Monday, March 31, 2014

Mulling a TiVo Roamio (Part 3)

In my first post in this series, I stated my desire to have all my TV and video streaming channels, all the time, on all my devices, wherever I go. After a nod toward "cord cutting" — getting rid of my Verizon FiOS TV service entirely, along with the three cable boxes in my home — I said the idea currently presents several hurdles. Then in the second post I took a detour to talk about MoCA, a technology that allows cable-TV companies such as Verizon to stream television programs from one DVR box to another box within a home, using the same coaxial cables that lead from the world outside the home to each box in the home.

TiVo boxes now likewise use MoCA to provide the user with the same multi-room DVR experience. So now I'll go into more detail about my intention to replace my Verizon FiOS DVR and my two associated non-DVR cable boxes — I now have a three-way multi-room setup with Verizon — with TiVo gear.

My first contemplated scenario would center on a $200 TiVo Roamio DVR. The Roamio is the entry-level DVR in the present TiVo lineup.

TiVo Roamio DVR

More pricey options include the Roamio Plus ($400) and the top-of-the-line Roamio Pro ($600).

Opting for a base Roamio, I'd have to augment it with a TiVo Stream unit ($130) if I want to be able to stream Roamio-recorded TV programs to the TiVo app on my iPad.

Network Adapter ($50)
Given that I already have a 2010-model TiVo Premiere in my home, if I want it to be able to play the recordings made on the Roamio into its connected TV, I'd need to make the TiVo Premiere MoCA-capable by connecting it to a TiVo MoCA network adapter ($50).

The MoCA adapter can be looked at on this page at the website. The page "How to connect your TiVo box to your home network, incl. using MoCA" is here. A page illustrating using a MoCA adapter with a TiVo Premiere is here. Using a MoCA adapter with a base Roamio is depicted here.

My third TV also now has a Verizon cable box on it, and currently, that box can play recordings streamed to it from my Verizon DVR. Relinquishing my Verizon DVR would eliminate that convenience, as that third Verizon cable box would be unable to stream recordings from either the Roamio or the Premiere. So, if I want to watch TiVo Roamio or Premiere recordings on my third TV, I would need to replace the third Verizon cable box with a TiVo Mini, for $100.

TiVo Mini ($100)

The Mini, lacking a tuner or a hard drive, would not need its own CableCARD. The Mini is intrinsically MoCA-capable, so I would not need a MoCA adapter for it.

So the list of TiVo hardware I'd need would be as follows:

TiVo Roamio, $200
TiVo Stream for the Roamio, $130
TiVo MoCA network adapter for my base TiVo Roamio, $50
TiVo MoCA network adapter for my TiVo Premiere, $50
TiVo Mini, $100

Total: $530

Ongoing TiVo service is also required:

For the Roamio, $15 a month
For the Mini, $6 a month
For the Premiere, $0 a month (I already have purchased lifetime service for the Premiere)

Total: $21 a month

In this scenario, I would give up all three of my Verizon cable boxes, including the DVR box, that now cost me $40 a month to rent, while I would add one additional CableCARD, for the Roamio, for $5 a month. (The Premiere already has its own $5/mo CableCARD.) Net monthly savings on my Verizon bill: $35.

Overall, I would spend $35 - $21 = $14 less than I currently do each month. Dividing the total TiVo hardware cost of $530 by $14 in overall monthly savings, I calculate the TiVo hardware would pay for itself in a little more than 37 months, which is a bit more than three years.

The basic Roamio has a 500GB hard drive that holds up to 75 hours of HD recordings/650 hours of SD recordings, while the Verizon DVR is a Cisco CHS-435 unit with a 160GB drive holding up to 18 hours HD/80 hours SD.

iPad app
The Roamio has four tuners and can record up to four shows at a time while playing back a fifth. The Verizon DVR has two tuners and can record two shows while playing back a third. So the TiVo Roamio is by far the more capacious and flexible unit. Plus, adding a TiVo Stream to it would let it stream live or recorded TV to the free TiVo iPad app, a feature the Verizon DVR lacks.

Fair warning: in later posts I'll modify this scenario to show what I consider to be an even better one ...

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