My Experience with the Bolt

Discussion in 'TiVo Bolt DVR/Streamer' started by pl1, Mar 3, 2019.

  1. Mar 3, 2019 #1 of 15
    pl1

    pl1 Active Member

    1,266
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    Jan 17, 2007
    MA
    I saw the $279 deal for the Bolt 500g 4 tuner refurb last week. I had no NEED for replacing my Roamio, but, I was thinking I would love the new technology. I could set up the Bolt with my cableco and use the Roamio with an Over The Air Antenna (OTA). (The 4 tuner versions work with either cable or OTA.) I was also looking forward to Out Of The House Streaming. (OOTH)

    I also purchased the vox remote at 1/2 price ($20) to try out the voice features.

    To me, the vox remote is useless. It can't even use commands like "channel up" or "channel 2". (You need to know the station name.) If you have to use the remote to select voice versus using the remote to select "play", it is still just one button. It just seems useless. So that seems like a wasted purchase, although not a deal breaker. And maybe it's functionality will improve.

    Since I could not stand the Tivo Experience 4 (TE4) "experience", I reverted back to TE3, losing the voice functionality of the VOX remote. At least the downgrade was smooth. This also turns off the Bolt's bluetooth support, forcing the remote to become IR. So, I would end up with another white IR remote, not even RF.

    THE PLUSES

    1) The TiVo Bolt is fast, even when downgrading the software to TE3.

    2) Out Of The Home Streaming is great (if it works)

    THE MINUSES

    1) In my case, OTA worked fine, but there is a tuner problem when connected to the cableco. It
    shows V52 no signal on the top tier stations . For me, this is THE deal breaker causing me
    to return the unit. I am certain the unit is defective because the Roamio works
    fine using the same exact Coax as the bolt, while the Bolt says I have little or no signal.
    Even the Comcast Tech agreed, because she said that many Bolts have problems with
    the signals.


    2) No RCA Video Out, only audio. I use Slingbox, but if the OOTH Streaming works, I could use
    that. I was going to try to use the audio output only, since I listen to a music channel at work
    with my slingbox. Video is not really needed. Not a deal breaker. But it seems like a cheap
    savings on Tivo's Part. There is a splitter I found for $25 that would have given me what I want.

    3) The fan on my unit was BRUTAL. It was actually causing my table to vibrate. I fished around for
    a solution (since it is a common complaint), which I could made work, so it is not a deal
    breaker. But, it is crazy to have to deal with this out of the box! If it is a bad unit because of
    the fan AND the tuner
    , then that is just real bad luck! I should point out, from what I've
    read, it is the method TiVo is using for cooling that causes this vibration. Changing the power
    source cures it, or of course unplugging the fan cures it.

    4) I could not get OOTH Streaming to work on my PC. That being said, when I reverted from TE4
    to TE3, I did not re-activate the streaming app at home. So, when I was at work, the app on my
    phone would not work, and TiVo.com said "This feature is not supported at this time." When I
    got home, I re-activated streaming and the Android app started working. So, it is possible the
    PC version is working, but since I am returning the unit, I'm not sure if it works. Still, while a
    "nice to have" feature, it is not a deal breaker if it doesn't work.

    5) I am NOT happy about the 2.5 inch hdd since the prices are crazy for an upgrade. I could have
    gone the external route with a cooling case using a 3.5 inch hdd, or I could pay $140 for a new
    2.5 inch hdd, but I decided I would live with the 500g hdd. So, while it is not a deal breaker, it
    makes the Roamio look better and better as I write this review!

    In summary, I am grateful that TiVo offers a 30 day money back guarantee, including shipping. I'm also glad that I got to try out the Bolt. I do not like change, that is a fact, but I could live with the changes if the core part of the product worked which is WATCHING TV. So, if that part worked normally, I would still be using the Bolt. But, I do NOT think I will go for a new Bolt until I'm forced to replace my Roamio.
     
  2. Mar 3, 2019 #2 of 15
    Phil T

    Phil T Active Member

    363
    163
    Oct 29, 2003
    Littleton,...
    It sounds like your CableCARD was not paired completely with your Bolt. Until mine was paired the premium channels displayed the CableCARD info screen and locked up. After pairing the issue was gone. I am on Comcast also. One way to tell is your on demand app will not work until paired.
     
  3. Mar 3, 2019 #3 of 15
    pl1

    pl1 Active Member

    1,266
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    Jan 17, 2007
    MA
    I thought that too at first. But as it turns out, all of the stations I am supposed to receive showed as authorized and Comcast confirmed I was paired properly. When you went to a station in the upper tier levels, like my local sports channel, it showed "No Signal" (V52). If I went to a station that I was NOT authorized for, like the NHL channel, it would say "Channel is Not Authorized" (V58).
     
