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Cable Technology Feature Article

March 04, 2010

TiVo's Premiere Box to Make Finding Video Easier

By David Sims, TMCnet Contributing Editor

TiVo (News - Alert) officials say their “Premiere” box, which will be available in April for $300, will let users find a wide variety of video offerings “from disparate services via a single system.”

Reuters (News - Alert) reported that as digital video recorders “have become staples in homes, TiVo has fought to differentiate itself from generic DVRs offered by cable and satellite providers.” Heck cable companies  will give them to you free now, albeit fairly stripped-down models, but for lower monthly fees than TiVo charges.

Industry observer Charlie Sorrel sounded pretty excited about it: “The new, hi-def Series 4 box, the smallest TiVo so far, not only shifts live programming like any other DVR, it also sucks in movies and TV from across the internet, letting you access Blockbuster, Netflix and Amazon content, YouTube (News - Alert) and – this is huge – video podcasts. You can also stream music from Rhapsody and listen to radio on Live 365.”

TiVo officials hope their two “Premiere” models, a $300 unit that holds 45 hours of high-definition content and a 150-hour model for $500, will be enough of a differentiation to maintain the brand as the must-have option.

Sorrel noted that with both models, “There are some oddities. Neither model has Wi-Fi built-in, which for a machine so obviously designed to connect to the Internet is a rather cheap-looking omission.”

“It’s easier to make the decision to go with the cable providers, and it’s easier to stay with your cable provider,” Forrester (News - Alert) Research analyst James McQuivey told Reuters. “That’s the problem that TiVo faces. They offer a lot of benefits, but they still are saddled with a lot of barriers.”

TiVo has DVR deals “with providers including Comcast, RCN Corp, and Virgin Media, but only RCN will distribute the new boxes to customers this year,” Reuters said.

Rogers told Reuters that Premiere uses Adobe Flash software, which could eventually open the system up to programming related tools and services made by outside developers: “However, he stopped short of saying it would open an ‘app store’ similar to the ones operated by mobile phone makers Apple and Research in Motion (News - Alert).”

David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.

Edited by Kelly McGuire