TiVo Premiere Successor Foreshadowed (2013)

Dave Zatz —  May 21, 2012 — 36 Comments

tivo-premiere

As The Cable Show carries on, additional compelling details continue to trickle out. Notably, during MultiChannel’s briefing with TiVo, they have learned that the placeshifting capabilities contained within the upcoming TiVo Stream box will ultimately and natively reside within TiVo DVR hardware. As they should.

Eventually, TiVo expects to embed transcoding features directly into its DVRs, in products to be released in 2013, Klugman said. The company hasn’t divulged what transcoding technology it would use for that.

The TiVo Premiere has been a relatively solid platform, both for retail customers and TiVo’s cable partners. Yet, after something of a rocky launch that didn’t quite meet expectations as the “One Box” and due to the still incomplete high definition user interface (HDUI) 2+ years later, the Premiere could be thought of as TiVo’s Vista. Indeed — I know quite a few folks with TiVo Series 3 and HD DVR hardware on life support just waiting for TiVo’s Windows 7. And, now it’s looking like 2013 will be the year. But who will produce TiVo’s hardware going forward and how much emphasis will the retail market continue to receive?

(via innocentfreak)

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36 responses to TiVo Premiere Successor Foreshadowed (2013)

  1. Two notes…

    First, back when I worked on the Slingbox we were quite interested in the TiVo HD’s chipset as, on paper, it looked like it provide some placeshifting funcitonality. Of course, as it turns out, we didn’t have anything to worry about in 2007.

    Second, this is the first post I’ve composed via the WordPress iPad app. Feels a little funky and the app is something of a kludge. Will definitely take some getting used to and a modification of my workflow.

    What else should we expect from TiVo’s next DVR? We see their Pace box has 6 tuners, so that’s obviously something currently or soon-to-be supported by the software. I imagine we’d of course end up with a faster platform. Maybe they’ll link up with someone like Skype for video conferencing? Integrated WiFi and Bluetooth (for the quite nice Slide remote) would be welcome additions.

  2. The success or failure of the Comcast Xfinity with TiVo initiative may foreshadow the role that retail boxes play in TiVo’s future. A big unknown is what happens with the Verizon trial later this year. I hope TiVo is pushing for more than just a licensing agreement. Access to Verizon customers via a Comcast-like agreement should be something TiVo pushes for so they can play on a more even playing field for FiOS customers.

  3. “Premiere could be thought of as TiVo’s Vista. I know quite a few folks with TiVo Series 3 and HD DVR hardware on life support just waiting for TiVo’s Windows 7.”

    There is some truth to the analogy. Although I think Vista was regarded as less functional than XP by many.

    The Premiere, (now that the SDUI emulation mode seems to be working without bugs), is just a very incremental upgrade on the TiVo HD, not a downgrade in the way XP was regarded by many.

    But there is truth in that analogy in that I’ve always considered skipping this hardware rev, as I’m pretty happy with my TiVo HD, and the Premiere always felt a bit like a stop-gap.

    —–

    “Second, this is the first post I’ve composed via the WordPress iPad app. Feels a little funky and the app is something of a kludge. Will definitely take some getting used to and a modification of my work flow.”

    Someday, you really do need to write up a quick ‘n’ dirty post on why you prefer an iPad to a MBA. I’m genuinely curious about the workflow that led you to that conclusion.

  4. “The success or failure of the Comcast Xfinity with TiVo initiative may foreshadow the role that retail boxes play in TiVo’s future. A big unknown is what happens with the Verizon trial later this year.”

    Even if retail shrinks in their overall plans, they’re fools if they don’t keep it going. They should be in whatever niches their potential customer base resides. One platform, many ways to play.

  5. Even if retail shrinks in their overall plans, they’re fools if they don’t keep it going. They should be in whatever niches their potential customer base resides. One platform, many ways to play.

    Completely agree. Retail users are about 4x more valuable to TiVo than an MSO user (i.e., $8.00 ARPU versus $2.00 ARPU). They just need to figure out a way to grow their retail user base. Having the most compelling complement of products to support the retail community should certainly help reduce churn and possibly start to grow their user base. From a Comcast subscriber perspective the TiVo provides a very compelling offering for a wider user base when you add On Demand and free installation to the equation.

  6. I wonder if this would be part of the series 4 or considered a series 5.

    For me I would want 6 tuners and more storage space. I would also want more built in codec support and the ability to stream from the PC. I would also love to see it ship with the Slide remote. Of course if the box is even faster and more powerful it is always a good thing. Also I want more metadata support in transfers either to or from the TiVo. Even TiVo to TiVo loses metadata.

