It’s suddenly clear why TiVo has been practically giving away its Series 2 boxes.
The company today unveiled a Series 3 model that’s going to be one of the hot products this holiday season. Consumers are going to see a wave of new high-def video devices, and the new TiVo looks much cooler than anything Apple has announced recently, it’s coming to market before Microsoft Vista’s Media Center and it may have broader appeal than Sony’s new PlayStation 3.
The TiVo records high-definition video, including free over-the-air broadcasts, and stores up to 300 hours of content. It’s also designed to download content directly over a broadband connection, bypassing cable networks, though you’ll have to use TiVo’s download service.
TiVo finally added a display that shows what’s recording, even when your TV is off, and upgraded its remote.
But the Series 3 costs $800, and you’ve got to subscribe to TiVo service, which costs $299 for three years.
That’s about what you’ll pay for a PlayStation 3, if you can find one this holiday season.
It’s also about the same price as a current Media Center PC, which will do more than a TiVo and doesn’t have any service fees. But Media Centers are more complicated and may seem obsolete in a few months, after Vista arrives.
TiVo’s launch is one more reason for PC makers to fume about Vista delays. Vista’s Media Center PCs will probably blow TiVo out of the water, if Microsoft can resist the temptation to charge a service fee. But consumers aren’t likely to buy one after dropping $1,000 on a TiVo bundle, and TiVo has a head start.