TiVo Stream 4K review: Affordable Android streamer with HBO Max, Peacock

    Roku and Amazon Fire TV make one of the best inexpensive streaming gadgets, however each nonetheless lack assist for 2 of the largest new companies, HBO Max and Peacock. We don’t know when these apps will seem, however for those who personal a Roku or Fire TV, perhaps you are sick of ready. Enter the TiVo Stream 4K. This streamer prices $50 — cheaper than different choices with Max and Peacock, just like the Apple TV or a brand-new sensible TV — and naturally it streams hundreds of different apps, too, from Netflix to YouTube to Sling TV. 

    LikeAffordable for 4K HDR streamingHas apps for HBO Max and PeacockGoogle Assistant works nicely for voice searchGreat distantStream app aggregates completely different companies

    Don’t LikeDid not work with one TV we testedNot suitable with present TiVo devicesMore advanced menus than Roku

    TiVo made its identify with DVRs to report cable and antenna TV broadcasts, however the Stream 4K isn’t a DVR in any respect. It’s a media streamer that competes straight towards two of our favourite such gadgets, the Roku Streaming Stick Plus and the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K. It runs the Android TV system with extras like Google Assistant voice management, 4K decision, Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision compatibility. Here’s the unhealthy information: the TiVo Stream 4K merely did not work with one TV, an LG CX OLED. Video on apps, together with Netflix and Disney Plus, would cease taking part in and boot again into the primary menu, rendering the Stream principally unusable. TiVo promised a repair again in June however has since advised CNET that the replace has “unfortunately been delayed and we will share more detail on it as soon as we can.” 

    The Stream labored superb on three different TVs we used for testing, from Sony, Samsung and TCL, in order that challenge isn’t a deal breaker for this assessment. It’s unimaginable for us to check the Stream with each TV, nonetheless, so we won’t assure it’s going to work superb with yours. In brief, it is worrisome sufficient to stop our full advice.There’s additionally the truth that the Stream 4K will not work with present TiVo {hardware} (but), so it could’t play again your cable or antenna DVR recordings or allow you to stream them to your telephone. It’s additionally value mentioning the rumors about Google’s personal $50 Android TV streamer, which can probably be introduced Sept. 30 as the newest Chromecast.The TiVo Stream 4K is offered now for the introductory value of $50 however TiVo says that is because of enhance to $70 in some unspecified time in the future. If you need entry to HBO Max and Peacock now, otherwise you identical to its options and Google goodness, it is a strong deal — supplied it really works together with your TV. Otherwise you would wait till Google reveals its hand or purchase one of many glorious Roku or Fire TV streamers as a substitute.

