Cnet have just spilled the beans about the latest TiVo update. Expectations were high TiVo promoted the event with the tag line ‘A DVR was just the beginning’. So what did TiVo deliver and does it live up to the hype ?
The new Series 4 TiVo will come in 2 varieties, TiVo Premiere with a 320GB HDD (US$300) and a TiVo XL containing a 1TB HDD (US$500). Sadly Americans will still be forced to pay monthly, annual or lifetime subscription fees, something we gladly escape in the Aus version.
The new TiVo remote is essentially the same, with the addition of a slide out qwerty keyboard. Personally I think Boxee’s keyboard on the back would have been a better solution. It does look like they’ve been able to pull it off without adding much extra bulk to the remote, but not doubt it’ll weight a little more. The up, down, left, right control scheme for TiVo is fine for basic functions, but when searching for content it becomes a pain.
There’s a new UI, this time in HD, something current model seriously needs. Whilst the existing TiVo models do support widescreen, the interface is only SD and after being around for 10 years, it was well overdue for a reboot. The new TiVo UI features integrated online video sources including Netflix and YouTube.
The ‘Premiere’ model of TiVo comes with cable support, which is equivalent to our Austar or Foxtel PayTV.
Another new feature is the ability to manage user profiles. Naturally the way a home works is that different people like different shows, until now they’ve all been bundled into one main list of recorded shows. Now they can be browsed by user.
Sadly existing TiVo owners (Series 3 and HD) will not receive the update, so if you want the new hotness, you’ll need the new box. To pull of the new faster UI, there’s upgraded internal hardware which will ship in the US next month.
Basically it’s an interesting announcement, fairly predictable, no massive shocks here and certainly doesn’t live up to the hype of the event. Where’s the 8 tuners, or boxee integration, or xbox media extender support, or even just DLNA streaming from PCs, sadly none of the features that would have been truly impressive have arrived.
I may have been a little hasty to condemn the announcement as not that interesting. After reading through the official press release there is indeed a number of interesting changes.
Premiere is built on multi-core architecture that greatly facilitates future development of third party provided applications.
We Listened: By popular demand Premiere includes an on-screen disk space meter that shows how much room is left to record, a built in 30 second scan, and a new video window that lets you watch your favorite show while navigating the TiVo menus.
A new relationship with FrameChannel brings the best of the web directly to the TV offering users access to nearly 1,000 content widgets of personal and commercial content, ranging from Tweets, photos and status updates to news, weather, sports scores and stock quotes.
Even More Content: A brand new relationship with Pandora means in the coming months, Premiere as well as TiVo Series3™ and HD DVR customers will be able to listen to their personalized Pandora radio stations..
TiVo in Australia is only licensed, by Hybrid Television Services, so a US announcement like this does not automatically correlate to an Australian release. As a TiVo owner, I was really looking fwd to getting an updated UI, new features all via a firmware update, sadly this won’t be the case.