    I don’t know what else I would want though. Features like what the Stream offers are a wait and see for me. I am more interested in offloading if they can bring the filesize down to something reasonable that still looks great when viewed on the big screen. This way you could archive your copy freely recordings at a more reasonable size. Of course it will depend on how quickly it can handle the process since otherwise it is easier to get the MKV.

  7. Brennok, crap forgot to put that into my post. Given new features like the in-home placeshifting, I suspect they’d classify as next in the line – perhaps Series 5 if they retain that lingo.

    Chucky, I will once I’ve used the iPad more. And while I have replaced my MBA with an iPad, I’m not sure I prefer it. Definitely not for blogging.

  8. “Integrated WiFi and Bluetooth … I would also love to see it ship with the Slide remote”

    Meh. Keep the BOM down to the cheap essentials. Add-ons that everybody doesn’t want should be sold separately, IMHO.

    Invest the money on a chipset capable of running the HDUI with actual snappiness. Stick in 6 tuners. Plus, add support for 4TB hard drives. That’d be a worthwhile box.

    (Hell, even LAN transcoding would be something I’d consider keeping separate to keep costs down. If everyone doesn’t want it, sell it separately.)

  9. If they come out with a six tuner box next year on an S5 platform with at least 3TB of storage, then I will be selling my two Elite boxes next year. I already plan on selling my Premiere XL to get an IP STB later this year. If I sell my Elites I’ll get a second IP STB.
    Still a long ways away though.

  10. Yeah, I was about to pick up an XL4. Now I’m thinking I stick with my Lifetimed Premiere and find the right 2TB drive for an upgrade… last me until 2013. Hm.

  11. haha – perfect timing!! I just upgraded to an XL4 today, from my Series 3. I was so tired of having just 2 tuners, I couldn’t take it any more.

  12. I thought the original Premiere was sluggish until I bought an Elite. Holy hell, THAT is sluggish, and I can only guess that it’s because of the extra hard drive load since most of the hardware is identical.

    So a chipset supporting a theoretical 6 tuner box would definitely need a hardware upgrade, thus I think would pass the test of being considered a Series 5. Frankly, I’m close to thinking the OS should be placed on flash RAM at this point (ala Preview) to keep it separate from the mess of a hard drive being worked so hard.

  13. I added a Tivo Premiere for extra tuners, but given its issues, it has been the secondary unit versus my bulletproof TivoHD.

    And I don’t know why people refer to the Series 3 as on ‘life support’

    About the only things that fail are either the hard drive or power supply, both easily replaced, especially now that 2TB hard drives have dropped back to $100.

  14. TiVo’s biggest problem is sticking with Broadcom for “System on Chip” (“SoC”) designs instead of joining the rest of the embedded world on ARM. MIPS has been a dead end for a decade. Today’s Qualcomm Snapdragon Designs have almost three times the power per core. The integrated GPUs have exponentially more powerful than what Broadcom’s best designs could offer. They can also be procured for the same cost.

    A Qualcomm Snapdragon can decode h.264 video up to Blu-Ray specs, as well as MPEG-2 on the die. It’s CPU cores would provide far greater power to repopulate Season Pass and other databases faster. Considering how cheap Palm could build a TouchPad with it’s expensive touch screen and NAND Memory; TiVo really has no excuse.

    The only reasoning I can see TiVo continuing to stay with Broadcom, is the latter company’s support depth and engineer access. Broadcom probably provides a lot of the optimization code and drivers for the Linux Core OS. With ARM, TiVo would have to do a lot more of the legwork.

    Considering how much work has been done to optimize Linux on ARM; I think the Broadcom points are moot. MIPS is far to great of a millstone. TiVo would benefit far more for creating a new media player based on VLC code, and ditching Flash with either GNUStep (allowing easy iOS ports for a future TiVo Platform) or the recently open sourced HTML5/CSS3 “Enyo” Framework. All would provide TiVo with a far more robust hardware and software platform.

    It would also provide a more easy to update system, that Flash has so famously failed at. I hope TiVo moves to ARM.

  15. @Dissapointed,

    I think you can assume a move to ARM is a given at some point. Will it be with the next generation? Since Broadcom acquired SiByte, the inventor of MIPS CPUs, it has taken them longer than many others to recognize the advantages of the ARM core ecosystem, but even they are on a path now to move everything over. The current Premiere line supposedly uses a BCM7413 according to Wikipedia (somewhat spotty record here, so not sure if this is right) with a 400MHz dual-core MIPS 32 core.

