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Technical Review of the TiVo Premiere

Technical Review of the TiVo Premiere

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TiVo Premiere
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Published by: davezatz on Mar 26, 2010
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04/16/2012

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©  K.Fowler  (bkdtv)  

Unboxed  

  The  contents  of  the  box  are  as  follows:   1.   TiVo  Premiere   2.   TiVo  “Enhanced”  remote  (XL  includes  “Enhanced”  backlit,  learning  remote)   3.   HDMI  cable   4.   Composite  video  and  analog  stereo  cables   5.   Ethernet  cable   6.   TiVo  Premiere:  The  Complete  Guide   7.   TiVo  Premiere:  Start  Here  (setup  guide)   8.   TiVo  Legal  Terms   9.   CableCard  Installation  Sheet     The  TIVo  Premiere  does  not  have  a  phone  jack,  so  you’ll  need  to  buy  the  TiVo  wireless  adapter,  TiVo   phone  adapter,  or  a  third-­‐party  ethernet  bridge  if  you  can’t  run  an  ethernet  cable  directly  to  the  box.    

1    

 

 

©  K.Fowler  (bkdtv)  

Hardware  
With  early  DVR  chip  designs,  processor  and  graphics  performance  were  not  considered  a  priority;  the   foremost  concern  was  cost.    The  result  was  more  cost-­‐effective  DVRs  for  cable  and  satellite  that  lacked   the  performance  needed  to  support  more  advanced  multi-­‐room  and  user  interface  features.   When  the  first  DVR  chips  capable  of  supporting  a  responsive  high-­‐definition  interface  and  robust  multi-­‐ room  functionality  became  widely  available  in  late  2008,  some  questioned  why  there  was  no  new  TiVo   hardware  with  those  features.    In  the  end,  it  all  came  down  to  the  software.    TiVo  did  not  want  to  simply   refresh  its  existing  UI  and  software  for  16:9  HD.    It  wanted  to  create  a  new,  modern  interface  that  would   seamlessly  merge  DVR  and  broadband  media  content.    TiVo  determined  that  a  Flash-­‐based  UI  approach   –  like  that  taken  by  Hulu,  Boxee,  Netflix,  and  others—was  the  most  effective  way  to  do  that.     Broadcom  announced  Flash  Lite  support  for  its  new  and  upcoming  chips  in  January  2009,  but  it  took  the   better  part  of  the  year  for  that  support  to  mature  to  a  production  state.    When  TiVo  was  satisfied  that   Broadcom’s  Flash  implementation  would  meet  its  needs,  the  company  selected  the  highest-­‐ performance  DVR  chip  available  (BCM7413)  to  form  the  core  of  its  new  Series4  hardware  platform.  

  The  BCM7413  represents  an  across-­‐the-­‐board  upgrade;  it  upgrades  every  major  subsystem,  including   the  CPU,  memory  controller,  2D/3D  graphics,  decoders,  and  disk  controller.    The  most  notable  feature  of   the  new  chip  is  a  dual-­‐core,  400MHz  MIPS32/16e  CPU.    That  isn’t  much  by  PC  standards,  but  is   substantial  improvement  over  the  single-­‐core,  300MHz  MIPS  CPUs  found  in  most  DVRs.     It  is  worth  noting  that  unlike  PCs,  the  chips  in  all  modern  DVRs  feature  dedicated  hardware  video   decoders  for  MPEG-­‐2,  MPEG-­‐4  AVC,  and  VC-­‐1,  with  a  media  switch  to  decouple  decode  and  playback   operations  from  the  CPU.      As  a  result,  the  CPU  is  left  free  to  handle  the  embedded  operating  system   (usually  Linux),  the  DVR  software  and  interface,  and  any  associated  features  such  as  multi-­‐room  viewing.     2    

 

 

©  K.Fowler  (bkdtv)  

Processor  Performance
Performance  in  Dhrystone  MIPS  -­‐ Higher  is  Better

1200 1000 800 600 400 200 0 TiVo  Series1   (1999) TiVo  Series2   DirecTiVo  HR10   TiVo  Series3   (2001) (2004) (2006) TiVo  HD         (2007) TiVo  Premiere   (2010)

