Help! Which DVR should I get?want

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by Ryan Konarska, Aug 28, 2017.

  1. Ryan Konarska

    Ryan Konarska New Member

    Aug 28, 2017


    A not-so-brief summary on my situation...

    We currently are cord cutters, have been for two years. We have Netflix+Hulu on an Apple TV 4 and a Winegard Amped Flat Indoor Antenna. However, our antenna reception is getting worse so we will be installing an outdoor antenna soon. However, we want to get a DVR to make our OTA investment worth it. We have been using WMC on and off for the past 2 years and like it. However, we hate having to switch inputs to stream. In addition, that $11 a month for Hulu is getting a little long in the tooth and we only watch it for Prime Time TV (and Seinfeld). Our thinking is that if we can record all the old reruns that we watch as well as record our Prime Time TV we can cut Hulu.

    The three solutions we are looking at are WMC, TiVo, and Tablo. WMC we are familiar with and like the channel guide (renaming and changing channel numbers), recordings, and the feel of an actual cable box. We don't like the lack of integrated streaming and the slow response time using a cheap single-tuner Chinese stick. Tablo looks nice but we would have to access it through Apple TV. While this means no change of inputs it is really a half-assed approach to DVR and we might as well just stick with streaming services.

    Which brings us to TiVo. First of all, I LOVE TiVo's remote. I don't know what it is about those buttons but it's just so satisfying. The DVR first, streaming second approach is nice as opposed to the opposite with Tablo (and no streaming at all on WMC). And it feels like a real cable box, unlike Tablo which has a guide and recordings view- that's it. As for price, Tablo for 4 tuners will run us $300, and a monthly fee of $5. Over 2 years that's $420. WMC- we need to buy another tuner card ($100), and it is essentially a dead platform. Cheaper, but no streaming. TiVo Roamio OTA lifetime is $400 and no monthly fees. Expensive but our favorite platform.

    At this point we are looking at WMC and TiVo. WMC is dead, and we would need to buy another tuner card. Also no streaming. But it is cheaper than TiVo by quite a bit, and we are familiar with the look and feel. TiVo costs a lot more, but we can get Netflix and Amazon integrated and it's less DIY than WMC. So for a family that uses Netflix for original shows and old series, Hulu for what we missed last night and Seinfeld, and OTA for our news and network programming, which is the best? Can we cut Hulu and just record what Primetime TV we missed? Or is that not cost effective? Appreciate any and all answers.

    sdawson likes this.
  2. tarheelblue32

    tarheelblue32 Well-Known Member

    Jan 12, 2014
    Raleigh, NC
    It sounds like a TiVo Roamio would be the right option for you. If you just use Hulu primarily for watching current shows, then you can probably cut that subscription and just record everything you want to watch.

    Like you said, WMC is basically dead. Tablo is an okay option for some people, but TiVo is superior to it. I think TiVo's whole-home system with Minis is better than the Tablo model. And SkipMode alone makes the TiVo worth it.

    Channel Master also has an OTA DVR, but it is quite inferior to a TiVo. The only thing it really has that TiVo doesn't is a Sling TV app.
  3. Ryan Konarska

    Ryan Konarska New Member

    Aug 28, 2017
    Which brings me to my next question- Roamio or Bolt?
  4. tarheelblue32

    tarheelblue32 Well-Known Member

    Jan 12, 2014
    Raleigh, NC
    You seem to be pretty price sensitive, so I'd probably recommend going for the Roamio unless you really have to have 4K streaming. The Bolt does have MoCA and streaming capabilities built in, so if you want that with the Roamio you will need to purchase a TiVo Stream or a MoCA adapter separately.
  5. Ryan Konarska

    Ryan Konarska New Member

    Aug 28, 2017


    I have a one story house with my living room TV wired already, if I need to add more minis I only need to pop off some ceiling tiles in the basement and drill a hole for ethernet. I haven't really understood the 4K hype and won't be buying a TV soon so I think a Roamio will be the best.

