TiVo Stream, Take Two

Dave Zatz —  September 18, 2012


If you caught our TiVo Stream review, you know we dig the new DVR accessory ($130) that streams live and recorded TV around the home to our iOS devices. But it’s not without its shortcomings. And word on the street is Android support may not arrive until 2013. Further, owners of jailbroken iPads and iPhones have found themselves locked out of the updated TiVo app whether or not they actually own a TiVo Stream — meaning they recently lost access to even scheduling and remote control functions as TiVo attempts to placate a paranoid content industry. Fortunately, the hacker community has heard their pleas and Xcon was updated to resolve that issue. Similarly, the TiVo Stream download functionality is hobbled (dependent on provider) and only allows streaming access within the home — unlike a Slingbox. So I kicked off a conversation of how we might roll our own mobile solution via VPN. While there’s been some remote access success, I haven’t yet tried the various methods or documented a process for public consumption (but stay tuned). Also, on my personal wish list, are less abandoned TiVo recordings, background audio playback, and faster or background downloads (which is limited by iOS).

On the distribution front, TiVo has trumpeted selling out their initial hardware run in record time. Yet, we don’t know how many units that encompasses (and it could have be as few as 600, or less). Also, sadly, it seems a disproportionate number of that lot have been dead on arrival. Instead paying return shipping to TiVo, some may have opted to buy replacements at Best Buy and then return their TiVo.com-acquired defective unit to BBY. Unfortunate. However, we still wholeheartedly recommend the Stream and hope TiVo drops hardware pricing to $99 ahead of the holidays.

21 responses to TiVo Stream, Take Two

  1. I read this post while sitting on the couch watching last night’s Conan. Why? Because my wife is behind me in the kitchen watching that moronic House 1, 2, or 3 show *streaming on the iPad*. THANK YOU TIVO STREAM FOR RESCUING ME FROM TLC HELL!

  2. 2013!!??!! Crap!! I guess I don’t have to worry about spending money on a stream anytime soon. After getting the new Amazon Kindle 7″ Fire HD, I guess I’ll put the money toward the 8.9″ Fire HD and worry about the stream next year.

    2013??!! That sucks!!

    I hope the TiVo Mini at least comes out before Thanksgiving!

  3. Thanks to you, Dave, I rushed out and upgraded our Series 3 to a Premiere 4XL, and I ordered a Stream the night it was announced. For the most part, I’m thrilled with it. I can stream a baseball game to my iPad and watch it in the kitchen. I can watch virtually anything on the TiVo. The only downside I’ve found so far is that it doesn’t support AirPlay. I would love to support AirPlay audio, since then I could stream the audio from my iPad to my speakers. Mrs. G is equally excited about the Stream since she can now download any TiVo content to her iPad without asking me to go through all the steps on the computer. (In fact, she was the one who decided we had to upgrade, not me).

  4. Rich,

    Its House Hunters. Or House Hunters International. Just tell her that the houses that look like people live in them? Yeah, they’re not getting picked. The people on the show have already decided which one they’re going to take and the other two are just for show. It’ll spoil the whole thing for her and she’ll stop watching.

  5. While 720P from the Stream looks good, I would like to see 1080P. It would give me a reason to get an iPad 3 or a Kindle Fire HD. Also, given that the new Kindle can connect HDMI to a TV, surround sound would be nice too.

    I agree Dave that $99 would be a sweet spot.

  6. What is preventing me from buying one is the fact that is my TiVo needs to be hardwired, which is not going to happen. Once they allow you to stream with a wireless connected TiVo, I am there. Until then, I get to keep my $$$.

  7. That is a long wait for Android support. Guess I’ll be waiting until then to pick up a stream. Too bad, I’m really looking forward to it.

  8. Anthony, wireless MIGHT work, but it’s at your own risk.

    The reason they “require” a wired Tivo is because of typical wireless bandwidth limitations. A TV recording is going to be between 12-18mbps, which has to be transferred from the Tivo to the Stream. Then the Stream spits out a 2.2mbps version of the video at the same time.

    If your wireless network is robust enough to handle 14-21 mbps of constant, uninterrupted streaming from all the locations in your home you’d want to watch TV/recordings, then go for it. But many wireless networks are not. That’s just the reality of wireless bandwidth in real-world usage. Tivo’s not in business to give customer service support for all of the crappy wireless networks out there, so they remove it from the equation and say you need a wired connection.

    Also, the Stream supports up to 4 simultaneous connections. So while you might get 1 out of it, chances are nill that you’d get 4. But if 1 is all you need, it wouldn’t hurt to try if you know your network can handle it.

  9. Use a good wireless Bridge with a properly setup network and it should work fine. With a wireless Bridge I can get identical transfer rates between Elites as when they are connected to my gigabit backbone. So I would not expect the stream to have any issues in my setup if I wanted to use the wireless portion of my network.

  10. Now I am getting excited…Dave just created a new rumor the Stream will be available for $99 over the holidays…I hope Tivo is listening, cuz I’d definitely be up for that. Finally, the power of the Press being used as a force for Good!

    Other than saving $30, however high in my priorities, I keep coming back to this feeling it sounds so similar to the upcoming Preview or whatever that thing is called now, but sort of a one trick pony flavor. While I personally find ponies quite delicious, I’d be even more excited if the Stream could stream to other devices too, like my iMac. Heck, I’d even accept having it run through a special app interface losing the ability to unify my viewing experience through something like Plex. I watch more shows on my iMac than on my iPad because I have noticed it has a 24″ screen whereas my completely adorable iPad is just 10″-ish.

