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

Maria J. Danford

Roku and Amazon Fireplace Tv set make the very best cost-effective streaming units, but both equally nevertheless deficiency help for two of the largest new services, HBO Max and Peacock. We have no idea when those people apps will look, but if you possess a Roku or Fireplace Tv set, […]

Roku and Amazon Fireplace Tv set make the very best cost-effective streaming units, but both equally nevertheless deficiency help for two of the largest new services, HBO Max and Peacock. We have no idea when those people apps will look, but if you possess a Roku or Fireplace Tv set, maybe you’re ill of waiting around. Enter the TiVo Stream 4K. This streamer charges $50 — less costly than other alternatives with Max and Peacock, like the Apple Tv set or a model-new sensible Tv set — and of program it streams 1000’s of other apps, as well, from Netflix to YouTube to Sling Tv set

Like

  • Cost-effective for 4K HDR streaming
  • Has apps for HBO Max and Peacock
  • Google Assistant works very well for voice research
  • Great distant
  • Stream app aggregates various services

Will not Like

  • Failed to do the job with one particular Tv set we analyzed
  • Not suitable with present TiVo units
  • A lot more advanced menus than Roku

TiVo built its title with DVRs to document cable and antenna Tv set broadcasts, but the Stream 4K is not a DVR at all. It’s a media streamer that competes immediately in opposition to two of our favorite these kinds of units, the Roku Streaming Stick In addition and the Amazon Fireplace Tv set Stick 4K. It operates the Android TV system with extras like Google Assistant voice handle, 4K resolution, Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision compatibility. 

Here’s the undesirable information: the TiVo Stream 4K just failed to do the job with one particular Tv set, an LG CX OLED. Video on apps, like Netflix and Disney In addition, would quit participating in and boot again into the principal menu, rendering the Stream in essence unusable. TiVo promised a repair again in June but has due to the fact instructed CNET that the update has “unfortunately been delayed and we will share far more detail on it as before long as we can.” 

The Stream labored high-quality on 3 other TVs we employed for tests, from Sony, Samsung and TCL, so that difficulty is not a deal breaker for this review. It’s unachievable for us to exam the Stream with every Tv set, however, so we are not able to assure it will do the job high-quality with yours. In shorter, it really is worrisome plenty of to avert our comprehensive recommendation.

You will find also the truth that the Stream 4K won’t do the job with present TiVo components (still), so it are not able to engage in again your cable or antenna DVR recordings or permit you stream them to your telephone. It’s also worthy of mentioning the rumors about Google’s possess $50 Android Tv set streamer, which will likely be announced Sept. 30 as the most recent Chromecast.

The TiVo Stream 4K is available now for the introductory price tag of $50 but TiVo says that’s because of to raise to $70 at some level. If you want accessibility to HBO Max and Peacock now, or you just like its features and Google goodness, it really is a solid deal — presented it works with your Tv set. Usually you could wait around right until Google reveals its hand or obtain one particular of the excellent Roku or Fireplace Tv set streamers in its place.

Get to know TiVo Stream 4K

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Sarah Tew/CNET

The TiVo Stream 4K, a credit history card-dimension widget with an integrated HDMI connector, is made to hang out of sight driving your Tv set. Not like most adapters of its style, it really is received a tiny little bit of individuality — a significant TiVo emblem on the front and a exclusive wedge shape like a miniature Edge DVR

The Stream 4K’s most recognizable element is the legendary peanut distant. It’s about two-thirds the dimension of TiVo’s conventional DVR distant and has a few further features. Hold the Google button down, wait around a conquer and then converse to accessibility voice research through Google Assistant. The common silver TiVo button presents you accessibility to the Stream app, although the round key to the remaining of the Assistant button can take you to the Android Tv set household page. You will find no thumbs up or down buttons, which is a shame, but or else there is certainly a ton far more keys than on a normal Roku or Amazon distant. It will also handle the ability, quantity and input on your Tv set but due to the fact it relies on HDMI CEC in its place of infrared like Roku and Amazon, it needs a more recent Tv set to use those people capabilities.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

The TiVo Stream 4K dongle is not in particular impressive in terms of specs: there is certainly an Amlogic S905Y2 processor, 2GB of RAM and 8GB of storage area. In comparison the far more high priced Nvidia Shield provides the identical RAM and storage, but comes with the Nvidia Tegra X1 In addition processor, as very well as microSD expansion (Android Pc Tv set did a comparison involving the two processors.) In observe we found the TiVo a good deal zippy for 1080p but it didn’t have the horsepower for some sophisticated capabilities like the Steam Url app.

The principal lacking element appropriate now is the device’s deficiency of integration with present TiVo units. It may share a title with the more mature Stream solution but it are not able to share recordings or or else interface with the 1000’s of TiVos now in the wild. A TiVo spokesperson did inform CNET way again in January that TiVo integration was on the road map for the Stream 4K’s future, but the business has been not able to give us an update on timing due to the fact.

TiVo’s exclusive sauce: The Stream app

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The TiVo Stream interface.


Sarah Tew/CNET

The TiVo Stream 4K has an exclusive app, called Stream, which TiVo made to be the centerpiece of this machine. It integrates Tv set displays and movies from apps, like Sling Tv set (see under), Netflix, HBO Now, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Disney In addition and Google Play Videos and also suggests new content material TiVo thinks you may like. It life on major of the conventional Android Tv set interface and for that explanation can be type of bewildering: The machine properly has two household pages.

Lots of of the buttons on the distant feed you immediately into Stream. The app’s principal menu is off to the aspect, similar to Neflix, with classes like My Reveals, Tutorial, Tv set Reveals, Videos, Athletics and Youngsters. You will find also a Search tab but the Google Assistant research is faster and far more straightforward than Stream’s variation. We also preferred that Google’s research was available wherever you are on the machine, not just from inside the Stream app. 

tivo-guide

The TiVo Stream manual.


