TiVo Premiere Q & Preview Announced (sort of)

Dave Zatz —  June 12, 2011 — 33 Comments


TiVo’s been telegraphing this move for nearly a year, not to mention a few good leaks, so it should come as no surprise that they’re (sort of) announcing the components of their whole home DVR solution: a quad-tuner TiVo “Premiere Q” and the non-DVR “TiVo Preview.” However, the reason I say sort of is that the news comes from a single source and hasn’t been corroborated anywhere else. Yet, it all sounds legit. And we know The Cable Show gets going in Chicago this week. So it’s most likely a case of premature coverage, rather than a forgery of some sort.

From the TMCnews article:

TiVo Premiere Q is the company’s first quad-tuner gateway set-top box, a higher-end option than its flagship Premiere dual-tuner digital video recorder. In addition, TiVo is rolling out Preview, its first non-DVR HD set-top box. RCN will be the first U.S. cable operator to offer subscribers the Premiere Q and Preview, in addition to its current TiVo Premiere offering, later this year. Suddenlink Communications also expects to offer the new boxes at some point.

The story goes on to say these new units stream content box-to-box locally via MoCA, versus the retail Premiere’s traditional wired or wireless networking. Again, no surprises.

The only unanswered question, and it’s a biggie, is will these boxes ever be made available to retail customers rather than through a cable provider like RCN? I suspect retail TiVo Premiere sales are poor, and certainly subscriber numbers continue to decline. I doubt a higher end, more costly quad tuning unit would find additional success at Best Buy. On the other hand, an online only offering is a less costly proposition for getting this into retail and perhaps it’d energize the base. Who in turn would promote TiVo amongst their peers. Likewise, if TiVo can figure out how to market the cable-tuning, Premiere-streaming Preview box and without crippling it with an out of line monthly service charge, it’d be a solid online offering to excite the hardcore and start building that halo. I’m not sure TiVo even knows what they’re prepared to do at this point, but it’s clearly on their mind. They still have a few months to finalize a plan (should there be one) to get in on the lucrative holiday shopping season…

(Thanks, Brennokbob!)

33 responses to TiVo Premiere Q & Preview Announced (sort of)

  1. In addition to online, I could see Best Buy trying the Q in their higher end Magnolia mini stores. Hm. With the right pricing, I coud see myself buying one and at least two Previews. Unless FiOS IMG 2.0 is out and amazing.

    After the story hit the web, I reached out to a pair of TiVo press contacts last night who I did hear back from. But they had nothing to say on the matter at this time.

  2. Quad-tuners are nice, but I just want a TiVo with a user interface with as much of ‘teh snappy’ as my TiVo HD has to get me to upgrade. If the Q includes ‘teh snappy’, count me in. If it’s just the same Premiere with 4 tuners, I’ll keep my TiVo HD.

    And good lord, one assumes if they sell ‘em retail that they won’t make MoCA the only networking port.

    And great lord, one assumes they won’t stop retail sales. They’re crazy if they do, even at low current sales levels. Retail is a big long-term advantage for TiVo, in a variety of ways, with low hassle for them to continue implementing.

  3. MoCA is preferable to traditional home networking. But it comes at a hardware cost and possibly conceptual cost. If they went it to retail with it, it’d be interesting to see if they retain it.

    Retail is a long term advantage if we ever get to a cable gateway like the AllVid proposal. Right now, I’m not so sure other than having a voluntary, paid pool of beta testers. I assume they’d keep the existing Premiere in play, but would they go higher end? That didn’t work out so well with the original Series3…

  4. I’d definatley be in for a Q if they’re retail available with the extenders. I have 2 HDTVs outside of my main room and I don’t want a separate DVR for each one since it’s $$$. So putting the “preview” units in those rooms is a much better idea. If they can both tune HD from the main box and recorded content that’ll work. Even better if they can get stuff like Amazon without going through the main box. 4 tuners should be enough.