  4. Mar 3, 2019 #4 of 15
    JoeKustra

    JoeKustra in the other Alabama TCF Club

    16,015
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    Dec 7, 2012
    Ashland, PA...
    Is it a Motorola M-card or a Cisco/SA card? You are correct: "No Signal" is a dead channel and V58 is one your card was told not to decrypt. It is possible to determine that information from your TV, but it's a lot of work.
     
  5. Mar 3, 2019 #5 of 15
    TheTivoPenguin

    TheTivoPenguin Lovin Our TiVo!!

    21
    4
    Oct 12, 2002
    Newburgh NY
    Is this correct? The Bolt Vox Remote ($20 add on for this deal) won't work in RF Mode with the TE3 interface?

    Would this post fix that?
     
  6. Mar 3, 2019 #6 of 15
    pl1

    pl1 Active Member

    1,266
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    Jan 17, 2007
    MA
    Motorola M-Card. The obvious part of all of this is that the Bolt was showing signal levels of zero while the Roamio was showing mid 90's. The stations that WERE working and authorized (like the music stations) were at a very low signal at 67, and pixelating at 480i.
     
  7. Mar 3, 2019 #7 of 15
    pl1

    pl1 Active Member

    1,266
    1
    Jan 17, 2007
    MA
    No, this is not the problem. The VOX remote is Bluetooth. The TE4 interface gives you Bluetooth. So, if you revert back to TE3, and you lose Bluetooth, you need to revert the VOX remote back to IR. The VOX remote does not have RF at all!
     
  8. Mar 3, 2019 #8 of 15
    JoeKustra

    JoeKustra in the other Alabama TCF Club

    16,015
    2,567
    Dec 7, 2012
    Ashland, PA...
    The ideal signal strength for a cable basic Roamio or bolt is 90% which usually has a SNR of 36dB. I'm having an upload problem. The cable card Condition Access display will have a V after Val: when it is paired. The number that follows is just the number of times your card has been paired. While someone watches the signal strength, tighten all the rf connections. The number will spike if you hit a bad connector.

    Despite what the CS told you, they can't tell if your card is paired.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2019
  9. Mar 3, 2019 #9 of 15
    pl1

    pl1 Active Member

    1,266
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    Jan 17, 2007
    MA
    True, what the CSR asked is what my "HOST ID:" number was showing on the "cableCARD Pairing:" screen on the Bolt and it matched their records at Comcast. The other tests confirmed I was paired properly since I could receive all of the channels that I was supposed to be able to (except that the signal strength was low or zero). CSR also said the higher channels are compressed at Comcast, which could also cause the problem.
     
  10. Mikeguy

    Mikeguy Well-Known Member

    17,965
    4,880
    Jul 28, 2005
    Sorry you faced that issue--some have. (I mean, actual vibration?) I haven't had that issue with my Bolt from close to 2 years ago.
    Yeah, I'm not happy with this, either. While the 2.5" drives were a little more expensive than the 3.5" drives a few years ago, that delta has only increased over time, with the 2.5" drives getting more expensive and the price of the 3.5" drives going down (as one would expect over time). :(
     
  11. pl1

    pl1 Active Member

    1,266
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    Jan 17, 2007
    MA
    Yes. The first night I set it up it was bearable. I had it on the kitchen table. The next night when I came home from work, I could not figure out what the loud noise I was hearing was. I noticed it was the Bolt.

    If I placed some memo pads under both ends, it dampened the sound a bit by at least removing the vibration on the table. The sound was still intolerable compared to my Roamio. My plan was going to be to use a 5 volt power source from another connector on the motherboard. (Which I read about here.)

    Apparently it's not really the fan itself, but the PWM Fan Circuit. "An integrated circuit that varies the speed and airflow of a cooling fan using a pulse-width-modulated (PWM) voltage in response to temperature or system commands."

    Bolt noisy fan - options?
     
  12. xberk

    xberk Member

    188
    12
    Dec 3, 2011
    >>To me, the vox remote is useless. It can't even use commands like "channel up" or "channel 2". (You need to know the station name.)

