Waiting for the Sequel to the TiVo Premiere

March 2, 2010

This evening, TiVo announced its new Series4 box called the TiVo Premiere. Tivo calls it the “one box to rule them all” (Did they read my blog post last Thursday?) Below are a number of links covering the launch extensively. To summarize and analyze:

The Premiere has more powerful hardware, more recording capacity and a new HD interface. There are  neat incremental upgrades such as the optional QWERTY remote, the wireless N adapter and the calibration wizard on the XL.  Missing was the compelling feature to put it over the top and make us all want to run out and buy it. Alas, there is still hope!  During the press conference it was stated that they have made it easier for developers to build applications. However, very little information was shared about how this would happen. What will compel folks to develop for this box and how will they do it? All we really know is that Adobe’s new flash platform for set top boxes is being used. There were also references to some social networking and user profile functionality in the screen shots but no discussion of it.

I am a little skeptical about the new interface. I know everyone is excited that it utilizes the screen real estate that a HD display offers. However, it just feels too busy to me. There is something to be said of TiVo’s current easy-to-use and straighforward interface. It’s nice how the new interface connects TV data together (i.e. what other shows has this actor been in). I’ve only seen screenshots so far (and played with the TiVo Search Beta) so I will reserve final judgment until I see it in person.

The real question is the TiVo Premiere worth buying today? The answer depends on who you are.

TiVo Series 1 and 2 Owners: It’s a compelling upgrade given the your old TiVo’s hard drive may die any day now. You will be able to record two HD shows at once.  You gain access to services such as Amazon Video On Demand and Netflix.  Tivo is giving a 50% discount to add Lifetime service to existing owners.

Series 3 Owners: You are not able to do much more than you can do today.  The Series3 TiVo is aesthetically superior to the Series4. Best to wait to see if they can leverage the new platform and come out with some cool apps.

RCN Subscribers: Apparently, there will be a RCN specific version of the box released this summer that will have access to OnDemand. With the right pricing, this could be a great deal.

Non-Tivo Owners: It’s a bit of a stretch right now. There is not a lot here to pull folks away from their generic cable company or FIOS DVRs. When paired with something like Apple TV or a Roku box, its hard to make the argument to move to TiVo today.

DirectTv: I only hear crickets

A quick reading of the TiVo Community forums is that a lot of folks are disappointed. My recommendation is that TiVo starts sharing a lot more details about the capabilities of the Series4 and its future with this community as soon as possible. Remember, first impressions count for a lot!

Coverage of the launch:
Engadget’s Summary
Hands On with the new TiVo from Engadget
Zatz Not Funny’s Coverage

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