Who doesn't like TiVo?

posted by Jason Kottke Mar 19, 2004

The NY Times ran another of those fawning TiVo articles yesterday about how everyone who has one loves it like a member of the family. An excerpt:

Mr. Smith has since replaced his older TiVo model with three ReplayTV units. The new units allow him to stream programs from one to the other. After recording a program in his darkened home theater room, he transfers it to his brighter living room area, where he can watch while doing other things. Mr. Smith has been so taken with the technology that he has persuaded five of his friends to buy a recorder, he said.

The devices not only allow users to watch shows at any time, but they also introduce them to obscure programs that they might not otherwise find. Before Dr. Everett, the Michigan ophthalmologist, and his wife take a trip, he enters the destination on their TiVo "wish list," to automatically record travelogues about the area.

Having used a TiVo myself for almost four years and wondering how I'd ever live watch TV without it, I can fully identify with the TiVolutionaries featured in stories like these. However, I wonder if there are people for whom TiVo was not a life-changing experience. They've got to be out there, unwritten about in major national newspapers; the appeal of TiVo can't be that universal. So, I know this is probably a long shot, given that I'm largely preaching to the converted here on kottke.org, but does anyone out there not like their TiVo? And if so, are you crazy why? (No "I dont watch TV so why would I love TiVo" stories please.)

Reader comments

CHMar 19, 2004 at 1:38PM

I don't like Tivo itself, I like my Tivo but in blighty we can't get Tivo2 or even new tivo 1's so when they die we have to use inferior alternatives (am hoping rumors of apple pvr device are true otherwise will probably have to be PSX.). So i have Tivo 1 but when the harddrive platters spin off into the sunset. The problem here was how they sold tivo : i sold about 10 to friends after they saw it but adverts with dogs are a hard sell for such a device. Their UK website hasn't seen an update in years and its all too depressing.

On the device i hate that there is no easy way to delete loads of programs all at once (delete confirm delete confirm and o'dear you werent paying attention and deleted that all too important whatever program), you cannot have user preferences - i.e. user 1 likes this program set user 2 this one (his and hers remotes ?) as one person who like cartoons can ruin a tivo as you come home to the cartoon network all over it ... It would be nice to say store 2 hours of user 2 but 20 hours of user 1 and restrict it if neccessary (for those with kids not partners with soap opera adictions)

I would love the ability to review my ratings of programs in a single screen : over time you tend to go off programs you loved (like when they hit their 3rd repeat) and its hard to work out which programs are rated high etc ...

Apart from that it has sat in my living room for two years and done its job without complaint (and only failed twice in its warrenty period and never since.)

ernieMar 19, 2004 at 1:50PM

I hate how you tell Tivo to record the Daily Show, and when you come home it taped it taped all 3 showings. Granted, its bone stock, with no mods yet you'd think the logic to tape one episode per day would be built in.

BrandonMar 19, 2004 at 2:00PM

I don't own a PVR and doubt that I ever will unless one is eventually included in my cable box. It's not that I don't watch TV, it's that I refuse to let myself treat TV as a necessity. I try to maintain the attitude towards television that if I have nothing else to do or am in need of some relaxation then it's okay to sit down and watch it, but if I have something better to do then whatever that is, it gets priority. I try not to allow myself to have a date with specific programs. Now this doesn't always work. Sometimes I really really want to see something bad enough that I set aside the time to do it. But in general, I'm opposed to a piece of technology that makes it easier for me to develop any sort of dependence on or relationship with a television program.

I'm not too cool for television, and there are certainly a few programs out there that I enjoy, but I recognize the potential for me to lose valuable time and creative energies in front of the box and I consciously place limits on my interaction with it.

Alex SouthgateMar 19, 2004 at 2:03PM

I went through several TiVo 2s. The first one was a dud, the second one lasted 8 months, and the third one was also a dud. So I said screw it and asked for my money which they kindly gave me. It was enjoyed while it was here. The recommendations never amounted to anything interesting, so we had to manually program it but that was fine.

We're planning on getting one of the Time Warner cable/DVR boxes at some point but honestly I think I was watching too much TV. I mean it was all great stuff - movies, HBO series, etc. but I started to develop a new disturbing routine: come home, put down bag, peruse refrigerator contents, what's on TiVo? Oooh... So we're kind of enjoying time without the ol' DVR but it'll be back one day I'm sure.

