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First Look: TiVo Premiere

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First Look: TiVo Premiere

3:44 /

While pricey, the TiVo Premiere's bevy of online media and customized video recording options makes it a compelling alternative to generic cable company DVRs.

[ Music ] ^M00:00:04 >> I'm John Falcone for CNET, and we're taking a look at the TiVo Premiere DVR. This is the first series four digital video recorder from TiVo. This model can record up to 45 hours of high-def programming, and it can be used with cable, FiOS, or over-the-air antenna broadcasts. The two big step ups from series three are the updated interface and the new TiVo search function. Unlike previous TiVos, the user interface is now rendered in high-definition, and it takes advantage of the extra space found on wide screen TVs. TiVo search meanwhile eliminates the barrier between TV and online entertainment. Search for a title or an actors' name and you'll get results not only from your TV channels but from the online streaming video services that TiVo supports: Netflix, Amazon, and Blockbuster. In addition to those services, TiVo also lets you download audio and video podcasts, access Internet radio stations, and use Rhapsody's premium audio service as well. TiVo has also pledged to add Pandora later in 2010. The TiVo can also stream digital photos and music from your network PC and if you invest in TiVos $25 desktop plus software, it can transcode and access video from your PC as well. That upgrade will also enable TiVo To Go which lets you copy some recorded TV programs to portable devices. In addition to the strong home network features, we liked that the TiVo Premiere retained all of the impressive TV recording features that TiVo is known for. You can create wish lists that automatically record your favorite shows, genres, actors, or directors and TiVo can automatically suggest shows you're liable to like based on the thumbs up and thumbs down ratings you provide while watching TV. The box itself is sleek and understated with notification lights up front that tell you when it's recording TV or downloading video from the Internet. The remote is nearly identical to TiVo's classic peanut remote though this one adds ABCD buttons for more direct access on certain menus. Later in 2010 TiVo will sell a step up remote that has a slide out QWERTY keyboard to make it easier to enter those text searches. We didn't like the fact that TiVo Premiere still includes some of the less desirable aspects of older TiVo models. It's still requires a monthly, yearly, or lifetime service fee and the Wi-Fi isn't built in. You'll need to invest in a wireless dongle if you don't have wired Ethernet networking near your TV. It's also worth noting that you won't be able to access you cable company's video-on-demand channels with the TiVo Premiere because of a limitation of the cable card technology it uses. And if you've got several TiVos, the multi-room viewing feature and still more time consuming and DRM hobbled then it needs to be. If you already have a series three or TiVo HD DVR, you already have most of the features in this model, and there's not a compelling reason to upgrade. But if you've just got a standard cable company DVR, the TiVo Premiere will be a huge step up delivering a much better interface and a wealth of Internet and network enabled features. If you're willing to pay a premium to upgrade or if you get your TV from an antenna, the TiVo Premiere is worth considering. I'm John Falcone for CNET and this is the TiVo Premiere DVR.

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