    That said, a $99 Black Friday special would fit the bill and allow me to escape Chopped Hell and allow me to catch up on episodes of Hell on Wheels that my wife won’t let me watch in her presence–and with a 2TB HD in my Tivo, they are collectively calling to me, both seasons. If not watched and deleted soon, I worry they will form the nexus of the
    upcoming Singularity and SkyNet us out.

    But if I could stream to my iMac as well, even sweeter…that Plex Tivo plugin sadly doesn’t work, and everything but Dancing with the Stars has been locked with the CCI byte by Charter cable.

  11. Don’t get too excited… as someone reminded me recently, TiVo’s also the company that tries to charge $90 for a wireless adapter:


    But, yeah, being able to Stream to other devices… like a Roku… would be massively compelling. We shall see.

  12. “I watch more shows on my iMac than on my iPad because I have noticed it has a 24″ screen whereas my completely adorable iPad is just 10″-ish.”

    You ought to consider investing in a lean-back setup.

    42″ and upward flat panels are getting quite cheap. And believe it or not, they are even larger than an iMac, not to mention being a much more pleasurable way to experience the teevee experience…


    “But, yeah, being able to Stream to other devices… like a Roku… would be massively compelling.”

    Call me crazy, but I utterly fail to see the use-case scenario for using the Stream to feed the lean-back, as opposed to using the TiVo Mini. Given that PQ is far more important and noticeable in the lean-back than in the ‘second-screen’ tablets use-case, why would you want to feed your lean-back a both transcoded and much lower bit-rate picture if you’ve got a better option?

    To my way of thinking, the Stream is for tablets, not the lean-back. Full stop.

  13. I actually think there is a compelling case for streaming from the Stream to a Roku or AppleTV — it allows you to use one of those streamers as the only box on that secondary TV. Of course, I’m sure that TiVo would prefer it to be a TiVo Mini, but if I had multiple TVs, I could see having one four-tuner Tivo on one TV, a mini on another and just an Apple TV on a third.

    But the Stream is really nice — being able to take the iPad around while streaming live TV or recording programming is very nice. The only drawback I’ve found so far is that transferring programs to store on iOS devices is pretty slow. That I suspect is less to do with the Stream than with my Fios router’s 802.11g wifi. This may be the bottleneck. (Of course, not only is that slow wireless annoying for local network, but the 802.11g is significantly slower than the 75/35 Fios service.)

    I’m looking into VPN to transfer recordings outside. Unfortunately, neither of the VPN protocols that iOS supports natively broadcasts bonjour (aka mDNS) over the VPN connection, which is what the TiVo app relies on to see if you are in your local network.

  14. One other thought — since kmttg can talk to the Premier using the iPad app protocol, perhaps it will be possible to download through the Stream as if kmttg is an iPad running the app…

  15. My Stream makes an annoying high pitched hum. It is louder than TiVo Premiere in the same cabinet. It makes less noise if I pick it up so there must some issue with vibration damping even though it has rubberized feet. It is sitting on a wood shelf which help amplify the hum. Any suggestions?

  16. @Andrew

    Get one of the newer FiOS routers that have wireless N or better yet get your own wireless Router. There are plenty of routers that do a much better job than the Actiontec routers. I have the 150/65 tier on FiOS and I can max out those speeds from laptop over a wireless connection. That would not be possible if I used the FiOS supplied router.

  17. The Stream is ridiculously loud for what it is. I thought that there is something wrong with mine, but it seems like it’s just a very small fan whose motor runs at the most annoying frequency for human hearing. Does nobody but Apple pay attention to these little details in CE?

    @aaronwt Since going to the 75/35 tier and not getting any better than 20 mb/s performance over WiFi, I know I need to get a new router (probably going to suck it up and get a Time Capsule).

  18. Walter, Andrew, I do hear the fan when I visit my router but the Stream I have is pretty quiet. Either that, or I can’t hear the frequency you guys do (as I’m over 40). I do know they adjusted the fan speed during the beta to find the balance between heat reduction and noise. (Still waiting for TiVo PR to provide me a return shipping label. In the interim, it’s still sitting on my network.)

  19. Nicholas Peterson September 22, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    Can someone explain why I’m purchasing yet another piece of hardware to do this? The answer is that TiVo builds terribly underpowered hardware, and doesn’t plan for the future. These boxes need something better than a 500 megahertz cpu, which was a slap in the face in 2010, but to reuse the same CPU for their four tuner systems is just insane. It takes 30-40 seconds to start up on of their ‘apps’. Even then it lags like hell. They have never finished a full HD inerface for the premiere, and now they want me to buy an extra $130 device to gain the ability to stream TiVo content to other devices? TiVo, stop inventing new crap and perfect the main device you sell, stop the mobile apps, TiVo minis, TiVo streams, overpriced dongles, etc. just make one awesome TiVo that can handle this stuff and price it at $400-500…. That or just port to google tv and charge for the app/service.

  20. just to let anyone know who wants to know…the Tivo Stream can’t work flawlessly over wireless….it streams fine with no interruptions however when downloading a show to the IPAD it severly interrupts the playback of the Tivo DVR on tv making it impossible to watch due to interference….I thought because I can stream flawlessly from Premiere to Premiere over wireless I would be fine but apparently Tivo is correct that this will not function properly over a wireless network even under ideal wireless connections…therefore I am going to return Tivo Stream because I don’t want to spend $150 in Moca Adapters in addition to $129 for Tivo Stream

  21. Get a SlingBox with Sling Player app for android. Works anywhere without issues.