JZMar 19, 2004 at 2:18PM

I am about two weeks into my new DVR box from Cox cable. It has been quite a liberating experience. I now am able to watch much more of the shows that I like and less of the crap that "happens to be on".

Furthermore, the fact that I can actually use my HBO subscription and not rely on the movie scheduled to appear that night. You'd be surprised how many of HBO's top-flight movies are played at ridiculous times of the day and how crappy the "prime-time" programming really is. Right now I have about 6 brand new movies recorded waiting for me. I may never rent another movie again.

Like others have commented, I wish that the "smart" record features were a little bit, well smarter. Ideally when recording every instance of a program, like The Daily Show (which has frustrated me as well), it should omit episodes that it already has stored. That way it could cope with the ever-changing line-up of a show like American Idol, but avoid the repetition of The Daily Show.

Additionally, it is perfect for parents and families. For most working parents, I think, the 5pm - 8pm period is the only time for family in a busy day. Prior to DVR my wife and I would have to argue about who was going to miss the last half of a show to bathe the kids or whatever. Now we record our prime time stuff and watch it uninterrupted after the kids go to bed. Plus that frees up our evenings to spend time with the kids NOT watching TV. A win-win.

DanMar 19, 2004 at 2:32PM

Yes, I'm a Tivo-fan as well, and both me and my wife "sell" it to anyone we happen to talk to. Just a comment to all the people that wish the Tivo did more - I just finished installing my first MythTV box, and my first comment was - "it's like someone took my Tivo and added all the features I always wanted". We're currently using it as our primary TV source, and the Tivo is used only as a backed - meaning hardly ever.

Dr. DowellMar 19, 2004 at 2:36PM

We bought a TiVo for my Wife's parents, they have had it now for 2 years and I don't think they have used it once. In TiVo's defense, they really only watch the news.

When I am at thier house, I pet it and whisper "Some day you will come live with us, you'll have a brother, and your 20 gig hard drive will be filled with various soft core pornography, oh it'll be grand."

StewMar 19, 2004 at 2:53PM

I hardly ever watch television except for 3 things:

1) 24 - duh!
2) Alias - well how could I not watch it? (well Ican't now because a tv channel I can't get has bought the rights in the UK for the current series - damn!)
3) IceHockey

Hmmm doesn't seem a TiVo would be of much use for me.

I think that those who let their TiVo become such an integral part of their lives that unless they have one they can't actually decide what to watch on tv need to be shot :)

Jay SmallMar 19, 2004 at 2:55PM


1. Its recommendations, as manifested in the things it records with or without my blessing, are so far off the mark as to be laughable, even after I have voted up or down enough programs to give it a clue.

2. I don't have enough inbound lines from my dish to supply the TiVo with the two it needs to record one show while watching another. I guess that's actually an annoyance with the rest of my family, members of which dare to insist that they have satellite TV in their bedrooms!

3. My wife deletes programs I selected to record to make room for programs she selected to record. It's not that we're running out of disk space, just that she gets tired of wading through my backlist of Lettermans to see her backlist of Survivors.

Hmm. The more I read my own words, the more I think I love TiVo but hate the way I use it. :-)

dave pellMar 19, 2004 at 3:18PM

TiVo's problem is not that there are so many users who try it but don't like it. The problem is in their marketing and messaging. I know plenty of people who resisted it and only bought TiVo (or in some cases, had it bought for them) after they simply couldn't take anymore evangelizing.

In my opinon, TiVo has never made it clear that they simplify the process of watching what you want when you want. In the past year, they've added several tools to the product that would only attract sick freaks like most of us. But they should skip the additional functionality, hone what they've got, and sell the value of the product that is immediately obvious to anyone who first takes the peanut-shaped remote into their hand. They can't count on Janet Jackson to do all of their marketing.

spygeekMar 19, 2004 at 3:26PM

I love the idea of TiVo but I'm annoyed at the monthly fee and the fact that they get to spy on my viewing habits. I'm amazed at the number of otherwise intelligent people who line up to give away personal information like that - and pay for the privilege.

Hugh RandallMar 19, 2004 at 4:12PM

I don't necessarily dislike TiVo as a product. I do dislike it, however, as a representation of our oversaturated information society. [Read the rest of my response here.]

CraniacMar 19, 2004 at 4:15PM

I "won" a Tivo a long time ago. We didn't have cable and had young children, and the reception was poor, so there wasn't much to tape. I sold it on Ebay and bought an expensive jogging stroller.

