Sony Bows Its First TiVo Recorder

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Sony planned to announce yesterday its first product using TiVo's personal video recorder (PVR) technology -- a system it will eventually use as an integral part of its digital home-networking solutions. However, the first product will not include a two-way digital interface for that purpose.

The first-generation Sony TiVo PVR (model SVR-2000) will sell at a $499 manufacturers' suggested retail price when it ships in April. Features include a 30GB hard drive for up to 30 hours of recording time at the lowest bit rate, or nine hours in the "best" video quality mode.

To differentiate the Sony terminal from Philips- or TiVo-brand devices, Sony has added a One-Touch Dubbing function, which will enable archival TiVo recording to VHS tape while recording with a Sony VCR. The TiVo device is programmed with Sony's proprietary IR remote control codes to make that possible.

Sony has also offered its own cosmetic design featuring a color to complement the Wega TV line. Also added is a Sony remote commander, which incorporates the TiVo functions.

The product will ship with TiVo software version 1.3, incorporating the IPreview feature that enables fast-record scheduling of a program during a promotional preview of the show. The software is upgradable as future versions of the service become available.

Sony will focus initial distribution on key regional A/V specialists, including NATM and PRO Group members, who have the ability to work with Sony to deliver the TiVo message through sales support, promotions and advertising. Also involved will be power retailers such as Best Buy, Circuit City and Sears, which will use national advertising.

Sony is developing separate national and regional advertising campaigns to support each distribution channel. Sony will also focus on direct marketing of the product through the Internet and mail, using its database of purchasers of such Sony products as DirecTv systems.

Sony has also developed an in-store kiosk using a 1.5-minute looped track demo of the TiVo product and service.

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