Best Buy & TiVo Developing Non-DVR HDTV(s)

Dave Zatz —  May 25, 2010

For years, I’ve pined for a TiVo-fied television. In fact, Humax was set to deliver a TiVo solution way back in 2005. Unfortunately, the 26″ LCD TV with TiVo DVR capabilities and integrated DVD recorder never made it to market. Last summer, when TiVo and Best Buy hooked up with a pretty expansive dealio, it looked might we might see another attempt at an integrated TiVo+television solution:

As part of the deal, the companies also said that Best Buy would finance an effort to bring TiVo’s software and search tools to Best Buy’s own brand of consumer electronics, like its Insignia high-definition TVs.

And now we have confirmation that development is underway. However, somewhat surprisingly, the Best Buy TiVo product will not include DVR functionality. Which may not be an entirely bad thing. For example, my favorite DVD player of all time was actually a TiVo (the Toshiba SD-H400). This is obviously Best Buy’s method of competing within the connected television space while is provides TiVo a platform to expand their brand and market. But I’m hopeful the companies choose to support streaming multi-room viewing (MRV) from TiVo DVRs and enable basic trick play functionality, in addition to the other connected features and UI. If so, I could see this easily being a killer kitchen or den television and DVR extender. Otherwise, meh?

From the press release:

TiVo Inc. (NASDAQ: TIVO) and Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE: BBY) today announced that development is underway to integrate TiVo’s software and advanced television services into broadband-connected Insignia televisions. The new Insignia televisions will provide Best Buy customers with an exceptional, intuitive user experience for accessing online content by utilizing the latest TiVo non-DVR software and advanced television service. TiVo’s easy-to-use platform will give the viewer a one-stop-shop for delivering and searching content right on the television.

16 responses to Best Buy & TiVo Developing Non-DVR HDTV(s)

  1. So it sounds like they’ll do everything by record. Makes sense – they’d be able to access lots of streaming media: Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, Pandora, Rhapsody, etc. And if the plans for a TiVo App Store pan out, probably run those apps too.

    It would be nice if they could stream content from other TiVo boxes. Or perhaps accept a drive via eSATA and become actual DVRs.

    I’m more interested in Google TV now to be honest. If someone makes a Google TV DVR box with CableCARD I’ll pick one up.

  2. I don’t get it. Why would anyone want the satellite features of a TiVo without its primary feature – its raison d’etre. TiVo isn’t GOOD at any of the satellite features. Most are marginal crap-ware at best. The only thing they do well is the PVR. Again, I don’t get it.

  3. Ryan Roat (RSR) May 25, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    Seems like a weird play into a roku style product: no local recording/all streaming.

    There’s got to be more like pulling content off a local TiVo or some sort of upgrade/add a hard drive and pay a monthly fee system. (Weren’t there some “TiVo basic” products with what was a pretty crippled TiVo frontend but no fee?) Otherwise it just doesn’t make sense.

    And what are people who want DVR capabilities going to do: add a standalone TiVo to their Tv with TiVo (but no DVR)? And have redundant connected-TV features?

  4. Ryan Roat (RSR) May 25, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    >>Otherwise it just doesn’t make sense.

    I should say it just doesn’t make sense for TiVo. DVR is literally synonymous with TiVo.

    Other companies can do connected-Tv/streaming only products because they were never about recording your own programing.

  5. So, basically, they are putting a TiVo “widget” platform in the TVs as opposed to doing piece-meal like other TV makers, doing Yahoo widgets, or GoogleTV?

    I read about the new HD UI being laggy/buggy, but the other stuff (Netflix, Amazon, etc.) isn’t so trouble-free either? So not sure why BB would choose that route instead of getting some Google money and adding GoogleTV.

    This is about as confusing of a move as the entire GoogleTV thing, lol :)

  6. A device that did the streaming aspects of TiVo, from Amazon, Netflix, Youtube, local media, local .tivo files, as well as stream photos and music … With the familiar TiVO interface, with trickplay. And most importantly, one price and no added fees. But NOT integrated to Best Buy Insignia only … must be standalone unit.

    My family would love something like this on the kitchen TV.

    From my point, must be Roku-like pricing.

    I think it is actually pretty smart from a strategy an business point of view. Above “Ryan Boat” says ” DVR is literally synonymous with TiVo”. Well, yes, and that’s a problem. TiVo needs more products in the pipeline besides “whats the next DVR?”. Look what happens when the TiVo Premiere is not what you expect it to be.

    Sort of like Apple building on the iPod to get to multiple iPods to iPhone to itouch to iPad.

    Now, if TiVo would crank this thing out (and PLEASE independent from the TV/monitor) and add apps, they would have gotten into a new vertical market for themselves.

