TiVo HD vs. Series3

Ben Drawbaugh
B. Drawbaugh|10.23.07

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Ben Drawbaugh
October 23rd, 2007
In this article: features, hd, others, Series3, TiVo, TiVo HD, TivoHd
TiVo HD vs. Series3

Now that TiVo has finally added all the great features TiVo owners have come to love, we suspect that a lot of people will be upgrading to HD. But with two different models to choose from we figured we'd try to help make your decision easier by spelling out the differences between the TiVo HD and the Series3.

%Gallery-8914% Hardware
When we first saw the TiVo HD, we have to say, we didn't like it, but now that we're used to it, its really grown on us. From the outside, the only real difference is the front face and the glossy finish of the Series3 -- in fact they are almost the exact same physical dimensions. In reality it's only a piece of plastic on the front of the Series3 which has a brushed metal look all the way across the front, this combined with buttons on the front and the OLED display makes it a cut ahead of the TiVo HD.

Now when it comes to DVRs, looks aren't anything, but it's worth something to us -- most of all we really like looking at our TiVo's record light without wondering, "what's recording?" The one thing that we do like more about the TiVo HD, is the fact that the CableCARD slots are on the front (behind a door). This makes it much easier for the installer, since the TiVo is usually already installed by the time the cable co' has rolled the truck to your house for installation.

The Series3 remote is much much better than the TiVo HD. TiVos have always been known for its great peanut shaped remote and with the Series3 remote, they really did take it to the next level. Not only does the Series3 remote look and feel better to the touch, but it has many functional upgrades over the tried and true TiVo HD remote including; more programmable buttons, a learn mode, counter weighted (to figure out which way is which in the dark), back light, better shaped buttons, and the select button is in the center of the directional pad.

There is one questionable change and that's the new placement of the thumbs buttons; we don't use them much, but we can see an argument for having the volume and channel up/down buttons closer to the center of the remote.

We have to say, we're hard pressed to see a difference in software between the Series3 and the TiVo HD. In fact, starting with the fall update (9.1) both boxes are on the same release and worked the same. We didn't see any speed differences between the two either and every option we tested was identical -- including the less than stellar HD graphics. According to TiVo the Series3 supports integration with the most popular Home Automation system: Crestron, but since we don't have one, we can't say for sure. Neither boxes are speed daemons and both lag at times (deleting Season passes, grid guide), but it's far faster than theDirecTiVo HD we used for years.

There is no way we can imagine someone buying a Series3 over a TiVo HD if they have to pay MSRP -- $500 is just way to much of a premium. That being said, if we go by the street price it's something to consider. For example, using Amazon as a reference, the Series3 can be had for $349 after rebate compared to $253.88 for theTiVo HD. The Series3 is most definitely a premium unit and the additional features make it a no brainer for only $100 extra -- especially when you consider that TiVo sells it's remote for $50 and the extra 70 extra gigabytes of space you get. However, we wouldn't pay any more than $100 extra for it.

Side note: We believe that TiVo has discontinued production of the Series3 and is simply waiting for them to sell-out before releasing the another version of the TiVo HD with the same premium options as the Series3. Let use know if you have a Series3 with a manufacturer date later than July 2007.

    TiVo HD
    Comments / notes
    Price MSRP $299
    Amazon $253
    MSRP $799
    Amazon $349
    The MSRP is way off, but the street price makes them comparable.
    180 GB - 20 hours
    250 GB - 30 hours
    70GB isn't much when eSATA is an option.
    Remote Basic TiVo
    TiVo glow The Series3 remote really is, much better and worth $50.
    Looks Clean with useful lights Higher end, with gloss finish and brushed look. How important are looks to you?
    Display LED lights LED lights and OLED display Knowing what's recording is a nice feature.
    Buttons Just format Format & navigation Not sure how useful, but nice to have.
    Only works with TiVo brand WiFi and external drive.
    Support 3rd party WiFi adapters and external drive. This isn't a big deal, but does limit your options.
    Outputs Everything you need.
    The same, with one extra set of SD outputs.
    Not sure how useful another set of SD outputs are.
    CableCARD Single or Multi-stream. Single stream only, for now. Using one M-Card can save you a few bucks a month on rental fees.
    Included cables Composite, Component, Power, Phone cable Same, plus an HDMI cable. Not a big difference, but one less thing to order.
    THX Nope Certified Who cares?
    Home Automation no Crestron compatibility A big deal for HA nuts, but not for anyone else.
    Noise Same Same We couldn't hear a difference.
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