Tag Archives | TiVo

TiVo’s New Pricing: Both Cheaper and Pricier–and Definitely More Confusing

TiVo, the original personal TV box, is facing new competition from Apple TV, Roku, the Boxee Box, Logitech’s Google-based Revue, and other Johhnie-come-lately gizmos. Most of them cost less than TiVo, and none of them require a monthly fee. And the company is responding with a holiday offer–good through December 31st–that brings the price of a TiVo box from $299.99 down to $99.99, the same amount you’d pay for an Apple TV or Roku’s midrange version. It’s calling this an “instant savings” of $200. And there’s even an option to pay nothing up-front at all.

Except…it’s nowhere as simple as that. Actually, figuring out how much TiVo costs, and which version to buy, just got more confusing.

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Roku and TiVo Will Get Hulu Plus This Year

Good news for Roku and TiVo fans: Roku and TiVo Premiere boxes are getting Hulu’s Hulu Plus service later this Fall. For ten bucks a month, Plus subscribers will be able to get scads of new TV episodes and a sizable back catalog of old stuff, and Roku and TiVo will let them watch it all on their TVs.

It’s good news for Roku and TiVo, too, since Hulu Plus will be an attractive offering that won’t be available on Apple’s Apple TV. I’ll be curious to see which is a bigger hit: Hulu Plus’s all-you-can-eat TV shows with ads, or Apple’s 99-cent HD TV rentals.



TiVo has begun selling the $89.99 slider remote with a hidden QWERTY keyboard which it first showed off back in March when it launched its new Premiere boxes. Our friend Dave Zatz has tried one and mostly likes it. It has the signature TiVo “peanut” design, but is 25% shorter–presumably to allow for a keyboard with a width that lends itself well to thumbtyping.

The TiVo Slide uses Bluetooth to talk to all recent Tivos (the Premiere, HD, and Series 3), which means you don’t need to worry about pointing it at the DVR or whether there’s any furniture, pets, or children in the way; it comes with a USB Bluetooth adapter, which presumably helps to explain the pricetag. (The Slide costs almost a third as much as a Tivo Premiere itself–it would be nice if TiVo offered a Tivo-plus-Slide bundle at at least a modest discount.)

For as long as people have been entering alphanumeric text on TVs–which would be since home video games got high-score features, I guess–they’ve mostly been doing it via arrow keys and cumbersome on-screen keyboards. TiVo’s standard text-entry system isn’t bad, relatively speaking, but I’m always in favor of physical plastic QWERTY keys when available…

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In (Reluctant) Defense of Cable TV

The New York Times’ Matt Richtel and Brian Stelter have a nice story today on the threat posed to traditional cable TV by free and low-cost Internet TV. Despite the growing sophistication of Web service, Americans still haven’t  started cutting the cable cord in droves. Richtel and Stelter point to popular content that’s not available (legally) online–such as American Idol and True Blood–as a primary explanation for cable’s continued viability.

I’ve been writing about the idea of dumping cable for a long time and am instinctively drawn to it…but I haven’t done it. In our household, we’re heavy watchers of Netflix on Demand via a Roku box. We also watch Hulu and occasionally partake of movies and TV on iTunes and Amazon on Demand. But we still consume plenty for Comcast Xfinity cable TV. (For that matter, we also buy DVDs, and I’ve been known to pull out VHS tapes.)

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Best Buy and TiVo Developing Non-DVR HDTV(s)

For years, I’ve pined for a TiVo-fied television. In fact, Humax was set to deliver a TiVo solution way back in 2005. Unfortunately, the 26″ LCD TV with TiVo DVR capabilities and integrated DVD recorder never made it to market. Last summer, when TiVo and Best Buy hooked up with a pretty expansive dealio, it looked might we might see another attempt at an integrated TiVo+television solution:

As part of the deal, the companies also said that Best Buy would finance an effort to bring TiVo’s software and search tools to Best Buy’s own brand of consumer electronics, like its Insignia high-definition TVs.

And now we have confirmation that development is underway. However, somewhat surprisingly, the Best Buy TiVo product will not include DVR functionality. Which may not be an entirely bad thing. For example, my favorite DVD player of all time was actually a TiVo (the Toshiba SD-H400). This is obviously Best Buy’s method of competing within the connected television space while is provides TiVo a platform to expand their brand and market. But I’m hopeful the companies choose to support streaming multi-room viewing (MRV) from TiVo DVRs and enable basic trick play functionality, in addition to the other connected features and UI. If so, I could see this easily being a killer kitchen or den television and DVR extender. Otherwise, meh?

From the press release:

TiVo Inc. (NASDAQ: TIVO) and Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE: BBY) today announced that development is underway to integrate TiVo’s software and advanced television services into broadband-connected Insignia televisions. The new Insignia televisions will provide Best Buy customers with an exceptional, intuitive user experience for accessing online content by utilizing the latest TiVo non-DVR software and advanced television service. TiVo’s easy-to-use platform will give the viewer a one-stop-shop for delivering and searching content right on the television.

