Social Connect
« Project HTPC: The Build | Main | A Good HDTV Shows You Everything »

Review: TiVo Slide Remote

TiVo Slide Remote Control(Updated 10/13/2010 - see end of article) More than a dozen years have passed since TiVo introduced its first digital video recorder (DVR) at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. In that time, the company has provided mostly incremental updates with each new hardware series. Within the last few years, the TiVo platform has added numerous network and online capabilities, but one long-anticipated feature has been conspicuously neglected: a physical keyboard/keypad for simplified text entry. Well, TiVo has finally responded to this need with its new TiVo Slide ($89.99 list) – a compact, backlit, remote control that features a slider-style QWERTY keypad.

In the Box
Included in the retail box with the Slide is a USB-based Bluetooth (BT) adapter, an 18-inch USB extension cable, small piece of Velcro tape, and a multilingual instruction pamphlet.

What's in the Box

Setup
Setup was as easy as I could ask for: insert the Bluetooth adapter into an available port on a compatible TiVo DVR, insert the included AA batteries into the remote, and enjoy. After exploring the remote's layout for a few minutes, I configured the Slide's TV Power, Input, and volume control buttons for my own gear via the TiVo setup menu.

Bluetooth Benefits (and Limitation)
Use of the Slide's slide-out keyboard requires a Bluetooth link using the included adapter. However, support for the BT adapter is limited to the latest TiVo Premiere models, TiVo Series3, and TiVo HD/HD XL.  Owners of older TiVos could use the Slide as a standard infrared (IR) remote control, but this scenario would negate the use of the keyboard and offers no advantage (besides its compact size) over the less expensive Glo Premium remote.

TiVo Slide Remote Control

Design
The TiVo Slide retains the familiar dog bone shape of previous TiVo remotes. Comparing the Slide to a Glo Premium Remote (included with the Series3/Premiere XL), the Slide is two inches shorter in length (6.1-inches long compared to 8.1-inches for the Glo). Surprisingly, the compact-sized Slide is also about 18g heavier than the Glo (190g compared to the Glo's 177g – including batteries). As with the Glo, the Slide's backside is given a ribbed texture on its lower half to assist with grip and correct orientation in a darkened environment.

The main keypad layout of the Slide will feel familiar to TiVo owners - albeit slightly more cramped compared to a full-sized TiVo remote like the Glo Premium.  The discrete play/slow buttons of the Glo have been integrated into a 4-way directional pad on the Slide that encircles the classic yellow pause button.  The Slide's numerical buttons are noticeably smaller than those of the Glo's, but the Slide adds the familiar color-coded A, B, C, and D buttons seen on Blu-ray player remotes.  The Slide also does away with the DVR selection switch that allowed standard TiVo remotes to control more than one DVR.

Performance and Use
With the Slide's Bluetooth adapter plugged directly into the TiVo, Bluetooth wireless performance with the Slide was generally good at distances of 10- to 15-feet.  However, I experienced occasional communication interference when some objects were between the remote and the adapter.  Adding the USB extension cable and positioning the the Bluetooth receiver in a less obstructed location (affixed using the included Velcro tape) eliminated these occasional communication glitches.

The Slide's backlit keypad made it perfectly usable for thumb-typing when the lights were out, but I was mildly annoyed by the remote's bright blue LED that flashed with every key press.  I'm hoping a simple code exists to disable the Slide's blue LED - similar to the code used to enable the 'hidden' 30-second skip feature.  Testing the Slide on a Series3 TiVo, I noticed that text entry would occasionally buffer if I typed fast, but it caught up with my characters in tact.  I'd venture a guess that the increased CPU power of the TiVo Premieres would all but eliminate the need for text buffering.

TiVo Slide Remote

 

Bottom Line
The TiVo Slide Remote Control brings long-awaited functionality to newer HD TiVos.  If you own a TiVo DVR that is compatible with the Slide's Bluetooth adapter, the ability to type directly into search and other text fields encouraged me to explore and use features of the DVR that I had all but ignored due to the need to use a painfully slow on-screen virtual keyboard.  Also, the use of a Bluetooth controller means that the TiVo can be placed out of sight - or you can keep your hands under the covers while you manipulate the remote.  While I would love to see TiVo open its DVRs' USB ports to any standard keyboard, the Slide Remote brings some much needed functionality to an expanding home theater platform.

Update (10/13/2010): I've had no success using other Bluetooth (BT) keyboards with the TiVo Slide's BT receiver, and I've been unable to use the Slide with standard BT receivers.  However, a recent update for the TiVo Premieres and Series3/HD DVRs added support for standard USB keyboards including wireless models that use a USB receiver.

Reader Comments (7)

As a longtime TiVo owner and fan I have wanted a remote keyboard for years, but this one looks underwhelming.

Does it feel as solid as the one pictured next to it, especially the sliding mechanism?

Is the smaller size be hard to get used to, and can you use both,(the older model most of the time and the new one for typing)?

October 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLBalsam

Any idea if this remote would work with any other devices? This would be perfect for use with a Windows Media Center setup...

October 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMeatball

@Meatball: I doubt it. I've tried different combinations of Bluetooth (BT) adapters and keyboards to see if they will work with the TiVo and/or the Slide Remote's BT adapter - no luck so far.

October 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRobert

Bah, too bad. I'd buy three of them tomorrow :)

October 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMeatball

I really like the slide remote it helps with searches and the bluetooth in my opinion is much better it works great even if I'm not pointing the remote directly at the box.

February 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAce Winget

I got it as a holiday gift. It is extremely solid and well made. They keys are easy to see and press even though I do not see well.

I find it a little small because I am used to the old remote.

It does not work with my PS3.

Boxee take note, it is well laid out and very visible, your QWERTY remote is very hard to see in dim lighting,

March 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBasa

One thing I have noticed that threw me off is that when the batteries get low the Tivo portion of the remote stops yet it will still control the TV and AV receiver via IR, I assume that the bluetooth radio shuts off at a higher voltage than the IR components do. Other than that its a great remote, can't say I use the slider portion much but when I do it sure makes life nice

DD

April 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDouble D

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>