HD Tivo Series3 released

Available later today for $800. They’ve got my money!


hahaha 800 bucks. They are high as a motherfucker.

My question is this: how is this supposed to fit into a home HD set-up? Don’t most cable and satellite HD services already come with their own HD-DVR? I know my Comcast service does, and DirecTV has a combined HD receiver/Tivo box.

It isn’t out on tivo.com so it isn’t out yet. $800 my ass.

Look up CableCard and come back… Seriously, Gary, do you even read the articles or do you just stare at the pictures? ;)

Yeah, it’s hard to see how Tivo can compete with Comcast and the like for dual tuner HDDVRs.

Tivo: $800 initial cost + $16 a month + $3 for cablecard rental.

Comcast: $0 initial cost + $5 or $10 dollars a month, depending on your local deals.

Comcast is supposedly licensing the tivo software, but they sure are taking their sweet time at it. That seems like the only thing that might keep tivo afloat.

What Tivo should do is push video podcasts. I don’t understand why they just don’t make it braindead simple to subscribe to video podcasts with the Tivo desktop software. If you use third part apps you can set it up right now, but they could make the process totally transparent.

FYI Comcast is rolling out TiVo software on their boxes soon. Supposedly they are beta testing it right now.

Just to clue you in about the pricing, the TiVo boxes that are $0 on tivo.com are going for $200 still in some retail places. I have a hard time believing that $800 is the end user price. People will pay that as much as they paid $500 MSRP for a Razr.

Can somebody give me a basic rundown of WTF a cablecard is? It’s news to me, and those articles linked above assume that one already knows.

In any case, if Comcast is going Tivo, that’ll do me nicely thank you. Their current proprietary DVR firmware is absolute SHIT.

Essentially it’s the digital tuner set up with the codes so that it can do everything the cable provider’s digital box can do, except for PPV and VoD. Some high end HDTVs that have hard drive based PVRs have CableCard slots as well.

Also, yes Comcast’s DVR is a pile of crap.

So Tivo essentially becomes the TV content provider also? Or would you rent a cablecard from existing cable/satellite providers?

You have to rent it, but at a substantially reduced cost. $1.50 a CableCard from Charter, my cable company, for example. They also have to install it for you.

Why would they charge me $1.50 a month for a cable card when they’re already charging me much more than that for my existing service?

Just trying to get the tech end straight - so the Series 3 Tivo is also a receiver, you just need the one box with a cable card in the back?

Industry regulation I think dictates they have to make it available to consumers, just like you don’t need a box to get analogue cable. It just means you can’t get PPV or VOD, and they will try to upsell you a bunch of times and require an “appointment” to install it instead of just giving you the cards.

The Series 3 TiVo is a receiver minus the cards that unlock the reception, basically. Think the cards that go into a DirecTV or Dish satellite box, and you’re getting warm. It probably has more in common with the DirecTiVo, except that it is HDTV and has ethernet on the box.

You need two of them to use the dual tuners actually. You still need to keep your cable box around if you want to use OnDemand or PPV.

OnDemand = VOD, yes? :P So, what I said.

It replaces your current cable box; HD cable DVRs cost $15/month or so. The cablecards cost around $1/month apeice to lease from your cable company. Of course the upfront cost is crazy expensive right now, but unlike the SA8300 and its ilk it isn’t a miserable piece of crap. Prices will drop, $800 is the early adopter cost.

Also, it’s $13 per month, not $16.

Yeah, it sounds super expensive, but as someone who just switched from DirectTV/Tivo to Adelphia - it’s ALMOST tempting. The software on the Adelphia DVR is so pitiful compared to the Tivo software that it’s almost impossible to browse around and find shows. The Adelphia software uses the ‘conventional’ cable setup of showing 4 channels in horizontal strips and it shows about 2 hours of shows. So finding something not on those channels or on in the future requires tons of buttonpresses.

The Tivo software uses two columns: on the left column is a list of channels, showing what’s on now on all of them. The channel on the left list that’s highlighted has about 10 hours of its schedule shown on the right side. Page up or down moves the entire list, so it’s really easy to either page through all of the channels or go through a day’s worth of shows on one specific channel to find shows.

(Actually turns out this is Tivo Series 2 or maybe even Series 1 software, the series 3 is a lot like the Comcast display. Ugh).

Prices should drop rapidly- the HD DirecTivos were $1000 when they hit the market just over two years ago, but they’re only a couple of hundred bucks now.

