Archives For TiVo

TiVo is out with a massive refresh of its Android and Apple iOS apps this week. Most notable is the extension of the TiVo Experience 4 (aka Hydra and Mira) to mobile. And. I gotta say, I actually prefer Hydra here (vs TV lean back) – it provides a snappy and sleek modern look that works well in this content. TiVo also indicates we should expect a variety of streaming performance improvements with more granular config options. Bonus: iPhone X support.

However, as with all initial TiVo releases, to get the software out the door in a timely fashion (one presumes), a number of features have been excised: Downloaded shows are no longer grouped within folders (see bottom left pic) and you can no longer swipe to delete. Also possibly in the negative column, remote control visuals have been updated… dropping the iconic peanut presentation, with mixed results. Still no iPhone cellular streaming, although I’m told it’s on the roadmap.

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TiVo does what the DVR pioneer does best with Smart Extend, an upcoming feature designed to record sporting events with fine precision.

Given the variable timing of live events, TiVo long ago added padding options – to extend recordings by X number of minutes beyond the scheduled broadcast window. But it’s a something of a sledge-hammer approach that requires a certain amount of guesswork. By comparison, Smart Extend leverages TiVo’s partnership with Thuuz (and significant back-end modification to accommodate real-time communication with the TiVo mothership) to smartly stop recording as a game concludes. And you can still throw some padding in there if you’d like.

TiVo VP Ted Malone indicates this feature is expected to be delivered to Bolt, Roamio, and Mini hardware running “TiVo Experience 4” (aka Hydra aka Mira) this year. And I’m hopeful the company finds a way to also apply this approach to other live programming, such as the Oscars and Emmy Awards.

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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.

As Amazon puts its final touches on the Fire TV Recast DVR (!!), TiVo is prepping a rather significant fall software update… that actually extends to hardware. As in: we’ll finally receive HDMI-CEC capabilities. Well, at least Roamio and Bolt DVRs running this upcoming version of the Hydra user experience. While volume control isn’t included or required due to programmable remote capabilities, hitting a TiVo button will switch inputs and/or power on the television — as we’ve long seen from others, including Fire TV and Apple TV. Bonus: CEC extends to Alexa voice control! Sadly, and this is a big one, Minis aren’t included in this round.

Another notable move, based on user feedback and usability testing, is a partial retreat on the dual axis interface across Roamio, Bolt, and Mini platforms. A strategy I’m totally good with. The first cut of the My Shows revamp swaps the Series level strip view from for a more practical vertical listing. And, in a number of areas, the browsing strip will be replaced by a traditional grid of title tiles.

Perhaps the biggest improvement for those who had upgraded to Hydra a year ago, and proceeded to lose features, is the restoration of folder Play All functionality for uninterrupted binge viewing. You’re welcome.

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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TiVo’s got a great offer for those of you still rocking legacy DVRs with Lifetime service. Active* Series 2, Series 3, TiVo HD, and Premiere units can have their Lifetime service transferred to a new TiVo Bolt Vox under the equivalent All-In plan for just $99. As to the fine print, this promotion is only applicable to set-tops that, “have connected to a TiVo service between July 25, 2017 and July 25, 2018. Your current box will be deactivated on September 7, 2018.” So while our moth-balled units can’t partake, active users get a real nice hardware upgrade at a great price – including a month of service overlap to transfer Season/One Passes and recordings.

(Thanks Daniel T!)