TiVo Unveils Next-Gen Roamio DVRs, Out-of-Home Streaming Coming Soon
“Breaking Bad,” “Duck Dynasty,” “Real Housewives of Orange County” — whatever your TV addiction might be, it can seem like the end of the world when you’re unable to watch your favorite show because you’re traveling or because your family or housemates are hogging all the TVs. That’s a problem TiVo is looking to solve with its new Roamio DVR platform.
Available starting today, the Roamio family iincludes three models: The Roamio ($200, plus TiVo subscription), Roamio Plus ($400), and Roamio Pro ($600).
The entry-level Roamio is a four-tuner DVR, meaning it can record four shows simultaneously, and features a 500 gigabyte hard drive for about 75 hours of HD recording. The Roamio Plus and Pro are six-tuner DVRs (recording up to six shows at once). The Plus has a one-terabyte hard drive for up to 150 hours of HD recording, and the Pro has a 3TB hard drive that allows up to 450 hours of HD recording. All have built-in wireless and require a cable card.
Roamio brings a handful of new features, but arguably the most exciting addition is built-in streaming, available on the Roamio Plus and Pro models. Users will now be able to stream shows from their DVR to their iPhone or iPad using the TiVo Stream app, even when they’re away from home. The app includes tools like 30-second skip, and you can also download content to watch later, as long as it’s not copy-protected.
Before this, you could stream content from the DVR to an iOS device using a TiVo Stream box, but you could only do so inside your home.
There are a couple of things to know about out-of-home streaming, though. First, it won’t be available at launch. Instead, TiVo plans to roll out the feature to the Roamio Pro, Plus and TiVo Stream in October or November. Second, streams will initially have to be done over Wi-Fi. But streaming over a cellular connection should be coming shortly after. The company also told me that an Android app is planned for later this year or early next year.
Other improvements include a revamped interface with faster performance and new tools for discovering content. There’s a “What to Watch Now” feature that allows you to see the most popular shows by time slot. Meanwhile, guide filtering lets you browse the program guide by general category (Movies, Sports, Kids, and so forth), or narrow it down even more to something specific, like romantic comedies.
Roamio also supports the HTML5 platform for applications. The DVRs will include the new YouTube app, and more apps will be added over time — TiVo plans to launch an app store in the next six months. Finally, all Roamio remotes now use RF technology, so they’ll work even if your DVR is behind a cabinet door.
TiVo’s last major launch was three years ago, when it released its Premiere platform. For a while, TiVo was a leader in DVR technology, but over the past couple of years, companies like Dish and DirecTV have come out with compelling products of their own. Dish, for example, has its Hopper DVR, which offers streaming to other devices via Sling, and has a feature that strips out commercials on recorded shows.
TiVo said that what makes Roamio a more attractive solution than its competitors is a streaming process that provides a faster and higher-quality feed. Even if you’re streaming content, it should have no effect on people who are watching TV at home or on other devices. The company is also different in that it incorporates streaming services like Netflix and Hulu Plus into the main menu and with your linear channels.
“Our overall theme with the Roamio platform is to incorporate all content into one experience,” said Jim Denney, vice president of product marketing at TiVo. “With built-in streaming, the idea now is that you can not only watch TV on your time, but also where you want.”
All Roamio models are available now online from TiVo, Amazon and Best Buy. They’ll also be sold in Best Buy stores in the coming weeks.