TiVo Roamio OTA Update Announced (larger hard drive, favorable pricing)

Dave Zatz —  April 27, 2016

tivo-roamio-ota

After blowing a 2015 holiday launch and abandoning their $1m “Aereo” acquisition, the TiVo Bolt OTA is seemingly shelved as an updated OTA-only Roamio DVR has been announced, featuring a generous 1TB of storage and favorable pricing, running $400 — that’s “all-in” with lifetime service, no recurring fees. Available May 2nd, this larger capacity Roamio OTA includes all the classic features you’d expect and a few new tricks, like commercial SkipMode. Sadly, given the intended audience, the box glaringly lacks newer cord cutter apps like a Sling TV or HBO NOW.

35 responses to TiVo Roamio OTA Update Announced (larger hard drive, favorable pricing)

  1. Maybe it’s the Bolt guts inside a Roamio Shell? With a 1TB 3.5″ drive which would cost less than a 2.5″ drive.

  2. Or maybe they have a warehouse full of thousands of Roamios that they need to get rid of?

  3. Seems like a step backward if they are actually releasing a product with the Roamio Specs. Seven months after the Bolt was released.

  4. Yeah, wonder what’s up. I’d received word an OTA model was in play this year and assumed that meant Bolt (and obviously jumped the gun in publishing this AM). Hm. Could Bolt OTA be the $200 upsell. Faster processor and 4K apps. Or is it completely shelved? With the physically smaller drive, MoCA bridging, 4k capabilities, etc Bolt OTA materials may be too pricey…

  5. Interesting, has “Casting” built in:

    Casting: Cast your favorite Netflix and YouTube video from your mobile device to the TiVo Roamio OTA 1TB6. No need to buy a Chromecast™ dongle; casting is built-in.

  6. Disregard my enthusiasm about Casting; I learned it is a longstanding feature (that I did not know about!)

  7. Yeah, it’s been there. I haven’t had the greatest luck using it with YouTube and this feature certainly can’t replace the dozens or hundreds of apps that beam to Chromecast. Although, smartphone control isn’t the best option for all households and I have long since moved on from Chromecast. Fire TV is starting to edge Roku as my preferred streamer.

  8. Dave, how is the Fire TV’s Tivo app? Has it improved since you last tested it?

  9. I last looked a couple weeks ago. It hadn’t seen any updates since October and still sports a “beta” label. It’s not something I use or would recommend. Their mobile apps are far better.

  10. This is the first new Tivo product in many years that I would consider buying to replace my aging TivoHD w/ 1T HDD. I suspect most cord cutters (like me) already have a streaming device, so the lack of support for Sling TV and HBO NOW probably does not matter.

  11. I’m with aaronwt. I’m hoping for upgraded specs. I’d be tempted to sell off one of my Roamios for a faster processor. Press release did say “all new.”

  12. dwgsp, HBO NOW, Showtime, etc mainly as a nice-to-have given TiVo’s OnePass capabilities (and marketing, with this specific press release) that lines up both OTA and OTT content in a sensible manner.

    Matt2, I’ll see if Jeff at Multichannel can get more details from TiVo, Inc on potential performance improvements.

  13. For grins, I decided to compare the $400 price of this new Tivo box with that of the equivalent Tablo DVR:

    4-Tuner Tablo (Amazon) : $271.99
    1 Terrabyte External HDD : ~ $60
    Lifetime Guide Data Sub : $149.99

    Total: $481.98

    This new Tivo is the clear winner.

  14. Matt2, arronwt, Jeff has heard back from TiVo. What we have here is just the upgraded drive and new pricing, which they believe compares favorably to the competition. They did reiterate the existing Bolt also does OTA, so there’s your upsell. I don’t know what happened to the OTA-only Bolt. Guessing it’s dead – too similar to existing Bolt and probably too hard to get pricing down.

    dwgsp, the price is indeed compelling. But there’s more to the story, as each additional TV in a TiVo household would require a TiVo Mini. Whereas Tablo has apps for Roku and Fire TV, with Apple TV nearly here. Not to mention Roamio OTA doesn’t stream to mobiles without purchasing additional hardware. Channel Master’s DVR+ is an interesting solution in terms of price and simplicity, but also inferior to both TiVo and Tablo in capabilities. And poopy slow the last time I took it for a spin. Disclosure: While we’ve always been quite fond of Tablo, I am currently running an advertising campaign on their behalf.

