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Status Update: Raspberry Pi as a Wi-Fi Bridge

We’re three weeks on from installing the new Vizio M65 and its associated Tivo Mini. As described previously, the Tivo Mini needed Ethernet, so I used a Raspberry Pi 3 as a Wi-Fi bridge.

At the outset, this arrangement seemed to work. However, several times the Mini lost its network connection. In particular, when rebooted it would often fail to re-establish connection to the Roamio Pro that has the tuners and all the stored programming.

In that state, on the network but unable to find the main unit, the Mini has limited functionality. It can only access streaming media accounts like Netflix, Amazon Prime or YouTube. It does this directly, with no help from the Roamio Pro.

I suspect that the Mini, which is by no means a high-performance device, suffers network issues poorly. In fact, both Roamio Pro and Tivo Mini are old and likely prone to trouble resulting from network latency or instability.

I still intend to run Ethernet to the new TV, but have not yet had the free time on a weekend with suitable weather. I want to sink a box with power and Ethernet flush into the wall directly behind the TV. Weather is key since it requires me to crawl around under the house.  This will involve power tools and moving furniture.

For now, I swapped out the Raspberry Pi devices, using the Pi 4 bridge in place of the older model. This appears to be a more reliable solution.

Just for kicks, I monitored the situation using Bashtop, while running different functional scenarios.

1. Tivo Mini Idle

Pi4-WiFi-Bridge-Bashtop-idle

2. Tivo Mini streaming live TV (1080p) from a remote tuner

Watching live TV results in a  constant 6.6 Mbps across the Wi-Fi bridge.

Pi4-WiFi-Bridge-Bashtop-LiveTV1080

3. Tivo Mini streaming from Amazon Prime (1080p)

Watching an Amazon Prime movie (1080P) resulting more irregular network traffic, averaging 8-10 Mbps, with peaks up to 18 Mbps.

Pi4-WiFi-Bridge-Bashtop-AmazonPrime

It would be interesting to run such measurements again using the newer Tivo Edge and Mini Vox. Those devices are 4K capable. Being newer, they’re built upon faster host platforms and presumably more capable network implementations.

Sadly, it now appears that Tivo has pivoted away from the installed DVR market, focusing entirely upon licensing its software to cable operators and Tivo Stream 4K, an Android-based streaming stick. When it comes time for us to go beyond our current installation, I doubt Tivo will be a consideration.

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