Goodbye, TiVo (but not TCF)

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by NashGuy, Jan 15, 2018.

  1. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    Well, today I shipped off the only TiVo I've ever had to a new owner across the country. It was the original 500 GB model TiVo Roamio OTA with lifetime service. I was reading posts on this site before I bought it new from TiVo on one of their super-secret short-term sales back in early May 2015. Paid $327.74 including tax for it. (Thanks to whoever tipped me off on that sale!)

    I was drawn to TiVo because I wanted to join the cord-cutting trend but still wanted a high-quality DVR for free OTA TV. I found myself watching very little on DirecTV satellite other than the major local networks, plus Showtime and HBO, which as of spring 2015 were becoming available as standalone streaming services. I decided I'd rather spend money on Netflix and/or Amazon Prime than on basic cable.

    I liked the concept of TiVo's OnePass that promised to unify OTA recordings with content from streaming services. Unfortunately, it didn't work quite as well in practice as in theory, but (once I got over the initial learning curve due to differences in the way TiVo works versus every other DVR I'd used before) I always found my Roamio to be excellent in its core DVR functionality. Over time, however, I gave up on using it as a streaming box.

    Until just recently, I had been using apps built into my 2016 LG smart TV where available and then turning to an old Apple TV 3 (which I sold a few months back) or a new Roku Express for apps missing from the TV. Since I began subscribing to Hulu's $12 ad-free on-demand service many months ago, I found myself using the TiVo less and less, although there were still some things such as news shows and PBS shows that I liked having an OTA DVR for. But for the most part, stuff I watch on local networks is available on Hulu, usually with better HD picture quality. And since the TiVo had problems reliably tuning in my local ABC channel (due to multipath reception issues, not the TiVo's fault, really), I needed Hulu anyhow. (Plus Hulu offers lots of other content from cable channels, original series, movies, etc.)

    Back in December, I saw that Tablo was selling refurbished units of their 2-tuner network OTA DVR for $100. It came with their same 12-month warranty as new units and I've had good luck with manufacturer refurbished stuff in the past, so I bit. I decided I'd rather sell my TiVo with lifetime and use the cheaper Tablo, and set up simple manual recordings for free, foregoing the cost of Tablo program guide service. I found a used Apple Time Capsule (network hard drive) on craigslist for $15 (works great!), which allowed me to switch my existing Hitachi 500 GB USB hard drive from backup duty on my iMac to use with the new Tablo instead.

    And as the centerpiece of my new set-up, I got a new Apple TV 4K. (I signed up and prepaid for four months of DirecTV Now for $140 plus tax and got the ATV4K for free; they go for $180 at retail.) For a couple years, I thought my ultimate long-term TV solution would involve an Android TV box, maybe the Nvidia Shield TV, with some kind of OTA DVR solution plugging into that. But the Apple TV 4K, IMO, offers a better user experience and has important features I want that the Shield TV doesn't have, such as Dolby Vision HDR, automatic frame rate matching (24p, 30p, 60p), and automatic dynamic range matching. And Apple's TV app offers a really nice way to keep track of what to watch across different apps. The Tablo app on the Apple TV works well. It's not, in some ways, as good as the TiVo for OTA DVR but I love the fact that my recordings are in just another app on the same box that I use for just about everything else, with the same playback UI and controls as on Hulu, Netflix, Showtime, etc. (I do still use the internal tuner in the LG TV for channel surfing live OTA TV, as the Tablo doesn't really allow for that.)

    After eBay, PayPal and FedEx fees, I netted $259.39 on the sale of the Roamio OTA. So that works out to spending about $2.13 per month for the 32-month period that I used it. Meanwhile, the total cost for the Apple TV 4K (with four months of DirecTV Now, which I don't really care much about), the refurbished Tablo, plus the used Time Capsule hard drive came out to $265.79. I'll also sell the Roku Express since I no longer need it, so I should actually end up coming out slightly ahead money-wise on my new set-up versus the old one.

