TiVo BOLT VOX 500 GB

Last updated date: April 3, 2019

DWYM Score

7.3

TiVo BOLT VOX 500 GB

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We looked at the top DVRs and dug through the reviews from some of the most popular review sites. Through this analysis, we've determined the best DVR you should buy.

Update as December 9, 2020:
Checkout The Best DVR for a detailed review of all the top dvrs.

Overall Take


In our analysis of 55 expert reviews, the TiVo BOLT VOX 500 GB placed 9th when we looked at the top 11 products in the category. For the full ranking, see below.

From The Manufacturer

TiVo’s innovative Unified Entertainment System now includes the ultimate voice remote that dramatically improves the search experience across all your live TV, DVR and streaming TV series and movies. The 4K Ultra HD compatible TiVo BOLT VOX still boasts TiVo’s unique fan-favorite features including SkipMode™, OnePass™, OneSearch™ and more. And with three different models, there’s a BOLT VOX specifically crafted to meet your entertainment demands and budget.

Expert Reviews

Expert Summarized Score

7.1
7 expert reviews

User Summarized Score

7.7
198 user reviews

What experts liked

Very responsive, springy until that's easy set up and use. Has over-the-air cable options.
- BestReviews
The new software is simpler and slicker. Voice search is a powerful way to browse. DVR has loads of recording options.
- TechHive
The device adds two new functions that raise its content and control IQ: its own Vox voice search/control and Amazon Alexa integration.
- Gear Brain
The Bolt has a spot for Optical Audio, Coax, (2) USBs, L/R Audio, Ethernet, and of course HDMI in the back of the device. There is also a remote finder button back if you happen to misplace that somewhere in your household.
- GStyle Magazine
TiVo's unified search is one of its DVR's key advantages, allowing you to find what you want to watch whether it's on live TV, recorded on the DVR or available on video-on-demand and online streaming services.
- CNET
It has an efficient search function, which pulls from all capture sources at once.
- Top Ten Reviews
Offers tons of storage. Works across all cable providers. Comes with smart features that are actually useful and not gimmicky, like QuickMode.
- Cable TV

What experts didn't like

Half the recording capacity of the Bolt OTA. Subscription to Tivo is required.
- BestReviews
Noise emanates from the unit whether it’s recording or not, whether the TV is on or off, and strangely even when the TiVo itself is on standby.
- TechHive
Only 21 streaming content apps. No smart home functionality, and spotty Amazon Alexa control. CableCard required for cable TV access, and pricey.
- Gear Brain
I did have an issue with not getting some of the premium channels such as HBO coming up from it seems like it stems more from the tuning adapter connected. I [also] still find myself getting used to the button layout and so forth. Also I wish there was a way to filter out SD channels as I can’t stand seeing them.
- GStyle Magazine
Although you can launch any single app, you can't say "Go to apps" to see all your available services.
- CNET
It can’t access satellite content.
- Top Ten Reviews
Costs more for higher-tier storage. Requires up-front cost in addition to monthly subscription fee. Records only four or six programs at once (depending on model).
- Cable TV

Our Expert Consultant

Patrick Ward 
Editor-in-chief of High Speed Experts

Patrick Ward is the editor-in-chief of High Speed Experts, a broadband connectivity-, search engine- and IT-industry education blog that empowers consumers by open-sourcing information about tech services. He earned his bachelor’s degree in commerce with an emphasis on communications at the University of Sydney. His expertise spans the digital, emerging tech and telecommunications fields.

Overall Product Rankings

Amazon Fire TV Recast DVR

1. Amazon Fire TV Recast DVR

Overall Score: 8.8
TIGERSECU Super HD 2MP DVR

2. TIGERSECU Super HD 2MP DVR

Overall Score: 8.7
Tablo Dual LITE OTA DVR

3. Tablo Dual LITE OTA DVR

Overall Score: 8.0
TiVo Bolt OTA

5. TiVo Bolt OTA

Overall Score: 7.8
ZOSI 4-in-1 DVR

6. ZOSI 4-in-1 DVR

Overall Score: 7.7
TiVo BOLT VOX 3TB

8. TiVo BOLT VOX 3TB

Overall Score: 7.5
TiVo BOLT VOX 500 GB

9. TiVo BOLT VOX 500 GB

Overall Score: 7.3
AVerMedia EZRecorder

11. AVerMedia EZRecorder

Overall Score: 6.7

An Overview On DVRs

Back in the old days of cable TV — and by “old days,” we mean the mid-2000s — the role of the DVR was simple. The name stood for digital video recorder, and that’s what it did. It recorded video from your cable television to an internal storage device, allowing you to pause, rewind or record live television.

