High End TiVo Premiere Elite Priced At $500


Right on schedule, coinciding with the 2011 CEDIA Expo, TiVo has made the TiVo Premiere Elite official. The 2 terabyte, quad tuning digital cable DVR will hit Magnolia outposts, TiVo.com and custom installers by the end of the year… assuming the FCC grants TiVo an analog tuner waiver (which is highly likely). Once available, the Premiere Elite retails for $500, plus those traditional TiVo service fees – running $20 a month or $500 for a Lifetime. But it’s not clear if multi-unit or Lifetime upgrade discounts will be made available. And, with this many tuners, folks might just consolidate making the point moot.

Then again, TiVo’s PR team had no comment when queried yesterday regarding TiVo-to-TiVo streaming or potential availability of a retail TiVo Preview extender… despite this datasheet bullet:

• Enables a whole home solution by connecting with other TiVo DVRs

All in all the THX-certified TiVo Premiere Elite is coming together as a solid offering, given a lower price than I had anticipated for those four digital tuners and MoCA capabilities. But I’ll be waiting on a completed HDUI, with improved performance, an updated Netflix app, and that aforementioned streaming (to a low fee Preview) before partaking. You?

49 thoughts on “High End TiVo Premiere Elite Priced At $500”

  1. I will be buying this as soon as its released as long as it qualifies for the lifetime MSD of $399. I plan on selling my Series 3 with lifetime and attempting to get lifetime on my TiVo HD for $99 through TiVo retention. I’m hoping we get some clarity from TiVo on the Preview for Retail soon so I can decide on my 2nd Premiere Platform device.

    I played with a Premiere in Best Buy and it appears that the 14.8 release has significantly improved performance although there is room for additional improvement. I expect we will see some new TiVo apps including Amazon Prime instant streaming support and better Netflix user experience before the end of the year. I wish a beta tester would leak some information on those items! :)

  2. If the TiVo Preview destined for the cable providers is headed to retail with the same config, it too would require a FCC waiver… a request we haven’t yet seen. But if they dropped the CableCARD tuner, it wouldn’t require that additional step. We shall see.

    Sam, I assume you know when TiVo streaming comes to pass the S3 and HD models won’t be included.

  3. The TiVo page references the service fees and it has the line about multi-service discount so I would be disappointed if they don’t offer it. As it stands now at $499 I will definitely be buying one.

  4. I definitely know I will need to upgrade my bedroom set-top box to the Premiere platform to support streaming. I’m just looking for the optimal path to achieve the whole home DVR experience. It is possible that the FCC may just give a blanket ruling that allows the Preview with CableCARD and without a waiver.

  5. I’m almost definitely going to be in on this fairly early. The Premiere has issues for sure, but at least the Elite has enough DESIRED new features to make the hassles more tolerable.

    As for streaming, we know it’s definitely coming. But solid HDUI speed improvements are likely a 2012 thing…

  6. It’s really tempting. I have a Series 3 with lifetime. I guess I really need to be sold as to why I should spend $1k for this new unit + lifetime. I’ve gotten by with 2 tuners for years, so support for 4 would be nice, but I’m not sure it’s worth $1k.

    Is there some kind of comparison video or bullet list that explains the difference between Series 3 and Premiere?

  7. TiVo is dead to me until they start seriously updating their feature set.

    They need to move much quicker on web enabled apps, and the fact that they haven’t updated their NetFlix app is downright pathetic.

    I have three HD’s and I thought I was a TiVo customer for life, but they simply haven’t kept up with the times but their rates have increased. I can (and will) do better with a FIOS whole home dvr and some Roku’s.

  8. Mark me as another customer who is waiting to see what the Preview devices have in store before upgrading. My TiVo HD is fine for now, I only need to upgrade to the Premiere Elite if I can turn it into a whole home system with a few Preview units.

  9. Dave,
    Are you certain that the Preview doesn’t have an analog tuner included? I ask because I am betting that the digital only was used just to reduce costs as the available chips couldn’t do 4xQAM/4xNTSC cheaply. However, I bet there are 1xQAM/1xNTSC in a nice cheap package (single chip) as they have been around for forever.

  10. Hopefully, they will introduce some form or MoCa adaptor to be able to use this with older Premier devices? Seems silly to enable whole home MoCa but only offer ONE model to utilize it?

  11. MoCA Tivo’s should be able to recognize other Tivo’s on the same network without a problem, regardless of the connection method. But you can set up a MoCA network now with adapters if you’d like a wired connection for other boxes.

