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The best cheap Android TV streamer for cord-cutters: A TiVo Stream 4K with its TiVo features removed

The TiVo Stream 4K is an fascinating and strange stream gadget. As a substitute of creating you wade by way of an countless listing of apps to search out one thing price watching, TiVo offers a single menu for looking the catalogs of Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and extra.

At its core, although, the TiVo Stream 4K can also be a cheap 4K HDR streaming dongle that runs on Google’s Android TV working system. And you probably have no real interest in TiVo’s additional features, you’ll be able to simply take away them and customise the gadget to your liking. Which means stripping away all of the pre-loaded apps and reprogramming the distant management with shortcuts to your favourite capabilities.

At its present sale value of $50 by way of the tip of July—versus a daily value of $70—I’d enterprise to say {that a} de-TiVoed TiVo Stream 4k is the best cheap Android TV dongle in the marketplace right this moment. It’s particularly helpful now, with HBO Max and NBC’s Peacock nonetheless unavailable on Roku and Amazon Hearth TV streamers, and in comparison with these choices, it’s way more versatile.

Right here’s take away TiVo’s features from the TiVo Stream 4K and use it in methods TiVo by no means supposed.

De-TiVoing the Stream 4K: The straightforward manner

The easiest option to strip TiVo features from the TiVo Stream 4K is to disable a handful of pre-loaded apps by way of the gadget’s settings menu. This technique gained’t cease TiVo from working some extra software program within the background, nevertheless it’s additionally straightforward to undo if you wish to convey TiVo’s features again later.

  • Head to Settings > Apps, then choose “See all apps.”
  • Scroll down and click on on TiVo Stream, then choose “Disable,” and hit “Yes” to substantiate.
  • Return to the all apps menu, then choose “Show system apps” on the backside.
  • Scroll down and click on on TiVoPlusPlayer, then choose “Disable,” and hit “Yes” to substantiate.
streamdisable Jared Newman / IDG
  • Return to system apps menu and discover com.tivo.tvlaunchercustomization. Click on on it, choose “Disable,” then hit “Yes” to substantiate.
  • Optionally, you’ll be able to take away different pre-loaded apps equivalent to CBS All Entry and Pandora. Choose them from the “all apps” menu, then hit “Uninstall.”
  • On the house display, discover TiVo’s “Recommended” row, scroll left till you see the minus button, then click on on it to take away the ultimate trace of TiVo’s presence.
streamrecommend Jared Newman / IDG
  • Reboot the gadget by heading to Settings > Gadget Preferences > About, then hitting “Restart.”

At this level, your TiVo Stream 4K ought to look similar to a daily Android TV gadget, and the distant management’s TiVo, Information, i information, Skip, and Dwell buttons shall be unresponsive. (We’ll speak about remapping these buttons within the subsequent part.) To revive TiVo’s capabilities, head to Settings > Apps > See all apps, then re-enable every little thing within the “Disabled apps” listing.

Remapping the TiVo Stream 4K distant

tivostream4kremote Jared Newman / IDG

Lots of the TiVo Stream 4K’s distant buttons might be reprogrammed to launch apps or navigate by way of menus.

Now that you just’ve freed up some buttons on the TiVo Stream 4K distant, it’s time to reprogram them with the Button Mapper app. You’ll be able to set up it by looking out for “Button Mapper” within the Google Play Retailer out of your TiVo Stream 4K.

  • Earlier than opening Button Mapper app, head to Settings > Gadget Preferences > Accessibility, then set “Button Mapper” to “On.”
streambuttonmap Jared Newman / IDG
  • Open the Button Mapper app, choose “Add Buttons,” then choose “Add Button” once more on the subsequent web page.
streambuttonmapper Jared Newman / IDG
  • When prompted, press the distant button you’d prefer to remap. I counsel beginning with the distant’s large silver TiVo button.
streambuttonmap2 Jared Newman / IDG
  • Click on on the newly-created button (referred to as “DVR 173” for the TiVo button). You’ll see a pop-up prompting you to pay for “Pro” features, however you’ll be able to dismiss this by hitting “No Thanks.” (Or, in case you’d prefer to assist the developer, you may make a $4.50 in-app buy.)
streambuttonmap4 Jared Newman / IDG
  • Make sure that “Customize” is toggled on, then choose “Single tap” to decide on what the button ought to do.
streambuttonmap3 Jared Newman / IDG
  • Select system-level motion (equivalent to Dwelling, Again, or Recents) to map to the button. Alternatively, click on on “Actions” on the prime of the listing, choose “Applciations,” then select an app to launch when the button is pressed.
streambuttonrg Jared Newman / IDG
  • Repeat the steps above for different buttons, equivalent to Information, Dwell, I information, and the quantity keys.

