The TiVo Mini 4K Is Happening

Dave Zatz —  August 7, 2017 — 29 Comments

While TiVo may be dialing back marketing expenditures in the retail segment, the back half of 2017 is looking pretty promising for us consumers.

First, after many long years, the HDUI has just been completed (with the slightly more modern Bolt-esque presentation coming to Premiere and Roamio). Next, their will indeed be a voice remote control – available as an accessory to existing customers and likely also bundled with new TiVo retail hardware. And, speaking of that new TiVo hardware… I can confirm that, while the Mavrik initiative has been scrapped, the TiVo Mini 4K is a go. Dropping the original trapezoidal TiVo Mini form factor, the updated extender is more Roku Ultra in appearance and subtly carries forward the TiVo Bolt’s design arc. While the headline feature may be 4K and the small number of services that have chosen to provide the higher video resolution to TiVo owners, I anticipate at least Bolt-class processing power — meaning it’ll be a much more snappy and usable app platform than the legacy TiVo hardware provides and something I would absolutely upgrade for to access Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video on Input 1 vs flipping to Roku or Fire TV. I’m expecting both TiVo’s voice remote and the 4K Mini to hit this fall, along with at least one compelling new software trick…

Update: More TiVo Mini 4K details here.

As I pine away for the Hopper’s “Sport Bar Mode” TiVo will soon provide a less flashy, but more practical “SportsPass” – effectively a season pass for your favorite sports team in the major US pro leagues, plus college football and basketball. Never miss another non-live game? I’d prefer automated recording of some of the more obscure sports and teams, often broadcast at inopportune times, but the resources to pull it off probably wouldn’t make much business sense for TiVo.

29 responses to The TiVo Mini 4K Is Happening

  1. Any word on TiVo mini 4K pricing?

  2. I guess it will all come down to pricing vs the other 4K boxes (Roku, FireTV, etc…)

  3. I’m hoping it slides right into the existing TiVo Mini price slot – but with the voice remote, who knows. Not sure if there will be two SKUs, one with, one without. Pricing won’t be super competitive compared to the cheaper Roku and Fire TVs given TiVo’s scale/footprint and full-frame MPEG2 requirements. However, compared to purchasing a second DVR+ for OTA recording or renting an extra cable box/extender, it should remain a relatively good value. On my Verizon package, STBs are $12/mo – so my existing Minis would have paid for themselves in a year.

    I didn’t mention in the post, but I have no reason to believe these will have wireless capabilities based on previous company expectation setting. Again, these are a different sort of animal than a pure OTT streamer like Roku. They’re TiVo DVR accessories that primarily extend video from that hub DVR into additional rooms.

  4. TiVo still has beta app for the FireTV and the iOS app (not sure about TVOS), so there still is other ways to stream TiVo content to other devices.. albeit not the same experience in its current form. So I think if priced too high, it may be a tougher sell.

  5. A TiVo Mini doesn’t even compare to a Roku or even a FireTV for streaming. I still need to use a Roku at every location I have a TiVo or Mini. Because of the limited number of streaming options the TiVo products have.

    The TiVo Bolt has been out for almost two years now. And we still don’t have UHD streaming from Amazon.

    I am not hopeful at with with what a 4K Mini would have. I’m guessing it will be as useful for UHD content as a 4K Bolt is. Which is to say it’s not very useful at all. Heck they never even enabled HDR capability.

  6. Although the best thing I like about the 4K Mini, is it’s normal shape. As long as it’s still fanless, then I will consider replacing my current Mini with it. If for nothing else other than to have more modern hardware.

  7. As I suggested in the post, I’d upgrade for improve app responsiveness and hope Amazon ultimately finds TiVo worthy for 4K streaming… While TiVo’s app catalog is small and getting the them is currently inefficient (when not using OnePass), they do house my most commonly accessed streaming services and presumably the voice remote will allow me to say “Launch Netflix”.

  8. @Dave or just press the new Netflix button! :)

  9. I guess the Mini 4K would only be compatible with a Bolt and not Roamio’s.

  10. @JP the 4K is only applicable to streaming services like Netflix and Amazon.

  11. @Aaron got it…thx!

  12. I have been in the Cable business for years and I’ve had my TiVo for years what was save TiVo as if they strike a deal with sling TV or Hulu live TV or one of them they are doing everything else but doing that I don’t understand people’s marketing if they do that it would give TiVo huge advantage and people will buy the box of more. It would also be a good selling point for them

  13. Dang, I can’t even blame that one on coffee Aaron!

    Malik, for retail, I’m sure they’d like a Sling TV or similar service. However, it’s up to those guys to deliver and TiVo’s footprint may not be large enough to go after. Also, as TiVo has pivoted to focus on cable partners, they wouldn’t want to further compete against (i.e. piss off) partners like RCN. Of course the holy grail here is not just a Sling TV app but A DVR that merges online and linear recordings.