  5. Anthony, the leaked extender box info suggests they tune via their own CableCARD/tuner. And presumably come with a full fledged UI of services. Which is why I wonder about a possible fee in retail given. Streaming HD from Premiere to Preview seems like a done deal for sure.

  6. Hmm. I don’t like the idea of having to pay another $5.50/mo to Cox for each extender (CC+additional outlet fee) plus the CC setup fee $30. I’d rather have the All-Vid style setup. I want the extender boxes to be as dumb as possible WRT cable TV. Stream stream stream!

  7. I really hope TiVo offers this at retail and does it correct, including MoCa and also using a 2tb drive.

    I would order one the day it went up. I already have a room that could use my last TiVo HD. Of course knowing TiVo this could be for next year though hopefully it is out by the end of the year if not sooner. It would be nice if they released it in time for the new fall season.

    Hopefully they offer a way to use the Preview without a subscription. I could see them selling it at retail for the cost of the Premiere and possibly compete against things like roku. Of course if they require a sub they would severely limit their market. This and of course if they don’t update the various apps like Netflix and continue to add services.

  8. From the story, “The Preview box also includes integrated MoCA and Ethernet for home networking.” It looks like it already supports ethernet in addition to MoCA for MSOs and possibly retail use. What am I missing?

    I would like to see them strip out the MoCA and add wireless-N for retail use.

  9. Personally would rather keep MoCa especially as often as I have to wait on my wireless network while using my iPad. I used MoCa at my mom’s to hook up her TiVo HDs since she has FiOS so was already setup for MoCa and it has been trouble free. I can’t say the same about her wireless devices like her printer and laptops. It seems like it would be less of a support issue also.

  10. For MSOs, MoCA would undoubtably be used for whole-home HD streaming. Ethernet and possibly 802.11* would be reserved for the iPad app and whatever online services are offered through the TiVo like Facebook and such. If TiVo takes it to retail, they could drop MoCA to save money and complexity at the expense of reliability. Personally, I’d prefer the MoCA.

  11. Any Tivo product is a niche product, and they way they are pricing the service it is highly unlikely they are getting much new uptake (relying instead on people replacing their old equipment and maybe buying a new box for a different room).

    This quad tuner box is a niche inside a niche. And if the STB isn’t a catcher from a DVR, then why have it at all.

    I am not happy with Tivo in general. But then again, I am a DirecTV person.

  12. It better steam to any DLNA device. If not I am going to have to write off Tivo as a company.

  13. @Dave:

    “Anthony, the leaked extender box info suggests they tune via their own CableCARD/tuner.”

    I didn’t get that impression, and it wouldn’t make much sense to me. Exactly what part of the article suggests that?

  14. “Retail is a long term advantage if we ever get to a cable gateway like the AllVid proposal. Right now, I’m not so sure other than having a voluntary, paid pool of beta testers. I assume they’d keep the existing Premiere in play, but would they go higher end? That didn’t work out so well with the original Series3…”

    Especially now that there is an FCC that seems highly interested in making CableCARD work in the short to medium term, and somewhat interested in putting together an AllVid setup in the longer term, it makes sense for TiVo to keep their entrenched monopoly on 3rd party DVR’s. That’s a useful thing to have going forward, for a wide variety of reasons, especially when the hassles involved in keeping it going are minimal.

    It just puts TiVo in a better strategic position going forward. Why give up a piece of the high ground?

    And I certainly don’t see the downside in shipping the Q/Preview combo as a 3rd party device. Why not ship a retail Q/Preview to folks who want it? It’d be a thing for high-end consumers, whom companies should want to have in the fold. (Though I wasn’t paying attention to the TiVoSphere when whatever disaster happened with the Series3 that you are referring to happened, so maybe I’m missing something)

  15. It isn’t in the article. It has been mentioned in other posts and also leaked by some testers.

    http://www.zatznotfunny.com/2011-03/whats-next-for-tivo-hulu-streaming-extenders/

  16. @chucky, I think he is referring to the price of the s3 at launch and how it had poor sales. I believe it wasn’t until the HD came out that the HD units started moving.