In my case, I mapped the TiVo button to launch Reelgood, an app that gives a unified information for a variety of streaming companies. It’s just like the TiVo Stream 4K’s built-in menu system, nevertheless it works with extra streaming video sources, plus you should utilize Reelgood’s web site or cell app so as to add films and reveals to your watchlist.

You may additionally use the “Guide” button to launch your reside TV streaming service of alternative, or use the quantity keys as a pace dial for your favourite apps.

Channels DVR integration

To take issues to a different stage, Channels DVR has launched its personal integration with the TiVo Stream 4K distant. Should you’re unfamiliar with Channels, it’s a DVR service that may run on a desktop PC, NAS field, Nvidia Defend TV, or Raspberry Pi. You’ll be able to pair it with an HDHomeRun tuner to tug in native channels from an antenna, or you’ll be able to seize reside cable channel streams by linking Channels with pay TV companies equivalent to YouTube TV or Hulu + Dwell TV.

channelstve2 Jared Newman / IDG

The TiVo Stream 4K might be programmed for particular actions inside Channels DVR, equivalent to taking you straight to the grid information whenever you hit the “Guide” button.

When you’ve arrange Channels and put in the Android TV app, head to Settings > Gadget Preferences > Accessibility and activate “Channels Button Detector,” similar to with Button Mapper above. You’ll now have the ability to management the app utilizing the TiVo distant:

  • The TiVo button opens Channels DVR.
  • ”Information” takes you to the grid information.
  • Channel up/down flips by way of reside channels.
  • ”Skip” jumps by way of commercials (except you’ve turned on computerized skipping).
  • ”Dwell” takes you to reside TV.
  • The quantity keys allow you to tune to particular channels.

The irony right here is that TiVo has but to ship its personal DVR integration on the TiVo Stream 4K. By eradicating all TiVo performance from the TiVo Stream 4K, Channels DVR offers the next-best factor.

De-TiVoing the Stream 4K: The laborious manner

When you’ve dedicated to eradicating TiVo’s features from the TiVo Stream 4K, you may think about uninstalling some extra parts that may’t be removed by way of the simple technique I discussed earlier. These embrace some bug monitoring and different background companies that aren’t important to utilizing the gadget.

For this course of, you’ll want a pc working Home windows, Mac, or Linux, with the free adbLink software program put in.

  • On the TiVo Stream 4K, head to Settings > Gadget Preferences > About > Standing, then write down your gadget’s IP deal with. (It ought to be formatted like 192.168.XX.XX.)
streamnetwork Jared Newman / IDG
  • Subsequent, head to Settings > Gadget Preferences > About, then click on on “Build” repeatedly till a message seems, saying you’ve change into a developer.
  • Navigate to Settings > Gadget Preferences > Developer Choices, then choose “Enable USB Debugging.”
streamdev Jared Newman / IDG
  • In your pc, open up adbLink, and beneath “Ad Hoc IP,” enter the IP deal with you wrote down earlier and hit “Connect.” (You may even see an error message in your pc; simply ignore this for now.)
adblink Jared Newman / IDG
  • In your TiVo Stream 4K, you’ll see a message asking to permit USB debugging. Choose “Always allow” and hit “OK.”
streamdebug Jared Newman / IDG
  • Again in your pc, dismiss the error message that appeared, then hit “Connect” once more. If profitable, it’s best to see your IP deal with listed beneath “Connected devices,” and “IP connection” beneath “Connection status.”
  • In adbLink, click on on ADB Shell to convey up a terminal window.
adblink3 Jared Newman / IDG

Now, you’ll should sort within the following instructions, hitting Enter after every line. (In Home windows, you’ll be able to paste these strains into the terminal by right-clicking as a substitute of hitting Ctrl-V.):

  • pm uninstall -k —consumer zero com.utsmta.app
  • pm uninstall -k —consumer zero com.tivo.tivoplusplayer
  • pm uninstall -k —consumer zero com.tivo.tvlaunchercustomization
  • pm uninstall -k —consumer zero com.droidlogic.overlay
  • pm uninstall -k —consumer zero com.nes.bugtracker
  • pm uninstall -k —consumer zero com.nes.tvglobalkeyhandler
  • pm uninstall -k —consumer zero com.nes.daemonservice
  • pm uninstall -k —consumer zero com.nes.skywayclient
  • pm uninstall -k —consumer zero com.droidlogic.SubTitleService
  • pm uninstall -k —consumer zero com.limark.deviqcoreagent
  • pm disable-user —consumer zero com.tivo.atom
  • reboot

The final line will reboot your TiVo Stream 4K. Should you ever wish to restore TiVo capabilities with out manufacturing unit resetting the gadget, simply re-enter the terminal instructions above, however changing “pm uninstall -k —user 0” with “cmd package install-existing” for every line.

Now, have enjoyable customizing your TiVo Stream 4K. Be at liberty to achieve out through e mail or Twitter you probably have any questions.

(Because of the parents within the TiVo boards and to Dave Zatz for the ideas and steering right here.)

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