Intro to TiVo
TiVo, Inc. sells both a set-top Digital Video Recorder ("the box") for a fixed amount, and the TiVo Service for a monthly or yearly fee. The box is the actual hardware that receives the TV signal from either Cable, Satellite or Antenna and passes it through to your TV. The TiVo Service is the software you interact with to schedule programs to record and pause Live TV, all with the TiVo remote.
Pricing for "the box"
TiVo, Inc. offers several different Digital Video Recorders (DVR) to choose from depending on your needs and storage requirements.
The 80 Hour TiVo Series 2 DVR is the entry-level TiVo box that can record up to 80 hours of programming. This box comes free with a 1, 2 or 3 year commitment to the TiVo Service Plan (explained below). It is capable of recording one show at a time. The 80 Hour TiVo Series 2 DT DVR is TiVo's newest DVR, and includes dual tuners for the ability to record two programs at once, or watch one show while recording another. It is just $30, plus the cost of the TiVo Service Plan. TiVo, Inc. also has a 180 Hour TiVo Series 2 DT DVR, which is the same as the 80 Hour DT, but with a recording capacity of 180 hours. This box will cost you $130 up front, plus the TiVo Service Plan. Finally, TiVo, Inc. offers the 40-hour HUMAX DVD Recorder with TiVo for $180. HUMAX has partnered with TiVo to offer a 3-in-1 TiVo machine. Play DVDs, record shows like any other TiVo, and then burn your favorite shows to DVD. The $180 is on top of the TiVo Service Plan.
TiVo Service Plan Options
TiVo, Inc. offers 2 ways to pay for its TiVo Service. The first option is the Monthly Plan. You can choose to sign up for either a 1, 2 or 3 year commitment. The monthly payment for a 1 year commitment is $19.95 per month. 2 years, $18.95 per month, and a 3 year commitment will cost you $16.95 per month. The longer you commit to the TiVo service, the cheaper your monthly payment. Once your 1, 2 or 3 year monthly plan is up, you can continue your service with a new 1, 2, or 3 year commitment at whatever the current pricing is. The second option to pay for the TiVo Service Plan is to again commit to a 1, 2 or 3 year option, but instead pay in full 1, 2, or 3 years in advance. This increases your up front cost considerably, but frees you from having to pay a monthly fee, and in the long run is cheaper. This is known as the Prepaid Plan. To pay for 1 year in advance is $224, 2 years in advance $369 ,and 3 years in advance $469.
Lets say that you decide to purchase the 80 Hour DT (Dual Tuner) TiVo Box and commit to 1 year of monthly payments. The box would cost you $30 and you would pay $19.95 a month for 12 months, for a total of $269.40. If you got the same box and instead pre-paid for 1 year, it would cost you $254 (224 + 30). So by pre-paying you actually save yourself some money in the long run. However, it sure is nice to get an 80 Hour TiVo box for free, drop down your $16.95 for your first month's payment (for the 3 year monthly plan) and get a brand new TiVo to start using right away for very little up-front cost. It's all a matter of personal choice.