TiVo Roamio Professional evaluation: TiVo’s new DVRs are the corporate’s greatest but
It has been three and a half years because the final main TiVo launch and whereas the corporate has provided some new options since — by way of hardware revisions, software program updates and equipment — we’re very excited to inform you that TiVo is again. The three new TiVo Roamio DVRs vary in worth from $200 to $600 (plus service), all with at the least 4 tuners and constructed-in WiFi. And the Professional and the Plus have built-in TiVo Stream performance. The cool new trick is out-of-house streaming for each reside and recorded exhibits, with the power to obtain exhibits to your iOS units whereas away from house. (Notice: this function is not coming to the Roamio till this fall, so we examined it with a TiVo Stream as an alternative). There’s additionally a brand new distant that not depends on IR, in addition to a refreshed consumer interface, which incorporates the What to Watch Now function and new Netflix and YouTube apps — that launch shortly now. We’ll get into all of the highs and the lows in only a second, however we’re fairly assured in saying these are TiVo’s greatest bins so far.
- Very quick efficiency
- Six tuners
- Now comes with an RF distant
- Out-of-house streaming now an choice
- No HDMI-CEC
- Could be expensive with lifetime service
- Out-of-house streaming is not all the time clean
- Upgrading from an previous TiVo continues to be tedious
The brand new TiVo Roamio addresses virtually each main grievance we had beforehand. Briefly, it is most undoubtedly the TiVo you’ve got been ready for.
Prime: Roamio Professional; backside: a TiVo Premiere field.
The connections and type issue of the TiVo Roamio Professional are similar to that of the Premiere line: a CableCARD slot, one coax connector, two USB ports, Ethernet, eSATA, Toslink, analog audio / video and HDMI out. What’s new are the internals, together with 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi and a brand new chip (a Broadcom BCM7241) that has the facility to hurry up the TiVo consumer expertise, in addition to launch third-social gathering apps shortly and stream content material to different units. All on the similar time. There are additionally extra tuners and larger arduous drives. On the excessive finish, we have now the Professional for $599 with six CableCARD tuners and 3TB of area. Subsequent is the Plus, which additionally has six tuners, however solely 1TB of area for $399. On the different finish of the worth vary is the usual Roamio for $199, which solely has 4 ATSC or CableCARD tuners, a 500GB onerous drive and no constructed-in Stream performance or MoCA. Not one of the new fashions help analog cable. These limitations will not be an enormous deal for many, however some can be disenchanted. Cable-cutters definitely will not be, although; the ATSC mannequin is the field they have been ready for, because the previous ATSC mannequin solely had two tuners and did not help the TiVo Mini.
The match and end of the brand new field is interesting, with a budget plastic of the Premiere gone and a pleasant, textured grey materials with a shiny piano-black faceplate taking its place. Oh, the face. Yeah, the TiVo man on the entrance of the Roamio does not have one, which is odd since he is not faceless on the distant. The opposite newsworthy additions are the contact-delicate energy button and a brand new distant finder button; press it and the distant will begin emitting the identical music because the TiVo begin-up video. The final mentionable change is the recording indicator. Now, there’s solely a single-circle recording indicator, then 5 smaller semicircles off to the proper. And the lights on the field are, in fact, not so brilliant that they are distracting, and may be turned off utterly by way of the settings.
