Why I am buying a TiVo Premiere today (Woot Deal)

May 24, 2011

Originally, this post was supposed to be about why I was not buying a new TiVo. A lot has happened in a week since TiVo changed their pricing structure.

First of all, Woot has a deal today where a refurbished TiVo Premiere is $60. If you already have service on a TiVo box, you can get product lifetime (i.e. you no longer pay the monthly TiVo service fee) on the additional box for $399. Total cost is $460.

Last week, I was wondering if the digital video recorder (DVR) itself is now irrelevant. With all of the talk and announcements around cloud-based content, I wondered why do we need local storage? Shouldn’t I be able to just stream all of my movies, TV shows and songs from the cloud? The reality is we are not there yet. The streaming video landscape is fragmented with a variety of providers and types of service plans. The quality of service also is not consistent. Without a DVR, I could get most of the content I am looking for but it would have to be through a combination of Amazon Instant, Netflix, HBO GO, Hulu Plus and On-Demand on a variety of boxes (can you see my wife’s face?). One day the DVR may be irrelevant but it’s not today. I wish I knew when we could all live in streaming video nirvana but there’s still a place for locally stored content today. I am also tired of waiting for version 1.9 of the FIOS DVR (which halted its roll-out recently). The thing about TiVo is that is just works and it offers one of the best TV experiences out there. Its mission is to bring everything together in one unified, easy-to-use interface.

Yesterday, for reasons I will save for another post, I actually looked at my FIOS bill.  It seems my six-month free DVR deal recently expired and I was now paying $20 a month for the FIOS DVR. I started to do the math and realized that the $399 for Product Lifetime for an additional TiVo was not such as bad deal anymore. After 20 months I would be at break even. Apparently, Verizon does not charge for the cablecard install any longer.

What about TiVo’s promise of one box to do everything? Unfortunately, we are still some way from that. There is not one box that can do it all yet and it’s not a technology problem.  I could argue there is still a place for a DVR, a Blu-ray player and a streaming box in the home. TiVo has a good shot at taking the place of the streaming box but they have a lot of work to do. Yesterday’s launch of Hulu on the TiVo Premiere was a good step forward. Updating their clients for Netflix and Amazon would be encouraging.

TiVo’s biggest barrier to becoming the living room’s streaming box is their monthly service cost (or the large upfront cost of Lifetime). People could purchase a Roku or an Apple TV and not pay any monthly fees. In reality, most will probably end up subscribing to Netflix but, for $8 a month, you get a boat load of content. For the $20 a month to TiVo, I get TV guide data (so it can record shows accurately) and functionality updates. There’s not enough value for the monthly fee. The other significant barrier is the cable card install.

Finally, keep in mind that the Hub is a geek at heart (like you didn’t know that already). In a home with a TiVo Series3 and a FIOS DVR, why would I need another TiVo? I just can’t help myself. I love new gadgets and I would love to play with the Premiere and be able to sample all it offers. I’ll probably return the FIOS DVR for the time being to make the cost justification for the new TiVo.

So, for $60 plus the cost of Lifetime, I will be able to get the latest and greatest TiVo. It will have more recording space and functionality than my current Series3. I’m betting on the future of what TiVo promises to offer. I’ll be at the window waiting for the UPS man to arrive along with my good friend pictured below.

Tags: FIOS, Premiere, streaming, TiVo

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