TiVo premiere: a solid second act for DVR pioneer

Tivo artfully melds the TV world with the realm of Internet video with its latest update to its DVR

The past year has flown by, but the Tivo HD PVR has already hit its one year milestone. To celebrate, Harvey Norman is offering a [[xref:http://catalogues.harveynorman.com.au/portal/offerdetails/tivo_1st_birthday_bundle/12525612483118?CatalogueID=12525612480382&CatalogueID=&source=catalogueoffer&jump=&pageview=two|1st birthday package|Harvey Norman: Tivo HD 1st Birthday Package]] that includes the Tivo HD, a Western Digital 1TB Tivo Expander and a powerline networking kit from Netgear. Add up the RRP prices and you get a total value of $1425, making this a great deal. With digital TV now offering more Flintstones cartoons than you could ever watch in one sitting (oh, and footy grand finals are around the corner), the Tivo HD has become indispensable item in any digital living room.

The past year has flown by, but the Tivo HD PVR has already hit its one year milestone. To celebrate, Harvey Norman is offering a [[xref:http://catalogues.harveynorman.com.au/portal/offerdetails/tivo_1st_birthday_bundle/12525612483118?CatalogueID=12525612480382&CatalogueID=&source=catalogueoffer&jump=&pageview=two|1st birthday package|Harvey Norman: Tivo HD 1st Birthday Package]] that includes ...

With the introduction of TiVo Premiere, the DVR maker has a shot at staying relevant as Internet video grows.

The new set-top box is meant to blur the line between cable and Internet programming. Sure, TiVo boxes already let you watch videos certain Internet sources, but a new interface, Series 4, ties everything together.

For instance, users can search for a movie, actor or genre on TiVo Premiere, and then choose to watch the film from either cable or an Internet source if it's available. TiVo Premiere can also search for TV shows, video podcasts and radio on the Internet. A remote with a slide-out keyboard will be released later this year to make searching easier.

On the downside, existing TiVo owners will need a new box to get the extra features. There's a 320 GB model for US$299 and a 1 TB model for US$499.

TiVo needed this. Internet video is already available on Blu-ray players, television sets and game consoles, and with cable companies offering their own DVRs, TiVo was starting to look like an also-ran. Until cable providers start adding Web video to their own set-top boxes, it'll be hard to find another piece of hardware that does it all. And who knows? Maybe this will force cable to come up with something.

It's been a rocky road for TiVo. The company was thought dead in 2005 after losing a partnership with DirectTV, but then it won a major patent lawsuit against Echostar in 2006. TiVo posted its first annual profit in 2008, but hasn't been able to sustain the gains.

Partnerships with Best Buy (to sell TiVo in stores) and Google (for the sale of advertising data) will help, but none of that is as important as new features to make subscribers happy.

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Jared Newman

PC World (US online)
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