TiVo updates HD user interface, adds multi-room streaming

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Announced on the official TiVo blog earlier this week, the DVR service company is rolling out a new user interface for owners of the TiVo Premiere, TiVo Premiere XL, and TiVo Premiere Elite. Called version 20.2, the new update overhauls the previously translucent high definition grid guide and live guide as well as introduces a mini-guide, info banners, speed improvements, a revision to the discover bar, improvements to the search algorythm and the ability to stream content between TiVo boxes on the same home network. Multi-room streaming is a popular trend that’s been introduced by a handful of media companies over the past year.

grid_guide4Prior to the update, the TiVo Premiere user interface used a see-through background on top of the main picture. The new high definition interface isolates the channel feed to the top right corner of the screen and covers the remainder of the screen with a dark blue background. The user also has the option of turning the video feed completely off. In addition, the TiVo design team has added an updated icon to designate new episodes and added the first aired date to the description of the episode so the user can tell if the episode is from the most recent season. There’s also a new option to sort by channel name if the user prefers to find a station like “ABC” or “FOX” by name rather than hunt down the channel number.

TiVo is also launching a mini-guide that allows the user to continue watching the episode on the full screen, but creates a small overlay at the bottom of the screen which includes three channels at a time. Just like the full guide, users can change the channel, select programs to record and cycle through hours in advance. When the user wants more information about the program, new info banners at the bottom of the screen have been implemented rather than taking the user to a full information page. The banners allow the user to continue watching the television episode and include new data such as the upcoming show in the next time slot as well as the amount of data that the TiVo has recorded if the user wants to rewind to a specific spot.

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Changes to the discovery bar have decreased the amount of the content on the bar to four selections, assuming the user has left the video feed in the top right corner turned on. Content on the bar has also been labeled with reasons why the television shows and movies have been selected. Categorization includes popular Season Pass content, highly rated content, popular Web content, new on-demand content or recently recorded shows.  When the user highlights the content in the discovery bar, there’s a more complete description why that content was chosen. TiVo’s update to the search bar includes the ability to search through Hulu Plus content as well as search by channel name. The ability to search through content on Netflix, Amazon Prime and Blockbuster was already available in prior updates.

multi_room_streamingPrior to this update, users had to transfer a movie or television show between two different TiVo boxes to watch the content in another room. With multi-room streaming, the user can browse content on another TiVo box on the same network and simply select “Play” to activate streaming. Once the user completes the television show or movie, they can also delete the content off the remote box. However, TiVo recommends that users attempting to stream high definition content should use a wired connection instead of streaming over Wi-Fi.

This update has already been released for many TiVo Premiere owners, but is expected to hit all boxes by the end of January 2012. The update is automatically downloaded to the TiVo Premiere hardware and installed during the early hours of the morning to avoid the heaviest viewing traffic. Users that pay for TiVo Premiere through cable companies will have to wait to the Spring for the full update. Also dated for the Spring, TiVo is planning to roll out updated Netflix and YouTube applications, parental controls within the HD menus and Xfinity-on-Demand from Comcast in specific, unannounced geographical markets. 

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