TiVo changes TV forever! Again!

Wed, 03/03/2010 - 7:35am
Brian Santo

TiVo, apparently unfamiliar with the concept of hubris, last night announced two new DVRs, which it described as “one box to rule them all.”

Or maybe they’re just a bunch of LotR nerds. Whatever. (Yes, we know: TWO new boxes and “ONE box to rule. …” Just roll with it, OK?)

At the same time, RCN said it will use TiVo boxes as its primary DVR in all of its markets, starting in the second quarter.

TiVo’s two new DVRs are called the Premier and the Premiere XL. They both provide access to broadcast channels and multiple interfaces for pay-TV services and Internet-based content, including the major download/streaming services.

Such boxes already exist, from multiple sources (Arris went out of its way on Monday to remind people of its similar Moxi DVR, which it is now selling standalone).

The key distinctions of the two Premiere boxes, as far as TiVo is concerned, seem to be with its navigation guide. The guide combines content from multiple available sources. This is a quality other competing guides have touted, but TiVo apparently believes its Adobe Flash-based guide is superior.

TiVo President and CEO Tom Rogers said: “It has never been this easy to get all your entertainment in one place, on the big screen, in HD, right at your fingertips. And the beauty of TiVo Premiere is that finding what to watch is just as fun as watching the TV shows themselves. We accomplished it by using pictures and graphics to make the whole television guide experience come alive in a way that it never has before.”

One of the keys to easier navigation is to create categories of content that viewers are likely to want to use. Frequently, this is based on slicing and dicing types (thriller, romantic comedy, film noir) or creating categories around a particular actor. Jinni, for example, was recognized at the most recent CableLabs Innovation Showcase for its guide, which can categorize content by mood.

TiVo believes it will be the first to categorize Oscar Award-winning movies or Emmy Award-winning television shows.

Indeed, TiVo says users of its Premiere boxes can “click on a show or an actor, and consumers will be able to view entire entertainment resumes and cast lists, quickly and easily. Before you know it, you'll find associations from one favorite actor to another that you never dreamed existed, fueling the discovery process even more and likely getting you hooked in the process.”

As for hardware, TiVo’s Premiere DVRs have inputs for CableCards, cable coax, antenna coax and Ethernet, so they can support digital cable, high-definition digital cable, antenna (ATSC) and Verizon FiOS.

They include Ethernet, USB 2.0 and E-SATA ports, and they support Wi-Fi (g and n versions). The Wi-Fi n adaptor will be introduced later this year.

Data storage on the Premiere model is 320 gigabytes, while the Premiere XL model has 1 terabyte of capacity. Storage can, of course, be added through the provided expansion ports.

The new TiVo DVRs will also come with a new remote with a slide-out Qwerty board, similar to keyboards increasingly common with mobile handsets.

The XL model also adds THX sound, and TiVo claims it’s the first product to feature THX Optimizer, a video calibration tool that lets users fine-tune color, black levels and other settings to improve picture quality.

TiVo Premiere and TiVo Premiere XL boxes will be available in retail stores nationwide in early April for $299.99 and $499.99, respectively, plus a TiVo subscription.

TiVo also said it has established a relationship with Pandora. At some point in the future, users of the Premiere (as well as TiVo Series3, HD DVR and Series2 customers) will be able to listen to Pandora radio stations.

The company has also cut a deal with FrameChannel, allowing viewers to access Web-based content widgets of personal and commercial content, ranging from Tweets, photos and status updates to news, weather, sports scores and stock quotes.

RCN President and CEO Peter Aquino said, “I'm very pleased to report that based on our field test results, we will begin to roll out TiVo as our primary advanced box in all of our markets, one by one, in the second quarter of this year."

More Broadband Direct 3/03/10:
•  CED Blog - Update: Cox’s Caller ID on TV service
•  TiVo changes TV forever! Again! 
•  Finnish cable op pushes speed needle to 200 Mbps
•  Survey: Broadband going gangbusters in Europe 
•  thePlatform sinks hooks into social networking
•  Hulu losing 'Daily Show,' 'Colbert Report'
•  Ooyala launches TV Everywhere platform
•  AT&T: iPad driven by Wi-Fi, not 3G
•  Broadband Briefs for 03/03/10



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