Gimmie Java!

The HT Guys love their Starbucks. If you want to say thanks, a cup of joe will do just fine! Starbucks-Donate

Watch the Videos

 

YouTube
 
Twitter
Categories
Friday
May192017

Podcast #792: Tivo Update, One Year Later…

Last May, on Episode 740, we talked about moving to a Tivo based system for home television instead of a (typically) much more expensive standard Cable or Satellite package. We built our system around the Tivo Bolt and a few Tivo Minis for whole-house DVR. The idea was that if we could get rid of all the Cable company or Satellite company boxes and just get down to the one CableCard needed for the Bolt, we could drastically reduce our monthly television bill. Braden has been living the experiment for the last year. So is it all we thought it would be?

Download this Episode.

Support the show with Patreon!

Listen to the show

Today's Show:

News:

Other:

Amazon Prime:

Sign up for Amazon Prime and enjoy:

  • Free Two Day Shipping!
  • Instant Streaming of TV Shows and Movies
  • Instant Access to thousands of Kindle Books
  • The HT Guys gratitude!

 

Tivo Update, One Year Later…

Last May, on Episode 740, we talked about moving to a Tivo based system for home television instead of a (typically) much more expensive standard Cable or Satellite package. We built our system around the Tivo Bolt and a few Tivo Minis for whole-house DVR. The idea was that if we could get rid of all the Cable company or Satellite company boxes and just get down to the one CableCard needed for the Bolt, we could drastically reduce our monthly television bill. Braden has been living the experiment for the last year. So is it all we thought it would be?


The Good

There are some huge advantages to the Tivo, some we knew we were in for, others we didn’t realize until we’d had the system for a while. The first, and most obvious, is the cost savings. The prior satellite package, with all of its Hopper and Joey boxes, rang in at just around $180/month. The new Cox bill, with one CableCard, is only $72*. A savings of almost $110 per month. Sure, you have to pay the Tivo annual fee of $150, knocking your effective savings down by $12-ish. And there’s the upfront cost of the hardware. But once you hit break even on the hardware costs, it’s all gravy.

*notes:

  • Of the $72 Cox bill, only ~$52 of that is the Cable TV package, the rest is additional taxes and fees. Watch out for those.
  • The review from a year ago quoted the Cable package at $40. Braden was missing some channels the family wanted and had to spring for an expanded package.

And then there’s the unified search feature. Want to find a specific movie, show, actor, actress, etc? Search for it in the Tivo and it’ll find it across your Cable subscription or any of your connected streaming apps. This isn’t unique to Tivo, but it is really cool. We didn’t realize how much we’d love it. Opening each app, Netflix, Hulu, Vudu, Amazon, CBS, HBO, etc to try to locate content is cumbersome. Doing the search once and seeing all the ways to get it, is great. And for paid purchases or rentals, it lists the prices at each service so you can compare. What’s more, if you add a OnePass for a show, it’ll fill in all the prior episodes for you in your queue in case you missed some by the time you found the show. It’s really cool.

Let’s not forget about the commercial skip feature. When you’re watching a standard TV show on the Bolt, you have the option to click on the green ‘D’ button to instantly skip over an entire commercial break. We were worried about losing the AutoHop feature when we dropped the Dish Network Hopper, but it turns out the Tivo implementation is vastly superior. AutoHop only works with prime time content from the big 4 networks. The Tivo feature supports the 20 most viewed networks (listed here) from the hours of 4:00pm to midnight - with plans to add more networks in the future. So many networks and shows, it truly feels like it applies to everything.


The Bad

But it ain’t all rosy. It turns out Tivo has some warts. Three warts to be precise, but they can be incredibly annoying. The first one is that the Tivo Mini constantly loses connection to the main Bolt unit. We have no idea why. Sometimes a reboot will fix it. Sometimes rebooting the Bolt will fix it. Sometimes you have to force one or the other to reconnect to the Tivo service to get them talking again. When they won’t connect, you can’t view any live or recorded content on the Mini. The unified search feature is a bit of a saving grace, if you have recorded content you want to watch that is also available on a streaming service like Hulu, you can still get to it, but if you just want to watch TV, you’ll have to put your troubleshooting hat on.

