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Control Your TiVo Premier DVR from Your iPhone or iPad

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In this article, Jason R. Rich explains how to manage your TiVo DVR from your iPhone or iPad, and also stream recorded shows to your iOS mobile device that’s connected to the same wireless home network.
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Control Your TiVo Premier DVR from Your iPhone or iPad

When the original TiVo digital video recorder (DVR) was released back in 1999, it literally changed the way people watched television and recorded their favorite shows. Almost overnight, videotapes became obsolete for recording TV programming, and people could pause a program when watching live television, plus have full pause, rewind, or fast forward control when watching recorded shows.

In recent years, technology has progressed rapidly and so have the capabilities of the TiVo DVRs. The latest generation of TiVo Premiere DVRs can store anywhere from 75 to 300 hours of HD programming and can record between two and four shows airing on different channels simultaneously.

Use the TiVo App to Control and Manage Your TiVo Premier DVR

TiVo has developed innovative ways iPhone and iPad users can control their TiVo Premier DVRs from anywhere via the Internet using the free TiVo app (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/tivo/id401673976). However, when you use a TiVo Premier DVR, the TiVo app, and the new TiVo Stream device (sold separately) together, you can also wirelessly stream recorded shows from a TiVo DVR to an iPhone or iPad, and watch those shows whenever the iOS mobile device and the TiVo are connected to the same wireless home network via Wi-Fi.

Furthermore, if you plan to be on-the-go with your iOS mobile device, you can wirelessly transfer recorded shows in advance and store them in your iPhone or iPad to watch later from the TiVo app. (This feature is available for most network and cable TV programming, but not all.)

The Costs Associated with TiVo and iPhone/iPad Integration

To take full control over your TV watching experience and utilize your iPhone or iPad, you need to purchase a TiVo Premier DVR from a consumer electronics store or directly from the TiVo website (http://www.tivo.com/products/tivo-premiere/index.html). The price for the TiVo Premier DVRs range from $149.99 for the basic TiVo Premier (which can record two shows at once and store up to 75 hours of HD programming) to $399.99 for the TiVo Premier XL 4 (which can record four shows at once and store up to 300 hours of HD programming.)

Currently, the mid-priced TiVo Premier 4 is also available for $249.99. It can record up to four shows simultaneously and store 75 hours of HD programming. In addition to the TiVo DVR, it’s necessary to subscribe to the TiVo service for $14.99 per month.

When purchased, the TiVo DVR (shown in Figure 1) needs Internet access to fully function and utilize the free TiVo app on your iPhone or iPad. It’s also necessary to subscribe to a cable television service. The TiVo DVRs, however, are also compatible with your existing Netflix, HuluPlus, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube, and Pandora accounts.

Figure 1: The TiVo DVR connects to your cable box, television set, and the Internet but can be controlled wirelessly from your iPhone or iPad using the TiVo app.

After you set up a TiVo, you can program it to record individual shows or entire seasons of shows directly from your television set (using TiVo’s remote control), from the TiVo website, or using the TiVo app.

However, if you want to stream recorded television shows from your TiVo DVR to your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch and watch them on your mobile device’s screen, you need to also purchase the new TiVo Stream device ($129.99, http://www.tivo.com/products/tivo-stream/index.html) and connect it to your home network’s wireless router via an Ethernet cable. The TiVo DVR also needs to be connected to the same router via an Ethernet cable (not Wi-Fi).

Only when a TiVo Premier DVR, TiVo Stream device (shown in Figure 2) and the TiVo app are used together can shows be streamed or wirelessly transferred to an iOS mobile device. The benefit to this functionality is that you can record your favorite shows, transfer them to your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch and then watch them anytime and anywhere. The wireless transfer process can be done with a few screen taps and takes between 10 and 30 minutes, depending on the length of the program and the data transfer speed your home network supports.

Figure 2: The optional TiVo Stream device connects to your Internet router via an Ethernet cable. It enables wireless communication between your TiVo DVR and iOS mobile device.

TiVo Offers an Alternative to Purchasing Shows and Movies from the iTunes Store

There are no additional fees to watch a show recorded on TiVo that’s streamed or transferred to your iOS mobile device. Unlike when using the iTunes Store to purchase TV show content, you don’t have to wait 24 hours after an episode’s initial airing to purchase and watch it. By comparison, purchasing a single, commercial-free TV show episode or made for TV movie from the iTunes Store, for example, can cost between $1.99 and $4.99. When a show is recorded using TiVo, however, it does include ads, unless the show is recorded from a premium cable TV network, like HBO or Showtime.

You can keep the recorded shows and movies as long as you’d like, permitting storage space is available on the DVR device or within your iOS mobile device. Optional TiVo upgrade kits are available from weaKnees (http://www.weaknees.com/index.php) that can dramatically expand a TiVo DVR’s internal storage capacity.

What the TiVo App Can Do

When using the TiVo app to manage your TiVo DVR, you have access to the most functionality when the iOS mobile device can access your wireless home network directly via Wi-Fi. If the iPhone or iPad needs to connect via a cellular data connection (when you’re away from home), certain features for managing the TiVo DVR won’t function.

One great feature of the TiVo app (shown in Figure 3 on an iPad mini) is that it can link to multiple in-home TiVo DVRs, so you can manage recordings, for example, for the TiVo in your living room and/or bedroom and select which TiVo device to record shows on or stream shows from. The app also enables you to access 2 weeks’ worth of program listings to choose what to watch, and then set up recordings for individual shows (or movies) or entire seasons of shows.

Figure 3: The TiVo app for the iPhone or iPad gives you full control over your TiVo DVR from anywhere.

Based on your preferences, the app can also recommend upcoming shows and movies, provide detailed information about selected shows or movies, and enable you to search for additional recommendations based on cast members or programming with similar topics. Then, after shows are recorded and stored on your TiVo DVR (assuming you have the TiVo Stream device also connected), from your mobile device, you can see what’s been recorded, and then either control your TV from your iPhone or iPad (which can serve as a remote control), opt to stream a program to your device to watch immediately from a room in your home that doesn’t have a television set, or download the show to your device to store and watch later (while on-the-go).

It’s true: The technology involved in making the TiVo DVR, TiVo Stream, and TiVo app work together is extremely complex. However, setting everything up to work and then utilizing the app to control and manage your TiVo DVR is surprisingly easy. Actually, it’s much easier than setting that annoying blinking clock on your old VCR.

If you’ve never used a TiVo DVR while watching television, you’re in for an entirely new experience that can change how you enjoy watching your favorite shows and movies because you can pause, rewind, and fast forward. Within days after connecting a TiVo DVR to your television set or home theater system, you can definitely wonder how you’ve lived without it. Yet, when you add the functionality that’s possible by linking your iPhone or iPad to your TiVo DVR, what’s possible is truly cutting edge, and in a word, awesome!

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