TiVo Edge review: A once-great DVR in decline

The most productive factor about TiVo has at all times been its basics. No different DVR will give you as a lot keep watch over over which systems to document and the right way to document them, and no different DVR makes reside TV viewing so handy.

The entire extra irritating, then, that the brand new TiVo Edge DVR makes no enhancements within the spaces the place TiVo wishes them maximum. The is slicker (and quieter) this time round, and now it helps Dolby Imaginative and prescient HDR. However you continue to can’t use different streaming TV units, equivalent to Roku, to get admission to your DVR, and TiVo’s personal number of integrated video apps is falling additional in the back of devoted streaming gamers. Even worse, the core DVR revel in is now deteriorating with pre-roll video advertisements.

As TiVo stands nonetheless, different over-the-air DVR answers equivalent to Tablo, Channels DVR, and Hearth TV Recast are including extra of TiVo’s core options whilst providing those who TiVo nonetheless lacks. As such, even a fairly advanced TiVo Edge is more difficult to suggest than its predecessors have been.

New glance, much less noise

For this evaluation, I evaluated the TiVo Edge for Antenna, which prices $350, has 2TB of garage, and will play or document as much as 4 broadcast channels on the similar time. DVR carrier prices an additional $7 per thirty days, $70 according to yr, or $250 for the lifetime of the .

For individuals who plan to plug in a CableCARD, the TiVo Edge for Cable prices $400, additionally has 2TB of garage, and will play or document as much as six channels at a time. TiVo fees $15 per thirty days, $150 according to yr, or $550 for lifetime cable DVR carrier.

With each TiVo Edge variants, the design of the field itself is a huge development over the former TiVo Bolt. As a substitute of getting an arched enclosure, the Edge is a flat plastic slab with a ledge that runs across the entrance and facets. The result’s a greater thermal design that runs so much quieter. With the Bolt, I may pay attention it whirring from the opposite aspect of my administrative center, however the Edge turns into inaudible from only a foot or two away.

The port association round again has slightly modified in spite of the brand new glance, with a coaxial enter, optical audio output, HDMI, a couple of USB ports, ethernet, and a faraway finder button that performs a tone at the TiVo faraway. The previous eSATA port for garage enlargement is long gone, however WD stopped promoting its sole appropriate laborious power years in the past anyway. Sadly, the USB ports nonetheless don’t fortify exterior laborious drives, in order that they don’t serve a lot goal past charging your telephone.

tivoedgerear Jared Newman / IDG

The TiVo Edge has most commonly the similar inputs and outputs as earlier variations, however it drops the out of date eSATA port.

In comparison to the Bolt, the TiVo Edge has a quicker processor and extra reminiscence (4GB as a substitute of 3GB), however the ones upgrades don’t translate to a big efficiency spice up. You’ll nonetheless realize slight loading delays as you progress via menus, and the interface nonetheless animates at a uneven 30 frames according to moment moderately than the smoother body charges you’ll in finding on trendy streaming containers.

Nonetheless, the Edge now helps Dolby Imaginative and prescient HDR and Dolby Atmos, despite the fact that I used to be not able to get the previous to paintings on my Vizio M50-E1 TV from 2017. Except I disabled HDR fully, loading Netflix would make the display screen turn into overly dim or unbearably red. TiVo says this a malicious program associated with my TV being an early HDR set, however I’ve by no means skilled this factor with myriad different 4K HDR streaming containers.

As for TiVo’s faraway, it stays aggressively chunky with too many extraneous buttons (TiVo’s suggestions don’t even make the most of the thumbs-up and -down buttons anymore), however the TiVo Edge for Antenna faraway has one primary development this time round: It’s backlit, so the keys illuminate while you press them. Unusually, TiVo is sticking cable consumers with the non-backlit model for now.

tivoedgeremote Jared Newman / IDG

The TiVo Edge for Antenna features a backlit faraway.

A global-class DVR, with one giant caveat

Something I’ve realized over time is that folks will also be choosy about DVR habits, and that’s very true of TiVo customers. There’s even a contingent of customers who’ve have shyed away from upgrading to TiVo’s most up-to-date running device model as a result of they don’t just like the adjustments therein. (I’ve discovered the improve to be most commonly certain.)

So it used to be just a little unexpected when, a few months in the past, TiVo began stuffing preroll advertisements into customers’ DVR recordings. Those advertisements have no longer became up on my evaluation unit, and unofficially, you might be able to disable them with a decision to customer support. Nonetheless, stomping on a sacrosanct part of the DVR revel in is both a tone-deaf resolution or an indication that present consumers don’t subject within the grand scheme of TiVo’s trade.

tivoedgeonepass Jared Newman / IDG

TiVo’s “OnePass” menu allows you to tweak recording choices in myriad techniques.

