No Surprise, TiVo Series3 Lite Arrives

Dave Zatz —  July 24, 2007 — 31 Comments

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After several weeks of leaked info, there’s not really much I can add at this point. The “TiVo HD” ($299.99) is basically a Series3 TiVo ($799.99 MSRP) without the S3 price tag. The most visible cost cutting moves were made by dropping the OLED display and Glo remote, plus reducing hard drive storage by about 1/3. Though it seems that the bulk of the savings were obtained by re-engineering the internals. Interestingly, industrial design and hardware layout began about 14 months ago – prior to the launch of the Series3. TiVo HD pre-orders begin today with units shipping, and hitting retail, in early August.

Having played with the TiVo HD a couple of weeks, I can definitely recommend it over the Series3 to those looking to buy a high def TiVo. Though you’ll want to expand that storage (internal or external) and should consider the much more polished Glo remote as an accessory. I’ve had such good luck with Comcast lately that I didn’t want to tempt fate in requesting a CableCARD or two, so I used a combination of analog cable and OTA while testing the DVR… and it works exactly as you’d expect it to. At first I didn’t care so much for the exterior design of the new unit, but it’s grown on me and I actually prefer it over the original Series3. I also prefer seeing the CableCARD slots located up front — it’s a smart design move to make them more accessible. And speaking of those slots, TiVo now officially supports the M-Card. Meaning if you can find a cable provider that offers them, you can dual tune digital cable using one card instead of two. (TiVo wouldn’t confirm that M-Card support is coming to the Series3, though they didn’t rule it out either.)

I can confirm some of the rumors posted on Engadget yesterday… TiVo does intend to officially enable external storage (eSATA) this fall, plus multi-room viewing and TiVoToGo are still under development for the Series3/HD platform.

TiVo HD pictures after the jump and the opening animation over at YouTube

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Details, details.

 

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Right at home.

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CableCARD slots smartly located in front.

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Not OLED.

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A Series3 by any other name…

 

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One card, or two?

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Get connected.

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160GB is not enough. Expand with eSATA.

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The gory internals.

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31 responses to No Surprise, TiVo Series3 Lite Arrives

  1. Thanks for the heads up! Several people I know have been waiting for this.

  2. Nice. Thanks Zatz!! At least you weren’t a tease about it. Nice pics. eSata expansion is a plus!! Is the downrezed SD TivoToGo transfers true?

  3. TiVo wouldn’t provide me any details on TiVoToGo or MRV other than that they are still working on it. Given the amount of dev time and the sheer size of HD recordings, I wonder if S3/HD file transfer will utilize coax rather than Ethernet (as FiOS TV and Moxi do).

  4. We’ve been calling it Series3 “Lite”. But what’s the official moniker? Just Tivo HD?

  5. Yah, the official name is “TiVo HD” — However, it’s also considered a “Series3 platform.” In fact the packaging, DVR, and info screen all have a “Series3″ label. I assume at some point they’ll phase out the original Series3 and offer a variety of TiVo HD models.

  6. Lucky for them they didn’t call it HDTiVo ;)

    Nice job on details no one had like development starting 14 months ago. Very interesting.

    I am depressed about TTG/MRV and pretty much figure its between nowhere in site and dead altogether.

  7. TiVO says TTG/MRV will be out later this year.

  8. Where do they say it?

    I don’t believe it anymore. Denny says they are ‘actively working on it’ in the engadget interview. We’ve heard it all before.

  9. And what are we going to find out? That our TIVo HD MRV is not compatible with our S3s and S2s???

    That we can only transfer SD transcodes around????

    I am totally pessimistic.

  10. HDTiVo – I talked to TiVo directly as part of my review and asked explicitly about TTG & MRV and was told directly it is coming later this year.

    You’re not going to MRV HD content to an S2 – it can’t decode it. There is a dedicated transcoding chip in the TiVo HD, which is interesting.

    I didn’t ask explicitly, but I believe MRV will handle HD between units that can support it.

  11. It is going to take a lot to get me out of this rotten mood.

    Do you know if the TiVo HD can record two analog channels at once? There is some confusion over this 2115 chip in Dave’s picture.

  12. Same functionality as the original Series3. But I think you guys are on the wrong track – the ViXS XCode-2115 isn’t the encoder, AFAIK. There are two Philips/NXT SAA7138CHL encoding chips, one near each ATI Theater 314. I believe those are the encoders.

  13. I’m in the market for an HD Tivo (just bought that Vizio 42″ LCD at Costco, and RCN NYC wants me to trade in my cable boxes for the sh!tty Motorola digital ones with no serial port, so the Tivo HD comes at the right time at the right price. But…

    until TTTG and MRV are enabled (and hopefully Lifetime transfer), I’m not buying. It would be great to record HD, but to lose the functionality that my 2 Series 2s have– no thanks. And it’s not like the price is going to go up…

  14. Is switched digital video going to be an issue? $300 is almost a no-brainer. I am kind of on a SDV kick right now ;)

  15. i must have one asap.

  16. Many Tivo devotees are quick to gloss over the whole thing about being unable to use the video-on-demand service that I’ve grown so accustomed to with my Cox-provided box. Sure, it has its quirks, but is Tivo really that much better than my 8300HD? IMHO, Tivo is way too late to the party with its $800 S3 and now this $300 lite version. Sacrifice my VOD-capable HD DVR for a friendlier, pricier box? Not until I don’t have to give up some of my favorite features for it.

