TiVo on Tuesday set out to reinvent itself with DVRs that blend television and Internet viewing experiences. The TiVo Premiere and TV Premiere XL combine access to cable programming, movies, web videos, and music.
TiVo is positioning the new devices as a one-stop shop for entertainment, offering viewers broadband and broadcast integration that lets them search for YouTube clips, Netflix, Amazon Video On Demand and Blockbuster On Demand libraries, and more from one interface. The new offering uses pictures and graphics to make the television guide more interactive as users search through millions of pieces of content.
"TiVo has advanced the state of the art in DVR appliances. There's no question about that," said Phil Leigh, a senior analyst at Inside Digital Media. "But whether it's enough to motivate existing owners of TiVo to spend money on a new box is more debatable. If I didn't have a DVR, it certainly gives me a material added reason to buy TiVo. But if I just bought a TiVo a year or two ago, I'm not ready to spend more money just to get a newer interface."
TiVo Premiere encourages browsing by organizing every show by category and topic. A full-screen menu displays movie posters and TV-show logos to speed browsing. Clicking on a show or actor pulls up entertainment resumes and cast lists so viewers can watch other programming containing the same stars.
TiVo promises easier navigation by making the most of the extra room HD offers to slash the number of screens viewers need to visit. Because the set-top boxes are built on the Adobe Flash platform, it opens the door to more third-party applications that can further enhance the viewing experience.
Premiere also offers an on-screen disk-space meter that shows consumers how much room they have left to record, a built-in 30-second scan, and a new video window that lets viewers watch their favorite show while navigating the TiVo menus. In all, the Premiere DVR holds up to 45 hours of HD storage or up to 400 hours of standard TV programming. The XL model holds up to 150 hours of HD shows or 1,350 hours of standard programming.
No More Hunt and Peck
TiVo also announced new relationships with Pandora and FrameChannel. In the coming months, Premiere and the TiVo Series 3 HD DVR and Series 2 customers can listen to personalized Pandora radio stations through their set-top boxes. The deal with FrameChannel gives users access to about 1,000 content widgets, from tweets, photos and status updates to news, weather, sports scores, and stock quotes.
In May, TiVo will offer a Wireless N adapter that makes way for faster downloads and faster content streaming. And later this year TiVo will offer a slide-out QWERTY remote for a faster browsing experience.
"The remote with the QWERTY keyboard is significant when you start searching for movies or shows at places like Netflix, Amazon or Blockbuster. It's important to have a fast way to enter the title that you are looking for. The existing way they have is a hunt-and-peck virtual keyboard," Leigh said. "If you are searching for movies and TV shows from Internet sources, whether it's from Amazon, Blockbuster or Netflix, you can search very quickly."