I recently received the TiVo Premiere Elite for review and while the device isn't outwardly very different from the previous Premiere line, it does have some sleeker lines about itself. Overall the device seems thinner than previous models but at the same time, wider. I won't claim to understand why TiVo has made the design change but it provides a cleaner looking device.
The front panel of the new Elite is the same as previous models so if you're a current TiVo owner, you won't see a huge change in your AV stack. The rear panel contains all of the connections you'll need to ensure that you can hook your new DVR up to almost any TV. You'll of course find a CableCARD slot and coaxial connection. Outputs include HDMI, component and composite. On the audio side you have an optical out as well as stereo RCA out. You'll also find an Ethernet port, two USB ports and an e-SATA port for adding more storage space.
One of the most notable missing connections was a coaxial audio input. While this certainly isn't the most popular connection, it does provide digital audio and it would have been nice to have one available. As it was, I had to reconfigure my AV receiver in order to connect everything and have proper sound. Just something to keep in mind if you're looking towards the Elite and you use some sort of surround sound system. You'll want to make sure you have an available optical port or just use HDMI.
While I haven't yet connected my Elite or paired a CableCARD with the device, I'll be doing so today and I'm looking forward to putting all four tuners to use. With two terabytes of storage, it should take some time to fill the hard drive before an external storage drive is needed. Something to keep in mind with the new Elite is that there's no ATSC tuner which means if you use an antenna to receive local over-the-air broadcasts, you won't be able to do so with the device. I'm unsure why TiVo made the decision to drop the tuner but local channels are available to cable subscribers so unless you live somewhere with no cable service, you should be ok.
The Elite comes with all of the needed instructions for setup with one exception. I was unable to find a connection diagram or instructions for connecting an SDV adapter. While many people don't need these devices, there are a good number who do and they're never a picnic. While I can see the fact that not everyone needs to know how to connect an SDV adapter, it's something that should be included in the standard paperwork. The fact that people can now do self-installs on CableCARDs means that more and more customers will need this information if they don't have a technician come to their home to actually install and pair the CableCARD.
Overall, the Elite looks very similar to previous Premiere models. The real changes are on the inside and you can expect several articles over the next weeks detailing all of the added features and functions. If there's anything specific you want to know about TiVo's latest DVR, be sure and drop me an email!