  17. Re: ViXS chip – I believe it’s related to decoding the multiple streams of the M-Card.

    Re: TTG/MRV – Sounds like Megazone got them to reveal more info than they gave me. They wouldn’t commit to a time frame when I pressed them, though they were very clear it’s still on the table and being developed.

    Kevin, SDV will be a potential issue until a solution is engineered to support it… with or without the FCC stepping in.

    Alexi: I know for a fact you have an Xbox 360. Just order your HD VOD there and stop being a hater. ;) FYI If you look at my pics above, on top of my 360 you’ll see a small Moto cable box. Comcast was giving those out free for a year – so when I want OnDemand, I just switch inputs. It is true Amazon Unbox on the S3/HD doesn’t compete well with the cable company without offering HD flicks.

  18. Is there any reason to believe there is any back channel hardware in the box, that would make SDV possible? I guess we know for sure its not in the original series 3.

  19. So where’s the love for the early adopters and the S3? Surely there should be some differentiating feature to placate those who have the “gold” vs those who would now get the “standard” HD TiVo. Or should we merely expect that the existing S3 (along with the higher price point) to be phased out altogether? As others have stated: the slightly larger hard drive, slightly different remote, and LED panel (which I do like very much vs not having it) do not seem to justify a $300 price difference. Unless they enable (free) Lifetime transfers for the S3 box and not allow it for the newer one, that would at least make the extra $$ spent worthwhile for the minimal extra features.

  20. ooooh, and what was the verdict on two-way cablecard support? Is it technically possible in the Lite model vs what’s in the S3?

  21. Someone can look at the tuners on the board and see if they have transmitting capabilities. If they don’t two way communication will never work. If they are the same tuners from S3 I think it has already been confirmed that those have no transmitting capability.

  22. The re-addition of TTG and MRV is beyond huge.

    We recently got an XBOX 360 Elite and it’s the first time our HDTV has displayed any HD content, I admit I notice the difference quite a bit and definitely want an HD TiVo more than I used to.

    Still, the new one, even with TTG and MRV aren’t enough for me, we have satellite and won’t consider switching to cable (even it it were cheaper than satellite – I hate Time Warner with every fiber of my being) so without the ability to control a STB it’s not terribly useful.

    Still it’s a big step and I applaud TiVo for the effort.

  23. Maybe this is a dumb question, but is there any reason this won’t work with Direct TV HD service. I don’t want to have to rely on comcast for cable service.

  24. Andrew,

    This device will not work with satellite services.

  25. The TiVo HD is a great option for consumers looking for a way to make a smooth and smart transition to DTV in the U.S. The Tivo HD is a less pricy PVR for those who are looking for a box that can convert digital broadcasts to analog. Will manufacturers of converter boxes w. built in PVR match this TiVo? Will TiVo target the consumers affected by the transition in 2009?

  26. Andrew,

    Just to explain a little more, the HD TiVo can only record MPEG-2 / MPEG-4 streams directly from Cable or Antenna. The DirecTV boxes only output either component or HDMI and the TiVo has no way to except those signals and record them. Also the HD TiVo doesn’t have any way to change channels on other devices like a DirecTV box.

  27. A point of clarification from the Tivo FAQ:

    “What signal sources does the TiVo HD DVR support?
    The TiVo HD DVR supports digital cable, over-the-air digital antenna (ATSC), analog cable and analog antenna. You will need one (1) Multi-stream CableCARD or two (2) Single-stream CableCARDs to receive HD Digital channels. Without CableCARDs, you will still be able to receive standard definition analog channels, as well as analog and digital antenna channels.”

    My interpretation of that is that you can only get HD from CableCard, not antenna, but that doesn’t seem right. Can you get HD from antenna through the Tivo?

  28. Tim,

    “…and digital antenna channels” answered your question. You can receive HD over-the-air with or without cablecards. Cablecards are necessary to receive encrypted digital cable channels.

  29. I can confirm – all my testing was HD OTA and analog cable.

  30. OK thanks. There can technically be digital without HD, and the fact that they mentioned HD digital for cable card but just digital for antenna made me wonder. I guess I was just parsing the words too closely.

  31. Do these Cablecards cost extra from the Cable company?

    Here is hoping that DirecTV with its new Liberty owner will create a DTivo HD DVR based on the series 3 versions. We can

    only hope.

    Its very good for Tivo since they have more DTivo subs than standalone Tivo’s. And not bad for DirectTV considering the 2.6

    million DTivo users and I think thats almost half of its total subscribers. And now with the Tivo Comcast deal and many

    DTivo users leaving DirecTV for the new Series 3 via cable, they would be stupid not to drop their proprietary DVR and go

    with a Tivo branded one. And the Series 3 and Tivo HD already include the MPEG4 decoding hardware needed for their new MPEG4

    bird.

    And many news out on the wire seems to indicate this:
    http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070801-updates-show-more-signs-of-new-love-between-tivo-directv.html
    http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070606-tivo-directv-may-get-back-together-comcast-to-launch-tivo-in-august.html
    http://seekingalpha.com/article/22199-directv-now-in-liberty-media-s-hands-analysts-play-out-the-scenario
    http://www.tvpredictions.com/tivo060507.htm

    And now with many new HD programming coming post Sept 2007, its makes good sense to get on board with Tivo right now:
    http://www.tvpredictions.com/dweekend090607.htm

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