My Personal Series 3 Math

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by Sethb, Sep 19, 2006.

  1. Sethb

    Sethb Member

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    I was so excited for the TiVo Series 3, I was almost positive that I was going to buy one as soon as possible, but after crunching the numbers, I just can't really justify it to myself. I don't intend to ***** in this post, just hoping that maybe someone at TiVo will read it and use it as a data point in future pricing decisions.

    I was a somewhat early HDTV adopter, I've had my 53" Panasonic RPTV for 4 years now, and I've had TiVo since 2000, my first unit was a 14 hour box, if that's any indication. I've owned a total of 6 TiVos since that time, and have gotten at least a dozen people hooked on them too. TiVo doesn't need to sell me on what they do, and I know they do it well. I'm also not afraid to spend money on new technology, I was one of the first 20 people in town to get an Xbox 360, and I'll have an HD-DVD drive within the next two months, one way (360 add-on) or another.

    For the last two years though, I've had a combination of a 140 hour Series 2 w/Lifetime on our bedroom TV (27" SD set) and a Motorola 6412 DVR on my HDTV in the family room. I record SD content on the bedroom TiVo and HD content on the dual-tuner Motorola box downstairs. We have a municipal cable company, Cedar Falls Utilities, who rents me the DVR for $15/month ($5/month more than the HD digital cable box would be).

    Now, I'm in no way saying that the 6412 DVR is as good as TiVo, the UI isn't as responsive (though the latest update on my stock series 2 has made it somewhat sucky in terms of speed), the search UI stinks, and the lack of the 28-day-rule means that any HD shows I record off HBO on Sunday, watch, and delete, then get recorded again on Tuesday or Friday, which is annoying, but I cope. Yes, it has bugs, but, in the two years that TiVo has taken to bring their product to market, I learned to live with them so I could time-shift HD.

    So, the 6412 has some annoyances, TiVo would clearly be an improvement, but enough to justify the cost? Since I already have the S2 TiVo, I'd be paying $6.95/month for TiVo service on the Series 3, which is reasonable, but I'd also have to rent two CableCARDs from my provider, which is $5/month each (is this typical?). That puts my monthly cost at $1.95/month more than I'm paying now, which is no big deal to me, and I'd gladly do that to get TiVo over the current DVR. However, when you tack on a $799 charge for the box, plus an increased monthly fee over what I'm currently paying, the price is just too high, and, considering I have no liability with the cable company DVR if it breaks, or is rendered obsolete by technology changes, the $800, plus $1.95/month additional cost really seems like it would be a foolish decision. Yes, TiVo is better, that's not in question, but is it $800 better? Probably not, certainly not as long as the bulk of TV I watch is still in SD.

    Also, I know TiVo needs to make money, but it was a lot easier to justify the montly fee to me back in the days when my TiVo used to dial-up for internet access. Now that I supply the internet connection, and TiVo (allegedly) isn't subsidizing the hardware cost of the Series 3 boxes, and I can't buy lifetime, I find the monthly fee to be somewhat insulting, and it completely changes the mathematics of owning their boxes vs. cable company DVRs.

    I'm in the unique position of actually having a choice between Cedar Falls Utilities cable, or Mediacom, in our market. They both use the 6412 hardware, I just have to hope that one of them makes the TiVo software an option on their hardware in the future...

    Again, I don't want this to be a bitchy anti-series 3 post, but if *I* am not willing to spend the money on the Series 3 hardware, I wonder how many of these they're going to be able to sell to people with less of a tech addition than I have...
     
  2. SullyND

    SullyND L: 31-14 (10-2) TCF Club

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    I really like the BMW 5 Series. I drive a Ford. I find the price of the BMW insulting. I'd like for it to be closer to the price of my Ford.
     
  3. Sethb

    Sethb Member

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    Snarkiness aside, it's not that simple, unless the only difference is the way the cruise control and the radio operate, the addition of power seats, and the Ford also comes with a lifetime warranty, and they give you a new Ford when it's obsolete. :) In which case, it'd be pretty hard to justify a BMW too.

    And again, if part of the service fee's cost was to justify the hardware subsidization, which is no longer being done for Series 3, shouldn't the fee be lower?
     
  4. theone

    theone New Member

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    Sethb I completely agree. I have been a tivo user for over 4 years now. I bought my HD tv earlier this year and have been waiting for the S3 like everyone else with high hopes. After seeing the price of the S3, I bought another S2 today for $55. I cant believe I held out this long for the S3. One quick glance at the S3 section of the forum will show that you are not alone.

    Comparing the S3 to a BMW 5 series is absurd. Recording HD is NOT new technology. Go ask someone that has never used tivo if they will buy one for 800 or even 500 and see what they say. I will be shocked if the S3 stays at 800 through the holiday buying season.
     
