[aname=A0]Last[/aname] updated: May 5, 2010. This is a work in progress. Clicking images will load a high-res version. [Overview] [jumpto=A1][Summary of Changes][/jumpto] [jumpto=A2][Q&A: Hardware][/jumpto] [jumpto=A3][Q&A: User Interface][/jumpto] [jumpto=A4][Q&A: Performance][/jumpto] [Tech Review] The TiVo Premiere is the company's next-generation HDTV DVR for over-the-air, cable, and Verizon FiOS. It launched in 320GB (46 HD hours) and 1TB (156 HD hours) configurations for $299 and $499 at Best Buy on March 28, and is now shipping from TiVo.com and Amazon.com. Existing TiVo owners with a monthly or yearly subscription receive a 20% discount on the Premiere at TiVo.com, with new units priced at $239 and $399. The Premiere is based on the new "Series4" hardware platform with a faster dual-core processor, twice the memory, and improved I/O. The added processing power is used to support a new high-definition interface with a video window, much faster network transfers, and robust video playback with full 1080p output. Newer technology cuts power consumption by 35-40% for ENERGY STAR compliance. New, all-black enclosure is roughly 3" shallower and 1" shorter than the TiVo HD. Click for high-resolution version. As a dual-tuner DVR, the TiVo Premiere allows the user to watch one channel while they record another; it will record two different HD or SD shows while playing a third, previously recorded show. It has separate CABLE and ANTENNA inputs, with each split internally to support two channels from analog cable, digital cable, or an off-air antenna; it will also tune and record channels from two different sources. The Premiere doesn’t record from another box; it replaces the cable box. User can pause and replay live television, or hit record to save the live program for future playback. Other functions on the remote include 30 second "scan", slow motion, frame-by-frame advance, 15 minute skip-to-tick, and three speeds of fast forward and reverse (3x, 20x, 60x). Like past HD TiVos, the Premiere maintains separate buffers for each tuner and retains the pause position on the inactive tuner, so one does not lose their position when swapping between tuners and channels. Recording capacity on the standard Premiere is 46 HD hours, while the XL offers 156 HD hours. Both models officially support a 1TB external drive to add another 144 HD hours. Forum sponsor DVRUpgrade.com also offers pre-upgraded TiVo Premiere DVRs with 317 HD hours. There are no quality settings to vary record capacity on digital channels; all digital content is saved to the hard drive as is, bit-for-bit identical to the original broadcast. Quality on live and recorded HDTV is identical. The TiVo features an electronic program guide (EPG) with 14-days of guide information from Tribune Media and Rovi. The guide is customizable, so one can remove any channels they do not want to see; filters and favorites are supported. Program information is downloaded nightly and saved to the hard drive. During setup, the user selects whether they want to use ethernet, wireless, or a phone line adapter for guide downloads; the user enters their zip code and selects whether they use an antenna, cable, or both. When cable or both is selected, the user is asked to pick their provider from a list. By default, the TiVo records all programs by name rather than time; this is known as "name-based recording." With a series recording for House, it doesn't matter what time or day of the week that program is showing. The TiVo records House whenever it shows with the correct program length for that episode, even when the day, time, and/or program length changes. The TiVo does this by continuously searching the guide data for the name of the show, and adjusting its record schedule as needed. This effectively provides "set it and forget it" recording, because once a recording is scheduled, no adjustments are necessary when the program changes its day, time, or duration. Single and series recordings are created through a program guide selection, a Browse TV category selection, or by searching 14 days of program listings. The Browse TV menu organizes upcoming television programs by genre, but goes well beyond that; it offers more than two dozen specialized categories, including award winners, what’s new, most popular, best bets this week, and 4-star movies. Search integrates results for upcoming TV shows, movies, actors and actresses, and all available content from Internet video providers –such as Netflix—enabled in settings. First word matches are no longer required and results are sorted by popularity (“best match”, minimizing the character input necessary. Click for high-resolution version. Click here for a two-character search example. Unlike most DVRs, TiVo also allows users to create custom series recordings to record only those programs that meet specific criteria input using a USB keyboard, keyboard remote, or on-screen keyboard. Such custom series recordings—known as wishlists—are useful to record only those sporting events with one’s favorite