    Like  other  recent  65nm  Broadcom  SoCs,  the  BCM7413  features  an  improved  2D  graphics  core  –  known   as  the  Memory-­‐to-­‐Memory  Compositor,  or  M2MC.    This  part  of  the  chip  is  responsible  for  compositing   regions  of  the  on-­‐screen  display  and  scaling  them  to  the  output  resolution.    Coupled  with  the  faster  CPU,   this  new  graphics  core  makes  it  possible  to  support  more  compelling  interface  designs  on  set-­‐tops.     Superior  processing  power  is  of  little  use  if  the  system  lacks  the  bandwidth  to  take  advantage  of  it.       Many  DirecTV  subscribers  witnessed  the  importance  of  memory  bandwidth  when  the  dual-­‐chip  HR20   design  was  replaced  with  the  single-­‐chip  HR21/HR22/HR23.        All  featured  similar  raw  CPU  performance,   but  the  newer  models  eliminated  the  second  memory  channel  for  the  decoder,  instead  sharing  a  single   64-­‐bit  DDR  memory  channel  between  the  CPU,  graphics  subsystem,  and  video  decoders.    That  took  vital   bandwidth  way  from  the  system  and  performance  suffered  as  a  result.     The  TiVo  Premiere  features  a  new  64-­‐bit  DDR2  memory  controller  that  provides  6400  MB/s  of  memory   bandwidth.    That’s  twice  the  amount  of  most  cable  and  satellite  DVRs  based  on  single-­‐chip  solutions,   and  a  35-­‐50%  improvement  over  past  dual-­‐chip  designs  like  the  TiVo  Series3,  DirecTV  HR20,  and  Dish   Network  ViP722.      TiVo  also  equipped  the  Premiere  with  512MB  of  DDR2-­‐800  memory—twice  that  of   the  latest  cable  and  satellite  DVRs,  and  four  times  the  amount  of  most  DVRs  in  cable  homes.       Memory   Memory  interface   Memory  bandwidth   TiVo  Premiere   512MB  DDR2-­‐800   1x  64-­‐bit  DDR2   6400  MB/s   TiVo  HD   256MB  DDR400   1x  64-­‐bit  DDR   3200  MB/s   TiVo  Series3   256MB  DDR400   1x  64-­‐bit  DDR   1x  32-­‐bit  DDR   <4800  MB/s   TiVo  Series2   32MB  DDR266   1x  16-­‐bit  DDR   525  MB/s  

  After  subtracting  the  memory  reserved  for  the  decoders  and  other  hardware,  the  Premiere  has  roughly   384MB  RAM  available  for  the  embedded  Linux  OS,  TiVo  software,  and  future  third-­‐party  applications.     Contrast  that  to  the  24MB  available  on  the  TiVo  Series2  and  128MB  on  the  TiVo  HD.    Most  cable  DVRs   3    

 

 

©  K.Fowler  (bkdtv)  

are  equipped  with  128MB,  but  only  60-­‐90MB  remains  available  for  the  OS  and  software  after   subtracting  the  reserved  memory,  limiting  possibilities  for  future  enhancement.   An  improved  memory  subsystem  and  enhanced  hardware  decoders  enable  the  Premiere  to  support   higher  bitrates  and  new  formats.      The  older  TiVo  HD  and  Series3  hardware  couldn’t  handle  MPEG-­‐2  and   MPEG-­‐4  video  encoded  at  above  25Mbps,  which  ruled  out  any  possibility  of  playing  full-­‐quality  Blu-­‐ray   backups  stored  on  a  computer.    Thanks  to  its  new  chip,  the  TiVo  Premiere  is  able  to  handle  video  at   much  higher  bitrates,  including  MPEG-­‐2  and  MPEG-­‐4  in  1080p  @  35+  Mbps.    The  BCM7413  in  the   Premiere  also  adds  support  for  DIVX  at  up  to  1080p,  Windows  Media  Pro  (up  to  7.1)  audio,  and  AAC-­‐HE.   While  the  TiVo  Premiere  will  output  1080p  content  as  is,  it  won’t  convert  lower-­‐resolution  content  for   output  at  1080p60.      This  is  a  limitation  of  the  system  chips  found  in  all  existing  cable  and  satellite  DVRs.         Broadcom  has  a  new  chip  on  the  way  with  full  1080p60  upconversion  for  all  sources,  but  waiting  for  that   solution  would’ve  delayed  the  Premiere’s  release  another  6+  months.      TiVo  wanted  to  get  the  box  out   in  early  2010,  and  selected  the  best  hardware  that  would  allow  it  to  meet  that  goal.     Tuner  IC   Demodulators   TiVo  Premiere   2x  Microtune  MT2131  
Micronas  DRX  3946J   Micronas  DRX3944J  

TiVo  HD   2x  Microtune  MT2131   2x  ATI  Theater  314  

TiVo  Series3   2x  Philips  TDA6651   2x  ATI  Theater  314  

  Two  Microtune  MT2131  silicon  tuners—a  popular  1GHz  tuning  solution—remain  the  only  holdover  from   the  TiVo  HD  design.      The  Premiere  drops  the  ATI  Theater  314  QAM/VSB  demodulators  in  favor  of  the   newer  Micronas  DRX  3946A  and  DRX  3944J.    These  demodulators  are  responsible  for  recovering  and   separating  the  A/V  transport  stream  from  the  cable  or  broadcast  RF  signal  for  the  Broadcom  chip.     The  Micronas  DRX  demodulator  is  the  same  solution  used  by  SiliconDust  in  the  latest  version  of  its   popular  HDHomerun  tuner.    TiVo  uses  a  different  part  in  the  DRX  line  that  adds  support  for  CableCards   and  encrypted  cable.    In  theory,  it  should  provide  a  modest  improvement  over  past  TiVos  in  over-­‐the-­‐air   reception  with  an  antenna,  although  we  saw  little  difference  at  our  particular  location  in  limited  testing.     Like  past  TiVo  models,  the  Premiere  supports  analog  channels.    The  TiVo  Premiere  features  a  completely   new  implementation  of  analog  support,  which  eliminates  the  reliability  and  quality  issues  some   customers  saw  with  analog  channels  on  the  older  TiVo  HD  model.      Those  with  a  TiVo  Series2  can  expect   to  see  equal  or  better  picture  quality  on  their  analog  channels  with  the  TiVo  Premiere.       TiVo  Premiere   TiVo  HD   TiVo  Series3   NTSC  decoders   MP@ML  encoders   NXP  SAA7164CE   NXP  SAA7164CE   2x  NXT  SAA7138CHL   VIXS  XCode  2115  
2x  ?   2x  Broadcom  BCM7042  