Ty Pendlebury/CNET

The Stream 4K comes with a totally free week of Sling Tv set, and TiVo phone calls the provider its preferred lover. What that suggests is that Sling buyers will see the Sling Tv set manual in the Stream interface, which also enables you to set recordings to Sling’s cloud DVR. The Tutorial button on the distant phone calls up the grid, a crystal clear nod to similar functionality on DVRs and cable boxes. Google Assistant was equipped to research for both equally Sling Tv set channels and now participating in displays but wasn’t equipped to accessibility recordings from Sling’s cloud DVR.

Of program, a Sling Tv set subscription is solely optional on the machine and quite a few dwell Tv set streaming services will do the job high-quality — they just won’t be integrated into the Stream app. If you don’t subscribe to Sling, the remote’s Tutorial button will nevertheless summon Tivo In addition, a proprietary community of that provides totally free content material from TMZ, Outside the house Tv set, PowerNation, FailArmy, Hell’s Kitchen, Cheddar and, many thanks to a new partnership, Pluto Tv set. (Disclosure: CNET and PlutoTV are both equally owned by ViacomCBS.)

tivo-stream-2

Ty Pendlebury/CNET

Outside the house the Stream app you’ll see the conventional Android Tv set interface, which behaves like any machine of this style with rows of content material highlights mingled with lately employed apps and favorites. Most apps are supported, with the noteworthy exception of AT&T’s dwell Tv set services, these kinds of as AT&T Tv set Now

Program updates have served, but challenges continue to be

We analyzed the TiVo Stream 4K on a variety of various TVs, like the TCL 65Q825, the LG OLED65CXPUA, the Sony XBR-55X950G and the Samsung PN59D8000

As we talked about earlier mentioned, the principal difficulty, which transpired with multiple TiVo Stream review samples, is stopping midstream and returning to the menu. In addition to the LG it also took place on the Sony, but with the latter Tv set it appears to have been settled soon after a computer software update. It nevertheless comes about with the LG.

We also experienced a few of far more small challenges. All through setup on the distant pairing stage, the machine would attempt to link soon after pressing the requested buttons and then time out and return to the pairing page. With perseverance and speedy reflexes poised on the Following button, we did get them to do the job. We also experienced audio dropouts with the Sony Tv set and an Onkyo receiver, even though a computer software update appears to have set that difficulty, as well.

Outside of that, the Stream labored very well in our tests. Navigation of the many screens was zippy and we didn’t see any lag when opening any apps. The handover from TiVo Stream to Sling Tv set, a prospective choke level, was seamless. We ended up also equipped to use the TiVo Stream 4K’s Chromecast capability to stream online video from a Pc browser and from a phone’s Spotify app. If you’re common with the Android Tv set ecosystem, you’ll sense appropriate at household with the Stream 4K, and the Stream app on major is a usable and fun addition. 

Initially we had hoped that this machine could switch the Nvidia Shield as a way to stream PC games to the Tv set through the Steam Url app, but it didn’t do the job. It wasn’t probable to stream with plenty of bandwidth to even make the interface secure, permit alone engage in any video games, and the machine will not give the app’s advisable Ethernet port either. TiVo reps say the USB-C port can be employed to link an Ethernet adapter, and this may assistance if you dwell in a noisy Wi-Fi natural environment. Normal Android Tv set gaming labored Ok, however, and we performed quite a number of enjoyable rounds of Crossy Highway and Rapidly like a Fox with the peanut distant. 

4K, HDR and Dolby Vision assessments

To exam 4K and HDR we linked the TiVo Stream 4K to the Dolby Vision and Atmos-able LG CX OLED and Sony TVs. As expected, online video high quality was as good as the Apple Tv set 4K on apps where by the Stream supports HDR formats.

As normal with streamers, just simply because the components supports those people formats will not imply the apps them selves do. In TiVo’s favor, Netflix, Disney In addition and Amazon Prime all streamed in 4K and Dolby Vision, but motion picture services ended up far more of a combined bag: Google Play Videos ended up available in 4K HDR but not Dolby Vision, Videos Anyplace claimed “this machine does not help 4K playback” and although we had some challenges with logging in to Vudu, when we did it was HDX (1080p) only. Meanwhile Dolby Atmos was not available on Netflix or Disney In addition, although Atmos help on the Fireplace Tv set 4K is also comparatively spotty.

Like the Apple Tv set 4K, the TiVo converts everything to Dolby Vision or HDR by default, like the menu systems them selves and online video from every app (like the myriad streams that usually are not in HDR). Not like Apple, however, there is certainly to way to improve that default. On a Tv set as good as the LG that’s not a significant difficulty — everything appears good — but on a lesser set that will not do HDR justice, the solution to switch to SDR if you want is good.

tivo-stream-4k-plugged

David Katzmaier/CNET

Must you obtain it?

Like the Channel Grasp Stream+ the TiVo Stream 4K is an formidable still imperfect Android Tv set streaming machine, and months soon after launch TiVo is nevertheless working to repair some challenges. The Stream app is a commendable attempt at unifying various streaming apps, but in the conclusion it really is not a compelling explanation to obtain a TiVo Stream 4K — except you happen to love Sling Tv set. Impatient HBO Max and Peacock supporters, or supporters of TiVo or Android Tv set in basic will come across a great deal to like, but anybody else seeking to obtain a $50-$70 streamer really should search in its place to the Roku Streaming Stick In addition and the Amazon Fireplace Tv set Stick 4K.

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