Monday, March 31, 2014

Mulling a TiVo Roamio (Part 2)

In Mulling a TiVo Roamio (Part 1) I talked about 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.

On the other hand, I could get pretty close to my dream of all my channels, all the time, on all my devices, wherever I go, if I buy some of the latest DVR boxes from TiVo. I said the centerpiece might be a TiVo Roamio DVR. In a later post, I'll talk in detail about that possibility, along with the other gear I'd need. For now, though, I want to mention how I'd tie multiple TiVo units together in a home network, such that recordings made on my Roamio could be viewed on my other TiVo units.

The secret is MoCA.

MoCA hookup in a typical household

Whole-home, box-to-box streaming of TV content depends on MoCA. Formally, MoCA stands for "Multimedia over Coax Alliance." It uses coaxial cables in the home — the same interconnected physical cables that join all of the cable boxes and other devices to the outside cable network — to let a DVR (shown in Bedroom 1) stream recorded TV shows to other boxes and devices in the home.

A Verizon FiOS installation automatically implements MoCA for its users. It may do so in the router that comes with Verizon's Internet service. I am also told it might do so in the Optical Network Terminal module attached to the wall of each customer's home. Truth to tell, I'm not exactly sure where FiOS's MoCA support is actually situated. Wherever it is, it would persist, I believe, if I gave up all of my Verizon cable boxes. (I would just use my existing network of interconnected physical cables to hook up the TiVo boxes I envision buying.)

TiVo Premiere DVR

That's good, because using a TiVo Roamio and my existing TiVo Premiere to shunt TV recordings to/from one another requires the use of MoCA — or else, if not MoCA, interconnected Ethernet cabling, which I do not happen to have installed. In-home video streaming requires more bandwidth than even the fastest WiFi network can provide, which is why either MoCA or Ethernet is needed.

TiVo Mini

If I also purchased a TiVo Mini to act as a conduit to my third TV, it would receive both recorded and live TV fare from the Roamio and from the Premiere via MoCA. If I did not already have a MoCA network in my home, I would have to create one. I would attach a (second) MoCA network adapter to my existing Verizon-provided Actiontec router in order to do so.

But I already have MoCA, courtesy of Verizon, so the second $50 MoCA adapter is unnecessary.

Next, a fleshed-out version of my anticipated hardware purchase ...

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