TiVo’s newest offering is looking to shake up consumers’ perfectly happy longtime relationships with their run-of-the-mill DVRs. The set-top box that pioneered TV time-shifting technology 11 years ago will get a makeover next month with TiVo Premiere, which will allow users to scroll through cable programming, movies, online video, and music from one screen. ”The new box uses the talent they’ve always had for a simple interface and adds Web content,” says Andrew Hawn, a technology strategist at consumer research firm Iconoculture. ”And it has much better search.” Type in The Office, for example, and you’ll find not just the NBC showings of the series but wherever else it’s available — including past seasons for streaming from Netflix or last week’s episode on Hulu.
But at $300 for the basic model (which holds 45 hours of HD programming or 400 hours of standard) and $500 for the XL box (150 hours of HD or 1,350 hours of standard), is it worth the price? Remember, TiVo also charges its own $13 monthly fee, plus movie service, Internet, and cable fees will apply too. Cheaper competitors like Boxee and Roku also bring Web content and streaming movies to your television, and newer HD TVs are coming with Internet connections built in. But those options require multiple set-top boxes and remotes. ”It’s what price you put on convenience,” says John Falcone, senior editor of technology review site CNET. ”The question is just whether you want to trade up to the Lexus of DVRs with this TiVo.”