Home / Reviews / TiVo Edge review: A once-great DVR in decline

TiVo Edge review: A once-great DVR in decline

The very best factor about TiVo has at all times been its fundamentals. No different DVR provides you as a lot management over which packages to file and the right way to file them, and no different DVR makes reside TV viewing so handy.

All of the extra irritating, then, that the brand new TiVo Edge DVR makes no enhancements within the areas the place TiVo wants them most. The {hardware} 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 gadgets, corresponding to Roku, to entry your DVR, and TiVo’s personal choice of built-in video apps is falling additional behind devoted streaming gamers. Even worse, the core DVR expertise is now deteriorating with pre-roll video adverts.

As TiVo stands nonetheless, different over-the-air DVR options corresponding to Tablo, Channels DVR, and Hearth TV Recast are including extra of TiVo’s core options whereas providing people who TiVo nonetheless lacks. As such, even a barely improved TiVo Edge is tougher to suggest than its predecessors have been.

[ Further reading: The best DVRs for cord cutters ]

New look, much less noise

For this assessment, I evaluated the TiVo Edge for Antenna, which prices $350, has 2TB of storage, and may play or file as much as 4 broadcast channels on the identical time. DVR service prices an additional $7 monthly, $70 per yr, or $250 for the lifetime of the {hardware}.

For many who plan to plug in a CableCARD, the TiVo Edge for Cable prices $400, additionally has 2TB of storage, and may play or file as much as six channels at a time. TiVo prices $15 monthly, $150 per yr, or $550 for lifetime cable DVR service.

With each TiVo Edge variants, the design of the field itself is an enormous enchancment over the earlier 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 sides. The result’s a greater thermal design that runs quite a bit quieter. With the Bolt, I might hear it whirring from the opposite aspect of my workplace, however the Edge turns into inaudible from only a foot or two away.

The port association round again has barely modified regardless of the brand new look, with a coaxial enter, optical audio output, HDMI, a pair of USB ports, ethernet, and a distant finder button that performs a tone on the TiVo distant. The outdated eSATA port for storage enlargement is gone, however WD stopped promoting its sole suitable laborious drive years in the past anyway. Sadly, the USB ports nonetheless don’t help exterior laborious drives, in order that they don’t serve a lot function past charging your telephone.

tivoedgerear Jared Newman / IDG

The TiVo Edge has principally the identical inputs and outputs as earlier variations, nevertheless it drops the out of date eSATA port.

In comparison with the Bolt, the TiVo Edge has a quicker processor and extra reminiscence (4GB as a substitute of 3GB), however these upgrades don’t translate to a significant efficiency increase. You’ll nonetheless discover slight loading delays as you progress by means of menus, and the interface nonetheless animates at a uneven 30 frames per second somewhat than the smoother body charges you’ll discover on fashionable streaming bins.

Nonetheless, the Edge now helps Dolby Imaginative and prescient HDR and Dolby Atmos, although I used to be unable to get the previous to work on my Vizio M50-E1 TV from 2017. Until I disabled HDR fully, loading Netflix would make the display screen change into overly dim or unbearably pink. TiVo says this a bug associated to my TV being an early HDR set, however I’ve by no means skilled this situation with myriad different 4K HDR streaming bins.

As for TiVo’s distant, 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 distant has one main enchancment this time round: It’s backlit, so the keys gentle up whenever you press them. Surprisingly, TiVo is sticking cable clients with the non-backlit model for now.

tivoedgeremote Jared Newman / IDG

The TiVo Edge for Antenna features a backlit distant.

A world-class DVR, with one huge caveat

One factor I’ve realized through the years is that individuals could be choosy about DVR habits, and that’s very true of TiVo customers. There’s even a contingent of customers who’ve averted upgrading to TiVo’s most up-to-date working system model as a result of they don’t just like the adjustments therein. (I’ve discovered the improve to be principally optimistic.)

So it was a bit shocking when, a few months in the past, TiVo began stuffing preroll adverts into customers’ DVR recordings. These adverts haven’t turned up on my assessment unit, and unofficially, you could possibly disable them with a name to customer support. Nonetheless, stomping on a sacrosanct aspect of the DVR expertise is both a tone-deaf choice or an indication that present clients don’t matter within the grand scheme of TiVo’s enterprise.

tivoedgeonepass Jared Newman / IDG

TiVo’s “OnePass” menu helps you to tweak recording choices in myriad methods.

