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Thursday April 14, 2016 7:31 am

TiVo Bolt review

TiVo Bolt review

After using the TiVo Bolt Unified Entertainment System extensively over the past few months, and waiting for a couple of software updates to drop that ended up improving the product (making it even better than it was at launch,) I'm ready to hit you with my full thoughts in my full TiVo Bolt review. In the day and age of cord-cutting, of ubiquitous cable company-offerred DVRs, and of the influx of 4K content, does TiVo still have a place? Is the TiVo Bolt worth your time and attention? Continue reading for my thoughts!


The TiVo Bolt is available now. You'll want to catch the video above if you haven't yet - I give you all the details and an overview of all the TiVo Bolt features. Once you understand what it can do, read on to see how well it does those things.

The first thing you notice about using the Bolt is that it is straight up fast. It's immediately apparent if you've used any previous TiVo model. TiVo Bolt smokes them all. I love how fast remote control input works, and you can just fly around the menu system and UI. Another thing that just makes it feel faster is the whole unified search interface. If I search for a show, like Veep, TiVo Bolt will show me any sources that I can use to watch it--if it is in my DVR library, or Netflix, or HBO Go, or even for rent on Amazon Video or VUDU. One search, rather than having to jump into multiple apps. When you search on the TiVo Bolt, you get results from the TV guide, your own recordings, and all of the various video streaming services you have enabled (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, YouTube, and the like.)


QuickMode and SkipMode were the flagship features of the Bolt at launch, although SkipMode has since made its way to TiVo Romeo devices as well. SkipMode allows you to skip commercials with the press of a button when watching recorded shows. It's fantastic, and it's missed when it isn't enabled for a particular program. TiVo enables SkipMode on completed recordings during prime time, on the top 20 TV networks. QuickMode allows you to watch a recorded show 1.3x faster without distorting any voices. It's likely not something you would use with every show, but it works great for talk shows, news, presidential debates, and the like.

Together, QuickMode and SkipMode change the way you watch television for the better, allowing you to enjoy your favorite shows while giving you time back in your day. Thirty-minute shows will be reduced to roughly 20 minutes and hour-long epics can be compressed into roughly 42-minute viewing sessions. You can watch three episodes of a show in the time it used to take you to watch two. If you're a binge-watcher, then you know just how important that is.

What about 4K video, though? The TiVo Bolt is the only TiVo DVR that can display 4K content. You can stream 4K content from the growing Netflix UHD library, as well as 4K content from YouTube (be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel, which publishes in 4K!) TiVo says the Bolt is also ready for braodcast 4K, and they've promised that Amazon Video 4K support is coming as well, but to date, there's been no progress on that front.

I have owned a TiVo for about 12 years now, and it's how I watch TV. With the Bolt, the company shows that it understands the necessary marriage of linear cable and streaming video services, and put both in one box in a simple-to-use manner. No other company has done what TiVo has done here.

Obviousy, a lot of the programming you'd find on cable television is already available in streaming form on a bunch of other set top boxes. Heck, at some point in the future, it's likely that all of it will be--but that time isn't now. So, unless you've shunned cable services, you’re going to want some mix of cable and streaming services. The Bolt is the product to bring it all together, in the highest resolution, with the fastest interface, on the best screen in your home.

If you are a cable subscriber who also uses services like Netflix, Hulu, or even YouTube, you owe it to yourself to consider the TiVo Bolt.

You can pick up the TiVo Bolt now.

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