TiVo Premiere Elite Detailed

Thanks to the FCC and TiVo’s ongoing request for a waiver of analog compatibility, new TiVo Premiere Elite details are now available. While we’ve got a pretty good handle on the quad-tuning Premiere Q DVR headed to TiVo’s cable partners, it wasn’t quite clear what features and functionality the Elite retail variant would possess. However, based on materials included with this latest TiVo FCC filing (embedded above), the models seem quite similar.

The TiVo Premiere Elite is essentially a supped up TiVo Premiere DVR, expanding two tuners to four. Meaning you can operate (record and/or watch) 4 television channels simultaneously. However, the Premiere Elite is limited to digital cable broadcasts, whereas the TiVo Premiere can also handle analog cable and over-the-air (OTA) broadcasts. Bundled with the additional tuners is additional capacity – to the tune of two terabytes, good for 300 hours of high def recording. I’d wondered if TiVo intended to integrate MoCA networking and, indeed, they will retain that functionality with this retail offering. However, Ethernet and wireless (as an accessory) are also supported as a means of acquiring guide data and streaming Netflix.

Based on these materials, we can also assume TiVo is expecting FCC approval and intends to launch the Premiere Elite DVR this “Fall”. Of course, what we don’t yet know is the price for such a beastly DVR. With the base Premiere running $99 and the Premiere XL clocking in at $299, plus service, I’d expect the TiVo Premiere Elite to land at the $600 – $800 range. Especially as they’re clearly targeting the custom install crowd and would shoot for larger margins. It’s also possible we could see the Premiere XL retired, making room for the Elite in the $400 – $500 range. But I’d expect TiVo to start higher and monitor sales. For some context, remember the THX-certified TiVo Series 3 was more of a high end solution… and was introduced at $800.

Unfortunately, there’s no mention of the TiVo Preview extender. Which I’d expect to be more economical and a key component of any TiVo whole-home DVR solution. So hopefully it’s also on the docket for retail… and a fall launch, too.

(Thanks, Josh & TechWzrd!)

42 thoughts on “TiVo Premiere Elite Detailed”

  1. Oh Tivo, how you tease us. This (along with the extender) look like the perfect solution. If it drops for $800 its niche at best.

    Anyone know how the monthly pricing works. My 2 boxes are at the $12.99 and $9.99 old prices. I assume if I get a new box my rates jump up?

  2. Not OTA means not for me.

    I still don’t understand why OTA is left off so many devices. At this point, I’d even accept an accessory OTA option as DirecTV offers (offered? been a while since I checked.), but I’d prefer it built in.

  3. I am assuming that even with the quad digital tuners, two M cards from the cable company are required. Is that correct?

  4. Figure two Premiere XLs with lifetime will run you $1500, $299+$299+$499+$399. I could unfortunately see TiVo pricing this at $1300, $799 + $499, for lifetime or $1200 for MSD. At that price for me it would definitely be a wait and see if they drop the price.

    At a $499 price point for the hardware, I think I would pick one up pretty quickly if not day 1.

    Of course at $299 it would be a no brainer.

    I think the Preview just isn’t finished and don’t forget TiVo has still yet to fully announce streaming. I think we won’t see the Preview until streaming is fully rolled out and working as TiVo wants it to. Otherwise you have the potential for a lot of return Previews since if it can’t stream reliably then who will really buy one.

  5. @RSR, it probably has to do with tuner chips. They may not make a tuner chip with 2 Clearqam and 2 OTA tuners on it without analog.

    @Fred, no only one. The M-card supports up to 6 streams per device. The Tuning Adapters if your cable company use SDV support a minimum of 4 as part of the new FCC mandate that went into effect 8/8 along with CableCARD self installs.

  6. This is a primo setup (2TB? wow!), but I’m still waiting to hear the full story on the streaming setup and the costs associated before I sink money into a new TiVo. I’m going to have a hard time investing in a new setup if the Preview cant stream live TV from the main unit.

  7. Fred, you’d only need one M-Card.

    Anthony, the Preview has it’s own CableCARD slot and it’s technically safer to stream recorded, versus live, content. So I doubt you’ll see that.

    In regards to cost, they could also price the Elite at say $1200 and include service.

