Archives For TiVo

While we often ignore or outright bypass commercial interruption, TiVo recognizes the Super Bowl is different and has flipped the script by inverting its ad-skipping technology:

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?

The 4K TiVo Mini Vox Giveaway

Dave Zatz —  January 23, 2018

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.

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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…

With little fanfare, TiVo quietly retired their Amazon Fire TV client application a few weeks ago.

After two years of successful adoption, the beta program of TiVo for FireTV has come to a close. As of November 2017, the app has ceased its current functionality and will no longer be available for new downloads from the Amazon Marketplace in the coming days. TiVo and FireTV technologies have grown and changed quite a bit since our release of this beta application in 2015. To best support these advances, we’ve made the difficult decision to end support for the existing beta application. We at TiVo are committed to incorporating your beta program feedback so we can provide a truly optimized experience for today’s Streaming Video technology and user needs. 

While it’s sad to see it go, the app really wasn’t very good. And, so once again, the TiVo Mini remains the DVR’s lone TV extender option, compared to say Tablo, Plex, or even Comcast that provide clients for boxes like Roku and Apple TV. But it’s been a tumultuous time at TiVo, punctuated by a shifting strategy and integration a new (inferior) guide as part of the Rovi acquisition. Yet, all is not lost, as my old pal and former colleague Ted Malone has been brought in to potentially turn around TiVo’s retail fortunes. And, on the app front… Continue Reading…

TiVo Cloud Recording Coming Soon?

Dave Zatz —  November 10, 2017

As I continue to mull over the new (incomplete, buggy) TiVo Hydra interface, while awaiting patches, evidence has surfaced that TiVo cloud recording remains an active project. When the Tablo-fighting TiVo Mavrik OTA solution was scrapped, I’d assumed cloud was similarly off the table. However, recording options and uncovered code on tivo.com suggest otherwise. As revealed last spring, it appeared TiVo would offer two tiers of cloud recording capacity (20GB, 50GB) and we know they were testing on Bolt this time last year. Wether or not the presumably optional service will be limited to over-the-air programming is anyone’s guess and if it’s something enough of us are willing to pay for… given sufficient recording capacity and out-of-home streaming.

(Thanks Cole!)

How To Upgrade To TiVo Hydra

Dave Zatz —  October 29, 2017

The switch has been flipped and Hydra is now available to TiVo Bolt, Roamio, and Mini owners who want it. However, you probably want to review these considerations before proceeding. Further, the downgrade app, should you later choose to throw in the towel, does not yet appear to be available and TiVo Minis have had some trouble with the upgrade process.

Should that not be enough to dissuade, here’s how to get in early on the optional upgrade: Hit this link, log into TiVo.com, and select the boxes you’d like to update. The TiVo Service Numbers are being swept in every two hours so, should the 24-48 hour wait be too long, you’d go into your network settings to force a connection to receive the update and then reboot to apply it.

Keep in mind any Minis you have will ultimately need to match the host DVR interface. So excluding them or trying to prioritize them within the request form won’t ultimately mean anything. With that in mind, I’d suggest updating everything or nothing.

I haven’t had enough time with Hydra to pass judgement, other than to say I appreciate the menu customization and find the animations, transitions, etc very smooth … although there’s going to be significant retraining in regards to deprecation of the left directional button and rethinking of the now playing show info banner, plus who knows what else. Also, at a meta analytical level, the new interface has me wondering what makes TiVo a TiVo. Hm.

The TiVo Hydra Heads Up

Dave Zatz —  October 28, 2017

TiVo Hydra is coming… the interface (and more), several years in the making, that re-envisions the TiVo experience upon a modern, extensible platform. And should you be primed and ready to go, TiVo Consumer VP Ted Malone has provided details how to accelerate the optional update process for existing Bolt, Roamio, and Mini boxes:

On Sunday morning, you will be able to go to a page on the TiVo website and request the upgrade for any TSN that is on your account. While not technically “forever”, you will need to wait 2-3 hours before forcing a call to download the new software.

However, before you take the plunge, there are some things you should know…

  • Despite the extensive gestation period, including the incorporation of Fan TV talent and departure of design chief Margret Schmidt, Hydra remains a work in progress. Folks who lived with the prior interfaces for years upon years should be prepared for a shock to the system. Not to say the experience isn’t good, but it’s dramatically different and not yet complete. Not that these things ever are
  • And one feature in particular power users need to be alerted to: PC-to-TiVo uploads (think TiVo Desktop, pytivo, etc) are not yet operational. I don’t believe this is an intentional EOL event. Rather, there was work prioritized ahead of this more niche functionality and the retrofitting of likely archaic hooks. However, transferring recordings from various TiVo DVRs to Hydra boxes works (via TiVo.com, versus STB initiation) as does downloading recordings to computer.
  • The possibly pioneering, two column Live Guide is gone. Which amuses me to no end. For years and years I pined for a grid guide (look, here’s a post from 2006) while TiVo pushed their supposedly superior solution and lamented grid guide removal after TiVo’s brief dalliance. But, in what I assume may be a concession to the cable companies, Hydra features a traditional grid guide. While I’m perfectly OK with that, I suspect many others may not be.
  • Owners of first generation TiVo Minis should be aware they lack the interface’s critical ‘back’ remote control button. The ‘zoom’ button will act as a stand-in should you be prepared to move forward with Hydra without committing to the purchase of a new remote.
  • Should you update to Hydra and later change your mind (or someone in your household changes it for you), you can revert back. However, it requires a complete factory reset … and lose of all your recordings.

In any event, I expect several updates over the next few weeks ironing out any last-minute bugs before the team gets to work on more significant refinement based on our feedback and what I assume is an extensive roadmap.

Yeppers, TiVo Bolt Does HDR*

Dave Zatz —  October 24, 2017

As you’ve probably heard, TiVo announced three new Bolt DVRs and a 4K Mini today… which came as no surprise to me, since I’ve spent months tracking them. So, in talking with Ted Malone, my former colleague and newly installed VP of Consumer, I focused on other, geekier matters. And a question I frequently get is HDR. As it turns out, the entire Bolt line (old and new) is currently HDR-ready — specifically the more ubiquitous HDR10. However, it’s dependent upon partner providers, like Amazon and Vudu, to implement the expanded color spectrum within their apps. Given TiVo’s significantly smaller retail footprint, compared to say Roku, those orgs reasonably prioritize other platforms. But hopefully one day they’ll also see fit to service TiVo customers.

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