TiVo Bolt evaluation: getting smaller and quicker has a worth

TiVo Bolt review: getting smaller and faster has a price

TiVo has been within the DVR recreation for the higher a part of 20 years, and even within the sluggish-paced TV world, that is sufficient time to see numerous change. Surprisingly, with the introduction of its Bolt DVR (excuse me, Unified Leisure System) TiVo grabbed a function from one in every of its oldest rivals in an effort to do battle with newer rivals. The corporate appears to have realized it isn’t simply making an attempt to beat your cable or satellite tv for pc firm’s half-assed excuse for a set-prime field, as Apple, Google, Roku, Amazon and others be a part of recreation techniques and Blu-ray gamers in a struggle for front room dominance. Now, TiVo has a brand new design and, for the primary time, an answer for simply skipping commercials. Nonetheless, which may not be sufficient to make the Bolt a great purchase.

eighty four

Bolt (1TB)


  • Business skipping is straightforward to make use of and works as promised
  • QuickMode is one of the simplest ways to binge watch in a rush
  • Quicker than earlier TiVos
  • One yr of TiVo service included


  • ‘Lifetime’ TiVo service simply obtained far more costly
  • No out-of-house streaming but, no 6-tuner or 3TB choice
  • Odd form is not for everybody
  • SkipMode typically failed to seem on exhibits the place it ought to


The Bolt is not for twine-cutters, or energy TiVo customers who worth Lifetime service or want extra recording area and tuners. However for the informal TV viewer who simply needs a greater cable field with out making an enormous up entrance funding? Even with an apparently-curved body it is an ideal match, whereas piling on extras like business skipping and sending recordings to your telephones and tablets.


TiVo Bolt review: getting smaller and faster has a price

You’ll be able to take a look at our preview for many of our impressions of the hardware, which continued to carry up underneath extra use. The Bolt’s bent form means you will not be stacking something on it, nevertheless it’s a lot smaller than the TiVos of previous, we do not assume most individuals could have an issue becoming it of their cupboard by some means. In my front room it was nearly silent, and you may flip off the lights on the entrance, as on earlier fashions. It is lacking analog video/audio outputs, however that is about all you will have to surrender for the dimensions of this comparatively diminutive DVR.

Inside, TiVo has switched to a 2.5-inch exhausting drive, which some house owners have already taken a shot at swapping out for drives which might be formatted to carry as much as 3TB. You may also add an exterior drive that connects to the SATA port, however you will have a TiVo-approved Western Digital unit to do it, and know that in case you take away the exterior, you will lose all of the recordings you’ve gotten saved, regardless of which drive they’re on. If DIY does not do it for you, third-celebration operator WeaKnees is promoting models with 2TB drives inside and as much as 6TB externally, good for as much as 948 hours of recorded HD. Some early purchasers have complained concerning the backside-mounted fan (positioned the place the field is curved so it might get some air) being too loud. If it is in a spot that may present vibrations or echoes it could possibly be a lot louder than different DVRs, since there’s much less area for the air to movement by means of.

Judging by the type of TiVo’s refreshed emblem, the Bolt’s arc form is one thing followers might want to get used to, a minimum of for sure models. I prefer it, however for a lot of it is disconcerting at greatest, and annoyingly incompatible with stacking at worst. I might be shocked to see if the brand new Professional-degree DVR anticipated subsequent yr brings something aside from a normal field form, however then once more, I wasn’t anticipating to see this.

Software program

TiVo Bolt review: getting smaller and faster has a price

The software program has been revamped, however with a light-weight contact — it is nonetheless TiVo. A brand new fashion with flatter icons and channel logos provides it a extra trendy look, however in case you already favored the UI, it isn’t an enormous change. I am unsure if it is the brand new hardware contained in the Bolt or a change from Flash to HTM5 for apps, however the brand new field is certainly higher outfitted to web page via Amazon and Netflix than its predecessors. Nonetheless, that is not fairly sufficient to make this type of DVR a direct competitor for the likes of Apple, Roku and Amazon. The essential TiVo interface has had so many issues added to it through the years, that it nonetheless feels such as you’re taking additional clicks to get into and out of apps, arrange new OnePass recordings and even simply flick through the information. The variety of options the Bolt presents is certainly higher than competing TV packing containers which are caught pushing simply web TV or cable TV, however the tradeoff there’s a extra difficult UI.

