When the original high-definition TiVo Series3 digital video recorder debuted last year, even though it had good reviews, it also had a hard time winning customers due to a whopping $800 price tag. Today, TiVo announced its new "TiVo HD", hoping to widen its appeal by putting it in the $299 price point.
"We're seeing a desire for HD everything," James McQuivey, a vice president and analyst at Forrester Research, said, "and it would have been a missed opportunity for TiVo to not introduce a more affordable product."
Besides being $500 cheaper than the Series3, the biggest difference between the models is that the TiVo HD has a 160GB hard drive, to which you can record 180 hours of standard-definition programming or 20 hours of high-definition programming, versus the Series3 HD's 250GB hard drive. The TiVo HD allows recording and playback of HDTV that shows up to 1080i, and features the dual CableCARD slots that can capture one show and play or capture another simultaneously. The cheaper model also drops the high-end LED display on the front of the box; it comes with a more basic remote control and sports an exterior less slick in design.
But while the new TiVo is priced significantly lower, the $16.95 monthly fee or $299 for three years prepaid is likely to turn off potential customers. TiVo has struggled to compete against cable and satellite operators that provide DVR services at half the price or less than TiVo's monthly subscriptions. Moreover, many PC makers are starting to roll out CableCARD-enabled PCs based on Microsoft's Media Center and Vista Home Premium operating systems that do not require a subscription plan.