  8. It appears they will keep selling the Premiere XL for the time being based on their whole home ecosystem picture. I’m guessing an initial MSRP of $499 including the TiVo Slide Remote. Anything above $599 and I will wait for a price drop before buying.

  9. Dave, I just think anything over $999 after or including lifetime is too high. Now I could see them offering maybe a package at $1200 which also included a Preview or two.

  10. Brennok, the primary sales channel has already been identified as the CEDIA crowd (plus Magnolia) and so TiVo will look to profit on high margins. That’s my hunch. But, for comparison, Moxi’s two room bundle (one 3-tuner dvr, one extender) runs $800 – tho it started out much higher. (I suspect they’re just clearing inventory at this point and are done with retail.)

    As for my personal Elite price point, who knows. Might depend on what FiOS DVRs are doing or has been foreshadowed at the time. It’d also depend on seeing a more responsive experience with better apps out of TiVo to justify the upfront expense (compared to the cableco) and ads.

  11. God this thing looks awesome. Aside from the normal bitching about tivo, I am really excited to see this come to market. Dave any thoughts on time frame for release?

  12. @Marcus, according to the comments from TiVo to the FCC they are aiming for mid-October. CEDIA is Sept 7th I believe and they want to show it off there to the Home Theater integrators.

  13. Marcus, the document TiVo included is a “Fall/Winter 2011” training resource.

    Brennok, for the Moxi bundle launch I was referring to the original 2-tuner dvr one extender package that ran $1k – less product, more money. Regarding success or failure, in regards to pricing, I’m not sure TiVo will be anything more than a niche retail offering. They need their Virgin Medias and DirecTVs to prosper.

  14. OMG. Want.

    As for niche product, the Apple Mac is a niche, though a successful one at that. Apple has figured out how to turn a profit on a small market share for the Mac; TiVo has similarly positive mindshare but (AFAIK) has never turned a profit.

  15. Regardless of how awesome the hardware looks, right now the Tivo software is letting them down. Terrible Netflix interfaces, unresolved HD UI issues, lack of streaming (so far), etc.

    I fail to understand why Tivo is not at the top of the game with internet apps, or even basic functionality (UI).

  16. So in comparison with the old premiere, you get two additional tuners and more disk space, but lose OTA and QAM tuners. The disk space is a non-issue. Do you REALLY need two more tuners?

    Build it yourself 2TB TiVo
    $99 (premiere) + $82 (2TB WD Caviar Green from newegg) = $181

    Weaknees already-upgraded 2TB Premiere = $499.99

    In order for me to seriously consider upgrading, they would need to price it at $199. For people that aren’t comfortable upgrading their own devices, the right price is somewhere around $499.

  17. Slow biscuit, get over it. Did Moxi forget to cancel their spammers in the buyout? Seriously I hear the exact same things over and over and over. WE KNOW, jeeze. Sorry if that sounded rude but seriously. They will fix it, better late then never.

  18. Oh I agree TiVo needs the Virgin Medias to succeed. I agree the TiVo Elite will be a niche product and even more than TiVo is now.

    I just don’t think you can go off the price of the original Moxi and Moximate especially when you take into account without the Preview you only have a one room solution.

    I won’t be shocked if it comes out at $1200 with lifetime, but I won’t be buying and it won’t even be a consideration. More than likely I would pick up another Ceton card for my setup giving me 8 tuners to feed my TiVos.

  19. @marcus
    I own a couple of Tivos, idiot, so I’m speaking from the point of view of someone that wants them to succeed, not a fanboi such as yourself.

  20. Greg, I’ve had this debate with Chucky before. I don’t think Apple and TiVo compare favorably. First, I’d say Mac is no longer a niche product. Second, there’s the quantity of scale – they deal in millions of units, TiVo deals in thousands. Also, their markets are quite different – everyone buys a personal computer, but who will you buy from? Very few buy DVRs, most rent them via their provider. Having said that, yeah TiVo has been profitable a few quarters due to limited marketing and DISH settlements.

