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Where is HD TiVo? Print E-mail
Friday, 28 May 2004
Millions of HDTV’s earliest adopters are wondering where is TiVo for their HDTV signals. Hughes released an extremely limited number of HD digital video recorders (DVRs) with TiVo in mid-April to consumers who preordered them, mainly from mainstream stores like The Good Guys! and online retailers. Supposedly, the entire 2004 allotment of HD TiVos for DirecTV is 5,000 units. This in no way meets the demand from consumers who want to record their favorite shows in HD. The Consumer Electronics Association tracks sales of DTV (digital televisions capable of playing back HDTV), which have boomed to over 800,000 sets in January of 2004. This number is up from 550,000 in September of 2003. Clearly, consumers want HDTV, but if they want to record it on HDTV and they didn’t place an order right after the Consumer Electronics show two years ago, they are out of luck. One Beverly Hills custom AV installer ordered four of the Hughes DirecTV HD TiVos months ago from a large volume Internet reseller but has yet to receive a single unit. Audiorevolution.com called weeks before the release of the unit to local Good Guys locations to preorder, but no one could guarantee a unit. On the day they were released, other, older preorders were filled, leaving none for consumers.

Dish Network now has a DVR for HDTV, but they too are mired in controversy. Their box receives and records both terrestrial HDTV and HD signals from their satellite system. As they rolled their nearly $1,000 unit out, they reportedly cut off service to subscribers who were using a Panasonic HD receiver, which was the only HD receiver that could connect easily with a D-VHS VCR. Needless to say, there are some pissed-off HD Dish customers out there.

Right now, recording your gorgeous 1080i and 720p programming is harder than it should be. Some retailers guess that software problems are plaguing the early HD TiVos, while others suggest that non-HD TiVos have a 10 percent failure rate. None of these problems will matter much if consumer demand continues to boom for HDTV, because the potential market for HDTV DVRs will be millions of households and billions of dollars in sales. Expect players like Sony (digital cable TiVos coming this summer), Samsung and new players like Humax to step up with units to meet the needs of consumers who are ready to spend in order to record their HDTV.

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