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TiVo Roamio OTA review: This DVR would be a cord-cutter's dream machine, if not for the subscription fee

Michael Brown | July 20, 2015
If you haven't cut the pay-TV cord because you don't want to give up your DVR, you should take a good look at TiVo's Roamio OTA.

Tapping the big TiVo icon at the top of the remote calls up TiVo Central. This is where you'll find all the content you've recorded, suggestions of what to watch (including recommendations based on your use of the remote's thumbs-up and thumbs-down buttons). Next to OnePass, TiVo Central is where you'll find the rest of the Roamio OTA's best features. Search for a specific movie or TV show, for instance, and the Roamio will show you everywhere it's available (for free, for rent, or for purchase).

You can also jump directly to a wide variety of on-demand video services--including Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and even MLB.tv--in addition to the services I've already mentioned. If you've amassed private collections of music, videos, and photos on a PC or NAS box, TiVo recently added support for the Plex media server, so that you can stream that content to your entertainment center via the Roamio. You won't be able to use the free version of Plex for this, though; you'll need a Plex Pass ($5 per month, $40 per year, or $150 for a lifetime subscription). You can also access your music-streaming accounts on Pandora, Spotify, iHeartRadio, and Live365 directly from this device.

Should you buy a TiVo Roamio OTA?

As good a DVR as the Roamio OTA is, it would make a cord-cutter's life even better if it included support for a service such as SlingTV (so that you could get some of the channels that are otherwise available only with a pay-TV subscription), along with access to premium channels such as HBO Now and Showtime (although you could add Showtime to a Hulu subscription). You'd still need to pay for these services, of course, but it would be cheaper than subscribing to cable or satellite TV.

The absence of those services, and my nit-picky comment about recording full seasons of new episodes, are my only complaints about the Roamio OTA. A lot of people hate subscription fees, but the power and the convenience that TiVo's software and service delivers is worth $15 per month in my book.

 

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