That factor apart, the TiVo DVR revel in stays most sensible notch. With any display, you’ll select which channels to document from, what number of contemporary recordings to stay, and what kind of buffer time to incorporate sooner than and after the recording. You’ll watch recordings in growth and skip during the ads, and you’ll pause or rewind any reside program with no need to document it first. Discovering possible displays to document is simple as smartly, because of a “What to Watch” menu that permits you to browse throughout genres.

tivoedgewhattowatch Jared Newman / IDG

The “What to Watch” menu is useful for seeing what’s on throughout reside TV and make a selection streaming apps.

When it’s time to look at the ones recordings, TiVo does a advantageous activity serving to you kind via them. The “My Displays” listing is a click on away in the principle menu, and it has a at hand “Proceed Staring at” segment for sequence that you simply’re in the course of binge-watching. TiVo may even use its unoccupied DVR area to robotically document displays it thinks you’ll like.

tivoedgemyshows Jared Newman / IDG

Catching up on recordings is simple via TiVo’s “My Displays” menu.

TiVo has additionally added an automated commercial-skip possibility in contemporary months, so that you don’t want to hit the faraway’s “Skip” button all the way through each ruin. TiVo nonetheless depends upon human editors to spot ads, alternatively, and whilst this manner is extra correct than the ad-detection algorithms that another DVRs use, it additionally way some recordings received’t fortify ad-skipping in any respect.

At the upside, TiVo’s faraway does have a 30-second skip button, and its “QuickMode” function, which will increase playback pace with out converting the pitch of the audio, is a useful approach to get via systems quicker.

Nonetheless looking forward to streaming

The most important downside with TiVo lately is person who’s existed for a very long time now: Turning it right into a whole-home DVR will get pricey speedy.

At the present, the one approach to get admission to TiVo on multiple tv is with further TiVo Mini containers, which price $180 apiece. Despite the fact that TiVo has demonstrated streaming apps for Roku, Hearth TV, Apple TV, and Android TV, it has but to unencumber any of them and has no updates on when it would accomplish that.

tivoroku TiVo

In January, TiVo introduced plans to let customers get admission to their DVRs on streaming units equivalent to Roku beginning within the spring. It hasn’t mentioned anything else about the ones plans since.

This omission is getting more difficult to excuse when such a lot of different succesful whole-home DVR choices exist, together with Tablo, Channels DVR, Plex DVR, and Amazon’s Hearth TV Recast. With those units, you’ll get admission to reside and recorded TV on quite a lot of streaming video gamers, and the is generally less expensive than TiVo’s as smartly. Maximum of them (save for the Hearth TV Recast) even be offering ad-skipping.

The sorry state of TiVo’s integrated app variety could also be turning into a larger factor as new streaming products and services arrive. With TiVo, you’ll get admission to positive video apps equivalent to Netflix, Amazon High, Hulu, and HBO Pass with out a separate streaming participant, and a few of them even combine with TiVo’s DVR menus, so for any given program, you’ll view recordings and on-demand episodes in a single listing. Nonetheless, the listing of apps that TiVo helps is small, and the omissions are piling up. To look at Disney+, Apple TV+, Pluto TV, Crackle, PBS, Tubi, Sling TV, Philo, Spotify, YouTube TV, or Hulu’s reside TV carrier, you’ll desire a separate streaming participant.

tivoedgeapps Jared Newman / IDG

You realize the app state of affairs is dire when Ameba and FlixFling get distinguished billing.

As for the much-ballyhooed TiVo+ app, which streams reside video from on-line resources equivalent to FailArmy and FilmRise, it is in tough form these days. I have skilled channels that stutter periodically or fail to load outright, and the mixing with TiVo’s menus is ham-fisted at perfect. Whilst TiVo+ channels seem in the principle grid information, they do not in reality inform you what is lately taking part in, and there is no approach to disable those listings if you are moderately no longer see them.

But even so, a lot of the content material is equal to what you would in finding on Xumo, any other loose streaming carrier that TiVo partnered with to provide TiVo+. And since you’ll’t document those channels, there is truly not anything to tell apart TiVo’s model. In the long run, TiVo+ feels extra like a halfhearted try to get extra advertisements in entrance of customers than a carrier that fills a real want.

Must you purchase a TiVo in 2019?

One would possibly believe an alternative historical past for TiVo, wherein it doubled down on its DVR basics by way of letting customers document extra of the video that they’re gazing over the web, and wherein the ones recordings have been seamlessly to be had throughout any instrument.

However as TiVo has made more and more transparent, customers are however a tiny sliver of its general trade, which is extra excited about promoting DVRs and DVR device to TV suppliers, after which additional monetizing that large-scale target audience via advertisements. Tackling customers’ precise ache points-–particularly within the realm of cord-cutting-–has taken a again seat.

Because of this, maximum of TiVo’s attraction lies with people who find themselves already deeply invested within the platform. Or even then, TiVo is arising with new techniques to scare them off.

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