TiVo unveils Premier Q and Preview set-top boxes

TiVo Premiere Q

DVR pioneer TiVo has taken wthe wraps off two new set-top boxes at the 2011 NCTA Cable Show—the TiVo Premiere Q and the TiVo Preview. Both mark substantial departures for the company: the Premiere Q sports four tuners and can push video to up to three other other devices on a home network, while the TiVo Preview lacks any DVR capabilities at all: it’s a set-top box designed to provide a TiVo experience purely for cable content, video-on-demand services, and broadband content—potentially for folks who already have a TiVo DVR. And here’s another first for the company: at least for now, both devices will only be available from cable operators, with RCN and Suddenlink being the first providers lined up to offer the devices.

“With the introduction of the TiVo Premiere Q and TiVo Preview, TiVo is extending its advanced user experience and leading multi-room capabilities to provide cable operators a cost effective and highly differentiated solution for every type of household and every television in the house,” said TiVo VP David Sandford, in a statement.

The TiVo Premiere Q sports four tuners, meaning it can handle four simultaneous recordings, while at the same time pushing three HD streams to other devices over an Ethernet or coax home network. In theory, this can ease cable installation substantially: rather than having to install a coax cable jack in ever room in a household that needs cable service, the TiVo Premier Q can act as a household distribution point for a single cable installation, bridging the provider’s cable network and an existing home Ethernet network.

TiVo Preview

The TiVo Preview, conversely, can serve as a thin client for cable services, potentially acting as a target for a TiVo Premiere Q system, or serving as a standalone set-top box that interfaces with a provider’s television and video-on-demand offerings—or even works in conjunction with a home theater system or an existing DVR.

TiVo will “initially” be offering these products only through selected cable operators starting later this year—RCN and Suddenlink are the first on board—alongside its current TiVo Premiere DVR. The move marks an interesting shift for the company—in the wake of its long-fought victory over EchoStar, TiVo now seems to be setting up the sort of business many argue it should have been creating all along: getting cozy with cable operators, rather than relying on selling set-top boxes at retailers.