Another annoying thing we’ve found with the Tivo we still aren’t sure is entirely the Tivo’s fault. Occasionally when you try to tune in some channels you’ll get an error message on the screen about not being able to find a signal for that channel. The channel below it works fine, so you know you paid the bill, but that channel just won’t come up. If this hits you when you’re trying to record a show, it obviously kills the recording. We don’t know if it’s a Tivo issue or a Cox / CableCard issue. But if you’re paying for all those channels, you should really get all those channels.  Luckily we’ve only seen this on the higher number channels that we don’t watch as often.

The third one is weird. We have one Mini that will constantly lose connection with its remote control. Only happens on one specific Mini. We’ve been back and forth with Tivo support and still no luck. It’s probably a bum Mini, since we’ve tried multiple remotes and they’ve all been hit by it, but as of yet, no offer from Tivo to replace the Mini for us to see if we can get one that works reliably. Currently the only fix is to completely unplug the Mini and reboot it. When it comes back up the remote works great. It’s possible you’d never see this issue since we only see it on one of three, but Tivo Minis don’t reboot very fast. Having to sit there for 5-7 minutes waiting for it to come back to life just so you can control it is really annoying.


The Ugly

We mentioned this on the original review from a year ago, but our install ordeal was a nightmare. It really felt like Cox hated the Tivo and maybe even the CableCard itself. When we’ve had to deal with support, we usually get the runaround. Cox will blame Tivo; Tivo will blame Cox or the CableCard. It’s super predictable and super annoying. Not having one definite source to call makes things very difficult. It’s a ‘he said’ - ‘she said’ where you’re stuck in the middle. This is probably why we haven’t even attempted to solve the missing signal problem.


The End

In the End, Tivo is great, but it has its kinks. It’ll save you money over a traditional Cable or Satellite package, but still costs a bit more than the streaming services like Sling TV or DirecTV Now. But you do get a lot more channels, and no pixelation or buffering issues because your streaming, assuming you can get a signal and actually see the channel in the first place. So there you have it: you take the good, you take the bad and there you have, the facts of Tivo.

 

Download Episode #792

Reader Comments (4)

Sony TV, which is a major TV brand, uses AndroidTV as OS since 2016 models.

May 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNiranjan

As mentioned above, Sony, as well as Sharp and Phillips have Android TV built in. In fact, Sony builds it into their Bravia line. Here is a bit on that: http://www.techradar.com/news/television/6-best-smart-tv-platforms-in-the-world-today-1120795/2

As for Android TV in general, after having used Roku, Amazon and Android TV, there is no contest: Android TV is miles ahead of these two (I haven't used Apple TV). It has the best UI and, now that there is an Amazon Video app for the Android TV, all of my video sources are there. I use the Nvidia Shield with an attached hard drive since the Shield not only has a Plex app, it can be a Plex server. So, no streaming issues. As a bonus, it also acts a Google Cast device (aka Chromecast), for that one-off video I have pulled up on my phone and want to see.

For now, my Roku box and Amazon Fire TV are sitting in a drawer. I even have a Tivo Roamio (the Bolt predecessor) and use that for live TV and as a DVR, but even though it has Netflix, Hulu, etc, I switch over to the Shield to use these apps since they are so much more enjoyable to use there than on the Tivo.

May 22, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterVance McAlister

I've been using a TiVo Roamio OTA and TiVo mini since 2014, and I've never had the problems you describe.

I'm obviously not using a cable card, but also, my mini is hard wired. Maybe one of these has something to do with your issues?

May 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterGene W

Great TiVo review but you did not mention one of my favorite features of TiVo, the TiVo app for phones and tablets and online.tivo.com. It is like slingbox on steroids. You can watch live or recorded shows on your TiVo from anywhere. In this photo (3 years ago) I’m on an airplane over the Pacific catching up on my recorded shows. Since there was no WiFi I downloaded my desired shows before getting on the plane. The familiar outstanding TiVo interface made this very easy:
http://photos.ga-tech.com/Electronics/Gadgets/i-nBbfGNp/A

The six tuner Roamio Plus and Pro have integrated Stream capability but the four tuner Roamio does not. You will need to add a “TiVo Stream” to your network (about $70 on eBay). On starting the app it will detect all the compatible TiVos on your network and ask you to choose one. Someone else watching TiVo at home is not affected and can be watching another show.

Couple of other things you did not mention:
Easily expand capacity by exchanging the internal hard drive before setting up a new TiVo.
Easily import your recording schedule from the TiVo website if you get a new TiVo or if you need to replace the hard drive.

May 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>