    Marcus, slowbiscuit does have a point. It’s pretty lame that I have to use my Roku or AppleTV for Netflix and I won’t even consider purchasing an Elite without improved performance, a completed HDUI, and better Netflix app. Beyond the extra 2 tuners, I need some reason to fork over what I suspect will be a significant chunk of cash. Also, I’d say the lukewarm reception and diminishing brand/company positivity (cc: Greg) have impacted TiVo Premiere sales.

    marcus, slow – keep it civil. Debate the points, rather than attacking each other. I’d rather not edit or remove comments. Thanks.

  21. Dave, why do you think Tivo is not listening to user complaints about the software? I really think this is going to keep hurting them with sales – they want the box to be the One Great Appliance but it’s really only half there, on the DVR side mainly.

  22. I’m pretty sure they’re aware of these shortcomings. However, they’re prioritizing… For example, the Virgin Media TiVo deployment should easily eclipse TiVo Premiere sales this year (with much more potential upside). And you’ll see they’ve got more, newer apps and a more complete HDUI, with more frequent software updates. I also think they misread their new hardware platform and/or (Flash) software environment which is why they say significant performance updates may not appear until next year – if it were simply a matter of tweaking the code, it would have been done. But the timing suggests a much larger project.

  23. I currently have five premiers with two of them upgraded to a 2TB and 1TB drive. I will certainly think about getting the Elite if the price is right. If I can sell two of my current lifetime Premieres to cover 90% to 95% of the cost of an Elite, I will certainly want to pick one up.

  24. Dave, TiVo is very aware of the Premiere performance issues. I agree with you that some of the performance is outside their control. For example, they may be waiting on an update from Adobe. Jason at RCN just confirmed again that TiVo is working on a significant performance update but it will be some time before its available — “we have communicated to TiVo that performance in the HDUI is a high priority item for us that we should be addressed in future software updates.”


  25. I’d argue their hardware and software platforms were and are entirely under their control and someone got it wrong. (Re)doing it properly may not have been the top priority given the scope of the project and more lucrative business opportunities. But at least it sounds like improvement is possible on the current hardware. Perhaps one day I’ll expand upon Megazone’s recounting of SlingCatcher evolution… it could possibly shed light on a situation like this. Hopefully they do recover and sooner rather than later. Again, TiVo has to provide significant benefit over a cable company DVR to gain ground and even keep customers. I have fewer reasons to stick around these days. RCN has less to worry about – they ARE an embedded cable provider.

  26. Point taken about economies of scale vis-a-vis Apple. Even if you go back to 1995 or so, before the iPhone was released and the iPod was only starting to catch on, I’d guess that Apple sold far more Macs than TiVo ever has sold. Even considering the TiVo subscription price, the cost of a Mac is much greater, allowing for greater unit profits.

  27. If only they’d bring back the front LED panel, ala the Eigers. My original Eiger is still going strong, but I could be tempted to upgrade to this :)

  28. Dave – TiVo gave the time frame in an earlier filing, and it is included at the end of this filing again. They plan to ship mid-September to have the Elite on shelves mid-October. But it is all pending the FCC waiver. I covered it yesterday: http://giz.lv/pQRorg

    Kimberly: Eiger? ;-) Your insider knowledge is showing. Eiger means the original Series3, as I recall. ;-)

  29. No ATSC OTA is a deal breaker for me. Quite sad the FCC will allow this, as they did Moxi, to have an ATSC OTA tuner. While the economies can be cited to support such a request for the waiver, it still has the effect of limiting options to those who chose OTA and not a cable subscription.

  30. “Greg, I’ve had this debate with Chucky before. I don’t think Apple and TiVo compare favorably. First, I’d say Mac is no longer a niche product. Second, there’s the quantity of scale – they deal in millions of units, TiVo deals in thousands. Also, their markets are quite different – everyone buys a personal computer, but who will you buy from? Very few buy DVRs, most rent them via their provider.”

    FWIW, the main comparison I’ve tried to make between Apple and TiVo is between TiVo and the Apple of 1999.

    Apple tried to overcome the deep hole they were in by doing a few things:

    1) Bring along the faithful.
    2) Embrace 3rd party developers and give them hooks.
    3) Use industry standard kits to help developers and thus consumers.
    4) Build a platform.
    5) Then start marketing to the unwashed.

    TiVo is taking some of those steps, though not all.

