TiVo Announces More Affordable High-Def DVR - InformationWeek
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TiVo Announces More Affordable High-Def DVR

At $300, the TiVo HD will be priced substantially less than the TiVo Series 3 HD Digital Media Recorder, which has an $800 price tag.

TiVo has begun taking orders for its new TiVo HD digital video recorder, which is scheduled to ship next month.

The TiVo HD, priced at $300, addresses the principal complaint about the TiVo Series 3 HD Digital Media Recorder: its $800 price tag. Also missing is the Series 3's THX certification, its OLED front panel display, its back-lit programmable remote, and its larger hard drive.

A July survey on DVR trends conducted by The Carmel Group, a media market research firm, says that among those who do not own DVRs, the most commonly cited reservation about the devices was cost (42%).

By 2011, the number of U.S. households with DVRs will increase from 26 million today to 52.5 million, according to The Carmel Group.

Designed for the 30% of U.S. homes that have HD televisions, as well as those planning to purchase an HD set, TiVo HD works with analog and digital cable, and digital antenna (ATSC). It can record up to 20 hours of HD content or up to 180 hours of standard definition content on its internal 160-Gbyte drive. External storage can be added once TiVo, at some later date, activates support for eSATA hard drives.

Equipped with an Ethernet jack and two CableCARD slots and USB ports, TiVo HD can record two shows simultaneously while the owner is viewing a previously recorded show. A CableCARD is a PCMCIA card that replaces a dedicated cable box.

The TiVo HD works with Amazon.com's Unbox online movie download service. It also supports TiVoCast, Internet programming accessed over a broadband connection.

TiVo HD includes TiVo's Swivel search, which provides users with a way to find new shows without using the cumbersome text search option. Swivel search lets people use existing stored shows to find related or similar ones, much as Amazon makes product recommendations based on previous purchases.

Search may eventually become a revenue stream for TiVo. While nearly four out of 10 DVR users skip ads 100% of the time and eight out of ten skip ads more than 50% of the time, The Carmel Group survey notes that "they are the most receptive to ads that are personalized and customized toward them as individuals." More than half of DVR users surveyed indicated that they would be receptive to searching for ads that are related to products or services of interest.

TiVo HD will be available next month at Best Buy, Circuit City, and other retailers for $300, plus a monthly subscription fee of $17 or as low as $8.31 per month if prepaid ($299) for three years.

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