TiVo Stream review: TiVo Stream

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The Good The TiVo Stream lets you easily stream and download programs wirelessly from your TiVo DVR to an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. Setup and operation are simple.

The Bad The Stream currently only works with iOS devices, and the app functionality could be more robust. It has TiVo Premiere support only and requires a wired Internet connection for the DVR and Stream.

The Bottom Line For TiVo Premiere owners with iOS devices, the TiVo Stream is a cool addition to your AV setup and mobile life.

7.7 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 7
  • Performance 8

The TiVo Stream is another step in the company's continued push to make its DVRs more of a whole-home solution.

The Stream, a tiny box that measures 4 inches wide by 4 inches deep by 1 inch high and weighs just 4.8 ounces, lets you stream recorded and live TV from your TiVo DVR to an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch via TiVo's iOS app. It can also be used to wirelessly download programs straight to your iOS devices. (An updated Android app to work with the Stream is in the works.) And this is all done without interrupting what's playing on your TV.

It works with TiVo Premiere, TiVo Premiere XL, TiVo Premiere 4, and TiVo Premiere XL4 (previously Premiere Elite) models, perhaps giving owners of older TiVo DVRs a reason to upgrade. Then again, at about $130, it's not quite an impulse buy or an inexpensive add-on.

If you've already got a TiVo Premiere set up, then getting the TiVo Stream up and running won't take long at all. About the biggest hiccup you might have is if your TiVo doesn't have a wired network connection either to your router or via a MoCA adapter (the Premiere 4 and XL4 have built-in MoCA support). Both the DVR and Stream need to have a wired connection.

The only jacks you'll find on the device are an Ethernet port and power input on back. Connect an Ethernet cable (one's included) to your router or MoCA adapter and the other end to the Stream, plug it in, and you're all connected. A small white light on back starts blinking, and once it finds your TiVo, it turns solid.

Screenshot by Joshua Goldman/CNET

Next, you open the TiVo for iOS app (it'll need to be up-to-date) and it should start the process of connecting the Stream to your iOS device (running iOS 5.1 or later). You do have to activate the Stream through your TiVo account before it can be linked, and you may need to enter the TiVo service number for the Stream and the media access key for your TiVo. It runs through a series of checks, and if all's well, that's it, you're done.

The TiVo Stream's primary feature is streaming recorded programming from your TiVo DVR to an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. This is done wirelessly, of course, so you need to have a decent signal to stream smoothly.

Tapping Watch Now in the upper right gives you the option of where you'd like to view. Screenshot by Joshua Goldman/CNET

From the My Shows section of the TiVo app, you can see everything recorded on your TiVo Premiere DVR. Pick a show that is already recorded or one that's in the process of recording, and tap Watch Now. You'll then be given a choice of watching on TV or your device (in my case, a first-gen iPad).

Screenshot by Joshua Goldman/CNET

After a little bit of buffering, the video will start playing. Once a show is playing you can touch the screen once to access the player features. The Trickplay Bar along the bottom will allow you to scrub forward and back, and you've also got a 30-second skip, an 8-second replay button, and a volume control. Just as in other sections of the app, there are gestures for the 30-second skip (slide finger to right) and 8-second replay (slide finger to left).

Record and watch
Want to stream something that's currently on? The TiVo Stream can handle that, too. Pick a show you want to watch in the guide and, again, tap on Watch Now and select your device. After a few seconds the program will start playing.