  In  order  to  record  analog  channels,  a  DVR  must  perform  at  least  three  distinct  operations:  decode  the   analog  signal  (NTSC  decoder),  convert  the  analog  signal  to  uncompressed  digital  form  (A/D  circuit),  and   then  compress  the  uncompressed  digital  signal  (MP@ML  encoder)  so  it  can  be  saved  to  the  hard  disk.         4    

 

 

©  K.Fowler  (bkdtv)  

With  the  TiVo  Premiere,  all  of  these  operations  are  performed  by  a  single  chip  –  the  NXP  SAA7164CE.     This  highly  integrated  IC  features  two  NTSC  decoders  and  ADCs,  a  3D  comb  filter,  2D/3D  noise  reduction,   and  two  MP@ML  encoders,  as  necessary  to  record  two  different  analog  channels.    Contrast  that  to  the   TiVo  HD,  which  had  two  separate  NTSC  decoders  and  ADCs  with  a  2D  comb  filter,  plus  a  third  chip  for   the  MP@ML  encoding.    In  effect,  the  Premiere  replaces  three  older  chips—four  on  the  Series3—with   with  one  newer,  higher-­‐performance  solution.     The  Premiere  features  the  same  10/100Mbps  ethernet  interface  as  past  models,  but  to  very  different   effect.      Many  complained  of  poor  network  performance  on  past  TiVos,  but  that  had  nothing  to  do  with   the  100Mbps  connection.      Rather,  it  was  the  fault  of  limited  CPU  performance  and  system  bandwidth,   both  of  which  have  improved  significantly  on  the  Premiere.      The  result  is  superior  network  throughput  – from  DVR  to  DVR  and  DVR  to  PC—that  far  exceeds  earlier  models.     Newer  components  built  on  newer  manufacturing  processes  tend  to  consume  less  power,  and  TiVo   directly  benefits  as  result.    Without  any  new  power  saving  modes,  the  TiVo  Premiere  averages  25  watts   while  recording,  sufficient  to  meet  the  current  ENERGY  STAR  tier1  requirements  for  DVR  products.    That   is  a  significant  reduction  from  the  38  watts  used  by  a  stock  TivoHD  and  the  40+  watts  used  by  a  Series3.     Perhaps  the  least  significant  difference  about  the  TiVo  Premiere  is  also  the  most  obvious.    TiVo  opted  to   take  a  “safer,”  more  understated  approach  to  case  design  with  their  new  DVR.    The  hardware  is  housed   in  a  slim,  all-­‐black  chassis  measuring  16.5”W  by  9.7”D  by  2.4”H.    The  new  aesthetic  matches  the  black   display  and  equipment  bezels  adopted  by  consumer  electronics  in  recent  years,  yet  still  provides  a   distinctive  look  with  green,  blue,  and  red  lights  to  indicate  power,  transfers,  and  recordings.    For  those   that  don’t  want  to  notice  the  TiVo  at  all,  the  lights  can  be  disabled  through  a  menu  option.                        

5    

 

 

©  K.Fowler  (bkdtv)  

Hardware:  Under  the  hood  
The  TiVo  Premiere  is  opened  just  like  the  TiVo  HD,  but  with  four  torx  T10  screws  rather  than  six.   There  are  no  warranty  seals  to  break.  

 

  The  hard  drive  is  attached  to  the  drive  cage  with  four  torx  T15  screws,  and  the  drive  cage  is  held  in  place   with  four  torx  T10  screws  –  just  like  the  TiVo  HD  and  Series3.    The  only  notable  difference  is  the  drive   orientation.    The  drive  in  the  320GB  Premiere  is  the  Western  Digital  “GreenPower”  WD3200AVVS.   Removing  the  four  screws  and  drive  cage  reveals  the  Micronas  DRX  demodulators  and  NXP  SAA7164C.    

6    

 

 

©  K.Fowler  (bkdtv)  

 
1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   Broadcom  BCM7413   Numonyx  Strataflash  JS28F640P30B85   9WG27     9WG27   NXP  SAA7164CE/3   Altera  EPM3032A   Micron  Technology  46V16M16-­‐5B   Micronas  DRX  3944J   Micronas  DRX  3946J   System  chip   8MB  Flash  ROM   256MB  DDR2-­‐800   256MB  DDR2-­‐800   Dual  NTSC  decoders  +  MP@ML  encoders   CMOS  EEPROM   32MB  DDR400  SDRAM   QAM/VSB  demodulator  w/  POD  interface   QAM/VSB  demodulator   Silicon  tuner   Silicon  tuner   HDMI  1.3  transmitter   320GB  SATA-­‐2  hard  drive  

10   Microtune  MT2131   11   Microtune  MT2131   12   California  Micro  Devices  CMD2030-­‐AOTR     Western  Digital  WD3200AVVS  