I wish I had kept it. Sorta.

anthonyMar 19, 2004 at 4:22PM

my tv watching habits changed since i got tivo, but then they changed again. and then changed back.

first, i watched more tv. i expected this. i allowed tivo to feed me more tv until it took up the equal amount of time that i used to spend watching tv. instead of 3 hours of regular tv, i would watch 4 hour long shows on tivo, which only took 175 minutes. (no, not all at once! i can't sit on the couch for that long.)

then, i exceeded this. i could watch so many more shows that i added shows that i was never home for, or i had just never come across. these were the bad days. i loathed my slothful tv-loving self.

now i've fallen down to more reasonable levels. i am busier at work, i only watch 23 or 46 minutes of tv a day, and then maybe i splurge on the weekend on a tivo-clearing binge.

tivo just works for me. i watch no live tv except for sporting events, or breaking news. well worth the 400 i spent on a tivo1 box and lifetime sub.

obligatory 'tivo dying' link: http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=

TellerMar 19, 2004 at 5:44PM

Don't own a TV, don't miss it (except for the commercials everyone's talking about) so no use for Tivo here.

oliver_crunkMar 19, 2004 at 6:00PM

if i have my TV on....i'm usualy watching it just to relax. sure, i have my favorite programs but if it's not the soprano's, i don't go out of my way to make sure i never miss them.

a good friend of mine has tivo and it seems to have changed his viewing experiences, both in good and bad ways. he doesn't have to ever miss something he wanted to see. the bad part is, he'll watch the same stuff over and over....if that's actually a bad thing.

i guess it boils down to how important TV is to the viewer. in my case, i don't care if it's bad TV or good TV. i'm usually in front of it only if i'm turning my brain off and at that point it doesn't take much to entertain me.

wootam!Mar 19, 2004 at 6:03PM

the minute tivo is in canada is the minute i'm a potential convert.

until then, tivo this!

rgMar 19, 2004 at 6:04PM

I bought TiVo in 99 but by the time I left the US in 03 (Tivo user base was 20-50 times the size by then) I had learned to loathe it. It started feeling like a newsletter for 'in' ppl and ended up as a GAP brochure. Loathe it I might, but I still kept it and maintained my lifetime sub. The functionality will become an everday item in all cable boxes in time, and the UI will catch up. Nowadays, I spend 1/10th the time watching TV and am all the happy for it.

alstkiMar 19, 2004 at 6:32PM

As attractive as the technology sounds, I don't need anything that would actually increase the amount of time I spend watching television. Can't imagine the circumstance under which I would ever get one of these.

rajanMar 19, 2004 at 6:39PM

tivo. the glorified vcr. for the price, no thank you.

dee wellsMar 19, 2004 at 6:44PM

All of the talk about TiVo, starting with the Michael Lewis column in the New York Times, made me take a second look at my VCR. I sleep and the tape deck does the work so that Jimmy Kimmel is available at breakfast. And with my second cheap-ass VCR system Don Imus is available for dinner. Who missed out on this revolution? The insomniacs and the 100 hour people? Go read the Hound Dog at Blockbuster if you want director specific movies. TiVo technology is attractive, but by no means necessary.

Jonathan BarlowMar 19, 2004 at 6:52PM

I "won" one in that essay contest they sponsored. It was pretty cool, but it only worked with a phone line (no ethernet port) and our phone lines were too dirty to dial out successfull (and yet I had a broadband connection it couldn't use). Another problem was that when it did successfully connect a few times, it wasn't clear to me what Cable district I was in - there something like 6 in my area and none seemed to match up with my channel schedule. I sold it on half.com a long time ago.

I know they have ethernet now, and hopefully they've resolved that cable-provider bermuda triangle I was stuck in.

Andy BaioMar 19, 2004 at 6:53PM

That's like calling an iPod "a glorified Walkman." Unless you've used it for more than an hour, I could definitely see how you'd get that impression.

My biggest problem with TiVo is the poor recommendations engine (why doesn't it compare my taste against other people!?). Aside from that, I wish I could full-text search without actually creating wishlists. And I'd like to "Search by Title" for individual channels or My Favorite Channels. (For example, browsing an alphabetical list of all movies on all my premium channels would be fantastic.)

