Tivo Roamio OTA Review – Best DVR For Small Households

By | March 19, 2017

If you found this article, you are likely wondering if the TiVo Roamio OTA is the right product for you and your family.

The TiVo brand is very well known for providing DVR functions for television. With the TiVo Roamio OTA boxes, you gain all the DVR features that you have come to expect and love, from your OTA signal.

In this article, we look at the various options for the TiVo Roamio OTA, and answer some questions that you may have.

Image of Tivo Roamio OTA DVR

Please feel free to read the whole article, or jump to the section you are interested in in the table of contents below:

What are the features of the TiVo Roamio OTA? How many tuners do you get?

The TiVo Roamio OTA is an awesome DVR box, very full featured. Considering the following points:

  • Gives DVR functions to your over-the-air signal, allowing you to pause, rewind and record free programming onto the included hard disk. Depending on the model purchased, there may or may not be a monthly TiVo service fee. See the section on Which Tivo Roamio OTA to buy, for details.
  • The TiVo Roamio OTA has four tuners, allowing you to record up to four programs at the same time and up to 150 hours of high definition programming (for the 1TB version, 75 hours for the 500GB version).
  • Skip Mode skips the entire commercial breaks of programs recorded at the press of a button.
  • Quick Mode allows you to watch programs with a 30% speed up, yet the audio is corrected so it sounds normal, and not like you are listening to the Chipmunks.
  • When you are searching for something to watch, the box not only searches the guide for television content, it will also automatically search through your Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and Vudu (and others) accounts for content available in those platforms. This feature is incredibly handy, and one of the most compelling reasons to consider the TiVo Roamio OTA.
  • Connects easily to the TV with an HDMI cable. Just connect your high definition antenna to the TiVo Roamio OTA using a coaxial cable, and the box will do the rest. Its guided setup will help you get your device up and running in no time.
  • The TiVo Roamio OTA connects to your home network using its built in wired 100 megabit Ethernet port, or to your wireless network using all the 802.11 protocols up to 802.11n. It does not support the newer 802.11ac however.
  • The remote control is easy to use, and program.
  • The recordings on your TiVo Roamio OTA can be accessed on other televisions in your house, and can be streamed to your devices (like your phone, laptop or tablet) when you are not at home. To access these streaming features however, requires the purchase of additional equipment. Please see the section on “Do I Need to Buy Anything Else to Get the TiVo Roamio OTA Working” for more details?

All in all, the designers of the TiVo Roamio OTA did a great job creating a DVR product to help you watch and record OTA television, while at the same time giving you the ability to access your internet based streaming content from Netflix, Hulu, etc, on the same box. This has been provided in a classy box with a glossy black plastic texture, that appeals to the eye.

Do I Need to Buy Anything Else to Get the TiVo Roamio OTA Working?

The TiVo Roamio OTA is a self-contained unit. However, you must use an OTA antenna to receive OTA signal. If you don’t have one you will have to purchase one. I highly recommend the excellent antenna from Mohu. Check out our recommended products page for more information.

There are two additional boxes however that will add extra useful features to your TiVo. First, if you have more than one TV, and you would like to be able to share the signal from your antenna, and view your recordings on the other televisions, you will need to purchase one TiVo mini box, for each additional television.  In order to use the TiVo mini box, both boxes will require access to your home network (that you use for internet) in order for them to be able to talk to one another.

Finally, if you would like to be able to view your recordings on your smartphone, tablet or personal computer, you can do so, but you will need to purchase a TiVo Stream device. This device communicates with the TiVo Roamio, and will make your recordings available remotely. You can even view your recordings if you are not home, which is very handy. What

What Apps are on the TiVo Roamio OTA?

The TiVo Roamio OTA not only provides a fantastic environment to watch live OTA television content, schedule recordings and pause live TV, but you also have access to the most popular internet based streaming content, on the same box. You will no longer have to change inputs on your television from your live TV box, to your internet streaming box (like a Roku or Amazon Fire TV). With this one box, you will be able to watch Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, YouTube and many more.

Additionally, when you are searching for what to watch the TiVo Roamio will provide suggestions based on your viewing from all the apps. And if you look up a show you would like to watch, you will be presented with a list of options where you can watch the show. For instance, you may enter “Pretty Little Liars”, and you will see your available recordings for the episode, and you may also see that you can watch it on your Netflix account. You can then select where you want to watch it right from the search. It will automatically load the correct app and start playing the content. This feature is called Unified Search.

When did the TiVo Roamio OTA Come Out?

The TiVo Roamio OTA with lifetime guide data option was released April 27, 2016.

How to set up your TiVo Roamio OTA

Setting up the TiVo Roamio OTA is not difficult:

  1. Connect the antenna
    Connect an HD TV antenna (sold separately) to the ANTENNA port at the back of the DVR using a coax cable.
  2. Connect to your TV.
    Connect an HDMI cable from the HDMI port of the TiVo box to the HDMI port on the back of your TV.
  3. Connect to the internet
    Wireless: Select wireless as your networking option during guided software set up and input your router’s wireless password.
    Ethernet: connect your Ethernet cable from the Roamio OTA’s ETHERNET port to an open port on your router or to an Ethernet jack in your wall.
  4. Plug in the power adapter
  5. The TiVo Roamio OTA’s front panel displays a green light at start up. Follow the on screen directions to scan for channels, and get going.

