“If you have a 4K TV, but haven’t yet cut the cord, the Bolt OTA is your best choice.”
- 4K and HDR app support
- More responsive than the Roamio OTA
- Multiple subscription choices
- Awkward design
- Not all apps support HDR
- Roamio OTA owners need not apply
TiVo is best known for its cable-compatible DVRs, but the company has been quietly supporting cord-cutters through its Roamio OTA (over the air) receivers for some time. It makes a lot of sense — just because you want to rid yourself of a monthly cable bill doesn’t mean you want to plunge yourself into an entirely different way of watching TV. For many, the Roamio OTA ($400) was the perfect answer, offering an easy way to record your favorite shows with a built-in collection of the most popular apps for streaming internet content (OTT), and of course, TiVo’s intuitive interface and custom content curation.
But the Roamio was built for a previous time, when HDTVs maxed out at 1080p and HDR was something you only did with smartphone photos. Since then, the 4K revolution has taken over all but the smallest, and cheapest TVs, and many of the streaming giants have started to support it. This puts TiVo in an awkward spot:
The answer, it seems, is yes. TiVo’s new Bolt OTA is exactly that: The same 4-tuner OTA DVR as the Roamio OTA – one of the best OTA receivers around — packed into a smaller chassis and packing
First things first, the Bolt OTA offers the same great OTA experience as the Roamio, but with a significantly more responsive interface. Apps launch faster, and channel changes are quicker (they were already impressively fast). Even the initial set-up, a process that took between 30-40 minutes on the Roamio OTA, has been accelerated, taking us just 15 minutes.
The wave-like shape of the new product, which it shares with the Bolt VOX cable device, might be the only downside to the Bolt OTA. Though certainly distinctive, and a genuine departure from the boring, black set-top box, it must be placed at the top of your device stack since nothing will be able to perch on its sloped contours. TiVo says the design is intended to make a statement, while also giving the always-on device much needed air circulation.
This design choice will be controversial, especially for those used to the Roamio’s more traditional shape, but everyone will agree that the inclusion of the remote locator function (previously reserved for the Pro version of the Roamio OTA) is a handy upgrade.
Clearly the biggest reason to buy the Bolt OTA is its
Despite the lack of
One thing we really like about the Bolt OTA is TiVo’s decision to give buyers more flexibility on its service subscription. The Roamio OTA only offered one level, an all-in option which was included in the unit’s $399 price. The Bolt OTA can be purchased for $250, and then you can choose from a monthly ($7), annual ($70), or All-in ($250) plan. Granted, the equivalent of the Roamio OTA option is now $100 more expensive, but you are getting a more capable DVR for the money.
If you’re a Roamio OTA owner, and you haven’t upgraded to a
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