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by Mike Zazaian September 12, 2006 - 12:09pm, No Comments

TiVo Series3

TiVo’s newly released Series3 box includes Hi-Def support and dual digital cable tuners. But with a slew of other comparable products on the market does the Series3 justify its $800 price tag?

TiVo released its new Series3 hi-def digital video recorder today at a somewhat excruciating price of $800. The new kid in the TiVo lineup includes a 250GB hard drive, large enough to store around 32 hours of high-definition programming or 300 hours of standard programming. TiVo also included crammed two CableCards into the box, which, for the mean time anyway, will allow users to access digital cable service without using an additional cable-only box. In fact, the dual card solution allows users to download up to two stream of high-def television at the same time, a feature not unheard of in the DVR market, but not previously seen as standard on TiVo products. With all these new features TiVo has reclaimed the heavyweight crown in the DVR division, all while trimming some dead weight from your entertainment center. TiVo also plans to launch an iTunes-like music and video download service within the next few months, which would give it some additional functionality over competing DVR products.

But with a price tag $800 and monthly subscription fees to boot can TiVo justify its price point to consumers? While TiVo may be the only solution to boast both dual CableCards and the renouned TiVo service, there are a number of comparable if not equal products on the market for nearly half the price. Satellite TV provider EchoStar Communication Corp.’s dual-tuner high-definition DVR costs only $499. And while it doesn’t offer the slick TiVo interface, or the upcoming TiVo fantasy football service, its monthly price tag of $10 undercuts TiVo’s $13, a price that has been consistent through its Series2 and now Series3 releases. Consumer-built media-ready PCs are also a viable option as similar hardware can be packed into a slick Windows or Linux PC for around $500.

It may be possible that TiVo isn’t aiming for a mass market audience at all, but rather just an elite few with some extra money to spend. After packing in two CableCards, THX audio support and a slew of other goodies it seems that TiVo is willing to hike their bottom line in order to supply the Series3 to only the financially elite.

TiVo marketing executive Jim Denney said of the Series3:

We think that there is a category of customers that have been waiting for it, and want it. We know that $800 is not an insignificant amount of money. But we put a lot in it. We think that it targets a specific audience.

Unfortunately that specific audience seems to have a red velvet rope around it and likely hangs out at the yacht club. Series3’s pricier package might hurt TiVo’s subscription base in the long run by turning away younger consumers and dumping them into the cheaper segments of the DVR market. It’s hard to say how buyers will react to the new TiVo and what the hiked-up price tag will do to the company’s 4.4 million subscriber base, but in the mean time the products are available for sale on TiVo’s website and will be available in stores within the month.

[via Yahoo! News]