    Get to know TiVo Stream 4K
    Sarah Tew/CNET
    The TiVo Stream 4K, a credit score card-size widget with an built-in HDMI connector, is designed to hang around of sight behind your TV. Unlike most adapters of its kind, it is obtained slightly little bit of character — a giant TiVo brand on the entrance and a particular wedge form like a miniature Edge DVR.  The Stream 4K’s most recognizable characteristic is the long-lasting peanut distant. It’s about two-thirds the dimensions of TiVo’s customary DVR distant and has a pair additional options. Hold the Google button down, wait a beat after which communicate to entry voice search by way of Google Assistant. The acquainted silver TiVo button provides you entry to the Stream app, whereas the round key to the left of the Assistant button takes you to the Android TV dwelling web page. There’s no thumbs up or down buttons, which is a disgrace, however in any other case there is a ton extra keys than on a typical Roku or Amazon distant. It may even management the ability, quantity and enter in your TV however because it depends on HDMI CEC as a substitute of infrared like Roku and Amazon, it requires a more recent TV to make use of these capabilities.
    Sarah Tew/CNET
    The TiVo Stream 4K dongle isn’t particularly highly effective by way of specs: there’s an Amlogic S905Y2 processor, 2GB of RAM and 8GB of cupboard space. In comparability the dearer Nvidia Shield provides the identical RAM and storage, however comes with the Nvidia Tegra X1 Plus processor, in addition to microSD enlargement (Android PC TV did a comparability between the 2 processors.) In observe we discovered the TiVo a lot zippy for 1080p however it did not have the horsepower for some superior capabilities just like the Steam Link app. The essential lacking characteristic proper now’s the machine’s lack of integration with present TiVo gadgets. It might share a reputation with the older Stream product however it could’t share recordings or in any other case interface with the hundreds of TiVos already within the wild. A TiVo spokesperson did inform CNET approach again in January that TiVo integration was on the street map for the Stream 4K’s future, however the firm has been unable to provide us an replace on timing since. TiVo’s particular sauce: The Stream app The TiVo Stream interface.
    Sarah Tew/CNET
    The TiVo Stream 4K has an unique app, known as Stream, which TiVo designed to be the centerpiece of this machine. It integrates TV exhibits and films from apps, together with Sling TV (see under), Netflix, HBO Now, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Disney Plus and Google Play Movies and in addition suggests new content material TiVo thinks you may like. It lives on high of the usual Android TV interface and for that cause will be type of complicated: The machine successfully has two dwelling pages. Many of the buttons on the distant feed you straight into Stream. The app’s essential menu is off to the facet, just like Neflix, with classes together with My Shows, Guide, TV Shows, Movies, Sports and Kids. There’s additionally a Search tab however the Google Assistant search is faster and extra simple than Stream’s model. We additionally favored that Google’s search was accessible wherever you might be on the machine, not simply from contained in the Stream app.  The TiVo Stream information.
    Ty Pendlebury/CNET
    The Stream 4K comes with a free week of Sling TV, and TiVo calls the service its most popular accomplice. What meaning is that Sling customers will see the Sling TV information inside the Stream interface, which additionally permits you to set recordings to Sling’s cloud DVR. The Guide button on the distant calls up the grid, a transparent nod to comparable performance on DVRs and cable bins. Google Assistant was capable of seek for each Sling TV channels and now taking part in exhibits however wasn’t capable of entry recordings from Sling’s cloud DVR. Of course, a Sling TV subscription is fully elective on the machine and quite a few reside TV streaming companies will work superb — they only will not be built-in into the Stream app. If you do not subscribe to Sling, the distant’s Guide button will nonetheless summon Tivo Plus, a proprietary community of that provides free content material from TMZ, Outside TV, PowerNation, FailArmy, Hell’s Kitchen, Cheddar and, due to a brand new partnership, Pluto TV. (Disclosure: CNET and PlutoTV are each owned by ViacomCBS.)
    Ty Pendlebury/CNET
    Outside the Stream app you may see the usual Android TV interface, which behaves like all machine of this sort with rows of content material highlights mingled with just lately used apps and favorites. Most apps are supported, with the notable exception of AT&T’s reside TV companies, comparable to AT&T TV Now. Software updates have helped, however points stayWe examined the TiVo Stream 4K on quite a few completely different TVs, together with the TCL 65Q825, the LG OLED65CXPUA, the Sony XBR-55X950G and the Samsung PN59D8000. As we talked about above, the primary challenge, which occurred with a number of TiVo Stream assessment samples, is stopping midstream and returning to the menu. In addition to the LG it additionally occurred on the Sony, however with the latter TV it appears to have been resolved after a software program replace. It nonetheless occurs with the LG.We additionally skilled a few extra minor points. During setup on the distant pairing stage, the machine would try to attach after urgent the requested buttons after which day out and return to the pairing web page. With perseverance and fast reflexes poised on the Next button, we did get them to work. We additionally skilled sound dropouts with the Sony TV and an Onkyo receiver, though a software program replace appears to have fastened that challenge, too.Beyond that, the Stream labored nicely in our testing. Navigation of the assorted screens was zippy and we did not discover any lag when opening any apps. The handover from TiVo Stream to Sling TV, a possible choke level, was seamless. We have been additionally in a position to make use of the TiVo Stream 4K’s Chromecast functionality to stream video from a PC browser and from a telephone’s Spotify app. If you are acquainted with the Android TV ecosystem, you may really feel proper at dwelling with the Stream 4K, and the Stream app on high is a usable and enjoyable addition. Initially we had hoped that this machine may substitute the Nvidia Shield as a strategy to stream PC video games to the TV by way of the Steam Link app, however it did not work. It wasn’t potential to stream with sufficient bandwidth to even make the interface secure, not to mention play any video games, and the machine does not provide the app’s really useful Ethernet port both. TiVo representatives say the USB-C port can be utilized to attach an Ethernet adapter, and this will likely assist for those who reside in a loud Wi-Fi atmosphere. Normal Android TV gaming labored OK, nonetheless, and we performed fairly a number of pleasing rounds of Crossy Road and Fast like a Fox with the peanut distant.  4K, HDR and Dolby Vision checks To check 4K and HDR we linked the TiVo Stream 4K to the Dolby Vision and Atmos-capable LG CX OLED and Sony TVs. As anticipated, video high quality was nearly as good because the Apple TV 4K on apps the place the Stream helps HDR codecs. As normal with streamers, simply because the {hardware} helps these codecs does not imply the apps themselves do. In TiVo’s favor, Netflix, Disney Plus and Amazon Prime all streamed in 4K and Dolby Vision, however film companies have been extra of a combined bag: Google Play Movies have been accessible in 4K HDR however not Dolby Vision, Movies Anywhere stated “this device does not support 4K playback” and whereas we had some points with logging in to Vudu, once we did it was HDX (1080p) solely. Meanwhile Dolby Atmos was not accessible on Netflix or Disney Plus, though Atmos assist on the Fire TV 4K can also be comparatively spotty. Like the Apple TV 4K, the TiVo converts all the things to Dolby Vision or HDR by default, together with the menu programs themselves and video from each app (together with the myriad streams that are not in HDR). Unlike Apple, nonetheless, there’s to strategy to change that default. On a TV as good because the LG that is not a giant downside — all the things appears nice — however on a lesser set that does not do HDR justice, the choice to modify to SDR if you need is sweet.
    David Katzmaier/CNET
    Should you purchase it?Like the Channel Master Stream+ the TiVo Stream 4K is an formidable but imperfect Android TV streaming machine, and months after launch TiVo remains to be working to repair some points. The Stream app is a commendable try at unifying completely different streaming apps, however in the long run it isn’t a compelling cause to purchase a TiVo Stream 4K — except you occur to like Sling TV. Impatient HBO Max and Peacock followers, or followers of TiVo or Android TV on the whole will discover so much to love, however anybody else seeking to purchase a $50-$70 streamer ought to look as a substitute to the Roku Streaming Stick Plus and the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K.

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