TiVo Roamio DVR: Low Price, But Service Fee Makes Alternatives Look Better

Since the Supreme Court shut down Aereo's broadcast TV over Internet service, multiple companies have offered do-it-yourself alternatives, several of which I've described previously.

This week TiVo offered its solution—the TiVo Roamio OTA DVR—at an initial retail price of $49.99 “for those who do not have cable or satellite service, yet still want a DVR.”

TiVo CMO Ira Bahr said, “Many top TV shows in America are available with a simple HD antenna. TiVo is devoted to making the best possible cable TV user experience available through our operator partners and in retail, but we recognize some viewers opt not to receive the benefits a subscription with a cable provider offers. TiVo Roamio OTA makes sure that they too can get a best in class DVR experience through an antenna, including our world renowned interface and industry defining recording capability at our most affordable price point ever.”

The TiVo Roamio OTA allows recording up to four shows simultaneously and can store up to 75 hours of HDTV programming. TiVo said, “TV lovers can expect the same great award-winning experience as the TiVo Roamio family of DVRs, including universal search, free mobile applications, browse and compatibility with TiVo Stream and TiVo Mini devices to extend the TV experience throughout the home and beyond. TiVo Roamio OTA does not require a cable card, providing consumers with a top-notch entertainment experience at a minimal price.”

While the $49.99 purchase price of the TiVo Roamio OTA may seem attractive, it requires a one year service contract (providing program guide data, among other things) priced at $14.99 per month. This makes the total purchase price, including the service contract, $229.87 for the first year. This compares well with Simple.TV's $249.99 one-year subscription, but Simple.TV offers a lifetime subscription for only $100 more. Tablo has the lowest cost plan: $4.99/month, $49.99/year, and $149.99/lifetime. A 4-tuner Tablo DVR costs $299.99, so the TiVo is less expensive in the first year. A 2-tuner Tablo DVR is $219.99. These service plans are required for any practical use of the device since many broadcasters do not transmit more than 24 hours of program guide and have to be considered when purchasing a DVR.

For additional information, see my previous article, Build Your Own Personal Aereo for other alternatives.

Doug Lung

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.