When it was first introduced, this was revolutionary. You could skip commercials! Pause for bathroom breaks! Make that must-see show wait until you were good and ready! The convenience was so great that cable and satellite providers started providing DVR service as part of their basic subscription, and most still do. People tend to use their provider’s service because it’s hassle-free and easily compatible.

These days, basic DVR features can seem quaint for cord-cutters who rely primarily on streaming services for their entertainment. But the pendulum has begun to swing back, as streaming subscriptions grow pricier and people are starting to realize that OTA (over the air) TV is still free for those with a decent antenna. But how do we make those scheduled network shows fit our busy lifestyle? Re-enter the stand-alone DVR.

“It’s worth investigating higher quality DVRs than the one you get with your cable box, since the better quality and user experience can make the additional investment worth it,” Patrick Ward, editor-in-chief of the IT education blog High Speed Experts, says.

But where should you start?

“Before purchasing your DVR, check the speed of your internet service,” Ward advises. “DVRs are increasingly using internet bandwidth, particularly when it comes to streaming.” He suggests making sure you have service that offers speeds of at least 200 megabits per second (Mbps) — 1000 Mbps is even better — if you regularly stream content, use an ultra-HD TV such as a 4K TV and have multiple devices plugged in at once.

Then, look at the options you want.

“If you have an HD TV, it is worth investing in a DVR that can also record in HD or your recorded shows’ picture quality will decrease on playback,” Ward says.

Far from sitting idle, TiVo and the other pioneers of DVR technology have been incorporating new technology to make their services relevant even to those with a streaming package. Today, DVRs offer all the modern conveniences you expect. There are models, for instance, that act as an all-in-one media device, allowing you to grab and record shows from your antenna but also giving access to streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. You can search for shows across both live TV and applications, issue voice commands through either the remote or Amazon’s Alexa assistant and even skip commercials.

Additionally, you’ll want to consider other options, such as two-tuner operation.

“Standard DVRs can only record a show or watch a show, not both,” says Ward. “With a two-tuner operation, you can watch a show while recording an entirely different show — useful if you have an overlap of favorite shows on at the same time slot.”

Other DVRs are somewhat more stripped down, but the main thing to remember is that you won’t be able to do much with a DVR alone. Nearly all of them require a TV antenna to access OTA content, sold separately. And if you want that content to be in HD, you’ll need an HD antenna. For Amazon’s Fire TV Recast, you’ll also need an Amazon Fire player or Echo Show with an active account.

How they connect to your TV also differs. Most run connections to your antenna, then deliver shows to your TV through an HDMI or another cable. The Tablo Dual LITE OTA DVR is a bit of an outlier, running through your wireless router which then delivers content to your TV.

There may also be a subscription cost to figure in, ranging from a few dollars a month to nothing at all. Considering that some DVRs can even let you record and watch from tablets or phones while you’re away from home, it can be a great option for viewers who don’t want to miss a thing.

The DVR Buying Guide

  • The first thing to do when buying a DVR is to get those glasses ready, because you’ll want to read the fine print. You’ll need an antenna to access the live shows for your DVR, and it’s best to buy the antenna first so you know what stations you can reliably pick up at your location. But that might not be all: Some DVRs will also require a subscription to start up. Those are typically the ones that allow you to access streaming services, so it can still be a great option for those that don’t already have it.
  • Most DVRs can accommodate more than one TV these days, which is great for big families. You can be watching the game in the living room while the kids record cartoons in the den, for example. Some might even be able to stream your OTA content to tablets or other devices for viewing while you’re on the go. All good perks, but make sure you’ve got enough tuners to handle all that business. In a nutshell, the amount of tuners you’ve got usually determines the number of different shows you can watch or record simultaneously. A family using a four-tuner DVR would be able to watch two shows on separate TVs while recording two shows for later, for example.
  • Then there’s storage. If you like to record a lot of shows, be aware there’s a limit. Many DVRs will come with a certain amount of internal storage; others might require you to buy hard drives or other expansions to the memory. Most will let you know the storage capacity in hours, but a rule of thumb is that one hour of HD programming will usually take up 6 GB.
  • What are the bells and whistles on your DVR? Do your research, because some features might be worth the price alone. Others, you might already have or need other devices to fully take advantage of.
  • Got an Ultra 4K TV? Make sure that not only your DVR supports that kind of resolution, but your antenna does as well. Essentially, your picture will only look as good as the weakest device you’re using to access it.
  • Finally, setup can be a headache when you’re dealing with this many devices. Don’t be afraid to call support for connection help. Pro tip: While it’s best to set up your antenna first, make sure that its ideal location is one that the DVR’s cords can reach.