Archives For Cord Cutting

While the cord-cutter-centric TiVo Bolt Aereo Edition was scrapped, prior to release, TiVo’s re-evaluated market conditions and unveiled the Bolt OTA DVR. And it represents a pretty significant upgrade over its Roamio OTA predecessor, including native streaming to mobile apps and  a bundled voice-control remote. Timing of the $250 device may appear challenging given Amazon’s Fire TV Recast announcement and marketing weight — the similarly specced 4-tuner, 1TB Recast runs $280, but free of fees. However, increased situational awareness, given Amazon’s marketing muscle, should benefit TiVo, Tablo, and HDHomeRun… with TiVo providing a somewhat more accessible approach, given traditional television output versus overcoming network tuner conceptual issues. Beyond core DVR capabilities, TiVo also bundles a number of native apps, like Netflix and YouTube. Plus, TiVo has sweetened the pot for potentially price sensitive cord cutters by reducing service fees to $6.99/mo or $70/yr, which seems entirely reasonable.

Having said that, some of those competitors stream to all sorts of inexpensive boxes… vs having to pick up a TiVo Mini for each television. Well, I’ve got some good news and some bad news. TiVo’s service provider IPTV endpoints are being reworked, expanded and, in talking to TiVo VP Ted Malone, they hope to release these Roku, Fire TV, and Apple TiVo “soft Mini” clients to retail TiVo owners in the first half of 2019. No fees.

Well this certainly came out of left field.

Silicon Dust just launched a television streaming service that commingles online, pay television programming with local, over-the-air broadcasts via their HDHomeRun network tuner hardware. And, yes, this includes DVR (!) using their native software or the superior 3rd party Channels software. It’s somewhat similar to Sling’s AirTV solution but pretty fully baked at launch and perhaps, more accessible – both conceptually and in terms of playback. The HDHomeRun Premium TV channel lineup includes 45 channels, such as ESPN, CNN, and HGTV, for $35/mo – and, like the others, no long-term contract is required. Early reports have raised 720p quality concerns and hard-coded timezones may become a viewing consideration, but one might assume these will be improved over time and that the convenience of everything in one place may outweigh these cons.

HDHomeRun Premium TV complements our existing LIVE OTA Cord Cutting TV solution with a package of premium must-watch shows and channels that you’d find on cable but at a fraction of the cost and without the commitment of an annual contract.

It’s the ultimate Cord Cutting Solution that offers the best of both worlds – great LIVE OTA and the best of premium cable channels without the Cable Subscription or set-top box rental!

Don’t look for Expensive and segmented a la Carte’ services trying to fill that programming void for different devices in different rooms after you Cut the Cord, enjoy HDHomeRun Premium TV on multiple devices at the same time around your home. Watch on your computer, tablet, phone and media devices, and watch live TV and premium content in every room of your house through one convenient interface.

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At long last, the Tablo OTA DVR can now optionally provide the frequently requested surround sound. The firmware update, rolling out in waves now, enables owners to toggle AC3 audio encoding… with a potentially significant caveat: not all Tablo clients are currently 5.1-capable. So while your Roku can pump out surround sound, if you also view your recordings on Xbox Once, you’ll be treated to a whole lot of silence. Tablo’s blog post breaks down their technical challenges, design decisions, and itemizes supported devices and scenarios.

As foreshadowed by yours truly and then announced at CES, Alexa has finally come to TiVo retail boxes. Well, sort of. Over the weekend, a placeholder app appeared – announcing the imminent arrival of Amazon’s voice assistant. Although TiVo has introduced their own native voice remote, it requires an additional purchase, vs those who already own Alexa gear, and is limited to units running the less desirable TiVo Experience 4 (Hydra) on a subset of TiVo hardware. By comparison, Alexa will be made available to a broad swath of devices, dating all the way back to the Premiere and running either Hydra or the HDUI Encore interface.

The TiVo Alexa skill isn’t live yet, but we know it’ll utilize Amazon’s beefed up media api. And, based on some of the documented commands that’ll be available to us, the delay will have been well worth the wait: Continue Reading…


Noted Apple gossip blog Bloomberg indicates the company intends to beef up its TV app on Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad:

Right now, the TV app aggregates content from other providers, allowing people to locate shows from a wide array of apps and channels like ABC, NBA League Pass and HBO, rather than having to hop between different apps. But then Apple sends customers outside its app to buy access to those channels or watch shows. With the pending change, subscription purchasing would move to the TV app. Apple could eventually move the streaming to its own app, instead of sending users to third parties.

Sounds a lot like Amazon’s Prime Video app and Channels approach, by becoming a streaming service content hub for, presumably, a more elegant end-user experience, that also happens to generate additional affiliate revenue for Apple — and not entirely dissimilar from Roku’s desire for a bigger cut on the content distribution front. Beyond 3rd party providers, this may also signal that Apple intends to leverage an updated TV app to distribute its own upcoming original programming.

The TiVo Hydra experience has seen a number of updates, since its October release, but they’ve primarily been focused on squashing (numerous) bugs. While that work continues, TiVo has begun rolling out their first “feature update” to existing Hydra owners — beginning two weeks ago with 5000 randomly selected boxes and now expanded to the general TiVo populace.

There are a number of visible changes, but the headline feature relates to the continued deprecation of textual lists in favor of a newly unveiled, graphically-intensive, dual-axis navigation. Another possibly notable revision is an update to the “mini guide” that closes the gap on the abandoned pioneering “Live Guide.”

As one pal told me, if you already appreciate the Hydra experience you’re gonna enjoy it that much more. If Hydra isn’t your thing, the 21.8.1 update won’t move the needle much… and I personally see no reason to give Hydra another go our home at this point. Our TiVos work just fine and predictably within the Encore HDUI. Although I do wonder if Hydra will be a pre-req when the delayed native Alexa integration hits.

(Thanks Daren, Mikey!)

We often jump on newly released gadgetry, as we’re wont to do, and my co-conspirator Adam Miarka just picked up the recently unveiled Tablo Dual Lite over-the-air DVR given his dissatisfaction with Plex DVR playback (as run from his Synology DS218+ NAS). The Tablo primarily records shows his toddler requires (hello Daniel Tiger and Ready Jet Go). While Tablo hasn’t yet provided a feature to offload recordings, Adam is running the community-produced Tablo Ripper from a Windows laptop to hoard move recordings from his smaller Tablo external drive to a Plex directory on the more capacious and aforementioned NAS. Tablo Ripper can be run as a service and does integrate with commercial skip software, but Adam’s keeping things simple by running on demand (and PBS doesn’t show a whole lotta commercials). From the NAS, Adam streams shows to his Apple TV Plex app and I suspect he’ll eventually get around to Plex iOS downloads for network-free mobile entertainment before the family heads out on their vacation.

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