  5. bicker

    bicker bUU

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    Thanks for saying that all so well. I agree completely, on all accounts. I think there is a really big difference between what we're seeing now with the introduction of the Series 3 and what we saw with the introduction of the Series 2. I don't "blame" anyone -- sometimes there just is no way to make a good, fairly-priced product profitable. It is a shame that TiVo only got to choose one of those variables this time...

    One thing that I didn't realize, that you pointed out: Two CableCards cost more than one HD DVR rental? That totally slipped by me.
     
  6. Amnesia

    Amnesia The Question

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    My biggest issue with the 6412/3412 is its minimal disk space.

    Last night I recorded 6 hours or so of HD. Added to whatever else I had on the box and I was at about 70% of capacity. All it would take for me to fill up is to be away for a few days...

    The S3 comes stock with twice as much disk space and you can upgrade the drive to 6 times as much disk space as the Motorola...and once eSATA is enabled, you'll be able to add even more...
     
  7. MichaelK

    MichaelK Active Member

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    I dont think they care if EVERYONE can afford it or cares to afford it.

    Fact is TODAY- there are product shortages at the $800 price point. They could care less if some people have decided not to take the plunge at this point- they wouldn't have boxes for those people anyhow.

    It would be stupid to price it anything lower- they would have more product shortages potentially pissing off more people and make less money per box. For absolutely no reason at all.

    If the sales start to dry up at the $800 price point and they get a surplus of stock, they can just give $150 rebates and bamm the MSRP drops to $650, where a second wave of people will buy.

    THey when that price point gets all the takers it can they can lower the price again just like they have done all along for their entire existance.

    The price today means nothing about what it will cost tomorrow, a month from now, or next year.
     
  8. lessd

    lessd Well-Known Member

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    I agree with what the OP said as I have been using the Moto HD cable box for two years and had it changed 4 times by the cable co. (Comcast). I now have the Moto 3412 that not too bad, I am somewhat comfortable with it as it does do season pass first run only (in HD if possible) Because of the limited record time on the Moto box (some 13-15 hours) I use two series 2 (with lifetime and large HDs) to back up my HD recordings for when I am out of town or can't get to watch quickly enough. For me I would make money if I got a Series 3 because I would sell both my lifetime series 2 units for about $1000 and get rid of the cable box (that would save me about $17/month) At most Comcast would charge for only one of the two Cable Cards needed in the Series 3..cost $3.25 (with all taxes). So if the series 3 were up to the job I would have $200 in my pocket and be saving about $7/month. (I have other lifetime TiVos my wife uses so the Series 3 will cost me only $6.95/month) The $200 will go a long way toward getting a larger drive for the Series 3, BUT

    The Series 3 has no MRV now and I have that now with my backup Series 2s so if I want to watch in another room with a non HD TV I can.

    No external hard drive now (I know I could replace the internal one and out goes the warranty and I will not have use of the 250G drive that now in the unit)

    Some people are facing Cable Card hassles, I don't know if that would apply to me now but its a pain when you don't know if a problem is that of the Cable Co and/or the Cable Card or the TiVo. (I have a new Sony HDTV with a Cable Card and the closed caption does not work on cable channels 2-99 but does work on any channels above 100 and also works on any external inputs (series 2). Sony said its the cable Co and the cable co said its the Sony. Sony will not send out a Tech because there is nothing he could do and the Cable Co wants to charge me a Truck roll to replace the Cable Card if the replacement does not fix the problem..not worth it, told my wife if she wants CC watch using the TiVo)

    No VOD or PPV with the series 3 (not important to me)

    Comcast has said that for more HD in the future they may consider switch video that the Series 3 can't handle now

    I would like to replace three boxes with one (Series 3) and I hope in the future enough of these problems will be solved so I can feel comfortable doing just that.
     
  9. MichaelK

    MichaelK Active Member

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    no that's completely A typical. THe FCC told the big players that they should price the cards at $2 or less or risk action. The BIg 5 players all are $2 or less. Comcast, the biggest provider actually hands out cable cards For FREE.

    My provider is a Dink covering just 31 more rural towns. They charge a dollar a card.

    If you care to make a stink I'd email the FCC about medicomm charging $5 a card.

    Also there is MASSIVE confusion from the cable company CSR's. Apparently with DIGITAL cable (not analog) they providers may charge a connection fee for each digital outlet. If your company charges that fee they charge it for any digital boxes or cable cards you have. THEN add's the cost of the box rental or cablecard rental. SO that fee exists if you rent a box from cable or buy a tivo and rent cablecards.

