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Retailers try a new pitch--free TiVo

CompUSA offers TiVo digital video recorders for free with $499 purchase; subsidiary The Good Guys is rebating units.

Retailers CompUSA and The Good Guys are offering limited-time deals on TiVo digital video recorders. In some cases, the deals can result in a free unit.

DVRs, which use hard drives to store large amounts of content, let viewers pause live shows and program their systems to record TV broadcasts.

Nationwide chain CompUSA is offering a $100 mail-in rebate when customers purchase a $199 40-hour Series2 TiVo digital video recorder plus any television, notebook or desktop computer worth at least $499. CompUSA's rebate, in conjunction with a $100 mail-in rebate from TiVo, makes the DVRs free. The promotion runs until Jan. 29, but excludes Apple computers.

TiVo has been offering a $100 mail-in rebate on all its DVRs since early last year.

The Good Guys, which is owned by CompUSA and concentrated on the West Coast, is running an instant 15 percent off rebate for all TiVo DVRs. The $199 40-hour Series2 TiVo DVR, for example, is available for $70 after the instant 15 percent off from The Good Guys and the $100 mail-in rebate from TiVo. The Good Guys rebate is good from Jan. 28 to Jan. 31.

Consumers also will have to pay for TiVo service. A monthly subscription to TiVo's DVR service costs $12.95. A DVR lifetime subscription costs $299.

While practically a household name, San Jose, Calif.-based TiVo is fighting to match the success of its brand name with a lasting business model in an increasingly competitive DVR market. Initially looking to partner with cable and satellite companies, TiVo is now looking to add new features to its innovative DVR service to drive unit sales.

Cable giants such as Comcast have been rolling out their own DVR services, making potential deals with TiVo less of a possibility. TiVo representatives have not ruled out a Comcast deal and add that negotiations continue with Comcast and other service providers.