February 02, 2005

Curious George: I want a TiVo! I know the basics - can anyone recommend the best type of TiVo and acccompanying DVD-R to have? What questions I should ask when I go shopping around? Month-to-month or lifetime subscription? Are they going out of business? Assume I'm a guy who watches a few shows regularly, loves movies, and is sick of seeing my river of full-package cable content flow by unexamined.
  • If you're a do-it-yourself type of guy, check out MythTV. If I had cable, I'd have used MythTV and a TV tuner card with a cheap used PC.
  • So... have you read mathowie's blog on the subject then? I have friends who were TiVo obsessed to the point that they bought stock in the company. They have all sold their stock, and are sceptical that TiVo will overcome its recent disasterous decision-making. That's just a couple of opinions though, who knows? Doesn't your cable company provide something similar? Mine does, and it's just a month-to-month deal with no equipment purchase (which sounds like a good way to test the waters before buying into the wrong system). Just an idea.
  • Pfft. If you want to watch tv and movies, skip commercials, and do it with the minimum of fuss and trouble, get a $400 Tivo Humax with DVD Recorder and $100 rebate. I have two tivos, and they work great. And here's the thing: if Tivo ever does go out of business, they've opened it up enough that I can guarantee you that the tivo hacking community will take over, including some new, likely for inexpensive rates, take over the regular service for Tivo owners. All the program listings and season pass information. It's not a technically difficult thing, depending on how many features you want to duplicate, and the only reason people haven't done it yet is because there is a Tivo. I'm doing month-to-month, and I have a friend with one lifetime and one month-to-month. This is largely a personal preference, but while I could justify $200 outlay at a time, I couldn't do $500 to $700 for one machine. Now, if you're not one for a great interface, and you're willing to jump through hoops, by all means go with a PVR from a cable company or something like MythTV. However, if the interface matters to you, stick with Tivo. My friend I've mentioned has tried to replace his Tivo twice in the past year with more "fully featured" things (PVR and MCE), and he's gone back each time (this last time with the purchase of that second tivo).
  • I'm using an 80 hour tivo unit, I've also purchased the home media service which lets me stream music and photos from my Mac to my TV. Advantages... being able to log on to Tivo on the net while I'm out in CA visiting the kids and scheduling my tivo at home in Michigan to record something. Being able to show folks my latest digital photos without having everyone crowded around a small computer monitor. Being able to plug into 2,000 iTunes while sitting on my butt in the living room. The simplicity of connecting the system to the home wireless network. Will Tivo go under, who knows? They have a pretty good subscriber base and a pretty loyal following. those kind of statements remind me of the once a year "Apple is going to fold" kind of rumors. but..be aware, once you've gone down the Tivo road you will NOT go back to watching TV the old way...!
  • We bought an 80-hour Series 2 TiVo last summer while I was at home recovering from surgery. It took me quite a while to warm up to it, but I appreciate how well it has improved on the original concept of time-shifting and the improvement of digital recording over videotape for playback in terms of search time, etc. People told me it would "revolutionize" how I watch TV, and that's far from the case, but I am not a big TV watcher anymore. I suspect that the TiVo company will not last forever, but they may stumble along like Apple for a very long time, especially if they can innovate ahead of the basic PVR functionality.
  • As a tivo owner since 2000, I can agree with what Sandspider says. The community around the device is an incredible thing--hackers seized on it early and the company has allowed them to continue without interference (except in a few cases). Also, don't mistake what the cable company provides as a suitable replacement for the user experience of the Tivo software (and remote). Over the holidays I had a chance to try out the Time Warner cable dvr boxes and I could not believe how crappy they were. Pausing took over a second to start (and the transition back to playing was not smooth). I needed to watch the video tutorial to figure out how to use the remote (holy bad UI, Batman). HuronBob describes the other features that make it a better deal than a cable company dvr, if you have the money to take that option. If you do decide to take the plunge, ask someone you know who owns one first. current tivo subscribers often get rebates or special pricing to pass along to friends, and you could save yourself $50-100. your friend also gets credit for a referral.
  • Just got one, love it immensely, and scared to death by the ever falling stock price.
  • I still have my original model TiVo, and it's still going strong. I wouldn't consider watching tv any other way and definitely recommend that you get one. I don't know of any other consumer product that I've never had a single complaint about. /shill off
  • I wanted a TiVo too, but then I finally figured out how to download tv show torrents and that felt good enough for me. I love not having to watch commercials.
  • I just got one. I like it, but it hasn't completely changed the way I watch TV yet. I don't have a TV watching schedule, so other than a few shows I enjoy when I happen to catch them, I don't really record very much. I haven't sprung for the lifetime subscription because I just can't gamble that they will be around in two more years, which would be the break even point compared to a month-to-month subscription.
  • We went the other direction -- pulled the plug on cable/DSS in 2003 after deciding that all the programming was becoming a steaming pile of feces. Can't say I miss it. Our TV entertainment is now almost entirely from Netflix and sometimes SNL.
  • Add me to the list of people who recommend TiVo wholeheartedly. I watch what I want to watch, when I want to watch it. The down side is that when I watch regular live TV, I get annoyed that I can't blow through the commercials with five or six presses of the "skip-30" button. I got a plain-jane 40 hour unit a couple of years ago. Since I travel a lot, it was pretty easy to fill up, so the second it went out of warranty I added a large (okay, huge) hard drive so now it's a 157 hour unit. Now they've added a new feature, called TiVo ToGo, which allows you to transfer stuff from your TiVo to your PC, so you can burn it to DVD. (It comes over with some fairly nasty DRM, though so be forewarned. However, I, ummm, "have heard" that it's possible and easy to bypass the nasty DRM and create plain ol' DVDs that can be played in anything. Of course I wouldn't know anything about that since actually doing it would be a federal felony here in the land of the free and the home of the brave, but it's definitely possible.) There is a very active community of users and hackers who will never let TiVo die. As for the subscription, I'm doing it month-by-month. If I'd bought a lifetime sub when it was new, it would have paid for itself now, but as cabingirl said, I'm not willing to gamble that they'll still be here in two years. Oh, and if they do vanish, or you get tired of paying for the subscription, you can still use the thing as a plain VCR.
  • Mrs. Tool and I did that a few years back, as well. We're actually looking right now into getting the local basic-basic-basic cable package, which is something like a dozen channels for next to nothing. We're getting tired of reception problems -- haven't had a proper PBS signal for years.
  • We did what roly said, that is.
  • You could be a geek and build a FreeVo box, but it's a heck of a lot of work. Ours has been two years in the making and we still haven't got it working with our local TV. Toddlers in the house don't help, admittedly.
  • This is valuable advice, thanks everyone! My geeks skills being what they are, I think I'm going to pick up an 80 hour and a DVD-R and get the month to month subscription. Anyplace other than the usual suspect electronics superstores you all'd recommend checking for price?