Archives For TiVo

Upcoming TiVo Hydra Interface

Dave Zatz —  February 24, 2017

There’s always a few hidden gems that turn up at CES. And 2017 is no exception, with HD Guru uncovering an unannounced TiVo Philips partnership. The initiative seemingly confirms TiVo’s intent to diversify their retail hardware business, with Philips preparing a line of over-the-air TiVo-powered personal video recorders (PVR). The mash-up is also notable given the companies* history, having launched the very first TiVo together way back in 1999.

The two-tuner prototype on display was a pretty nondescript black set-top, appearing to reuse an existing enclosure at this phase of development. Marketing imagery at the show indicates the DVRs will feature a “built-in EPG powered by TiVo for an intuitive program navigation, selection, and recording experience.” Further, the integrated wireless networking of at least one model will provide “smooth streaming of live or recorded video on your home network” — unlike most existing, native TiVo experiences, which also facilitate out-of-home streaming to iPads and the like.

The interface, as pictured in the booth, looks nothing like the current or upcoming TiVo UI. It’s not clear to me if the Roku-esque presentation is merely a placeholder, if TiVo is creating something new for partners, or if Philips is merely relying on TiVo-tech underpinnings and the Rovi guide. In any event, the cord cutting market could certainly benefit from additional players in this space and Philips appears to have been seeking retailer feedback at the show as they march towards a September release. Continue Reading…

As I indicated back in November when the TiVo 20.6.3 software update starting rolling out, “the cool stuff” wasn’t quite ready and this revision was mostly “unremarkable” bug fixes. However, one item I was unaware of until recently is the launch of a significantly enhanced screen reader (as displayed in the SD settings above) to meet a December 20th FCC deadline. I’m no expert in this area, but TiVo’s accessibility feature seems quite comprehensive in providing the visually impaired audible cues inui menuing, during playback, and while perusing the guide.

Video content information, setup options and configuration changes are now optimized to interacts with Screen Reader. Your TiVo is programmed to read menus, program descriptions, channel numbers and similar selected options in a way that is optimized to interpret acronyms and similar formatting. The entire guide is not audible, so not all visible text will be read.  Only one program at a time, when a show is highlighted/selected, is audible. Program information displayed on the screen, but not necessarily from the Guide, is also audible.

The TiVo Screen Reader is toggled by holding down the TiVo Bolt, Roamio, Premiere, or Mini remote’s A button for two seconds, so feel free to take it for a spin. Just be aware that the screen reading doesn’t have its own volume adjustment and that PCM audio will replace Dolby Digital — you’ll have to manually flip it back if/when moving on from the Reader.

Similarly, Roku also launched an “Audio Guide” in November… that seems decidedly less well-rounded than TiVo’s implementation in my brief test. While Roku supposedly provides advanced customization, it wasn’t available on my TCL television. Continue Reading…

Over the last few days, TiVo Bolt, Roamio, Premiere, and Mini units have been updated with a refreshed Amazon Video app to more closely mirror the latest experience deployed to other platforms like Roku and Amazon’s own Fire TV. Beyond the large tiles and left column navigation, as pictured on my Roamio, two notable enhancements are the integration of Amazon Channels and the option to filter video genres with the D button (as notated in the upper right). TiVo continues to offer the best mashup of over-the-air, cable, and online content, despite AirTV’s attempts, and it’s refreshing to see another major Amazon app update roll out after only two years … given the decades it took the streaming version of Amazon to arrive and just in time for Sneaky Pete.

(Thanks Avi!)

As revealed last year, TiVo was prepping a cloud DVR service option for retail hardware, with indications that over-the-air television recordings originating from Roamio, Bolt, and upcoming Mavrik devices will be stored and streamed remotely. While this is a CES no-show, we know work continues. Indeed, TiVo needs your help as they fine tune the offering.

From TiVo VP Margret Schmidt:

Beta testers are needed for a new and exciting opportunity that will last approximately 8 weeks.

To qualify you must:
1. Have a TiVo box (Roamio, Premiere, or BOLT) with Over-The-Air (OTA) TV signal – No CableCARD
2. Live in the San Francisco Bay Area
3. And, have two of these three products:
– iOS device (phone or tablet)
– Android device (phone or tablet)
– Computer with web browser, either Windows 7 + or Mac OSx 10 +

If interested, please e-mail with “OTA Beta Opportunity” as the subject line and your name, e-mail address, and TSN in the body.

So now we know Premiere will also be supported as well as the initial anticipated playback clients. Hopefully Roku and Fire TV are also on the docket. As to what this service might cost and its relative value, when weighed against factors such as your broadband cap, remains to be seen.

While TiVo’s cloud DVR and cord cutting Mavrik were CES no-shows, the DVR pioneer is once again presenting its new interface.

Code-named “Project Hydra,” the UX offers a beautiful, customizable interface that lets viewers quickly and easily search for, browse and consume programming from all video sources – live, recorded, on demand and streaming. The interface is designed for seamless use across phone, tablet and web apps.

Originally demo-ed last fall and expected to begin deployment in 2016, the spiffed up experience is intended to be replicated across a number of platforms and features content from a variety of sources (perhaps in relation to that multi-headed Hydra branding). Personalization features prominently in this dramatic, dual-axis, re-envisioning of TiVo. From a user-customizable quick menu in the upper left to an expanded Discovery Bar that surfaces relevant content, TiVo “designed this UX so the viewer spends less time searching channel guides and opening apps and more time enjoying their favorite shows.”

In quizzing Light Reading, I get the sense they find the new appearance pleasant although perhaps a little derivative as so many have gone to the flatter visuals featuring larger content imagery and lesser chrome. However, beyond a quick trade show floor demo, we’ll have to live with experience awhile to determine how it actually performs — as I said in September, few usability test more than TiVo, so I chose to remain optimistic. No details yet on supported devices nor revised launch timing.

From CES, TiVo has reaffirmed their intentions to bring voice control to the platform… this year. While cagey on details, and perhaps still contemplating their approach(es), some interesting nuggets have come to light:

In a briefing here at the show, Tivo SVP and GM Michael Hawkey hinted at the likelihood of a natural language interface for Tivo solutions that might come in the form of a brand new product, but might also be added to legacy products via a new remote, or, more likely, through integration with products like Amazon’s Echo hardware line.

TiVo management has been alluding to voice capabilities for a few years, with perhaps an original thought of bringing control to mobile applications… like Roku has done, rather than bundling a microphone-endowed remote as Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV do. In my households, I do appreciate some of the more basic Logitech Harmony Alexa skills (whereas the newer ones need work) and Mom enjoys calling up cable channels via her brand-spanking-new Xfinity voice remote (despite months of having to hammer Comcast).

Vevo Music Videos Land On TiVo

Dave Zatz —  December 11, 2016

Many years after the Music Choice app was retired from TiVo retail boxes, Vevo has finally arrived to meet that acoustic demand. I’ve long been a fan of Vevo as the modern day equivalent of MTV (the one that played music videos). So this represents a meaningful app addition — despite prior silliness involving some sort of TiVo C&D once sent Vevo’s way, due to not-really brand name similarities, and a number of MIA tent pole OTA cord cutting apps, such as Sling TV and HBO NOW.

As that’s my Roamio photographed above, I assume Roamio, Bolt, and TiVo Mini models will all receive access. Although given the radio silence from TiVo and Vevo along with my Minis not currently having access, I also assume someone flipped the switch a little early. Oops? Let us know which platforms you see Vevo on, give it a go, and tell us what you think. Tip: Upon opening the app, you’ll be prompted to activate it from a registered Vevo account: