Tivo stream

TiVo Stream 4K review: Affordable Android streamer with HBO Max, Peacock

TiVo made its name with DVRs to record cable and antenna TV broadcasts, but the Stream 4K is not a DVR at all. It's a media streamer that competes directly against two of our favorite such devices, the Roku Streaming Stick Plus and the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K. It runs the Android TV system with extras like Google Assistant voice control, 4K resolution, Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision compatibility. 

Here's the bad news: the TiVo Stream 4K simply failed to work with one TV, an LG CX OLED. Video on apps, including Netflix and Disney Plus, would stop playing and boot back into the main menu, rendering the Stream basically unusable. TiVo promised a fix back in June but has since told CNET that the update has "unfortunately been delayed and we will share more detail on it as soon as we can." 

The Stream worked fine on three other TVs we used for testing, from Sony, Samsung and TCL, so that issue is not a deal breaker for this review. It's impossible for us to test the Stream with every TV, however, so we can't guarantee it will work fine with yours. In short, it's worrisome enough to prevent our full recommendation.

There's also the fact that the Stream 4K won't work with existing TiVo hardware (yet), so it can't play back your cable or antenna DVR recordings or let you stream them to your phone. It's also worth mentioning the rumors about Google's own $50 Android TV streamer, which will likely be announced Sept. 30 as the latest Chromecast.

While the company initially announced there would be a price increase to $70, TiVo has informed us the price is staying at $50 which keeps the device fairly competitive. If you want access to HBO Max and Peacock now, or you just like its features and Google goodness, it's a solid deal -- provided it works with your TV. Otherwise you could wait until Google reveals its hand or buy one of the excellent Roku or Fire TV streamers instead.

Get to know TiVo Stream 4K

The TiVo Stream 4K, a credit card-size widget with an integrated HDMI connector, is designed to hang out of sight behind your TV. Unlike most adapters of its type, it's got a little bit of personality -- a big TiVo logo on the front and a distinctive wedge shape like a miniature Edge DVR. 

The Stream 4K's most recognizable feature is the iconic peanut remote. It's about two-thirds the size of TiVo's standard DVR remote and has a couple extra features. Hold the Google button down, wait a beat and then speak to access voice search via Google Assistant. The familiar silver TiVo button gives you access to the Stream app, while the circular key to the left of the Assistant button takes you to the Android TV home page. There's no thumbs up or down buttons, which is a shame, but otherwise there's a ton more keys than on a typical Roku or Amazon remote. It will also control the power, volume and input on your TV but since it relies on HDMI CEC instead of infrared like Roku and Amazon, it requires a newer TV to use those functions.

The TiVo Stream 4K dongle is not especially powerful in terms of specs: there's an Amlogic S905Y2 processor, 2GB of RAM and 8GB of storage space. In comparison the more expensive Nvidia Shield offers the same RAM and storage, but comes with the Nvidia Tegra X1 Plus processor, as well as microSD expansion (Android PC TV did a comparison between the two processors.) In practice we found the TiVo plenty zippy for 1080p but it didn't have the horsepower for some advanced capabilities like the Steam Link app.

The main missing feature right now is the device's lack of integration with existing TiVo devices. It may share a name with the older Stream product but it can't share recordings or otherwise interface with the thousands of TiVos already in the wild. A TiVo spokesperson did tell CNET way back in January that TiVo integration was on the road map for the Stream 4K's future, but the company has been unable to give us an update on timing since.

TiVo's special sauce: The Stream app

The TiVo Stream 4K has an exclusive app, called Stream, which TiVo designed to be the centerpiece of this device. It integrates TV shows and movies from apps, including Sling TV (see below), Netflix, HBO Now, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Disney Plus and Google Play Movies and also suggests new content TiVo thinks you might like. It lives on top of the standard Android TV interface and for that reason can be kind of confusing: The device effectively has two home pages.

Many of the buttons on the remote feed you directly into Stream. The app's main menu is off to the side, similar to Neflix, with categories including My Shows, Guide, TV Shows, Movies, Sports and Kids. There's also a Search tab but the Google Assistant search is quicker and more straightforward than Stream's version. We also liked that Google's search was available wherever you are on the device, not just from inside the Stream app. 

