Over at EngadgetHD, Ben Drawbaugh lays out a case (and wishlist) for the imminent release of new stand-alone TiVo DVR hardware. Given the recent TiVo price drops, upcoming Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January, and long gestation period since the last hardware refresh (Summer, 2007), it’s not an unreasonable proposition.
However, when it comes to tru2way, the cable industry as a whole isn’t quite there yet. CableCARD separable security was federally mandated, whereas the vision of a universal tru2way infrastructure is merely an unenforceable memorandum of understanding amongst many industry players. Who blew right on past their self-imposed deadline. So any new (imminent) stand-alone TiVo box would either need to forgo tru2way capabilities or remain operable in non-tru2way cable environments.
As far as CES is concerned, I get the sense that TiVo fears any big product announcement would be overshadowed amongst thousands of other companies vying for attention. In the years I’ve been attending, TiVo’s CES presence is usually understated — they’re tucked away off the show floor, in a back room conducting mostly invite-only briefings/meetings. Also, if TiVo isn’t prepared to begin shipping new hardware within a few weeks of a show product announcement, they’d potentially cannibalize TiVo HD sales while customers wait it out. And given timing of the new, super-powered Broadcom chip announcement, I don’t foresee it being implemented anytime soon. (Not that this is/was known to be a TiVo Series 4 component.)
What we do know is that TiVo’s been constructing a richer, widescreen UI for at least 18 months. And we’ve seen some of the (mixed) results with TiVo’s new search. In the same time frame, TiVo’s also been hiring Flash Lite developers. For presumably something more than prototyping work. The question is, would a total UI replacement require new hardware? The unofficial TiVo Community forum experts seem to think so. On the other hand, folks may be selling the existing chipset short. I recall that while with Sling Media, we were quite, uh, interested in understanding the TiVoHD chip’s possible transcoding capabilities. Regardless, it’d probably make sense (technical, conceptual, financial) to draw the line in the sand and provide a new UI and experience on a new, more capable box.
I’ve heard various whispers over the last couple months suggesting something is coming. But the often contradictory tea leaves haven’t given me much. And I’m unsure if TiVo’s upcoming 802.11n wireless access point adds to or clarifies the mystery. We rarely speculate or deal in rumors, and even shy away from pre-announcements, but if I had to guess I don’t imagine we’ll see new stand-alone TiVo DVR hardware announced or released in 2009 or at CES (beyond a Best Buy-ified TiVo HD).