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Get a TiVo Premiere DVR for $19.99 monthly

The good news: no money down! The bad: you're on the hook for two years. But it's still a solid deal for those who prefer to pay a little bit at a time.

If you'd rather not spend hundreds of dollars up front, here's your chance to get a TiVo for a reasonably low monthly rate.
If you'd rather not spend hundreds of dollars up front, here's your chance to get a TiVo for a reasonably low monthly rate.

Last month, TiVo borrowed a page from cell phone carriers, offering a TiVo Premiere box for $0 and $19.99/month with a two-year contract. It was supposed to be a one-week-only promotion, but obviously TiVo was happy with the results: the deal is back, and it even has its own informercial (see below).

Normally, buying a TiVo works like this: you drop $299.99 on the box (or $499.99 on the XL model), then pay $12.95 per month for service. (You also have the option of paying in advance for one year, three years, or life.)

With the promo deal, you get the box more or less for free (even shipping is free), but your monthly nut jumps to $19.99. Math was never my strong suit, but I think it makes sense to do some here.

For starters, if you amortize this out over two years, it comes to $479.76--$131.03 less than what you'd normally pay. Nice.

After three years, you're in for $719.64, versus $766.19 for the traditional package. You're still ahead, but I'm sure you can see where this is going: Your four-year total comes to $959.52--about $40 more than the price of buying the box and a $12.95/month subscription.

Of course, you can always pony up $399 for lifetime service, bringing your total TiVo costs to about $700--with no monthly fees to worry about. Obviously that's the way to go for anyone in it for the long haul.

However, if you can't swing $700 but can scrape together 20 bucks every month, this is the lowest cost of TiVo entry I've seen. And the deal includes six months of Netflix service, a nice perk.

Me, I was this close to getting a TiVo last month, but then I opted for the long-awaited Ceton InfiniTV 4 CableCARD adapter for my media center--and haven't looked back. Pricey, yes, but awe-some!

What do you think of this deal? Too good to pass up, or yet another monthly bill you don't need?

Bonus deal: Dirt-cheap storage! TigerDirect has the Fantom G-Force 2-terabyte external hard drive for $99.99 (plus about $6.50 for shipping). It's refurbished, but still comes with a one-year warranty.