While Best Buy’s new pair of Insignia TVs featuring “TiVo Design” started trickling into stores last week, as you can see above, the retailer is just now officially announcing their first foray into the “connected” television space. And in discussing this new initiative with Best Buy, they clearly acknowledged something of a marketing challenge… given TiVo’s association with the DVR. This is an Insignia television first, featuring TiVo’s high definition interface. But it’s no DVR. Already, even TechCrunch got it horribly wrong:
a $499 32-incher with DVR built-in isn’t too bad and if you’re hard up for cash you can save a little money by sticking getting a TV and DVR in one.
Speaking of pricing, I’m happy to say the rumors were wrong. The 32″ set runs $500 and the 42″ clocks in at $700. Which is much more reasonable for a Best Buy house brand like Insignia and allows them to compete with the likes of Vizio. Although, I suspect their intended market exceeds budget offerings. And it surely seems as they’ve invested a lot into this new platform.
Best Buy has been keeping up with our comments and wants folks to know these are high quality 1080p, 120Hz LED sets that provide solid audio and visuals… which they stand behind with a 2 year warranty. Beyond the hardware, Insignia’s product management team focused on ease of use and they’re quite proud of those element – including, their guided setup which walks users through a speedtest to set streaming expectations.
Of course our regulars are quite interested in learning how TiVo fits into this. As previously mentioned, these HDTVs feature “TiVo Design” via a partnership that kicked off about a year ago. Best Buy is quite fond of the TiVo experience, calling it both “intuitive” and “best in class.” And the majority of the interface should look familiar to any TiVo Premiere owner. TiVo’s universal search and recommendation engines are included, along with a three hour EPG. But, with just over-the-air tuning capabilities, live programming options will obviously be limited – without adding a set-top box to mix. So existing TiVo Premiere owners may take a pass until multi-room viewing (MRV) capabilities are added. Certainly, I fall into that camp. But it’s something Best Buy tells me is being discussed. Also being discussed… DirecTV RVU capabilities. Satellite television without the set-top? Insane (!) in the best possible way.
But let’s talk more about what these televisions do today. Of course apps drive the smart TV market. And TiVo staples like YouTube, Pandora, and a finally redesigned Netflix are present. Joining them are Best Buy properties Napster (music) and CinemaNow (video on demand). Beyond these, Best Buy has harnessed the entire Chumby platform to bring countless other widgets to the big screen.
The Best Buy Insignia Connected TV remote is a mashup of a traditional slab and TiVo-specific buttonry… and features some pretty high end functionality. It’s universal, communicating with the television via RF and the Z-Wave protocol. Once programmed, without codes, via a big screen UI it will then optionally control your peripherals via IR. Think that’s cool? Best Buy tells me an app-based QWERTY keyboard is also in the works.
The question I have: How large is the market specifically for “smart” televisions? It’s safe to assume folks refresh their TVs at a much slower rate than they might test the waters with a $60 Roku or $100 Apple TV. Also, given highly unpleasant experiences with a crashy Internet-connected Vizio television I’m unlikely to go down this path again. However… allow me to stream recordings from a TiVo Premiere to an Insignia television in another room, and I’m most definitely in – no further questions asked. How about you?