TiVo is unveiling a whole new family of DVRs today with more tuners, more storage, and soon the ability to stream live and download pre-recorded video to mobile devices outside of the home. The new TiVo Roamio line of devices go on sale today, with prices starting at $199 and going up to $599 depending on features and configuration.
The new family of products represents TiVo’s first major upgrade to its core lineup of DVRs in two years and represents an ambitious strategy of enabling its users to record a seemingly impossible amount of channels and shows. The new devices push the limits of DVR storage while also staying true to the company’s usual look and feel, with personalization built in to help users easily discover and record the shows they love.
At the high end, TiVo offers a monster of a machine called the Roamio Pro that can be used to watch or record up to six shows at once, with 450 hours of HD recording capacity for $599. The company is also hoping to appeal to users on the lower-end of the scale with the Roamio, giving them a similar TiVo experience with four tuners and 75 hours of HD recording capacity for $199. In between is the Roamio Plus, which features six tuners but only has 150 hours (1 TB) of HD recording capacity.
While the big selling point for new buyers will probably be the hardware — that is, more storage and more tuners — the software has also seen a few upgrades that could prove appealing to hardcore TiVo users. That includes better recommendations with Wish Lists, smoother streaming applications like Netflix, and better integration with TiVo’s Mini set-top boxes for whole-home recording and viewing.
But the big new feature for the Roamio Plus and the Roamio Pro, which unfortunately isn’t quite ready at launch, is the device’s ability to stream live and pre-recorded content to mobile and tablet devices which have the TiVo app installed. The ability to stream to devices out of the home is something that the company first launched with its TiVo Stream device, which retails for about $100.
Now, owners of the two more expensive TiVo Roamio boxes will be able to enjoy their favorite live events or recordings whether they’re in their bedrooms or traveling around the world, so long as they have an internet connection. They’ll also be able to download recordings from their DVR to their mobile device for viewing later — like if they wanted to take those shows or movies and watch them on a plane while traveling.
Of course, out-of-home streaming isn’t exactly new technology, and TiVo isn’t the only one to enable it — that type of place-shifting tech was pioneered by Sling Media, which was bought by EchoStar. And the feature is available as part of Dish’s hopper set-top boxes and DVRs. But this is the first time that TiVo will have built the feature directly into one of its own DVRs.
While the company is working to get out-of-home streaming built-in to the DVRs, it won’t be ready for the launch. After updating the software for the TiVo stream, it’s now preparing to introduce the software to its new DVR line, which it expects will happen in the coming months.
In addition to out-of-home streaming of traditional TV, TiVo has updated the software for a whole other type of streaming. The TiVo devices support a number of over-the-top apps, including Netflix, YouTube, Hulu Plus, MLB.tv, and AOL On. Between the improvement in hardware as well as a totally redesigned app, the Netflix experience on the new TiVo line of DVRs should be a lot better with much faster load times.
One other feature that was snuck in for the Netflix and YouTube apps is the ability to pick a piece of content on a mobile app and have it beamed to the TV. This is enabled through support for Netflix and YouTube’s DIAL protocol.
Households that hope to enable whole-home DVR through the company’s TiVo Mini product will also have a better experience, as the new DVRs will allow users to manage their season passes from other rooms in the home. The new devices also feature dynamic tuner allocation, and hey, they have six tuners, so you can watch and record more different stuff then you could before.
There are a few other small features that have been added — like for instance, the ability to add your favorite star to a “Wish List” and then have everything they’re in that appears on TV be automatically recorded. The new boxes also come with integrated WiFi and a new RF-based remote, so there’s no more trying to point the remote at your DVR box to make it work.
But overall I think you get the point: More tuners, more storage, more expensive, more better.