DTV Primer

Chris Llana, Editor



TiVo To Introduce High-Definition DVR

July 20, 2006

TiVo's new Series 3 ("S3") HD DVR will soon be available in retail stores. It is currently undergoing customer trials in several cable markets across the country.

The digital-cable-ready S3 DVR will accept up to two independent CableCARDs, which permit HD recording of two premium channels. According to an older report, the new TiVo box will have "300 hours" of recording space.


The CableCARDs, of course, are unidirectional devices that came out a couple of years ago (with great fanfare) to promote competition in the set-top box (STB) marketplace. The STB integration ban would ensure a level playing field. TiVo took up the challenge and developed this Series 3 model as a substitute for the cable company's box.

Well, by now we all know that support for these little CableCARD critters isn't what it should have been. So much so that several high level TiVo officials met with a veritable herd of FCC officials on July 14 to voice concern that their fancy new box just might go down in flames due to cable company end-runs.

They've also sent out special instructions to cable companies on the how-tos and where-fors of installing these new HD DVRs. This after reports that cable company installers were refusing to install or support the TiVo HD DVR.

The TiVo execs seemed to be more concerned about cable company roll-out of switched digital video (SDV) technology, which has the potential of restricting channels (especially HD channels) for consumers who have purchased competitive unidirectional set-top boxes, while giving access to the full channel line-up to customers who lease the cable company's own bidirectional STB.

TiVo wants equal access to the same digital content offerings for all customers. Seems fair to me.

The cable companies seem committed to switched digital video technology (which requires bidirectional STBs, versus CableCARD, which in lingo parlance is a "unidirectional digital cable product"--UDCP). Something has to give.

p.s. - HP LCD TV review by Sunday evening. . .