One thing that has kept me with DirecTV over the years is their NFL Sunday Ticket package. When my favorite team, the Dallas Cowboys, was having bad seasons, it was the only way to watch their games. However, I dumped the package this year in a gamble that I would get to see almost all of their games on network TV. The gamble paid off and I saw every game this year. Without Sunday Ticket, my reasoning for sticking with DirecTV essentially ended. Sure, I watched a lot more NFL games when I had the package, but in reality, I was just wasting time in front of the TV that I could have been spending doing other things.
Enter the Tivo Bolt
I tried the DirecTV app that costs $35 a month that is on the AppleTV (they had a 3 month deal where you got an AppleTV for free), but there is no way to DVR programs and the programs I watch are not available on demand. This makes the service fairly useless for my needs since I prefer being able to watch shows on my schedule rather than being required to be in front of the TV when my favorite shows are on. I know Playstation's service has some DVR capabilities, but when you add up the difference between my internet costs plus cable TV, the money saved by going with one of the internet TV services is close to a wash. Maybe when more high speed internet options get to this area, I can reevaluate, but for now, it seems like Comcast is the best option for me. The beauty of the Bolt is that if I go with one of the streaming services down the road or go with another internet service, I can still use the Bolt for local network programming since it has an over the air tuner. One thing I found out is that our network TV is not locally owned, which means that they may never be available on one of the cord cutter streaming services.
DirecTV Genie vs the Bolt
While my preferred method for listening to music is Apple Music and iTunes, I do like the ability to pull up Plex on the Tivo to access my music collection. In other words, the Tivo has a lot of features built in that could replace many of the media streaming devices out there. The Genie also had some media streaming services, but I always found it to be too slow or limited to bother with.
The other killer feature of the Bolt is the ability to easily skip commercials in some network TV programming by hitting one button rather than using the 30 second skip until you get back to your program, which often ends up with going to far and needing to rewind back to get back to when the show started. Hitting one button when the commercial starts that takes you to the next segment of the show is obviously a preferred method.
The Tivo service doesn't have a huge advantage over Directv's guide like it used to, but it is still ahead in a lot of ways. The "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" options give Tivo an idea of what you like to watch and it can suggest or even record shows automatically that it thinks you will like. I turned off the "auto-record" feature, but I still like to look at the suggestions to see if there is something they recommend that I haven't run across yet.
I also bought a Tivo Mini (limited to a max resolution of 1080p) for the bedroom. I activated it with Tivo online and it connected to my Bolt in the living room and gave me access to all of my recorded shows. I did have to activate Youtube, Vudu, etc. on the individual box, but it works like a champ. I may get another one for my office since they are a one time fee of ~ $150 and you don't have to pay Tivo or Comcast anything extra after that since they are simply an extension of your Bolt.
"IMPORTANT iOS information: Cellular restrictions require that streaming a show without downloading requires that your iOS device is connected to a high-speed wireless network. Existing recordings on your TiVo will start downloading to your device from the beginning of the recording. For in progress live TV, the TiVo will create a recording on the DVR and then begin downloading to the device from the beginning of that recording. Once the download has started you can start watching the show up to the point that has been downloaded to the device. In the case of a low quality cellular connection you may want to wait until a portion of the show has been downloaded before starting to watch that download to minimize interruptions (i.e., “catching up”). In the case of a high-quality cellular connection it is possible to download fast enough to watch the show immediately without interruption."
The DIrectTV Now app will stream over cellular without a problem. The other upside to DirectTV Now is that if you are on AT&T, they won't even charge you for cellular use. However, I don't use cellular for streaming enough to make it worthwhile to pay $35 a month for the privilege and their lack of DVR abilities means I can't use it in place of Comcast.
The 4k capabilities of the Bolt could also be a nice benefit. According to Tivo, it is available on Netflix (for an extra fee) and Youtube. Would be nice to seem them eventually add Amazon to this category since there is plenty of 4k programming with the standard Prime membership.
The Wrap up
The main downside to the Tivo is the upfront costs. I bought the Bolt for $228 before Christmas, but I don't know if you can get it for that price now (at the time of this article it costs $299, but I have linked to it so you can check the current price). I also bought an extra remote which was another $40. The cost of the Tivo service is $150 a year. The Tivo Minis are around $150 each. In other words, you need quite a bit of money up front to use Tivo rather than just using the box that your cable company provides. Of course, when you start adding up all of you cable company's fees and charges, you may cover the cost of the Tivo hardware quicker than you think (I will let you do the math on that). For me, it was worth the upfront cost to go with Tivo and have the ability to use the over the air tuner later if it eventually makes sense to go with one of the cord cutting services. Of course, I will have to stay with this system a couple years to come out even on the upfront costs, but those years unfortunately pass faster than you think. I was with Directv over 10 years, and at the end of that time, I had to send back all of the equipment I had been leasing for years.
Anyway, at the end of the day, it is saving me a lot of money every month and I get to use the great Tivo service in the process. It seems like a "win, win" situation if you ask me.