The brand new distant will get its personal part, however one facet we should cowl right here is the shortage of HDMI-CEC on any of the brand new TiVos. We certainly sound like a damaged report at this level, however this time round must be a lot louder, because the missed use case is worse than ever. TiVo clearly acknowledges the worth in shifting away from IR, however by not together with HDMI-CEC within the Roamio, the brand new RF distant should nonetheless depend on IR for TV energy and quantity. This creates a considerably disjointed expertise as a result of you’ll be able to management the Roamio with none regard for the place the distant is pointed, however to regulate the quantity it’s essential to make sure to level it in the proper path. Add in our previous factors concerning the prominence of CEC in trendy TVs and AV receivers and our dream of with the ability to flip our TVs on with the good smartphone and pill apps from TiVo, and, for sure, we’re disenchanted. There’s the prospect that it might be added later, as our understanding is that the shortage of CEC in most DVRs has extra to do with software program than with hardware, however we aren’t holding our breath and TiVo is not commenting.Distant
The one factor that TiVo releases much less typically than a DVR is a brand new distant. The complete Roamio lineup consists of the identical distant, which signifies that whereas the bottom mannequin additionally will get the advantages of RF, the highest-of-the-line fashions’ distant not encompasses a backlight or the power to study IR codes (the constructed-in IR database could be very in depth, although). Upon unboxing the distant, we virtually instantly referred to it because the stubby peanut — affectionately, in fact. It reminds us of the dimensions of the discontinued TiVo Slide Distant, however not fairly as brief. We have been proud of the dimensions of the previous ones, however the smaller measurement does make it a bit simpler to succeed in all of the buttons. The opposite huge change is the addition of a “again” button.
From left to proper: the previous TiVo distant, the Glo distant and the brand new Roamio distant.
The TiVo consumer expertise nonetheless does not require a again button; this new addition is for the streaming apps like Netflix and YouTube (the again button offers the identical perform because the left button whereas within the native TiVo UI). That is undoubtedly the results of a choice by TiVo to not optimize the streaming apps for the TiVo expertise. Regardless of the impetus, it just about squashes any hope we’d have nonetheless had for a congruous consumer expertise.
That being stated, it does are available very useful if you depart the TiVo expertise for an additional app; it is much less jarring than switching inputs. Normally. The one different notable button change is the entrance-and-middle repositioning of the information button, pushing the mute and report buttons apart. We discover this very odd, as this button is primarily for many who watch stay TV first, versus our TiVo expertise of going straight to My Exhibits once we sit down — TiVo customers sometimes watch much less reside TV than most. We might’ve most popular to see the area used for a shortcut to Watch Now or My Exhibits, however that is possible an try and attraction to these not at present utilizing a TiVo.
The large level of differentiation right here, although, is the distant’s RF capabilities. Not do it’s worthwhile to fear about having line-of-sight to your TiVo to regulate it, which suggests you’ll be able to disguise the DVR behind closed doorways, or change the channel with out shifting your hand outdoors the nice and cozy and cozy confines of your favourite blanket. The distant does nonetheless emit IR, although, however solely to regulate your TV and AV receiver — as we talked about earlier than. The Roamio additionally nonetheless options an IR receiver so you should use your previous TiVo distant or, say, a programmable one.Software program
With the brand new Roamio hardware comes a number of updates to the software program. Your complete consumer interface has been refreshed, which primarily quantities to a darker, virtually black, background as an alternative of blue. The What to Watch Now function from the smartphone and pill apps has been added to TiVo Central, however with none configurable choices. The actually thrilling new function is the lengthy-awaited potential to make use of the iOS apps to stream and obtain content material from outdoors the house. That is in fact restricted by your obtainable throughput, nevertheless it’s no less than straightforward to arrange. It really works properly sufficient, however regardless of having FiOS web service and LTE on a cellular system, the image high quality of the stay stream was nonetheless removed from what we have come to anticipate from a Slingbox. We think about adaptive streaming is not a simple factor and hope the standard will get higher in future releases.
That’s nice and all, however it performs second fiddle to our favourite function of the TiVo Roamio: its velocity. Critically, we will not keep in mind ever utilizing a TiVo this quick. Maybe we’re simply conditioned by years of molasses on the TiVo Premiere. Regardless of. This one flies; it had no hassle maintaining with us in every thing we have tried. Does it lag each every so often? Positive, however the Roamio is quicker than the Premiere in each means; from watching one thing stay, we will play a present from the My Exhibits record inside six seconds versus sixteen on the Premiere XL4 (that is 5 button presses).
We will not keep in mind ever utilizing a TiVo this quick.