  12. Shouldn’t this also be under the TiVo category and not just cablecard? Some folks might link you to their newsreaders based on the TiVo category and would then miss this article.

  13. PaladinTom,
    I’m with you. I’m sick of paying TiVo’s monthly fee for nothing in return. I thought I was a lifetime customer. Now, I’m seriously hoping that IMG 1.9 on my FIOS receiver is worth the wait. TiVo has forgotten who its customers are.

  14. Josh, that’s a very good/interesting point and no I am not certain… However, TiVo’s MSO Preview data sheet (PDF here) doesn’t mention analog or OTA, whereas the Premiere reference does.

    tivoboy, the Elite will work as a MoCA bridge so just pick up any ole MoCA adapter off ebay for cheap and the two units would talk. Also, the Preview utilizes MoCA… so that’d be TWO models. Not that TiVo has actually announced that it will be available via retail channels.

    Jack, yeah that was an oversight on my part. Interesting though… as I’ve been slowly tinkering with a site redesign and have been contemplating doing away with categories entirely or simplifying with a few broad topics like DVR, Mobile, Web, etc.

    Spark, I’m still waiting for 1.9 too. The longest rollout EVAR. I’m ready to start talking about Verizon’s next upgrade… hopefully including whole home recording/conflict resolution and playlist.

  15. Dave,
    Thanks for the datasheet link. I don’t trust it though… “One 16Hz QAM Tuner” You aren’t going to be doing a whole heck of a lot if your sample rate is 16Hz. Someone forgot the M in MHz. :) I wouldn’t say that this sheet would be definitive though. It is geared toward the cable providers (it may be physically there and disabled by software for them). If it really is cheap, that should have been the route they went. That way if they bring it to retail, it is fully functional with the non-Elite products.
    Just my thoughts.

  16. I just don’t understand how the Premiere series can have such a laggy UI in this day and age, yet you have Roku and Apple TV boxes that give you a smooth HD UI with no issues. I love my Tivo HD, and I’m interested in this model, but they HAVE to get the software fixed before I’ll upgrade.

  17. Well, I’m very interested, but:

    a) They need to either complete the HDUI or fix the 10 minute SD hang bug. I haven’t seen confirmation that either of these is true.

    b) If its true that this unit won’t stream to/from Tivo HD units that’s a big problem, as I doubt I’m interested in upgrading all of my units at once from Tivo HD’s to Premiere’s.

    Other than that color me interested. I kind of want to try out the new Cable Card self installs with Comcast in my area and see how that goes anyway…

  18. personally i’m not interested in streaming at all!, but i do like the idea of being able to record 4 programs at once! I also wish tivo would let me get the ondemand stuff from verizon fios. could you please let us know if that ever becomes a reality? thanks dave!!

  19. @Glenn

    If you know enough to be aware of a), shouldn’t you already be aware of the TiVo HD hardware limitations that render b) impossible?

    The TiVo HD simply doesn’t have the horsepower to do either input or output of HD in real-time. (In a best case scenario with both tuners on SD channels, it gets close, but even then, transfer is still slower than real-time. And that best case scenario gets destroyed by watching the incoming HD, which is explicit in a streaming situation.) I knew that before I bought my box…

  20. I called TiVo to cancel my HDXL today and just keep the premiere until the elite comes out. He stated that premiere to premiere streaming should be happing ‘with a software update in the next few weeks’. If that panned out to be true (I know it was in testing) they it seems to me that it could stream to the preview or the premiere elite without MoCa as a requirement. Either way, I’m personally excited to see TiVO doing this, it keeps me as a customer and a side benefit to Comcast to keeping me in their camp as well.

  21. Tivo won’t get another (hardware) dime out of me until they make my CURRENT Premiere usable on the UI front (without having to go SD). If they come out with another Premiere that fixes the horrifically slow and cumbersome UI without fixing what I only recently purchased, that will be the final kiss off for me and I’ll be moving on to other options when I’m ready to upgrade.

  22. If I replace my HD bedroom unit with one of these, with my current Premiere XL, I’d have 6 tuners. I could reduce my capital cost by selling the lifetime HD + TB external drive. I’d be able to ditch a set top box and a TV cable card I now rent from Verizon. I think it would pay for itself somewhere around 3 years. Good investment, I think.

  23. “Tivo won’t get another (hardware) dime out of me until they make my CURRENT Premiere usable on the UI front”

    Comments like this genuinely confuse me.

    Why did you buy your CURRENT Premiere in the first place if you didn’t like the UI? If you didn’t do your research ahead of purchase, were you not able to return it within the first 30 days for some reason?

