TiVo today officially announced two new DVRs that offer an updated user interface and enhanced integration and search capabilities for online video. The TiVo Premiere and TiVo Premiere XL models will cost $300 and $500, respectively, when they ship in April; like all previous TiVo models, they'll also require a monthly, yearly, or lifetime service fee as well.
The Series3 TiVo models handled HD video, but the interface itself was a standard-def holdover that was almost a decade old. Series4 delivers a user interface in true high definition, and it uses the full real estate available on a wide-screen display. (TiVo touts it as a Flash-based interface, though that should not imply compatibility with all Flash-based content from the Web, such as Hulu.)
The interface always leaves a picture-in-picture window of the currently playing video (live TV or recording) in the upper right-hand corner. Also included is the much requested capacity meter, which lets users know how much free space is left on their DVR.
The default remote that ships with the Premiere DVRs is a slight derivation of TiVo's famous "peanut" controller, but it now includes A, B, C, and D buttons for one-click contextual menu changes (such as sorting recorded program lists).
More enticing will be a step-up remote (sold separately) that includes a slide-up QWERTY keyboard, similar to a smartphone. The keyboard is designed to make for easier text entry (for searches and Web content) than when using the onscreen keyboard. The remote will communicate with the Premiere DVRs (or TiVo HD/Series3 models) via an included USB Bluetooth dongle.
Like their predecessors, neither TiVo includes built-in Wi-Fi. Users who need to go beyond the default wired Ethernet connections will need to purchase the upcoming 802.11n Wi-Fi dongle ($90). These TiVos also drop a built-in phone modem, though a USB adapter will be available for $30 from TiVo's Web site (using the slow phone lines in lieu of broadband will limit users to only program listing updates).