Monday, March 31, 2014

Mulling a TiVo Roamio (Part 4)

Last time, I discussed a scenario in which I'd hypothetically buy a TiVo Roamio to replace my current Verizon FiOS DVR. In that scheme, I'd also buy a TiVo Mini to replace one of my two non-DVR Verizon boxes, with the Roamio able to send live or recorded TV programs to the Mini for viewing on the associated TV. My third TV would be served by the TiVo Premiere DVR I already have, and I'd relinquish the Verizon box now associated with that TV.

Coaxial TV cable
To get the Roamio to stream live and recorded fare to the TiVo app on my iPad, I'd buy a TiVo Stream external adapter for the Roamio. To each of the TiVos other than the Mini, I'd add TiVo's external MoCa network adapter, since MoCa is what allows these boxes to stream video fare over the coaxial cabling in my home. This cabling is what transmits the Verizon channels I subscribe to to my Verizon boxes, and it would remain in place even if I give up the Verizon boxes.

That scenario would involve $530 in up-front hardware costs. It would save me the $40 I now pay every month to Verizon for my three boxes. I'd instead pay $5 for a new CableCARD for the Roamio (the Premiere already has a $5 CableCARD). The CableCARD would let the Roamio access all my current Verizon channels (though not the Verizon video-on-demand programs I now have access to). I'd also pay $21 a month to TiVo for service to my Roamio and Mini (the Premiere has lifetime service already paid for).

On net, I'd be saving $14 a month ... which over a little more than 37 months would pay for the new TiVo hardware.

TiVo Roamio Plus DVR ($400)

But now I have an even better scenario in mind. I'd change the Roamio, which costs $200, to a Roamio Plus, at $400. That would let me drop the $130 TiVo Stream unit I'd originally contemplated, as the Roamio Plus has the equivalent streaming functionality built in. It also has built-in MoCA compatibility, so I wouldn't need a $50 MoCA adapter for it. Accordingly, switching to a Roamio Plus would add just $20 to my total hardware cost.

The revised hardware list would be:

TiVo Roamio Plus, $400
TiVo MoCA network adapter for TiVo Premiere, $50
TiVo Mini, $100

Total: $550

The Roamio Plus records up to 150 HD hours using six tuners (for up to six simultaneous recordings) and fully 1 terabyte of storage, compared with 4 tuners/75 HD hours/500 GB. It has, as I say, TiVo Stream functionality and MoCA support built in. It can even stream live and recorded TV to the iPad (or iPhone) TiVo app outside my home, wherever I have a WiFi connection; using the base Roamio and the TiVo Stream dongle, I would first have to download each recording to the iPad before leaving home, if I wanted to view it on the road. Those combined advantages seem to me to justify the extra $20 in up-front costs.

The costs for TiVo monthly service in the Roamio Plus scenario would remain $21 a month. Dividing $550 by my overall monthly savings of $14 a month yields a time-to-hardware-payoff of just under 40 months, or 3 yrs. and 4 mos. It's only three months more than the payoff period in my original scenario.

Next time, I mention some additional factors that bear upon my time-to-hardware-payoff calculations ...

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