'Converged' TiVo stumbles with new STB, doesn't do enough with online video

In the beginning, there was TiVo. And it was good.

But, time and competition move on. TiVo, by and large, has not. And in the world of the New TiVo Premiere and online videoDVR, standing still is the same as moving backward. While TiVo kicked off the time-shifted genre of television viewing, helping to spark the eventual revolution in the industry that's playing out even today, its own failure to evolve quickly has left it firmly in the middle of the pack as cable companies and other set-top box makers--and websites like Hulu and those of broadcasters that allow viewers to catch up on missed episodes--has made it almost irrelevant, a dinosaur in the category it helped spawn. Since 2007, the company has bled more than 1.8 million subscribers, many of whom simply opted for cheaper alternatives offered by telcos and cablecos.

In recent months, there's been a lot of chatter about TiVo's upcoming product revision, and its attempt to play a role in the convergence of TV and the Internet. Online video has become a near staple of life for many Americans, and bringing the Internet to the living room has become a Holy Grail of sorts. TiVo's solution fall short with both its $300 Premiere and $500 Premiere XL editions (the Premiere goes on sale Sunday at Best Buy, the XL is available as of Monday at tivo.com). In addition to needing a $90 WiFi adapter, once you're hooked up you still can't get to some of the most-desirable online video site like Hulu.

Overall, reviewers are reporting they've been disappointed with TiVo's Premiere. The Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg writes that while it was "better than the standard cable-company-supplied boxes," it wasn't enough of an upgrade to warrant moving from your old TiVo to the new model. It also, he said, "doesn't go nearly far enough in tapping the Internet." Mossberg says TiVo Premiere "looks incomplete. It seems more like a platform for a future set of offerings TiVo hopes one day to have, rather than a way to deliver new content right now."

Other reviews are similar, with Edgadget saying the Premiere is the "DVR we wanted two years ago - TiVo's challenge will be to make it the DVR we want two years from now." And, as USAToday says, "Whether this slows TiVo's subscriber drain remains to be seen. TiVo Premiere is better. It's just not a game-changer."

In the beginning, there was TiVo and it was good. Today, "good" may not be enough.

For more:
- see this WSJ article
- see this Engadget review
- see the USAToday story

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