    It looks like the obvious successor at this point with a MIPS core would be the BCM7420, running up to 1.3GHz (YMMV). So there is at least the potential for a 3X speed boost where things are CPU bound. No idea what the cost impact would be.

    Broadcom has made a number of annoucements of ARM cores in the 1GHz range, and certainly have plans to scale up from there relatively quickly. Whether there will be an SoC targetted at the STB market with all the onboard functionality TiVo needs to keep their costs down this year I can’t say. It will certainly happen eventually. The MIPS cores are running into a wall.

    Personally I’d be perfectly happy with a 6-tuner box with support for up to 4TB drives and pretty much all the same software just running faster. We all know that TiVo’s weak link is the software development, so I’m not holding my breath waiting for anything there. Faster would be nice though–try navigating a near-100% full TiVo Elite. Yikes. Something a little smoother at scrolling would be much appreciated.

    Certainly there are things I’d love to see–integrated place shifting as good as a Slingbox (and supporting streaming outside the home), support for Amazon Prime, support for live updating of the todo list via phone, better codec support for streaming from the PC, better codec/device support for archiving via TTG, etc. But just give me the performance improvement and I’d be pretty happy.

  16. Very interesting – it doesn’t seem like Premiere has been out that long, but I guess it’s been awhile and it’s time for new hardware. I managed to sneak in a few days before cutoff and managed to move my grandfathered $6.95/mo from S2DT to Premiere XL, so I suppose new hardware probably isn’t in my cards and I’ll just have to pick up TiVo Stream for watching TiVo recordings on my iPad.

    P.S. Dave, don’t know if you are keeping track of how many of your readers cut the cord, but I joined their ranks :) No more paid TV (U-Verse) for me – going to rely on OTA TiVo, Hulu Plus, and downloads of cable shows.

  17. I know all this is from a cable TV show, but I was wondering if they mentioned their plans for OTA support?

    Currently the Series 3 TiVos do a better job with reception issues over the Premiere. Will we see any improvement in a Series 5 units? Heck for that matter do they plan on making a Series 5 that still supports OTA?

    I have some minor interest in the stream and might purchase one if the price is right but would really rather wait for a Series 5 with the same features built in if the Series 5 was an improvement in OTA reception over the Premiere.

  18. Would really rather wait for a Series 5 with the same features built in if the Series 5 was an improvement in OTA reception over the Premiere.

    I would guess the chances of the Series 5 supporting OTA are about 5 percent or less.

  19. IMHO ZERO chance of an OTA tuner ever appearing in a new Tivo model.

    The future of OTA on DVRs is a net-top running 7MC with at least one ATSC tuner.

  20. I’m more hopeful than Sam and Bill that TiVo will continue to offer a model with OTA support, IF they stick with retail sales. But the future of OTA DVR is not Windows Media Center. It’s a dying platform. Something like Simple TV with an extra tuner and built in storage is the answer. Assuming there’s a market willing to pay. To date, it seems most cord cutters haven’t been willing to pony up or haven’t known about the various alternatives.

  21. @atmusky,

    Agree with Sam. Since TiVo’s focus is increasingly on their pay TV partners, and OTA support doesn’t do anything for that market, its less likely it will be supported now. If it cost enough extra money in the Elite it’ll still cost extra money in a 6-tuner 5 Series…

    Personally if I can get the IP STB and stick a Slingbox on it, I’ll have a solution with my Elite than TiVo will likely deliver with their Series 5. Even if I can’t steal a tuner to watch live and can only watch recorded shows, I mostly wouldn’t care… I just want to watch something when I’m in a hotel room, and do it without interfering with the user in the living room who might be trying to watch something…

  22. Dave,

    I am an OTA only person and I have 3 HD TiVos used only for OTA. Maybe I am nuts but it seems worth the cost to me. Time shifting is invaluable, 30 second skip makes it watchable, and lots of storage keeps me going during the summer.

    I cannot believe anyone would want to try to “cut the cord” without using OTA and a good OTA DVR. But I guess someone with great Internet (no cap, great speed, & very reliable service) might be able to make it work but I sure wouldn’t want to try it with my Frontier DSL.

    I also have a HTPC attached to my TV but it is just icing on the cake after the TiVos.

  23. I’m with Atmusky — an OTA DVR is a really nice thing to have, especially if you get sports on local channels (e.g. NFL games). TiVo makes just about the only attractive OTA-capable DVR, so it’d be sad to see it go away.

  24. I’m in the camp of keeping OTA at least in the bottom/standard base product.

    BUT I would ditch analog. That adds more to the cost than OTA does.

    Or keep Premieres in stock for those that want either of these things.

