Jeff's Cable Cutting Guide: Part 5 - Tivo Roamio OTA

Well I just went out and bought a Tivo Roamio a few weeks back for well over $150 and today I read that Tivo now offers an OTA-only box for only $49 plus their $15 a month subscription.  To me this is a no-brainer for any cable cutter and blows those ChannelMaster DVR+ and other so-called "no subscription" boxes out of the water.  I'm sure that as always if you are willing to pay for 30 months of Tivo in advance, they give you a lifetime subscription.

I'm not going to take mine back. I'm happy with it and while I can't ever see myself dealing with Comcast ever again, I don't want to ship the thing back and ask for a refund to get the OTA version even though there would be over $100 in it for me.  Perhaps I'll give Tivo a call and see what my options are. I'm sure they don't want me sending mine back during my 30 day no questions asked period any more than I want to do it.

From my previous article, I mentioned that Tivo boxes have a superior tuner compared to normal TVs and those ChannelMaster boxes.  I would assume the same is true for the Tivo Roamio OTA box.  

Now that I've had mine a few weeks I can elaborate a little bit on how it works.  As with any tech, there are a few minor annoyances.  One is the Tivo mini remote is missing a back button and the guide button is in a different spot. Another is that the Tivo button isn't a "toggle" to take you in and out of Live TV.  They could eliminate the Live TV button and simply make the Tivo button a toggle.  Now for the good stuff. The Netflix interface in Tivo is excellent.  One annoyance is having to log in to Netflix a second time having done it once but the ability to use my iPhone as a keyboard for that portion helped mitigate that particular annoyance.  The Youtube interface is excellent as well.  I haven't looked at Hulu+ because Hulu+ is something we let expire about 3 months into our cable cutting.  We got enough OTA and through Netflix to skip the stuff that Hulu+ offers.  Plus the ability to watch most of it free on any computer reduces the value of a subscription "just for TVs".  Another niggle is the Amazon channel on Tivo.  It doesn't let me watch my free Prime content.  Well that's no great loss actually as Prime is pretty much a clone of Netflix with very few exceptions.  Another niggle is that there is no native DLNA support in the Tivo box.  If there was, we could toss the remote we use for smart tv features to watch our movie collection off of our DLNA server.


In hindsight, this is how I would have done cable cutting differently from day one: 

1) Get a Mohu Sky or other quality outdoor antenna and mount it near or above the roof line. If you have only 1 or 2 TVs, a Mohu Leaf or other quality antenna near each TV might suffice as well.

2) Cut Comcast Cable TV and use their wire for OTA tv. Continue using Comcast, Uverse or DSL for internet. Avoid services with "data caps" so you can enjoy streaming without worry about overages.

3) Make sure there is ethernet to every tv location for better streaming performance(already done at our house but included for completeness).

4) Install Tivo Roamio OTA and use Tivo for time shifting as well as some streaming video. Install Tivo mini in secondary locations, noting it costs $6 a month per mini.

Comcast and most other cable providers charge about $100 a month so this setup could pay for itself in less than a year for most users.

Tivo Roamio OTA: $50 plus either $499 lifetime or $15 a month

Tivo mini: $90 plus either $149 lifetime or $6 a month

 Mohu Sky: $150

Comcast mid-speed internet: $50-70 a month without phone or tv. Option: keep comcast TV and relegate their box to a corner of the basement so you get a discount and call every 6 to 12 months to renew your discount. The down side of this option is that the Comcast DVR is a power hog and might cost $5-10 a month in electricity usage.