TiVo is back in the news after it held a press event tonight introducing its new TiVo Series4 digital video recorders. Two models were unveiled, the TiVo Premiere and Premiere XL. The Premiere lists for $299 and stores 45 hours of HD programming on a 320 gig drive. The $499 XL pushes the storage to 150 hours of programing on a terabyte of drive space, and adds THX certification. Both models feature an all-new interface, built in Flash, which opens the door to 3rd party apps. Flash games on our TV? Maybe. Both also support up to 1080P output. Other new features include an official 30-second scan and a capacity meter. TiVo starts taking orders tomorrow, with retail availablity expected in early April.
In addition to recording TV, the Series4 recorders gather content from the web, integrating it with locally stored content. So when you search for a movie, you can search for it locally, on Amazon Video-on-Demand, or on Netflix or from any of the other supported content sources (YouTube and Blockbuster On-Demand were also specifically mentioned). TiVo Series4 also supports widget service FrameChannel and in the coming months will add support for streaming music service Pandora. While most of the new features are only available on the Series4 units, it sounds like Pandora will be available on older TiVos as well. TiVo wants to be the single set-top solution in your home theater. From a press release at Engadget:
"It has never been this easy to get all your entertainment in one place, on the big screen, in HD, right at your fingertips. And the beauty of TiVo Premiere is that finding what to watch is just as fun as the watching the TV shows themselves. We accomplished it by using pictures and graphics to make the whole television guide experience come alive in a way that it never has before," said TiVo's President and CEO Tom Rogers. "TiVo Premiere is your new cable box, it's your movie box, it's your web box, and music box; it's the one box that can give you access to almost anything you want, whenever you want it. We've taken millions of pieces of content and organized it for you in a way that makes so much sense you'll wonder how you ever lived without it."
To aid in the browsing and searching through all this content, TiVo is rolling out a new Bluetooth remote with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, though this won't be available until later this year. Of course, there's still a monthly (or Lifetime) fee to go with the service and the challenge of interfacing with your existing cable feed. To solve that problem, TiVo is partnering with RCN in the US, and Virgin Media in the UK, to deploy the Series4 as your cable box. RCN customers can look for TiVo in Q2 of this year. Hopefully TiVo has deals in the works with other cable providers as well. For an in-depth look at the new hardware from someone who eats, sleeps and breathes this stuff, check out ZatzNotFunny.
TiVo Bluetooth QWERTY remote