Looking for an easy-to-follow TiVo Stream 4K review to figure out if it’s worth buying, either as a gift or for your own family? Curious about how compares to the Roku or Amazon Firestick? Read on for my review to find out how it works for the average family.
TiVo Stream 4K Streaming Stick Review
If you’re looking for a TiVo Stream 4K review that covers all of the technical aspects of the relatively new entry into the streaming stick world, this one isn’t for you. There are dozens of “tech and specs” reviews out there already, and I can’t even come close to competing with their knowledge when it comes to bits and bytes. I also can’t tell you how well it works with $5,000 “floor-to-ceiling” TV or a high-end sound system. We have a 42-inch “dumb” TV (hence the need for streaming sticks) and we use the speakers attached to it.
However, if you just want to know the pros and cons for the average family, stick around!
FYI: This post does use affiliate links, though, so if you buy through them, I make a tiny commission at no extra charge to you. However, I bought the TiVo Stream 4K with my own money for my mom for her birthday, so this review isn’t sponsored in any way.
What is the TiVo Stream 4K
- No More App-Switching. Forget learning to navigate a new screen with every app. TiVo Stream 4K enables one centralized place for searching, browsing, and creating watch lists across all your apps.
- Recommendations Across All of Your Apps: Get rid of the walls between what you watch. TiVo recommends your next favorite shows and movies based on what you love, not where they live.
- Say it and watch it. The power of voice control makes it easy to find shows. Integrated Google Assistant allows you to launch apps, dim the lights and more.
- One place for all your favorite streaming apps. TiVo Stream 4K includes Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, Peacock plus many more, so you can get to your shows fast.
- TiVo Stream 4K is one of Time Magazine’s “2020 Best Inventions, Special Mention” and PCMag hails it as “an excellent media streamer for TV lovers.”
How Much Does it Cost Compared to Other TiVo Products?
Unlike their very pricey DVRs, this little gadget costs just under $50. That’s around 12.5% of the price of their TiVo Edge for Cable and about 11% of the total cost of their TiVo Edge for Antenna. I actually considered that last one until I saw the price tag. I simply cannot afford a $400+ device, especially when I could get an entire new PC for less than that. 🙁
How about cost compared to other streaming sticks?
Take a look at the table below to see for yourself how it compares price-wise to other popular options.
For some inexplicable reason, the Apple TV isn’t showing up on the table. That one is the priciest of the bunch at just around $200, give or take a few bucks depending on the model.
Best Features & Pros of the TiVo Stream 4K Stick
. We had a TiVo DVR through our cable company for years. It was an older- and super glitchy- model, but still, my mom knew how to use it and get where she wanted to go without clicking a thousand buttons. The TiVo Stream 4K offers a very similar platform, which was the main reason I bought it. Let’s start there, then I’ll talk about the other features that I like.
TiVo Home screen with everything in one place
Like I said, this was the biggest selling point for me. My mom isn’t tech-challenged or anything. She designs websites for authors, formats Kindle books, and acts as my “tech support” for all things related to WordPress, Divi (my blog’s theme), plugins, and servers.
That said, she’s not a huge fan of change when it comes to her TV time. It’s her main source of entertainment, and she just wants to sit down, turn it on, and load up whatever she’s in the mood to watch. She doesn’t want to search around for the right app, wait for it to load, search for a show only to find that it’s not on that service, open up another, etc and so on.
The TiVo Stream has a “home screen” that aggregates info from the most popular streaming services and puts the top recommendations all on one page. When she searches for a show, it searches within those apps, then tells her which ones have it. She picks one, and it opens right up into the show. Easy-peasy (most of the time, at least, see cons).
That same screen also has integrated Sling features, so let’s talk about those next.
Sling TV integration
If you read my post about cutting the cord, you may recall my spreadsheet in which I compared all of the cable alternatives. Sling Blue emerged the winner because they were the cheapest platform that offered MSNBC, a DVR, and all of the Hallmark channels (although I do pay extra for those last two, but still a lot cheaper than cable).
The TiVo Stream 4K main “home” screen is integrated with your Sling subscription. You can bring up the Sling guide, go to your DVR (most of the time), and even set up recordings all within the little sidebar on your home screen. The integration also lets you “flip” through channels using your remote, much like you would with a regular cable subscription.
While this is definitely a fantastic feature, it does need a bit of work to make it truly “seamless.” We’ll talk about that in the cons, though. Let’s stick with the pros for now.
Android TV home screen for those who prefer to use individual apps
For those of us who prefer the app-centric experience, TiVo Stream 4K has an Android TV home screen that features all of your installed streaming apps in one spot. Why would you need that if you can just search on TiVo’s main home screen and find shows on every platform at once?