  14. I’m guessing it will be the same msrp as the existing mini. I doubt they will be able to get as low as a roku. I got a Premiere+ for $64.

  15. The Premiere + retails for $90.
    At some point there will be deals on the 4K Mini. Just like there are deals on the 2K Mini.

  16. Like I’ve said many times, the easiest IPTV solution they could use is the one from Evolution Digital called eVue-TV since they already have a close working relationship with them. I totally believe that will be the first solution they provide, then maybe the others will follow if successful, to give you choice.

  17. It will come down to Apps. Why the heck don’t we have YouTube TV, DirectTV Now, Hulu Live? It’s extremely annoying that Tivo can easily completely take over all my rooms but sadly their developers most work for a gov office

  18. Why do I have a feeling this box will have the new Hydra UI interface first, followed by a slow roll out to the Bolt?

  19. Dave, I agree with Malik and your definition of holy grail. If TiVo can’t make that happen, they have no value proposition long term. Surely, they realize this and are attempting to figure it out.

    Granted they are still the best OTA DVR/tuner, but cord-cutting laymen are more likely to go straight to OTT options and bypass antennas altogether.

    TiVo could also partner with a DirecTVNow or similar “cable partner” and spin this in the same way they currently focus on cable partners…just dealing with an IP stream instead. Get them to subsidize boxes the same way they’ve done with other OTT devices.

  20. They could… but, beyond the partnership intricacies and landscape challenges, both the original TiVo, Inc and the former Rovi make significant money via intellectual property enforcement and licensing. So they’re getting paid by everyone as it is. Microsoft is a fascinating case study – Windows Phone bombed (commercially) and the plug was pulled… but MS is collecting billions in Android licensing, so maybe it doesn’t even matter.

    Fussy, it’s hard to know if we’re in the Hydra home stretch and what the deployment plan will look like. But you raise a good point, one that could shift the math for many of us old timers. Hm.

  21. As a 17 year Tivo customer, I can say that I am done with Tivo! The company that once truly focused on customer service is now a thing of the past. They currently have a one star rating with Consumer Affairs. Most of the complaints (like mine) are centered around lifetime service promotions that are not being honored since Rovio purchased Tivo, and their customer service center was relocated from the U.S. to an overseas location. Many like myself have paid thousands between new Tivo hardware and lifetime subscriptions. I have Xfinity’s DVR along with my newest Tivo. When that unit dies, so does my relationship with Tivo.

  22. I couldn’t imagine using the Comcast X1 daily instead of my TiVos. I hate using the X1 when I visit my parents or brother. The TiVo is still so much better.

    Although I will say the voice feature of the X1 is nice. That is great when searching for something.

  23. Yeah Rivo may have its faults but a whole-home Tivo+Mini solution still beats the pants off of paying way too much rent for an inferior Xfinity setup.

  24. “Dave, I agree with Malik and your definition of holy grail. If TiVo can’t make that happen, they have no value proposition long term. Surely, they realize this and are attempting to figure it out.”

    Hmm…

    I disagree with you folks on your take on the Holy Grail for TiVo.

    1) Integration of multicast and OTT is already here! It’s called OnePass. It’s pretty great. Of course, it’d be nice if TiVo managed to crank out a wider variety of apps, but as we all know, that’s not something anywhere near fully within their control. It’d be nice if OnePass were incrementally improved, but better chipsets will likely be accomplishing some of that, and if we’re lucky, software tweaks will come out as well. (Assuming the voice remote works well with universal search and ‘My Shows’, that’s one tweak.)

    2) As far as the “long term”, TiVo is dead no matter what they do. When the multicast goes away, TiVo will go away, unless they pivot to the niche OTA market, which has little value proposition, and further assumes that OTA will survive, which I’d tend to bet against in the “long term”. But while the multicast is going to go away in the “long term”, I’ve been arguing for years that that long term is far longer than most assumptions you read, and I’ve been correct so far. As far as shifting to a pure OTT play, what on Earth makes anyone think the non-deep-pocketed TiVo could succeed in that market? Roku seems to be having a hard enough time competing with Amazon and Apple, and they’re very well positioned, with long experience in the market. Many others have tried to enter the market with no real success. And hell, maybe Apple will get their act together on their OTT box someday, which would make things even more impossible.

    tl;dr The Holy Grail is already here. It will hopefully get better over time. TiVo has no value proposition in the “long term”, but that may be a very long time in arriving.

  25. Sling TV on TiVo is coming.

  26. ATSC 3.0 may help give OTA a bigger push.

    Pablo…interesting…

  27. Here’s hoping they keep the ethernet port for those of us who prefer to hardwire as many household devices as possible. There is only one location where I could use a wireless Mini.

  28. Is there a tentative date on which to expect a new TiVo Mini to actually enter the market and be able to buy online?

  29. I don’t have a date, but all available intel seems to suggest it’ll be released this year.

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