Interestingly enough, even though I love TiVo and technology in general, I've never been much for television. Scheduling a time to sit in front of the TV is a pain, and there simply aren't a lot of shows that I really enjoy. Plus, paying for the expanded cable package is far too expensive.
That being said, I do have several shows that I love to watch. (Embarrassingly enough, they tend to fail in the reality TV bucket, e.g., Hoarders, COPS, you get the idea. I'm also a huge fan of Les Stroud in Survivorman and Andrew Zimmern in Bizarre Foods.) So, I really would like to have those ready to watch when the mood strikes me.
Continuing the details of my strange TV consumption habits, I almost never turn on the "main" living room TV. It's simply too much of a hassle to turn on the amp, adjust the speakers, cue up the TiVo, etc. - plus, I endanger myself with wife-wrath if I decide to turn on something she hates. Finally, I vastly prefer using headphones when watching TV or movies. All of this means I prefer using my tablet to consume media. Prior to owning the Stream, my TiVo got only occasional use, when the stars aligned and the missus and I were in the same mood at the same time to watch the same show. Now, I use it all the time, almost daily, when I fire up my tablet.
What is The TiVo Stream?
It's actually quite simple. If you own an Apple mobile device, e.g., an iPad or iPhone, TiVo Stream is a neat little box that extends the features of TiVo to the palm of your hand! (Read that in your best commercial voice for best effect.) Also, the device itself is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand as well, so it won't impact your home theater setup very much.
With TiVo Stream, you can:
- Watch recorded shows on your TiVo through your mobile device
- Transfer recorded shows to your mobile device to watch later
Note: a TiVo Premiere DVR unit is required, and it must be hooked up to the home network via Ethernet or MoCA. Currently, only iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touch devices running iOS 5.1 or later are supported.
How Do I Set Up the TiVo Stream?
- First, the TiVo Stream has to be activated on your TiVo online account. There are some great instructions for how to to this on TiVo.com.
- Next, the TiVo Stream needs to be plugged in to power and connected via Ethernet to your router.
- Once the TiVo Stream is activated and linked to your account, make sure to have the latest version of the TiVo app installed on your device (available from the Apple App Store)
- When the app is fired up, it will ask for the TiVo's media access key, which is easy to find -- especially since step by step instructions, with pictures, are shown when this pops up.
- Finally, the Stream will search for the Stream on your local network, link it to your DVR, and perform an initial streaming test, as shown in the screenshot below.
How Does the TiVo Stream Work?
Once everything is set up, navigating the TiVo app in conjunction with the TiVo Stream couldn't be easier. The TiVo app is the same app many have come to know and love, but adding a Stream to the mix gives some additional options. For example, you can now select "Watch on iPad."
Now your iDevice is a TV! All of the familiar TiVo controls are here, including the quick rewind and 30 second commercial skip feature. The sliding bar can be dragged to navigate to specified areas of the recording.
In addition, the TiVo Stream acts as a transcoding device, which will convert the recorded shows on your TiVo into an iPad/iPhone/iDevice friendly format and copy them over, enabling one to watch the show later at any time.
Is the TiVo Stream a great device? Yes! It does exactly what it says it does, and in weeks of use, has never failed me or even so much as hiccuped during playback. I love it. The $129.99 price point may seem a bit steep, but if you fit any of the criteria below, it's more than worth it.
The TiVo Stream is an ideal fit for anyone who:
- Prefers to consume media on a tablet or mobile phone
- Has Apple devices (it's not on Android... yet. I hope that's coming soon.)
- Travels a lot and wants to take shows with them
- Wants to watch TV in areas where streaming isn't possible or there is limited/no Internet connectivity
- Is a regular user, or plans to be, of the TiVo mobile app
- Has several household members who have supported devices that want to watch different things at the same time; Stream can connect to multiple devices at the same time