TiVo Bolt vs TiVo Roamio

Readers of the blog know that I recommend the TiVo Roamio OTA when it comes to purchasing an OTA DVR. A few commenters have questioned why I do not recommend the TiVo Bolt. It has better tech specs than the Roamio OTA.

To that point I agree. However, the Bolt costs more than double the Roamio OTA if you were to purchase the lifetime guide. As a cord cutter looking to record broadcast TV only, I really don’t see the value.


Remember when TiVo was all the rage? People aren’t asking for its autograph anymore, but it’s still around. And it’s still making awesome DVRs that work across multiple providers. The flagship TiVo is the TiVo Bolt Vox, which takes the winning Bolt formula and adds indispensable voice control. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s a lot to unpack with this fella, so get cozy and prepare to learn.

If that already sounds like more than you’re looking for, don’t run away just yet. Check out the simplistic TiVo Bolt or TiVo Roamio for recording cable or over-the-air broadcast TV. Read also: Amazon Fire TV Recast Vs Tivo Bolt.

TiVo BoltTiVo Roamio
Product Dimensions8 x 2.7 x 4.3 inches
7.4 x 14.2 x 2 inches
Shipping Weight11.2 ounces
3.7 pounds
Best offerCheck priceCheck price

But if you’re set on getting the best DVR features without depending on clunky equipment from sneaky cable providers, the TiVo Bolt Vox is your guy. It provides everything you need and nothing you don’t, and it’s not picky when it comes to which TV provider it’s willing to work with. And in our professional opinion, less drama from your TV equipment is always something to say yes to.


Below is a list of major differences between these devices as listed in my OTA DVR guide.

  • The Cost of TiVo Bolt with a Lifetime Guide subscription costs $849, TiVo Roamio OTA comes with a lifetime subscription and cost $399.
  • The Bolt has 4K video streaming, where the Roamio supports 1080p
  • The Bolt has a slightly faster processor and a bit more RAM
  • The Bolt has MoCA built in, so it will work as a cable box. (useless for cord cutters)
  • The Bolt supports 802.11ac for WiFi where the Roamio tops out at 802.11n.
  • TiVo Stream is built into the Bolt allowing you to stream to iOS and Android devices. The Roamio requires the purchase of TiVo Stream device for that capability.
  • The Bolt has GB Ethernet, where the Roamio offers 100 MB Ethernet.

Before I get into the next point I want to point out, that majority of those looking to cut the cord either already have a streaming device or are strongly considering one. I would only recommend using TiVo as a streaming device if you are trying to save money. Those folks are concerned with price, which Roamio OTA wins out on anyway.

TiVo makes DVRs, they are not known for their streaming devices. I’d stick with Roku, Apple and Amazon when it comes to OTT streaming. With that in mind, and considering broadcast TV isn’t in 4K video, the Bolts 4K streaming ability is rendered useless for most cord cutters.

The tech specs win out for the Bolt. However, when comparing it with the Roamio, much of its technical specification advantage is extraneous. The faster processor and RAM only benefit the streaming app performance and it’s hardly a noticeable improvement.

The 802.11ac Wi-Fi is a nice addition. However, while 802.11ac is about 3-4 times faster than 802.11n in practical situations within 20 feet of an optimally placed router, 802.11n has a longer range. So while this is a legitimate perk, its benefit is situational. However, note that extending TiVo to multiple TVs using a TiVo mini requires an Ethernet connection.

TiVo Bolt vs TiVo Roamio

- TiVo service subscription is required. Options include a monthly service plan at $14.99/mo and a 1-year commitment,(4) and an annual service plan at $149.99/year.(5)
- Your favorite streaming apps are fully integrated: No more switching inputs, remotes or devices. Access Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO GO, Hulu, Pandora and more from one, integrated experience.(2)
- Watch eye-popping 4K/UHD content. Fully 4K/Ultra High-Definition compatible right out of the box, so you can soak up all that crisp color, clarity and detail.
- SkipMode allows you to skip through entire commercial breaks of recorded shows at the press of a single button.(3) QuickMode lets you watch recorded shows 30% faster with pitch-corrected audio.
- Compatible only with HDTV Antennas. Does not work with cable or satellite TV. No monthly TiVo service fee required.
- Record four shows at once and up to 150 hours of HD programming. Pause, rewind and record free HD programming.
SkipMode skips entire commercial breaks of recorded shows at the press of a button. - -- QuickMode speeds through recorded and buffered shows 30% faster, with pitch-corrected audio.
- Searches TV and streaming content simultaneously. Integrates access to Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, VUDU and more.

Which is Better

From a strictly cord cutter viewpoint, the TiVo Roamio OTA is clearly a better value than the TiVo bolt. It packs all the functionality you need to DVR broadcast TV and a much better price point.  I’d only purchase the Bolt if you were in one of the two following situations.

You were possibly going back to cable TV at some point, since it can work as a cable box.

Money is of no concern to you.

Everyone else should go with the TiVo Roamio. For information on everything you need to know about purchasing a DVR check out my guide on the best OTA DVRs

If you want to check out the specials on either device you can check them out on Amazon through the links below.

If you want to stream to iOS and Android device, the Bolt does that natively. However, the Roamio OTA can accomplish this with the purchase of $130 TiVo Stream. At that point, there is still over $300 separating the two devices.

The 1000 Mbps Ethernet support it nice, but 100 Mbps Ethernet is more than enough speed for the DVR functionality. For example, to stream a 1080p HD feed without buffering you only need about 5 Mbps to stream without any buffering.  1000 Mbps is just overkill.

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