For more information on setting up your TiVo Roamio OTA DVR, check out this information here.

Some Pros and Cons


  • If you choose to get the 500GB version with no included guide data, the device has a low initial cost.
  • If you choose the 1TB option, you will pay more for the box, but the guide data subscription is included for life.
  • No cable-tv subscription required, which will save you lots of money.
  • You can record up to 4 shows at the same time, and also gain the ability to pause live TV, and skip commercials.
  • You can watch recordings, and live TV on other sets in your house, or on your phone/tablet/computer but you will need to purchase additional equipment.


  • For the 500GB version, you must pay a $15 monthly service fee to receive guide data.
  • If you want to watch content on other sets in your house, or on your phone/tablet/computer you must purchase a TiVo Mini and/or Tivo Stream device.

Which TiVo Roamio to buy

Our recommendation here is to purchase the 1TB TiVo Roamio Box: view on amazon.com. The box does have a high initial cost; however, you have no additional monthly expenses to worry about.

That said, if the initial cost of the 1TB Tivo Roamio OTA box is too high, you can get the 500GB version for $49; you will need to pay $15/month for the guide data feed. That works out to $180/year.

The 1TB version costs $346 at the time of writing. After 1 year and 8 months, the 500GB version will cost as much as the 1TB version of the TiVo Roamio OTA (considering the $15/month monthly payment). After that point, if you have the 1TB version, your cost becomes cheaper and cheaper.

The 500GB version of the TiVo Roamio OTA will allow you to record 75 hours of content, vs 150 hours for the 1TB version, so that is another major pro for considering the larger unit.

TiVo Roamio OTA vs TiVo BOLT

Both the TiVo Roamio OTA and TiVo BOLT can provide OTA recording. The TiVo BOLT has the advantage that it also supports the MoCa, so it will work as a cable box as well. This may be a consideration for some users, but if you are a cord cutter, our advice would be to stick to the TiVo Roamio OTA box, as it is less expensive. Most of the TiVo Bolt boxes require a guide subscription, which will make them very expensive over time. You can get them with ‘all-in’ service however.  The only time I would consider getting a TiVo Bolt over the Roamio OTA is if you seriously want the ability to stream to your phone/tablet/computer, as the BOLT has that functionality built in, whereas the Roamio OTA requires an additional box.

Consider the following points:

  • The Cost of TiVo Bolt with a Lifetime Guide subscription costs $549 vs TiVo Roamio OTA comes with a lifetime subscription and costs $346.
  • The Bolt has 4K video streaming, where the Roamio OTA only supports up to 1080p. For OTA, this is not an issue as the highest quality video broadcast is 1080i. However, for streaming from YouTube and Netflix, the Bolt will be able to give you higher quality, if you have a 4K television.
  • The Bolt has a slightly faster processor and a bit more RAM, which makes the box a little more responsive, although the TiVo Roamio OTA is not slow by any means.
  • The Bolt has MoCA built in, so it will work as a cable box. (useless for cord cutters)
  • The Bolt supports 802.11ac for WiFi whereas the Roamio OTA tops out at 802.11n.
  • The TiVo Stream functionality is built into the Bolt allowing you to stream to iOS and Android devices. The Roamio OTA requires a separate purchase of a TiVo Stream device for that capability.
  • The Bolt has gigabit ethernet, where the Roamio OTA only offers 100 megabit ethernet.

TiVo Roamio OTA vs Tablo DVR

Both of these devices offer the ability to record live OTA recordings, and view them on your television sets. They do function differently. For a detailed comparison between the two devices, please have a look at our comparison in our Tablo DVR review article. If you have only one or two television sets, it is more economical to get a TiVo Roamio OTA device. However if you have a larger household with multiple sets, we would highly recommend you consider purchasing a Tablo DVR instead.

Where to Buy to Get the Best Price?

I highly suggest you order your equipment from amazon.com. They almost always have the best-selling price, and they have excellent customer service. If you are not happy, you can easily return your items by requesting a return online. You then just have to repack the device, slap on the label amazon sends you, and drop off the box at the post office. Quite often I have received my refund before amazon even receives my returned item! As long as they see it has been picked up, they figure they will have it soon enough.

The 500GB version of the TiVo Roamio costs $49 (you will have to pay for monthly guide service). You can get more information, and purchase it here: link to 500GB version.

The 1TB version of the TiVo Roamio costs $346 (lifetime guide service is included). You can get more information, and purchase it here: link to 1TB version.


The TiVo Roamio OTA is an excellent device to give you the DVR abilities you want and may be missing if you cut your cable-TV subscription. The main advantage of the TiVo Roamio OTA is that it is self-contained, and for its main features, you do not need to purchase any additional devices or equipment. Whether you choose the 500GB option requiring a monthly fee, or the 1TB option with a lifetime guide service, our take is that you will not be unhappy with this box, and you will certainly not be unhappy with all the money you will save by buying one of these, and introducing it into your viewing room!

Plug! Please help me help you. The links to amazon.com in this article are affiliate links. This means I will receive a small commission on your purchase from amazon.com at no expense to you. This allows me to continue writing reviews and articles to help you, and still be able to support my family.

One thought on “Tivo Roamio OTA Review – Best DVR For Small Households

  1. Pingback: Tablo DVR Review - Best Over the Air DVR for 2017

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