    Also, is it possible to watch live TV on an iPad with TiVo? Or do I need to buy an accessory?
  6. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

    May 2, 2015
    There's a couple more options that you may want to consider which would bring OTA DVR capabilities to your Apple TV 4. Both options would require you to buy an HD HomeRun OTA network tuner from Silicon Dust. (Each unit contains two tuners, starting around $99 per unit. You could buy two units if you need four tuners. Each unit must be connected to your home router via ethernet.) Both options would also require you to have an always-on computer (Windows or Mac) or NAS on your home network to record and store the shows streamed to it from the tuners. If you already have a computer or NAS that you could use, the overall price of these options may be acceptable to you. If you had to buy a computer or NAS, the overall cost would probably be so much more than a TiVo Roamio OTA that it wouldn't be worth it to you.

    You could use either the Channels app or the Plex app on your Apple TV 4 to view both live and recorded TV and manage your DVR. The Channels app is a one-time $25 purchase and has live TV features. To add DVR functionality, it costs $8/mo. The Channels app is very slick and Apple-like and offers a traditional program guide grid. The Plex app is free but both live TV and DVR functionality are premium features that require a Plex Pass membership, which costs $5/mo, $40/yr or $120 for lifetime. (Plex also offers a lot of other media management features besides OTA TV.) Plex is a great app IMO but unfortunately their TV/DVR feature doesn't offer a traditional guide grid. (You could also use the Channels app for live TV and Plex for DVR if you wanted.)

    I guess it sorta comes down to whether you want the Apple TV to be your main/only box for TV viewing. It undoubtedly has a slicker UI and is a far superior streamer than the TiVo Roamio. (And the Apple TV will finally gain an Amazon Video app this fall.) That said, the Roamio is a first-class OTA DVR and it does have Netflix and Amazon apps, although they're kinda slow and sometimes buggy.
  7. Kingpcgeek

    Kingpcgeek Couch Potato

    Feb 6, 2012
    Basin of...
    The Stream is no more. Gone from TiVo's web site and Amazon. weaknees has them for $200 (ouch)
  8. Ryan Konarska

    Ryan Konarska New Member

    Aug 28, 2017
    I don't know if I want to go the Apple TV route even though I already own one. First of all, the remote is terrible. And it's more streaming with DVR features than DVR with streaming features. I would prefer HDHomeRun with Plex/Kodi PC or WMC. Does Netflix or Amazon run on Plex/Kodi on a PC?
  9. atmuscarella

    atmuscarella Well-Known Member

    Oct 11, 2005
    Rochester NY
    Depends on what model TiVo you buy. For the Roamio OTA you need to add a TiVo Stream, which is no longer made. For the Bolt you can steam to the iPad without any additional hardware, on my home network it works well with my android tablet.
  10. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

    May 2, 2015
    You can watch Netflix, Amazon and pretty much anything else in a web browser on a Windows PC. That said, I know very little about using a PC as a home theater box. Not sure what the UI/UX would be like.

    Another option is the Nvidia Shield Android TV (either the base model with a USB hard drive added or the more expensive model with a built-in hard drive). It supports live and DVR OTA TV using either the HD HomeRun network tuners or various USB tuners. You can pay for DVR service for use with apps from Plex, HD HomeRun, or Tablo Engine. Or you can get free (but lesser featured) DVR service from Google in their Live Channels app. And the Shield has apps from Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, HBO, Showtime and lots of other services.

    But again, it's more of a streaming box with DVR capabilities added. If what you really want is an OTA DVR that feels and functions a lot like a traditional cable box, complete with full-featured remote, then go with a TiVo. Just know that it's not a great streaming box. (Well, the Bolt may be, but the Roamio is not.) If you get a Roamio OTA like I have, you may find yourself just going back to your Apple TV for streaming. That's what a lot of us Roamio owners do. If you don't mind switching inputs, that will probably be the best solution for you.
  11. tarheelblue32

    tarheelblue32 Well-Known Member

    Jan 12, 2014
    Raleigh, NC
    Honestly, I'd probably suggest just buying a SlingBox rather than a TiVo Stream anyway if you wanted streaming capabilities.
  12. sdawson

    sdawson New Member

    Aug 18, 2016
    Albany, Oregon
    We have been using OTA for 10 plus years now. Wecut the cord about 4 years ago, opting for Hulu for the samereasons, for broadcast channels as we did not have a dvr. Pluswe also have amazon prime andnetflix. Savings over the dish was about 70 a month with those options. Itworked fine andsaved money.

    A year ago we added a roamio ota to the mix, and now hulu is basically superfluous. I would drop it and save 12 bucks a month, but my wife prefers warching tv on the ipad, so we still have it. But for me, roamio ota, plus amazon and netflix supply all i would need.