  The  TiVo  Premiere  supports  the  same  external  drives  as  the  TiVo  HD,  namely  the  1TB  My  DVR  Expander.   Internal  drive  upgrades  are  not  possible  with  current  tools.    WinMFS  identifies  the  drive  as  being  from   TiVo,  but  reports  a  compatibility  error  when  any  attempt  is  made  to  backup  the  software.    Spike,  the   author  of  WinMFS,  has  shown  interest  in  updating  his  upgrade  tool  for  the  Premiere,  so  it  looks  like  it  is   only  a  matter  of  time  before  upgrades  are  again  possible.   7    

 

 

©  K.Fowler  (bkdtv)  

High-­‐definition  interface  
TiVo’s  new  high-­‐definition  interface  won’t  be  complete  for  initial  launch.    Instead,  the  new  interface  will   roll  out  over  the  course  of  multiple  updates,  the  first  of  which  is  planned  for  early  April.    TiVo’s  Bob   “Pony”  Poniatowski  set  aside  time  to  discuss  the  past,  present,  and  future  of  the  new  interface.   Several  years  ago,  TiVo  began  researching  HD  UIs.      It  looked  at  what  others  were  doing,  conducted   usability  studies,  and  engaged  customers  to  gather  feedback  on  proposed  designs  to  determine  the  best   way  to  proceed.    About  a  year  ago,  TiVo  finalized  plans  for  the  new  UI  and  set  to  work  prototyping  and   building  the  new  interface  in  Adobe  Stagecraft  (Flash  Lite  3.1  with  Actionscript  2.0).   Why  use  Adobe  Flash?    In  its  research  and  discussions,  TiVo  found  that  consumers  disliked  separate   interfaces  for  local  and  remote  content,  both  on  its  own  DVRs  and  in  many  third-­‐party  products.     Customers  wanted  a  single,  consistent  interface  for  all  content.      A  primary  goal  of  TiVo’s  new  HDUI  is  to   eliminate  the  disparate  interfaces  and  seamlessly  integrate  DVR  and  Internet  sources  so  the  user  no   longer  has  to  worry  about  how  or  where  to  access  content.    Adobe’s  Flash  platform  is  well  suited  for  this   project,  as  it  provides  the  flexibility  to  create  consistent  experiences  for  local  and  remote  content.   Flash  on  the  Premiere  is  not  a  browser  plug-­‐in  like  users  have  on  their  PCs,  but  a  specialized  Stagecraft   application  environment  optimized  by  Broadcom  for  the  hardware.    TiVo,  Broadcom,  and  Adobe   continue  to  work  to  provide  the  best  possible  Flash  experience.    As  an  example,  work  is  now  being  done   to  improve  performance  through  better  utilization  of  the  second  core  on  the  TiVo’s  Broadcom  chip.   For  the  near  term,  the  TiVo  Premiere  runs  the  traditional  interface  and  the  Adobe  Stagecraft   environment  simultaneously  and  swaps  between  the  two  for  different  menus.      TiVo  is  redoing  “high-­‐ traffic  areas”  of  the  interface  in  HD  first,  with  less  trafficked  menus  to  follow  later.      The  initial  HD   interface  update  will  include  HD  menus,  My  Shows,  search,  and  browse  TV,  but  it  will  be  far  from   feature  complete.    Other  parts  of  the  interface,  including  live  TV  features  such  as  the  channel  banners   and  guide,  will  see  a  refresh  in  later  updates.    Over  time,  more  of  the  interface  will  move  to  the  HD  UI,   such  that  the  user  will  see  less  and  less  of  the  older  menus  until  they  are  eliminated  from  view  entirely.   [The  classic  UI  will  always  remain  a  settings  option  for  those  that  want  and/or  need  it.]   TiVo’s  plans  also  call  for  the  Premiere  to  get  new,  enhanced  Flash  versions  of  all  the  popular  HME   applications—Netflix,  Rhapsody,  some  games,  etc—that  seamlessly  integrate  with  the  new  interface.     These  new  Flash  versions  won’t  be  available  at  release;  they  too  will  follow  later  and  replace  the  existing   HME  versions.    Looking  forward,  TiVo  intends  to  develop  Flash  versions  of  all  new  applications  for  the   Premiere;  the  older  platforms  are  unable  to  support  Flash,  so  they  will  get  HME  versions  when  possible.   Although  it  is  still  in  the  planning  stages,  TiVo  intends  to  make  their  Flash  environment  accessible  to  end   users  and  end-­‐user  applications.      TiVo’s  Bob  Poniatowski  mentioned  an  apps  store  where  third  parties   and  end-­‐users  might  share  (and  sell?)  Flash  applications  written  in  Adobe  Stagecraft.     8    

 

 

©  K.Fowler  (bkdtv)  