    Since streaming is what I mainly care about, I decided to switch from a first-class OTA DVR plus cheap streamer, to a first-class streamer plus less expensive OTA DVR. So far, I'm super happy with how it all works. (The video processing capabilities of the ATV4K are awesome and Apple has really sweated the UX details. It's just a pleasure to use, more so than any other video device I've ever had.) Once ATSC 3.0 launches here locally (probably in 2019), I may sell the Tablo and get a 3.0-compatible network tuner that can interface with the Apple TV 4K. We'll see.

    At any rate, I've enjoyed frequently visiting this site and interacting with all you other regulars over the past three years. And while I no longer belong to the ranks of TiVo owners, I do plan to keep dropping by!
     
    mschnebly, dlfl and PSU_Sudzi like this.
  2. mdavej

    mdavej Well-Known Member

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    Gotta love Tivo's resale value. Glad you're sticking around. You've been a wealth of info for cord cutters. I'd be interested in your take on Philo and some of the other services if you happen to try them before I do.

    I'm also doing DTVN plus OTA. I sold my free ATV the same day I got it in the mail (I don't need 4k yet and already had a ton of Rokus and Fire Sticks).

    Have you heard about the Stream+? I've got one on order myself. It's a little $99 Android TV box with 2 OTA tuners built in. Uses Google's Live TV Channels guide and DVR like the Shield, so free guide data and DVR plus any Android app all in one box (what we all wish Tivo would do). Biggest drawback at the moment is it only records to microSD, but that may change in the future. Also no whole-home tuner/recording sharing that I know of. As a soon-to-be empty-nester, I could probably make do with standalone devices in each room. We shall see.

    If I can make the Stream+ work well enough, I may follow in your footsteps.

    Stream+ Media Player with Internal TV Tuners, Android TV and Google Live Channels DVR, Channel Master CM-7600 (CM7600)

    And I found a nice little review here:

    This new streaming box does something you wish your Apple TV did
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2018
    NashGuy likes this.
  3. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    Thanks! I haven't tried Philo. To be honest, I'm not all that interested in live streaming "cable TV" services. But I do think that Philo makes a very smart add-on to an OTA DVR (or a basic Hulu subscription) for folks who don't need cable sports and news. Too bad there's no way (now, at least) to integrate Philo's live streaming channels in with local OTA channels. It would have more value for me if it could do that. I may eventually do their free trial when they roll out an Apple TV app but I don't think there's enough there for me to justify $16 a month on it, even though that's not much money. The CEO of Scripps or Discovery awhile back talked about the possibility of their own skinny bundle of live channels for $3-5 a month. I might do that if they could somehow integrate it into one of the UIs I already use, i.e. the TV app on Apple TV or my local OTA channel line-up.


    Yep, I had read about the Stream+. I was intrigued but decided, for the same $99 price, to buy the Tablo instead for my dual-OTA tuner DVR needs. On a stand-alone basis, I think the Stream+ (with free ongoing guide data) would be a better OTA DVR for me than my Tablo (which only has the next 24 hrs of guide data for free). But I was tired of having a non-integrated TV system. I really like that the Tablo feeds into the Apple TV 4K. And after taking a few minutes to manually set up the few things I want the Tablo to record (NBC Nightly News, Meet the Press, Nature, Nova, Washington Week, Life in Pieces), there's really very little fuss with it. Tablo's manual recordings let you attach a text title, so the list of recordings is intelligible (unlike old VCR recordings, which were identified only by time/date/channel).

    Meanwhile, I realized that the Stream+ couldn't be my long-hoped-for "one box to rule them all" because it doesn't support Dolby Vision HDR and doesn't automatically switch Hz output based on the native frame rate (24p, 30p or 60p) of the content you play (the way both TiVos and Apple TV 4K do). I think this latter shortcoming is because Android TV doesn't natively support it. I've read that Nvidia may be looking to implement a workaround in a future update to their Shield TV but that wouldn't help the Stream+. As for Dolby Vision, it does look better than generic HDR10, especially on OLED TVs like mine, which have perfect blacks but don't get as bright as LCD TVs, so can exhibit clipped/blown-out highlights with HDR10 but not with Dolby Vision, which is customized by scene to each specific TV model. And beyond that, there are concerns about just how robust app support will be on the Stream+. Will Netflix bless it with their app and, if so, with UHD HDR? Will Amazon? Will Hulu ever roll out their updated app for Android TV?

