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Tuesday January 10, 2006 9:23 pm

CES 2006 Video: TiVo Series 3 Video Interview, First Look

TiVo Series 3


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We got some quality hands-on time with the forthcoming TiVo Series 3, TiVo’s first HD-capable DVR. The Series 3 unit has some cool new features, including a single-color, two-line OLED LCD display on the front of the unit that shows you what’s being recorded on each tuner. We interviewed Bob Pony of TiVo (TiVoPony on the TiVo Community forums) about what we can expect in the Series 3, so be sure to check out the video interview above. The quick and dirty is that it features built-in ethernet, an external SATA port for expanding your TiVo’s capacity, and that it will ship with a 250 GB hard drive. (Note: Bob incorrectly states in the video that the shipping capacity is 300 GB. He corrected himself after we had finished shooting.) No official release date exists, of course, but they’re saying “in the second half of 2006.” We will have a downloadable version of this video up shortly.

Follow the jump for our personal impressions on the Series 3.

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TiVo Series 3
Series 3 looks like a firm response to the mass’ clamoring for HD on TiVo. I’m naturally expecting it to initially be priced for the early adopter, perhaps between $800 and $1,200. [Edit below. —CC] I’m also half-expecting it to get pushed back to early 2007, which would likely damage TiVo as more and more people go for the relatively accessible solution their cable providers will offer.

The TiVo remote has undergone a redesign for Series 3. It keeps the traditional peanut shape and is now weighted to one side, with one side ribbed, so you can tell which end is up, even in the dark. Furthermore, it’s backlit. The directional disc from the original design has been split into four distinct directional buttons, with a central select button in the middle. It’s tactile response felt a little off, but TiVo did inform me that it wasn’t a production model and still had some changes to undergo. Still, exciting, but moreso when the price point finally comes down.

Addendum, January 11, 2006:
Per Colin’s trackback post below, I realize that I was not at all thinking when I provided an estimate of $800-$1,200 for the Series 3. Understand that I didn’t get much sleep this weekend. What I meant to write was the more widely reported, and certainly more accurate $400-$800, and probably on the lower end of that, to boot. TiVo’s cost model lately seems to be pushing more and more towards driving users to buy into the required subscription model, and using that as a way to subsidize the unit’s cost. Obviously, they’ll want to recoup the costs associated with the rebuild of the software, the additional HD tuners and some other more advanced hardware, but they recognize the return is on the subscription, and making the entry point cost-prohibitive is sketchy at best. Obviously, we won’t see any $50 Series 3’s for a long time here, but I’m thinking we won’t see any $1,200 ones either. Thanks for calling me out, but let’s hope they’ll keep things sub-$400!

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TiVo isn’t dead because people know TiVo owns all.  I can get 100 different MP3 players but Apple is what I want even though more expensive.  Its because you know its quality.  I think this is going to save TiVo and I’ll be buying one as soon as preorder starts…

Wow to the user above…

It will be at least $600+.  The HD DirecTV Tivo was $1000, why would this be 1/5 of that price.  A 40 hour right now is $200 and this one has a lot more HD space and features.  Maybe it will eventually be $200 but it won’t start that way. 

Google might be involved in the same way Yahoo! is right now.  Providing content and such but to make the leap that its going to have some secret Google OS is just insane.  And how the hell is Walmart going to manufacture it if they aren’t a manufacturer.  Is Walkmart going to build factories just so they can make TiVos?  LOL!  I have no idea where this Walmart thing is even coming from.  And lastly, just because they can’t disclose who will be making it doesn’t mean anything if they are still in active negotiations with the companies.  His body language makes me think he’s sick of answering the same questions a million times.

At least you made me laugh today…

We did talk to them about resolution - 1080i is the max.

I like that our interview is causing so much speculation and discussion. It should be noted that there were a few questions I asked on the video that I had already received answers to from a separate TiVo rep before going on camera.

They were:
A) Series 3’s shipping capacity. (On video, this is incorrect, but Pony corrected himself after we shot.)
B) If you could (stupidly) downscale an HD recording to “basic” quality or some such. I was told yes, even though that made little sense, and didn’t think to confirm or deny before asking on camera. Pony’s answer is correct.
C) Who will be manufacturing the new TiVo? The person I spoke to before Pony said they would be manufactured <em>by TiVo</em>. That’s the reason I asked about the manufacturers on camera.

All your talk about Google acquiring TiVo is nothing new, and frankly, I’d welcome it. So long as Google knew what they were doing (and they usually do) as far as ad-placement and annoyance levels are concerned, it could bring some great features and low cost points to the model. (Think, no more monthly fees, if you opt-in to slightly more aggressive ads?)

Meanwhile, TiVo’s recent inclusion of much partnered-with-Yahoo content shouldn’t be ignored… You can bet that TiVo would have to Ctrl+Z all that Yahoo stuff we’re seeing on our boxes if Google up and bought them…

Time will tell, I suppose…

The TiVo remote has undergone a redesign for Series 3. It keeps the traditional peanut shape and is now weighted to one side, with one side ribbed, so you can tell which end is up, even in the dark.

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