    I definitely think TiVo needs to be careful and not price themselves out of the limited market. They could drop the xl completely or drop the price $100 and then offer the Q for $299 assuming a 1tb drive or $399 with a 2tb drive.

  17. @Brennok:

    Ah, okay. Maybe there’s still hope that it can use its own CableCard but that one isn’t required…

  18. “I think he is referring to the price of the s3 at launch and how it had poor sales. I believe it wasn’t until the HD came out that the HD units started moving.”

    Yup. The HD is when I jumped on the boat.

    But if they’re already making the Q/Preview for MSO’s, it makes sense for TiVo to also make it available in the retail channel to folks who want it as a 3rd party solution.

  19. @brennok, makes sense to drop the price of the XL to $199 and keep it in the retail/MSO chain due to its larger hard drive and THX cert. Agree that the Q would probably be $299 at retail with a drive larger than 1TB and the Preview should by $79 or $99 at retail. I would like to see lifetime on the Preview be $99 or the monthly fee be less than $4.95/mo.

  20. Chucky, retail is a more costly proposition for TiVo assuming they could secure shelf space for a high end unit. Speaking of, Sam, unless they’re willing to tap into DISH earnings it’s doubtful TiVo could sell a four tuner, 2TB, MoCA DVR for $299. Gotta compromise somewhere…

  21. I would order a Premiere Q & two Preview’s today to replace my main S3, the S2 in the bedroom, and add access to my front room (which currently doesn’t have a TV/TiVo but I plan to add that).

  22. I’ve got a couple of Tivo HD units, each with Cable Cards. Each with monthly fees from Tivo. IF Tivo got their shit together and made the UI performance acceptable AND the monthly fees for say a 4-tuner Q and a preview were less than or equal to what I’m paying for the two HD’s, I’d probably switch. I’d get a single system requiring a large drive (and risking potential failure of same), a single pool of recordings to maintain, few to no conflicts to manage, etc. Assuming of course you can do basic tasks like deletion and even season pass maintenance on the previews (or my iPad I guess).

    But several of those are big IFs. I’m not certain they can get the UI working. And I’m not certain the monthly rates will be reasonable. Guess we’ll see.

    And yes, I’d prefer MoCA for interconnect as well. Hope its retained for the retail unit. If not, I’ll use the MoCA bridges I already own…

  23. @Dave do you think the MoCa chips are that expensive? With the significant price drops in drives, the 2TB drive should cost them about what the 1TB drive did when they came out with the XL.

    Also if they stick with the two chip design it would be potentially just a matter of dropping the OTA off the chips and going with dual qam tuners per chip.

  24. “it’s doubtful TiVo could sell a four tuner, 2TB, MoCA DVR for $299. Gotta compromise somewhere…”

    Sure. Assuming we’re back in the (normal) $129/yr subscription, that’s a $599 retail item. No problem. $399 with a smaller HD. (Gotta raise margins at the top end.)

    “Chucky, retail is a more costly proposition for TiVo assuming they could secure shelf space for a high end unit.”

    Screw shelf space. Sell it through Amazon.com and Tivo.com until/if it attracts shelf space offers. Just make it available to those who want it and continue the 3rd Party DVR entrenched monopoly. Take advantage of the current FCC’s attention.

    Sell the cheaper non-whole-home DVR through Best Buy.

    Retail ain’t just brick ‘n’ mortar.

  25. Chucky, beyond shelf space there’s packaging, support, marketing, etc. However, I too hope for at least an online offering. We’ll see.

    From Brennok:
    “do you think the MoCa chips are that expensive?”

    Probably not super expensive, but more than the 802.11n chip they never added to the XL line and everything eats into the bottom line. Even the original Glo remore was redesigned to save money.

    MZ, at any cost? Also – what’s your take on the chip situation…could they do this in retail with OTA and analog cable in addition to digital cable capabilities w/o breaking the bank? It’d probably be too confusing for them try an OTA-only box at this point. (Which is why Boxee may have a unique opportunity.)

