TiVo looks to seduce TV viewers with Roamio

A sports menu from the new TiVo Roamio

A sports menu from the new TiVo Roamio Plus is seen. TiVo Inc. announced a new line of digital video recorders to give television viewers more control over what they watch on traditional channels and over the Internet. (Aug. 20, 2013) (Credit: AP / TiVO)

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TiVo Inc. wants to give television viewers more control over what they watch on traditional channels and over the Internet as the pioneer of digital video recorders unveils its fifth-generation devices.

The new devices face more competition than TiVos did when they debuted in 1999. Cable and satellite TV companies are improving their own DVR offerings, while stand-alone devices such as Roku, Apple TV and Google's Chromecast seek to simplify Internet streaming on big-screen TVs. Meanwhile, game consoles and smartphones now come with apps to do much of what TiVo does.

With its new Roamio DVR, San Jose, Calif.-based TiVo is counting on the notion that avid television viewers prefer one device to do it all.

"What TiVo is doing here is pressing home their advantage. That is, they know TV," said Colin Dixon, chief analyst at research firm nScreen Media.

Dixon said many casual television viewers will be fine with generic offerings from their cable company, but TiVo's appeal is with high-end consumers who are already paying the most for television packages and Internet video services.

Roamio went on sale yesterday and marks TiVo's first major update in three years.

Like previous TiVos, Roamio supports basic functions such as the ability to pause and rewind live TV. Some of the new models will also come with the ability to watch live and recorded shows on iPhones and iPads. This fall, out-of-home viewing will be available through Wi-Fi, and an Android app is due out next year.

The midrange Roamio Plus model, priced at $400, has storage for 150 hours of high-definition television and can record six channels at once. It also requires a $15-a-month TiVo service for electronic television listings and other features. A high-end Roamio Pro, which stores 450 hours of HD programming, is $600. The $200 base model stores 75 hours and can record four channels at once.

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