pro or college team, regardless of date, time, and channel. Other uses include series recordings for all new award shows, bowl games, golf majors, grand slam tennis, MLB/NBA/NFL/NHL playoffs, NASCAR races, NCAA tournament basketball, or presidential debates. Every series and custom series recording can be set to record new episodes only, or new and repeat episodes, with its own independent start and end time padding. Users are able to set the number of episodes to keep, and whether to keep each recording until space is needed or until manually deleted. The DVR maintains a built-in recorded history to prevent duplicate recordings of the same program. All series and custom series recordings are listed and prioritized in a menu called Season Pass Manager. Users rank their series recordings in that ordered list, and those rankings determine what two programs record when three or more conflict. If three programs conflict, the TiVo records the first two and searches for a later showing of the third program. The TiVo automatically records the next airing of the conflicting program, so long as it is shown again in the next 28 days. The list of recorded programs –called My Shows—is sortable by either name or date, toggled with one press of the remote. Multiple episodes of the same program are grouped into folders to reduce clutter. Within each program group, recordings are listed by the date recorded with their episode title. A disk space meter indicates the amount of space consumed by user-scheduled recordings. Shown with name sort; click for high-resolution version. Click here for date sort. Select a completed recording or a recording-in-progress from the recorded list and it plays from the beginning. On recordings-in-progress, users can skip commercials until they catch up to live. If one elects to finish viewing at a later time, the TiVo remembers the last position. If viewing live TV, pressing record will save the program from the point it was tuned. The TiVo always buffers both tuners, so one can pause a live TV channel at a commercial, switch to another channel to view for awhile, pause that, and then switch back to the first channel to resume from where they left off, skipping commercials as desired. This makes it possible to watch two concurrent live TV programs. Other notable TiVo software features include: a Recently Deleted (undelete) folder to recover deleted programs; remote scheduling via the web and mobile phone; direct download of recorded files in MPG or TS format; transfer of videos and recordings from computer to TiVo for playback; multi-room SD and HD viewing with other TiVos; an extensive array of parental controls; Netflix SD/HD streaming; Amazon Unbox SD/HD; Blockbuster HD/SD; and free RSS video feed subscriptions. Both the versions of the Premiere feature a new remote similar in layout and design to the older Series3 "Glo" remote, but with four new buttons (yellow, blue, red, green); these act as shortcuts for various options in the user interface. The remote bundled with the standard model lacks backlighting and IR learning capability, while the XL remote adds those features. A RF Bluetooth remote with a slide-out keyboard is expected in several months as an optional accessory at TiVo.com. Click for high-resolution version. For digital cable, one CableCard (M-CARD) from the cable company is required to support both tuners. A CableCard is a form of access card; it plugs into the CableCard slot and authorizes subscribed channels. The box has HDMI 1.3, component, and composite (RCA) video connections; it will output audio over HDMI, but also has analog stereo and optical (S/PDIF). Output modes are enhanced with the ability to selectively enable or disable every resolution from 480i to 1080p. All HD and SD outputs are active simultaneously, and the box downconverts HD channels to SD through composite for older televisions. One of the following subscriptions is required for the first TiVo: $12.99/mo, $129/yr, $299/3yrs, or a one-time payment of $399 to eliminate all future fees. Each box after the first requires a subscription of $9.99/mo, $99/yr, or a one-time payment of $299. Existing customers with a lifetime subscription can add lifetime to the Premiere at a 50% discount ($199) without affecting the service on the other DVR. TiVo.com and Best Buy offer a 30-day return policy. TiVo includes a 7-day trial without activation, and all TiVo subscriptions are fully refundable within the first 30 days. The standard warranty is one-year on parts and 90-days labor, but TiVo offers two-year and three-year extended warranties for $30 and $40, respectively. There is a $150 charge for out-of-warranty repairs and replacements. PDFS TiVo Premiere Brochure TiVo Premiere Datasheet @ Engadget TiVo Premiere XL Datasheet @ Engadget TiVo Premiere Viewer's Guide Instructions for CableCard installers Start Here Poster [aname=A1]Summary of changes from TiVo HD / Series3[/aname] [jumpto=A0][Back to top][/jumpto] What are the changes to the hardware? A full breakdown of the changes is found