Last year the king of DVR, TiVo, released a high definition version of their popular set-top box. It seemed like a dream come true. And then the $800 price tag bombshell was dropped. Like many DVR addicts with HD capability I ran away as fast as Ted Kennedy chasing a waitress with a burger. That wasn’t the worst of it though. Key features that we enjoyed in the Series 2 TiVo like Tivo To Go and Multiroom Viewing were missing. Now, after nearly a year of struggling sales, the guys at TiVo are looking to quell our quaking heart.

The California company announced today that they are taking pre-orders for a $299.99 TiVo HD DVR that offers more bang for your buck than the current Series3 HD DVR. So where were the cuts made to save you $500? The new lighter HD TiVo will come with only a 160GB hard drive, which is significantly less than the 250GB’s of its big brother. Still with 20 hours of HD content and 180 hours of SD this should be fairly sufficient. Hopefully the opening of that external drive storage option will shortly follow the release of this new box. TiVo has said that it will not be active at the time of release. You’ll also be losing your glowing remote – this is not a big deal as the TiVo remote is fairly intuitive – along with the LCD display getting replaced by a dot-matrix style LED one. Again, all I need is a little light to let me know something is recording...there’s no big loss here either. The last ho-hum downgrade is a lack of THX certification.

The everyman HD Tivo is still equipped for dual tuning. The box also offers dual slots for CableCard, which turns your box into an access point for digital programming. No more need for a set from the cable company, although you do lose On-Demand functionality. It should also be noted that the CableCard slots have been moved from the back of the unit to the much more convenient location on the front. This is the HD TiVo I expected last year, and while I’ve suffered through my HD channels without DVR functionality it looks like my problems will be solved soon.

You can place your preorder now at the official TiVo website. The new HD TiVo will see release in the third quarter of this year.

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