Gadget Spot: TiVo Premiere

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

TiVo introduced the world to digital video recorders in 1999, and "appointment-viewing" television has never been the same since.

TiVos have been in our house since that debut year. Honestly, though, I haven't used them since DirecTV provided DVR capabilities in their set-top receivers midway through the past decade.

So it was a bit like "old home week" when I sat down with the TiVo Premiere (available at or Best Buy), the company's new and somewhat revamped DVR.

The cost is $300 plus a service fee for a 45-hour HD recorder, or $500 plus a service fee for the XL, which records 150 hours of HD programming.

To my tastes, TiVo has always excelled in two areas. Their on-screen program guide is the gold standard for set-top boxes. And from day one, this gadget has continued to amaze and please me by recording programs its logic thinks I might want. My box's hard drive is always full of shows I usually do have interest in.

The new TiVo Premiere continues to excel in both those areas. In fact, thanks to its internet connectivity, this latest model's home screen does a great job of letting you know what's on TV, available on the web (on YouTube, for example), and streaming through on-demand services from your TV provider, Amazon, Netflix and Blockbuster.

The box still records programs it thinks match your tastes, and now suggests on the program guide those you might want to watch or record.

The TiVo Premiere has impressive specs. It's a much slimmer box than past versions. This digital recorder is all about high definition, and offers lots of storage for your favorites videos.

Plus, that internet connectivity makes it possible to leverage your computer's music library, YouTube and music-streaming services such as Rhapsody and Pandora to bring entertainment to your ears as well as your eyes.

This gadget is easy to set up and even easier to use. Its bean-shaped remote lets you pause, rewind, slow-motion and instant-replay anything your TV-watching heart desires.

So what's not to like? How about the fact that TiVo charges a monthly service fee of anywhere from $12.95 a month to $400 for lifetime service? None of my other TV gadgets - Slingbox, Roku or Vudu - charges additional monthly fees.

Bottom line: The TiVo Premiere is the company's best effort yet, but its total cost (purchase and operation) is too high. I'll stick with my DirecTV DVR.

Got a gadget question or a high-tech toy to recommend? E-mail