TiVo Stream 4K review: a reboot for streaming (and for TiVo)

In more ways than one, TiVo Stream 4K is an attempt to let the past die.

the $ 70 TV dongle (on sale for $ 50 until May 27th) now the $ 40 dongle (on sale for $ 30 through Christmas 2021) has little connection to TiVo’s DVR story. Instead of recording movies and TV shows, you stream them from online services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime.

But the TiVo Stream 4K is also a break from how most other streaming devices work. Rather than offering a large list of apps to launch, TiVo funnels programming from several popular apps into one large TV guide, so you don’t have to aimlessly jump between sources.

This is something of a reconsideration that has long been needed in the streaming world, and it will become more important as new streaming services proliferate. Still, it’s too early to declare TiVo’s big pivot a success. Unless it expands beyond the few services it now supports, TiVo’s streaming business will be more successful as a proof of concept than as a great consumer product.

This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best streaming media devices, where you will find reviews of competing products, plus a buyer’s guide on features to consider when shopping.

tivostream4kshowsmenu Jared Newman / IDG

A unified streaming guide is the main attraction of TiVo Stream 4K.

DVR downsizing

Compared to TiVo DVRs, the Stream 4K looks like an adorable miniature. The dongle itself has the same staggered edges as last year’s TiVo Edge DVR, but is small enough to hang from the TV via its built-in HDMI cable.

The TiVo Stream 4K remote is equally cute, retaining the same peanut shape as TiVo DVR remotes, but with a slightly less bloated button. It has TV controls for power, volume, mute, and input switching, along with guide and information buttons for TiVo’s live TV menus. There are channel number buttons and a “skip” button as well, but I haven’t found much use for them. Unfortunately, the TiVo downsizing left the dedicated play / pause / rewind / fast-forward keys, which would have been useful.

tivostream4kremote Jared Newman / IDG

The TiVo Stream 4K remote has a lot of buttons, but not all of them are useful.

I also ran into a problem with my review unit – after a couple of days the volume keys on the TiVo remote stopped working with my TV. Interestingly, the remote still controls my TV’s power and switches inputs, which means that the central IR blaster is still working. As of this writing, TiVo has not addressed the issue.

The device runs on Google’s Android TV platform, and inside is a quad-core Amlogic S905Y2 processor, 2GB of RAM, 8GB of storage, and Wi-Fi 5 connectivity. These are typical technical specifications for a streamer. Low-priced Android TV, and I had no problem scrolling through menus or in and out of apps.


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