Classic  interface,  enhancements  
Early  purchasers  of  the  TiVo  Premiere  may  receive  the  14.0  or  v14.1  software  without  the  new  interface.   The  “classic”  interface  is  noticeably  faster  on  the  Premiere  than  the  Series3,  though  not  as  fast  as  some   might  expect  given  the  new  hardware.  The  chip  inside  the  Premiere  is  a  dual-­‐core  400MHz  processor,   meaning  it  combines  two  400MHz  processors  on  a  single  chip.  In  order  to  realize  full  performance,  the   DVR  software  must  be  re-­‐written  to  take  advantage  of  both  processor  cores.   The  Linux  operating  system  on  the  Premiere  supports  both  cores,  but  TiVo  opted  not  to  update  its   classic  interface,  choosing  instead  to  focus  its  efforts  on  the  new  software.    As  a  consequence,  the   classic  runs  almost  exclusively  on  a  single  400MHz  core.    This  still  represents  a  significant  upgrade  over   the  300MHz  processor  in  the  Series3,  especially  when  you  consider  that  other  features  –  like  multi-­‐room   viewing  and  recorded  file  downloads—are  able  to  take  advantage  of  the  second  core.   Much  of  the  press  surrounding  the  TiVo  Premiere  concerns  the  new  interface.    But  the  TiVo  Premiere   also  incorporates  some  useful  non-­‐interface  enhancements  that  are  available  in  the  classic  interface.       30  second  scan  

 
On  past  TiVos,  the  ADVANCE  (-­‐-­‐>|)  button  toggled  between  the  beginning  and  end  of  the  program   by  default.  If  the  user  wanted  that  button  to  perform  30  second  skip—a  popular  feature  to  skip   commercials—they  had  to  enter  a  special  remote  sequence:  SELECT-­‐PLAY-­‐SELECT-­‐3-­‐0-­‐SELECT.     The  TiVo  Premiere  ships  with  a  new  30  second  “scan”  function  enabled  by  default  on  the  ADVANCE   (-­‐-­‐>|)  button.  This  feature  is  very  similar  to  the  30  second  "slip"  on  DirecTV's  latest  DVRs.  It  doesn't   skip  30  seconds;  instead,  it  fast  forwards  through  a  30  second  interval  in  one  second  (i.e.  30x  speed).   Pressing  ADVANCE  repeatedly  queues  added  time.  If  you  hit  the  ADVANCE  button  four  times  in  a   row,  the  DVR  fast  forwards  through  120  seconds  of  programming  (or  commercials)  in  four  seconds.     The  traditional  30  second  instant  skip  function  is  still  available,  and  enabled  with  the  same  remote   sequence.  Simply  enter  SELECT-­‐PLAY-­‐SELECT-­‐3-­‐0-­‐SELECT  while  viewing  a  recorded  program.       Trick  play  enhancements:      Jump  to  beginning/end  and  skip-­‐to-­‐tick  on  live  TV     With  the  Premiere,  pressing  and  holding  the  REPLAY  button  for  one  second  jumps  to  the  beginning   of  the  recording  or  the  beginning  of  the  live  TV  buffer.  Pressing  and  holding  the  ADVANCE  button  for   one  second  jumps  to  the  end  of  the  recording  or  the  end  of  the  live  TV  buffer  (i.e.  live  TV).     Users  can  also  jump  backward  in  15  minute  increments  on  both  live  TV  and  recordings  by  pressing   the  REPLAY  button  while  rewinding.    Pressing  ADVANCE  while  fast  forwarding  will  jump  forward  in   15  minute  increments.  This  works  on  both  recordings  and  live  TV.       9    

 

 

©  K.Fowler  (bkdtv)  

  Increased  menu  timeout     Under  previous  versions  of  the  TiVo  software,  the  DVR  would  revert  to  live  TV  after  five  minutes  of   user  inactivity  on  any  menu.    With  the  Premiere,  TiVo  increased  that  timeout  to  15  minutes.    This   change  will  also  apply  to  the  HDUI  when  it  is  released.       Increase  in  default  “keep  until”  period  for  new  recordings     The  TiVo  Premiere  protects  all  new  recordings  for  three  days,  up  from  two  days  (48  hours)  under   previous  versions  of  the  TiVo  software.       Output  modes,  auto-­‐detection  of  supported  formats,  1080p24     With  the  Premiere,  TiVo  did  away  with  its  native,  hybrid,  and  fixed  output  modes  in  favor  of  a  more   elegant  implementation.  The  Premiere  lists  each  output  format  –  1080p24,  1080i,  720p,  480p,  and   480i—and  asks  the  user  to  place  a  checkmark  next  to  those  they  want  to  output  natively  without   processing.    If  the  user  only  checks  1080i,  then  all  other  formats  are  converted  to  1080i.  If  the  user   checks  480i  and  720p,  then  480i  channels  are  output  as  480i,  while  all  other  formats  are  converted   to  720p.  If  the  user  checks  720p  and  1080i,  then  720p  and  1080i  content  is  output  natively,  while   other  formats  are  converted  to  1080i.       For  those  that  don’t  know  what  their  TV  can  do,  the  TiVo  Premiere  adds  an  auto-­‐detect  feature  to   determine  all  supported  output  modes.  The  user  can  then  customize  as  desired.   It  is  possible  that  current  TiVo  HD  and  Series3  owners  will  see  some  or  all  of  these  enhancements  in  a   software  update,  but  TiVo  has  not  announced  anything  to  that  effect.                      