    From what I can gather reading the threads here, Comcast seems to be charging zero for the cablecards becasue they already charge $5 "per outlet". Their CSR's are confused or unclear and if you call and ask how much for a cablecard connection- they tell you $5 meaing ) for cards and $5 for the outlet charge. THEy dont tell you that the outlet charge applies if you rent the box form them too.

    The additonal outlet fee is also regualted and from what i can gather is supposed to be $5 or maybe $7 or less.

    So mediacomm might be charging a $5 outlet fee and zero for Cabclcards- you'll have to double check if you care.
     
  10. MichaelK

    MichaelK Active Member

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    Just looked up my cable company- and their "addtional outlet charge" is $2.
     
  11. bkdtv

    bkdtv New Member

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    Well, the digital cable subscription includes the first outlet charge. In some areas, Comcast lists this as a separate line item on your bill, and in other areas they don't (but just include it as part of the "digital pkg" on your bill), but you can't subscribe to digital cable without paying this outlet fee, regardless of whether you see it listed separately on your bill or not.
     
  12. lessd

    lessd Well-Known Member

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    I have Comcast in West Hartford CT I have a Cable box then added a CC for a new HDTV in a different room and the charge was $2.75 (before taxes etc) more on my bill. I don't know or care if this is an outlet charge or CC charge I just know my total bill went up $3.25 (including all taxes).
     
  13. MichaelK

    MichaelK Active Member

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    the 2.75 is likely an addidtional outlet charge and you would be paying it if you added their dvr to the new HDTV PLUS the DVR rental fee.

    So to add a tivo the price would be 2.75 but to add a cable company DVR the price might be 2.75 PLUS $10 a month for DVR rental. (made up number using orignal posters cost as a guide) So the differnce between tivo and cablecompany DVR is 10$

    SO makes a big differnce in how people do the math if it's a CC or an outlet fee. (at least when it comes to the monthly bill- you still need to get over the $800 up front if you want to buy a tivo....)
     
  14. lessd

    lessd Well-Known Member

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    If you look at my post #8 you would see that if I could replace three boxes with the Series 3 (and get the same functions) the $800 was no problem for me.
     
  15. jdmass

    jdmass Member

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    Sethb,

    You articulated EXTREMELY WELL the quandry that many of us Tivo fans finds ourselves. Monthly costs aside, which I would happily absorb, the fundamental value decision is:

    Tivo + : Better interface
    Tivo - : $800
    Tivo - : Potential for cable card hassles
    Cable DRV +: No initial outlay
    Cable DRV +: Replacement if anything breaks
    Cable DRV +: On demand, PPV
    Cable - : Sucky interface

    For me another Tivo + would be the simplification of my home entertainment setup -- elimination of 3 boxes and associated cable clutter, and I would love to be able to justify it.

    I know there are other elements that are high priority for others, but this is what it comes down to me. I am waiting for the cable card dust to settle a bit to make a final decision, but right now I can afford, but I can't rationalize $800.
     
  16. MichaelK

    MichaelK Active Member

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    wasn't specifically meaining you- just speaking in general terms.

    It's almost impossible to dicepher the fees cable charges.

    I looked atthe rate sheet and studied it, I emeialed 3 times to get written replies, I called for clarification but i still cant tell exactly what the hell my bill is going to be now that i just installed cable.

    I know it's $99 for triple play. I'm paying $10 for the HD package. But after that all the extra outlet fees, card rentals, blah blah per TV I can't put my finger on.
     
  17. lessd

    lessd Well-Known Member

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    Its part of their plan they do not want you to know so you can't compare.
     
  18. dig_duggler

    dig_duggler Member

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    Here here! Very well articulated argument.

    I found it unfathomable that I would not get a Series 3, but simply cannot justify the cost + risk factor. I NEVER thought I would get a cable company HD box, but I think I am going to have to end up going that route. I have talked probably 10 people into getting Tivos, and still think their initial design is unparalleled. But this is out of my price range (and this is coming from a fairly nerdy guy who usually will early adopt), especially with the lack of features and the uncertainty of CableCards.
     
  19. MichaelK

    MichaelK Active Member

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    Do the people who say it's too rich for their sense think this price is permanent?

    I dont understand what all the fuss is- really. I agree it's crazily pricey. I had planned to get 2 but got just one becuase of it, but I'm certain in my mind that by president's day (if not sooner) the street price will be a pile lower even if it's just becasue of a $150 rebate like the SD boxes have.

    When the price drops I'll rethink my position at that time and decide if that price point is cheap enough in my head to get a second.

    If it still isn't I'll wait untill it is.
     
  20. petew

    petew Active Member

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    When I moved to the Staes I think my first VCR was about 50% the cost of the TV. With an HDTV in the $2000 range is $800 for a recording device that unreasonable?
     

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