    All that said, I'll be curious to hear how you like the Stream+. If Netflix comes through on it, it should get a good number of takers. I do wish my Apple TV 4K had Google Assistant (rather than Siri) and Chromecast compatibility, given that I have a Google Home and an Android phone and tablet. Those are things I like about Android TV boxes like the Stream+.
     
  4. Imageek2

    Imageek2 Member

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    I am going down the same path as you NashGuy, except for the moment I have a foot in both camps. I have a Roamio OTA feeding two TVs, and an ATV 4K feeding one. I started looking for alternatives to the Roamio when I began having streaming problems with Netflix.

    The ATV is getting OTA from an HDHomeRun and the Channels app. I have the Channels DVR running on a Mac Mini with a 4TB external drive for storage.

    I have been running both systems concurrently for a couple of months. The Channels app is no TiVo, but it is more than functional and the developer support is top notch. If it was up to me I would probably drop the Roamio and go all ATVs but there is the WAF to deal with. She is getting pretty comfortable with the ATV though so if the TiVo were to die tomorrow I don't think she would care much. ;)
     
  5. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, my Roamio would occasionally have the audio drop-out bug in Netflix. That may have gotten resolved, I don't know, as I stopped using the Roamio for any streaming over a year ago due to a number of factors.

    The Channels app for ATV looks great and I'd like to eventually migrate over to it for live OTA TV. It has a very Apple-like UI and it would be nice not to have to switch between my TV's internal tuner and the ATV4K input. (In fact, at that point, I might even ditch my Logitech Harmony universal remote.) But I couldn't really justify the cost. A HomeRun HD Connect dual network tuner costs the same $99 as I paid for the dual-tuner Tablo. And then the Channels app (with lifetime guide data) costs another $25. Not bad. But to gain DVR capabilities with the HomeRun tuner, I'd either need to pay an ongoing monthly fee for Channels DVR ($8/mo) -- and I really don't ever see myself paying that kind of recurring fee for OTA DVR -- or buy a lifetime Plex Pass to get the DVR features in Plex for $120 (although occasionally it's on sale for under $100). I don't watch a ton of live OTA TV, or really that much recorded OTA TV for that matter. So I'm OK using my LG TV's internal tuner for live TV, although the guide isn't very good and I can't pause or rewind live TV. But it does have a nice selection of streaming channels integrated alongside the OTA channels.

    Complicating matters is the advent of Next-Gen OTA TV, aka ATSC 3.0, which isn't compatible with existing tuners. So I hate to sink very much money in OTA equipment and software that may not be an optimal solution for very long. I expect that more than one station will begin broadcasting in ATSC 3.0 here in Nashville by the end of 2019 (if not sooner), as that is when several stations here are required to switch frequencies as part of the FCC's post-auction spectrum repack process. Lots of stations across the US are making plans to launch 3.0 broadcasts around the same time as they update/upgrade their broadcast antennas for the repack. Sinclair and Nexstar, the station owner groups that have been the biggest proponents of 3.0, own three and one stations here respectively (our Fox, CW, My TV and ABC affiliates).

    Once OTA network tuners that are compatible with both 3.0 and 1.0 (hybrid tuners) come to market, I may sell the Tablo and switch to a new tuner, plus whatever software and DVR service for Apple TV looks best at that point. But I'm OK with my current OTA set-up and very, very pleased with the ATV4K for streaming, which constitutes the lion's share of my viewing now.
     
  6. Imageek2

    Imageek2 Member

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    Aug 12, 2002
    Riverside, CA
    ATSC 3.0 was very much on my mind as well when deciding to look at alternatives to TiVo. I went with one HDHomerun with two tuners because like you I don't want to drop a large chunk of change on something that will become outdated, but still wanted to get a working system in place. Because of the component aspect of the ATV/HDHomerun/Channels setup when 3.0 is rolled out any piece can be replaced or dropped at a nominal cost to the rest of the system (hopefully). I'm also very happy with the AppleTV as the centerpiece of the system, I think it is more than capable of handling whatever comes next.
     

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