Have you heard of TiVo Stream? This device allows you to stream live TV and TiVo content to your mobile devices, even while watching something else on your primary screen. However, this streaming comes with a few unusual requirements, so read on to learn more.
TiVo Stream is both a TiVo product and a streaming capability offered by the DVR-based company. While you may know TiVo as one of the primary creators of show-saving devices, the company has been adding more smart and wireless features to its devices in recent years. TiVo Stream is the culmination of those efforts, a small set-top box that offers features similar to Slingbox, but with TiVo’s own brand and style behind it.
The main feature here is the ability to stream shows to your mobile devices. Previous systems had plenty of hard drive space to save shows captured from live TV, but they didn’t let you watch those shows anywhere but on that TV, in the living room. Devices like the TiVo stream focus less on the hard drive space and more on wireless features that allow you to beam shows to other screens.
The benefit is similar to other streaming services: You are no longer tied to the living room or even your own house when watching the shows that you want. You can bring them up on your phone, your tablet, your desktop and other devices. TiVo Stream works with iOS and Android platforms via the TiVo app, but does not offer compatibility with other platforms.
First, let’s talk about that streaming. As long as your wireless network is working, you can stream from anywhere, including work and vacation locations, so missing shows is no longer a necessity. You can also stream live TV from the device, which is more ideally suited for watching big live events such as sports games and award shows on your mobile devices.
If you have an iOS device, you get an extra feature, too: The TiVo Stream allows you to wirelessly download your shows on iOS. If you have enough hard drive space, you can download an entire show and then watch it on the go without needing a Wi-Fi connection, handy for more long-distance or remote traveling where battery life and wireless signals are a concern. The ability is not – yet – available for TiVo Stream Android devices.
As far as quality goes, the Stream can handle 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, and 1080p video quality. It has a Gigabit Ethernet port and not much else in terms of outputs.
The TiVo Stream does come with an important caveat, one not shared by Slingbox and other similar technologies. It needs to work with an already-present TiVo device. That means to use TiVo streaming you need to already have a TiVo Roamio, Premiere, Premiere 4 or XL4/Elite model as part of your entertainment system.
Stream, then, is designed for previous users of TiVo, unless you feel like dropping a couple hundred dollars for another new device just to make Stream work. However, there are some advantages to this set-up. You get to access the hard drive space of your other TiVo devices (Stream itself has no hard drive), which lets you stream all your saved shows as well as live TV, so you can work your way through backlogs and add multiple shows with similar airing times without any trouble. It also allows you to watch one show on your TV while streaming a different show to a mobile device, an ideal solution when family or friends would rather watch something else.
Any TV Stream review would be lacking if it didn’t mention the final, odd requirement. The TiVo Stream needs to be physically connected to an Ethernet or MoCA router to function, which severely limits placement. It’s a weird requirement for a device designed around wireless streaming, but keep in mind that it will need to be near your router.
TiVo Stream will cost you $129 (comparing favorable to Slingbox models, which have higher MSRPs). There are no service fees or monthly costs associated with using the Stream, but you may want to factor in the costs of other TiVo devices and services that you’ll need to make the system work.