    PS: No ads!!

  7. George, I started a feature article like 2 years ago on ‘licensing the TiVo experience’ but lost steam. Based on those positive experiences I had with the combo DVR/DVD device, I figured TiVo had an opportunity to do stand-lone DVD players, universal remotes (like the Glo), etc. I think they’ve missed many opportunities with their singular DVR focus (and slow dev pace). I also thought some sort of video show might be in order, but they did ramp up the Badoop Badoop podcast shortly thereafter. (Since killed and I don’t think it ever had much momentum.) Related, the Nero TiVo DVR software was befuddling. So many other things they could have been doing.

  8. Dave — a glacial pace of TiVo R&D has always puzzled me. Are insight into why it takes them so long to come out with new stuff? Don’t they have enough engineers? I mean, it’s one thing to be delayed/blocked by partners (like cable/satellite TiVos), but since they control their own boxes, why are they so darn slow?

    P.S. FWIW, I generally like U-Verse UI (except that if shows overlap, even by 1 minute, it’s not going to record one of them). And it, gasp, fast! Even faster than SD UI on Series2.

  9. Tivo is the classic example of why poison pills are bad. Management is extracting money through salaries and wasted R&D, knowing they can’t be kicked out.

    Riddle me this: Tivo hasn’t fixed the UI integration issues on the Premiere, and we can see that on a one core machine it is too slow. How can they build an interface that it going to work in a TV with even less power? And when are they going to fix the interface to their internet video options?

    This sounds like another deal where tivo gets cash in return for wasted R&D (cox, comcast, directv, etc)

  10. Can you throw on a USB 2.0 or eSATA hard drive and make it a DVR? That would make sense, as the hard drive is the most likely part to break in a DVR, so making it external makes it easily replaceable. Then the user can also spend as much or as little as they want on hard drive space.

    Or what about Network DVR? Tivo can install content ingest equipment in the data center. You decide to pay Tivo $15 a month (or whatever fee) for access to this data center via IP. You select a program to record, a content ingest device at Tivo’s data center makes sure to record it, and points all Tivo users that wanted that show to that recording on a big elaborate SAN (Storage Area Network).

    You know, like Cablevision’s RS-DVR… although this time you “bring your own pipe”.

  11. Funny thing also is that TiVo had apps before apps were cool. My kids still enjoy Wordsmith and Bubble Pop (something like that) on the S2. Such a lost opportunity.

    This non-DVR device could also be used as part of “cypherstreams” Network DVR.

    Frankly, though, give me a extender/Roku-like device with trickplay and access to Yahoo (weather, etc…) and it would certainly extend the TiVo brand in my house!

  12. I agree with Dale. WTF?

    Sure I use Amazon VOD on my Tivo once in a while. But I’d much rather use the Apple TV sitting next to it to rent a movie, browse pictures, play music etc. The UI on the Apple TV is G-R-E-A-T (well, pretty good) while the UI on the Tivo is C-R-A-P.

    Amazon VOD doesn’t list shows by Episode, so you have to look them up online before you buy if you want to watch them in order. Movies don’t have poster art. If you play music you don’t see the album artwork. Etc. I can’t imagine any standalone box like the Roku could possibly be worse. I love my Tivo, but these extra bits are not what they’re good at. Why would Best Buy have them put this stuff in a TV?

    And for all you guys speculating the thing will somehow magically become a DVR if you just add a USB hard drive… I DOUBT IT VERY MUCH.

    BTW, since Tivo doesn’t really “stream” anything, but rather supports progressive download, I wonder how this is going to actually work. Are they going to put a 2GB flash drive inside the TV? Require the user to plug one in to use these features? Or finally get their streaming act together?

  13. I would assume it would be the new Flash HD stuff for the UI and if it includes the integrated search thnat would be cool.
    the 2 killer features for me
    1. stream from my existing TiVo DVRs so no worries about copyu restriction. This is doable at least for the new premiere unit.
    2. be able to schedule recordings on my existing tIvo DVRs from the menu – this is likely more of a dream one but it would definitely make me head to best buy for my TV, with price being a much lower factor than usual.

  14. It’s unclear to me which UI they are going to feature in the Insignia (Dave, is that picture a mockup from you?)

    It would be great if this TiVo was a “extender” box but they will need to do a serious upgrade to MRV to get there.

  15. Yes, that’s purely a mockup (which I created last year for the original announcement before the HDUI was official and before it was confirmed it’s not a DVR).

  16. I’d be much more interested in a TV like this for the bedroom or kitchen if it let me stream content from another full-service Tivo. As it stands, tho, it’s not that compelling. Related thought, if Apple (and Roku) can build a great media streamer for $99, why couldn’t Tivo?