John FosterMar 19, 2004 at 7:22PM

A TiVo I can live without. Had one for four months. Don't want one again.

First off, the whole channel changing, browsing for shows was way to slow for me. Glacier slow. Even paging seemed slow. Going from one menu to the next. Slow. Cueing up a show. Slow. Program guide into the future. Slow. If I searched by name or partial name the letter layout made me feel retarded.

I blame part of this on the remote. Some people LOVE the remote, I never got into it. It seemed to me it had too many buttons. Or maybe there aren't enough. Maybe it should have been a full-sized-key-infrared mini keyboard instead. After all, the damn thing is a Linux computer, so why can't it pretend to be more like one?

The promise of not having to watch commercials left me unfulfilled. Even at full fast forward speed, I was still watching commercials. And worse, I had to pay attention to them so I could hit play on cue where the show started. Words got into my head and stuck there because at 3x high speed my brain was engaged trapping everything. We all laughed in the 80's when blipverts in the MaxHeadRoom world caused people to spontaneously explode. It didn't seem real. Guess that future is here despite ourselves.

I think the thing that I really hated most was how it all started to feel the same. I would seek out shows to put on just so I would have more variety to watch. And then I guess the most thing that made me feel icky was when I sucked the TV dry of shows, there was really truly nothing on worth watching.

Now it's gone. Off. Permanently. I'm freed of it and I am not missing anything.

Carl JonardMar 19, 2004 at 8:21PM

I realize this is for people who have TiVos and DON'T like them, but people who've never touched one are complaining that it would make them waste more time watching TV, and I have to comment. With TiVo, you can watch the exact same shows you watch now, except you're not required to do it at certain times, and it takes about 3/4 as long, because you're not watching commercials.

I can't imagine a bigger waste of time than idly flipping through channels, hoping that something remotely interesting happens to come on during the time you have to watch TV.

Larry CannellMar 19, 2004 at 9:32PM

With our PVR (Dish 508) we spend less time watching TV. On Wednesdays when The West Wing is on we don't start watching the show until 9:20pm. We then watch the rest of the show commercial-free and finish by 10:00pm.

But, if you like commercials and will watch whatever is on at the moment then don't get a PVR. It's your time, not mine.

btw: The Dish PVR does not cost any additional monthly fees. We lease our equipment and only paid $100 to upgrade to the PVR. Not bad.

Peter EschenbrennerMar 19, 2004 at 9:43PM

I actually spend less time watching tv because of my box. The quality of shows I view has gone up. I watch what I want, when I want.

banoMar 19, 2004 at 9:59PM

I had a TiVo briefly, and while i loved the product, the company made me want to vomit on a regular basis.
My original unit was sent missing an essential cable. A week later, when i got the cable and set it up, i found that the system itself was sort of royally fubarred. It just...didn't work right. It kept resetting itself and making me go through the torturous setup process over and over. After leaving it alone for 24 hours to see if it would "fix itself", in the words of the tech, i made an even exchange. I was dismayed to find that they wouldn't put a new one in the mail until after they sent me some UPS stickers and i sent the defective one back (unless they could temporarily charge the price of the new unit to my credit card). I mean, really. They already have my name, address, phone number, credit card number, favorite color, but they can't take the risk that i might never return their *defective* equipment?
Then, the *second* unit didn't work. This one was even worse than the first - it didn't even turn on! I called intent on returning the unit and getting my money back, but after 30-60 minutes of holding, being transferred, and enduring pissant troubleshooters, i caved and said i would try once more to exchange the unit for a new one. But when i was reminded that they wouldn't send a new unit until after they received the old one, i sort of flipped. I decided just to return the unit and have done with the whole thing.
I work in customer service. I handle complaints at one of the largest hospitals in the Northeast. People call me and tell me, for example, that their dad died and it's my hospital's fault. I have to address the concern, get follow-up, and somehow make the complainer remain loyal to the hospital (or at least abandon plans for litigation). Needless to say, i have high standards for customer service.
TiVo had a considerable amount of my money for almost four weeks, and i went without service for that whole time. What's worse is that i was consistently met with corporate recorded retardation whenever i tried to remedy the situation. So, in short: no, i don't love TiVo. But i'm sure i would if another company sold it.

