TiVo Bolt OTA for Antenna: a cord cutter’s dream?

TiVo Bolt OTA for Antenna

TiVo is a brand name that is well known when it comes to recording TV shows. It was one of the original digital video recorders (along with ReplayTV). I purchased the Series 2 TiVo in 2003, and I used it for four years before retiring it for a Comcast branded DVR when I got my first HDTV in 2007. Even after switching to a non-TiVo DVR, I missed the familiar interface. Even to this day, I’ve used countless DVR solutions from various companies, and nothing touches the simplicity of the TiVo. Will the TiVo Bolt OTA for Antenna live up to the hype?

A few weeks ago, TiVo reached out to asked if I wanted to try their TiVo Bolt OTA for Antenna – $250. When I remembered the familiar sound of the TiVo, it brought me back to a simpler time with technology. There were no apps, and there were no logins. There was only my SD cable connection and my TiVo series 2 with lifetime service. I jumped at the chance to give it a shot once again.

TiVo Bolt OTA for Antenna

The unboxing experience was a relatively simple process. Once I unwrapped everything, I hooked up the included HDMI cable to my TV, wired in my antenna, and plugged in the power cable. Once I had the remote in my hand again, it felt like home. The on-boarding process was always exceptionally well thought out on TiVo, and it hasn’t changed much over the years. You’ll be asked a few questions about location, type of service you have, connecting to your home network, etc.

The TiVo will check for software updates and download the latest guide data. This process takes a bit longer than I’d like, though. The entire setup process took around a half hour from start to finish. Once it was done, I was up and running, though.

Once it was booted up, I immediately felt at home. It was the same TiVo experience I remembered from years ago. Once the newness had worn off, I got to work getting familiar with all of the new features. I’ll have to say that TiVo still has one of the best user experiences. As I browsed around, I found that TiVo provides a great selection of apps to use when you can’t find anything on your antenna. It has a Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, YouTube, WWE Network, Plex, and more. All of the apps are easy to use and well designed, so they’d be easy to use as your daily way to stream.

The TiVo Bolt OTA for Antenna interface has changed quite a bit over the years, but it still has the familiarity that I loved. It’s easy to schedule recordings (using the OnePass system), it’s easy to fast forward through commercials, and it’s easy to see what’s coming up the future.

One thing to keep in mind about the TiVo Bolt OTA for Antenna is that it requires a service fee. The subscription is $6.99/month, $69.99/yearly, or an All-In service plan for $249.99.

Would I recommend the TiVo Bolt OTA for Antenna?

After I got finished exploring the interface and using the device, I started thinking if I would recommend the TiVo Bolt for Antenna. The more I thought about it, the more I realized it would just depend on the person. If you have a single TV that you want to hook up to an antenna, the TiVo Bolt OTA for Antenna is going to make an excellent choice for you. It’s easy to set up, it’s easy to use, and it provides a familiar interface if you are coming from cable. Additionally, it has a great selection of apps and an excellent remote control.

If you don’t fit that mold, it gets a little harder to 100% recommend it. After I unhooked my HDHomeRun from my antenna, my wife could no longer watch any live TV in our living room. I told her to download the TiVo app for Apple TV. She yelled back that she couldn’t find it. I was very confused because I had just assumed there would be a TiVo app for Apple TV that would allow us to watch live TV and recordings on our other TVs, and I couldn’t have been more wrong. Your options for watching recorded shows are the Fire TV app, mirroring your laptop, or AirPlaying/Casting from your iOS/Android device.

If you want the full TiVo Bolt OTA for Antenna experience on all of your other TVs, you will need to purchase the TiVo MINI VOX. Thankfully, there are no monthly fees with the TiVo MINI VOX, but it will set you back $180. If you were considering getting Apple TVs for all of your TVs, this isn’t a huge premium. If you were looking at lower priced Roku Streaming Sticks, you’d undoubtedly need to budget a bit more.

To sum it up, the TiVo Bolt for Antenna is a perfect device for someone who is cutting cable and doesn’t already have streaming boxes around the house. It’s easy to set up, it’s easy to record shows, and it makes for a “cable” like experience for a lot less money. If you want multiple TVs to be able to watch live TV, you’ll need to invest in the TiVo MINI VOX.

If your house already has multiple Roku Sticks, Apple TVs, or Fire Sticks, you’ll likely be better served by investing in HDHomeRun and an antenna. TiVo has a great interface, but the high price of the box ($250) on top of the monthly fees ($6.99/month, $69.99/yearly or an All-In service plan for $249.99.) make it hard to recommend for everyone.

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