While a cheaper Series 3 TiVo has certainly kicked around the rumor mill for some time now--and was essentially confirmed by CEO Tom Rogers earlier this year--the rumors have a new air of legitimacy, thanks to the posters at TiVo Community. While "Super Moderators" such as Mike Lang have been coyly hinting that the rumors are true since last Friday, yesterday posts containing images and detailed specs of the new Series 3 "Lite" showed up, along with links to the product page at Buy.com. This all adds up to pretty solid confirmation that we should be seeing a TiVo Series 3 "Lite" sooner rather than later, and according to the rumors, it's really not as much of step-down as you might think.
As far as we can tell from the leaked info, the biggest difference in terms of features between the current Series 3 and the Series 3 Lite seems to be the smaller hard drive, with the Series 3 Lite sporting only a 160GB drive compared to the 250GB drive of the current Series 3. The other differences, at least to us, are pretty trivial: no OLED front display, no THX certification, and just a standard TiVo remote.
With such minor differences, you might expect the Series 3 Lite to be priced only slightly lower, but the rumored MSRP is $300--a full $500 less than the current MSRP of the Series 3 (but both still require a $13 monthly fee). We think that's a trade-off a lot of TiVo fans are going to like, especially since if (as speculated on the thread) there's an eSata port to add hard drive space as on current Series 3--although you need to use a hack to get it working.
Of course, even a Series 3 Lite will still have to compete with the cable company's DVRs, which might not be a user-friendly as TiVo, but they usually offer most of the same functionality for a low monthly free and no upfront cost. And with the new rules requiring further adoption of CableCards by cable companies, we expect TiVo to see some additional competition from other third-party CableCard DVRs--we were impressed by Moxi's demo a few weeks ago. Either way, we're looking forward to getting the full details on the Series 3 "Lite."