John Van WinkleMar 20, 2004 at 1:01AM

Back when there was a decision to make between Tivo and UltimateTV, I decided to initially go with the Microsoft product. When DirecTV started offering a $99 Tivo, I jumped at that for our tv in the master bedroom. After using both PVRs for quite some time, I can safely say that I enjoy Microsoft's UltimateTV far more than the Tivo. The only function that I think TV does better than UltimateTV is the search funcion. Other than that, UltimateTV kicks Tivo's ass. Channel guides, speed of switching channels, time-shifting through a program, PIP when looking at ANYTHING in UltimateTV.

I imagine that one day my UltimateTV will eventually crash and I'll have to go with a DirecTiVo in the living room but I will miss the heck out of the my UltimateTV.

nickMar 20, 2004 at 7:00AM

Some of the programme guide's divisions aren't very smart. For instance, History International has themed segments such as 'History Explorer' which cover a handful of different programmes. So, if I want a season pass to 'Time Team', I have to get all the other shows in that strand as well. Duh.

And yeah, it'd be nice if the TiVo were smart enough to work out that if I'm watching something else at 11pm when it's time to record the Daily Show, then it could try again at 1am.

My scary experience is that now I expect to be able to pause and rewind the portable in the bedroom, or even the radio. TiVo makes it harder to concentrate when you're in a 'listen once or lose it' situation.

alstkiMar 20, 2004 at 10:22AM

With TiVo, you can watch the exact same shows you watch now, except you're not required to do it at certain times, and it takes about 3/4 as long, because you're not watching commercials.

My VCR manages to accomplish the same thing, and I don't need a subscription.

JoshMar 20, 2004 at 12:14PM

alstki: your VCR requires you to wait till the show's over and finished recording, so you can rewind and start watching from the beginning. Not with TiVo. Its digital nature allows me to start watching an 8:00 show at 8:22 (while it's still recording the end,) and finish by 9:07.

ernie: "The Daily Show multiple repeats" is more of an issue of Comedy Central not properly labeling their shows with adequate descriptions than it with with a TiVo bug. Sure it would be nice for TiVo to address the issue with some workaround, but in the meantime, TiVo is also perfectly capable of manual recordings. Set up a daily repeating recording of the airing you want and the problem's gone.

spygeek: As far as the privacy concerns go,, #1 the data is aggregated and anonymized (the manner in which it is culled and sent, strips it of any identifying info before it even leaves your house) and #2, you can opt out.

That said, I love TiVo.

Unfortunately, it has also turned me into a couch potato and reality show addict. It's seductive in its simplicity and takes advantage of even my slightest OCD tendencies. I'd be VERY upset if I ever missed an episode of any of the 10+ shows I now watch religiously. The VCR experience was just frustrating enough that I never had a chance, so I just winged it... and occasionally enjoyed the outdoors.

Stefanie NobleMar 20, 2004 at 12:39PM

I won a TiVo during the whole contest thing and paid the lifetime subscription fee (which I recall was about $200). That paid itself off ages ago, so now my TiVo is a free service. Hopefully I'll be solvent enough to replace it when the thing eventually kicks.

FrankMar 20, 2004 at 11:38PM

The price of TiVo with lifetime subscription is too much for a "closed box". Tivo needs a firewire port to hook up external hard drives. They can keep the contents securely encoded, but I should be able to use it with another TiVo-- the same way VHS tapes can be used at your friend's house.

JeffMar 21, 2004 at 8:58AM

I, too, won my TIVO (they pulled my name out at a conference I attended last year). I, too, would love for its "intelligence" to be a bit smarter. I'm tired of it picking programs it thinks I like but are far from it.

I do love the live TV aspect. Taking a pee right in the middle of a program has never been so pleasant.

I've got it hooked up so that if its recording a program when we want to watch something else on cable, I can switch the TV directly to cable programming. However, I've had to write a guide book for my family when they want to do this:

First, turn off the VCR (given our DVD, VCR, and TIVO combo, the TIVO goes through the VCR). That's easy. But when you want to go back to TIVO you must: 1) Turn TV back to channel 3, 2) Turn VCR back on, 3) Make sure VCR is inputting from Line 1, 4) Press the Input button on the VCR remote to show TIVO.

I have a lamenated card next to our "entertainment" stand. Just watching my family try to turn the TIVO back on is often entertainment enough for the evening.

alstkiMar 21, 2004 at 10:26AM

your VCR requires you to wait till the show's over and finished recording, so you can rewind and start watching from the beginning.

