My TiVo Roamio & Mini Thoughts & Observations

TiVo Roamio & Mini Environment with FiOS Ultimate HD, from the perspective of a DirecTV Genie (HR44) environment with DirecTV Premier HD:

  • My FiOS Infrastructure
    • 2 Roamio Pro’s (w/3TB), 1 Roamio Plus (w/1TB), 4 Mini’s, with FiOS Ultimate HD, all Ethernet connected to a Gigabit Switch
    • Fiber directly into the FiOS ONT in my basement, avoids rain fade, with crisp HD, and strong SD. The FiOS ONT also has it’s own battery backup.
    • No need for any external powered devices. No SWM’s, GenieGo or CCK needed.
    • The only required wiring is coax from the FiOS ONT, for signal distribution throughout the home, including the Router (for MoCA). I have FiOS 5-1675Mhz MoCA 2.0 splitters, and have found the splitters to be required to reduce the very hot (100%) signal from the ONT, for a proper functioning Roamio environment.
    • The FiOS Router supports MoCA 1.1 by default, and plays well with the Roamio(s) and the Mini(s) environment. There’s no need for Ethernet or a separate MoCA bridge, although I’ve implemented Ethernet to allow for point-to-point Gigabit speeds for file transfer.
  • Roamio Remote Control
    • Newly designed Roamio tactile-feel remote control. A+, love the new Roamio “peanut” remote.
    • Allows the power on/off of the TV & the AVR receiver (Denon) simultaneously with one press of the TV Power button. Have missed this since the DirecTV HR10-250.
    • Roamio supports RF & IR simultaneously
    • There’s a remote control finder function. You press the finder button on the front of the Roamio, and a jingle plays on the RF remote control(s).
    • There’s also now a TiVo Slider Pro RF remote control available, with full slide-out keyboard. Awesome. Simply slide open the keyword, hit the SEARCH button, and start typing!
    • I now have 4 Slider Pro’s for the three Roamio’s with his/her’s at the main viewing location, and 4 Roamio RF remote controls for the Mini’s (with the RF dongle).
  • Roamio DVR Functionality
    • 6 tuners for each Roamio, with Dynamic Tuner Allocation (DTA) for the client TiVo Mini’s. Multiple Live Buffer (DLB+) support with a full-time 30-minute buffer for each of the 6 tuners, even while the Roamio’s are not in use. Have regularly found good content in a buffer when turning on the TV in the morning (news shows).
    • By hitting “Info” or the right arrow at LIVE TV, you can display detailed program information about the current foreground tuner, along with what channel is currently buffering on each of the other 5 tuners. If any tuner is assigned to a TiVo Mini, it displays which Mini it’s assigned to. Also, if you switch to a channel that happens to be on any of the 6 tuners, it automatically results in the current buffer for that channel.
    • Press ENTER/LAST to swap between two tuners/buffers, press the LIVE TV button to cycle thru all 6 tuners/buffers, or use “Info” to select a specific tuner/buffer. Excellent for swapping between multiple sporting events.
    • Multiple Roamio DVRs are fully supported (unlike Genie). You can have multiple 6-tuner DVR’s with MultiRoom Viewing (MRV) between all, along with Mini support.
    • MRV by individual DVR (no unified playlist). You can be at any TiVo unit and display the individual DVR playlist (“My Shows”) for any specific DVR in the home, just as if you were at that individual DVR, with full access to each recording.
    • Unlimited Season Passes.
    • UnDelete option, recordings are not truly deleted until space is needed for a new recording. Very helpful, especially with the 3TB of storage on the Roamio Pro.
    • TV series Season # and Episode # appear in the guide/recording information. Very helpful for keeping track of TV series information, didn’t realize initially how useful this is.
    • Eight channel TiVo Guide, can go forward/backwards a day at a time, or a half-hour at a time, very response scrolling, and also a grid Guide is also available, though I much prefer the TiVo Guide. The fonts in the Guide are also scalable to fit the space available.
