The Good Includes nearly all the features of previous Series3 model at a lower price; can record two HD programs simultaneously while playing back a third, previously recorded one; accepts cable TV and over-the-air signals; 30-second commercial skip; excellent user-friendly interface and remote; impressive Internet and home-networking features, including video content from Netflix, Amazon, and CinemaNow, Rhapsody subscription music service, online scheduling, photo and music streaming; recent firmware update adds cool TiVo To Go and Multi-Room Viewing features; TiVo To Go transfers recordings to PCs and portable devices; able to download and view most standard digital video file formats from networked PCs (with premium Desktop Plus PC software).
The Bad Requires monthly fee in addition to cable bill; sluggish transitions between menu screens; does not work with video-on-demand and switched digital video services; must program 30-second skip; no picture-in-picture; TiVo To Go requires long, slow transfer and transcoding times; some premium features (Amazon, Netflix, Rhapsody, Desktop Plus, Wi-Fi adapter, expandable storage) require additional one-time expenses or subscription fees.
The Bottom Line While it's not compatible with your cable company's interactive and video-on-demand services, the TiVo HD's excellent onscreen interface and long list of network and Internet features puts it in a class above the generic high-def DVRs offered by most cable providers.
When the TiVo Series3 finally arrived in September 2006, it was the first cable-compatible TiVo to record high-def programming. But that long-awaited Holy Grail of TiVos came with a prohibitive $800 price tag that, in a world where cable companies provide serviceable HD DVRs for just a few extra dollars added to the monthly bill, scared off all but the most loyal or well-heeled TiVo fans.
That's where the TiVo HD comes in. Except for a smaller hard drive and more-generic cosmetics (no OLED front panel display and a less-fancy remote control), the TiVo HD delivers, essentially, the same feature set as the Series3 model for a much more reasonable $300. We gave the TiVo HD high marks when it was released in July of 2007, but were frustrated by the lack of some classic TiVo features. As of fall 2007, however, TiVo has made good on all its promises, and then some: new enhancements have been added via a free firmware update, delivering the TiVo To Go, Multi-Room Viewing, and expandable storage features that had been lacking on the unit. Furthermore, the company has added compatibility with the Rhapsody online music service, which effectively turns your TiVo into an on-demand jukebox. Yes, the TiVo HD's CableCard compatibility still means sacrificing video-on-demand and any other interactive functionality your cable company offers. That said, thanks to the TiVo HD's networking capabilities, you're getting a variety of online features that few--if any--cable company DVRs can match, including access to downloadable video content (Amazon's Unbox and TiVoCast videos), Internet radio, podcasts, streaming of music and photos from a networked PC, the ability to copy recorded programs to portable devices and transfer them to other DVRs in the house, and online scheduling control.
Seven to launch crippled TiVo
Seven today confirmed that the TiVo HD digital video recorder will be sold in Australia for AU$699 from 29 July, but users will have to buy a software upgrade next year to unlock its full suite of features.
Aussie TiVo to go on sale next week
TiVo will be available for sale in Australia on 1 July with a price of AU$700, after being beaten to the punch by Foxtel's new HD+ service by almost a month.