Digital video recorders, or DVRs, have been around for more than a decade. TiVo, the granddaddy of the category, has worked hard to evolve its features to stay ahead of the curve. Its latest offering, TiVo Premiere, delivers an experience that rivals Google TV in its search capabilities, yet still allows users to record shows and sporting events for future viewing.
To get started, you need to buy the TiVo Premiere package, which runs $299.99 and includes the TiVo box and remote, as well as various audiovisual cables for linking components. The TiVo Premiere device doesn't join your cable box -- it replaces it completely via a special card you get from your cable company. This card plugs into the back of the Premiere box and delivers your cable channels. Once you hook the Premiere box to your TV and the Internet, you're ready to roll. Use your TiVo Premiere to search, watch and record any programming delivered by your cable provider. Or, for $12.99 a month, access movies and TV shows from TiVo partners, including Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus and BLOCKBUSTER On Demand.
In many ways, TiVo Premiere gives users the most flexibility and customization. TiVo Search lets you hunt through both TV programming and the Internet. You can pause and rewind live TV and record up to 45 hours of HD content to watch later. And, finally, you can schedule recordings on the Web or on your mobile phone. It's not adept at playing video games, however. If you're a gamer first and a video watcher second, you might want to consider turning your gaming system into an entertainment center.