I talked concerning the advert-skipping and sped up QuickMode viewing within the preview, and most of that also applies. After utilizing it for a number of weeks, I used to be bit stunned to seek out that my favourite factor about SkipMode is utilizing it to leap to the start of a present. Often there’s a number of seconds of no matter was already on originally of a recording (extra if I am padding it with an early begin time) and on SkipMode-enabled recordings, hitting the inexperienced button instantly takes you to the start of the present, no fiddling or quick forwarding-then-rewinding required. It is a tiny factor, however I’ve come to adore it. I additionally observed a uncommon events the place the SkipMode failed to seem, though it isn’t clear why — it isn’t sufficient to be notably troubling, however for those who’re shopping for a field for this function you’ll anticipate it to work on a regular basis.

TiVo Bolt review: getting smaller and faster has a price

That is your TiVo app on the Hearth TV. No information or flashy UI, only a naked-bones listing of recordings A brand new function that applies to the entire TiVo household (with streaming talents) is the power to observe recordings from a non-TiVo set-prime field, the Amazon Hearth TV. It is one thing some have already been doing by hacking the app, however now it is official. I loaded up the (nonetheless “beta”) app from Amazon’s app retailer to offer it a shot, and whereas it really works, the image high quality left a lot to be desired. Whereas it is greater than sufficient to get by, and would in all probability fulfill many members of your family, it isn’t an actual choice to exchange the $one hundred fifty TiVo Mini so you possibly can watch TV on different screens. The Bolt (like its Roamio predecessors) comes with the power to sling video round your home, at launch it isn’t able to for streaming if you’re away from residence — that is coming in a future software program replace.

Doing the maths

The place TiVo is dropping a few of its die-hards nevertheless, is not the software program — it is the price. Fretting over the worth of Lifetime and whether or not or not it is going to go away for good has been fear for years, and whereas the package deal continues to be right here, it isn’t as interesting anymore. The Bolt brings with it a new setup: one yr of TiVo service (crucial to truly use the field) is included proper off the bat. That is nice, however including “Lifetime” service which retains the field lively for so long as it is working, and may switch for those who promote it sooner or later, now prices $600, up from $four hundred. Mixed with the bottom mannequin Bolt, that is $800 spent earlier than you’ve got even added a Mini extender or additional storage, and for now there isn’t any rebate for present clients. If that is too huge of a dedication, TiVo beforehand provided month-to-month service plans, however with the Bolt there’s only a one-yr plan provided for $one hundred fifty.

There is no query that this makes for a pricier improve than standard, and it additionally signifies that the distinction between shopping for Lifetime and going yr-to-yr places your break-even level (contemplating the yr of service included and assuming costs keep the identical) 5 years away from the unique buy. That is a very long time to be tethered to a TiVo, though it does improve resale worth should you ever determine to maneuver on. Clearly, TiVo is making an attempt to quietly push clients to its yr-to-yr service plan, and on its face, it might simplify the pricing for newbies to the ecosystem. Diving right into a TiVo setup with Lifetime service was all the time an costly proposition, and with that call largely pushed off by the brand new pricing, now you’ll solely examine it to the price of renting a (doubtless inferior) DVR from a cable or satellite tv for pc firm.

In comparison with a cable DVR, I presently pay $28 per 30 days (complete, $10 for the DVR and $eight every for 2 extenders) to lease Comcast’s X1 setup. After 24 months that is $672, so even simply a few years of TiVo ($300 for a 500GB Bolt + $300 for 2 Minis + $one hundred fifty for an additional yr of service = $750) could be a comparable determination in comparison with cable, for a greater expertise that does not reboot each night time at 3AM. After three years, it is $1,008 for cable vs. $900 for TiVo on that plan, though it might take longer for the worth benefit to flip if one opts for Lifetime service.


TiVo Bolt review: getting smaller and faster has a price

The Bolt is smaller, quicker and in some methods higher than any DVR TiVo has made earlier than. However the worth makes it more durable to advocate should you’re on the lookout for one thing for the lengthy haul and the Roamio OTA continues to be higher for twine-cutters. In fact, if a one- or two-yr dedication appeals to you, and also you simply want one thing higher than the essential cable TV field, it should do this at a worth that is not too excessive to swallow, whereas its advert-skipping and streaming options come as a bonus. TiVo is looking for its method in a future the place web TV is simply as or extra essential to viewers as conventional sources, however hopefully no matter it has deliberate for 2016 is a greater match for the purchasers it already has.

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