in the technical review (PDF). The Premiere's "Series4" platform features a faster dual-core processor, 2D/3D graphics core, and memory bus, plus newer versions of almost every component. This new hardware provides three to six times the throughput for multi-room transfers and recorded file downloads. Refer to [jumpto=A4]the performance section below[/jumpto] to see benchmarks. How do the hardware specifications compare? How does the software compare? The most obvious change with the Series4 platform is the interface. TiVo uses the faster processor in the Premiere to support a new high-definition interface with a video window, sharper fonts, and high-resolution graphics. Improvements with the new multi-pane interface include: VIDEO WINDOW in the corner of all HD menus displays the current recording or live TV channel. Users can pause the video window, or toggle the window on or off from any menu using the SLO MO button on the remote. A settings option will disable the video window. PREVIEW AREA in menus provides additional information about the selected movie, series, or episode without the need to transition to a new screen. POSTERS and IMAGES throughout the interface make it easier to identify actors, series, and movies. DISCOVERY BAR is shown at the top of many HD screens and displays suggested TV series, movies, collections, and TiVo tips, based on what is popular or similar to the selected program, or content previously recorded by the user. Limited customization is available at launch, and further customization is planned for future updates. SEARCH integrates results for TV series, movies, actors, and web videos. Results include television programs showing in the next 12 days, as well as content from Internet providers enabled in Video provider settings. First word matches are no longer required, and the new engine searches every word in every title. By default, results are sorted and displayed by popularity to minimize the character input necessary; sort by name remains an option. BROWSE TV organizes available and upcoming content into categories. Categories include traditional genre selections for TV series, movies, and sports, plus two dozen specialized “collections.” Collections include categories for award winners, what’s new, and most popular. As with search, the Browse TV menu displays those programs showing on television in the next 12 days, plus matching content from any Internet providers enabled in Video provider settings. DISK SPACE METER on the My Shows screen indicates the percentage of disk space consumed by user-scheduled recordings. This disk space meter is enabled by default, but can be hidden. With the current 14.1c software, the HD interface is very sluggish as the reviews indicate. The second core of the Premiere's dual-core processor is currently disabled under Linux for stability reasons, as confirmed by a serial boot log. TiVo is working to address that. TiVo's Bob Poniatowski had this to say on March 31: A responsive "classic" interface remains available for those that want to use it. Users of the older interface can still take advantage of various other Premiere enhancements, including: 30 second scan On past TiVos, the ADVANCE (-->|) button toggled between the beginning and end of the program by default. If the user wanted that button to perform 30 second skip—a popular feature to skip commercials—they had to enter a special remote sequence: SELECT-PLAY-SELECT-3-0-SELECT. The TiVo Premiere ships with a new 30 second “scan” function enabled by default on the ADVANCE (-->|) button. This feature is very similar to the 30 second "slip" on DirecTV's latest DVRs. It doesn't skip 30 seconds; instead, it fast forwards through a 30 second interval in one second (i.e. 30x speed). Pressing ADVANCE repeatedly queues added time. Four presses of the ADVANCE button fast forwards through 120 seconds of programming (or commercials) in four seconds. The traditional 30 second instant skip function is still available, and enabled with the same remote sequence. Simply enter SELECT-PLAY-SELECT-3-0-SELECT while viewing a recorded program. Trick play enhancements: Jump to beginning/end and skip-to-tick on live TV With the Premiere, pressing and holding the REPLAY button for one second jumps to the beginning of the recording or the beginning of the live TV buffer. Pressing and holding the ADVANCE button for one second jumps to the end of the recording or the end of the live TV buffer (i.e. live TV). Users can also jump forward or backward in 15 minute increments on live TV and recordings. When rewinding, each press of the REPLAY button jumps backward in 15 minute increments. When fast forwarding, each press of the ADVANCE button jumps forward in 15 minute increments. USB keyboard support; support for upcoming keyboard remote The Premiere supports both wired and wireless USB keyboards. The implementation conforms to the USB HID specification, which TiVo will use to support its upcoming Bluetooth keyboard remote. Alphanumeric keys function in both the HD and classic menus, while