  15. Good point, Dave. New Tivo Mini’s are selling on Amazon for ~$110, so depending on your situation the Tivo solution may be significantly more expensive. Of course one could also consider purchasing a used Mini on ebay, where they appear to be selling for about $50.

  16. I would like to point out that the upcoming OTA DVR on the Xbox One makes it a competitor as well. However no way to extend to other TV’s makes it less so but the HDHomeRun DVR app is coming to Xbox One as well. More app selection for sure and games/Blu-ray included. Interested to see what updated hardware is released at E3.

  17. I dunno… I’m not feeling that single tuner Xbox One DVR. However, additional HDHomeRun DVR endpoints could be interesting. Their Channels app, currently for live television, on Apple TV is pretty special… but made by a third party.

  18. Do we know that it is going to be a single tuner only when released? Channels works great but they are dropping support for HDHomeRun DVR and are going to be releasing their own DVR solution.

  19. No way to compare a single tuner DVR to a quad tuner. I don’t even see the point with a single tuner DVR. Even thirty years ago I used multiple VCRs to have multiple tuners for all my time shifting. I couldn’t imagine using a single tuner now.

    At $400 for the “All IN” with the Roamio OTA is a good deal for four tuners. I only wish they would have used the newer, faster Bolt hardware with built in streaming capabilities.

  20. Ken, as of today, all Xbox One supports is a single tuner. They could expand to more I suppose. But by the time you add the expense of all that paraphernalia, maybe there’d have been a better solution?

    Thanks for the Channels update – I missed that. Could be very interesting. But TiVo’s effective interface masks what a complex solution DVR really is.

  21. As dwgsp pointed out above, this new Roamio OTA is a pretty good deal for what it is. But if I were starting over as a cord-cutter at this point, I might well opt for:

    Tablo 2-tuner DVR: $194
    1TB USB HDD: $60 (or just plug in a smaller one I already have on hand)
    Tablo lifetime guide data: $150 (or just pay $50 per year since who knows if I’ll still be using the thing after 3 years and, unlike TiVo, lifetime Tablo subs stay with the person, not the box)
    Roku Streaming Stick: $50
    total = $454

    Yes, that’s a little more than the lifetime cost of the new Roamio OTA with 4 tuners but the Tablo UI would live as an app on the Roku (or virtually any other connected device) right alongside every streaming app under the sun; that’s not the case with TiVo, which has a meager streaming app platform. Plus, as pointed out above, Tablo has built-in “tv everywhere” capabilities while you must buy extra hardware (Stream + Mini) to get that functionality with TiVo.

    Just depends on the specifics of your situation and what’s important to you. But as I said, I think TiVo has this new Roamio OTA fairly priced (especially when considering that the CM DVR+ with 1TB drive costs the same). And fortunately, I don’t think there’s anything about this new TiVo that would keep me from being able to resell my used 500 GB Roamio OTA with lifetime for about the $300 I paid for it.

  22. Dave did you notice in the press release it mentions with a Tivo Stream you can stream recorded TV to another room with Fire TV or APPLE TV? Do you think they are referring to an unannounced Apple TV app?

  23. That is one possibility and would generate much interest. But they may just be referring to the existing Airplay from iPhone/iPad to aTV.

    http://blog.tivo.com/2015/07/tivo-adds-key-feature-with-airplay-support/

  24. About the stream and TiVo FireTV app: I had been using a fair bit for some time, and it was quite a adequate with EXCELLENT HD PQ on my LAN. I would say I was happy. Started to use it again last week after an absence, and now the PQ is really bad with a new (I’ve never noticed it before) video quality meter at the bottom left confirming the poor quality. What is really annoying is that it starts out a higher (although LOUSY) video rating only to then get WORSE, so bad the stream even stutters. This was a total opposite experience. Meanwhile my Slingbox connected to the same TiVo as the app selection streams the PQ as beautiful HD clarity from the very same TiVo. No, it aint my LAN.