The Stream 4K comes with a free week of Sling TV, and TiVo calls the service its preferred partner. What that means is that Sling users will see the Sling TV guide within the Stream interface, which also allows you to set recordings to Sling's cloud DVR. The Guide button on the remote calls up the grid, a clear nod to similar functionality on DVRs and cable boxes. Google Assistant was able to search for both Sling TV channels and now playing shows but wasn't able to access recordings from Sling's cloud DVR.

Of course, a Sling TV subscription is entirely optional on the device and numerous live TV streaming services will work fine -- they just won't be integrated into the Stream app. If you don't subscribe to Sling, the remote's Guide button will still summon Tivo Plus, a proprietary network of that offers free content from TMZ, Outside TV, PowerNation, FailArmy, Hell's Kitchen, Cheddar and, thanks to a new partnership, Pluto TV. (Disclosure: CNET and PlutoTV are both owned by ViacomCBS.)

Outside the Stream app you'll see the standard Android TV interface, which behaves like any device of this type with rows of content highlights mingled with recently used apps and favorites. Most apps are supported, with the notable exception of AT&T's live TV services, such as AT&T TV Now. 

Software updates have helped, but issues remain

We tested the TiVo Stream 4K on a number of different TVs, including the TCL 65Q825, the LG OLED65CXPUA, the Sony XBR-55X950G and the Samsung PN59D8000. 

As we mentioned above, the main issue, which occurred with multiple TiVo Stream review samples, is stopping midstream and returning to the menu. In addition to the LG it also happened on the Sony, but with the latter TV it seems to have been resolved after a software update. It still happens with the LG.

We also experienced a couple of more minor issues. During setup on the remote pairing stage, the device would attempt to connect after pressing the requested buttons and then time out and return to the pairing page. With perseverance and quick reflexes poised on the Next button, we did get them to work. We also experienced sound dropouts with the Sony TV and an Onkyo receiver, although a software update seems to have fixed that issue, too.

Beyond that, the Stream worked well in our testing. Navigation of the various screens was zippy and we didn't notice any lag when opening any apps. The handover from TiVo Stream to Sling TV, a potential choke point, was seamless. We were also able to use the TiVo Stream 4K's Chromecast capability to stream video from a PC browser and from a phone's Spotify app. If you're familiar with the Android TV ecosystem, you'll feel right at home with the Stream 4K, and the Stream app on top is a usable and fun addition. 

Initially we had hoped that this device could replace the Nvidia Shield as a way to stream PC games to the TV via the Steam Link app, but it didn't work. It wasn't possible to stream with enough bandwidth to even make the interface stable, let alone play any games, and the device doesn't offer the app's recommended Ethernet port either. TiVo representatives say the USB-C port can be used to connect an Ethernet adapter, and this may help if you live in a noisy Wi-Fi environment. Normal Android TV gaming worked OK, however, and we played quite a few enjoyable rounds of Crossy Road and Fast like a Fox with the peanut remote. 

4K, HDR and Dolby Vision tests

To test 4K and HDR we connected the TiVo Stream 4K to the Dolby Vision and Atmos-capable LG CX OLED and Sony TVs. As expected, video quality was as good as the Apple TV 4K on apps where the Stream supports HDR formats.

As usual with streamers, just because the hardware supports those formats doesn't mean the apps themselves do. In TiVo's favor, Netflix, Disney Plus and Amazon Prime all streamed in 4K and Dolby Vision, but movie services were more of a mixed bag: Google Play Movies were available in 4K HDR but not Dolby Vision, Movies Anywhere said "this device does not support 4K playback" and while we had some issues with logging in to Vudu, when we did it was HDX (1080p) only. Meanwhile Dolby Atmos was not available on Netflix or Disney Plus, although Atmos support on the Fire TV 4K is also relatively spotty.

Like the Apple TV 4K, the TiVo converts everything to Dolby Vision or HDR by default, including the menu systems themselves and video from every app (including the myriad streams that aren't in HDR). Unlike Apple, however, there's to way to change that default. On a TV as nice as the LG that's not a big problem -- everything looks great -- but on a lesser set that doesn't do HDR justice, the option to switch to SDR if you want is nice.

Should you buy it?

Like the Channel Master Stream+ the TiVo Stream 4K is an ambitious yet imperfect Android TV streaming device, and months after launch TiVo is still working to fix some issues. The Stream app is a commendable attempt at unifying different streaming apps, but in the end it's not a compelling reason to buy a TiVo Stream 4K -- unless you happen to love Sling TV. Impatient HBO Max and Peacock fans, or fans of TiVo or Android TV in general will find a lot to like, but anyone else looking to buy a $50 streamer should look instead to the Roku Streaming Stick Plus and the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K.

