For Hollywood content, the stream's the thing these days. In addition to Big Movies (Netflix), Big TV (Hulu), and Big Bundle (Amazon Prime Instant Video). we're starting to see the first bundles of live streaming pay TV channels (Dish's Sling TV) with perennial rumors that Apple will eventually launch its own broadband offering.
Indeed, virtually all the video you want can be seen virtually anywhere if you've got a beefy cellular plan or stay in range of a high-speed Wi-Fi hotspot. But watching a movie via a cellular connection can burn through allotments and public Wi-Fi often isn't available or very fast. And there's at least one place where you're stuck--airplanes. While many flights are now equipped with Wi-Fi, they often include warnings that the access is not intended for use with streaming services such as Netflix or HBO Go.
If you have an iPad and a recent TiVo DVR such as the Roamio, however, a recent update to the latter now makes it easier to bring a whole library of your movies and TV shows with you around the works without additional charges. Here's how it works. From within your home, launch the TiVo app, which can display a list of shows on your DVR. Select one and click Download. The TiVo app will then transfer the show to your iPad for offline viewing.
Depending on the speed of your home network, an hour show can take as little as 15 minutes to transfer. From there, it's simply a matter of returning to the TiVo app on the iPad, selecting one of the movies or TV shows you downloaded and tapping "Watch on iPad." Alas, while TiVo now has the ability to mix and match streaming and broadcast programming via a feature it calls OnePass, only recorded broadcast shows can be transferred and watched online. (An unrelated service called PlayLater can record Netflix and other streamed shows.)
While TiVo has had the ability to transfer shows from the DVR to an iPad for some time, some pay TV providers blocked the transfer of shows on pay TV networks or HBO. Such limitations are based on policies that allow only one home recording of a program. A recent TiVo update, however, gets around this restriction by allowing you to delete the show from your DVR automatically after you transfer it to your iPad. It's a bit like checking a book out of a library except there's no viewing time limitation or way to check the show back in. You either leave it on the iPad or delete it after its done.
When compared to purchasing or renting a show from iTunes, downloading it from your DVR offers a more personalized selection and the show is available immediately after it airs. On the other hand, TiVo doesn't work with satellite pay TV services, you need to have the forethought to record a show for it to be available and you'll have all the commercials in the original broadcast. That may not be an issue for movies on premium channels such as HBO but TiVo's famous 30-second skip feature works in its iPad app as well.