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TiVo updates coming for Premiere owners, but when?

With the launch of its all-new Roamio line of DVRs today, TiVo said owners of existing Premiere (Series 4) DVRs would also see some improvements, but it didn't specify much beyond that.

Sarah Tew/CNET

TiVo's new Roamio DVRs provide a host of new improvements, including faster performance, better software, more tuners, built-in Wi-Fi, built-in/better support for whole-home solutions like TiVo's Stream and TiVo Mini boxes, and out-of-home streaming.

With the new hardware comes the inevitable question from the thousands of people who already own a current TiVo: "What about me?"

That question is even more compelling coming from an owner who sprung for TiVo's famous lifetime service plan, currently $499. Since it's nontransferable to a new box, the plan can make owners want to keep their old DVR longer than usual, rather than upgrading.

The good news is that owners of current Premiere/Series 4 boxes, including the TiVo Premiere, TiVo Premiere 4, and TiVo Premiere XL4, will get some new updates, too.

"There will be updates to the Series 4 platform (Premiere) and we are evaluating which updates will make it onto the Premiere platform," TiVo told CNET in a statement.

The bad news is that the company didn't specify what those updates would be or when they would arrive.

Mini gets a bump
The most tangible benefits will happen for current owners of a TiVo Mini box. The company says "dynamic tuner allocation" will be released immediately on the Mini for use with the new Roamio platform. The feature will be available "soon" for use with Premiere boxes, TiVo added, confirming its original statement promising availability this year.

The upgrade means that the Mini will no longer take up a tuner on the main box permanently; it can occupy one as needed to show live TV. This extra is even more important for households with more than one or two Minis.

Joshua Goldman/CNET
And yes, just like seemingly every other piece of AV gear, the Mini now has a dedicated Netflix app--the latest interface, thank you very much.

Software improvements to expect...maybe sometime
Roamio's hardware additions, like built-in Wi-Fi, more tuners and more storage, are obviously not coming to the Premiere. On the other hand, many of the other new extras are software-based, and could potentially migrate down to Premiere owners.

Beyond updates for the Mini, TiVo could offer no more specific information other than the simple statement that yes, the company is working on and will continue to support Premiere.

We asked whether the Premiere would get a performance enhancement to address its somewhat sluggish response times; access to the forthcoming App Store and 3-column filter for My Shows; a new Netflix and/or Amazon Instant app; the refreshed look and feel of the Roamio interface; and even whether owners of Premiere could use the TiVo Stream out of the house in the same way Roamio promises.

In every case we were told these improvements and more were under consideration for Premiere owners, but that "nothing is definite" at this time.