Sours: https://www.cnet.com/reviews/tivo-stream-4k-review/

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TiVo Stream 4K: Specs

Size: 3 x 2 x 0.6 inches (housing); 5.75 x 1.75 x 0.9 inches (remote)
Number of channels: 5,000+
Ports: HDMI, USB-C, Micro-USB
Max video resolution: 4K at 60 fps
Supported HDR formats: HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision
Supported audio formats: Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, and Dolby Atmos

The TiVo Stream 4K has a lot going for it – a sleek design, a voice-enabled remote, the ability to cast from your phone and an Android TV platform with access to thousands of apps. And it all comes with a $50 price tag. Unfortunately, our Chromecast with Google TV review shows how that device (which came out later) makes the TiVo Stream 4K redundant. 

The TiVo Stream 4K tries to stand out with its own app, which aggregates content from other channels, including Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, Disney Plus and HBO Max. What TiVo really wants to highlight is the integration of live TV, yet it’s limited to just a few services. 

Still, the Google Assistant feature works well and the interface is easy to use (though the recommendations are bad). This TiVo Stream 4K review will show that if there weren't a brand-new $50 streaming device running Android TV on the market, the TiVo Stream 4K would be a very attractive and unique alternative to the Roku and Fire TV Sticks.

TiVo Stream 4K: Price and availability

The Tivo Stream 4K costs $49.99 and is available for purchase now at Tivo.com or Amazon.

TiVo Stream 4K: Design

Similar to many other streaming devices, the TiVo Stream 4K is a dongle with a “tail” that plugs directly into the HDMI port on your TV. The rectangular dongle fits into the palm of my hand. It’s lightweight and unobtrusive, and completely hid behind my television. This is similar to the Fire TV stick and Chromecast with Google TV, where your TV makes the streaming device's design almost irrelevant.

On the other end from the tail is a micro-USB port to connect the power cable. There's also a USB-C port that could connect to an external drive or Ethernet adapter, if you don’t want to rely solely on Wi-Fi. 

The remote (which comes with two AAA batteries) is a pleasing peanut shape with easy-to-identify buttons, including a directional pad, power, volume, channels and Google Assistant.

A few buttons make the TiVo Stream 4K remote better than its competitors (including the new Chromecast). The Guide button takes you to the Stream app live TV grid, while the Live button plays whatever channel/program you last watched. There’s also a dedicated Netflix button (which the new Chromecast does have).

The only negative about the remote is that the numerical keypad seems unnecessary. I didn’t use it even once while trying out the device.

TiVo Stream 4K: Interface

The TiVo Stream 4K interface is a tale of two sections: Android TV and the TiVo Stream app. 

When I first set up the TiVo Stream 4K, it allowed me to choose my streaming services, much like Fire TV and Roku. Then, it prompted me to personalize recommended content by selecting shows and movies that I like. You can skip this step — and you should, because the choices I made here led to some disappointing and head-scratching recommendations. For instance, I liked a few true crime shows, which resulted in TiVo suggesting I watch a bunch of crime drama procedurals (including the entire NCIS franchise). No, thanks!  

The Android TV interface consists of a home screen listing your apps in a row across the top, very similar to Fire TV’s home. The first is the TiVo Stream app, followed by the ones I selected when setting up the device — Netflix, Sling, Prime Video, YouTube, Hulu, Disney Plus, HBO Max, Peacock and Google Play Movies & TV.

Scrolling down, the rows display featured thumbnails of various shows and movies from those corresponding apps. So, in the Netflix row, I got Umbrella Academy, Lucifer and several titles for which I have zero interest. But at least that gave me a preview into what was available on each service; on the Fire TV home screen, for example, you those content rows tout only Amazon-native content, either from Prime Video or IMDBTV.

Selecting the TiVo Stream app (or pressing the TiVo-branded button on the remote) takes you to a different homepage. At the top are rows of recommended shows and movies, based on the personalization step I mentioned above. As I said, TiVo thought I’d want to watch NCIS: New Orleans, Chicago Fire or Last Man Standing, but I really don’t. The movie choices, Black Panther, Bill and Ted Face the Music and Little Women (2019), fared better.

Below that, the home screen displays rows based on genres, like “This Year’s Emmy Winners,” “Living Room Comedy Club” and “Only ‘90s Kids Will Remember,” providing much more interesting and relevant recommendations.

