Josh Goldman on Cnet added a pricing comparison to his review of the TiVo Mini. He compared pricing across a number of satellite, cable operators, and telcos. I thought it would be interesting to compare some lifetime scenarios to the list and to look at the monthly pricing of what he presented over 1 to 6 year periods for homes with 2, 3, and 4 televisions. Here is a summary image of the results. I've uploaded the spreadsheet including the details of my calculations. Its interesting how inexpensive AT&T U-Verse is compared to the other services. As can be seen, TiVo becomes a very good value proposition over longer term periods. Something most of us already knew. The spreadsheet also doesn't take into account end-of-life value of TiVo equipment with lifetime. Here is a link to the Google Spreadsheet -> https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0ApZGN1EG2HMRdDNEZTNDMjI1YWYyQ1o1U3g0ajlSeUE&usp=sharing

I've priced AT&T many times and it has never been cheap. I guess most of these AT&T & TWC numbers are pulled out of some 'bundled' package ? Oh, I see. They're only pricing the additional hardware costs, not the charge of the TV service.

Nice chart but doing price comparisons is still difficult even if the person can do the math. One has to dig to get all the correct data and of course it changes if you are willing to jump ship to an alternative provider and get a "new customer" teaser deal. Plus with TiVo and some of the other providers you will have additional costs if your hardware fails or if you want to upgrade to newer hardware. I would recommend people look at what you are getting as much as the cost when deciding what is best for their situation.

All of my units are on lifetime (as a ~10-year+ owner, that made more economic sense.) I view all of this as "what does it cost now vs the long run". I can guarantee you that buying a lifetime pays for itself after ~2.5 years and then is a savings after that. When we started moving to HDTVs my wife asked about the cable boxes instead of Tivo because the cost was pretty high. When she looked at the long term math (and that our original series 2 is still running) it was clear. Buying a 4XL and a mini is ~$1050 for the pair (assuming you have a multi unit discount already. Now, you get 2 units out of this, so assume $525 per viewing station. That is ~4 years and 4 months to pay that off. That covers both units and the service. Then for every year after that your outlay is $0. If you buy a 4XL and 2 minis you get 3 viewing stations for $1300, down to 3 years and 7 months before you break even. These calculations assume a.) that the box costs $10/month and b.) that the cable company NEVER raises the price. Now, we all know that cable boxes for $10/month are pretty basic, I know my operator offers multi-room Tivo, but I think they are closer to $20 per room for DVR. At $20 a room my breakeven numbers are cut in half. And, you get Tivo, not their crappy DVR. In the case of my company, who has Tivo, you get Tivo and the ability to leave them any time you want. The beauty of them having tivo is if there is a problem, the techs know what it is and can't blame it on tivo. I highly recommend the lifetime. If you look at just the cost savings alone on lifetime vs. monthly, after 2.5 years, you're in the black. And once you have that, you never have to worry about a price increase.

Depends on the deals, how many providers you have in your area and your willingness to call in to get your rates reduced or switch providers. But, in general, owning your own equipment is the cheapest route in the longer run. I wish I could own my own Cablecard. I hate paying $4/month in perpetuity.

sbiller, Why isn't there a column for the <Lifetime> Premiere 4 + Mini, only the XL4? Can you plug that into your spreadsheet and repost?

The third column is lifetime, but I don't know if that is for both or just the Mini. It seems high for lifetime on both. I get 83.33 for the 1 year period. $249+$499+$99+$150=$1000/12 = $83.33. Maybe the extra money is CableCARD fees?

Missed that. This is what I get for using a tiny screen to post from. I figured they would use the P4 since it is on par with the cable companies when it comes to storage space. With the XL4 you are paying a premium for the extra storage space.

The 3rd column was for the Premiere XL4 which is $399+$499+99+$149+$2.99*12 = $1,181.88/12 = $98.49. I linked the Google Docs spreadsheet so you'll could confirm that math that I used to calculate the numbers. As requested, I will add the Premiere 4 ($249) to the lifetime scenario for completeness. I will also post the details as an image even though it is available via the google docs link.

Here is a snapshot with the Premiere 4 Lifetime Scenario added. Here are the details for equipping 2 TVs (i.e., Host DVR plus extender). Here are the details for adding a 3rd TV. And finally, here are the details of adding another TV for a total of 4 TVs.

The AT&T numbers are certainly low compared to the competition. I assume they make up for it in some other way.

Yeah, I think it is because they include the DVR service for "free". I.e. they build it into the price. Of course, even if it really was cheaper, you couldn't get me to subject myself to macroblocked hell, slow internet, and overall crappy infrastructure. TiVo does quite well in these comparisons.