    Not true for me. Not useless. I love the VOX feature. Use it daily. True that channel up and down do not work as commands. But I can say "channel 460" or "channel 1948". That works for me. You cannot say channel one two three. You need to say "channel one hundred and twenty three" I can also just say "CNBC" or "Bloomberg". Frankly I don't have the channel numbers memorized. I like saying "CNN" or "Fox News" and bam, it's there. No longer do I need to punch in channel numbers -- or memorize them. I can also just say "Amazon" and Amazon prime comes up. Netflix has a button on the remote and so you can go from Amazon directly to Netflix. In general, navigation is faster and easier to learn. For example, the "to do list" .. you can go directly to it from just about everywhere, and once you are there, you can go directly to a "channel" or "Amazon" or "Settings" or lots of other places. I hardly use the menu system now. VOX gives you the ability to shortcut and go directly where you want. Is it perfect? No. Lots of improvement is possible, and no doubt will be on the way. Voice command is here and will be part of our lives for so many other things besides TIVO. Far, far, far from useless.
     
  13. exdishguy

    exdishguy Active Member

    122
    26
    Apr 30, 2004
    I wish I hadn't opened mine and voided the warranty. This Arris box is a piece of crap compared the build quality of the Roamio. As I said in another post, I'm stuck with this thing now so I'm all in trying to get it to perform as well as the Roamio. But man this is a slippery slope. I've got my signal pretty dialed in since the Bolt tuner is very sensitive and doesn't work as well as the Roamio tuner IMO. My Roamio doesn't glitch - period. The Bolt needed -9dB attenuation and I still see a hiccup every now and then. The VOX remote is IR only since I went back to TE3 after trying Hydra (yet again...and it still sucks a$$). I ordered another slider remote so that I get RF back and I like the keyboard.

    In any event, you're a smarter man than I am. I'm going to sink more money into this thing and hope to god it doesn't become a door stopper once Tivo (or IF Tivo) ever sells off the product business.
     
  14. pl1

    pl1 Active Member

    1,266
    1
    Jan 17, 2007
    MA
    I think you are right about the quality issue. I think TiVo has been forced to cut the retail price to the bone (by lowering the quality and reducing the features) to stay in business, since many (if not most?) people just pay their cableco monthly for a DVR.

    So, the only way for them to compete, is to make the price cheaper than renting from the cableco. I'm guessing long term users are not providing the revenue stream required to stay in business, and the long term users are more inclined to compare the quality to past units. Newbies would not know what they are missing. Although, that being said, not being able to access 3/4 of someone's cable channels might not be acceptable to a newbie either! :mad:

    In my mind, the S3 was the absolute best (and most expensive) TiVo ever made. While it was the most expensive, I wanted two of them to get four tuners. So, I dished out $599 per unit for 2 units. (Retail price was $799.) I got the $199 life transfer on each. Compare those "deal" prices to this Month's current refurb deal of $279 with 4 tuners for life. HUGE DIFFERENCE!

    It may be too late to even bother at this point, but it would have be nice to see TiVo offer an expensive quality version, rather than just a bigger hdd for the high end unit. Something that offered all of the features the S3 offered, but updated for today's technology. I loved the recording showing up on the OLED screen. I loved all of the different outputs including HDMI, composite and component video outputs. Then maybe start preparing the units for the future cableco requirements like IP TV, if that's where it is going. I'm not saying I have the answer, but I think it is going to take a better quality TiVo than the Bolt to sell me on the next unit.

    I tend to agree with your overall assessment. I had set up a wish list on Amazon to sink into the Bolt. I was going to buy an HDMI to Composite splitter for my Slingbox, a new 2.5" hdd and a new External hdd case with built in fan to bypass the built in hdd. (Then I would unplug the internal TiVo fan.)

    I had to ask myself, "why am I even considering this when the Roamio works perfectly fine?" Still, I proceeded to transfer the cableCARD, willing to live with it, until the cable channels would not tune-in. So, in that respect, I would have done the same thing as you and sunk more money into it. And, I'm glad I got to try out the TE4, and the vox remote.
     
  15. HerronScott

    HerronScott Well-Known Member

    6,701
    849
    Jan 1, 2002
    Staunton, VA
    We did exactly the same thing upgrading our 2 S1's to 2 S3 OLED's in December 2006/January 2007 (same discounted price), but for me the reasoning was to insure we maintained our lifetime service on an HD model since at the time they had stopped offering it. Didn't hurt to move from 2 tuners total to 4 tuners and our S3 OLED's worked great (and are still running although just as storage at the moment).

    We upgraded to the Roamio Pro in October 2015 with the long time TiVo owner deal for $600 including lifetime and have been very happy with it - construction and functionality (Comcast was going to be moving to MPEG4 and TiVo's lifetime cost had really gone up so several reasons to move to a newer model). The OLED was a nice touch on the original S3 but not a feature that's indispensable for us.

    Scott
     

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