  24. I dunno, Chucky… I’d think a year and a half beyond release TiVo would have completed their HDUI – a heavily marketed feature of the Premiere. Yeah, shame on us for assuming they’d take care of it in a timely fashion. But it wasn’t an entirely unreasonable expectation and reflects poorly on TiVo. Hopefully there’s a major software overhaul just around the corner… but I’ve been saying that nearly as long as TiVo’s subscriber base has been shrinking.

  25. No Over-The-Air tuner on this one? Hmm. Granted, while I get 3/4 of my input via Comcast, 1/4 of my Season Passes are from OTA channels that appear to be clearer/crisper HD over the air than via Comcast.

    As others have said, faster, cleaner UI, with a Netflix upgrade are definitely requirements for me as well before I purchase anything else from TiVo.

  26. At the very least i will be selling two of my Lifetime Premieres and getting an Elite. I might sell all four of my Lifetime Premieres(and keep the $6.95 a month Premiere) and get two Elites. As long as I can sell my Premieres for enough to cover almost all of the cost of the two Elites with Lifetime service.
    I hoping that I can also use a BestBuy coupon on the purchase as well.

  27. @Dave and Chucky –

    Exactly, Dave. I had that comfort level and trust (which is now appearing to be misplaced) in their making things right. And being a beta tester I know how aggressive they can be about improving things when they want to. Maybe they simply can’t in this instance, which would be a huge black mark. I truly feel burned by this Premiere, and at a continuing clip of $20 a month, no less.

    And maybe I wasn’t clear enough Chucky. It’s the speed (or lack thereof) that bugs me by far the most about the HD UI. There could be other improvements as well, but that is the primary issue by far. It blows my mind that they have not/cannot remedy the problem.

  28. @Chucky,

    I regularly transfer HD shows from Tivo HD to Tivo HD and watch them as they’re transferring, as long as I give it a little buffering. This is using the Ethernet port over MoCA, which works a little better than my last WiFi experience, but even there it was almost usable. Not sure why it wouldn’t work.

    But I take your point. I guess as long as you can TRANSFER shows from the Elite to a Tivo HD, whether streaming is supported or not, that should be good enough.

    I thought though that having a Premiere at one end of a Premiere Tivo HD transfer improved the transfer rate some what, albeit not to the level you’d get Premiere to Premiere. Just don’t remember the details of which end it needed to be, or which end benefited you the most.

  29. “And maybe I wasn’t clear enough Chucky. It’s the speed (or lack thereof) that bugs me by far the most about the HD UI.”

    I actually understand you perfectly.

    When the Premiere was released, I very much wanted one in order to get an upgrade over my TiVo HD in both drive capacity and throughput speed.

    But I tested one, and the speed (or lack thereof) of the HDUI made me decide that I’d rather keep my TiVo HD.

    (To digress, I was actually willing to spend full freight price to get the Premeire’s upgrade in those two aforementioned areas while running the SDUI mode, but since the box would’ve been only a incremental upgrade, I was in no rush. And then literally in the week when I was ready to buy, I learned about the 10 minute hang bug in the SDUI, and so I lucked into keeping my TiVo HD instantly.)

    But I guess my point is that, from both of our POV’s, the Premiere’s software is a bit ahead of the Premiere’s hardware. I didn’t really expect TiVo to be able to fix the entire product to my specs from the software side alone, so I decided to skip a product cycle.

    I have only medium expectations from TiVo, and in the DVR space, that means they have me as a pretty happy customer.

  30. “But I take your point. I guess as long as you can TRANSFER shows from the Elite to a Tivo HD, whether streaming is supported or not, that should be good enough.”

    The only thing is that the TRANSFER method requires CCI byte freedom, while the streaming method doesn’t. So with some MSO’s, you’d be fine, and with other MSO’s, you wouldn’t be.

  31. Understood. I haven’t had the 10 minute hang ups, thank goodness. That WOULD make me send it back. I just have a more expensive Tivo than my nicer S3 in the other room – and the same SD UI on each. So, yes, it comes down to our having different expectations regarding Tivo’s ability to fix things, though we are probably more of the same mind these days!

  32. Weaknees sells a 2TB TiVo premiere for $499. If you aren’t comfortable upgrading yourself, this is the right price. I am downright flabbergasted that TiVo priced it properly.

    Now if you are comfortable upgrading yourself, you can pick up a premiere for either free (with deals) or at most $100, drop in a $79 WD Green 2TB drive, and save a ton of money. So for guys like me, the question is if 2 additional tuners and a potentially useful MoCA bridge is worth $3-400. For me, that answer is no.

