Will The Best Buy TiVo TV Find An Audience?


It’s been nearly four weeks since the TiVo-powered Best Buy Insignia HDTV launched. Yet all we’ve heard is crickets. How bad is it? To my knowledge, not a single owner has stepped forward on the TiVo Community. Being a Best Buy house brand, I assume they’re the ones responsible for marketing. And we just haven’t seen much yet, beyond an occasional end cap display. Unfortunately, the one I checked out today wasn’t connected to a network so I was unable to get a sense of the UI and apps… but sought out some assistance. One Best Buy employee told me to try connecting to the wireless Barnes & Noble network next door (which obviously didn’t work) and another later said, “Have you seen the Google TV? It’s basically the same thing.” Look – we realize the product is new, but if Best Buy intends to do something more with the Insignia brand beyond undercutting the competition on price, they’re going to need to train their staff and put some serious marketing muscle behind this initiative. Selling a non-DVR TiVo is a difficult enough challenge.

16 thoughts on “Will The Best Buy TiVo TV Find An Audience?”

  1. Well, the thing is essentially just a weird proof of concept until TiVo gets LAN streaming going.

    The Best Buy guy who said “Have you seen the Google TV? It’s basically the same thing.” seems on-target to me. The two products are both just weird proofs of concept at the moment.

    Now, if TiVo ever gets LAN streaming going, then the thing becomes a useful product for one very specific use-case scenario…

  2. Couldn’t agree more. I don’t think its targeted at a Tivo Community user right now. If they even announce that this thing will support LAN streaming from a TiVo Premiere that will be of interest to me. I still will probably go with a Preview (if it comes to Retail) since I want live TV support with CableCARD. The thought of having to get a Cisco/SA box for this TV isn’t very appealing to me. I may swing by my local Best Buy in Tampa to see if they have the Insignia on display.

  3. Chucky, Best Buy is probably banking on the market for a “Smart TV” to be exponentially larger than the small number of TiVo Premiere owners (who may want an extender). But they’re going to have to do more if they want it to succeed. Personally, I don’t think there is much of a market – folks will take TV apps as a nice-to-have for a few extra bucks, but very few will actively seek out a particular TV. As I tweeted, this probably won’t end well.

    Sam, I agree this isn’t currently geared to current TiVo owners. However, my point is if there are any TiVo fanboys left, you’d find them on the TiVo Community. And no one has made a purchase. Wonder if anyone on AVS picked one up? A quick search didn’t show anything.

  4. “Best Buy is probably banking on the market for a “Smart TV” is exponentially larger than the small number of TiVo Premiere owners (who may want an extender).

    I do understand the marketing logic. I’m just thinking from a user-functionality POV.

    And from that POV, there isn’t really a rational audience for these things right now, no?

    (Tangentially, I always find it fascinating how many products that have “smart” in their names are marketed at folks who aren’t. Perhaps it’s time for an industry-wide shift to rename “extended warranty” to “smart warranty”…)

    “As I tweeted, this probably won’t end well.”

    You’re likely correct. But maybe the brand alone will ship enough expensive TV’s to cover the costs involved in slapping it all together. After all, if you wander into the store and don’t have the slightest clue, wouldn’t you rather have a “TiVo smart TV” than a “Samsung smart TV”?

  5. Coincidentally I stopped by my local Best Buy today for something else and I checked out the 42″ model while I was there. Like you they didn’t have it connected to the network either. But I explored what was there and it seemed pretty solid. I wouldn’t have a problem recommending it to someone, at least to check out.

  6. Hm, interesting. What sorts of things could you pull up? Other than the settings or the sales pitch video loop, seemed like most functions/buttons put me into the network setup wizard. If your experience was different, perhaps that unit had already been set up at some point but the connection was lost?

  7. This product was always doomed. People know what a TiVo is. So marketing a product with the TiVo brand conjures and assumption of what it does. But this isn’t really a TiVo. It’s an internet connected TV based on TiVo software, but without the critical ingredient that was TiVo’s reason for being, the DVR. So basically, you’re starting out with a product that has the appearance of being crippled, a feature feels like it’s been taken away. This is not a good starting point for marketing. A clever idea would have been to be able to plug in a SATA drive to the TV and allow users to add the TiVo DVR functionality. It would still be an uphill battle in terms of marketing, but at least it would be a better starting point. The lack of Internet connection when you are selling an internet capable device that nobody understands unless they can see it in action is a fatal flaw. Nobody will buy this. I remember back in the WebTV days when you’d go to Sears or Best Buy or some other electronics retailer and you couldn’t try it because they didn’t have it connected to a phone line. This was still early in the Internet era and the product was targeted at people who didn’t have the Internet or a PC. But how could they expect to convince someone to buy it if there was no way to show them what it did. Same issue here. In order to explain why you’d even want a TiVo that can’t record shows, you need to show what it CAN do for people to even understand the product.

  8. Finally made it to my local Best Buy. After searching the TVs on the floor I finally approached an available sales person and asked about the Insignia Smart TV. He looked it up in his system and found that 2 of the 42″ were in stock but neither were on display. He did say I could buy it with a 60-day no questions asked return policy. I was tempted but decided to pass for now. When I first went to the store a few weeks ago they had 4 in stock so a few of them have sold to early adopters.

  9. Whether or not Tivo is still relevant is debatable, but they do have a name that carries some recognition. I see Sony, Samsung, etc trying to market their own brand of connectedness. I think it makes sense for Insignia to hook up with something that brings some built in brand value. I don’t think Tivo’s primary value is as an internet connected device, rather as a particularly elegant DVR, which is not included. If they’re not going to market it effectively, they should have just hooked up with Roku.

  10. I was just at the Mtn View, CA Best Buy and I did not see the TiVo TV. I did see a Premier eternally locked on an Almost There… screen.

  11. Stopped at a 2nd Best Buy this evening. They also had two in stock but there was no display of the TV. Calling this a soft launch may have been a little aggressive. A cold launch may have been more accurate. I’m not sure when they will ramp up enough inventory to begin advertising. There were quite a few of the other Insignia TVs being discounted so maybe they are trying to clear inventory before starting the advertising campaign with the new model.

  12. Only one store in the Houston area (pretty far from where I live) has a 42″ in stock and I’ve been checking online regularly since the launch. Quite a disappointment to say the least. Those of us that follow the TiVo Best Buy deal might know it exists but obviously few others know. Maybe they are building up for a Xmas time push.

  13. Stock availability is definitely a concern. In fact, based on a random, irregularly-timed sampling of my three closest metro areas, I would say that the TVs are selling, but not being quickly restocked for some reason.

    Dave, I would have to guess that the lack of (announced?) streaming is what’s keeping the fanboys away. This is just another smart TV without TiVo streaming. Any updates on that?

  14. I don’t think these TVs have much hope unless they can stream recordings from TiVo units and/or offer some additional functionality.

  15. I swung by a different Best Buy at lunch today. There was another end cap display, but again no network connection. At least the 42″ screen didn’t feature a 40″ placard as photographed above. Perhaps they just want folks to watch the demo reel rather than trying it out.

  16. I really wish I had done more research before buying an Insignia smart TV . One way or another it almost always takes at least ten minutes to start, often longer, since tivo has a decided tendency to abort the whole process repeatedly,that is, of course, when tivo will interface with our internet service at all. It is true that our dsl service could be a factor, but it doesn’t seem to affect our samsung sm art tv very much. I wish I had just spent a little more money and bought two of those. I have had both for 1 year and can only hope that a SERIOUS software update is forthcoming/

Comments are closed.