Well, for one thing, I usually make my “watch lists” on my PC, so I can browse through libraries faster and actually see the majority of shows offered, rather than a small selection of repeating titles based on what the apps “think’ I’ll like. If I know that I want to watch a Netflix Christmas special, I don’t really need to search through TiVo. I just need to load up Netflix and head to my list.
Plus, as we’ll see in the “cons,” the TiVo search doesn’t do a good job with searching through Amazon’s library, so I need easy access to the app to get to my channels. It’s just nice to have more options.
You can reach the Android TV screen quickly by pressing a button on the remote. For those of us who skip reading manuals and just wing it, it’s the circle button. Yeah, not the most intuitive icon, but I can’t blame TiVo for something that I would have known if I at least glanced at the manual.
Voice-activated remote with Google assistant
We had a voice-activated remote for our old TiVo, and my mom never once used that feature, mostly because it didn’t really work well. So, I didn’t really think she’d use the voice-activated Google assistant feature much. However, given the issues with Sling (below), it’s become absolutely vital. Without it, I think she probably would have gone back to the Roku.
Unlike the iffy remote with the TiVo Roamio, this one actually works perfectly. While Google’s assistant isn’t nearly as smart as Alexa (Alexa understands that “load Netflix” and “open Netflix” mean the same thing), as long as you know its lingo, it works 100% of the time.
Preloaded with the most popular streaming apps (works with HBO Max & Peacock)
Right out of the box, the TiVo Stream 4K has all of the main streaming platforms installed and ready to go (you just have to log in). This includes:
- Prime & Prime Video
- Google Play
- HBO Max
- CBS All Access
- Pluto TV
- Tubi TV
I grabbed that list from TiVo’s website because I couldn’t remember all of them.
You’ll notice that HBO Max is on that list above. That was a HUGE selling point for us. Up until now, my mom couldn’t use our subscription at all because we only had Roku and Fire sticks. I actually considered an updated Fire Stick (I couldn’t get sideloading to work on my old one) at first, but why bother if TiVo works with it right out of the box? I don’t have to jump through hoops to watch platforms that I pay for on a stick that is designed to let me watch platforms that I pay for!
While Peacock isn’t integrated in the same way, you can easily add it through the Android TV app screen. Same goes for pretty much any streaming service. If you can get it through Google Play, you can put it on your TiVo Stream 4k. This video below does a good job of explaining how.
Other features that I don’t use:
- Chromecast: I haven’t used this feature at all yet, but for those who do need it, the TiVo Stream 4K offers built-in Chromecast.
- 4K capabilities- obviously, since it’s in the name! We don’t have a fancy TV, just a regular old flat screen.
- Dolby Atmos & Dolby Vision (my mom just uses whatever speakers came in our TV).
As great as I think the TiVo Stream 4K is, it does have its drawbacks.
Sling integration needs work
As of the last week or so, we cannot just go to My TV and load up something that my mom recorded. No matter what she presses, she can never get to the DVR through the remote. Not even by going to “My TV” on the side menu. Every single time, it just opens the last channel that she watched and “locks” her out of getting to other areas of the platform. She can go through the guide, and that’s about it. I don’t know if this is a glitch related to a recent update. I do know that it led to a fairly significant amount of cursing coming from the living room until we figured out a workaround.
The ONLY way we can actually get Sling to load correctly is to say “open Sling” using the Google assistant voice feature. For some reason, that opens the app the right way, without essentially locking you out of half of the controls and features. Since the TiVo Stream is relatively new, I expect that their Sling integration will improve with subsequent updates. At least I hope it does!
Amazon Prime Video search results need work, too
As mentioned in the pros, the aggregated search result feature is pretty awesome. However, it’s not without its limitations, especially when it comes to Amazon Prime. It doesn’t search within your Prime Video Channels. So, if you have Showtime, Starz, an CBS All Access through Amazon like I do, you won’t see results for those channels when you search. So, if my mom wants to know what’s available on those services, she has to go to the Prime Video app directly and search through there.
Pricier than other options (and that price is going up soon)
As of right now, the TiVo Stream 4K retails for $49.99, which is $10 more than a comparable Roku and $20 more than a comparable Fire Stick. However, I read on multiple sources that the $49.99 is an introductory price, and that it’s actually going up to $69.99 at some point. I imagine they’ll keep the lower price through the holiday season (that would be the logical move, anyway).
I do think that it’s worth the $49.99 price tag, given the added features and the fact that it works with ALL streaming services, no games, no hoops, no sideloading necessary. However, if it had cost $70 when I bought it, I would have passed on it. I just don’t feel like the extra features are worth an extra $30-50 more than what the competition charges.
I think that about covers it! I really do love the TiVo Stream 4k so far, even with its flaws. As new as it is, I expect some kinks at first. The overall features and pros outweigh the cons for us.
Last update on 2021-03-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API