While TiVo's Premiere DVR hardware line is moving past its prime, signs indicate new, higher-performance models are headed to store shelves this fall. TiVo first alluded to "several" new devices earlier this year when petitioning the FCC to waive an archaic analog tuner requirement. Beyond supporting digital cable via CableCARD, TiVo intends some of these new products to also tune digital over-the-air (OTA) broadcasts via antenna. Whereas only the existing two-tuner Premiere currently offers this feature, sources tell The Verge that OTA tuning will be supported by an upcoming four-tuner "Series 5" DVR. Further, via multiple sources, we've learned TiVo is prepping a beefy six-tuner DVR that can expand beyond the 2-terabyte storage limit, making for a capacious media hub ideally suited to feed a number of TiVo Mini extenders sprinkled around the home.
It's likely no coincidence that a new TiVo remote control just passed through the FCC. This combo IR / RF clicker could replace the discontinued Slide — it's unclear whether it'll carry over the built-in QWERTY keyboard, but it may feature audible alerts. A primary benefit of RF support is the ability to operate devices behind cabinets, something many would find useful. As the new remote goes goes by the model number "S5-S," it's easy to assume that it's a reference to "Series 5," which would make sense given the TiVo Premiere line's "Series 4" designation.
An image of the new TiVo remote, taken from its FCC documentation, shows the classic "peanut" shape.
In terms of what else might ship with updated TiVo DVRs, we expect to see a significantly more modern and capable Broadcom processor than what's found inside the TiVo Premiere. Faster silicon would theoretically give a next-gen TiVo the horsepower to directly integrate the functionality of the TiVo Stream without needing an external box (though it could ignore that fact and continue to require the box anyway). We're also still waiting on a completed HD user interface some three and a half years after its introduction, so hopefully, its recent $490 million cash infusion funds a larger development staff.
Hopefully, TiVo's $490 million cash infusion funds a larger development staff
But with more television and movie content arriving on demand via cable providers, over-the-top services such as Netflix, and outright piracy, we wonder how many consumers actually have a need for six tuners. Further, TiVo's retail barriers remain the same after all these years: Convincing consumers to acquire a cable box from someone other than their operator, pay a separate subscription, and take on a still-sometimes-frustrating CableCARD install (satellite subscribers, meanwhile, have to look elsewhere). TiVo appears to be firing on all cylinders in supporting smaller, second- and third-tier US cable providers — but with well-positioned competitors at every turn, including the media-centric Xbox One, the ultra-open Roku 3 app platform, and progressive cable company DVRs — TiVo's job doesn't look to get any easier with a new portfolio of hardware.
Update: The original version of this article stated that the TiVo Slide remote was Bluetooth-only, but it also features IR support.