  25. Marge Geneverra May 22, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    I record a lot of OTA.

    Then again, I’m stuck on 4 Series 2 boxes as I’m limited to only satellite as an option.

    Tivo seems to have moved on and left us satellite subscribers behind. I’m surprised that there isn’t more notice given to the satellite audience that Tivo abandoned. I guess that they all gave up on Tivo except me. Tivo still happily takes my money every month.

    I’d love multi-room Tivo with boxes that get updates to the software, can get Netflix & other Internet content, and work with satellite.

    After being one of the early adapters of Tivo, way back when it began, I guess the journey is over for me & it’s time to replace my Tivos with whatever the satellite provider can offer.

  26. Something like this would be nice for a roll-your-own OTA DVR: http://www.geek.com/articles/chips/via-launch-a-49-android-pc-20120522/

    Right now standalone OTA DVRs usually only offer OTA guide data (awful), with a single tuner.

    I’ve seen net-tops w/ 7MC & HDMI out as low as $250, and those offer a lot more flexibility (e.g Hulu) than any proprietary box no matter the ‘apps’ installed.

  27. @Bill et al,

    Agreed that the hardware is ever more attractive and there are nice cablecard and OTA tuners available for PCs now. Odd that this is happening simultaneous with various companies “exiting” the DVR software business.

    Microsoft is clearly signalling that Windows Media Center is coming to an end (development team disbanded, not moving to Metro, available only to Pro users as an extra cost item in Windows 8 with no new development since Windows 7, extenders all dead other than XBox, etc). And WMC is the ONLY cable card solution I think, though obviously there are still OTA DVRs like Myth available. I guess SageTV is gone since Google acquired them and shut that down.

    Looks like the Ceton boxes may be your best/only option if you need cable card in the long run. Certainly WMC is available now and you can use it. Ditto the existing OTA capable TiVos. My concerns are for the longer term.

  28. Some updates from MegaZone on OTA and other misc. items (also read his other posts, including more details on Stream and IP STB) — http://www.gizmolovers.com/2012/05/23/more-tivo-tidbits-from-the-cable-show/

  29. Dave Zatz:

    I have an Elite and a base Premiere, both lifetime. I waited until the software update this spring and I absolutely feel the upgrade is worth it, especially with the coming Comcast on demand upgrade. I upgraded from 2 lifetime HD units with 1TB drives I upgraded myself, which you can still sell on Ebay for $3-380 or so depending on storage and accessories.

    Anyway, there is a guy on Ebay called DVR Dude that sells preformatted Tivo hard drives. I got a 2 TB drive from him to put in my premiere unit. With HD prices still high from flooding in Thailand, the premium vs a bare drive that you have to format yourself was small and well worth it IMO.

  30. Yes DVR_DUde has some good deals. I got a 2TB and 1TB drive from him in 2010 for two of my Premieres. Although I recently sold those boxes when I got my Elites. But I never had any issues with his drives and they were priced very well.

  31. Dave I use a combination of an app called Blogsy and the WordPress.com site itself on my iPad (the site works surprisingly well overall) for my blog iPadAlone.com.

    Given your apparent change from MBA to iPad it seems we have something in common :)

    I’m on iPad all day every day exclusively and have been since the OG iPad…

  32. Love my Tivo HD, but there is no way I’m upgrading until they have Comcast On Demand. I can’t believe this is taking so long.

  33. I believe 12 markets now have access to Xfinity on Demand:
    http://www3.tivo.com/products/tivo-walkthrough/tv-source/cable/tivo-comcast/index.html

    Where are you located?

  34. Why not offer playback of files from a local media server (network media streaming)? If this thing could play my 1080p MKV blu-ray rips with HD Audio support from a Samba share, I’d be willing to shell out some bucks for an upgrade. The Network Media Streaming world NEEDS a TiVo interface in the worst way!!

  35. @Matt,

    TiVo may support this via DLNA. See this announcement from their new partner.

    http://www.v-net.tv/tivo-customers-can-transfer-content-to-tivo-dvr-with-access-dlna/

  36. Tivo needs to integrate Network IP solution like the HD Homerun prime device that I am considering purchasing. HD Homerun prime device is a 3 tuner cable card tuning device that allows network devices to watch live TV and can also record to that Specific device if it is a PC. I have the Tivo Mini but it is very slow changing channels. I would like to stream live TV to my Surface Pro Tablet. Wake up Tivo before you loose in this evolving market.
    This will cut down on the cable devices in each house. A 6 tuner device would be nice and each network device (tablets, android and whatever) can use one of the tuners for live TV. We should not need a device like Tivo Mini.

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