That new velocity helps with extra than simply navigating the TiVo native UI. The truth is, Netflix launches in lower than eight seconds, in comparison with the forty seconds it takes on the Premiere XL4. Talking of which, the Netflix and YouTube apps have been up to date; there’s DIAL help, however the apps are nonetheless just a little behind as the brand new Netflix Profiles function nonetheless is not supported. We additionally actually respect the truth that now, once you use the TiVo search to discover a present, after which select to observe it from Netflix, it takes you on to the present relatively than to the Netflix search, prefer it did earlier than. A lot appreciated, little question, however we nonetheless lengthy for the congruous consumer expertise that the Xbox and Apple TV ship, in addition to all of the lacking streaming content material from providers like WatchESPN, Vudu, HBO Go, Amazon Prime, Epix, Crackle and CinemaNow. Oh, and it is loopy that the identical previous, worn-out Amazon Prompt app continues to be being ported alongside.
Now that we’re on to the topic of what we do not like, let’s speak about switching DVRs. The out-of-the-field TiVo expertise has all the time left lots to be desired — particularly when CableCARDs are concerned — however upgrading your DVR ought to be as straightforward as upgrading your smartphone. As an alternative, you must set every thing up from scratch once more. At the very least there’s the Season Cross Supervisor on TiVo.com that’ll can help you switch your Season Passes (which did not work for us, however we assume that may be a results of our early entry). For those who’re fortunate sufficient that your supplier does not mark all the things as “Copy As soon as,” then you possibly can at the very least switch the recordings, one after the other, out of your previous TiVo to your new one.
The opposite enhancement we have been hoping for, that sadly is not right here, is a revamped My Exhibits. What we might actually love is a single record of every part we need to watch — together with recordings, stay TV and streaming content material. However as an alternative, it is just about the identical because it has been throughput TiVo’s existence. We’re informed there is a new, three-column My Exhibits view coming this fall, so we look ahead to making an attempt that out. We will solely dream the consumer profiles will comply with; now that might be some extent of differentiation for TiVo.
Managing six tuners works the identical means as if there have been two or 4. The excellent news is that with six tuners, you must virtually by no means have to make use of the battle decision, which is in determined want of a refresh (you possibly can’t simply choose which of the six recordings you’d wish to cancel whenever you encounter a battle). You’ll be able to nonetheless keep a stay buffer for every tuner on the similar time, good for when there are six school soccer video games on on the similar time. TiVo Mini followers will probably be glad to know you could now dynamically assign a tuner to a Mini for stay TV. So not solely does this imply you possibly can nonetheless report six exhibits directly when you’ve a Mini, however now you may also have as much as 9 Minis configured to your most important DVR — the Mini nonetheless doesn’t work with twin-tuner TiVos, although. This may increasingly sound like overkill, however actually, who ever complained about having too many? The one odd limitation right here is that if all of the tuners are in use, you continue to cannot be a part of a reside session in progress on the Mini. You’ll be able to, nevertheless, nonetheless document the present you’re watching reside in one other room after which watch that recording from the Mini. Not precisely intuitive, however it nonetheless works.Wrap-up
TiVo has by no means been the least costly choice, at the very least not up entrance. The ATSC model runs $199, which is $50 greater than the least costly Premiere, however that also works out to much less per tuner and it has the identical recording capability. Talking of which, the additional $200 to step as much as the Professional from the Plus, for an additional 2TB of storage, looks like a nasty deal. Any of the fashions might prevent cash in the long term, although. The potential financial savings of the twine-chopping ATSC choice is clear, however even in comparison with renting a six-tuner multi-room DVR from a supplier like Cox, shopping for the TiVo finally ends up being cheaper, assuming you maintain onto it for a number of years. Most significantly, the worth of six tuners and loads of area on a DVR cannot be underestimated. Having more room and tuners than you want takes a DVR to the subsequent degree, to some extent the place you not need to assume once you hit the document button.
It took greater than three years, however TiVo has lastly delivered the DVR we hoped for when the Premiere first got here out. The Roamio Professional addresses each main gripe we had, besides the shortage of HDMI-CEC. The velocity enchancment alone makes this a should-improve for any Premiere proprietor, and eventually provides all of the Series3 holdouts a cause to open their wallets. Is it good? No. Is it the revolutionary TiVo we used to anticipate? No, there are different six-tuner DVRs with amble area already available on the market. Is it the perfect DVR ever launched that works with ATSC and/or CableCARD? Completely.