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TiVo Adds Streaming, Offline Viewing to Mobile Apps

TiVo has announced the TiVo Stream—a real-time transcoding accessory for TiVo Premier DVRs that allows you to seamlessly stream and download recorded shows to the free TiVo mobile app. The device, costing $129.99 and available online and at Best Buy stores nationwide, connects to your home network via Ethernet and requires that at least one Premier series TiVo is also physically connected to the network by Ethernet or MoCA (for reasons that should be obvious, wireless is not supported).

At $130, TiVo has priced itself out of the streaming business

The box, roughly the size of an Apple TV or Roku, can transcode and stream recorded video from any (physically connected) Premier DVR in your home to up to four mobile wireless devices simultaneously on your home network. If you want to watch something “live” your TiVo Premier will actually record it, and the TiVo Stream transcodes the recorded stream on the fly. For offline viewing, you can download individual shows to play later in the TiVo app—subject to the usual broadcast flag restrictions, of course (so don’t expect to download any premium channel movies for the plane).

$130 for Streaming

People have been clambering for a streaming feature in TiVo’s iOS app since it was first released, but it’s doubtfulanyone expected it to cost an additional $130. Most people expected that the newer TiVo devices would get a firmware update or something to just add the ability to stream. But that’s not the case. If you want to stream (unprotected) recorded shows to your iPad, you’ll need to add yet another device to your network, and it’s going to cost you. There’s no arguing the convenience of the seamlessly integrated experience they’ve created in the TiVo app…but $130?

Or Not

Depending on what you want to watch, there could be cheaper ways of watching it on your iPad. Time Warner Cable offers live streaming of some channels within your home, and Comcast lets you watch many shows on demand from anywhere—not just inside your home. HBO GO, MAX GO, and Showtime Anytime all let you watch their shows and movies anywhere and any time on your iPad, provided that you subscribe to their premium services through a supported provider.

And despite TiVo’s somewhat inaccurate claims that the TiVo Stream lets customers “watch recordings on their iPads for the first time,” if you just want to download recorded shows to your iPad or other mobile devices, you could consider TiVo Desktop Plus. This somewhat abandoned but still fully functional PC software program lets you convert shows for offline viewing in formats compatible with many devices. TiVo Desktop Plus costs just $24.95, compared to the $129.99 for the TiVo Stream. It doesn’t stream content, and the quality is not as good as what you can get from the Stream, but how good does that video really need to be to catch up on your shows during a flight?

While the TiVo Stream adds some great features to TiVo’s already solid offering, we’re disappointed that this capability isn’t just built into the box. By requiring yet another component at $130, in addition to their already pricy service fees, TiVo may have just priced themselves out of the streaming business.

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About the author

Richard Gunther

Richard is a digital technology consultant with a life-long interest in consumer electronics. He has been immersed in smart home tech for decades now and hosts The DMZ's home automation podcast, Home: On and co-hosts Entertainment 2.0 with Josh Pollard. Richard looks at products through an experience lens, always seeking the right mix of utility and delight.