    Further, at about the same time, the Stream refuses to log me in or when I do get in using my tablets, I select a recording I KNOW has played in the past (and still tried all sorts of other recordings, and they are all OTA) it attempts to play the selected recording, but than closes out and kicks me to the Home screen of all my tablets. This is a TiVo Stream problem, and others complain about it at TCF. While I had escaped all those problems for a long time, it appears I am not a member of the club. Yes, I rebooted Stream, etc., but more complex solutions will have to be tried.

    My point is that the Stream is still a half-baked product and TiVo is actually promoting this in the press release? I think a new TiVo Stream is far more important to TiVo’s future than the rumored (now dead?) TiVo Bolt OTA or almost ANY new DVR. TiVo has to get the Stream right if it expects the newly priced Roamio OTA to really be embraced.

  25. Is it just me, or is TiVo’s pricing a mess.

    I think it’s kinda hilarious that anything related to cable costs more. Even when it’s NOT the cable company. LOL!

    I realize the cablecard version costs a little more, but I doubt it’s THAT much more.

  26. So essentially a free box with mandatory lifetime service plan.

  27. Yes, TiVo’s pricing is sort of an ever-evolving mess. I notice this new OTA goes on sale start of May, right about the same time the “special introductory pricing” on the Bolt ends. Wonder how that’s changing? As for only offering lifetime pricing on this new Roamio OTA, makes sense to me as cord-cutters don’t like paying recurring service fees.

  28. Jon the Heretic April 28, 2016 at 11:17 am

    Funny thing. Was reading about the great deal on a $400 OTA Roamio and one of the Ads above the story advertised a $300 Roamio with Lifetime that does it all, including cable card and OTA. Why would I take the new Roamio over the other, since it isn’t even using the newer, speedier Bolt hardware?

    I am a cord cutter but if I could get cable support AND OTA for the same or less money (!), I would prefer that and not feel boxed in. I like the freedom to be able to support cable for a year or two when they make one of those desperation offers you can’t refuse…

  29. @Jon: Hmm, maybe that ad you saw is outdated? I know some months back that TiVo was selling refurbished base-model Roamos (500 GB with CableCard & OTA) with lifetime service for cheap — somewhere in the $300-350 range, I think. But I’m not aware of anyone (other than maybe a random eBay listing) selling that model with lifetime now at all, for any price.

  30. Jon the Heretic April 28, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    Could be :) It was yesterday…a few inches upwards from what you are reading now.

  31. aaronwt, I dunno. I’m still on my Tivo HD, broadcast only, and I don’t remember the last time both little red lights came on. (I mean, I have simultaneous 5-minute recordings in the morning before I get up to change the channels so I can catch the weather on two stations before I leave, but in the OTA real world, I’m not sure I’ve used both of my tuners at the same time even a dozen times since I activated the thing however many years ago.

  32. Has anyone else noticed that the only Roamio available at TiVo’s website is a Roamio Pro outlet model?

    So on their own website, TiVo only has the Bolt and a Roamio Pro as an outlet model.

  33. @Jon,

    $400 is the cheapest a refurbished lifetime base Roamio (OTA & cablecard) was available from Tivo itself.

    Amazon has had the old Roamio OTA with lifetime for $300, sporadically (sells out as soon as it appears on the website).

  34. Dave-

    TiVo was smart to sell, considering what Channels app has done to transform HDHR with ATV4 into one heck of a cable/OTA box.

    Did you see Channels is developing their own DVR software? Sounds like it will run on a variety of hardware. They are hinting it will likely first be available for Mac. I find it hard to believe it won’t be NAS (WD Mycloud) supported, since that’s what’s HDHR’s beta DVR is using. The beta Channels app with the beta HDHR DVR is pretty good, but based upon what the Channels developers are capable of, whatever they release will be awesome.

    Here’s. link to info on the Channels DVR project:

    https://community.getchannels.com/t/announcing-channels-dvr/18

  35. I would consider this if TiVo would improve the software in the Roamios and Minis so that they would combine the content from all the Roamios. Right now, you can access the content of the other devices, but it’s separate. And the Mini is linked to one Roamio. But I’d like to add this because my Roamio has no OTA ability and there are a lot of OTA channels I can’t get via cable, at least in the package I have. Although $400 is a bit pricey for that.