True, but this isn't an issue for me. The shows I record (and there are only 2) are on when I am working anyway.

johnMar 21, 2004 at 12:06PM

Jeff, doesn't that have more to do with your own entertainment system setup than it does TIVO?

DavidMar 21, 2004 at 3:08PM

I, personally, have three hacked Tivo's, each with more than 150 hours of recording. I love them. My parents are another story. They're retired and living in Florida. After months and months, I finally convinced them to buy a Tivo. They did, along with the lifetime service package (a big hit for folks on a fixed income). When the modem died (which has always, quite unreasonably, sucked), they wanted to get another Tivo, but found out that their lifetime package wouldn't transfer.

This is where Tivo deserves a special place in hell.

My folks gave up on the device, not wanting to incur more expense, and they're back to the VCR. I have the Tivo that died, I added an Ethernet card, and it's one of my hacked three. My folks, who didn't want the added complexity of a router or Ethernet, just wanted it to go away.

I think they would have gotten much joy out of it, if Tivo hadn't been so damned obnoxious on lifetime service transfers. It's also, probably, why a huge number of Series 1 owners hacked their Tivos rather than chucking them and buying shiny new Series 2 devices. $300 on top of hardware is a lot of bling to throw away.

Tivo, you're not leveraging customer loyalty. You're pissing it away.

johnMar 21, 2004 at 7:41PM

I thought the most interesting thing about that article was how some parents said it had saved them money, because their kids no longer watched ads and as a consequence, no longer wanted crappy food, toys etc. "TiVo changed my life" sounds a bit lame, but it changed the kid's life quite a bit, I would imagine.

JoséMar 21, 2004 at 7:45PM

I'm on my 2nd RePlay unit and I love it! They even let me transfer lifetime subscription from my old one to the new one. I've never owned a Tivo. And I never will. They're sets don't have "Commercial Advance." This feature (on the NEWER RePlay units) skips commercials. And man, I LOVE IT!!! I never liked commercials, and now I've learned to HATE them. (I CAN'T STAND COMMERCIALS! They interupt your program, they're LOUD, and you have to wait 'till it's done. NOW I tape EVERYTHING...commercial free;-)

EmilyMar 21, 2004 at 7:52PM

To jose
well I wish I had that it sounds good.Your lucky.:)

Permanent4Mar 22, 2004 at 11:07AM

I've been a TiVo owner since Xmas 2000, and I like my TiVo, but lately, I've been questioning how much I really need it.

The reason? All the really good TV programs eventually come out on DVD, which means they would be available via NetFlix. I don't have a NetFlix account (yet), but if I did, I imagine I could check out all those episodes of shows I missed the first time around without even having to fast forward through ads.

Of course, I wouldn't be able to make my own instant replays during sporting events without a TiVo. I learned the entertainment value of this during Super Bowl XXXV, when I caught Giants QB Kerry Collins picking his nose...

Fazal MajidMar 22, 2004 at 12:36PM

I got rid of mine. The spam in the top menu was what did it in for me. If I am paying $10/month for a glorified program guide, it better not have advertisements.

I now have a Panasonic DVD recorder cum PVR. The ergonomics suck, but no monthly fee, and as it is not a networked device, I am sure Big Brother isn't watching me.

Mike D.Mar 22, 2004 at 1:13PM

Happiness is installing the TivoWeb Project on your Tivo and then being able to control it with your Treo 600. When I'm away from home and something needs to be recorded, I hop on the Treo's web browser, tap the screen a few times and the recording is set.

JeffMar 22, 2004 at 2:07PM

Jeff, doesn't that have more to do with your own entertainment system setup than it does TIVO?

John, yes it does. But adding the TIVO made my entertainment system pretty complicated. I even called TIVO support and this is what they told me to do (hook it through the VCR). It seems if you have a DVD player and VCR and you want to be able to watch live TV when TIVO is recording, the only way to do that is through your VCR tuner.

JayMar 22, 2004 at 2:31PM

Mike D. hit it. I have the DirecTV / TiVo combo box, and I was devistated when I realized that TiVo had implimented the web interface I'd dreamed about, but it's not available on the DirecTV version. A web interface would not only solve the problem of being at work and realizing I forgot to tell TiVo to record something, but it would (potentially, I don't know how the implimentation works since I can't use it) allow me to circumvent the awkward TV-based searching. I would love to be able to do all my TiVo setup on the web and only go to the TV to watch.

