Archives For Cord Cutting

Some TiVo Deals To Be Had

Dave Zatz —  June 23, 2017 — 27 Comments

Given TiVo’s apparent deemphasis of retail and degraded Rovi guide data, I might not have branded this promotion a “Meltdown” … but there are certainly some good deals to be had here this summer. First and foremost is the TiVo Roamio OTA 48-hour “flash sale” — at $300, including lifetime service, this is a solid deal for a great cord cutter DVR (even though you may not need one). Plus it’s TiVo’s larger 1TB model. Further down the line are refurbished TiVo Mini extenders at $100. This may not be the best price we’ve ever seen, but it’s a nice discount and supposedly the newer, model with RF remote. Lastly, if you were already in the market for a Bolt or prior generation Roamio Pro, TiVo will spot you a minimum of $200 for a box with lifetime service.

Although TiVo may be moving on, Canadian startup Nuvyyo is doubling down on Tablo with a spiffy new network tuner. The Tablo Dual OTA DVR ($250) features a significantly smaller, redesigned fanless enclosure. But that’s not the real story here. By integrating 64GB of flash storage, all customers now start with up to 40 hours of antenna TV recording capacity. Combined with exclusive Best Buy retail availability, the company is clearly attempting to push this product into the mainstream. Beyond the aforementioned bundled storage, Tablo Dual features comparable internals to its predecessors (which will coexist) — Tablo continues to tune performance and expand the ecosystem of streaming apps capable of receiving both live and recorded over-the-air video. Plus owners can still simply expand storage via an external USB drive and cloud DVR options remain on the roadmap. To maximize the experience, most folks will want the $50/yr subscription for two weeks of guide data… which is a much more palatable number than what TiVo requires. While the ‘headless’ tuner doesn’t neatly fit into the traditional set-top DVR paradigm, like Channel Master’s solution, it certainly offers a more modern and flexible approach… that others like Channels (Apple TV) and Plex have (Android TV) similarly undertaken.

Sigh. Sources indicate the TiVo Mavrik is dead. What was intended to be TiVo’s more modern take on antenna television now joins the Bolt Aereo Edition in the cord cutter dustbin as Rovi management calibrates a new TiVo. The Mavrik is was a dual-tuner Tablo-esque network tuner with cloud recording capabilities that would stream video to multiple sources, such as the Amazon Fire TV. But, beyond business prioritization, I’m hearing that the technical realities of the product did not live up to the prior management’s hype. In fact, “bad” is an adjective one source levied. Further, we’ve learned all of TiVo’s consumer-facing initiatives are on life support. This wouldn’t necessarily impact existing customers, over the short-term anyway, other than products like the upcoming TiVo Vox products, with bundled voice remote, may also end up on the chopping block. If you’re not feeling blue yet, I can tell you that the TiVo Hydra interface originally planned for 2016 has been delayed again… until late 2017. There remains a small sliver of hope, given third party licensing and TiVo’s search for a new CEO. Perhaps that individual will see more promise in retail and can more effectively wrangle the development staff.

When TiVo opened their CMS search to all a few weeks back, they left behind traces of an alternate timeline… one where the TiVo Bolt Aereo Edition actually made it to launch. And, fortunately for us, an astute reader ferreted out and preserved the details. First glimpsed in August of 2015, the TiVo Bolt Aereo Edition was to be the Roamio OTA of the Bolt era — effectively the same generation of DVR hardware, minus a PCMCIA CableCARD apparatus. So whereas the Bolt is largely marketed at cable customers dissatisfied with their provider’s hardware offering, the 500GB Aereo Edition was to target cord cutters as an OTA antenna-only offering — clocking in at a lower $99.99 price point. As of October 2015, TiVo was still intent upon launching the TiVo Bolt Aereo Edition, although “Aereo” branding was still in play. I didn’t give it much thought when TiVo’s 2015 “end of year” prediction failed to materialize given their development track record. But after the Roamio OTA resurgence last spring and Mavrik’s unveiling last fall, it seemed likely that the Bolt Aereo Edition had been scrapped in favor of a more Tablo-esque solution and perhaps due to not enough differentiation between the two Bolt models, as the CableCARD model also handles OTA signals.

Sony serves up one of the very best cord cutting offerings of a small, but growing, gaggle of services that largely replicate cable bundles in aggregating a number pay channels, but served up over the Internet, with more modern interfaces and features (except when they don’t). Unfortunately, by going with “PlayStation” Vue branding, confusion has arisen as, it’s become clear to me, that many folks don’t realize the agnostic service can be accessed from Apple TV, Fire TV, Roku, and other non-Sony hardware. So, amidst this backdrop, it appears the company may be rethinking some things.

Sony emailed a small group of PlayStation Vue subscribers a survey called the Vue Naming Survey. Sony asked several questions about naming different areas. One area that was shared with Cord Cutters News was about a new name for the DVR section.

The TiVo Roamio OTA is on sale for $250, including lifetime service (!) and free shipping. Two points to note: This is the older, 500GB model and it is a refurb. However, this is a fantabulous deal — the cheapest way to get one of the very best antenna experiences… a likely better investment than the TiVo Mavrik and when paired with a few TiVo Minis. If you’re more comfortable with new hardware and would appreciate another 500GB, Amazon is offering Lifetimed 1TB model for $347(Thanks Bill!)

When TiVo pulled the page hosting Mavrik imagery, they left behind a search box… and search I did. The TiVo Mavrik is confirmed as an OTA two-tuner network accessory, a la Tablo, that will beam both live and recorded content to web browsers, mobile apps, and the Fire TV.

Mavrik plugs into your HD antenna and connects to your wireless router so you can stream live TV to your tablet, smartphone, laptop or Amazon Fire TV through your home network. Going out? Let Mavrik record your favorite shows in the cloud, so you can access them later from virtually anywhereAccess your recorded shows from the cloud at home, at work or in your hotel room on the other side of the country. Wherever you have WiFi, you have your shows. Enjoy live and recorded TV on your Amazon Fire TV or Amazon Fire Stick. Just open the Live TV app in the Fire TV software and start watching. TiVo’s iOS and Android app allows you to watch your shows and recordings on compatible tablet and mobile devices. You can even watch on a web browser at TiVO Online.

Unfortunately it looks like we’ve also confirmed there will be no local DVR storage, with all recordings looking to reside within TiVo’s cloud. Making matters worse, they appear to be following in Boxee’s failed footsteps with regional restrictions and perhaps shared recordings.

Mavrik employs a patented, first-of-its-kind technology to record your favorite shows in the cloud without bogging down your home’s broadband performance. It’s cloud recording without the headaches. Cloud recording feature currently is available in solely the following San Francisco Bay Area counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Benito, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and Sonoma.

However, the (draft?) documentation, does indicate Mavrik owners will be provided 20 hours of cloud storage on the house with the ability to upgrade to 50hrs, somewhat mirroring Aereo’s retired tiers – although exact pricing remains a mystery. Also a mystery is what over-the-air cloud DVR features will be made available to TiVo Bolt and Roamio owners that were in testing last fall.