TiVo Stream 4K review: Affordable Android streamer with HBO Max, Peacock

Roku and Amazon Hearth Tv make the ideal very affordable streaming products, but each even

Roku and Amazon Hearth Tv make the ideal very affordable streaming products, but each even now absence guidance for two of the most significant new expert services, HBO Max and Peacock. We have no strategy when people applications will surface, but if you individual a Roku or Hearth Tv, perhaps you happen to be ill of waiting. Enter the TiVo Stream 4K. This streamer costs $50 — more cost-effective than other options with Max and Peacock, like the Apple Tv or a brand-new good Tv — and of class it streams 1000’s of other applications, far too, from Netflix to YouTube to Sling Tv

Like

  • Cost-effective for 4K HDR streaming
  • Has applications for HBO Max and Peacock
  • Google Assistant is effective perfectly for voice search
  • Excellent remote
  • Stream app aggregates distinctive expert services

Don’t Like

  • Unsuccessful to perform with 1 Tv we examined
  • Not suitable with current TiVo products
  • Much more complicated menus than Roku

TiVo built its title with DVRs to report cable and antenna Tv broadcasts, but the Stream 4K is not a DVR at all. It is really a media streamer that competes instantly towards two of our beloved such products, the Roku Streaming Adhere Additionally and the Amazon Hearth Tv Adhere 4K. It operates the Android TV system with extras like Google Assistant voice management, 4K resolution, Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision compatibility. 

This is the bad news: the TiVo Stream 4K only unsuccessful to perform with 1 Tv, an LG CX OLED. Video on applications, including Netflix and Disney Additionally, would cease participating in and boot back again into the major menu, rendering the Stream generally unusable. TiVo promised a take care of back again in June but has due to the fact explained to CNET that the update has “sadly been delayed and we will share far more element on it as quickly as we can.” 

The Stream labored fine on a few other TVs we applied for screening, from Sony, Samsung and TCL, so that issue is not a deal breaker for this evaluation. It is really impossible for us to examination the Stream with each individual Tv, nevertheless, so we won’t be able to guarantee it will perform fine with yours. In quick, it can be worrisome enough to reduce our comprehensive suggestion.

You will find also the actuality that the Stream 4K is not going to perform with current TiVo hardware (but), so it won’t be able to perform back again your cable or antenna DVR recordings or enable you stream them to your cell phone. It is really also well worth mentioning the rumors about Google’s individual $50 Android Tv streamer, which will most likely be announced Sept. thirty as the most current Chromecast.

When the firm to begin with announced there would be a price raise to $70, TiVo has educated us the price is remaining at $50 which retains the gadget reasonably aggressive. If you want entry to HBO Max and Peacock now, or you just like its features and Google goodness, it can be a strong deal — presented it is effective with your Tv. Normally you could wait till Google reveals its hand or invest in 1 of the fantastic Roku or Hearth Tv streamers as an alternative.

Get to know TiVo Stream 4K

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Sarah Tew/CNET

The TiVo Stream 4K, a credit history card-measurement widget with an built-in HDMI connector, is designed to hang out of sight powering your Tv. Compared with most adapters of its form, it can be received a small bit of temperament — a massive TiVo symbol on the front and a unique wedge condition like a miniature Edge DVR

The Stream 4K’s most recognizable element is the legendary peanut remote. It is really about two-thirds the measurement of TiVo’s typical DVR remote and has a pair added features. Maintain the Google button down, wait a beat and then discuss to entry voice search through Google Assistant. The common silver TiVo button provides you entry to the Stream app, though the circular key to the left of the Assistant button normally takes you to the Android Tv house site. You will find no thumbs up or down buttons, which is a disgrace, but otherwise there is certainly a ton far more keys than on a standard Roku or Amazon remote. It will also management the ability, quantity and input on your Tv but due to the fact it relies on HDMI CEC as an alternative of infrared like Roku and Amazon, it involves a newer Tv to use people functions.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

The TiVo Stream 4K dongle is not particularly highly effective in phrases of specs: there is certainly an Amlogic S905Y2 processor, 2GB of RAM and 8GB of storage room. In comparison the far more highly-priced Nvidia Shield gives the identical RAM and storage, but arrives with the Nvidia Tegra X1 Additionally processor, as perfectly as microSD growth (Android Pc Tv did a comparison in between the two processors.) In follow we discovered the TiVo lots zippy for 1080p but it didn’t have the horsepower for some superior abilities like the Steam Connection app.

The major lacking element proper now is the device’s absence of integration with current TiVo products. It might share a title with the more mature Stream products but it won’t be able to share recordings or otherwise interface with the 1000’s of TiVos currently in the wild. A TiVo spokesperson did notify CNET way back again in January that TiVo integration was on the street map for the Stream 4K’s long run, but the firm has been not able to give us an update on timing due to the fact.

TiVo’s unique sauce: The Stream app

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The TiVo Stream interface.


Sarah Tew/CNET

The TiVo Stream 4K has an unique app, named Stream, which TiVo designed to be the centerpiece of this gadget. It integrates Tv displays and videos from applications, including Sling Tv (see down below), Netflix, HBO Now, Amazon Primary Video, Hulu, Disney Additionally and Google Engage in Flicks and also suggests new articles TiVo thinks you could possibly like. It life on best of the typical Android Tv interface and for that purpose can be kind of bewildering: The gadget properly has two house pages.

A lot of of the buttons on the remote feed you instantly into Stream. The app’s major menu is off to the aspect, comparable to Neflix, with categories including My Demonstrates, Guidebook, Tv Demonstrates, Flicks, Sports activities and Children. You will find also a Look for tab but the Google Assistant search is quicker and far more clear-cut than Stream’s edition. We also appreciated that Google’s search was readily available wherever you are on the gadget, not just from within the Stream app. 

