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TiVo Slide Remote review: TiVo Slide Remote

TiVo Slide Remote

John Falcone Senior Editorial Director, Shopping
John P. Falcone is the senior director of commerce content at CNET, where he coordinates coverage of the site's buying recommendations alongside the CNET Advice team (where he previously headed the consumer electronics reviews section). He's been a CNET editor since 2003.
Expertise Over 20 years experience in electronics and gadget reviews and analysis, and consumer shopping advice Credentials
  • Self-taught tinkerer, informal IT and gadget consultant to friends and family (with several self-built gaming PCs under his belt)
John Falcone
4 min read

TiVo's two latest Series4 DVRs, the Premiere and the Premiere XL, have two major advantages over the generic DVRs that customers can get from their cable company: an excellent database of upcoming TV listings and tight integration with online video services (Netflix, Amazon, Blockbuster, and a wide range of free video podcasts). However, to maximize both of those features, you're often stuck using a somewhat cramped onscreen keyboard that you control with the remote's five-way directional pad. It works well enough, but it's slow and cumbersome to use.


TiVo Slide Remote

The Good

Compact remote control with slide-out QWERTY keyboard; uses Bluetooth wireless, which eliminates need for line-of-sight infrared; solid feel and good overall ergonomics; backlit keys; incorporates all buttons and same basic design found on classic TiVo "peanut" remote; allows for TV or AV receiver volume and input controls.

The Bad

Somewhat pricey; can't completely replace a full-featured universal remote control.

The Bottom Line

The TiVo Slide is a must-have remote for owners of compatible TiVo DVRs.

That's where the new TiVo Slide remote comes in. As the name suggests, you can slide the face of the remote control to reveal a full QWERTY keyboard complete with five-way d-pad and even a full numeric keyboard. So, whenever you need to do text entry--inputting text for a search, typing in a podcast URL, and so forth--you just flip the remote on its side, slide open the keyboard, and start typing away, smartphone-style.

In designing the Slide remote, TiVo started with the current iteration of its own excellent "peanut" remote that ships with the TiVo Premiere models. The TiVo engineers shrunk it down from 8 inches long to 6 inches, but it retains every key. While it's a tad more cramped--the volume/channel rockers are curved around the circular d-pad and the four alphabet shortcut keys are perhaps slightly too close to the 12-digit numeric keypad--overall it feels good in the hand. In fact, those with short fingers or small hands may prefer the feel of the Slide since the thumb can more easily sweep a larger portion of the front face.

The TiVo Slide (left) includes all of the buttons found on the standard TiVo remote--plus a slide-out keyboard.

Typing on the Slide is, unsurprisingly, similar to doing so on any landscape slider phones, such as the Verizon Droid 2 or Sprint Epic 4G. If you're a frequent texter or mobile e-mailer, you'll take to it like a duck to water; but even if you're not, you'll get the hang of things in a few short minutes. The rounded buttons are tiny, but they're spaced just far enough apart to avoid mashing multiple keys at once (even for larger thumbs).

In fact, the four-line keyboard is more spacious than many cell phones, and the remote's curved back makes it easy to hold while typing. To the left of the QWERTY alphabetical keyboard is a second 5-way directional pad (for navigating menus while the remote is pulled open) and to the right is a full digit numeric keypad. Shift (caps), clear, and enter buttons are present, as is a symbol toggle.

TiVo's not the first home AV product with a QWERTY remote--Vizio blazed this trail with the remotes for its App-enabled Internet-connected TVs, such as the 2XVT series. While the Vizio remote has a cheap feel to it, the TiVo Slide is exactly the opposite: it feels solid and substantive. The slide out keyboard is spring-assisted, so it snaps open and shut with a satisfying click. And the keyboard keys are hard plastic, not mushy rubber--BlackBerry owners will feel right at home.

The keyboard offers ample space, and the keys have a distinctively high-end feel.

Even better than the keyboard and the overall ergonomics of the TiVo Slide is the fact that it's a Bluetooth remote. (A USB dongle is supplied that fits into your TiVo DVR, and there was--for us, anyway--no setup required; it was truly plug and play.) Since Bluetooth is a radio frequency technology, all of the remote's TiVo control functions work without the need for "line of sight," which you otherwise need for infrared remotes. In other words, as long as you're within 30 feet of your TiVo, you can control, regardless of where you're pointing the remote. So go ahead and hide your TiVo away in a cabinet--you'll still be able to control it.

Unfortunately, that TiVo Slide's Bluetooth functionality doesn't extend to the other devices that it can control--a TV and an audio receiver. The remote can be programmed (using a help screen on the TiVo) to control nearly any brand of TV or audio receiver, but it's via infrared, again requiring line-of-sight control. Unfortunately, there's only one power button and one input toggle. The system works fine if you only need to control the TV, but if you want to control the TV and an AV receiver, you have to split the difference. In other words, you're probably still going to need another remote on hand.

Likewise, don't expect the TiVo remote to control other Bluetooth devices, such as the PlayStation 3. Perhaps a hack will one day become available, but that's definitely not supported out of the box.

The TiVo Slide remote is powered by two AA batteries (included), and it's compatible with TiVo Series3 (including the HD and HD XL) and Series4 (Premiere and Premiere XL) models. The price is $90. That's not cheap, to be sure, and we really wish the TiVo had included the Slide with the current Premiere models--or at least the Premiere XL. That said, if you're already a devoted TiVo owner who's sticking with the DVR for the foreseeable future, the TiVo Slide remote is a must-have accessory.


TiVo Slide Remote

Score Breakdown

Design 9Features 7Performance 8