Yeah, it is. It probably seems like a bad deal to people who have never used Tivo and are just comparing cost and feature lists, but man, Tivo really is almost that much better than the DVRs that you get from cable companies. I hate my current Time/Warner DVR (a Scientific Atlanta box), even though it has much better features (dual tuner, much larger hard drive, etc.) than my old Tivo. On paper.

The thing that is hard to understand from reading feature lists is that the user interface is arguably the most important feature on a DVR, and Tivo is light years ahead of anyone else on that front. To wit:

  1. Season passes: Tivo has much better season pass management, since my current DVR has essentially none at all. You can season pass shows, sure, but the only options you ever get are whether or not to record first-runs only, all shows in a specific time slot, or all shows period. There is no screen that lets you see all the shows that you currently have season-passed; you can only modify a season pass by going to the listing for the next episode of that show that is scheduled for recording, which often takes some hunting. There is no way to prioritize season passes; if you have a conflict, the DVR will ask you, when the recording is about to start, which show you would rather record, and then delete the other season pass. No, not just that particular recording–the whole damn season pass. If you don’t happen to be watching TV when the DVR asks which show to record, it chooses one for you at random (as far as I can tell), deletes the other season pass, and then never bothers to tell you. Somewhere down the road you’ll probably notice (“Hey, why isn’t the damn DVR recording the Daily Show any more?”) and add the show to your list again, but you are practically guaranteed to miss episodes. Whoever designed this system should be summarily shot.

  2. You can’t do searches for shows. The only way to find things to record is by pouring through the channel listings. Is there any channel currently airing Dr. Who reruns? Have fun searching through seven days of program listings for each of the 300 channels that you get, one at a time, to try to find out. With Tivo, you could do a search by title and find out in about fifteen seconds. And you’ll have to hope that the show you are searching for is airing within the next seven days, because that’s all the program listings that the box keeps handy (Tivo goes out two weeks).

  3. Tivo has hundreds of little interface features that my current DVR lacks. If I am watching a recording on Tivo and then stop in the middle and come back to it later, Tivo always remembers where I was in the recording. My current DVR doesn’t. If you change to a different channel or a different recording, the recording that you were watching will only play from the beginning when you go back to it. If you are watching a show while it is being recorded, but not live (i.e. you come in partway through the airing and play it from the beginning), the DVR will boot you out to live TV when it stops recording. Then you have to go to the recorded program list, find the recorded show, play it, and fast forward to wherever you were in the recording. In the latest software “update,” they made it so the DVR doesn’t cache while the TV is turned off. So if you turn on the TV and there’s a show on that you’d like to rewind and see from the beginning, too bad–you have no cache. With Tivo, you could start watching a show and then decide to record it partway in, and Tivo would save the whole show, including the part you had already watched (which is in the cache). My current DVR not only won’t do that, it also clears the cache when you start recording, so now you can’t rewind at all. Tivo lets you prioritize which recordings get deleted, and when, to make more space on the drive. My current DVR only lets you assign a set duration for how long it will keep shows (one day, two days, up to I think a week). You can also tell it not to delete the shows after a set period of time, and I assumed that this worked like Tivo (i.e. it would keep the shows until it ran out of space, and would then delete shows to make more space, starting with the oldest recording). But I recently discovered that if my current DVR runs out of space on the drive, it just stops recording stuff. It won’t tell you or anything, unless you happen to be watching when a recording is about to start (then it flashes a warning that the drive is full). To clear space, you have to go into the recorded program list and delete old recordings manually, one at a time. With Tivo, you could delete programs from the list with a single button press. With my current DVR, you have to go through four menu screens to delete each individual recording. When your drive is full and you have about sixty or seventy recordings that you want to nuke, plan to spend about thirty or forty minutes doing it (“down, select, down, down, select, A to confirm”… rinse and repeat sixty or seventy times).

I could go on. My list of beefs with my cable company’s DVR is pretty lengthy. The funny thing is, from reading the various forums, people say that the DVR that I have is one of the better ones, among the DVRs that various cable companies offer. I shudder to think what other people must be saddled with. So with that in mind, $800 for a Tivo HD-DVR doesn’t make me laugh out loud or anything. In fact, it makes me want to start saving.

Edit: oh, yeah, forgot to mention one of the biggest annoyances with my current DVR–it doesn’t check to see whether or not it has already recorded a particular episode, so if you have season passed a show that airs in multiple time slots (as many shows do these days), you’ll always end up with duplicate recordings. Annoying.

Hopefully they get the record time up. 30 HD hours isn’t enough for a family.