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The TiVo Stream manual.


Ty Pendlebury/CNET

The Stream 4K arrives with a cost-free 7 days of Sling Tv, and TiVo calls the services its desired associate. What that means is that Sling people will see the Sling Tv manual inside the Stream interface, which also lets you to established recordings to Sling’s cloud DVR. The Guidebook button on the remote calls up the grid, a distinct nod to comparable functionality on DVRs and cable containers. Google Assistant was in a position to search for each Sling Tv channels and now participating in displays but wasn’t in a position to entry recordings from Sling’s cloud DVR.

Of class, a Sling Tv subscription is totally optional on the gadget and quite a few stay Tv streaming expert services will perform fine — they just is not going to be built-in into the Stream app. If you never subscribe to Sling, the remote’s Guidebook button will even now summon Tivo Additionally, a proprietary community of that gives cost-free articles from TMZ, Outside the house Tv, PowerNation, FailArmy, Hell’s Kitchen area, Cheddar and, many thanks to a new partnership, Pluto Tv. (Disclosure: CNET and PlutoTV are each owned by ViacomCBS.)

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Ty Pendlebury/CNET

Outside the house the Stream app you are going to see the typical Android Tv interface, which behaves like any gadget of this form with rows of articles highlights mingled with not too long ago applied applications and favorites. Most applications are supported, with the noteworthy exception of AT&T’s stay Tv expert services, such as AT&T Tv Now

Program updates have aided, but difficulties stay

We examined the TiVo Stream 4K on a range of distinctive TVs, including the TCL 65Q825, the LG OLED65CXPUA, the Sony XBR-55X950G and the Samsung PN59D8000

As we outlined over, the major issue, which transpired with several TiVo Stream evaluation samples, is stopping midstream and returning to the menu. In addition to the LG it also happened on the Sony, but with the latter Tv it looks to have been resolved after a computer software update. It even now occurs with the LG.

We also skilled a pair of far more minimal difficulties. For the duration of setup on the remote pairing stage, the gadget would attempt to hook up after urgent the asked for buttons and then time out and return to the pairing site. With perseverance and brief reflexes poised on the Up coming button, we did get them to perform. We also skilled sound dropouts with the Sony Tv and an Onkyo receiver, while a computer software update looks to have fastened that issue, far too.

Beyond that, the Stream labored perfectly in our screening. Navigation of the several screens was zippy and we didn’t recognize any lag when opening any applications. The handover from TiVo Stream to Sling Tv, a prospective choke level, was seamless. We were also in a position to use the TiVo Stream 4K’s Chromecast ability to stream video from a Pc browser and from a phone’s Spotify app. If you happen to be common with the Android Tv ecosystem, you are going to feel proper at house with the Stream 4K, and the Stream app on best is a usable and exciting addition. 

Originally we experienced hoped that this gadget could exchange the Nvidia Shield as a way to stream PC games to the Tv through the Steam Connection app, but it didn’t perform. It wasn’t possible to stream with enough bandwidth to even make the interface stable, enable on your own perform any video games, and the gadget will not provide the app’s advisable Ethernet port either. TiVo associates say the USB-C port can be applied to hook up an Ethernet adapter, and this might aid if you stay in a noisy Wi-Fi environment. Typical Android Tv gaming labored Okay, nevertheless, and we performed quite a few satisfying rounds of Crossy Highway and Quickly like a Fox with the peanut remote. 

4K, HDR and Dolby Vision assessments

To examination 4K and HDR we connected the TiVo Stream 4K to the Dolby Vision and Atmos-capable LG CX OLED and Sony TVs. As expected, video high quality was as good as the Apple Tv 4K on applications exactly where the Stream supports HDR formats.

As common with streamers, just for the reason that the hardware supports people formats will not signify the applications them selves do. In TiVo’s favor, Netflix, Disney Additionally and Amazon Primary all streamed in 4K and Dolby Vision, but motion picture expert services were far more of a blended bag: Google Engage in Flicks were readily available in 4K HDR but not Dolby Vision, Flicks Anywhere reported “this gadget does not guidance 4K playback” and though we experienced some difficulties with logging in to Vudu, when we did it was HDX (1080p) only. Meanwhile Dolby Atmos was not readily available on Netflix or Disney Additionally, although Atmos guidance on the Hearth Tv 4K is also somewhat spotty.

Like the Apple Tv 4K, the TiVo converts almost everything to Dolby Vision or HDR by default, including the menu devices them selves and video from each individual app (including the myriad streams that usually are not in HDR). Compared with Apple, nevertheless, there is certainly to way to adjust that default. On a Tv as pleasant as the LG that’s not a massive difficulty — almost everything looks wonderful — but on a lesser established that will not do HDR justice, the solution to swap to SDR if you want is pleasant.

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David Katzmaier/CNET

Really should you invest in it?

Like the Channel Master Stream+ the TiVo Stream 4K is an ambitious but imperfect Android Tv streaming gadget, and months after launch TiVo is even now operating to take care of some difficulties. The Stream app is a commendable attempt at unifying distinctive streaming applications, but in the end it can be not a persuasive purpose to invest in a TiVo Stream 4K — unless of course you happen to adore Sling Tv. Impatient HBO Max and Peacock supporters, or supporters of TiVo or Android Tv in general will locate a good deal to like, but anyone else hunting to invest in a $50 streamer should seem as an alternative to the Roku Streaming Adhere Additionally and the Amazon Hearth Tv Adhere 4K.