My TiVo Gets HD

You won't need to rob a bank -- or bank on your Uncle Rob -- to get a high-definition recorder from TiVo (Nasdaq: TIVO  ) anymore. The digital video recorder (DVR) pioneer is rolling out a new TiVo HDTV system at a reasonable $299 price point.

That is a far cry from the original $799 model that TiVo introduced just before last year's holiday shopping season. The new model doesn't come with the stylish design features and the upgraded backlit remote control of the $799 unit. It also has a smaller hard drive, holding as much as 20 hours of HD programming or 180 hours of standard television content (the original can store up to 300 hours of standard programming).

Then again, at less than half the price, one expects fewer frills.

It's a good move. TiVo may be the only brand that matters in DVR equipment, but it's toiling in a niche where most boxes are sold through cable and satellite television providers. Even today, all but 1.7 million of TiVo's 4.3 million subscribers come from a DirecTV (NYSE: DTV  ) distribution deal that has long expired. DirecTV is now pushing its own in-house recorder.

That leaves TiVo emphasizing retail sales, even as it flaunts its patent-rich technology to carve out licensing deals on third-party systems like it has with Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA  ) .

The new HDTV units will hit the market in a couple of weeks, though TiVo is starting to take preorders at its site today. It remains to be seen if the new DVRs will expand the company's audience or simply serve as logical upgrades to its existing subscriber base, but at least they're coming with a price tag that won't shock the market the way the pricier HDTV debutante did last September.

With TiVo winning digital-delivery style points after teaming up with Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) to have flick purchases and rentals delivered directly into TiVo boxes, the more affordable HDTV units couldn't have come at a better time.

So forget about the "My TiVo gets me" ad campaign. The new push is about having it the other way around: You get a TiVo.

Amazon.com is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor newsletter recommendation, and TiVo is a former pick. If you know how to work a TiVo remote, then you know how easy it is to nab a 30-day trial subscription to the newsletter service.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz does love his TiVo, and he does own TiVo shares. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


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