Hard-drive video recorders were supposed to revolutionize the way we watch TV, remember?
But since the initial hype for digital video recorders (DVRs) began to wane, and the early adopters gobbled up all of the first iterations of DVR boxes, device makers in the space have struggled to create solid business models that will profitably bring the technology into more of the mainstream.
No DVR company has confronted those struggles more than SONICblue, maker of the ReplayTV brand of DVR devices. Today, the company announced further price reductions in their "new" line of digital video recorders, the 5000 series, in an attempt to bring box prices more in line with customer expectations for the technology.
The ReplayTV 5000 series consists of four models: the 5040, 5080, 5160 and 5320, with 40, 80, 160 and 320 hours of recording capacity per model, respectively. Along the same progression, the new aggressive pricing has after-rebate price points of $249.99, $349.99, $449.99 and $899.99.
Price tags for ReplayTV boxes should not be affixed with anything permanent, however, if the past is any indication. Similar 4000 series models were price-slashed in August through ReplayTV retailers like Best Buy, Circuit City, The Wiz, Tweeter and Amazon.
While price reduction certainly is the impetus behind the release of the 5000 series, the new boxes also add a USB connector for easier connection of multiple ReplayTV boxes in a home network, according to SONICblue spokesperson Amanda Sanyal.
So far, ReplayTV has been lurking in TiVo's shadow, as it struggles to define and maintain its own strategic model. Whereas TiVo has partnered with various operator channels, including AT&T Broadband and EchoStar Communications, ReplayTV has maintained a predominantly retail approach to sales. In fact, only in recent months, ReplayTV has begun charging a monthly or one-time service activation fee, something that has been a part of the TiVo strategy from its inception. The recent aggressive pricing for new ReplayTV devices is a likely indicator that price-conscious consumers aren't scooping up ReplayTV boxes at retail as the company had hoped.
Whether the new price points are more in line with customer expectations is an important question still to be answered by the marketplace.