TiVo Roamio OTA Targets Cord Cutters

For a long time, TiVo was more or less synonymous with DVR, and the company is hardly one to let other companies step in and take the limelight. The TiVo Roamio OTA offers both DVR and online streaming services to people who have no interest in a cable box and prefer to watch via HD antenna. (OTA stands for over the air, aka, antenna broadcast.)

TiVo announced the product via press release today (Aug. 25), explaining that the Roamio OTA would be available for $50 at Best Buy on Sept. 14 and have a limited run. Users need to dish out $15 per month for TiVo's DVR services as well with a one-year commitment, giving the Roamio OTA an effective price tag of $230 (assuming you already have an HD antenna, sold separately).

MORE: Get an HDTV Antenna for Free TV

The Roamio OTA functions very much like TiVo's full-featured Roamio DVRs, save for the fact that it does not work with cable services. To start, users plug an HD antenna into the Roamio OTA, and the Roamio OTA into a TV. From there, they can watch live TV, record programs, browse a program guide or use streaming services like Netflix, Hulu Plus and Pandora.

With four tuners, the Roamio OTA can record up to four programs simultaneously, and has 500 GB storage space to contain up to 75 hours of footage. TiVo also sells the TiVo Stream, which allows users to stream live TV to their computers or iOS devices.

If you want the device, you should snatch one up as soon as possible, as TiVo does not plan to produce that many of them — TiVo boxes are cable accessories first and foremost, so an HD antenna DVR is a bit of a deviation. However, if the device proves to be a big seller, expect to see a second run.

If you aren't one of the lucky few to snag a Roamio OTA, there's always TiVo's standard Roamio, which also boasts four tuners as well as the ability to receive cable TV. But it costs $200, plus $15 per month subscription.

Marshall Honorof is a Staff Writer for Tom's Guide. Contact him at mhonorof@tomsguide.com. Follow him @marshallhonorof and on Google+. Follow us @tomsguide, on Facebook and on Google+.

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  • ubercake
    The low buy-in price is what will hook people, but the $15/month will get old quickly. $15/month for DVR and guide services is insane. Tivo isn't the only game in town any longer, but they are still charging people like they are.
  • MumblinBerk
    So basically, this is a VCR, but with a hard drive instead of tape. Hooked to our own source. And, we're supposed to pay a monthly fee for that... why? Am I missing something here?
  • TiVoCableCutter
    Yes, there is a monthly fee, just like there is with most cable DVR subscriptions. At $50 the OTA Roamio is sold at a loss and the monthly fee is where they make their money. It does include the automated programming guide, which is quite good, but not worth $15 per month by its self either. It does however give you the ability to set up season passes to automatically record your favorite programs without any additional set up on your part. You also have the option to pay a one time fee of $499 and be done with it. Yes, that is a hefty price but my original TiVo is 6 years old and going strong, so the one time $499 fee becomes pretty cheap over time. I find having a TiVo with a decent OTA antenna has kept my family happy with OTA programming and some supplementation with Netflix for six years now. It has saved us over $6,000.00 in cable subscriptions over that time period. Certainly OTA TV won't satisfy everyone. Sports fans in particular will probably not find enough programming available on network TV to keep them happy. But for many it is a great way to still have some decent TV entertainment options without the ever increasing cable and satellite costs.