Then you get separate screens for TV Shows, Movies, Sports and Kids. There’s also a page for My Shows, which houses what are essentially favorites/bookmarks. When I added Outlander, the TiVo Stream app displays where I can watch it (Netflix, Starz, Prime Video, Google Play) as well as “May Also Like” suggestions. When I select one of those services, the relevant app opens to play the content; this is similar to how the Apple TV app provides content.

What the TiVo Stream app really wants to sell you on is the Guide, which pulls in live TV from Sling, Pluto and other free channels. This is really great — if you’re a Sling subscriber. Unfortunately, if you use YouTube TV, Hulu With Live TV or Fubo TV, the TiVo Stream app won’t pull them in. You can still use those apps separately; they just aren’t integrated into the Guide.

Even if you subscribe to Sling, the TiVo Stream app doesn’t provide access to all of Sling’s features, such as recording or managing your DVR. Essentially, the Guide is simply a shortcut to watching live TV. It’s still a nice-to-have, since Fire TV’s Live section doesn’t do much except feature apps like Sling, Philo, Pluto and others.

TiVo Stream 4K: Streaming services

The TiVo Stream 4K works with just about any streaming service you can think of. You can download the apps of Netflix, Sling, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Spotify, Disney Plus, Hulu, ESPN, HBO Max, Peacock, CBS All Access, Fubo, Philo, Starz, Peloton, Tubi, PBS, and more. 

HBO Max used to be hard to find on other platforms, but it's since landed everywhere — including Roku and Fire TV. Peacock eventually found itself on Roku, but is still missing from Fire TV.

TiVo Stream 4K: Performance

The TiVo Stream 4K operated smoothly and with very few hiccups. I plugged it into a TCL Smart HDTV, running off a medium-fast home Wi-Fi network. 

The device supports streaming up to 4K UHD (at 60 fps) and HDR10 and Dolby Vision formats. When playing shows and movies, the video resolved almost instantly to full HD. But sometimes, I noticed a bit of buffering time when opening apps (especially Sling) or after selecting a show.

Otherwise, the TiVo Stream 4K felt zippy and fast when scrolling through menus and the guide. The Chromecast with Google TV offers similarly snappy and speedy performance.

TiVo Stream 4K: Search

The Google Assistant search function returned good results quickly for entertainment-related queries. When I said “Brad Pitt,” the TiVo results included the actor’s recent movies including Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Ad Astra. I could click on any title and get info on where to watch it.

I could also use Google Assistant to open apps; I just said “Hulu” and it loaded up.

Search also works with more general questions, but the results aren’t as useful. I asked Google Assistant to show “tacos near me” and the results showed me several restaurants. However, I couldn’t select any to see further info.

TiVo Stream 4K: Features

Since the TiVo Stream 4K runs on Android TV, it has Chromecast abilities, so you can cast easily from your mobile phone to your television screen. Roku and Fire TV are much more limited in screen mirroring. The TiVo’s almost-twin, Chromecast With Google TV, does have casting functionality.

TiVo Stream 4K: Verdict

The TiVo Stream 4K is a great, very affordable 4K streaming device. The Android TV platform works smoothly, the live TV integration app is useful if you’re a Sling subscriber and the Google Assistant-enabled remote is well-designed. It’s also compatible with just about every streaming service out there, including HBO Max and Peacock. And it's  just $50. 

So, what’s the catch? TiVo’s biggest problem is that it has a twin: The new Chromecast with Google TV. They are essentially the same device. TiVo does come with its own Stream app, which aggregates content from multiple channels. However, the interface didn’t wow me with helpfulness and TiVo’s personalization is definitely a bug, not a feature. 

Just a few weeks ago, I would have said the TiVo Stream 4K is an excellent alternative to Roku and Fire TV. But with the launch of the new Chromecast, it doesn’t stand out as much.

Kelly covers streaming media for Tom’s Guide, so basically, she watches TV for a living. Previously, she was a freelance entertainment writer for Yahoo, Vulture, TV Guide and other outlets. When she’s not watching TV and movies for work, she’s watching them for fun, seeing live music, writing songs, knitting and gardening.

Sours: https://www.tomsguide.com/reviews/tivo-stream-4k

TiVo is about to fix TV. Again.