  26. True I guess though it seems the economies of scale would be better though if they stuck with the same internals both for retail and MSOs compared to splitting production. Of course this is taking the big assumption they even offer it via retail of some sort.

    Are there chips out there that support more than 2 tuners now? I know BKDTV on TiVocommunity at one point posted about the various chip configurations TiVo could have chosen at the time of the Premiere such as 3 CC tuners and 1 OTA tuner compared to 2×2 like they did, 4 CC without OTA, or 4 OTA without CC tuners. He hasn’t been around in a long time though unfortunately so I don’t know if things have changed and he seemed to always be the one to go to.

    I do think they might have some success with a 4 tuner OTA box only since it would allow them to save on the cost since they could strip out all the CableCARD equipment.

  27. Poking around I’m thinking the chip in the Q is in the Broadcom 742x line – the 7421/7422/7424/7425.

    I’m really hoping it is the 7424 or 7425:
    https://www.broadcom.com/products/Cable/Cable-Set-Top-Box-Solutions/BCM7424 https://www.broadcom.com/products/Cable/Cable-Set-Top-Box-Solutions/BCM7425

    Note that these include a video transcoder for sending video to other devices – at home or on the go – aka placeshifting. I’d love to see TiVo add placeshifting to the Q, that’d be big. The 7422, 7424, & 7425 also include DLNA, which is sorely lacking in today’s TiVo.

    It also includes Webkit HTML 5 support, which is nice. There is a video demo of the 7425 from CES 2011: https://www.broadcom.com/company/events/ces11.php

    I’m not a chipset expert, so I’m not sure which chipset is more likely.

    The Preview probably uses the BCM7418: https://www.broadcom.com/products/Cable/Cable-Set-Top-Box-Solutions/BCM7418 That’s designed for MoCA ‘client’ STBs

    I haven’t been able to find actual pricing, but integrated chipsets should add incremental pricing less than adding a standalone MoCA chipset to the unit – and I’ve seen articles that say the standalone MoCA chipsets were under $10 a unit a year or two ago, so they should be even less now.

    Personally I think that if these units do come to retail, and I don’t see why not, they’ll include MoCA.

    Why? Because the total cost is likely to be lower to manufacture one hardware SKU for both MSOs and retail. The Premiere units being used by MSOs appear to be identical to the retail units. If they do use an integrated chipset with MoCA support, which should be a cheaper option for MSO units, they’d have to create another design to use a chipset without MoCA support. While there may be some increased cost per unit compared to using a non-MoCA chipset, I think the gains from designing and building one SKU (including stock management, etc) would more than offset that. And it gives the product a feature advantage.

  28. Multichannel’s “official” post is up which should end any speculation. And I’ve updated our post with TiVo Q and Preview photos lifted from their article, as TiVo PR has been silent to this point.

    MZ, DLNA would be a nice-to-have but previous TiVo chips have had capabilities they’ve never implemented (codecs, cores, transcoding). Hm. Good call on the manufacturing end of the spectrum. I could see it playing out like that. Still wonder about tuner situation and if the same would apply. Hm, again.

  29. Hmm don’t care for how the preview looks but thinking it may just be a photoshop since the one TiVo icon is missing details.

  30. Just bought a TiVo Premiere XL box for the living room recently and will be retiring the TiVo HD we have to the bedroom. But if they sold these Preview boxes separately I would buy one immediately. It’d be so much easier to maintain season passes and viewing on the main box and stream to the other when we want to either without paying another full monthly fee or paying a reduced one. Of course, just being able to buy a Preview and not having an additional monthly charge would be great too. :)

  31. Brennok, yeah I’ve been in touch with TiVo this AM. Planning a follow-up post.

  32. Hmm… Tivo’s press-release has nothing on retail availability of Q or Preview. Hopefully, you’ll be able to work your magic and get TiVo PR to fess up whether these units are coming to retail and, if so, what fees TiVo will be charging for Preview boxes.

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