TiVo has begun rolling out an update to Premiere and Premiere Elite DVRs. In fact, version 20.2 represents the most significant software update to grace the Series 4 platform since its 2010 introduction – featuring a core code rewrite with an updated architectural design and high definition user interface (HDUI) running on a newer iteration of Flash. Not only does TiVo promise me “significant” performance and stability improvements (building upon the second processing core that came online last month), but this moves TiVo closer to a unified software platform amongst their various partners and products. Unfortunately, the HDUI is still incomplete and the Netflix experience remains unpleasant. Having said that, there’s a lot to like here…
One of the most obvious non-HDUI shortcomings has been the standard definition guide, which is now replaced with modernized, HD versions of both the traditional “grid” guide and TiVo’s unique “live” guide (that I’ve never grown accustomed to). The channel banner(s) also sees a visual refresh… and relocation from up top to down below, with the addition of a browsable mini guide – as seen with many other providers. And, if you’ve been tracking the successful Virgin Media’s successful UK TiVo deployment, the handsome updated look should be familiar.
TiVo’s “Discovery Bar” has also been rethought – presumably due to limited user interaction and the prevailing assumption that all items represented paid advertising. So, whereas the prior version presented a horizontally scrolling bar of entertainment options, the updated area features a static 4 to 6 items. Further, each content block displays info on why it’s present and, as before, just one slot is reserved for TiVo’s marketing partners. TiVo tells me they still intend to ultimately allow us to pin favorites to the bar.
Last, but not least, of the major enhancements is the release of the now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t multi-room streaming (MRS). Unlike the existing multi-room viewing (MRV) method of copying recordings from one TiVo to another, MRS streams — which may seem like a technicality, but it quite relevant to anyone hit by an aggressive cable company’s attempt at content protection (via the CCI Byte) prohibiting room-to-room digital cable content transfers. Fortunately, streaming is CableLabs-permissible (and what most other provides with psuedo- or full-on whole-home initiatives offer). MRS does not supplant MRV, which may be useful on slower home networks and is an absolute requirement for TiVoToGo functionality. Although, I wonder if having both options available may be a source of some confusion amongst the lay folk.
We’ll find some other small items in the Premiere update such as new graphical transitions, improved episode guide, and Hulu Plus search integration. But I’m most excited about finally receiving a modernized guide and banner along with another successive (and hopefully significant) performance improvement. I’ve known some of these details for a week or so, but I’ve only actually had the update in my possession a very short while… and will therefore reserve judgement until living with what TiVo internally refers to a version 2.0 of the Series 4 software. As with most TiVo software updates, this will be a staggered rollout occurring over the next couple weeks.