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

Jeffrey Cuebas

Roku and Amazon Fireplace Television make the finest economical streaming equipment, but equally however lack help for two of the biggest new services, HBO Max and Peacock. We have no plan when those people applications will look, but if you very own a Roku or Fireplace Television, perhaps you’re unwell of ready. Enter the TiVo Stream 4K. This streamer prices $50 — more affordable than other solutions with Max and Peacock, like the Apple Television or a manufacturer-new smart Television — and of course it streams 1000’s of other applications, way too, from Netflix to YouTube to Sling Television

Like

  • Cost-effective for 4K HDR streaming
  • Has applications for HBO Max and Peacock
  • Google Assistant works nicely for voice look for
  • Terrific distant
  • Stream application aggregates various services

You should not Like

  • Unsuccessful to do the job with 1 Television we analyzed
  • Not suitable with present TiVo equipment
  • Additional complex menus than Roku

TiVo made its name with DVRs to file cable and antenna Television broadcasts, but the Stream 4K is not a DVR at all. It really is a media streamer that competes immediately in opposition to two of our beloved this sort of equipment, the Roku Streaming Stick Plus and the Amazon Fireplace Television Stick 4K. It runs the Android TV system with extras like Google Assistant voice command, 4K resolution, Dolby Atmos and Dolby Eyesight compatibility. 

Here’s the poor information: the TiVo Stream 4K merely failed to do the job with 1 Television, an LG CX OLED. Online video on applications, together with Netflix and Disney Plus, would prevent playing and boot back again into the key menu, rendering the Stream essentially unusable. TiVo promised a deal with back again in June but has considering the fact that told CNET that the update has “regrettably been delayed and we will share much more depth on it as quickly as we can.” 

The Stream labored great on a few other TVs we utilised for screening, from Sony, Samsung and TCL, so that situation is not a offer breaker for this evaluation. It really is unachievable for us to take a look at the Stream with every single Television, even so, so we can not assure it will do the job great with yours. In quick, it truly is worrisome more than enough to avoid our whole recommendation.

There’s also the point that the Stream 4K will never do the job with present TiVo hardware (nonetheless), so it can not perform back again your cable or antenna DVR recordings or enable you stream them to your mobile phone. It really is also truly worth mentioning the rumors about Google’s very own $50 Android Television streamer, which will most likely be declared Sept. thirty.

The TiVo Stream 4K is readily available now for the introductory price tag of $50 but TiVo claims which is because of to enhance to $70 at some position. If you want accessibility to HBO Max and Peacock now, or you just like its functions and Google goodness, it truly is a solid offer — presented it works with your Television. Or else you could wait around till Google reveals its hand or invest in 1 of the excellent Roku or Fireplace Television streamers instead.

Get to know TiVo Stream 4K


Sarah Tew/CNET

The TiVo Stream 4K, a credit rating card-measurement widget with an built-in HDMI connector, is intended to hold out of sight powering your Television. Unlike most adapters of its type, it truly is acquired a small bit of personality — a major TiVo logo on the entrance and a distinctive wedge form like a miniature Edge DVR

The Stream 4K’s most recognizable element is the legendary peanut distant. It really is about two-thirds the measurement of TiVo’s normal DVR distant and has a couple excess functions. Keep the Google button down, wait around a beat and then speak to accessibility voice look for by way of Google Assistant. The common silver TiVo button provides you accessibility to the Stream application, even though the round vital to the remaining of the Assistant button takes you to the Android Television house web site. There’s no thumbs up or down buttons, which is a disgrace, but usually you can find a ton much more keys than on a typical Roku or Amazon distant. It will also command the electricity, quantity and enter on your Television but considering the fact that it depends on HDMI CEC instead of infrared like Roku and Amazon, it calls for a newer Television to use those people features.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

The TiVo Stream 4K dongle is not especially effective in conditions of specs: you can find an Amlogic S905Y2 processor, 2GB of RAM and 8GB of storage house. In comparison the much more expensive Nvidia Protect delivers the identical RAM and storage, but arrives with the Nvidia Tegra X1 Plus processor, as nicely as microSD growth (Android Personal computer Television did a comparison among the two processors.) In exercise we uncovered the TiVo a good deal zippy for 1080p but it didn’t have the horsepower for some sophisticated abilities like the Steam Url application.

The key lacking element ideal now is the device’s lack of integration with present TiVo equipment. It might share a name with the older Stream product or service but it can not share recordings or usually interface with the 1000’s of TiVos by now in the wild. A TiVo spokesperson did convey to CNET way back again in January that TiVo integration was on the highway map for the Stream 4K’s long term, but the corporation has been not able to give us an update on timing considering the fact that.

TiVo’s unique sauce: The Stream application

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The TiVo Stream interface.


Sarah Tew/CNET

The TiVo Stream 4K has an distinctive application, termed Stream, which TiVo intended to be the centerpiece of this system. It integrates Television reveals and flicks from applications, together with Sling Television (see below), Netflix, HBO Now, Amazon Primary Online video, Hulu, Disney Plus and Google Enjoy Movies and also suggests new material TiVo thinks you might like. It life on best of the normal Android Television interface and for that reason can be kind of puzzling: The system effectively has two house pages.

