The Definitive Review of the TiVo Bolt Vox
TiVo Bolt Vox vs. The Competition
|DVR||Provider||Simultaneous Recordings||Storage||Hours of HD Storage||Cost per Month|
|TiVo Bolt Vox||All Major Cable Providers||Up to 6||Up to 3 TB||Up to 450||$14.99|
|Hopper 3||DISH||16||2 TB||500||$5.00|
|Contour Record 6||Cox||6||2 TB||250||$28.49|
|Genie||DIRECTV||5||1 TB||200||Included in package price|
|DVR||TiVo Bolt Vox|
|Provider||All Major Cable Providers|
|Simultaneous Recordings||Up to 6|
|Storage||Up to 3 TB|
|Hours of HD Storage||Up to 450|
|Cost per Month||$14.99|
|Hours of HD Storage||500|
|Cost per Month||$5.00|
|DVR||Contour Record 6|
|Hours of HD Storage||250|
|Cost per Month||$28.49|
|Hours of HD Storage||200|
|Cost per Month||Included in package price|
|Hours of HD Storage||100|
|Cost per Month||$19.95|
Data effective as of 09/14/2018. Pricing and features subject to change.
Remember when TiVo was all the rage? People aren’t asking for its autograph anymore, but it’s still around. And it’s still making awesome DVRs that work across multiple providers. The flagship TiVo is the TiVo Bolt Vox, which takes the winning Bolt formula and adds indispensable voice control. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s a lot to unpack with this fella, so get cozy and prepare to learn.
But if you’re set on getting the best DVR features without depending on clunky equipment from sneaky cable providers, the TiVo Bolt Vox is your guy. It provides everything you need and nothing you don’t, and it’s not picky when it comes to which TV provider it’s willing to work with. And in our professional opinion, less drama from your TV equipment is always something to say yes to.
If you want a powerful, functional DVR that you can use with multiple providers, the TiVo Bolt Vox is a fantastic pick. It’s also a great choice for anyone who’s unsatisfied with their provider’s DVR and wants something different without lots of strings attached. Just get ready to pay for it.
What is the TiVo Bolt Vox?
TiVo makes DVRs designed to work with nearly any digital cable provider. The idea is that you can buy your TiVo and then take it with you from provider to provider. This way you get to pick a provider that gives you the best deal on the channels you want, but you also get to maintain a consistent DVR experience along the way. It’s the best of both worlds—in theory, at least.
The TiVo Bolt Vox represents the best that TiVo has to offer. This tiny, funky-looking box packs a ton of tech and some truly cool features.
This is where the TiVo Bolt Vox stands out:
- Can be used with most cable providers
- Offers up to 3 TB of storage—more than any other popular DVR
- Has voice control built into the remote
- Includes cool features like QuickMode™, which lets you play recordings 30% faster while correcting the audio to sound normal
TiVo Bolt Vox Features and Specs
The obvious place to start with a piece of hardware like the TiVo is, well, the hardware. Let’s run down the specs and features and see what makes the TiVo tick.
TiVo Bolt Vox Equipment: The Hardware
There are actually three variations of the Bolt Vox: a 500 GB model, a 1 TB model, and a 3 TB model. The 3 TB model can record up to six programs at once, while the others are limited to four. Apart from the hard drive and the number of tuners, all three models are identical.
Here’s the hardware breakdown:
- 500 GB, 1 TB, or 3 TB storage options
- 75, 150, or 450 hours of HD content storage
- 4 or 6 simultaneous recordings
- Simultaneous playback on up to 10 TVs (with TiVo Mini Vox clients attached)
- Supports 4K Ultra HD
- Optical audio out
- Stereo audio out
- 1 x HDMI port
- 1 x Ethernet port
- 2 x USB ports
As you can see, the only way to get a picture out of the Bolt Vox is via HDMI—there are no other video output options. As long as your TV is relatively recent, this shouldn’t be a problem, but if you have an older model TV, check to make sure it has an HDMI port before committing to TiVo. If not, you’ll need to grab the proper converter for your TV.
TiVo Bolt Vox Remote
- Dedicated voice control button for controlling your TiVo
- Netflix quick-access button
- IR blaster/RF technology built in, so you don’t need line-of-sight to control your TiVo
The dedicated voice button is really the star of the show here, offering several useful features that include voice search by genre, title, and even movie quotes. It can also change channels, open apps, and more. It’s a handy feature when done well, and TiVo nailed it here.
TiVo Bolt Vox User Experience
Alright, so now that we’ve got all the technical stuff out of the way, what’s it like actually using a TiVo Bolt Vox for your TV binges? Let’s find out.
The Bolt Vox comes in three different sizes. You can choose from 500 GB, 1 TB, and 3 TB. These offer up 75, 150, and 450 hours of HD storage, according to TiVo. Compared to the competition, that’s decent at best—with one big exception. That 3 TB model can pack more HD content than any other DVR besides the Hopper 3, which makes it awesome for digital packrats and big-time bingers.
In fact, we’d recommend skipping the middle tier altogether—if you’re going to buy the 1 TB model, just shell out the extra $100.00 up front to triple your storage. You’ll appreciate it down the line.
TiVo does allow you to watch on-demand content from your cable provider—as long as that provider happens to be Xfinity. Xfinity is currently the only cable company offering its on-demand library to TiVo users. However, the Bolt Vox comes with a slew of streaming apps (Netflix, Hulu, etc.) built-in, so you can get your on-demand fix that way if you like.
TiVo offers a mobile app for both Android and iOS mobile devices that let you use your smartphone or tablet to control your DVR and stream recordings. You can also use the app to search for programs and schedule recordings.
It’s handy in a pinch, especially if you’re out and about and realize you forgot to schedule a recording of your favorite show (we’ve all been there). There are some user reports of frequent app crashes—especially on the Android version—so be aware of that.
- SkipMode: Skip entire commercial breaks just by saying “skip it” to your Vox Remote. It doesn’t work with every channel, but it has twenty of the major ones covered, including ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox.
- QuickMode™: QuickMode™ speeds up a recording by 30%, so you can get through that backlog of episodes in no time. Don’t worry about missing the audio—the feature corrects audio to the proper pitch, so everything sounds normal.
- Remote Finder: Push a button on the back of the Bolt Vox, and the remote will beep so you can find exactly which couch cushion you left it under. Thanks, Bluetooth.
- Built-In Streaming Apps: The TiVo Bolt Vox comes with several streaming apps built right in, so you can mix your online and cable shows seamlessly. These include Netflix, Hulu, HBO GO®, YouTube, and Amazon Prime Video.
- Alexa Integration: The Bolt Vox also works with Amazon Alexa, so you can use Alexa’s voice controls if you prefer. If you opt for this option, you might not even need the remote!
How to Set Up a TiVo
- Get a cable card from your provider. If you’ve ever wondered “How does TiVo work?”, the cable card is your answer. This card allows the TiVo to understand the cable provider’s signal.
- Insert the cable card in the TiVo. You may need to contact your provider to get the cable card paired with the TiVo. The company can provide those details when you call to request the card. They may also need the serial number of your TiVo box.
- (Optional) Connect the power adapter and Ethernet cable. You can use TiVo with either Wi-Fi or a direct Ethernet connection, so connect the Ethernet cable only if you’re not using Wi-Fi.
- Use the TiVo remote to start the setup process. You’ll be guided through the process every step of the way, thanks to TiVo’s on-screen guide.
TiVo also provides a comprehensive setup guide, if you need more help.
Dave is a freelance writer with a passion for tech and how it improves our lives. His work has been published on a variety of sites around the web.