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First Look: TiVo Roamio review: Best over-the-air DVR if you're willing to pay

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First Look: TiVo Roamio review: Best over-the-air DVR if you're willing to pay

3:31 /

The TiVo Roamio is hands-down the best DVR for recording over-the-air TV, but its excellence comes at a great cost.

[MUSIC] So if you've cut the cord and ditched your cable TV subscription, you might start looking for ways to record free over the air TV that's available with an antenna. There are a lot of options these days from Areo to Channel Master's DVR plus and Nuvio's Tableau, but there's an old familiar option, TiVo. I'm Matthew Moskovciak from CNET and the entry level TiVo Roamio is actually the best over the air DVR on the market although hit's gonna cost you. The box itself is only $200 but you also have to pay TiVo subscription fees which is either $15 a month or a whopping $500 lifetime subscription. That's a lot of money for a DVR, so let's look at what you're paying for. First off, this is the sleekest, most compact TiVo yet with the curves, stylish case, it looks better than any cable box you're gonna get from the cable company. The remote has a classic TiVo layout and that's great since it's still one of the best remote designs out there. Even better, the remote works using RF instead of the traditional IR remote commands, so you can stick the TiVo behind the cabinet and you can still control it. The Roamio can work with cable but I'm gonna focus on it's appeal to cord cutters using an antenna. That means assuming you get good reception, you should be able to watch CBS, NBC, FOX, ABC, and PBS. TiVo also has built in WiFi and supports some streaming media services including Netflix, Hulu Plus, MLB. TV, Youtube, Pandora, and Spotfiy. There is an Amazon instant app, but it doesn't support the prime videos that are free within Amazon prime subscription so that's a pretty big drawback. Overall, it's an okay list of apps but for this price, you would definitely expect more. Where the TiVo really shines its the interface and the ability to handle recording. The graphics are crisp and high def and it's still the most intuitive interface there is, making it easy to find shows you want to watch and manage your recordings. The speed of the Roamio is also a huge improvement over prior TiVos. So zipping in and out of menus feels really snappy. TiVo season pass feature is still a standout letting you record all the new episodes of your favorite shows with exactly the settings that you'd like. The Roamio also has 4 built in tuners. So you can record 4 shows at once, or record 3 shows while you're watching another one live. There's a 500 gigabyte internal hard drive which holds 75 hours of HD content and you always have the option to add more space by connecting an external hard drive. And the Romeo really stands out when you compare it to other over the air recording solutions, especially when it comes to day to day use. Every other solution has some annoying quirks and drawbacks that begins to grate over time, but TiVo gets all the little things right. So, it gets out of your way and it just lets you watch TV. It's super reliable, commercial skipping is easy, the interface feels snappy. Over the air TV looks great. It's all enough to make you not really miss that cable subscription at all. And that's really the best pitch for the TiVo Roamio. Cutting the cord definitely has its compromises, but the Roamio makes it as seamless of a transition as you could hope for which makes you a lot less likely to go back to that pricey cable subscription. I wish there was a cheaper alternative that's nearly as good, but for now, the TiVo Roamio is the over the air DVR solution there is if you're willing to pay for it. I'm Matthew Moskovciak from CNet and this is the TiVo Roamio. [MUSIC]

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