Archives For TiVo

As revealed a few months back, TiVo is (finally) prepping native voice control. And the retail voice remote is nearing release, given this recent FCC filing and insider chatter. For me, acoustical capabilities cannot arrive soon enough. While I suspect I’ll rarely seek out content suggestions by voice, like “horror movies” or “soccer,” I will absolutely channel surf. For example, it took some time to track down Animal Planet for my daughter (which was a bust) as I have no idea where most channels live (being a long-term DVR owner) and textual search can be somewhat tedious (compared to Mom’s Xfinity remote).

Beyond the new big blue microphone button, it looks like Netflix has successfully strong-armed TiVo into their direct access button requirement (with Apple TV likely being the last and only hold out). Fortunately, that bit ‘o spam is nicely offset by a new, dedicated commercial skip button (that replaces the cable version’s On Demand).

As to timing, I believe we’re looking at a fall release and, supposedly, older TiVo units like Premiere will be able to purchase remotes with a USB dongle to enable the appropriate RF (BLE?) communication.

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.

Voice control is all the rage these days… and TiVo is working on, not one, but two solutions. Beyond this exclusive pic of TiVo’s upcoming voice remote and native natural language processing capabilities, sources also indicate TiVo is dabbling in Alexa. Integration is not “terribly hard to do” given Amazon’s Alexa Skills api and TiVo’s already exposed network remote control and I’m guessing we might see the fruits of their labor this fall. Equally intriguing is a tip indicating TiVo will be bringing an IFTTT app to to the platform. How and where the automation framework links up remains a mystery, but there are certainly some interesting possibilities.

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.

As TiVo continues to find itself, post Rovi merger, details have emerged on what looks like a new retail-focused offering called Vox.

TiVo has submitted six trademark requests with the USPTO for both the TiVo Bolt Vox and the TiVo Mini Vox. While multiple entities have seemingly confirmed to me that “Vox” is a thing, I’ve got nothing else to go on at this point… although I’m always willing to speculate. And one area in which TiVo has started to the lag the competition is in voice control. Comcast has offered an Xfinity voice remote for years, as one example, and DISH just brought Alexa to the Hopper. So given TiVo’s deficiency, the Latin origins of “vox” along with its current day usage, years of voice research at the original TiVo, and some strong natural language processing capabilities from the Rovi contingent, voice seems like a solid possibility.

Beyond the back-end infrastructure, how and where would TiVo deliver Vox voice services? An updated remote control (relayed by a tipster above) seems like an obvious choice, as Apple, Roku, Amazon and others provide. Yet why re-brand Bolt and Mini hardware? I suppose they could go that route if it’s simply a pack-in, but a more compelling approach might be new set-top hardware with always-listening microphones as implemented by Amazon Echo, Google Home, and the new ecobee4 smart thermostat. And the Mini is long overdue for a refresh, both in terms of its industrial design and corporate promises of 4K streaming to match its Bolt DVR hub.

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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.

After seven long years, sources indicate TiVo is poised to finally complete the HDUI menuing system that was originally unveiled with the Premiere back in 2010. Although, it’s not actually clear that Premiere hardware will receive the interface update, whereas it’s confirmed Roamio and Mini will. Beyond updating the remaining standard definition screens to high definition, Roamio and Mini hardware will see an overall refresh that builds upon the flatter visuals of the Bolt, which will also receive the update. Although the timing sure is curious given an even more significant new TiVo interface option also on the docket for 2017… but that’s how they roll.

Given President Trump’s television pedigree and media preoccupation, it should come as no surprise that he’s a big fan of the DVR. In fact, he cites TiVo by name as one of the greatest inventions of all time (although he doesn’t receive RCN cable). And that’s something we can all agree upon, irrespective of party affiliation.

But for now, Trump is focused on his TV. He watches the screen like a coach going over game tape, studying the opposition, plotting next week’s plays. “This is one of the great inventions of all time—TiVo,” he says as he fast-forwards through the hearing.

Trump’s praise is further notable given the crack marketing team at TiVo that once celebrated Macy’s #dumptrump fallout on Twitter along with their intent to “shut him up” by providing “the world’s biggest mute button.”

Lastly, being a non-partisan blog, let us not forget the Clinton’s similar love of TiVo… and Slingbox.

(Thanks Bijan!)