When you open the box, the Owner’s Manual also mimics Tablo’s greatly. Same color scheme, same size and if you don’t look closely, you might easily mistake one for the other. I’ve seen the Interface first-hand, and will say it doesn’t come close to Tablo, but it is nice.
The antenna-ready TiVo BOLT OTA offers live, recorded and streaming TV, plus so many more time-saving features. All for a low monthly subscription of $6.99/month, $69.99/yearly or an All-In service plan for $249.99.
For those who didn’t look up the specs, the Bolt has four tuners and a 500 GB hard drive which is user upgradeable. The TiVo records in original signal MPEG2 format. For that reason, live TV channel changes are prompt and the remote has a number pad and also allows you to cycle among the four tuners. Each tuner has a 30 minute buffer and network channels are processed after a recording is finished to allow skipping of commercials with a single button push. This processing may take as little as a few minutes to rather longer but next day viewing with commercial skip is pretty reliable.
Viewing on multiple TVs does require a TiVo Mini for each extra set and the Minis are like having an extra TiVo, i.e., channel changes are just as fast. Viewing on tablets is less convenient than on Tablos. When you select a show you must initiate a recording which is the transcoded to MPEG4 before you can watch. Changing channels requires termination of the recording, selecting the channel and starting the recording/transcoding process all over again.
The Bolt’s streaming capabilities are good if you are content with the Big 4 services – Netflix, Hulu, Youtube and Amazon (the last including any channels you subscribe to through Amazon). Beyond that, the selection is quite limited. One handy feature is that the TiVo search function can add streaming episodes as if they were recordings and the TiVo will take you directly to the service that offers it and to that service’s episode as well. Netflix (at least) begins playing the episode with no further effort. You can delete the “bookmark” from the Bolt when you are done.
There have been beta apps to allow devices to stream from TiVos but those are still under development or in limbo.
Devil’s advocate: don’t we owe the OTA content to the advertisers that make it economically feasible to produce shows in the first place, and isn’t it therefore fair to watch and not strip or skip commercials?
To have OTA content and strip commercials feels like having your cake and eating it too. Sorta cheating, no?