Purchasing a DVR like TiVo for recording over-the-air content is often a tough call for cord cutters. However, getting a model like TiVo Roamio or TiVo Bolt can be incredibly convenient. You will never miss your favorite TV show anymore. In this article, we are going to compare two popular TiVo models, which are TiVo Roamio vs TiVo Bolt.
Continue reading below to learn more about:
- The design and appearance of each TiVo DVR unit
- The size and weight of each unit
- The hardware features of TiVo Roamio vs TiVo Bolt
- The software and user interface on each unit
- The weaknesses of each TiVo model
- Which TiVo model that is generally more recommended
You can easily see that TiVo Roamio vs TiVo Bolt come with very different designs. The Roamio looks very nice and stylish with an all-black color and a highly glossy surface. It truly looks cool. On the other hand, the Bolt comes with a white body.
If you care very much about the appearance of your living room, you should not forget to consider the design as well as the placement of your DVR unit. In terms of design, TiVo Roamio is never a bad choice. It is slim and compact, as it measures barely 14.2 inches wide, 7.4 inches deep, and 2.0 inches tall. The weight is about 3.7 lbs.
As you can see, TiVo Roamio is very compact. You can easily place the unit on a rack or in front of your TV. You also don’t need to hide the unit because it looks really cool and modern. The high-gloss finish really enhances the classy and elegant appearance. This is very interesting because TiVo Roamio is actually the less expensive option here, and the price difference can be quite huge.
On the other hand, TiVo Bolt actually also has a good-looking design. This model comes with an all-white casing. And unlike the previously discussed model, TiVo Bolt has opted for a non-glossy finish. Even so, TiVo Bolt breathes an air of elegance of its own.
TiVo Bolt is a little bit smaller and lighter. It measures 11.4 inches wide, 7.3 inches deep, and 1.8 inches tall. It weighs approximately 30.37 oz (1.89 lbs). Placing the unit should be easy because it is actually evenmore compact than the Roamio. However, note that the shape of TiVo Bolt is not flat or straight. The body curves upwards on the left part. This design does create a unique contemporary look. (Read also : Bolt Plus vs Tivo Bolt)
Now, we are going to compare the hardware features of TiVo Roamio vs TiVo Bolt. These two models come with several different features and connection ports. As the effect, the two models are suitable for people with different needs and purposes.
TiVo Roamio does look nice and stylish, but keep in mind that the housing is plastic. It is not very tough or durable, so do not abuse it. Nevertheless, you can find light indicators on the front and connection ports on the rear.
If you take a look at the rear panel, you can find one HDMI output, one optical audio jack (which is useful for connecting to older speakers and sound systems), one Ethernet port, and one coaxial input for connecting to the antenna. There is one E-SATA port for external storage. However, this port only supports WD DVR Extender, which has been discontinued and is no longer sold. So, this port is practically useless.
At first, you may be happy to see that TiVo Roamio has two USB ports – but don’t set your hopes too high. These USB ports can only work to charge other devices; they don’t support external storage. What a shame, isn’t it? Still, they can be pretty handy when you need to charge your iPod or portable external amp. TiVo Roamio can’t stream to Android and iOS directly, as it requires the TiVo Stream unit for that.
TiVo Roamio has a large storage capacity of 1TB, which should be sufficient for about 150 hours of HD content. If you want to increase the storage space, you will have to replace the internal drive (which has been designed to be replaceable), since the only compatible E-SATA external drive is no longer around. TiVo Roamio comes with four tuners, so it can record up to four programs at the same time.
TiVo Bolt comes with one coaxial input for the antenna, one HDMI output, one optical audio jack, and one 3.5 mm audio jack. Again, this model comes with one E-SATA port and two USB ports, but they are almost useless. The only supported external drive has been discontinued, and the USB ports are only useful for charging. Nevertheless, TiVo Bolt has a hatch that houses a Cable CARD slot, which allows you to plug a cable line directly.
TiVo Bolt is available in three versions. The 500GB and 1TB models each have four tuners, and are able to work with cable channels as well as over-the-air broadcasts. The 3TB model has six tuners, but is only able to work with cable channels and not with over-the-air broadcasts.
If you want to use this model as a whole-home DVR unit, you need to purchase either the Mini or the Mini Vox satellite units. The latter one supports voice control as well as 4K video.TiVo Bolt is also able to stream both live and recorded TV to Android and iOS devices. Well, there is also a beta app for Fire TV devices, but this app only works with recorded programs.
You will notice that TiVo Bolt is constantly whirring. The noise is not a major nuisance, especially if you are sitting 10 feet away from the unit, but it is still pretty audible if you focus on it. The noise is still present, even when not recording, when the TV is turned off, and when the unit is on standby.
