TiVo released its first HD recorder last fall. The time-shifting lords were glacially slow to market compared with DirecTV and cable companies. That unit was pricey ($799) — and that’s before you got to TiVo’s subscription fees.
Things just got better. At the end of the month, TiVo sends to market the HD machine’s more economical little brother: The 180-hour TiVo HD DVR (Series3) streets for $299. The actual HD recording time is 20 hours; the 180-minute reference is to standard definition. So why isn’t it called the 20-hour TiVo HD DVR? (Think back to Beta-VHS.) The real count on the other box is 32 hours HD and 300 hours SD.
One of the cool things you can do with this box is download movies directly from Amazon’s Unbox. Connect to the Net via wiFi.
The unit replaces the cable box and will even capture local HD signals with rabbit ears. You’ll need to rent a CableCard if you have cable. That runs about $1.50 a month. The cable box fee goes away when you return it. The feds just required the cablers to provide this after the usual kicking and screaming from those jokers. They stand to lose PPV/VOD revenue from the migration.
Here’s what the New York Times’ tech guy, David Pogue, has to say about the new HD TiVo:
… (E)ven the new $300 model smokes the circuits off the generic, cruddy-software rivals from the cable companies. The TiVo looks better, works better, and offers about 12,000 useful features that the cable-company boxes lack.
The cards are supposed to work in DVRs, TVs and computers, including media centers. But many of those devices have not yet provided slots for the cards. My up-to-date Sharp Aquino TV doesn’t. Some LG models do. The FCC ruling should speed that along. Still, most of us pilgrims will continue to wait here, impatiently, for the holy grail of convergence.
More good news from TiVo and its sort-of partner DirecTV. The Series2-based DVRs that DirecTV provided its customers are all getting some upgrades. The most significant is addition of Web scheduling, says Ars Technica, which has been all over the TiVo-DirecTV story.