TiVo officially unveiled the latest edition of its Bolt set-top box, just in time for this week’s CEDIA Expo 2016 in Dallas.

Called the Bolt+ (available starting Sept. 15, 2016 at a $499 suggested retail), the latest set-top DVR with up to 4K over-the-top streaming functionality is very similar in appearance and speed to the original Bolt, but beefs up the number of cable tuners from four to six, changes the color from white to black and adds a 3 TB hard drive, up from 1 TB in the original model.

Of course, the cable-only DVR Bolt+ continues to include a CableCARD slot for security and authorized access to programming.

Read more on TiVo’s Bolt+ cable-only 4K DVR after the jump:

Jim Denney, TiVo product management and strategy VP, said the Bolt+ will be distributed through retail channels, adding that an equivalent wholesale version, possibly with different hard drive capability, will also be made available through cable MSO partners.

The Bolt+ is a 4K IP-product, so it will stream live and on-demand 4K content, but “there is no real 4K to record in the U.S.,” Denny said, in explaining why the DVR-section will not record 4K cable content.

As for high dynamic range, Denney said “the platform is the same as Bolt. It is capable of doing the SMPTE standard (ST.2084/2086) of HDR. But how HDR comes out is still being evaluated. There is a SMPTE standard for HDR, which the platform is capable of and there will be a software update a little later that will turn that on.”

He explained the Bolt boxes have the hardware to support HDMI 2.0a outputs needed to send HDR 10 metadata to HDR-capable displays, and firmware to enable 2.0a functionality will be sent along with the software updates for HDR format support.

Sorry, no over-the-air broadcast tuners will be included in the box. Denney explained that the Bolt+ has the same limitation as the company’s Roamio boxes before it — it requires “symmetric tuners and that takes space.”

Other key features in the Bolt+ include: TiVo’s SkipMode that allows skipping over whole commercial breaks in recorded shows with one button press; QuickMode functionality that enables watching recorded shows 30 percent faster. The TiVo Bolt+ unifies all TV channels and streaming content into one simplified and searchable system.

The Bolt+ also includes TiVo’s OnePass that consolidates all episodes of favorite shows available via internet video services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Instant Video, creating a universal watch list across all providers.  Also offered is Remote Access: that allows watching live TV and recorded shows from a tablet or smartphone anywhere in the home, as well as downloading or streaming shows to watch out of the home and on the go.

As for future-proofing the Bolt+ while the FCC ponders imposing regulations on how multi system operators (MSOs) deploy and lease set-top box equipment, Denney said that TiVo is working proactively with leading cable operators like Comcast to ensure that support will continue to be offered for CableCARD-enabled devices well into the future.

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“At some point if [CableCARDs] get replaced by something as the transition to IP continues we are engaged in discussions to keep the current process going and we continue to speak with the FCC, but our preferred path is to continue working with the full cooperation of the operators,” Denney said.

TiVo, he said, has identified a number of customers for the product. These include the installer channel, which is looking for whole-home networking solutions to provide to clients; past TiVo users who might have been Roamio or TiVo Premiere users before and want to migrate and anybody looking for a high-quality 4K platform with support for all of the major applications that incorporate all of your cable channels and all of your OTT applications into one experience.”

Denney said custom installers attending this week’s CEDIA Expo should be interested in the home server possibilities brought by the additional tuners and expanded storage capacity in the Bolt+.

“This brings installers a better way to use the Bolt platform,” Denney explained. “Having four tuners was great, but when you have a couple of clients hanging off of the Bolt you tended to see a little more tuner conflict than you would have with six.”

Making an appearance at CEDIA just after Rovi closed its acquisition of TiVo last week, Denney said the prospects for the combination of the two companies brings intriguing possibilities in the areas of metadata, enhanced and expanded recommendation features and voice technologies.

“I think you start to put together a really interesting portfolio of products,” Denney said.

He pointed out that after TiVo acquired Digital Smiths, that company’s search and recommendation technology was successfully added into the TiVo DVR platform making for a great synergy. Denney said he expects something similar will come from Rovi’s extensive technology portfolio and resources.

By Greg Tarr


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