TiVo last week officially announced the newest member of the Premiere line of digital video recorders (DVRs), the TiVo Premiere 4. In short, TiVo has added an entry level four tuner box to their line-up at $249 retail.
The Premiere 4 has a 500 GB hard drive which provides up to 75 hours of HD recording. Unlike the entry level two tuner Premiere, the Premiere 4 does not include the ability to record over-the-air broadcasts. Not including the over-the-air broadcast helps TiVo hit the $250 price point. The Premiere 4 only works with cable and Verizon FIOS as it relies on CableCARD to receive broadcasts. If you need more recording space, you can opt for the TiVo XL4 which can record up to 300 hours in HD, thanks to its 2 TB hard drive. The XL4 also adds a TiVo glo-remote control and THX certification.
After looking at the product data sheet and the web specs, I reached out to TiVo to clarify a few things that struck me as strange. While the product sheet says it supports “Dolby 5.1″ (and the web specs omit it), the Premiere 4 actually supports both Dolby Digital and Dolby Digital Plus. The first time I saw the TiVo demonstrate its support for Dolby Digital Plus was with the new Netflix client released last May. Apparently, the Premiere also supports Dolby Digital Plus from cable broadcasts . I’ve had one report that FIOS broadcasts in DD Plus. I’ll have to figure out why I’m not receiving Dolby Digital Plus on any of my FIOS channels. Stay tuned.
Also, like the rest of the Premiere line, the 4 supports 480i, 480P, 720P, 1080i and 1080P. To be more specific, the 1080P support is limited to 24 fps. For cable, this isn’t relevant as most HD cable broadcasts are in 720P or 1080i. For streaming video, it is a limitation as some Netflix content is available in 1080P at 30 frame per second (however, more of the Netflix 1080P content is at 24 fps).
Unlike the base Premiere, the Premiere 4 also supports MoCA. MoCA provides the TiVo IP connectivity over coax wiring, typically used to connect cable boxes. This removes the need to get the wireless adapter or run ethernet wiring into the room. This feature is also helpful if you’re planning to purchase the other products that make up TiVo’s Whole Home solution: The upcoming TiVo Stream and IP-Set Top Box . Given the TiVo IP Set Top box needs to take over a tuner, it makes sense why folks would opt for a 4-tuner TiVo. While TiVo has hinted that the functionality of Stream may be included in a future hardware release, it’s not included in this model. That makes sense since TiVo reiterated to me that the new TiVo Premiere 4 has the same amount of processing power as the rest of the Premiere line. We’ll probably have to wait till the 5th generation of TiVo hardware to see feature such as Stream and wireless built-in.