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At $37.98*, the TiVo Stream 4K is one of the cheaper streaming devices on the market, and it features a cross-platform aggregation function that can save you some jumping between apps.
Unfortunately, that function is limited to a handful of apps, only one of which offers live TV streaming. Otherwise, TiVo Stream 4K isn’t much different or better than what you can get with a Roku, Amazon Fire TV, or Chromecast device.
When you buy a TiVo Stream 4K, you can get $10 off your first month of Sling TV service. That means you can get the Orange or Blue plan for $25 (regularly $35) or the Orange + Blue plan for $40 (regularly $50). This offer applies to new Sling TV customers only.
The Android TV-based TiVo Stream 4K is similar to other plug-and-play streaming devices—most notably Chromecast with Google TV—with a couple of unique touches: a smaller version of the beloved TiVo peanut-shaped remote and the TiVo Stream cross-platform aggregator app.
“Cross-platform aggregator app” is an ornate way of saying that Stream will pull your favorite shows from different apps (like Netflix, Prime Video, and HBO Max) and display them on one screen. Cool idea, but Stream pulls content from only a dozen-ish apps, and the only live TV streaming option among them is Sling TV. It’s not bad, but certainly not great.
If you sidestep Stream, TiVo Stream 4K functions as an agnostic Android TV platform—basically, you can choose between two different home screens. If your favorite apps play well with Stream, you’ll probably love it there. If not, you might as well buy a Chromecast with Google TV for a little more (and different color options).
In addition to standard features, the TiVo Stream 4K also has a USB-C port that can be used to plug in an external drive or direct Ethernet internet connection. That’s a nice feature you don’t get with most mini devices.
But, since the TiVo Stream 4K is bulkier than other streaming sticks, neatness buffs (you know who you are) may want to stick the device to the TV back with double-sided tape. Or just let your dongle hang free—you do you.
|$37.98*||1080p, 4K, Dolby Vision||DTS, Dolby Digital+, Dolby Audio, Dolby Atmos||View on Amazon|
|$49.99||1080p, 4K, Dolby Vision||DTS, Dolby Digital+, Dolby Audio, Dolby Atmos||View on Google Store|
|$39.99*||1080p, 4K||DTS||View on Amazon|
|$39.99*||1080p, 4K||DTS, Dolby Atmos||View on Amazon|
Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
As we’ve mentioned, and will continue to mention, TiVo Stream 4K has much in common with Chromecast with Google TV—right down to the specs. But if you’re interested in price alone, Roku Streaming Stick 4K and Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K are currently $10 cheaper than Chromecast.
TiVo Stream 4K is a plug-and-go setup—two plugs, actually. Besides hooking the HDMI cable to one of your TV’s ports, you’ll also need to power the device via the included mini USB cable and AC adapter. You can’t power the TiVo Stream 4K through a spare TV USB port, unfortunately.
Firing up TiVo Stream 4K takes about 15 minutes, factoring in firmware and system updates, creating a TiVo account, choosing your apps, and selecting a few favorite shows to give the system an idea of what to recommend to you. Get comfortable; there are loading bars ahead.
You can navigate the onscreen setup either with the remote or your phone; it takes about the same amount of time either way. If you’re not into mashing buttons, the remote also has Google Assistant voice functionality.
Once everything’s ready to go, you can choose between the Android TV interface (circle button on the remote), or TiVo Stream (TiVo logo button). We’ll get to each one’s functionality (and lack thereof) in a moment.
Equipment you’ll need:
Since the TiVo Stream 4K is Android TV-based, you’ll be able to install any apps from Google Play. You can run any of Google Play’s thousands of apps on the Android TV side, but the TiVo Stream side is decidedly limited—especially when it comes to live TV streaming.
TiVo Stream 4K TV and movie apps (partial list):
TiVo Stream 4K entertainment apps (partial list):
Aggregated Stream–compatible apps:
While the Google Play–ground (pun alert) of apps is vast, the number of those apps that will work within the aggregated realm of Stream is limited to a handful of on-demand services and one live TV streaming app (two if you count Pluto TV, which TiVo does).
Which means, if some of your favorite shows are on SHOWTIME or Peacock, Stream won’t be able pull them into your personalized screen. You’re limited to the 11 Stream-compatible apps.
It’s a nice start, but it feels like the TiVo Stream aggregation function isn’t quite ready for primetime.
Are you thoroughly confused by the Android TV vs. TiVo Stream divisions of this device yet? We feel you. The split personalities of the TiVo Stream 4K may become a selling point when or if it’s ever perfected, but right now it requires too much thinking. We don’t want to think; we just want to watch our shows.
That said, the Android TV side of TiVo Stream 4K is a pleasantly simple stacks-of-apps experience that’s not unlike Amazon Fire TV or (here it is again) Chromecast with Google TV. It’s easy to navigate, and, to quote Radiohead, it has “Everything in Its Right Place.”
Over on the TiVo Stream side, the favorites selections are arranged well and display all viewing options for shows and movies. The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, for instance, is available to stream through Netflix, Prime Video, or Vudu. If you’ve ever needed to use an online streaming guide like Reelgood, you’ll appreciate the app options.
TiVo Stream’s live TV guide is another matter. The lone live TV streaming option, Sling TV, also integrates “live” content-looping channels from Pluto TV. This could be considered convenient, but it really just looks like a mess (practically and aesthetically).
If your TV has an HDMI input, you’re good to go with the TiVo Stream 4K. Just make sure you have an AC outlet nearby to power it and at least 25 Mbps of internet speed to get it online.
We’re not blown away by the current Stream personalization options of TiVo Stream 4K. With only 10 on-demand apps and one true live TV streamer, that half of TiVo Stream 4K’s ecosystem is lacking. But, if those apps cover all of your viewing needs, it’s streaming convenience for the win.
However, as a straight-up Android TV streaming device, TiVo Stream 4K is a slick little clicker—but then again, so is Chromecast with Google TV for about $10 more. Unless you’re an old-school TiVo fan who’s nostalgic for that signature peanut-shaped remote (it is pretty cute), we’d say you’d be better off with Chromecast with Google TV for simplicity and performance.
TiVo Stream 4K is not compatible with other TiVo products, like the Edge and Mini Lux DVRs.
TiVo Stream 4K runs on Android TV, so you can cast some apps and content from your phone to the device as you would with a Chromecast.
TiVo Stream 4K requires power directly from a two-prong outlet via a provided USB cable and AC adapter. The device can’t be powered through a TV USB port.
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