I’ve had the newest $150 Slingbox M1 for nearly a month and am happy with it. The TiVo Roamio Plus has a few holes, namely that outside of the home, its WiFi experience is pretty spotty and at this point TiVo still doesn’t offer streaming over cell networks.
The TiVo does offer downloading via cell networks and you can technically begin downloading and start viewing programs before the download completes but I found that experience even more frustrating than its out-of-home WiFi streaming.
The M1 filled those holes nicely. I’ve run into instances where using the SlingBox’s iPhone app in “auto” quality mode didn’t work all that well, but in those instances forcing standard quality mode worked fine and provided very watchable video without frustration. I didn’t test an iPad outside of the home or on cellular, but on the smaller iPhone screen standard quality was still pretty good.
The M1 does something else my TiVo won’t do by itself — it allows me to get my TiVo on desktop and laptop computers. I didn’t think I’d care about this much since I had a “dedicated iPad” in my home office for watching recorded or live TV through TiVo’s app. But it turns out I haven’t used the iPad even once since getting the M1, preferring to watch on my iMac. Another unexpected bonus in that: the ease of making high quality video snippets like the one below via QuickTime player.
The good news is I’m very happy with the streaming solution and I’m also happy with the DVR solution. I can get everything practically anywhere, including all the regional sports channels (which I watch a lot) and the broadcast networks. The bad news is it costs nearly $1,300 when you add in the cost of TiVo’s lifetime program guide, the Slingbox and its mobile apps. And that doesn’t include the monthly cost of cable and broadband internet.
Over the long haul (a little over 2 years) that’s still cheaper than upgrading to something like Comcast’s Xfinity X1 solution, but it makes some of the deals by Dish Network that throw in a “free” Hopper (which is a good DVR with all the Slingbox functionality already built-in) look pretty good.