TiVo Stream is a $129 add-on for your TiVo Premiere. It is a hardware H.264 encoder that gives your TiVo the horsepower to sling live/recorded television to your mobile devices in real time.
$129 is not cheap. It’s the cost of a Slingbox (and a higher-end model, at that). You can get an old Slingbox AV for $30 on eBay. Granted, Sling Media has abandoned the older models, but they run in an unsupported mode, even with iOS and Android apps, mostly thanks to outcries from Viewers Like Me™.
Still, a $129 one-time payment, to get all the streaming video you want, is not a bad deal.
I recently cancelled my TiVo service, in favor of streaming TV from my family compound up north. I have a ViP 922 there, with integrated Slingbox capacity. I fire up Dish Remote Access, and watch all the TV I want from my Silicon Valley office/apartment/wherever. But, I’d say from trying out TiVo Stream, it’s not a bad deal.
There is one major complaint that I have, which holds it back from being an epicly awesome device. TiVo locked it down.
See, H.264 encoders over USB are nothing new. Elgato has had one for Mac and PC for a long time. The price is pretty close, too. I wouldn’t be surprised if TiVo isn’t using the exact same chipset. But, TiVo doesn’t let you borrow the TiVo stream for your Mac or PC.
Granted, this is a niche complaint… today. Most people aren’t going to yank their TiVo Stream and fire it up on their computer. But, I think that may change. With more and more people making their own home movies, one pain point is the encoding part. After you make an HD home movie, you’re usually left with a gaping 25-50 GB hole on your hard drive. The only way to clear that, is to archive the finished product as an encoded movie.
Encoding a movie can take hours. It’s a pain. It’s a pain more and more people will have in the future. TiVo Stream could fix that for every device in your house.
Having the ability to keep a TiVo Stream on-hand for those use cases, would be killer. It would even be more killer for TiVo to offer a background app for Mac and Windows that allows TiVo to Xgrid-style accelerate encoding over the network. All it would take is the right drivers to bus the media over Ethernet/Wi-Fi to the TiVo Stream, and back to the computer.
It’s that kind of device-independent thinking that TiVo needs to have, in order to stay afloat… especially with the looming FCC MSO gateway changes coming down. If TiVo isn’t helping all the devices in your house, it’s got problems down the road.