    But still, nice job on that pricing. TiVo actually did something right for once.

  33. I think that the Elite is way overpriced at $500. I could see $300 or possibly $400 at launch as acceptable. With brand new Premieres readily available for $50, an extra $450 is hard to swallow for essentially 2 extra tuners and a larger hard drive.

    I hope TiVo doesn’t waste their time by manufacturing a lot of ElitesQs because after the early adopters buy the rest of the units are going to sit on the shelf at BB for quite sometime just like the Premiere before the price chop.

  34. Don’t they sell the Premiere at a loss? It sounds like the price of the Elite might cover the cost of the box.

    $500 is certainly a much lower price than I expected.

  35. $500 is certainly much, much cheaper than the HDTiVo from DirecTV cost on 2004. They were $1K each back then. And I gladly paid for two of them as soon as they were released.(although I bought eight and sold six at an average cost of $1450 so I covered the cost of mine plus most of the cost to double the storage capacity to 500GB)

  36. Someone brought up a good point on TCF. I wonder if this will still have the 2TB limit or if it will support the esata drives. From the picture of the back it looks like it still has the esata connection.

  37. On the Data sheet that Dave linked to in the first comment it says “eSATA port supports increased storage via compatible hard drive”
    So with that statement they would have to be able to get more than 2TB of storage.

  38. Did anyone else notice the HTC Android phone with a TiVo app running on it in the pictures? I love the iPod app (even better than the iPad app, IMHO), it’d be great to have it on the phone that’s always in my pocket.

  39. TiVo knocks it out of the park on hardware once again.
    As for analog – a significiant hassle for TiVo design is not just the tuner chips but the fact of recording analog as their hybrid mpeg and then playing it back. TiVo jumps some software trick play hoops to do that and recording only digital eliminates all that mess in the code base.
    I have always said that TiVo needs to go digital for 4 tuners to simply and they have.

    Now the real litmus for me is the software. I iwll wait to see how the software UI looks and performs in the wild before making a purchase decision.

  40. “I haven’t had the 10 minute hang ups, thank goodness.”

    I genuinely wonder how common and frequent the SDUI 10 minute hang bug is in the wild.

    I’ve read enough reports on Tivocommunity from commenters I recognize to know that it’s a real and present bug. And I have zero expectations that TiVo will ever put a single engineer/hour into fixing it. But I could put up with the bug if it only happened once or twice a year. (Hell, the TiVo HD that I love crashes and reboots a couple of times a year.)

    In short, I’d really like to upgrade from a TiVo HD to a Premiere if I thought I could run the SDUI mode with only a couple of 10 minute freezes a year.

  41. @Chucky:

    Who is your carrier? I had TWC for years and their SDV tuning adapters on my Premiere and HD. No problems with HD but big trouble with the Premiere. I recently (3 mos?) switched to FiOS. Two major changes – no more 10 minute hang bugs as yet, and the HDUI is now quite snappy. Apparently the switch from Roadrunner to FiOS 25/25 causes HDUI to work much faster – I didn’t see that coming. I still use SDUI because we also have the HD, but the HDUI is now very usable.

  42. “Who is your carrier? … I recently (3 mos?) switched to FiOS. Two major changes – no more 10 minute hang bugs as yet, and the HDUI is now quite snappy.”

    I’m also on the sweet wire at the moment. But I’m in a metro area with multiple competitive wireline providers, and I like the idea of being able to switch around if the price is right. (That’s one of the reasons I went TiVo in the first place.)

    So while its good to know I might be fine with the Premiere with my current MSO, I also might want to switch MSO’s some day…

  43. “Who is your carrier? … I recently (3 mos?) switched to FiOS. Two major changes – no more 10 minute hang bugs as yet…”

    Out of curiosity, how often were you getting the 10 minute hangs with your old MSO?

  44. @Chucky,

    I’m on Comcast, so the CCI byte only bytes me on HBO/Showtime and things purchased from Amazon VOD. Not intolerable. I can transfer most of our recordings between Tivo’s with little trouble. No SDV either so no damn tuning adapters so PERHAPS I wouldn’t see the 10 minute SDUI hang.

    I’ll probably take a chance and upgrade one of the boxes to a Premiere Elite when it comes out and see what happens.

  45. I was getting the hang several times a week on TWC – maybe every couple of days sometimes and then a couple of days in a row… Very annoying. Of course sometimes when we turned the TV on it would be hung, so who knows how many times it hung when we were not watching?

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