TiVo Roamio’s remote control looks hefty and bulky. It does not feel really nice to hold, especially if your hands are small. It has more than 40 buttons for controlling the TV, changing the channel, controlling the playback, and navigating through the TiVo Guide. With one button available for almost every function, the remote can be quick and practical. However, people who have been used to minimalist remotes and contextual menu screens may find it overwhelming.
Nevertheless, the remote offers a big advantage over traditional cable boxes’ remotes. It now uses an RF signal for controlling the TiVo unit. It still has an IR blaster, which is used only for controlling the TV’s power, input, and volume. The RF signal makes TiVo Roamio’s remote very convenient to use. You don’t need to aim it precisely with a direct line of sight.
To make things even better, TiVo Roamio’s remote features a green “D” button which enables you to skip commercials and advertisements. Pressing this button will take you to the end of the break, so you can continue watching right away. In addition, there is a function button for jumping ahead by 30 seconds.
TiVo Bolt also comes with a hefty, bulky remote control. In a glance, it may appear similar to the sibling’s remote. It is also loaded with various buttons, many of which you will rarely press. However, there are a few additional buttons, which happen to be very useful and practical.
The first new button is the voice search button. It is used to activate the voice search function – we will discuss further about this function later. The second button is the Netflix button, which is very handy for those who often watch the channel. The third button is a dedicated button for the already familiar ad-skipping function.
If you are familiar with the remote controls that come with TV cables, TiVo Bolt’s remote may feel intuitive to use. However, once again, if you prefer a streamlined design with contextual menu screens, it may feel a little bit annoying.
TiVo Roamio vs TiVo Bolt come with different software. The Roamio is still using the old software and user interface. It works well, but it doesn’t look as nice as the new one. The Bolt, on the other hand, comes with the new software and user interface.
For the raw capabilities, TiVo Roamio does have impressive granular controls. This allows you to set up very specific recordings. For example, when you are setting up a series recording (which is called as a “OnePass” in the TiVo language), you can choose to record just the new airings, keep only recent recordings, add buffer time on either the start or the end of the recording, limit recordings to a certain channel, and record only in HD or SD.
In the “WishList” section, you can add specific categories, keywords, actors, or directors. Afterwards, you can set the unit to record programs related to them. This way, you will not miss any latest episode or film from your favorite people.
TiVo Roamio also takes TV episodes from other streaming services, such as Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Hulu. These TV episodes will show up in the same list as your recordings. This feature is probably most beneficial if you subscribe to Hulu, which has an emphasis on network television.
The system has a suggestion algorithm to automatically record programs that you probably will like. You can fine-tune the algorithm by giving thumbs up or down to the content you are watching. Indeed, being able to fill up your DVR without having to record manually is very convenient.
Unfortunately, TiVo Roamio is still using the old user interface, which is overwrought with redundant and dubious menus. For example, it has two separate menus for launching apps, a row of recommended programs that doesn’t look relevant, and two areas for browsing live TV. It has a menu of “collections”, which are curated movies and TV shows, but the sources of the content aren’t displayed up front. Most of the time, they are only for purchase or rental.
TiVo Bolt comes with the new software, which was previously code-named “Hydra”. Well, it is now simply called as the New User Interface. This new user interface comes pre-loaded, so you don’t need to manually download or install anything.
The user interface has a striking modern look. It has traded rounded corners and color gradients with sharp edges and solid colors. It is much more visual, as it allows you to scroll through thumbnail images rather than plain text.
The menu has been greatly streamlined. The menu now has only three content sections for “My Shows” (your recordings), “What To Watch” (recommendations), and a launcher for third-party apps. There is also a search function and a settings menu. There is a strip of quick recommendations at the bottom of the screen; the recommendations are based on what the system thinks you will like.
TiVo Bolt supports voice commands, which are often very nice and helpful. The unit is able to perform complex queries from voice commands and also filter the results. However, the search function only works with certain streaming services like Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Vudu. You also can’t search from a third-party app.
Recording and Performance
Finally, let’s compare the recording quality and overall performance of TiVo Roamio vs TiVo Bolt. They both generally work well. However, the difference is quite significant in terms of video quality, processing speed, and streaming rate.
TiVo Roamio only supports a maximum streaming quality of 1080p. So, if you want to stream 4K content, this is not a viable option. TiVo Roamio’s processing is pretty fast, but it only has 100MB Ethernet and 802.11n Wi-Fi. As the effect, the streaming rate is not very high.
TiVo Bolt, on the other hand, offers major improvements. To begin with, it already supports 4K streaming, so you can use it with your 4K-capable televisions. TiVo Bolt is armed with a faster processor and a slightly bigger RAM for increased processing speed. And it comes with 1GB Ethernet and 802.11ac Wi-Fi for the best streaming rates.
Roamio vs TiVo Bolt
All in all, TiVo Bolt is much more recommended for the money. The biggest reasons to choose this model are the new user interface, 4K streaming support, and better streaming rates. It can stream directly to Android and iOS devices. The voice commands are also very handy and convenient. It also has a better remote control.