I’m not physically present in Vegas this year but, as part of the CES festivities, TiVo remotely briefed on their ongoing initiatives. Of course, here at ZNF, we’re most interested in the status of the retail TiVo Premiere DVR line over MSO partnerships. And last week TiVo unveiled a massive system software update in addition to an Android companion app. But what comes next?
TiVo has another significant Premiere software update in pipeline, scheduled for a spring delivery. In addition to my conversations with VP Jim Denney, RCN seemingly corroborates the timing – targeting a May release of software version 21. Building upon version 20, it sounds like we can expect additional under the hood codebase unification to more efficiently support various TiVo platforms and partners. More relevant to TiVo customers will be continued performance improvements and fleshing out of the high definition user interface (HDUI).
In terms of specific functionality, parental controls will make a return to the platform. However, it won’t be in the form of TiVo Kid Zone. In fact, as I’ve been speculating for months, I’m not certain TiVo will invest in rebuilding, what I assume is, a niche feature for the HDUI. Then again… maybe we’ll ultimately end up with something more robust — user profiles for all? TiVo Premiere hardware is also slated to gain additional multi-room functionality. But, as for what that entails, we’ll just have to wait and see.
On the app front, TiVo’s 2012 Spring Update will finally welcome in modernized Netflix and YouTube experiences — similar in appearance to the ones found on the TiVo-powered Best Buy HDTV, and largely eschewing the TiVo UI for their respective prevailing lean back interfaces. Unfortunately, I’ve got nothing to report on an updated Amazon video app. On one hand, TiVo’s existing Amazon implementation could very well be their best – as high definition video is downloaded to the hard drive for uninterrupted, high bitrate playback. On the other, Amazon Prime members such as myself, are entitled to a large library of “free” video streaming that isn’t available on TiVo. And apparently won’t be in the near future.
And then there’s the TiVo Preview. The Preview currently acts as an extender for TiVo Premiere hardware, including the four tuner Premiere “Q” – which also goes by the Premiere “Elite” in retail. In addition to streaming DVR-ed recordings Premiere-to-Preview, the Preview also features a CableCARD for local tuning… but no local storage. Right now, the only place one can pick up the compelling whole-home Preview accessory is via subscription to a TiVo cable partner like RCN. But I imagine there’s a number of retail Premiere owners who also like to partake. Sadly, I get the sense there are no imminent plans to bring the Preview to retail. Hopefully, once the software is further fleshed out to enable things like remote scheduling and iPad app support in mid 2012, TiVo will have figured out how to market and price the Preview for retail.
Update: TiVo’s also demoing Slingbox-esque placeshifting capabilities at CES. Click here for details.