TiVo Mini review: Multiroom TiVo experience, minus the fees

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TiVo Mini

(Part #: TIVOMINI) Released: Mar 11, 2013
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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good TiVo Mini easily extends live and recorded TV from your main TiVo DVR to another room; little, lightweight box is considerably smaller than a DVR and doesn't require any additional services or equipment from your cable provider; also streams Xfinity and Cox On Demand for those subscribers as well as other services like Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube and Spotify.

The Bad Works with TiVo Premiere 4 and XL4, Roamio and Bolt DVRs; 4/XL4 boxes require a dedicated tuner from your DVR for live TV streaming; requires wired network connections for both DVR and TiVo Mini.

The Bottom Line The TiVo Mini is an easy way to give another TV in your home access to your TiVo DVR, live TV and streaming services. But if you're not in a hurry, you may want to wait till more features and services arrive.

7.8 Overall
  • Design 8.0
  • Features 8.0
  • Performance 8.0
  • Ecosystem 7.0
  • Value 8.0

Editors' note, October 28, 2015: This review has been updated to reflect software and pricing changes to the Mini over time.

With "TiVo" being synonymous with "DVR," it would not be unreasonable to assume the TiVo Mini is a small DVR. It isn't one.

Instead, the Mini is another part of the company's whole-home viewing experience, joining the TiVo Stream, which streams your recorded content on iOS devices.

Similar to the Stream, the Mini feeds off of a TiVo Premiere 4 or XL4 DVR, TiVo Roamio DVR or TiVo Bolt. Connect the Mini to a secondary TV and to your home network, and you'll have access to live and recorded TV, video-on-demand services (for Comcast Xfinity and Cox customers, at least), and other broadband-delivered content through the main DVR.

Basically, it gives you a chunk of TiVo DVR functionality without the need to buy an additional DVR and pay for additional services or equipment from your cable provider. But, like all things TiVo, it comes with a list of caveats.

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One of the nicest things about the Mini is that getting it up and running is simple and doesn't require any calls to a cable provider. The TiVo Mini needs three connections: power, network and audio/video. Power is handled by a fairly small wall wart, and HDMI is used for AV (component and composite connections are available, too, but require a breakout cable with a 3.5mm plug).

Connecting to your network can be done over a MoCA connection (Multimedia over Coax Alliance) or Ethernet; MoCA, which uses your home's coax cable to stream between devices, is preferred and support is built into both the DVR and the Mini.

The TiVo DVR needs a wired Ethernet connection to your router as well as a connection to your home's coaxial wiring. If your router is nowhere near your TiVo DVR, you'll need to connect a MoCA network adapter to your DSL or cable modem (unless, of course, you have MoCA support built into your modem). You could also use a power line adapter, but, again, MoCA is preferable since it gives you a fatter pipe to meet the high-bandwidth requirements for streaming live TV. Wireless is not an option for live TV or anything else.

The Mini is controlled with a standard TiVo peanut remote that is included with the box. There is also a USB port, which can be used to add TiVo's Slide Bluetooth remote, or, should you decide to hide the box behind your TV, an IR extender. There are mounting holes on the bottom, so it can easily be attached to a wall. If you're looking to extend your TiVo experience into a bedroom or other space where you don't want a large DVR, the Mini is a way to do that.

Once connected, the Mini finds the TiVo DVRs on your network. Then, you point it to the one you want to attach to. Each DVR can support up to 10 Mini boxes at a time. However, for each Mini, you have to surrender a tuner on the host DVR for watching live TV, which means you lose it for recording.

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