Comparison of TiVo DVRs for cordcutters

As of July 2016, TiVo has 3 main DVR products in production – The Bolt, the Roamio OTA, and the Roamio Pro.  This may change soon though, since Rovi (the company that announced its intended acquisition of TiVo) has said that “Being in the hardware business isn’t something that… excites us.” Likely the TiVo technology will end up in some hardware elsewhere, but it’s hard to predict how badly a patent-troll like Rovi can mess things up. The acquisition of TiVo doesn’t close for a few more months, but if you’re interested in getting  a TiVo in the form that they exist today, now may be a good time.

Of the three products, only the Bolt and the Roamio OTA work for over-the-air antenna signals.  The Roamio Pro is designed to work with digital cable or Verizon FiOS, and won’t work with an antenna, so it’s not very useful for a cordcutter.

So what’s the difference between the Bolt and the Roamio OTA?

  1. Input Signals– The Bolt can take input signals from digital cable, antenna, and streaming services (like Netflix, Hulu, etc…), whereas the Roamio OTA can only take signals from antenna and streaming services.  So if you’re a cordcutter without a cable or satellite subscription, there’s not much reason to consider the Bolt.
  2. Lifetime Subscription Price – In order to keep your TiVo working properly, you’ll need to either pay for a lifetime subscription or pay annually.  The Roamio OTA 1TB model is available for $399 which includes a lifetime subscription.  In contrast, the Bolt costs $299 by itself, and a lifetime subscription (they call it the all-in plan) is an additional $549.99.  You can also subscribe annually for $149.99/annually, or $14.99/mo. The fine print on the plans is here.

So, if you actually cut the cord, of the TiVo’s, the TiVo Roamio OTA is most likely you’re best choice.  For other OTA DVR choices from other companies, check out my comparison page.