Friday, December 07, 2007

Do you TiVo?

I've been thinking about getting a TiVo ever since Sam went to preschool and started skipping his nap (as a result, he now goes to bed at 7:00PM which gives Deanna and I some time to watch TV in the evenings occasionally provided that Will cooperates). There was an article in the Boston Globe a while back that presented a case for TiVo being good for marriages.

Given that we're very careful about our purchases, especially technology purchases (our annual budget is $0) I'm wondering: Is TiVo worth it? To further complicate the decision, it seems our local cable company has decided to offer TiVo software running on their DVR boxes. What to do?

I'm curious what our readers think about TiVo. Do you have one? Please feel free to post a comment if the answers below don't adequately describe your opinion on the matter.


Do you have a TiVo?
Yes, I Do!
No, I have a DVR from my cable company.
No, I still use a VCR.
No, I don't record TV.
I don't know what you're talking about.
Free polls from Pollhost.com



UPDATE:

Since this post was the most commented upon in the history of Casa Dwyer, I thought it deserved an update. Since seeking and taking the advice of our faithful readers, we've gotten a DVR from our cable company (see picture below). Installation was $17.95, and it costs $12.95/mo. How easy can you get? No work required on our part to get it up and running, no additional bills, and no commitment.

It works pretty well. Could it be better? Probably. It's straightforward and all that, but it seems to lack some of the intelligent features I've heard TiVo offers. The TiVo software upgrade still isn't available in our area, but when it is we might give that a try.

Top show recorded so far? Blind Date! This show airs at 3:30AM, yet with our DVR we get to enjoy it as soon as Sam and Will (mercifully) fall asleep. Check your local listings.

18 comments:

Erin said...

The Tivo/DVR is the best thing to ever happen to TV! I haven't watched a commercial in a long time. Its great being able to watch whatever we have recorded whenever we want. The ease of watching half of a show and picking up right where you left off is fantastic. Not to mention the fact that you can record 2 more "Good Eats" episodes while you are watching last weeks Grey's Anatomy.

Bob said...

Thanks for the feedback, Erin! This is just the kind of thing I wanted to hear.

Shell said...

TiVo rocks. We have had one for years. Well, we're now using the stupid one that Rupert Murdoch forced down our throats, but I hear that DirecTV is going to go back to allowing TiVos again...I am sure Ken will comment and correct me if I got something confused there. It's something like that. But having a DVR (whether TiVo-branded or not) is highly recommended by moi, especially when kids are in da house.

Ken said...

da house? When did I become married to Flava Flave?

Bob said...

Hi Shelley: First off, I hope you'll forgive that I spell your name differently each time I address you (Shelly, Shelley). I think, when addressing you as Shelley, there are 2 "E"s, correct?

So you guys have DirecTV with their proprietary DVR it sounds like. I *thought* I read somewhere that they were one of the first companies to partner with TiVo, but perhaps that relationship fizzled and now they use some other type of interface? How does that interface compare to TiVo (if you've used both)?

I guess that is a follow-up question I have. It sounds like (from what you and Erin say) that the non-TiVo DVRs are plenty good and I shouldn't get hung up trying to get the TiVo brand?

Right now, when we miss an episode we'd like to see, we watch it on my computer on iTunes (no AppleTV here given that we're Luddites). It's kind of fun and our monthly spend is only a few dollars. This, combined with the occasional On Demand movie seem to fill up our current meager TV viewing time. NOW, if they came out with a big library of movie rentals on iTunes, I *would* but an AppleTV. Maybe. I think I hold the record for time spent researching Apple products without actually owning many of them.

Ken: Congratulations! Evidently, you were the winner of VH1's "Flavor of Love Season 3". Didn't you know? :)

"Yeaaaah- booooiiiyyyyy!!"

Which reminds me, I haven't yet blogged about my favorite TV show of the last year. Another gem from the good people at VH1- "The Pick-up Artist". Good stuff. Real good stuff. Forthcoming seasons of this show and others like Bravo's "Top Chef" and VH1's "Rock of Love" (AKA the worst show I'll watch) are the kind of trash I intend to record with a DVR.

Good thing DVRs don't censor bad taste. But hey- when I watch TV lately, I want it to be as mindless as possible. I hope this all-star lineup of trash TV doesn't make anyone think less of me than they already did. :)

Shell said...

We're getting an Apple TV for Christmas. Waiting for some new features to be released...again, if he can respond without dissing me, I defer to Ken to elucidate the details should anyone so desire to hear them.

I think TiVo is far and away better than the generic DVR we are saddled with right now. We started with a TiVo on DirecTV and loved it. Then wanted the fancy $800 TiVo, but DirecTV edged them out and we had to buy this current $300 P.O.S. we are using which has TWICE deleted all of our backlog of shows!!! I am very bitter about missing the last 8 eps of both Boston Legal and House last season! It has been hell trying to catch up, between limited watching time and the fact that reruns are scarce. Of course, with the writers' strike, I guess I'll get to catch up soon.

I vote to go TiVo.

Nick and Brandi said...