    In a similar way that Apple went UNIX and thus got access to other people’s development efforts, TiVo went Flash, and is thus trying to leverage the investment OTT content providers have already put into Flash. (OS X 10.0 was a bad dog too.)

    In a similar way that Apple tried to minimize switching hassles for Windows users, TiVo is trying to be wherever the consumer wants to be – aka retail or renting via cablecos.

    In a similar way that Apple tried to develop a platform, TiVo seems to be trying to develop enough products to provide solutions for households of different complexity, needs, and money.

    The one thing I think TiVo needs to be more pro-active about is encouraging 3rd party developers by being more open about API’s and the such. The TiVo iPad app is great, but why isn’t TiVo more pro-active about releasing the API’s to let enterprising folks build their own solutions on iOS and other platforms? Why does everything have to be reverse-engineered months later? For the hardcore 2% of customers who want to open up their boxes and do a hard drive upgrade, why doesn’t TiVo publish the specs? I know it cuts into margins a tiny bit, but Apple makes it easy for me to open up my box and upgrade memory and hard drive, even though that cuts into Apple’s margins a tiny bit.

    Essentially, I think TiVo is doing a lot of things correctly, but they need to get a bit more religion about embracing openness and keeping the enthusiast base enthusiastic by being enthusiastic about providing hooks. That gives them brighter options moving forward.

    If they have enough luck to someday become the Apple of 2011, instead of the Apple of 1999, then they can turn all evil and try to assert absolute control. In the meantime, they need all the friends they can make.

  31. With the up front price and being fully responsible for it… I’d rather rent this from the Cable Company and have their support back it up if the unit would fail for whatever reason. I could understand a “premium” dvr fee as opposed to their regular dvr… but I like the lease model, as things break or new equipment comes out, you can just trade it in.

    It’s also all about the experience. The Tivo Premire software has potential, but they just need to finish the darn HD-UI and improve the performance. Sure it’s better than what most cable companies offer out of the box, but if Tivo can really shine in the whole end user experience, maybe they can move more units? Maybe more cable companies would be interested and partner up?

  32. “Quite sad the FCC will allow this”

    Bobby, the FCC has no requirement in place to require over-the-air tuning. The waiver request is specific to analog cable.

    I used to care about OTA, but my current and previous residences can’t pick up much of anything since the SD stations went away and the HD locals moved frequencies (UHF to VHF). I rather wish a government agency would do something about THAT.

  33. “I rather wish a government agency would do something about THAT (taking better care of OTA).”

    I agree fully. Broadcast still has a place in the multicast/IPcast world. And that place will only truly exist if the Feds make it happen. OTA doesn’t really work where I live either.

    Similarly, I’m always astounded that no spectrum has been laid aside for mobile teevee broadcast, such as they do in Japan. Free, good quality live teevee on your mobile, with no data charges. What a concept.

  34. Chucky – nothing has been carved out for mobile TV because it doesn’t need to be. The standard in the US is ATSC-M/H and it uses the same frequencies as the ‘parent’ channel. Remember, one ATSC frequency can carry multiple content streams. One of them can be mobile: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ATSC-M/H

    It’s just that no one seems to think there is demand so it gets no use. Carriers would rather NOT carry devices with TV tuners in them – they want you to stream video and pay for the data use, of course. So they’re certainly not pushing for mobile TV. And TV stations see more money in using the frequencies for HD content or different subchannel content (news, weather, etc.) instead of using one for a mobile version.

    Remember Qualcomm’s Flo TV, which had dedicated 700MHz frequencies, bombed and was shut down in March with AT&T in the process of buying the frequencies for 4G use.

    I think mobile TV is bigger in Japan because *broadcast* is bigger in Japan. And they’ve had mobile TV devices for a long time. In the US broadcast is used by a much smaller percentage of the population, so most people don’t even think about using it on their phone when they don’t use it at home.

  35. $1200 buys a nice media center PC (or a Mac Mini + dual-tuner HD Homerun) for OTA viewers like me.

    But even for premium cable subscribers, at that high price is the Elite really worth it over going with the cable company’s whole-house DVR?

    It can’t be that hard for cablecos to offer one with 4 tuners (if not 6).

    Since my $100 Blu-ray player offers a better Netflix/Hulu Plus experience than my Tivo Premier, it can’t be for the web apps.

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