SAN JOSE, Calif. – Playing a bit of catch-up to rival offerings, TiVo Inc. (TIVO) will unveil Tuesday a new high-end digital video recorder that will be the company's first to support high-definition programming.
The long-awaited product will be $800 and available in mid-September, the company said. Subscription fees for the TiVo service are separate.
The TiVo Series3 HD Digital Media Recorder has a 250-gigabyte hard drive — enough to store about 32 hours of high-definition programming or up to 300 hours of standard programming.
It also sports two tuners, which will allow subscribers to record two different shows in HD at the same time while watching a third pre-recorded show.
High-definition television, which offers super-sharp images, is growing in popularity, and other rival DVRs by cable operators and satellite TV providers that have dual tuners and high-definition support are on the market already, some dating as far back as two years ago.
TiVo, which pioneered digital video recording technology, first announced in 2005 they were working on an HD model with dual tuners and showed off a working prototype last January.
Its competition has only grown since then, with cable operators offering standard DVRs or high-definition models, many charging about $10 a month for the DVR service but leasing the DVR itself for free to customers.
Satellite TV provider EchoStar Communication Corp.'s (DISH) dual-tuner high-definition DVR costs $499 and comes with additional monthly service fees.
So-called media center computers that include digital video recording features and support high-definition recording could also be purchased for as low as $500.
TiVo officials attributed its long development time in part to waiting for certain technologies to mature and the lengthy process of getting industry-related approvals, such as for the set-top-box's two built-in CableCARD slots.
CableCARD slots allow users to access digital programming from a cable TV provider without the need for a separate receiver.
The Series3 HD box also represents TiVo's first major product upgrade since it released its networked Series2 DVR in 2002.
"This is a whole new platform for us," said Jim Denney, TiVo's vice president of product marketing. "Our objective was to build a best-in-class DVR. It's reflected in the price and also in the make of the product."
TiVo said the Series3 is the first-ever DVR to be "THX certified" by THX Ltd., forcing the product to adopt high-quality audio and video components and output levels.
The Series3 is also designed to support upcoming TiVo features, including more advanced video downloads and other Internet-delivered content.
Alviso, Calif.-based TiVo, which reported in August it had 4.4 million subscribers, still reaps high marks from analysts and loyal fans for its user-friendly design and features. But lower-cost options from rival DVR providers have only deepened TiVo's challenge to become profitable.
The premium Series3 product could add a much-needed boost to TiVo sales.
TiVo reported Aug. 30 that it lost $6.45 million on revenue of $59.2 million in the quarter ending July 31. And in the current quarter, TiVo said it expects to lose $12 million to $17 million on revenue of $54 million to $56 million as the company increases marketing expenses to entice new customers.
In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this month, TiVo said it planned to sell more than 8 million of its shares to raise about $65 million.
The company has pegged accumulated losses of about $704.8 million as of April 30, TiVo stated.