the ENTER, cursor, and F1-F11 keys perform various TiVo remote functions. The keyboard is not yet supported in older HME applications such as Youtube, Swivel Search, and interactive games. Improved handling of delete notifications; increase in default “keep until” period On past TiVos, new recordings were protected from deletion for 48 hours, and icons were used to indicate the amount of time a recording was protected. No icon meant the recording was protected for at least 24 hours; a yellow ball meant the recording was protected for less than 24 hours; and a yellow ball with an exclamation point meant the recording was no longer protected and the DVR would delete the recording when space was needed for a new one. It didn’t matter how much space was available; every recording older than 48 hours was labeled as “may be deleted.” The TiVo Premiere protects all new recordings from deletion for 72 hours, but does a much better job of reporting when the DVR will delete older recordings. It no longer labels every recording as “may be deleted” simply because it is 48 or 72 hours old. Instead, it calculates the disk space requirements for scheduled recordings to report what recordings the DVR will delete and when. It only flags recordings as “will be deleted” when recording space runs low, or when an upcoming episode will replace an older one, per the user’s own series setting for “keep last X episodes.” Support for full 1080p24 output The TiVo Premiere adds the ability to output 1080p24 without conversion to 1080i. The first beneficiary of this new capability is Amazon, which already encodes all of its high-definition VOD content in 1080p24 @ 5 Mbps. Those with compatible TVs will see 1080p output on Amazon HD. Full 1080p24 output is also useful for playback of most 1080p computer video files. Simplified video output selections, auto-detection of supported formats The TiVo Premiere simplifies setup with a new automatic output feature that selects the highest-resolution supported by the TV. For those that want to change the default display settings, the Premiere also adds a new menu to assist in determining supported formats. TiVo replaced its separate native, hybrid, and fixed output modes with more intuitive selections. The Premiere lists each ATSC format – 1080p24, 1080i, 720p, 480p, and 480i—and asks the user to select those to output natively without processing. If all formats are selected, then all channels are output in their original format. If only 1080i is selected, then all channels are converted to 1080i. If 480i and 720p are selected, then SD channels are output as is, and HD channels are converted to 720p. If 720p and 1080i are selected, then all HD is output in original form, while SD is upconverted to 1080i. New channel logos in recorded list With the Premiere, TiVo added channel logos for a number of new HD channels. Increased menu timeout Under previous versions of the TiVo software, the DVR would revert to live TV after five minutes of user inactivity on any menu. With the Premiere, TiVo increased that timeout to 15 minutes. According to TiVo at its launch event, the new HD UI is only the first in a series of improvements made possible by the new hardware platform. TiVo’s plans call for the Premiere to get new, enhanced Flash versions of all the popular HME applications—Netflix, Rhapsody, some games, etc—that seamlessly integrate with the new interface. These new Flash versions won’t be available at release; they too will follow later and replace the existing HME versions. TiVo also intends to make their Flash environment accessible to end users and end-user applications, with an apps store where third parties and end-users can share (and sell?) Flash applications written in Adobe Stagecraft. What key features are missing from the TiVo Premiere? Though the Premiere hardware offers plenty of untapped potential, it still lacks some key features commonly requested by users: No third tuner. It still has two tuners like the TiVo Series3. No built-in wireless networking or phone connection. If the customer doesn't have access to an ethernet connection at their TV, they can't use the Premiere until they buy the TiVo wireless adapter or TiVo phone adapter. No multi-room viewing with copy protected content. TiVo's multi-room implementation still relies on copies, which aren't permitted on protected content. Streaming with DTCP-IP is required to support multi-room viewing with the protected cable content on most Brighthouse, Cox, and TWC systems. No 60-90 minute buffer per tuner as on the latest satellite and cable DVRs. It still has a 30 minute buffer per tuner. No support for any external drives but the My DVR Expander. A growing number of cable and satellite DVRs allow the use of any external drive. No tru2way support. The Premiere is still a unidirectional CableCard device, which means it can't support SDV without a tuning adapter, and it can't support the cable company's On Demand unless the operator updates their system to accept communication over the network connection.