TiVo to Store More HD Shows

Neglected plug for external drives finally gets support on new, high-def recorders.

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The transition to high-definition TV can now proceed: TiVo said this week that its new HD box will soon get all the powers of its lower-end versions. And more. That is, the new TiVo HD and its Series 3 sibling will soon accept external drives through an outlet that's been beckoning from their boxes. And when it comes to high definition, TiVo can quickly feel constricted.

I've been trying the new TiVo HD for several weeks and have been impressed. It does a great job at capturing high-definition programming, and does particularly well at grabbing it from my over-the-air antenna. At $300 and about $13 a month, the TiVo seemed a promising addition to the living room, despite some shortcomings.

Now TiVo HD is fixing those with a software update that's being rolled out. First, it can now move standard-definition programs from one TiVo to another and to portable players. Available in predecessors, those features apparently needed to be reworked to assure studios that consumers couldn't copy high-def content.

Still, I'd be hesitant to buy a TiVo HD with its limited built-in storage — about 20 hours of high-def programs. The PBS series The War alone has just about filled the TiVo I'm testing. So it's great to know that external drives can double or even triple storage. TiVo needs room to breathe.