Australia: No Tivo series 4 for you!

TiVo fans have been speculating for weeks about whether the new TiVo “Premiere” Series 4 PVR will arrive in Australia soon. We asked Tivo’s Australian licencee Hybrid TV (a division of Channel 7) for a definitive answer and the news is not good.

A spokesperson told APC: “This is a US announcement. Hybrid TV does not currently range [choose to sell] TiVo Series 4 and you will not be able to upgrade the current boxes with new features announced”.
However while HTV’s lack of current plans to bring the series 4 into Australia is disappointing the latter point about being unable to upgrade current boxes is more of a technical issue than a commercial one. TiVO Series 3 hardware currently sold in Australia doesn’t have the processing power to display the new high definition Flash interface used in Series 4 TiVos. This hasn’t stopped some sites like Crunchgear attacking
TiVO over the non-upgradeability.

HTV did launch a new TiVo recently with a 320GB hard drive but this was a simple spec-bump of the existing product whereas the new TiVo “Premiere” Series 4 with its multi-core CPU extra internal memory extensible flash interface and integrated on demand video access is a “whole new way to think about the set top box” according to US TiVO CEO Tom Rogers (as reported by Engadget).
Hybrid TV is facing tougher competition than ever before with game consoles increasingly getting PVR functionality. Sony PlayTV a USB TV tuner for the PlayStation3 for example records TV from two tuners as well as having the ability to search for and view free on demand content from the internet such as ABC iView. It’s also much cheaper than the TiVo (though initial reviews about its reliability have been mixed).
It seems unlikely that TiVo series 4 will be available in Australia by the end of of 2010 since it only goes on sale in the USA in April. There has previously been a long lag time between TiVo USA and Australian launches.
Hybrid TV also recently launched its own “CASPA” video on demand service in Australia so TiVo’s in-built streaming media service won’t be on its agenda for delivery — if anything they may adapt their CASPA service to be delivered through TiVo’s interface but there’s very little chance it will be supporting TiVo’s streaming content offering.
Perhaps the only silver lining to the release of TiVo series 4 in the USA for Australians is a new Wireless N adaptor which will allow TiVo owners to transfer information to or from their TiVo faster or use the TiVo in a part of the house further from the WiFi router than the current Wireless G adaptor will allow.
Hybrid TV says the adaptor will probably be available for sale in Australia during the 2nd quarter of 2010. Hopefully it is more affordable than in the US where it’s being sold for $US90 ($AU100).