Toggling between tuners can be performed via the programming info menu or by pressing the LiveTV button on the remote. Any two incoming signals can be recorded simultaneously with the option of watching a third signal of recorded content.
The Series3 is designed to replace a cable box, not control it. The S3 supports OTA broadcasts (both ATSC and NTSC) in addition to analog cable, but to fully appreciate the unit a pair of CableCARDs are needed. If our experience is representative, getting them installed will test your patience. The S3 supports CableCARD 1.0, and it's our understanding a single M-Card (CC 1.0+) will replace 2 CableCARDs once they become available.
Disappointments and concerns
TiVo continues to develop and evaluate Multi-Room Viewing, TiVoToGo, and external hard drive support in relation to CableLabs certification. While we recognize certain aspects of this issue are largely out of TiVo's control, the absence of these value-added features makes the MSRP more difficult to swallow. And while we were pleasantly surprised that the Series3 allows you to scan and tune unencrypted QAM programming, we were disappointed in the inability to manually map those channels to their respective networks. TiVo tells us this functionality is being evaluated for a future software update. Lastly, the cable industry appears to be in flux and it's not clear when/if technologies such as OCAP and SDV might impact Series3 functionality.
Cost and Availability
Being an early adopter is gonna cost you. Those leaks and our own forecast were spot-on: $799 will be the price of admission. Unfortunately for potential S3 consumers, TiVo is at a disadvantage compared to the deep-pocketed cable companies and satellite providers who operate under a different business model and underwrite hardware costs. If it's any consolation, the 30-hour Series1 and the HD DirecTiVo both retailed for $1k at launch (and then proceeded to drop in price).
Service fees remain $12.95 a month, or $6.95/month for those who currently have a non-bundled pricing unit subscription. TiVo also offers pre-paid pricing at the rate of $155.40 for one year or $299 for two years. TiVo is offering two promotions in conjunction with the release of the S3. First, you can prepay three years of service for the price of two ($299). Second, as we revealed last week, $199 lets you move Lifetime Service from a S1 or S2 unit to the new S3.
Units go on sale today at TiVo.com and should be showing up within the next week or so at Best Buy, Circuit City, Fry's, and Ultimate Electronics. Good luck on that decision!