TiVo is seeking to compete with whole-home offerings by cable and satellite television providers by offering a "DVR extender," which allows users to access their TiVo DVRs from other rooms in their homes.
The new $99.99 device, the TiVo Mini, works as an all-purpose companion device with TiVo's Premiere 4 or Premiere XL4 DVRs, allowing TiVo users to access apps and extend the viewing of live TV, recorded and streaming content, as well as on-demand programming, to another room in a home without an additional full-fledged DVR.
Ross Rubin, principal analyst at Reticle Research, said the TiVo Mini is an example of how TiVo is moving beyond the notion of a singular device connected to a single TV.
"It reflects not only a new focus on product from the company to modernize its offerings, but something like the Mini is increasingly a requirement to woo attention from pay TV providers seeking to offer multi-room functionality," he told us. "Some providers such as Verizon FiOS already offer similar functionality with their set-top equipment."
Extending TiVo Value
Here's how it works: The TiVo Mini uses one of the DVR's multiple tuners to enable the control and access of content on a TV in another room of the house. As its name suggests, the TiVo Mini is much smaller than a DVR -- it's 6 inches long and just over an inch wide -- but offers users the same TiVo user interface they already know.
For example, the TiVo Mini lets users control their main TiVo DVR by scheduling recordings and WishList searches, among other activities. Users can even start a show in the living room and finish it on a TiVo Mini in another room.
Tapping Into Apps, Games
Jim Denney, general manager and vice president of product marketing for TiVo, said it's a "more cost-effective solution than putting another DVR or cable set-top box in another room." He's hoping consumers will turn to the new device to drive more value from their existing home entertainment set-up in the competitive world of set-top boxes.
TiVo Mini offers access to integrated apps, including YouTube, Hulu Plus, Pandora and Spotify. The company says more apps are planned. TiVo Mini also features a gaming component. For example, users can play games like Quizzmaster, Black Jack and Wordsmith. Users can also access their photos on TV screens throughout the home via Google Picasa and Photobucket integrations.
The TiVo Mini sells for $99.99, with a monthly subscription fee of $5.99 for a 12-month commitment.