TiVo switches off UK sales

Update: The digital video recorder company will no longer manufacture new devices for the UK, but will continue to support existing customers

TiVo has confirmed that it is scaling down its business in the UK, and has stopped manufacturing its digital video recorder (DVR) set-top boxes for sale here.

The company quietly pulled the plug on many of its UK operations last month, and stopped selling its DVR equipment. "Unfortunately we no longer have any stock of the Thomson Digital Video Recorder. This is as a result of Thomson's contract to manufacture the units for the UK market coming to an end," the company said in a statement.

Existing supplies of TiVo hardware may still be in the retail channel, the company said, emphasising that all current customers and any new purchasers will continue to receive the TiVo service. This includes features such as an automated television programme guide that keeps track of scheduling changes.

The company said that BSkyB would continue to handle customer support for TiVo's UK base, and Thomson, TiVo's hardware manufacturer for the UK, would continue to repair the units.

TiVo has stepped up its efforts to license its technology in recent months, and a spokeswoman said the company plans to pursue the UK market through licensees in the future. Sony and Toshiba have both licensed TiVo's technology.

Separate from the licensing deal, Sony also makes DVRs based on a TiVo reference platform. Sony's DVRs are not yet available in the UK.

One option for UK consumers who want digital TV recording may be an upcoming generation of PCs with built-in DVR capabilities. An early example is Sony's VAIO PCV-RXG408 (see the review here), and PCs based on Windows XP Media Center are also on the way.

BSkyB also makes a set-top box called Sky+ that has TiVo-like features. PC attachments are available in the UK that allow PCs to record digital television, such as the Hauppauge DEC2000-t, reviewed here.

CNET News.com's Richard Shim contributed to this report.

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