We are in Belize again this month on vacation and one of the things I’m really enjoying, at least while the Wi-Fi spirits are with us, is streaming from my home TiVo boxes. There are a few issues but we’ve been able to watch all our favorite shows while on the road and it has mostly been wonderful. Let me tell you why you might want to consider a new TiVo if you like to travel but don’t really like watching local programing or trying to comprehend local languages and/or humor and content.
The TiVo Roamio is TiVo’s latest box and it comes with up to 6 tuners (which is the “Pro” version we bought) that allows you to add as many TiVo minis (basically a remote client for the Roamio) to move programing around your house and additional TiVo boxes, if you need any more tuners. Which you could, if you have a lot more folks than we do in the house.
Programs now move seamlessly between the TiVo boxes because they have streaming and don’t require you to download before watching. This is pretty amazing in the home, but gets even better when you travel.
Set up the streaming before you go to introduce your tablet or phone to the service and assure it works. You don’t want to try to troubleshoot this while overseas, so make sure it works before you leave. Then all you have to do is hook up to a wireless network and you can download or stream almost any show from your TiVo. The programs you can’t steam or download are those you have purchased from a service like Amazon. Those, you will have to download directly from Amazon to take them with you.
The downloading is handy because on a plane, even with internet access, the bandwidth is so bad you can’t stream. When it works however, it’s wonderful.
Of course, when it doesn’t, it’s a bit of a pain. We had a number of problems most having to do with things that had nothing to do with the TiVo. There are, unfortunately, a lot of unseasonal storms in Belize this year (Global Warming?) and Internet here has been iffy. This has corrupted some of the downloads; so we’ll get halfway into a show only to have the file fail because of corruption. Bandwidth varies a lot too, so streaming quality is poor (lots of buffering) and downloading a one hour show can take 5 or more hours and stall when the internet fails (often corrupting the download in the process). This makes it critical you download as many programs as you can. But the problem with TiVo is that for some strange reason, their streaming client only works on iPads and iPhones (not any PC) so you are very limited on the number of programs you can download. An hour program at decent resolution is over a gigabyte and that really chews through storage.
Let’s just say that while iPads and iPhones are certainly attractive, their not exactly the best at connectivity and they don’t like to multi-task non-Apple apps. This means connecting the iPad even when my laptop and phone weren’t having issues has often been a problem and if we do anything else with the iPad, the TiVo app stops. I really started to dislike the iPad we own on this trip because of that last part and because of the number of times a show we really wanted to watch didn’t download. And then when downloading did work, we’d get a few shows and then run out of storage. If this hadn’t been my wife’s iPad, I’d have likely tried to emulate the Corona ad where the guy skips his pager off the waves with the iPad.
Now if this worked on a laptop, you could have hundreds of gigs free or use a USB drive for your movies, it would connect better, and you could multitask. If this worked with Android, you could use an SD card with some tablets and do the same things. But you can’t expand iPods or iPhones, so you are kind of screwed if you are going someplace other than the few places that have great high bandwidth Wi-Fi with a strong signal.
Wrapping Up: Still…
With all of the aggravation I’m still pretty excited about this. We’ve kept up with the daily show, caught up on Grimm and the Mentalist and gotten hooked on Almost Human. Given how much it has rained here having TV we could enjoy along with lots of rum has made what otherwise might have been a failed vacation pretty darn nice. While I miss the old TiVo to-go service that ran on my laptop, that service only worked from home and I can often watch the Today Show when I wake up to catch up on the news just like I do at home. So, while I hope they will eventually support Windows so I can make use of more storage, I’m now a huge fan of streaming while on vacation from the TiVo Roamio. Check it out yourself, you might find it makes a huge difference on your next trip - especially if you already have an iPad.
President and Principal Analyst, Enderle Group
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