Set Top Boxes

One of the great innovations of the cable television era is the Electronic Program Guide (EPG).  This grid shows the viewer what is on all channels now and for hours and days in the future.  Television broadcasters are required to include this information in the program stream, but exactly what happens to this data is up to the television manufacturer.  Most will show you programming information for the channel you are watching, so seeing what is on requires the viewer to tune each channel and wait for the data to load.

The other great cable innovation is the Digital Video Recorder (DVR).  DVRs let the viewer record programs for later viewing (time shifting), pause programs to answer the phone, rewind programs, fast forward through commercials, and use slow motion to see what really happened.

OTA set top boxes bring these features to broadcast television.  There are a lot of options, but the TiVo Roamio OTA VOX stands alone at the top of the heap.  Selling for $400 with four tuners and a 1t disk, the TiVo has the best EPG, UI, and intelligent recording capability.  Besides accessing and recording OTA content, the TiVo DVR can access streaming content from Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, YouTube, Spotify, and others.  You can stream from the TiVo to other devices using ios and android apps.  You can download programs from the OTA DVR with these apps.  The four tuner model with a 1t disk is $399.99 with All In service plan.

The TiVo OTA works with the Mini and Stream, but the 1t (150 hours of HD).

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