TiVo has announced its latest DVR, the 4K BOLT+, which includes 6 tuners and 3 GB of storage, comparable to the existing Roamio Pro. The BOLT+ follows the introduction of the original 4K BOLT one year ago, which included 4 tuners and two sizes, 500 GB and 1 TB. Importantly the original BOLT only came in white, while the new BOLT+ comes in black, which will make it fit more elegantly into existing entertainment centers. The BOLT+ retains the BOLT’s sleek, unconventional curved design.
I’ve been using the BOLT for a while and continue to believe it’s the best all-in-one pay-TV and OTT video device available. When the BOLT was introduced, its most intriguing feature was “SkipMode,” which allows viewers to touch one button and skip a recorded TV show’s entire ad pod (meaning no more manually fast-forwarding through ads, trying to guess when to optimally hit the play button).
While SkipMode isn’t available for all networks, it is for many of the most-watched ones. Lately my wife and I have binge-watched season 4 of “The Americans” on FX which offers SkipMode. With a touch of the “D” button on the TiVo remote, the recording advances to the exact spot where the show resumes. While it’s not quite an ad-free SVOD experience, it dramatically streamlines viewing. No doubt advertisers must cringe about the SkipMode feature, but for impatient viewers it’s nirvana.
BOLT also incorporates the CableCARD I’ve had from Comcast for years. With TiVo’s longstanding universal search feature, it’s possible to find programs across multiple sources (e.g. linear, VOD, DVR, OTT, etc.) and quickly access them, including on OTT when already subscribed to the service. Separate, the universal search feature was just announced last week for Fire TV, but voice-based. The BOLT provides access to all the major SVOD services (Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, etc.), but also free OTT choices like YouTube and others, plus paid sources like VUDU.
One last really noticeable thing about the BOLT is that it is lightning fast and responsive, akin to the best web experience around. I’ve been a big fan of Comcast’s X1 which I have on a separate TV, and while the X1’s interface feels a bit more modern than the BOLT’s, the BOLT’s universal search and access to OTT sources still give it the edge.
The new BOLT+ is priced at $499.99 and is available on September 15th at TiVo.com, Amazon and Magnolia.