Some time in the future all of our entertainment will come via the internet -- on our TVs or on our mobile devices -- and it will include a mix of some live TV but mostly binge-watchable shows. Services like YouTube TV and are steadily growing, but what are they replacing? That old, beige cable DVR. TiVo has been readying itself for this shift for some time -- but its plans began in earnest with the TiVo Bolt, which was the company's first true streaming box-DVR hybrid. Now, four years later, the company is fully embracing this inevitability with its own livestreaming service, TiVo Plus, and another hardware product, the TiVo Edge.
TiVo Plus is exclusive to TiVo owners and appears to be a competitor to services like the Roku Channel and Pluto TV. The company has partnered with content producers like TMZ, Outside TV, PowerNation, FailArmy, Hell's Kitchen and Cheddar. The service will be available in the coming weeks, TiVo says.
Meanwhile, the first in a series of TiVos named after U2 band members (maybe), the TiVo Edge is the company's latest fusion of a DVR and a Roku-style streamer. The Edge comes in two different versions -- TiVo Edge for antenna ($350) and TiVo Edge for cable ($400) -- and both include a suite of streaming apps. The Edge will support TiVo Plus once it is available, though it's as-yet unknown if older hardware will support the service.
The Edge is the smallest TiVo I've seen -- roughly half the height of the-- but it performs very similarly. For example, the Edge keeps the four tuners of its predecessor.
Looks-wise it's still a piano-black box, but it loses the boomerang shape of before. Instead the Edge is somewhere between a futuristic office tower and the HDMI out, two USB, Ethernet and digital optical. The most important difference is that the cable version has six tuners in total while adding a CableCard slot. Both versions include 2TB hard drives.. The OTA antenna version I received comes with a number of connections, including
The TiVo Edge includes support for Dolby Atmos, plus it adds Dolby Vision HDR for compatible streaming programs. No word yet on support for, which is a part of the OTA .
The Edge includes the Vox edition of the familiar peanut remote, which has an integrated microphone and the teeny-tiny up and down buttons for teeny-tiny thumbs.
Hands-on with the TiVo Edge
The Edge feels a lot like last year's Bolt OTA -- both in terms of interface and in speed. The interface is TiVo's Experience 4, which dumps color of any kind in favor of gray. (So much gray.) If the previous interface was an explosion in a candy store, then the new one is an earthquake in a taxation office. While the interface is a love-or-hate thing for many TiVo die-hards, they can't deny that it's zippy. Starting Netflix is just as instantaneous as before.
The box still includes features such as SkipMode, allowing you to skip commercials, as well as OneSearch, which sifts through live TV, DVR recordings and streaming apps. As before, I wish there was a way to filter out streaming results so I could easily find things I know are showing in the next week.
According to ZatzNotFunny, there have been reports of preroll ads before recorded content, but this is nothing I experienced -- though I did see ads preceding On Demand programs.
If TiVo really wants to take on Roku, though, it's going to have to step up the number of apps it offers, especially because it doesn't offer access to any other live TV streaming services. TiVo Plus is unseen and untested, but if I was a betting man I'd say that thewould offer a better service. And you can use it on your phone without needing to buy a set-top box.
The TiVo Edge for antenna is available now for $350 and you have a number of options for the service plan: $6.99 monthly, $70 annually or a one-time All-In-Plan for $250. TiVo Edge for cable is available for $400 plus $14.99 a month, $150 a year or a one-time All-In-Plan for $550.
Is it worth paying $600 all-in for an OTA set-top box whose main addition seems to be an ability to stream in Dolby Vision? Probably not, especially when you can pick up a Bolt OTA for around $450 on the street, or save even more for a device such as the Amazon Fire TV Recast, which is just $230.