10    

 

 

©  K.Fowler  (bkdtv)  

Multi-­‐room  viewing  
The  current  implementation  of  multi-­‐room  viewing  on  the  TiVo  Premiere  is  just  like  that  on  the  TiVo  HD   and  Series3,  with  one  exception—performance.      Typical  multi-­‐room  throughput  on  the  TiVo  Premiere  is   three  to  four  times  that  of  the  TiVo  HD,  reaching  as  high  as  80Mbps  sustained.   At  such  high  throughput,  MRV  on  the  Premiere  works  very  well  for  unprotected  content.  Unfortunately,   the  TiVo  Premiere  does  nothing  to  address  the  issue  of  protected  recordings,  as  it  still  relies  on  copies   which  CableLabs’  expressly  forbids  on  such  content.  CableLabs  only  permits  streaming  of  protected   content  and  only  with  certain  forms  of  encryption  (ex:  DTCP-­‐IP).   Federal  law  requires  that  recordings  from  local  channels  be  left  unprotected,  but  also  gives  cable   companies  free  reign  to  protect  whatever  they  want  on  cable  channels.    Some  large  cable  companies,   most  notably  TWC  and  Brighthouse,  now  protect  virtually  all  of  the  cable  content  on  their  systems,   rendering  it  incompatible  with  the  current  multi-­‐room  implementation  on  the  TiVo  Premiere.   If  TiVo  has  any  plans  for  multi-­‐room  streaming  with  DTCP-­‐IP,  as  Moxi  introduced  last  year,  they  aren’t   saying.      Confronted  on  the  issue,  TiVo  acknowledged  the  serious  problem  of  copy  protected  content,   but  would  not  say  what  they  were  doing  to  address  it,  or  when  customers  might  see  a  solution.  

Multiroom  Viewing
Throughput  in  Mbps  between  like  TiVos  -­‐ Higher  is  Better

Minimum

Typical

Maximum

72 TiVo  Premiere 75 80 24 TiVo  Series3 28 35 16 TiVo  HD 20 27

 
All  tests  run  under  Classic  interface  in  14.0-­‐01-­‐3-­‐746.  

Maximum  refers  to  throughput  observed  while  recording  two  SD  channels  (TNT,  TBS)  on  Verizon  FiOS.   Typical  refers  to  throughput  while  recording  two  lower-­‐bitrate  HD  channels  (AMCHD,  CCHD).      Minimum   refers  to  throughput  while  recording  two  high-­‐bitrate  HD  sports  channels  (ESPNHD,  ESPN2HD).      

11    

 

 

©  K.Fowler  (bkdtv)  

Download  recorded  files  
One  TiVo  feature  you  won’t  find  on  a  cable  or  satellite  DVR  is  the  ability  to  directly  download  recorded   files  over  your  wired  or  wireless  home  network.   TiVo  serves  up  the  recorded  files  through  a  built-­‐in  https  server.      This  server  and  its  file  transfers  run  as   a  background  process,  so  they  do  not  interfere  with  the  operation  of  the  DVR.    With  the  TiVo  Premiere,   you  can  record  two  different  HD  channels,  watch  a  previously  recorded  HD  program,  and  download  a   HD  recording  to  your  computer  over  wireless,  all  at  the  same  time.   A  common  complaint  about  download  capability  on  past  TiVos  related  to  its  “speed”  or  throughput.     Network  throughput  on  older  TiVos  was  limited  by  CPU  performance  and  system  I/O,  and  further   reduced  by  the  on-­‐the-­‐fly  remuxing  into  MPG.      Recordings  on  the  TiVo  are  stored  in  a  proprietary   transport  stream  format,  and  TiVo  decided  it  was  best  to  remux  these  transport  streams  into  a  PC-­‐ compatible  MPG.      Remuxing  of  the  transport  stream  into  MPG  format  doesn’t  affect  quality,  but  it   slows  the  transfer  considerably  since  it  is  done  in  real-­‐time  as  a  low-­‐priority  background  process.     The  TiVo  Premiere  significantly  improves  download  throughput  through  the  combination  of  the   improved  processor,  superior  I/O,  and  the  ability  to  download  in  TS  format.      First  seen  on  Australian   TiVos,  downloading  in  transport  stream  format  minimizes  the  on-­‐the-­‐fly  processing  needed  for  the  TiVo   to  send  a  recording  to  a  computer.    The  result  is  significantly  improved  throughput,  as  seen  below.  

Recorded  File  Downloads
Download  throughput  from  TiVo  in  Mbps  -­‐ Higher  is  Better

Minimum

Typical

Maximum 42

TiVo  Premiere  (TS) 32 32 33 10 13

54

60

TiVo  Premiere  (MPG)

TiVo  Series3  (MPG) 6

17

TiVo  HD  (MPG)

9

12

 
All  tests  run  under  Classic  interface  in  14.0-­‐01-­‐3-­‐746.  

The  current  version  of  TiVo  Desktop  2.8  does  not  support  TS  downloads,  so  anyone  using  that  program   will  only  see  the  TiVo  Premiere  (MPG)  rate  noted  above.      For  now,  TS  downloads  are  only  possible   through  the  third-­‐party  kmttg  program  or  the  TiVo’s  built-­‐in  https  server.    A  video  comparison  of   download  throughput  on  the  Premiere  and  TiVo  HD  can  be  found  on  this  page  at  Youtube.   12    

 

 

©  K.Fowler  (bkdtv)  

Assuming  one  uses  kmttg  or  the  TiVo’s  built-­‐in  https  server  to  download  recorded  files,  they  can  expect   download  times  comparable  to  those  below.      Be  aware  that  these  results  were  obtained  under  the   stock  14.0  software  with  the  classic  UI;  results  could  change  with  future  versions  of  the  software.      

