TiVo’s Bolt OTA gives cord-cutters the 4K set-top box they’ve been waiting for

TiVo BOLT OTA For a lot of folks the idea of cutting the cord and ridding themselves of their monthly cable or satellite bill sounds great — at least on paper. The reality of going cord-free, however, doesn’t always live up to expectations. The over-the-air (OTA) receiver you’re using might only support one TV, and its on-screen programming guide may feel like a step down when compared to the set-top box you were renting from your cable provider. If you want to record broadcast programming, your receiver will need a DVR built-in. Plus, you still need access to streaming services like Netflix, or Amazon Video, which means you’ll be swapping back and forth between your OTA receiver, and another device like a Roku, or Apple TV. Then there are the issues of 4K and HDR: Unless you’ve already got a 4K capable version of Apple TV or Roku, you won’t be seeing any content at the highest resolution possible. TiVo’s latest OTA receiver, the Bolt OTA, aims to address all of these concerns in a single device.

The four-tuner, 1TB $249 Bolt OTA replaces the older $399 TiVo Roamio OTA Vox, a Digital Trends top pick for OTA receivers. It ditches the older unit’s design for the new, wave-like shape of the company’s cable-compatible Bolt Vox, a move that means you won’t be stacking any devices on top of the Bolt OTA. That may not be a problem — with over 20 built-in streaming apps like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Plex, and YouTube, the need for a separate streaming box is reduced, or eliminated.

TiVo claims the Bolt OTA is significantly more responsive than the Roamio, thanks to an updated processor, and more RAM. The added horsepower enables two simultaneous streams of live or recorded content to a compatible phone or tablet using the TiVo app.  With the addition of 4K and HDR, it’s compatible with any 4K content from 3rd party streaming services, though don’t expect 4K OTA content to arrive any time soon. It also gains the remote finder feature, something which was only available on Roamio Plus and Roamio Pro models. Just like the previous model, you can add up to 10 Bolt Mini Vox receivers in your home, as long as you’ve got sufficient Wi-Fi bandwidth, or an Ethernet connection.

TiVo BOLT OTA remote

You may be wondering why the price of the new Bolt OTA is so low when compared to the Roamio: $249 vs. $399 is quite the savings. Ted Malone, vice president of consumer products and services at TiVo told Digital Trends that cord-cutters wanted more choice over how to pay for the TiVo service, so TiVo decided to de-couple the “all-in” subscription that was included with the Roamio, giving buyers three options for paying for the service. The all-in option still exists, and costs $249, which will give you the TiVo service for the life of the Bolt OTA. As before, if you choose to sell the Bolt OTA, the all-in service goes with it, to the new owner. Otherwise, you can choose a $6.99 monthly fee, or a $69.99 annual fee.

The Bolt OTA comes at an interesting time. Amazon recently announced its first OTA receiver/DVR, the $229/$279 Fire TV Recast. In contrast to the Bolt OTA, the Fire TV Recast doesn’t need a monthly subscription, which makes it an attractive device from a price point of view. However, it lacks many of the features TiVo users have come to expect, like a curated, automatic set of show recordings, a dedicated, voice-enabled remote control, ad-skipping, and the ability to plug the Bolt OTA directly into a TV via an HDMI cable. The Fire TV Recast, on the other hand, requires a Fire TV device in order to watch live and recorded OTA content on a TV.

Is the Bolt OTA a worthwhile upgrade over the older Roamio OTA Vox? Check back with us in a few weeks once we’ve had a chance to put it to the test!

Smart Home

Here’s everything Amazon and its partners announced for Alexa at CES

Amazon Alexa is rocking CES 2019. After selling millions of Echo and Dot smart speakers during the 2018 holiday season, extending its reach everywhere, Amazon has announced a ton of new partnerships with device manufacturers.
Home Theater

Want to mirror your smartphone or tablet onto your TV? Here's how

A vast arsenal of devices exists to allow sending anything on your mobile device to your TV. Our in-depth guide shows you how to mirror content from your smartphone or tablet to the big screen from virtually any device available.
Home Theater

Looking to cut cable? Here’s everything you need to know about Pluto TV

Pluto TV offers plenty of entertainment in a fashion similar to live internet TV services, only at no cost — you don’t even need to register. Too good to be true? Here’s everything you need to know.
Home Theater

New TV? Here's where to go to watch the best 4K content available

Searching for content for your new 4K UHD TV? Look no further. We have every major source of the best 4K content, along with the cost, hardware requirements, and features that make each service worth a look.
Apple

Apple may be developing a new iPod Touch to woo younger users

Apple may be developing its first new iPod touch model since 2015 as it aims to capture younger users who are not yet ready for their own smartphone, and expand its overall listening base in the future.
Home Theater

Cord-cutting has grown by 48 percent in 8 years, according to Nielsen

People are continuing to ditch cable but not all cord-cutters are the same. In fact, there are two distinct groups within the cord-cutting universe, with a very small, yet growing third group that's worth paying attention to.
Home Theater

Spotify adds simplified Car View mode for Android users

What was once just a test is now a reality: Spotify is rolling out a new, simplified in-car user interface for all Android users called Car View, which automatically engages when the app detects a car Bluetooth connection.
Home Theater

All of the TVs getting Apple’s AirPlay 2 in 2019

This year, Apple made it clear it was done keeping its AirPlay wireless streaming technology to itself. With an open API, the way is clear for a plethora of third-party devices, including this growing list of TVs.
Home Theater

Cutting the cord? Let us help you find the best service for live TV streaming

There's a long list of live TV streaming services available to help you cut the cord and replace your traditional TV subscription. Each is different in important ways, and this guide will help you find the best one for you.
Movies & TV

New trailer for 'The Punisher' season 2 teases a bloody showdown

The Punisher is getting a second season on Netflix, with Jon Bernthal returning to play Marvel Comics' gun-toting antihero Frank Castle. Here's everything we know about season 2 of The Punisher so far.
Buying Guides

Block the outside world, tune into your own with the best in-ear headphones

Over-the-ear headphones offer top-flight sound, but they're not so easy to take along with you. If you're looking to upgrade your portable sound, check out our favorite in-ear headphones -- there's a model for every user and every budget.
Home Theater

Set your ears free with the best completely wireless earbuds

If you can't stand the tangle of cords, or you're just excited about completely wireless earbuds, you're going to need some help separating the wheat from the chaff. Our list serves up the best true wireless earbuds around.
Home Theater

How much are the initials ‘LV’ worth? $700 if you put them on your earphones

If you're looking for truly wireless earbuds that make as much of a statement about the state of your finances as they do about your high-tech street cred, Louis Vuitton's Horizon earbuds fit the $995 bill.
Home Theater

What’s new on Amazon Prime Video (February 2019)

Amazon Prime Video adds new titles each month that are available for free to all Prime members. Check out our list to find all the content hitting Amazon Prime Video in January and February, from new original series to classic films.