. I believe my software is a newer rev as the one in the store said an update was required, whereas mine didn’t. Here’s the shot from the store:

    https://zatznotfunny.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/tivo-tv2.jpg

    Streaming over WiFi should be fine. I’ve streamed 1080p over WiFi for years, both within the home as well as from beyond. And when TiVo accidentally gave folks Premiere-to-Premiere streaming it seemed to work over WiFi. Then again uncompressed MPEG2 could be quite large. Hopefully that feature comes to this set and works decently. Well, not this set but, rather, the smaller one – it’d make a pretty cool secondary TV with apps and all your recordings. Then again, 42″ could be a secondary TV for many. But too big for the most kitchens.

    I’ve also answered some questions over on the TiVo Community:
    http://www.tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb/showthread.php?p=8709161#post8709161

  5. If that TV is so smart, how come it doesn’t know it’s not in the store anymore, and doesn’t politely peel off the sticker on the upper right and put it in the trash?

    “And when TiVo accidentally gave folks Premiere-to-Premiere streaming it seemed to work over WiFi. Then again uncompressed MPEG2 could be quite large.”

    The bit-rate on good quality 1080i MPEG2 is pretty damn high. You’d need well above average WiFi infrastructure to have any hope of handing that gracefully.

  6. And call me crazy, but god knows I don’t want a “modern” Netflix client. I want to go straight to my queue when I’m in lean-back. I don’t want to do content discovery in lean-back.

    Also, I had no idea that Chumby was so underwhelming. I was assuming that it was more of a cool, backgroundish screensaver kinda thing.

  7. About 7GB/hour for ATSC OTA on my Tivo.

  8. Dave, does the TV have access to Amazon’s “free” streaming service that comes with Amazon Prime?

  9. I only see Netflix and CinemaNow. I assume Amazon is more of a direct competitor to CinemaNow (for “traditional” OTT VOD) and CinemaNow is a Best Buy property, so…

  10. So is streaming from a premiere to this TV not a confirmed feature yet?
    I mean if that is an actual coming “thing” I would hope that they would consider making it a GoogleTV/AppleTV, Roku, Chumby app.

  11. The way it was presented to me is that the feature is being discussed. Now if I filter that, I’d say it means it’s being developed. However, they could shelf the project based on sales, technical challenges, resources, etc. So until it’s here, it’s not… and I wouldn’t bank on it. It would be nice if TiVo could develop a secure streaming software client for various platforms. But that I don’t see happening, it’s not how TiVo rolls.

  12. WHAT?!?! New Netflix and Youtube clients on this partner device? WHY NOT GIVE IT TO US TIVO FAITHFUL!?! Tivo really seems to be trying their best to strain the relationships of their most faithful customers. A year and a half after release and we’re still using an unfinished UI. And now they’re shipping a device that finally has some updated clients and they’re not bothering to push it out to their paying customers. I’m just about done with Tivo.

  13. Well it is an interesting product considering the move to Smart TV’s. The UI does appear a little slow and jumpy (no fluid liquid like UI transitions). When you load Netflix and Youtube, does it load these applications from the cloud? I mean there is no hard drive, so what else would cause slow load times… an underpowered CPU?

    Without Cable Card, I can see a disjointed experience here using your Cable company / dbs provider’s set top box and their remote, and then having to pick up the Insignia/Tivo remote to move to that experience. However with that being said having some of these features available at the push of a button without leaving “input 1” is convenient. I take it there is no real guide or IR / IP control to external set top box to actually have the Tivo software control your external hardware?

    It’s not something I would see myself getting, but at least its a new product that could possibly see some evolution over time.

  14. Well, I think the Chumby apps look nice actually. Not sure how often I’d use them, but I can imagine the ability to follow a custom twitter feed for example (#Oscars) could be kind of cool during certain live events (sports, awards shows, maybe news coverage in some cases). Don’t know if they offer anything like that.

    I won’t be buying one of these myself, but just because I’m more interested in the monitor parts of the TV. Will it matter to your average customer? Will they connect any of this stuff with the Tivo brand?

    And seriously, if that YouTube launch is at all typical I would simply NEVER use it just based on the launch time alone.

  15. Cypher, the Insignia remote is a universal IR/RF remote and I think you’d choose to use it instead of your cable providers remote. There’s no real guide that I’ve found which is a bummer for folks who were thinking of going OTA.

    Glenn, I checked my wireless signal this morning – the set reports 77% which is classified as “Excellent” and I passed the HD streaming test. They should pre-load the stub of these apps so the perceived wait is less. Also the TV supposedly has a quick boot but either I didn’t turn it on or it just doesn’t seem quick to me. I’m working with the PR team, so I’ll have more to report at some point.

  16. Does it have the Chumby ticker feature like that newtv chumby device has, that overlays the ticker along the bottom of the video feed?

  17. It looks surprisingly good, but needs more functionality (streaming from Premiere is #1).

  18. Given all the recent movement at Netflix inc. I would say that TiVo likely is working a moving target as far as updating the streaming interface. I can not watch the video now though so no idea what the update on the TV is like