Download  time  for  one-­‐hour  recording
Time  in  Minutes  -­‐ Lower  is  Better

TCM  (SD)

ABCHD 4 10 13 13 13 14 15 20 15

CBSHD

FOXHD

FXHD

NBCHD

CCHD

ESPNHD

TiVo  Premiere  (TS)

43 TiVo  Series3  (MPG) 52 54 56 57 64 83 22 62 TiVo  HD  (MPG) 76 78 81 83 93 120

 
All  tests  run  under  Classic  interface  in  14.0-­‐01-­‐3-­‐746.  

The  “Classic”  interface  uses  one  core  almost  exclusively,  leaving  plenty  of  processing  power  for   downloads  and  other  transfers.    Preliminary  tests  under  a  beta  version  of  the  high-­‐definition  interface   show  that  download  throughput  is  much  more  inconsistent,  with  frequent  drop-­‐offs  of  20%  to  30%.       It  is  not  clear  what  impact  further  dual-­‐core  optimization  might  have.    More  effective  use  of  both   processor  cores  by  an  optimized  high-­‐definition  interface  could  negatively  impact  network  throughput,   while  dual-­‐core  optimizations  made  for  networking  could  conceivably  improve  throughput  further.     The  “Classic”  interface  will  remain  available  as  a  user  option  even  after  the  new  HD  UI  is  released.      

13    

 

 

©  K.Fowler  (bkdtv)  

Push  &  pull  video  transfers  
As  mentioned  earlier,  the  new  chip  in  the  TiVo  Premiere  features  more  robust  decoders  capable  of   decoding  and  displaying  higher  bitrate  video,  including  full  1080p  MPEG-­‐2  and  MPEG-­‐4  at  35+Mbps.       The  new  CPU  dramatically  improves  MPEG-­‐2  and  MPEG-­‐4  video  transfers  to  the  TiVo.      

MPEG-­‐2  Video  Transfers  to  TiVo
Push/Pull  transfer  throughput  in  Mbps  -­‐ Higher  is  Better

Minimum

Typical

Maximum

35 TiVo  Premiere 37 40 10 TiVo  Series3 12 15 5 TiVo  HD 7 9

 
All  tests  run  under  Classic  interface  in  14.0-­‐01-­‐3-­‐746.  

The  MPEG-­‐2  numbers  shown  above  apply  to  both  “pull”  transfers  for  PC  videos  and  recordings  selected   through  the  TiVo’s  recorded  list,  as  well  as  recordings  “pushed”  to  the  TiVo  using  pyTiVo  or  Streambaby.     I  was  able  to  watch  Elephants  Dream  from  w6rz.net  in  full  1080p24  via  both  push  and  pull  with  no  delay,   once  the  TS  file  was  remuxed  into  MPG  format  with  Streamclip.   With  this  level  of  performance,  it  is  finally  feasible  to  download  and  store  recordings  on  remote  storage   for  playback.      High-­‐definition  MPEG-­‐2  recordings  from  antenna  and  cable  run  a  maximum  of  19Mbps,   meaning  the  Premiere  can  pull  those  recordings  back  from  a  computer  at  twice  real-­‐time.    

14    

     

 

©  K.Fowler  (bkdtv)  

MPEG-­‐4  Video  Transfers  to  TiVo
Push/Pull  transfer  throughput  in  Mbps  -­‐ Higher  is  Better

Minimum

Typical

Maximum

50 TiVo  Premiere 56 60 13 15 15 12 13 14

TiVo  Series3

TiVo  HD

 
All  tests  run  under  Classic  interface  in  14.0-­‐01-­‐3-­‐746.  

These  numbers  apply  to  MPEG-­‐4  videos  “pushed”  to  the  TiVo  using  pyTiVo,  Streambaby,  or  TiVo   Desktop’s  auto-­‐transfer  folders.      It  is  not  known  whether  the  Premiere  possesses  the  ability  to  pull   MPEG-­‐4  files  directly  from  the  recorded  list;  if  it  does,  no  tools  exist  to  take  advantage  of  that  capability.   PC  video  isn’t  the  only  content  that  benefits  from  the  improved  transfer  performance.    Amazon  VOD   programs  download  in  far  less  time,  provided  you’ve  got  the  bandwidth  necessary  to  support  it.  

Amazon  VOD
Download  throughput  on  a  25Mbps  FiOS  connection  -­‐ Higher  is  Better

Minimum

Typical

Maximum

25 TiVo  Premiere 25 25

6 TiVo  HD 9 11

 
All  tests  run  under  Classic  interface  in  14.0-­‐01-­‐3-­‐746.  

