The TiVo Premiere features the first refresh of the TiVo interface in quite some time. While not everyone is a fan, most say that it is stunning and easy to use. The TiVo's Discovery Bar makes it easy to explore offerings from your cable provider and from online sources, including Netflix, Amazon Video on Demand, Blockbuster on Demand and many more. The storage capacity is relatively spacious at 45 hours for HD content, and you can add an external hard drive for more room for your programs. You can also stream content from the TiVo Premiere for viewing or storage, as well as burn copies to DVD (with the help of software from Roxio (*Est. $70)).
Not everyone is pleased with TiVo's new subscription options, which offer a subsidized receiver at a lower initial cost, but higher monthly costs (*Est. $19.95 per month) and an early termination fee if you drop service before the first year is up. Nonsubsidized TiVo Premieres cost more initially (*Est. $300), and they carry the same monthly subscription fee (minus the early termination penalty). You can also opt for a lifetime subscription (*Est. $500), which is good for the life of the DVR and transfers with it should you decide to sell your TiVo to someone else.
If you want a TiVo Premiere with more storage, the TiVo Premiere XL (*Est. $300 and up, plus TiVo service) has storage for150 hours of HD content and adds a few goodies, such as THX certification. An unsubsidized TiVo Premiere XL is also available (*Est. $500, plus TiVo service). Subscription plans, including the imposition of early termination fees, are identical whether you opt for the standard Premiere or the Premiere XL.
The newest TiVo is the TiVo Premier Elite (*Est. $500, plus service). It ups the tuner count to four and the capacity to 300 hours of HD programming, but it ditches support for over-the-air broadcasts (it works only with digital cable and Verizon Fios fiber service). Monthly and lifetime service fees are the same as other TiVo DVRs, but the company drops the service commitment and early termination penalty.
Like all TiVo's (and any DVR that doesn't come directly from your cable company), you will probably need to get a CableCard from your cable provider (*Est. $4 per month), and that technology deactivates some cable company extras such as video on demand. That leads some to say that cable company DVRs (price varies by provider) are less expensive and more convenient than the TiVo Premiere, though many TiVo enthusiasts would beg to disagree. The TiVo Premiere works with all digital cable systems and Verizon Fios, but not with AT&T U-verse or any satellite TV provider. Some cable companies are offering DVRs with TiVo Premiere software as an option, and more are slated to do so. A TiVo-powered DVR for DirecTV was promised for 2011, but it has yet to appear.
The TiVo Premiere has been widely reviewed. The best review is the detailed report at PCMag.com. Other reviews worth reading can be found at Gizmodo.com, Engadget.com, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today. Check out TiVoCommunity.com for the most helpful user feedback.
This balanced and testing-based report examines the new TiVo Premiere hardware and user interface in detail. Positives and negatives are clearly spelled out, and the question of whether it makes sense to opt for a TiVo Premiere over a cable company DVR is squarely addressed. In the end, Joel Santo Domingo says that while the TiVo Premiere offers "the richest TiVo experience yet," many will find a cable company-provided DVR to be "a more-convenient and less-expensive choice."
Review: TiVo Premiere, Joel Santo Domingo, March 24, 2010
In this long and detailed review, Gizmodo.com's Mark Wilson looks at some of the shortcomings of the TiVo Premiere. He bemoans the lack of "eye candy," complains that "corners were cut" in the hardware and finds some rough edges in the user interface. However, he also says that if you can look beyond the omissions, "the TiVo Premiere becomes a brilliant machine," adding that it is "the best turnkey set top DVR I've ever used."
Review: TiVo Premiere Review: Where's the Razzle Dazzle?, Mark Wilson, March 24, 2010
Engadget.com's Nilay Patel is clearly excited about the TiVo Premiere's potential but notes some rough patches. Patel also says TiVo's slow pace in previously updating its DVRs has allowed cable company DVRs to catch up.
Review: TiVo Premiere Review, Nilay Patel, March 24, 2010
4. USA Today
Edward C. Baig notes some "snags" with the TiVo Premiere, but he says there are still lots of positives. Those include the new interface, which makes it easier to find programming from your provider and from online sources. In the end, Baig says the Premiere is an improved DVR compared with TiVo's previous and well-regarded efforts, but he's just not sure it's a "game-changer."
Review: New High-def TiVo Premiere Combines Host of Features, Edward C. Baig, March 25, 2010
5. The Wall Street Journal
Walt Mossberg says the Premiere works as advertised, despite some flaws, but it could go further in delivering Internet content. While most praise the Discovery Bar function for finding new content a plus, Mossberg calls it a distraction.
Review: New TiVo Mixes TV and Internet, but Falls Short, Walt Mossberg, March 24, 2010
This is a treasure trove of information for owners and prospective owners of the TiVo Premiere. There are lots of discussions of positives and negatives of the DVR, owner reviews, problem fixes and more. A regularly updated and very lengthy FAQ details the current state of the hardware and firmware, along with known issues and solutions. Testing comparing the TiVo Premiere's performance to previous TiVo DVRs is provided.
Review: TiVo Community Forums, Contributors to TiVoCommunity.com