A lot of of the buttons on the distant feed you immediately into Stream. The app’s key menu is off to the facet, identical to Neflix, with groups together with My Displays, Manual, Television Displays, Movies, Sports activities and Children. There’s also a Look for tab but the Google Assistant look for is quicker and much more clear-cut than Stream’s variation. We also liked that Google’s look for was readily available anywhere you are on the system, not just from within the Stream application. 

tivo-guide

The TiVo Stream manual.


Ty Pendlebury/CNET

The Stream 4K arrives with a free week of Sling Television, and TiVo calls the company its preferred spouse. What that signifies is that Sling customers will see the Sling Television manual inside the Stream interface, which also will allow you to set recordings to Sling’s cloud DVR. The Manual button on the distant calls up the grid, a distinct nod to identical operation on DVRs and cable boxes. Google Assistant was capable to look for for equally Sling Television channels and now playing reveals but wasn’t capable to accessibility recordings from Sling’s cloud DVR.

Of course, a Sling Television membership is entirely optional on the system and numerous reside Television streaming services will do the job great — they just will never be built-in into the Stream application. If you you should not subscribe to Sling, the remote’s Manual button will however summon Tivo Plus, a proprietary network of that delivers free material from TMZ, Outside Television, PowerNation, FailArmy, Hell’s Kitchen area, Cheddar and, many thanks to a new partnership, Pluto Television. (Disclosure: CNET and PlutoTV are equally owned by ViacomCBS.)

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Ty Pendlebury/CNET

Outside the Stream application you’ll see the normal Android Television interface, which behaves like any system of this type with rows of material highlights mingled with a short while ago utilised applications and favorites. Most applications are supported, with the notable exception of AT&T’s reside Television services, this sort of as AT&T Television Now

Software program updates have served, but difficulties remain

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

As we pointed out over, the key situation, which occurred with many TiVo Stream evaluation samples, is halting midstream and returning to the menu. In addition to the LG it also took place on the Sony, but with the latter Television it would seem to have been fixed just after a software package update. It however occurs with the LG.

We also skilled a couple of much more minor difficulties. Throughout set up on the distant pairing stage, the system would try to connect just after pressing the asked for buttons and then time out and return to the pairing web site. With perseverance and fast reflexes poised on the Next button, we did get them to do the job. We also skilled audio dropouts with the Sony Television and an Onkyo receiver, despite the fact that a software package update would seem to have set that situation, way too.

Beyond that, the Stream labored nicely in our screening. Navigation of the different screens was zippy and we didn’t recognize any lag when opening any applications. The handover from TiVo Stream to Sling Television, a prospective choke position, was seamless. We had been also capable to use the TiVo Stream 4K’s Chromecast capability to stream online video from a Personal computer browser and from a phone’s Spotify application. If you’re common with the Android Television ecosystem, you’ll feel ideal at house with the Stream 4K, and the Stream application on best is a usable and enjoyable addition. 

Initially we experienced hoped that this system could swap the Nvidia Protect as a way to stream PC games to the Television by way of the Steam Url app, but it didn’t do the job. It wasn’t probable to stream with more than enough bandwidth to even make the interface steady, enable on your own perform any online games, and the system will not offer the app’s suggested Ethernet port possibly. TiVo reps say the USB-C port can be utilised to connect an Ethernet adapter, and this might assistance if you reside in a noisy Wi-Fi natural environment. Usual Android Television gaming labored Alright, even so, and we performed rather a handful of enjoyable rounds of Crossy Highway and Speedy like a Fox with the peanut distant. 

4K, HDR and Dolby Eyesight assessments

To take a look at 4K and HDR we related the TiVo Stream 4K to the Dolby Eyesight and Atmos-able LG CX OLED and Sony TVs. As anticipated, online video good quality was as superior as the Apple Television 4K on applications where by the Stream supports HDR formats.

As normal with streamers, just since the hardware supports those people formats will not mean the applications by themselves do. In TiVo’s favor, Netflix, Disney Plus and Amazon Primary all streamed in 4K and Dolby Eyesight, but film services had been much more of a mixed bag: Google Enjoy Movies had been readily available in 4K HDR but not Dolby Eyesight, Movies Anywhere reported “this system does not help 4K playback” and even though we experienced some difficulties with logging in to Vudu, when we did it was HDX (1080p) only. In the meantime Dolby Atmos was not readily available on Netflix or Disney Plus, although Atmos help on the Fireplace Television 4K is also somewhat spotty.

Like the Apple Television 4K, the TiVo converts all the things to Dolby Eyesight or HDR by default, together with the menu techniques by themselves and online video from every single application (together with the myriad streams that aren’t in HDR). Unlike Apple, even so, you can find to way to adjust that default. On a Television as awesome as the LG which is not a major difficulty — all the things appears terrific — but on a lesser set that will not do HDR justice, the selection to swap to SDR if you want is awesome.

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David Katzmaier/CNET

Need to you invest in it?

Like the Channel Grasp Stream+ the TiVo Stream 4K is an ambitious nonetheless imperfect Android Television streaming system, and months just after launch TiVo is however working to deal with some difficulties. The Stream application is a commendable try at unifying various streaming applications, but in the conclude it truly is not a persuasive reason to invest in a TiVo Stream 4K — until you come about to appreciate Sling Television. Impatient HBO Max and Peacock admirers, or admirers of TiVo or Android Television in typical will come across a large amount to like, but any person else on the lookout to invest in a $50-$70 streamer should really glance instead to the Roku Streaming Stick Plus and the Amazon Fireplace Television Stick 4K.

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