    As you likely know, yhe exception is espn, pac 12 network, etc. i only get to see football on the major broadcast networks.

    So yes, i think you can pay for the cost of the roamio in 4 yearsor so by dropping hulu and if your antenna setup works, you will be happy. However, i would getthe outdoor antenna up and going first before getting the roamio, to ensure you getthe reception you want, we have a big ol channel master with an amplifier mounted on the mast, and that pulls in our stations from 50 miles away and feeds two roamios and a third tv just fine, but your mileage may vary ofcourse.

    Forgive spelling, am on an ipad at the airport.
  13. Mikeguy

    Mikeguy Well-Known Member

    Jul 28, 2005
    I like the Bolt. But the Roamio OTA is half the cost, with lifetime, and does basically all the same, save streaming or MoCA (for which you would need a TiVo Stream (if you can find one)/Slingbox and external MoCA adapter). Oh, the Bolt does 4K resolution (not yet prevalent) and is lightly peppier, esp. with apps. But is it worth double the $?
  14. Sparky1234

    Sparky1234 Well-Known Member

    May 8, 2006
    Bolt for now and future proof. Way faster than Roamio!!!
  15. slowbiscuit

    slowbiscuit FUBAR

    Sep 19, 2006
    In the ATL
    If you like wasting money, sure.
  16. chicagobrownblue

    chicagobrownblue Well-Known Member

    May 29, 2008
    Chicago, IL
    Apple may introduce a new Apple TV with 4K and HDR at their September 12 event. Worth waiting until then.
    Can you put an antenna in your attic? That may help reception and protect the antenna from wind and storms.
    There are larger capacity 3.5" drives for the Roamios that work well. You may want this extra capacity for your archive. TCFers have had problems with >3TB drives on Bolts.

    And $100 off when it is on sale.

    Sounds like you should wait for Black Friday / Cyber Monday deals.
  17. TeamPace

    TeamPace Active Member

    Oct 22, 2013
    I'm coming in on the side of Roamio OTA. I've tried a half dozen OTA setups with the Bolt and had significant OTA reception problems that switching to a Roamio solved. In fact the Bolt I own is moth-balled in the closet because it wouldn't pick up many of the channels I can get with the Roamio. Others on this forum report good reception with Bolt but I suspect they simply have excellent signals to work with so YMMV.

    My priority is also having a great DVR. Netflix and Amazon count for a smaller portion or our viewing but I really like having them built into the TiVo. I find the apps built into the Roamio satisfactory even though I also have an Apple 4 box that I use for my Directv Now streaming subscription. I have never used Tablo, HD Homerun, or the Channel Master DVR but I've done serious reading of reviews for all of those and haven't come away feeling that they would be a better option than a one time purchase of a TiVo Roamio OTA. Just much less muss and fuss with TiVo. We've happily been OTA for 8 years now. We've had Hulu off and on a few times but didn't find it worth the $ since we could record most of the available programming off the antenna.

    I do have a TiVo stream with my setup but hardly ever use it. We simply added a smaller 32" TV (so cheap these days) and a Mini in each location around the house so watching on an iPad isn't needed. In home streaming works well enough with stream but out of home has never been all that reliable for me. (You have to have great upload speeds with your internet for out of home)

    Lastly I do suggest getting a proper outdoor antenna (or at least attic mounted). It improves reception greatly. The right antenna will depend on your location but I've had very good results with the Clearstream 2V or updated (Max) version if you're within 25 miles or so of towers. But do your research for the reception in your location.
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2017
  18. mlcarson

    mlcarson Member

    Dec 30, 2007
    You might also consider SageTV. It's free except for the guide data which you'll need from Schedules Direct ($25/yr). If you go with the Nvidia Shield as your client device, you also have a capable streaming device that can support 4K content with Netflix. The downsides to Tivo which are really irritating to me are the Rovi guide data issues and the lack of 4K options on the Mini's (or even 1080P via Plex). The Mini issue will be fixed with the new hardware being released later this year. I don't think there's any fix to the guide issues and they really ruin an otherwise nice product. The downsides of SageTV is no DRM support for cablecard (not an issue for you) and slow channel changes compared to Tivo -- it's also a DIY solution so there's the positives and negatives of that.

    Mikeguy likes this.

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