The Tivo Series3 HD DVR

TiVo Finally Goes HD

It’s been two years since TiVo first promised us a full HD compatible DVR. Sure, you could get the DirecTiVo with HD (even has an HDMI to boot), but for those who do not subscribe to DirecTV, you would receive nothing. CES 2006 brought the promise of change for TiVo with the introduction of their new Series3 HD TiVo PVR. Finally, an HD TiVo is available for those of us with no DirecTV. However, it’s not just HD that makes the Series3 special, a lot of work went into this significant upgrade.

Advertiser Links for TiVo Series3

Series3 gives users the ability to record and watch two different channels, or record two at channels at once (although you are required to watch one of the recordings while recording the other). There are no less than six separate tuners inside the Series3. It will come with two NTSC (standard definition TV tuners) and two ATSC (HD) tuners, as well as two Cable TV tuners for a total of six. Considering the new TiVo unit is compatible with the CableCARD 2.0 system, if you use the cable TV subscriber CARD you’ll have one more tuner. Although all these tuners are an excellent feature of the Series3, you will still only able to take in two separate sources at once.

Series3 can record up to 250 hours of standard definition television with its 250 GB HDD. If you are recording High-Definition programming, you will be able to record 25 hours of television. The new set-top box can record and playback in 480P, 720P or 1080i, along with 480i standard television. Although it won’t directly support 1080P, the new TiVo STB will support a feature called native playback. If you’re able to pipe an HD source at 1080P, you can use native playback to send unformatted video to the TV from its HDD. Series3 is also armed with the following codecs: Mpeg2, Mpeg4, WMV9 VC1, and AVC.

Tasty TiVo Series3 Highlights:

  • Same great TiVO ToGo as Series2.
  • Succulent HDTV recording from over air/cable
  • Beefy 250 Gig hard drive; 250 hours NTSC or 25 hours ATSC
  • Medley of output options including Optical or RCA audio outs.
  • Video outputs include: HDMI, Component, S-Video and Composite
  • Oven fresh SATA Port for fresh baked external storage
  • Ice cold CableCARD 2.0 for compatible cable services

One very cool and oft’ overlooked feature on this TiVo box is the full support for its SATA drive. Serial ATA is something that a lot of PVRs are offering these days, but unfortunately the manufacturers just don’t have the intestinal fortitude to actually use them. The content providers (IE studios who produce the programming) wear the pants in the relationship between many other PVR systems. That’s why similar offerings from companies like Motorola that have a SATA port don’t actually activate them. Frankly, many companies don't activate their SATA port because they don’t have permission. TiVo, on the other hand, has never backed away from entering the legal fray and has been angering content providers since its inception. TiVo’s SATA port is fully active from the factory and will allow you to connect a 300 Gig removable drive, more than doubling its storage. Theoretically, you can use an unlimited number of SATA drives to expand your archives as much as you wish. TiVo Series3 also provides Ethernet and 2 USB ports and modem.

TiVo Series2 began the TiVo ToGo craze, and it’s alive and well in Series3. The only drawback with Series3 is that it won’t allow you to transmit TiVo recordings from one TiVo set-top box to another across your household network. If TiVo can ever resolve issues of digital rights management it may offer that feature again, but for now there are no promises.

Currently, an exact numerical value has not been released for the Series3. Speculation in the industry is suggesting that the Series3 will be priced between $800 to $1000 dollars. TiVo says the new unit will be available in mid to late 2006.