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TiVo Shows Off New DVR

NEW YORK - TiVo launched a campaign Tuesday to reassert itself as a leader in entertainment convergence: It unveiled its first totally redesigned digital video recorder since 1999.

The new unit, TiVo Premiere, makes it easy to find entertainment from conventional TV and the Web. When users search for a show, the on-screen guide displays options from both realms.

"The DVR was only the warm-up," CEO Tom Rogers says. "This is the next big thing. One box for everything you want to do."

The units will begin to ship in April. They'll work with cable systems and Verizon's FiOS, but not with AT&T's U-verse or DirecTV and Dish Network's satellite services.

TiVo needs something new: Its subscriptions dropped to 2.7 million in October - the lowest they've been since 2004 - as consumers flocked to lower-priced cable and satellite company DVRs.

TiVo's service costs from $12.95 a month to $299 for three years.

The new Premiere will cost $300 for a model with a 320-gigabyte hard drive, capable of storing 45 hours of high-definition TV shows. Another model, the Premiere XL, will cost $500 and comes with a 1-terabyte hard drive, which can handle 150 hours of HD programming.

TiVo says that its DVRs offer a lot more services than cable DVRs do - and the Premiere DVRs can take the place of a cable box. The new units have a slot for a smart card that the cable operator must provide so the DVR can receive programming.

Unlike cable boxes, the DVRs can't access cable-provided video on demand programming. Premiere owners can, however, use their Web connections to order VOD movies from providers including Amazon, Blockbuster and Netflix.

Most major TV networks don't allow convergence devices to access shows on sites such as Hulu.com. "They will in the not-too-distant future, but they don't yet," Rogers says.

To accommodate Web video, TiVo used a software platform - Adobe Flash, widely used on the Internet - in the redesigned DVRs.

Rogers says he'll invite software developers to write applications for the new units. To help with text and other communications, TiVo plans to sell a remote control that includes a keyboard.

A button on the remote control will zip through a 30-second ad in one second. Sophisticated users also can program the remote to jump past the ad.

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