The original TiVo made it easier than ever to watch TV; you didn’t have to worry about what shows were on what networks, when – it was all right there for you, when you wanted it. Today, TiVo eliminates the need to switch among the ever-growing number of apps and brings all your shows together in one place with its streaming media player, the TiVo Stream 4K.

Netflix, Prime Video, YouTube, and dozens of other streaming services offer so many great content options. The problem is we end up spending so much time just flipping through apps, instead of browsing through the actual shows. And we still end up missing out on knowing all the great shows that are available.

Going through each app to see what’s new, to find a show you’ve heard about, or just to browse your favorite type of content, is not always the most seamless experience, and we often end our search without discovering exactly what we were hoping for.

TiVo Stream 4K was built to solve this, and bring all your entertainment together. Below, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the TiVo Stream 4K.

Sours: https://blog.tivo.com/tivo-for-consumer/tivo-stream-4k/heres-everything-you-need-to-know-about-tivo-stream-4k/

Stream tivo

TiVo Stream 4K

"An excellent media streamer for TV lovers" - PCMag

More awesome features

  • Google Assistant
  • Chromecast built-in3
  • 4K UHD, Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos
  • Voice remote control
  • No additional TiVo fees

An awesome streaming device...

-G Style Magazine

Check out how Stream 4K compares
TiVo Stream 4KRoku UltraChromecast UltraAmazon Fire Stick

    Universal search across streaming and live TV

    Combined recommendations from streaming apps

    Integrated live TV from Sling

    Unified guide experience

    Apps catalog

100K+1K+100K+5K+

    Voice remote

    Google Assistant

    Dolby Atmos

    Dolby Vision

    Storage

8GB512MBn/a8GB

    RAM

2GB1GB256MB1.5GB

    4K/HDR

TiVo Stream 4KRoku UltraChromecast UltraAmazon Fire Stick

    Universal search across streaming and live TV

    Combined recommendations from streaming apps

    Integrated live TV from Sling

    Unified guide experience

TiVo Stream 4K

  • One combined experience across streaming apps and live tv
  • 4K UHD, Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos
  • Google Assistant, Chromecast and voice remote control
  • “2020 Best Inventions, Special Mention” – Time Magazine

TiVo Model

TiVo Stream 4K

TiVo Service

Stream 4K - No Plan Required

Your Total

Tech Specs

    Chipset
    Amlogic S905Y2

    RAM
    2GB DDR4

    Flash
    eMMC 8GB

    Wi-Fi 
    802.11 b/g/n/ac 2.45/5G MIMO 2T2R Wi-Fi

    Bluetooth
    Bluetooth 4.2

Video Decoding

    H.265 HEVC [email protected] up to 10bits HDR 4K*[email protected]

    H.264 AVC [email protected] up to 10bits HDR 4K*[email protected] 

    MPEG-4 [email protected] up to [email protected]

    AVS Jizhun Profile up to [email protected]

    MPEG-2 [email protected] up to [email protected]

    MPEG-1 [email protected] up to [email protected]

    RealVideo 8/9/10 up to [email protected]

    WebM up to VGA

    HDR, Dolby Vision, HDR10, HLG

    Video Codec, VP9 Profile 2 up to 4K x [email protected]

Video File Format
Support *.mkv, *.wmv,*.mpg,* .mpeg,*.dat, * avi,* .mov,* .iso,* .mp4,* .rm,* ,jpg,* .bmp,* gif etc...

Video Output
HDMI 2.0a, HDCP2.2

Aspect Ratio
Auto, Full screen

Video Resolution
[email protected], 1080p/i, 720p

 Audio Decoding
MEPG, AAC, HE-ACC, OGG, OGA, FLAC, ALAC, Ape, M4A, RM, MPEG-1 layer1/2,  MPEG-2 Layer II, Dolby Digital/Digital Plus, Dolby Atmos, DTS, WMA, WMA Pro (WMV optional)

Audio Mode
Mono/Stereo/Left/Right

OTT
Formats listed cover OTT Apps (Netflix, Youtube, etc)

DC Input Range
5V/1.0A

Power Consumption
Maximum 5 W

Interface
HDMI 2.0a, Micro USB2.0, USB-C

Operating Temperature
0˚C - 40˚C

Storage Temperature
-10˚C - 65˚C

Size (WxDxH) in mm
77x53x16

FCC, UL/ETL, HDMI, HDCP2.2, MPEG LA (MPEG2, H.264, H.265), HEAAC, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Play Ready, Google, Netflix

Sours: https://www.tivo.com/comingsoon

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