Well a lot of people have been waiting over four years for TiVo to come out with their series 3 box. While TiVo has had an HDTV solution for satellite subscribers, for those of us who are using cable, the alternatives have been slim. The generic cable boxes have been difficult and unwieldy to say the least and lack the extra features that TiVo offers like being able to watch downloads from the net on your TV, online scheduling & the home media options. After
months years of speculating September 12th has turned out to be the launch date for shipments from the web and we’ll see the box show up at retailers over the next week or so. I was not only lucky enough to score my own series 3 this morning, but after a 50 minute hold time with Comcast was able to get my cable installation moved up to this Friday which means that I’ll have all weekend to not only watch beautiful high def football, but will also get to play with the new box pretty extensively without having to take any time off work. Without having been able to see the box, it’s hard to write a review on this THX drool worthy machine, but there have already been a number of reviews released and bloggers are buzzing about this gorgeous, albeit high end piece of HDTV deliciousness.
Engadget – Without a doubt, Dave Zatz provided the best coverage of the series 3 launch. His review is comprehensive, insightful and offers a good look at what consumers should expect when getting their box.
Gizmodo – They give a very detailed review, but I liked their video review even better. They even took the time to figure out that the 30 second skip forward hack (Select – Play – Select – 3 – 0 -) still works for the series 3.
Big Picture Big Sound – They hit the highlights on the new box and point out that for those lucky enough to be living in Denver, they can actually see a demo of the box at CEDIA this week.
The Chicago Tribune – Eric Gwinn gives a quick summary on the series 3 and points out that just because we can use cable cards to get rid of the generic boxes, doesn’t mean it comes without a price. No proprietary set top box means no VOD and no PPV. On the other hand, it also means no bad sound drums, no freeze ups and decent guide data.
PVR Blog – Matt Haughey proudly shows off his receipt for his series 3. He wishes it was a little cheaper, but considering that with the cable companies are charging $10 per month, also points out that it’s not such a bad deal at the same time.
USA Today – May Wong was one the publications that was able to get their hands on the box early and while she gives the TiVo series 3 high remarks, she also says that TiVo is really playing catch up. While I agree that TiVo should have been out with this product a year ago. I take issue with her claim that this is the first HDTV box that TiVo has supported and that she chides them for not keeping up with the satellite providers who have had HDTV boxes out for two years. My issue here is that TiVo led the way with HDTV content with their DirecTV agreement and this is actually the second HDTV product that they’ve put out. Considering that DirecTV has just announced that they are yet again delaying their upcoming HDTV box, her criticism seems a little off.
Ars Technica – Ken Fisher focuses on the enabling of mpeg-4 support on the TiVo series 3 and suggests that it could be a sign of a downloading service not yet out. They also take issue with the studios reaching out behind their desks and “murdering” the TiVo to go functionality.
PC Magazine – Robert Heron offers one of the most lengthy reviews and overall gives the S3 4 out of 5 stars. He does take issue with the use of some non-high def fonts and photos in the menu, but also points out that TiVo should be able to make these improvements with future updates to the product.
TiVo Lovers – Megazone has an absolutely outstanding review of the box on the TiVo Community Forum as well as an extremely comprehensive FAQ section for any questions that you might have about the series 3 box. Between the commentary, the good hard data and the 190 photos, this is a must read review for anyone who is interested in finding out the specs, capabilities and limitations on the box.
Gearlog – Their review says that the S3 is nice, but that TiVo didn’t hit the ball out of the park. He mentions that with the Series 2 being aggressively priced right now and that consumers might be better off with a standard definition dual tuner box. Of course Gearlog doesn’t have an HDTV yet and as an HDTV owner I can tell you that once you experience the full resolution that HDTV provides, it’s difficult to go back down to standard definition television.
Slashdot – When it comes to Slashdot, they are notoriously tough on TiVo. While it was invitable that the Slashdotters would compare the benefits and drawbacks of the S3 to MythTV, the announcement of the S3 has generated some pretty intense discussion on Slashdot. With over 300 comments already, I’ve been surprised at how many of the commenters are excited about the S3 and are actually considering bypassing the home grown Myth TV route for something that you can just plug in and have it work.
CNET – John Falcone gives the S3 a score of 8.3 out of 10. While this is an excellent rating for CNet, he does mention that the lack of TiVo to go, no picture in picture menu and the high price of the box as being negative. With the review, CNet has a great video of box in action as well.
Movieweb – It’s hard for them to get past the sticker shock of the S3, but they think that the S3 is an attempt by TiVo to focus on the hardcore niche early adopters that don’t mind paying the money for the premium TV experience.
Digital Trends – They like the box and give a great write up of the new functionality on the series 3. They don’t like the price, but do like the TiVoCast, Kidzone and Season pass scheduling that TiVo offers with the box.
Thomas Hawk – Tom says that HDTV digital nirvana has arrived, but takes issue with the content providers getting in the way of innovation. While he thinks the machine is sleek and sexy, the lack of multi-room support will likely keep him using his DirecTiVo and the Media Center vista with Xbox extenders when it arrives.
CEPro – They were one of the first ones out with a review and say that TiVo is finally king of the DVRs once again. They like the “mammoth” storage size, even though I already know that I’ll be voiding my own warranty in order to max out my internal storage space.
HD Beat – Ben Drawbaugh says that TiVo series 3 almost delivers everything he expected, including a few perks. He likes that they will have an HDTV only now playing list, but takes issue with the disabling the multi-room viewing option and the lack of support for TiVo to go.
BetaNews – They say that the series 3 is built around broadband connectivity. They point out all of the support for ethernet connections, USB ports and external drives. (even though these are still coming)