Hi Bob. We got a TiVo as a wedding present in 2004 and I could not imagine going back to life without it. Once you can record shows on a season pass you never have to schedule TV viewing. Plus skipping through commercials and pausing live TV count as two of the greatest advancements of the 21st century. It's quite civilized. We have a very basic model which works fine. If you're looking to save money I would recommend going old school on a box (unless you need all the features-huge memory, overlapping records, etc.) I wouldn't be suprised if you could pick one up on Craig's List for less than the price of a case of Charles Shaw. The 12.95 per month is a bit annoying, but compared to generic dvr's it might be worth a couple extra bucks on the service.

Bob said...

Hi Shelley: AppleTV! COOL! They look really neat, and like I said, once they do movie rentals (which should be a software upgrade) I think it'll be a really nifty little box. Only strange thing about it is that it doesn't support HD, but only works with HDTVs. Hmm... What do I know- we don't even have an HDTV (the last family in America perhaps?).

Nick! Thanks very much for the insight into an actual TiVo branded DVR. Your satisfaction sounds similar to everyone I've talked to that has one. Sounds good. I'm sold.

The only thing I'm left thinking about is whether some of the newer/niftier TiVo boxes with their wireless link to your home computer and the way they work with Amazon Unbox is worth pursuing. It sounds nice, but does it really work as nicely as they say it will?

Thanks for the comments, everyone. I really appreaciate them.

rick said...

Hey Bob,

Let me just add my two cents on this subject. I've had both TIVO and DVR's from the cable company and I actually like the Cable DVR's better. You don't have to buy the cable DVR box - (even though TIVO's are cheaper now compared to when I had one). it's just a monthly fee for the cable DVR and the fee is less than TIVO's monthly fee. Whatever you decide you'll soon wonder how you ever survived without one. Bye Bye commercials!! I'm so addicted to this technology that I have a DVR connected to all three TV's in my house...

Rick

Shell said...

Three quick thoughts prompted by Nick's post:

1) I think picking one up on craigslist is a splendid idea, for your first venture.

2) However, if you ever plan to get an HDTV, I recommend shelling out for the high memory capacity version.

3) Also, as it's been years since we watched non-DVR'd TV, we tend to pick and choose which shows we like by their descriptions and media coverage rather than whatever we catch that's on schedule when we turn on the TV...which often leads to us recording multiple shows in the same time slot.

So I think, if you find out like DVR'ing, you should probably save up your entertainment $$ and go for a high-memory, multi-receiver version.

=)

Bob said...

Comments sections blowin' up on the TiVo topic. Great to see!

Rick- (Bouchard, right? I have a brother named Rick, but I don't think he reads this blog nor has he owned a TiVo). Thanks for your comments! Not having to buy the box is a huge advantage I agree. It seems like having a single box is preferrable too (vs. a digital TV box -and- a TiVo box). I started reading about CableCards, and OnDemand recording and I got a little overwhelmed with the whole thing.

Shelley- your recommendation makes sense to me. Try it out in some low-cost fashion and if it goes well upgrade in the future.

I just called Comcast and scheduled for them to come out and install one of their DVRs. It costs $12.95/mo, and when the TiVo interface becomes available in my area, it is only $2.95/mo additional. This seemed too simple and risk-free to pass up.

Thanks for your help everyone- this was really helpful.

Deanna said...

I guess Christmas is coming a little early to the grown-ups at Casa Dwyer!

Bob said...

Update: We got our Comcast DVR installed today. I'll follow up soon with a review.

Bob said...

Review posted. Thanks again for the helpful advice!

Bob said...

Another update (!):

Comcast sent me an E-mail today saying that TiVo service is now available in our area. I scheduled for them to come out and upgrade the software to be TiVo-style this week. New remote, same box, TiVo interface, $2.95/mo more. Will post a review on that in a week or two.

Tom said...

Bob,
I just discovered your blog yesterday in our planning session and had to jump in on the Tivo comments. I have had Tivo since 2000 and can't imagine life without it. It is the greatest invention ever (#2 IPod, #3 Garmin GPS watch, #4 SmallPox vaccine). I have since upgraded both of my old Tivo's to the new HD versions with 900GB on my main Tivo and 400GB on my second Tivo. You can purchase these upgraded versions at www.weaknees.com. I also have lifetime subscriptions on these, Tivo allows you to transfer the subscription for $200. Sadly, they don't offer lifetime subscriptions anymore to new customers. Anyway, curious to hear your comments on the Tivo interface on your cable box.

Bob said...

Hi Tom,

Thanks for checking out our blog, and thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. The TiVo topic has obviously been a lively one. It is amazing to me how many people say that having a DVR has changed their lifestyle- to me it is an example of how when something is designed and implemented well, an old idea (ie, "recording tv") can be revolutionary. I think of Google similarly. They weren't first to market with search, maps, or photo management software but they're hands down the best for each of these in my opinion. It is interesting how being first to market evidently has not been as important as having the best user experience in these instances.

We've had the Comcast TiVo for about a month now so I think it is a good time for that review I promised. I'll post that in the next few days. I'll have a look at weaknees.com and include that in my price comparison considerations of renting a box and TiVo-esque service from Comcast vs. buying a "real" TiVo box and service. So far, I haven't felt the need for more storage on the Comcast box, but then again we don't have an HD TV (are we the last Americans with an analog non-flat panel TV?).

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