Some responses to other concerns: I don't watch more TV (maybe three hours per week, excluding sports), but I have found shows that I wouldn't have watched otherwise. I never would have thought I'd watch recorded sporting events on purpose, but when you try to watch all 82 games in an NHL season, saving an hour per game with the fast-forward is worth staying away from the scores for awhile. Similarly, the VCR couldn't handle my team playing during 24. Now, I can tape both. Also, my TiVo's set up to not record the same show in a several week period, so I only get Simpsons reruns that I haven't seen recently. It sounds like there's a problem with the Daily Show's metadata.

The only beef I have with my TiVo is that it sometimes records six hours of blacked-out hockey (I have the NHL package, so I sometimes get the same game on multiple channels). I've had to tell it to record every showing of the Dallas Stars, which really eats into disk space, and it still sometimes misses a game that was showed on ESPN or ABC and blacked out on the package channel.

noahMar 22, 2004 at 3:26PM

If I am paying $10/month for a glorified program guide, it better not have advertisements.

Kinda like how TV Guide issues cost about $8 a month and don't have ads?

MegaZoneMar 22, 2004 at 5:29PM

Jose: Commercial Advance is no more. It was introduced on the RTV 4000 series, but it is gone on the RTV 5500. The new owners of RTV, Digital Networks North America (aka D & M Holdings, aka Denon and Marantz) removed both Commercial Advance and Send Show (Internet show sharing) after they bought the company out of SonicBlue's bankruptcy. So if you want those features you need to find one of the older 4000, 4500, or 5000 series units. Anything before the 4000, or the 5500, won't have them.

John: Unfortunately that's DirecTV and not TiVo. The DTV HW is fully capable of supporting the USB ports and HMO - in fact hackers have the USB ports working, and have even booted 4.x software from a standalone on the DTV HW. But at this time DTV has elected *not* to support those features. TiVo would very much like them to - since they'd get a cut of the revenue from signups, and about 2/3 of TiVo users are DirecTiVo users. TiVo is in ongoing negotiations with DTV to get them to pick up the 4.x software and to support broadband and HMO. The best thing you could do is nag DirecTV. When I've spoken with their reps the answer I got is "There isn't enough customer demand for it."

WillMar 22, 2004 at 7:27PM

I love my tivo, but there are definitely some things that would make it a better experience. The most obvious is that it assumes that there is a 1 to 1 relationship between the tivo and the user, which for most families, is not the case.

Having set up automatic recordings of Dragon Tales for my two year old, the Tivo suggestions now think I'd like to record Barney and Friends, a fate I cannot accept.

I think the obvious solution would to have a quick way to login as a different user. Change the programs that are recorded, the suggestions it will record, and what each user's individual channels are.

That to me, would remove much of my complaints.

pbMar 23, 2004 at 1:15AM

I traded in my Tivo for a Replay and am happy I can now extract programs and Replay doesn't seem to be in Hollywood's pocket. Also, the Replay interface is lighter and more pleasant.

spMar 23, 2004 at 7:06AM

I have had a s2 tivo for over a year. I hate it not for what it does, but for what it cant do. My biggest complaint over tivo is that easy way to do video extraction from the tivo. Really tivo has been pushing the Home Media Option for months and it still can pump the mpegs into a PC, only another tivo, wow let me think how that sucks. The second problem with tivo is the interface seems to have fallen to an unsupported product. Over one year and only one UI improvment (grouping shows) but you cant delete an group yet, you have to manually delete each show, really sucks when some cable channel runs a marathon of something you have a season pass on and whamo you have 36 hours of monster garage sucking up disk space. Finally the tivo has no abiltity to display free disk space, while hard numbers of remaing hours it should be very easy to display how much is currently used. But the largest sin of Tivo is the lack of a HD vision. Sure they have the DirecTivo with HD, but its not all the great and requries you do go direcTV. Sure we have heard the rumors about an opencable based HDTivo. I think tivo could fix alot of things if they embraced firewire for both capture with the new HD cable boxes, and export to PC's and DVHS. Second tivo needs to open up their platform. Since Series 2 hacking the tivo has really fallen off, and now all the good hacks are coming out for other open systsems (read: MythTV). Tivo has already proven that they have few good ideas themselfs, as HMO is just a collection of hacks that used to be free on S1 repacked and sold to s2 owners.

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.