When TiVo launched in 1999, Bill Clinton was president, The Sopranos, Family Guy, and Futurama were in their first seasons, and streaming movies and TV through subscription services like Netflix, Redbox Instant, and Amazon Prime was the stuff of science fiction movies and shut-in dreams. To put it mildly, things have changed, and TiVo has been left in the dust of bundled DVRs and all those subscription services. So can an updated user interface and goofy name bring TiVo back from the dead?
The Tivo Roamio is essentially being marketed as Roku, Apple TV, Slingbox, and Google TV all in one device. You can stream content, record between four ($200 Roamio) and six channels ($400-$600 Roamios), and stream downloaded shows and live TV to your television, smartphone, and tablet (currently for iOS only).
And while early reviews have been positive, one common gripe is that things get spotty when it’s connected to public WiFi. There’s also the additional hardware; you’ll need a multi-stream CableCARD from your cable company, and — if you go with a low-end model — a TiVo Stream add-on box ($130) to access certain features. Oh, there’s also a $15 monthly fee per DVR (or a one-time $500 payment) for the service.
That may seem like a lot of money and trouble to people who know they can spend $35 for the Google Chromecast, plug it into their TV, and stream video to their TVs through smartphones or tablets. But we’re rooting for TiVo nonetheless.