(This post is republished from Zatz Not Funny.)

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TiVo Series 5: What Should Be

When TiVo announced its next-generation Series 4 Premiere boxes yesterday, I read about the news with a combination of intrigue and relief. The changes–including a spiffed-up HD interface, better integration of disparate video sources, easy access to more information about shows and movies, a slimmer case, and an optional QWERTY remote–sound nice. But the Premieres are evolutionary advances on the TiVo HD that sits in my entertainment center–and whose hard drive I just replaced after the original one conked out. There’s nothing in the new models that makes the old ones feel like instant dinosaurs.

Here’s Dave Zatz’s extensive look at the new TiVos, which ship next month. As Dave says, TiVo is clearly trying to reposition its box from a DVR into a TV box that does a bunch of things. That makes sense. But my mind is already racing forward to think about all the things a next-next-generation TiVo might do. Here’s my wish list for the TiVo Series 5–and since it’s just a wish list and the Premieres’ replacements are years off, I’m going to ask for some things that may be technically or logistically impossible at the moment.

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Okay, Is Now the Time to Dump Cable TV?

A year ago, I toyed with the idea of getting rid of cable and doing all my TV watching online. In the end, I kept Comcast–partially out of lethargy, but mostly because (A) cable is still a much better source of news-related programming than the Web, and (B) I’m very comfortable with my TiVo.

Reason (A) still strikes me as a significant argument in favor of keeping cable. With reason (B), however, I may be at a crossroads. My TiVo HD, which never worked very well, now isn’t working at all–it crashes every few minutes. I’m still trying to troubleshoot it, but I suspect that the drive is bad and will need to be replaced. That’ll require an investment of money and time, and while I may go through with it, I’m also flirting with the notion of retiring the TiVo and giving up cable.

News remains the biggest argument against doing so: I still like the idea of having CNN, CSPAN, Fox News, MSNBC, and other newsy outlets readily available. On the other hand, some of this stuff is available in podcast form–albeit after a delay–and it’s not like I’m glued to TV news every night. (I do, however, like to gorge on it when breaking events warrant, whether they involve election night or a celebrity death or the moving tale of a small boy swept away in his father’s experimental balloon.)

If I cut the cable and give up TiVo, what should I replace them with? I’m still not sure. I like Roku. I own an Apple TV that I don’t use much but would probably enjoy if I made an effort to rediscover it. The Boxee Box looks promising.

But the one box that offers access to the widest variety of stuff–including an endless supply of free material–is a PC. So I’m also toying with the notion of connecting a Windows box or Mac Mini to my Vizio and using it for Netflix, Boxee, YouTube, video podcasts, and a whole lot more. The major downside: Even a cheap PC costs a lot more than a Roku or a Boxee Box. But hey, if I’m no longer tithing to Comcast I’ll have some newfound cash to spend.

I don’t need to give up cable. I can afford it, and there are times that I’m very glad I have it. But more and more, I feel guilty about spending as much I do each month given how little of it I end up watching. It feels wasteful, like filling up your plate at an all-you-can-eat buffet when you know you’re only going to take a bite or two.

Here’s the part where I ask for your advice. What would you do? What are you doing?


Comcast to Take TiVo National By Year End?

My eagle-eyed blogging partner Davis Freeberg caught this juicy nugget yesterday from a member of the ComcastCares Twitter support team:


@knolaust we are working on a more Tivo-esk experience. This is already being tested in the Boston area. hope to roll out na’l by end of yr

As TiVo (TIVO) investors are aware, TiVo linked up with Comcast(CMCSA) to deliver their DVR experience onto third party cable company hardware (Motorola). And while the initial fruits of their labor began deployment as a Comcast offering in New England in late 2007, we’ve yet to see a broader release to other markets. Making ComcastMelissa’s tweet, a response to a customer request for an improved DVR interface, notable.

However, I suspect she will be proven wrong. I seriously doubt Comcast intends a nationwide TiVo roll-out in the few remaining months of 2009 and doubt their ability to execute on such a plan, should it exist. Most likely, “ComcastMelissa” is good intentioned but misinformed of the Comcast TiVo deployment strategy. Anyone who’s followed Comcast and TiVo statements on the matter would probably agree that the parties have a more conservative market-by-market deployment plan in place. Some supporting evidence from TiVo CEO Tom Rogers at their recent earnings call, as transcribed by Seeking Alpha:

They continue to work through in Boston the infrastructure issues that particularly relate to the installation in individual homes. And I can’t say they are where they want to be yet; there are clearly things that Comcast needs to solve for both TiVo and for themselves so the product can be more smoothly installed. They are totally committed to solving those issues and we believe they will be solved in the near future. Obviously, there’s frustration on both their part and ours that it’s not quite solved yet. But I think, as Mark Hess’s quote indicated, the commitment to continue to roll TiVo beyond the two named markets that we’ve mentioned, they indicated in last quarter earnings that they were focused on a market rollout where TiVo would be the primary DVR and then again today have announced yet another yet to be soon-named market.

[This post republished from Zatz Not Funny.]

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