Wednesday, September 30, 2015, 8:29 AM ET|Posted by Will Richmond
TiVo has introduced its latest product, the BOLT, with key features including faster ad-skipping, 4K support, an accelerated viewing mode and a new form factor which includes a unique curved design. TiVo is retailing the 500GB version for $300 and a 1 TB version for $400, both of which include a year of service (equal to $180).
The most intriguing feature of the BOLT is the new “SkipMode,” which allows one-button fast-forwarding through a recorded program’s entire ad pod. This means that rather than manually fast-forwarding through the ads and overshooting or undershooting to get to the point where the program resumes, the viewer can simply use SkipMode to seamlessly continue viewing (note SkipMode won’t be available for all programs).
For viewers who are ad-avoiders, SkipMode will be a welcome new feature, moving the TiVo experience closer to an ad-free SVOD experience. Conversely, TV networks and advertisers, already grappling with the rise of SVOD services, ad-blockers and other techniques viewers use to avoid ads, SkipMode is yet another challenge.
TiVo is also introducing “QuickMode” with BOLT, which speeds up playback of recorded programs by 30%, while retaining the original audio. QuickMode is meant for viewers to get through slower-moving fare like news, sports and award shows.
BOLT also supports 4K, just as Amazon announced for its new Fire TV 2 weeks ago. BOLT and Fire TV make the new Apple TV’s lack of 4K support more noteworthy.
The BOLT UI has also been refreshed from the prior Roamio product line, and continues to include universal search across all sources (including OTT apps) and Collections (groups of genre-based programs).
Visually, the most striking thing about the BOLT is the unusual design. Rather than the usual black rectangular box, BOLT is white and features a curve. It’s a very sleek look and also allows for improved heat management, though the downside is inability to stack anything on the unit.
TiVo is also rolling out new software updates this Fall, including a personalized “What to Watch” screen that allows more granular choices, enhanced social sharing that lets friends know exactly where to watch a show the user has shared, and the ability to create OnePass choices online even faster.
Taken together, BOLT looks like a compelling new product from TiVo, building on multiple innovations over the last several years. TiVo is sending a review unit and I’ll have more to share after I’ve given it a spin.
BOLT is available today on TiVo.com, BestBuy.com and Amazon.com.