TiVo romances TV viewers with Roamio DVR

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Saturday, August 24, 2013 - 1:00am

O Roamio, Roamio, wherefore art thou Roamio? The answer, hopes TiVo, is next to your TV.

TiVo, which pioneered the digital-video recorder in the late 1990s and early 2000s, is back with Roamio, its first new line of DVRs in three years. The company hopes Roamio rekindles a classic romance with customers.

"While so many people love TV, they have no idea what TiVo can do for their love of TV," Tom Rogers, TiVo's president and CEO, said in a written release. "TiVo Roamio is so much more than just the best DVR, it's for people who are all about loving their TV -- that's why we call our latest offering Roamio."

The new set-top boxes range in price from $199-$599 and hit the market at a time when Web-streaming products like Roku, Slingbox and Google's new Chromecast have captured the imaginations of tech-savvy TV viewers.

Not surprisingly, Roamio incorporates features from some of those devices into the TiVo box that became almost synonymous with DVRs after hitting the U.S. market in 1999.

Roamio DVRs will soon offer the ability to watch any of your recorded shows on mobile devices from anywhere, a la Slingbox. Like Chromecast and Roku, they offer popular streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon.

"It's like Roku, Apple TV, Slingbox, Google TV, your cable DVR -- rolled into one," reads the company's news release.

This mobile streaming feature, available on the top-end and mid-range boxes, is expected to roll out in the next few months.

There's also more of what made TiVo popular in the first place. The top-of-the-line set can record up to six shows at the same time and, with a full 3 TB of storage space, can hold up to 450 hours of high-definition content. The new devices also can stream content to multiple TVs, as well as to tablets and smartphones.

The three devices in the new line are the TiVo Roamio ($199.99), TiVo Roamio Plus ($399.99) and TiVo Roamio Pro ($599.99).

A review of the Roamio Pro on tech site The Verge sums up the device's upside and downside in its headline: "This is the ultimate cable box ... but, oh, the price."

The review calls the Roamio DVRs a big upgrade over the current TiVo Premiere line with a "huge" advantage over cable company offerings.

"The TiVo Roamio Pro is very much the ultimate DVR -- short of building a media center PC, there isn't another product on the market that can do as much with as much flexibility as the Roamio," reads the review by Nilay Patel. "Installing it can be a huge pain, and it's outrageously expensive ... but if you're spending loads of money on cable service with premium channels, it's worth it."

The TiVo Premiere debuted in 2010 for $299, and an upgraded Premiere XL was $499.

The Roamio line is currently available for order from TiVo's website, Amazon.com and BestBuy.com. The boxes also will go on sale at Best Buy stores sometime in the next few weeks. 

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