    • From LIVE TV, the RIGHT button brings up the “Info” menu which displays information about the foreground tuner (Episode info, 480i/720p/1080i, …), what’s currently being buffered on all 6 tuners (for selection) and the Closed Captioning (CC) status. Very handy.
    • Can go backwards (from present) in the Guide, you can’t record from the past but it’s helpful to see what was on previously.
    • Can manually edit the Channel List used for guide/search/favorites, thus a personalized channel-in-guide (CIG) capability. Very handy to limit channels that you have no interest in.
    • Pressing the PAUSE button while in TiVo Central toggles the Picture-In-Guide (PIG) on and off. This is handy to avoid spoilers in certain situations.
    • There’s shortcuts within TiVo Central. Example: “1” for Season Pass Manager, “2” for ToDo List, thus you can quickly get to the 2-do list with TiVo+”2″, which I’ve been using often.
    • Can copy/backup recordings from one TiVo DVR to another TiVo DVR , or to a PC. Roamio Plus/Pro to Roamio Plus/Pro transfers have been averaging 180-200Mbps on a my Gigabit network, very quick. Have used this copy feature more then I expected.
    • Can toggle between the top and bottom of any list (Playlist, Season Passes, ToDo List, …) by pressing the “advance” button, very handy for long lists.
    • Full access to the Guide, To-Do list, and Season Pass Manager remotely, both within home and outside-the-home, via the web-site or the mobile App.
    • Apps for Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Pandora, Spotify, Podcasts and several others, on every TV with a Roamio or a Mini. It’s been awesome to have Netflix now available on every TV within the home.
    • DIAL functionality supported. Example: can fling a YouTube video from the iPad to the Roamio TV screen.
    • Very responsive UI. The high-use menus are in HD, most of the Settings menus are still in SD, slight sound cut-out when switching into TiVo Central
    • When you pause, there’s an Advertisement that appears above the pause bar (it can be removed by pressing DOWN)
    • No “PREV” toggle between the previously watched recording and LIVE TV, but fairly easy to switch by pressing BACK within LIVE TV and hitting PLAY again
    • No Caller ID support
    • No auto pad of recordings
    • There’s no menu to change the default settings for Season Passes
    • Only 1 Favorites list, though the CIG is editable
    • No Picture-In-Picture (PIP)
    • No screen saver, a paused recording stays on the screen indefinitely
    • No QuickTune capability
  • TiVo Mini
    • Responsive full standalone TiVo UI, including access to the internet apps
    • Linked to a TiVo Premiere/Roamio DVR for LIVE TV which is fed from a tuner on the host DVR, can play recordings from any DVR
    • Works well on a MoCA network, or can be Ethernet connected.
    • No Picture-In-Guide (PIG) within TiVo Central (to free up the tuner)
    • Supports RF with Roamio RF remote control via USB RF dongle
    • On Settings menu, can easily 1-click switch which DVR is the host DVR for the Mini.
    • Frees up the tuner when entering TiVo Central, or after 4 hours of inactivity
  • Mobile / PC Access
    • iOS/Android app for DVR management is awesome. Access remotely (WiFi or LTE/3G) to Guide, My Shows / Playlist, To-Do List, Season Pass Manager, Info (current program on foreground tuner), and remote control for selected DVR. Total remote DVR management capability for each individual DVR. Just perfect. (I only tested the iOS app)
    • iOS/Android app Guide can inherit “favorites” list from the selected DVR.
    • iOS app can also stream or download recordings over WiFi, 4 streams at once and high speed transcoding. Also TiVo Desktop can be used to bulk download to a mobile device via iTunes or other means. Android support coming soon.
    • Also TiVo web-site access for individual DVR management. Access to Guide, My Shows / Playlist, To-Do List, and Season Pass Manager from the TiVo website.
    • Very nice PC/Mac kmttg program for DVR access. Can download/decrypt/transcode recordings to your PC/Mac. Also can backup Season Pass info. Very cool, provides direct access to DVR recordings from a PC/Mac.
