I’ve got some very good news for owners of legacy TiVo hardware… and a smattering of bad news.
While I had assumed the TiVo Premiere was end-of-life, over 250,000 of you still on the platform recently received the Roamio and Bolt’s highly desirable SkipMode – which enables somewhat automated commercial skipping of most prime time television recordings. Additionally, these 8-year old DVRs have been treated to the recently released Alexa integration for voice control. It’s quite refreshing to see TiVo invest their finite resources in backporting a subset of folks on this older hardware (and I’m guessing those of you on monthly or annual service plans are to be thanked).
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…
In addition, we have signed on a major device manufacturer as our direct-to-consumer box partner. This partner will take over retail sales outside of TiVo.com, namely through Amazon and Best Buy. Once we complete this transition, we still will have direct consumer hardware sales through TiVo.com which we will be fulfilling through this box manufacturer. […]
What that means is that we are not going to be producing or manufacturing or contracting directly the manufacturer of these boxes. That will be done by our partners. We will be securing whatever volume we need for tivo.com. We will be securing from the partner.
In that sense, what I think as a distribution channel. But the majority of the sales to everything that happens for example on Amazon or in Best Buy will be handled directly between the partner and the distribution. We would be completely out of that transaction.
From an end consumer perspective, there will be no material change. There’s no significant co-branding. Of course, there’s always recognition of who manufactures the device that will continue. But basically, the consumer will continue seeing a TiVo branded devices with a TiVo experience, TiVo software that they know and love over the years. […]
Yes, in fact that’s a positive impact because they have better presence in those channels that we do today. And then, it’s a partner that we have a great relationship with. We’re very confident of their ability to succeed there. But we’ll continuously work with them, in some places when we decide to jointly try to promote something or jointly try to accelerate something. We’re not just a normal relationship that we will have with them.
So who is this mystery partner? The new TiVo Mini Vox is produced by Arris, a close TiVo partner. But I’m not certain what their retail experience is. Hmmm.
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.
Everyone knows that this Sunday’s commercials are some of the best, highest quality commercials of the year. So, we’re going to tag the game backwards, with the commercials and the halftime show marked as if it were the program, and the game marked as if it was the commercial. As usual, the SKIP function will not show up until after the game has finished. But, once the green SKIP icon shows up next to your recording of the game, you can watch the recording and use the SKIP or D button to jump to the commercial segments quickly. […] This “GameSkip” functionality should work for all TiVo boxes that have SKIP enabled today.
So this is a pretty cool “experiment” (that’s sure to confuse many who didn’t get the inversion memo), but not without technical challenges given potential inaccuracy in closed captioning and other meta data, along with potential trip-ups due to regional advertising spots. Fortunately, all the best Super Bowl commercials ultimately wind up on YouTube (often saddled with additional advertising, yay). What time is the Super Bowl?
TiVo VP Ted Malone kindly provided a TiVo Mini Vox ($180) for evaluation, which I’m now happy to pass along a member of the community.
As you likely know, the TiVo Mini line of small form factor set-tops extend your core TiVo DVR experience to additional rooms and televisions within the home. The newly released Mini Vox features a similar footprint as its predecessors and, beyond more agreeable styling, also brings superior processing power and 4K along for the ride to stream that ultra HD Netflix and Amazon. It’s snappy! The Mini Vox also sports TiVo’s new Hydra interface, for better or worse, which in turn enables TiVo’s highly capable native voice capabilities – triggered via the bundled voice remote.
The giveaway is a fairly simple and standard affair, although not entirely free… as the cost of entry is your social media soul. For reference, a YouTube subscription carries double the weight of a Twitter follow and 4x the value of a Facebook look-see. But, hey, feel free to stack the odds in your favor by taking all available actions. One winner will be selected at random next week and, should the response be favorable, I’ve got some other goodies (eero) waiting in the wings.
As TiVo puts the finishing touches on their CES experience, we can clearly see from the “booth” signage (above) that they’re expanding beyond newly introduced native voice control to embrace third parties. While TiVo “Vox” offers far deeper integration and control, including stacked commands, than Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant can provide, those offerings are always-listening (for better or worse) and already installed in many TiVo customer’s homes… and options are good. No word yet on availability, but I assume this will come to all Hydra-endowed retail units and whichever MSOs choose to integrate (who may be limited by regional availability). Continue Reading…