15    

 

 

©  K.Fowler  (bkdtv)  

Streaming  performance  
TiVo  does  not  yet  offer  built-­‐in  support  for  streaming  PC  video  playback.    Enthusiast  Kerry  Griffin  sought   to  fill  the  void  with  his  own  streaming  video  application  for  the  TiVo.      Dubbed  “Streambaby,”  the  free   Java  applet  allows  HD  TiVo  owners  to  browse,  play,  and  fast  forward  through  virtually  any  kind  of  video   file  stored  on  their  computer,  without  waiting  for  any  transfers.    Compatible  videos  –  such  as  MPG  and   MP4  files—are  available  for  streaming  at  full  quality,  while  other  video  files  are  converted  to  MPEG-­‐2.   With  past  TiVos,  streaming  throughput  was  so  slow  that  users  were  forced  to  compromise  on  playback   quality.    Most  HD  video  files  had  to  be  recompressed  on  the  fly  –  with  quality  loss—to  fit  within  the   throughput  limits  of  those  boxes.      With  its  superior  throughput,  the  TiVo  Premiere  eliminates  the  need   to  compromise  video  quality  during  streaming  playback.   The  Streambaby  application  does  have  one  key  limitation—a  1.1GB  streaming  limit.      It  must  pause  for   several  seconds  and  re-­‐buffer  after  every  1.1GB  streamed.    As  an  example,  users  of  the  program  will  see   video  pause  with  a  “rebuffering”  message  three  times  during  playback  of  a  4GB  computer  video  file.     The  TiVo  Premiere  does  not  eliminate  the  1.1GB  buffer  limit  in  Streambaby.    That  limitation  is  specific  to   Streambaby,  and  won’t  be  fixed  until  TiVo  responds  to  Mr.  Griffin’s  request  for  assistance.    

MPEG-­‐2  Video  Streaming
Streaming  throughput  in  Mbps  with  Streambaby  -­‐ Higher  is  Better

Minimum

Typical

Maximum

35 TiVo  Premiere 37 40 10 TiVo  Series3 12 15 5 TiVo  HD 7 9

 
All  tests  run  under  Classic  interface  in  14.0-­‐01-­‐3-­‐746.  

 

16    

 

 

©  K.Fowler  (bkdtv)  

MPEG-­‐4  Video  Streaming
Streaming  throughput  in  Mbps  with  Streambaby  -­‐ Higher  is  Better

Minimum

Typical

Maximum

50 TiVo  Premiere 56 60 13 15 15 12 13 14

TiVo  Series3

TiVo  HD

 
All  tests  run  under  Classic  interface  in  14.0-­‐01-­‐3-­‐746.  

                             

17    

 

 

©  K.Fowler  (bkdtv)  

Power  consumption  
The  TiVo  Premiere  consumes  22  watts  at  startup  and  25  watts  after  the  boot  process  is  complete.    This   represents  a  substantial  reduction  from  the  TiVo  HD,  Series3,  and  many  older  cable  DVRs,  and  it  was   sufficient  to  meet  the  ENERGY  STAR  tier1  specifications  that  took  effect  on  January  1,  2009.        

Power  Consumption  -­‐ Recording/Playback
Power  Consumption  in  Watts  -­‐ Lower  is  Better

U-­‐Verse  DVR DirecTV  HR23 TiVo  Premiere Cisco  RNG200 Samsung  SMT-­‐H3270 Motorola  DCX3400 Motorola  DCH3416 Moxi  MR-­‐1500T3 Motorola  QIP7216 TiVo  HD Motorola  QIP6416 TiVo  Series3 Motorola  DCH6416 DirecTV  HR20 Sony  DHG-­‐HDD250 DireTiVo  HR10-­‐250 Dish  ViP722 Dish  ViP622 0 10

17 23 25 25 30 31 31 32 35 38 38 41 41 41 42 42 59 59 20 30 40 50 60 70

  The  Premiere  does  not  meet  the  more  stringent  tier2  specifications  that  go  into  effect  on  January  1,   2011.      There  is  no  “grandfather”  rule  for  ENERGY  STAR  certification,  so  all  units  manufactured  after   January  1,  2011  must  meet  the  new  standards  if  they  are  to  carry  the  ENERGY  STAR  logo.   If  TiVo  wants  to  market  and  sell  the  Premiere  as  an  ENERGY  STAR  product  well  after  January  1,  it  will   need  to  revise  its  design,  or  find  some  solution  to  reduce  total  daily  consumption.    The  tier2  energy   allowance  for  a  product  like  the  TiVo  Premiere  should  work  out  to  around  160kWh/yr,  or  18  watts   average  consumption  if  no  sleep  or  idle  mode  is  used.    

18    

 

 

©  K.Fowler  (bkdtv)  

Monthly  Operating  Cost
Assumes  4  hours  of  daily  viewing  and  national  average  of  $0.1176/kWh

U-­‐Verse  DVR DirecTV  HR23 Cisco  RNG200 TiVo  Premiere Motorola  DCX3400 Samsung  SMT-­‐H3270 Motorola  DCH3416 Moxi  MR-­‐1500T3 Motorola  QIP7216 TiVo  HD Motorola  QIP6416 TiVo  Series3 DirecTV  HR20 Sony  DHG-­‐HDD250 Motorola  DCH6416 DireTiVo  HR10-­‐250 Dish  ViP722 Dish  ViP622

$1.16 $1.88 $1.91 $2.12 $2.48 $2.54 $2.55 $2.71 $2.96 $3.01 $3.22 $3.33 $3.33 $3.42 $3.47 $3.56 $4.64 $4.64

$0.00 $0.50 $1.00 $1.50 $2.00 $2.50 $3.00 $3.50 $4.00 $4.50 $5.00

                         
Direct  any  comments  or  questions  regarding  this  document  to  ilovehdtv  at  verizon  dot  net.  

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