    • TiVo Desktop Plus also works well to serve content like a photo library in HD to each TiVo unit (Roamio or Mini). I have my entire photo library organized in folders by year and event on a server, now accessible from every TV in the home.
  • Online Content
    • Access to Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and MLB.TV content
    • Music, Videos, and Photos access from local home content or online services (Pandora, Spotify, Picasa, Photobucket, Podcasts, YouTube, …)
    • Can download any Amazon video to the Roamio after registering the Roamio to your Aamzon account
    • Future Opera TV App Store:
    • DIAL supported
  • Finances
    • For 3 Roamio’s and 4 Mini’s on FiOS, it’s $15/mo total ($5/mo for each Roamio cable-card), in addition to the upfront costs for the equipment and TiVo Lifetime services.
    • Payback within ~2 years for me, when trading DirecTV Premier service ($200/mo) for FiOS Triple Play Ultimate HD bundle upgrade (~$50/mo).
    • High resale value for any TiVo Lifetime unit, investment protection somewhat.
  • Online User Groups / TiVo Viability
    • TiVo Community Forum (TCF) on vBulletin is very active
    • TiVo seems to also now be posting directly at TCF
    • TiVo is now growing again with the Roamio release and several MSO partnerships. TiVo has been growing 200K+ subscriptions per quarter recently
  • Other
    • For quite a while, I thought that the only viable FiOS option was going to be the future FiOS Media Server (VMS1100), but I’m now thinking the opposite. TiVo seems to be innovating again, they’re growing, you can access PPV content from other online services (Amazon) directly downloaded to the Roamio, or use Netflix, and the TiVo units are much more open and accessible (easy drive upgrades, kmttg, …), and everything is available today. No waiting on something in the future, as compared to the FiOS VMS1100 which has been talked about since 2011 and will be a “closed” box. TiVo also seems to be quickly addressing any Roamio/Mini issues. Yes, cable-cards are a concern, but thinking that maybe it’s not much to worry about since everything seems to be available today with the Roamio, it works well with FiOS, and the iOS mobile app and PC access is awesome.
    • Note: Need to think about if FiOS ever transitioned to an IP delivery model, that would hurt cable-card access.
    • Note: I’d like to fully understand what Apple may be releasing in the future.
  • HD
    • DirecTV has: 3net, Audience Network, Bloomberg Television, BTN Alternates, CBS Sports Network, Crime & Investigation, Disney Junior, DIY Network, Encore Action, Fox Soccer Plus, Fox Sports 2 (formerly Fuel TV), H2, Hallmark Channel, HLN, MLB Strike Zone, NBC Sports Premier League Extra, NFL Sunday Ticket, OWN, Playboy TV, Sho Beyond, Sho Next, Sho Women, Shorts HD, Starz Cinema, Starz in Black, Starz West, Turner Classic Movies.
    • FiOS has: Cars.TV, Comedy.TV, Epix, Epix 2, ES.TV, ESPN Goal Line / Buzzer Beater, Fuse, HBO Comedy West, HBO Family West, HBO Latino West, HBO Signature West, HBO Zone West, HSN, Hub, MoreMax West, MyDestination.TV, Outdoor Channel, OuterMax, Oxygen, Pets.TV, Recipe.TV, Sho Extreme West, Showcase West, Showtime 2 West, TVGN, Universal Sports Network, WE tv, Wealth TV, World Fishing Network.
  • Summary – One person’s perspective with FiOS Ultimate HD (as part of the FiOS Triple Play package) vs DirecTV Premier
    1. More simplified infrastructure (only Coax and splitters required) with no potential for rain fade
    2. Awesome Remote Control (w/keyboard)
    3. Better DVR experience with 6 full-time buffers
    4. Better thin client experience (more responsive UI)
    5. Much better iOS mobile app experience for individual DVR management
    6. More open environment for access to recordings
    7. More content options with Amazon, Netflix and others
    8. Active user group at TiVo Community Forum (TCF)
    9. Less expensive from an overall total cost of ownership perspective over several years

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.