That situation apart, the TiVo DVR expertise stays high notch. With any present, you possibly can select which channels to file from, what number of latest recordings to maintain, and the way a lot buffer time to incorporate earlier than and after the recording. You may watch recordings in progress and skip by means of the commercials, and you’ll pause or rewind any reside program with out having to file it first. Discovering potential exhibits to file is simple as effectively, because of a “What to Watch” menu that allows 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 choose streaming apps.

When it’s time to observe these recordings, TiVo does a nice job serving to you kind by means of them. The “My Exhibits” checklist is a click on away in the primary menu, and it has a useful “Proceed Watching” part for sequence that you simply’re in the course of binge-watching. TiVo may even use its unoccupied DVR area to robotically file exhibits it thinks you’ll like.

tivoedgemyshows Jared Newman / IDG

Catching up on recordings is simple by means of TiVo’s “My Exhibits” menu.

TiVo has additionally added an computerized commercial-skip possibility in latest months, so that you don’t must hit the distant’s “Skip” button throughout each break. TiVo nonetheless depends on human editors to determine commercials, nonetheless, and whereas this method is extra correct than the ad-detection algorithms that another DVRs use, it additionally means some recordings received’t help ad-skipping in any respect.

On the upside, TiVo’s distant does have a 30-second skip button, and its “QuickMode” characteristic, which will increase playback pace with out altering the pitch of the audio, is a useful technique to get by means of packages quicker.

Nonetheless ready for streaming

The most important downside with TiVo as we speak is one which’s existed for a very long time now: Turning it right into a whole-home DVR will get costly quick.

At current, the one technique to entry TiVo on a couple of tv is with further TiVo Mini bins, which price $180 apiece. Though TiVo has demonstrated streaming apps for Roku, Hearth TV, Apple TV, and Android TV, it has but to launch any of them and has no updates on when it’d accomplish that.

tivoroku TiVo

In January, TiVo introduced plans to let customers entry their DVRs on streaming gadgets corresponding to Roku beginning within the spring. It hasn’t mentioned something about these plans since.

This omission is getting tougher to excuse when so many different succesful whole-home DVR choices exist, together with Tablo, Channels DVR, Plex DVR, and Amazon’s Hearth TV Recast. With these gadgets, you possibly can entry reside and recorded TV on a variety of streaming video gamers, and the {hardware} is usually cheaper than TiVo’s as effectively. Most of them (save for the Hearth TV Recast) even provide ad-skipping.

The sorry state of TiVo’s built-in app choice can also be changing into an even bigger situation as new streaming companies arrive. With TiVo, you possibly can entry sure video apps corresponding to Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and HBO Go with out a separate streaming participant, and a few of them even combine with TiVo’s DVR menus, so for any given program, you possibly can view recordings and on-demand episodes in a single checklist. Nonetheless, the checklist 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 service, you’ll want a separate streaming participant.

tivoedgeapps Jared Newman / IDG

You understand the app state of affairs is dire when Ameba and FlixFling get outstanding billing.

As for the much-ballyhooed TiVo+ app, which streams reside video from on-line sources corresponding to FailArmy and FilmRise, it is in tough form in the mean time. I’ve skilled channels that stutter periodically or fail to load outright, and the combination with TiVo’s menus is ham-fisted at finest. Whereas TiVo+ channels seem in the primary grid information, they do not truly let you know what’s at the moment enjoying, and there isn’t any technique to disable these listings in the event you’re somewhat not see them.

In addition to, a lot of the content material is identical as what you’d discover on Xumo, one other free streaming service that TiVo partnered with to supply TiVo+. And since you possibly can’t file these channels, there’s actually nothing to tell apart TiVo’s model. In the end, TiVo+ feels extra like a halfhearted try and get extra adverts in entrance of customers than a service that fills an precise want.

Do you have to purchase a TiVo in 2019?

One may think an alternate historical past for TiVo, during which it doubled down on its DVR fundamentals by letting customers file extra of the video that they’re watching over the web, and during which these recordings have been seamlessly accessible throughout any system.

However as TiVo has made more and more clear, shoppers are however a tiny sliver of its total enterprise, which is extra involved with promoting DVRs and DVR software program to TV suppliers, after which additional monetizing that large-scale viewers by means of adverts. Tackling customers’ precise ache points-–particularly within the realm of cord-cutting-–has taken a again seat.

Consequently, most of TiVo’s enchantment lies with people who find themselves already deeply invested within the platform. And even then, TiVo is arising with new methods to scare them off.

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