The TiVo Premiere ($300) reviews have hit the web, ahead of the March 28th ship date. Unfortunately the coverage isn’t glowing, ranging in tone from decent to disappointment. In fact, some TiVo Community members are re-evaluating their pre-orders. Also unfortunately, I can’t say any of this comes as a surprise. As I wrote a few weeks ago, “The TiVo Premiere isn’t the home run I was hoping for. […] I expect to see a variety of improvements and additions over the next 12 months. Also, as a brand new platform, early adopters may find themselves in for a slightly bumpy ride.”
Current HD TiVo owners who want to see the platform evolve first-hand and who have tolerant spouses could get on-board with the Premiere now. Especially given some of the nice upgrade offers. Everyone else, upgrader or otherwise, should probably wait the 6-9 months it takes for the Premiere to get a few software updates under its belt.
As for me, I didn’t pre-order a Premiere and have no imminent purchase plans. Additionally, I’m still awaiting review hardware. Supposedly, TiVo had a limited supply of units to dole out and they appropriately prioritized the mainstream media and top tier blogs. However, I am left wondering if my lukewarm launch coverage made their decision that much easier.
Without further ado, here’s a sampling of TiVo Premiere reviews, featuring the last two sentences of each story:
TiVo Premiere review
The problem is that moving at such a snail’s pace has allowed the cable companies to catch up and consumers to move on; if cheap / free cableco DVRs were TiVo’s greatest existential threat of the past decade, the combination of cheap / free / good cableco DVRs and the online-only content customer might be the fatal blow of this one. The Premiere is the DVR we wanted two years ago — TiVo’s challenge will be to make it the DVR we want two years from now.
Wall Street Journal
New TiVo Mixes TV and Internet, but Falls Short
All in all, TiVo Premiere looks incomplete. It seems more like a platform for a future set of offerings TiVo hopes one day to have, rather than a way to deliver new content right now.
I can’t wait until the DirecTV TiVo comes out (specific model still unconfirmed) as the Premiere is still a definite step up from what most of our cable/sat providers offer. And I’m too damned lazy to set up anything more complicated.
In the past, TiVo has been good about continually upgrading the software of its products. We’re hopeful that trend will continue, and that some of the nonhardware issues we’ve pointed out here can be addressed via future firmware upgrades.
Also, FIOS DVRs, for example, integrate Web widgets like Facebook, Twitter, ESPN, and WeatherBug that you won’t get with TiVo. In the end, while we really like TiVo, and the Premiere offers the richest TiVo experience yet, it’s not exactly a no-brainer upgrade for current users, and it’s an even tougher sell for new users.
Whether this slows TiVo’s subscriber drain remains to be seen. TiVo Premiere is better. It’s just not a game-changer.
TiVo Series 4 Premier XL
If you’re a no-frills TV-archiving fiend, then this device definitely has you covered (and then some). But if you’re looking for a truly scalpel-edged, seamless, all-in-one entertainment box, the Premier falls a little short. But only a little.
Despite the cost of entry, I can highly recommend TiVo Premiere to anyone fed up with the sorry functionality of their cable DVR, especially those who make use of Web services like Netflix or Amazon Video on Demand. It’s a small price to pay for a vastly better TV-watching experience.