Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Much-less-expensive Hi-Def TiVo coming

When TiVo introduced a high-definition digital video recorder last fall, they touted the long-awaited set-top box as a best-in-class product with a price tag to match.

But in a market already filled with lower-priced offerings from cable companies and other rivals, TiVo’s $800 Series3 HD Digital Media Recorder had a hard time winning customers, even as consumers opened their wallets for high-definition televisions.

Some dealers sell it for about $600, and TiVo offered a $200 rebate last month. (That's when I bought two to replace crappy Cablevision HD DVRs.)

This year, TiVo hopes to widen its hi-def appeal with a more affordable model: the TiVo HD DVR for $299.99. The company will begin taking pre-orders for it on its Website today, and units are expected to hit retail outlets by early August.

The TiVo HD DVR has many of the same technical features as its higher-priced Series3 cousin. It has two tuners, so you can record two different shows in HD at the same time while watching a third, prerecorded show. It also has two built-in slots for CableCARD, allowing access digital programming without a cable box.

The new model will have a smaller hard drive — 160 gigabytes instead of 250 GB, storing about 20 hours of high-definition programming or up to 180 hours of standard programming. It has a simpler remote control, less deluxe cosmetics, and unlike the $800 box, is not THX certified. (some info from The Associated Press)

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