Thinking of buying Tivo - Suggestions?

I just received a bonus and am seriously thinking of getting Tivo. The only thing holding me back is that my cable company is supposed to offer DVR service someday (Adelphia cable - so who knows what’s going to happen when it’s sold). I’ve heard that the boxes that the cable company provides are not as good as Tivo but I’d hate to invest in it if Tivo isn’t going to be around for awhile.

I’m sold on the technology so I’m really just asking if Tivo is the Betamax of this decade. Should I take the plunge or wait for Adelphia?

If you’re feeling geeky you can build your own DVR. You need a video capture card for your computer and DVR software, which is available online. I just use a TiVo, so I don’t have any specific advice.

I am a big TiVo fan. I’ve had one for a couple years+ (and a second for about a year and a half.) I can’t in all honesty tell you I think TiVo will still be kickin in 15 years, but the convenience in the short term is definitely worth it in my book. The interface is intuitive and efficient, and if you are willing to void your warranty there are numerous hacks described online. The online community for TiVo users is strong, so if customer service can’t help you with something, they sure can. I have a simple TiVo version (one 40-hour and one 80-hour, neither of which I ever fill up), but the Humax is newer and can burn DVDs with a TiVo-style menu on them. If you are not looking to drop that much cash, the 40-hour TiVo ‘basic’ style has served me well, and the price is quite reasonable. IIRC, they frequently have a $50 or $100 rebate sale.

I highly recommend getting a TiVo.

I’m with exastris. The thing about TiVo which is not going to be matched with your cable company DVR (if you ever get one) is the TiVo Suggestions feature. If you’ve got space on the drive, TiVo searches out programs it thinks you’ll like and records them, so there’s always something available. I’ve watched a lot of good stuff that TiVo found for me – including my favorite TV show of all time. That was enough to seel me right there.


On the other hand, with the cable company’s DVR, you won’t have to pay a monthly subscription fee to use the guide (because you’re already getting that as part of your cable service). I have a DVR box from my cable company (Cox), and it does a couple things which I don’t think TiVo can do, mainly: I can record a premium digital channel while watching a different premium channel, and I can record from two premium channels simultaneously (although in that case I would have to watch one of them (or I would if I didn’t devise a schweet wiring setup that lets me watch the basic channels no matter what else is going on)). Also, at present, a DVR from the cable company itself is the only way I know of to record HDTV programs.

On the other hand (huh, that makes three hands), if your cable company isn’t offering one right now and only “might” in the future, you may want to go ahead and get a TiVo. If, later on, you want the cable company’s DVR, move the TiVo to the bedroom or something.

I always held back from getting a Tivo because of the $13 monthly fee. Also, I wasn’t sure how well it would be possible to change channels on the cable box so I could record shows on the Tivo (as I understand it, you put a Tivo IR transmitter in front of the cable box, so the Tivo sends the signal to change the channel).

So when Comcast, my cable company, offered a DVR, I signed up immediately. It’s a dual-tuner model like Max Torque mentioned, so I can record programs on two premium channels simultaneously and watch a third, analog channel. I’ve heard the Tivo suggestions feature is worthwhile, but the convenience of having a combination DVR/cable box outweighs this in my mind. Also, Comcast is going to offer Tivo software on its cable boxes (at additional cost), so I may try that. Finally, the Comcast DVR didn’t come with a thirty-second commercial skip, but I added that feature and now depend on it.

Why do people always compare technological competition to VHS vs. Betamax? The consequence of choosing the “wrong” VCR format was huge, i.e. you got stuck with a shelf full of incompatible tapes. With satellite radio, digital video recorder, etc., if it turns out you made the “wrong” choice, all you need to do is switch to another system the next time you replace the device.

Anyway… Many TiVo devices offer “TiVo Basic”. It allows you to download 3 days worth of programming info, and manually choose programs to record. No “suggestions,” no season pass, but no monthly fee. That’s what I’ve been using since the 1-month trial of the full TiVo service expired. I do miss the “sason pass” (automatically record every episode of a given show, or everything with a specified director or actor) but it’s not much of a chore to look through the program guide every 3 days and pick the programs I watch regularly. I don’t miss the “suggestions” at all - it never suggested anything worth watching, except for additional episodes of the series I’ve watched before.

It takes a whle to get to know you.

I believe that some TiVo models are dual tuner now, but you’d have to look into that.


I went with my cable co’s DVR. The monthly fee is $9, no charge for the equipment, and the DVR replaces my existing cable box. I figured Tivo would be more complicated, require more boxes in my system, and cost more, though the DVR is a bit barebones compared to Tivo, I hear.

Of course, if you don’t have DVR available, the point is a bit moot, who knows when your company will roll it out? Tivo isn’t going away any time soon, if that’s a concern, and you can still use it even after your cable co gets DVR.

My satellite TV receiver shit the bed recently, so I replaced it with a DirecTV DVR (Tivo). I love it. I have my suggestions turned off, but I like the season pass feature.

I’ve got one of those fancy shmancy new computers with the XP Media Center 2005 built into it and the tuner card too. I can only record/watch one show at a time on the computer but I can turn the TV to any chanell I want record on the computer all day long. It has a WEB feature that looks up the channel guides on the internet, so you don’t have to pay for that feature.

I don’t have cable yet, I’m using an arial (I know, cave man) but I wondered how this thing would work with sat or cable TV. I’d need a box just for the computer, I think, so it can record whatever I tell it to and then another for the TV so I can watch whatever else I want. I have the TV connected to the computer on chnnel 3 so if I want to watch the recorded programs off the computer I just have to go to channel 3 and Whalla. The computer even has a remote, so I don’t have to get up to do this.
HP offers one of these machines for about $850. Even has a 250 gig hard drive, and you can use it for all your other computer related stuff.

Not sure how that compares to tivo or the monthly service rate offered by the cable companies…Anyone?

Oh, and I can add a second or third tuner if’n I want.

According to the Tivo website you can get a 40 hour box for free as long as you prepay a year’s worth of the monthly fee ($155.00). I think I’m going to try this option (although I have a feeling once I get into this 40 hours won’t be enough). I suppose I can always upgrade later if that’s the case.

Thanks for the feedback - and sorry about the Betamax comparison.

I’ve had TiVo for about 18 months now and I love it. I also have experience with cable system DVRs, and though the multiple tuner thing can be useful, I have yet to be in a situation where I’ve really needed it. But then again, I watch a lot of things on HBO and basic cable, both of which tend to repeat programs numerous times beyond their “regularly scheduled time.”

I don’t know if cable box DVRs have this feature, but the thing I love most about TiVo is online scheduling. If you hook your TiVo up to your broadband connection (it’s incredibly easy), you can then log on to and tell it to schedule a program, even a Season Pass, from anywhere on earth, basically. Some of my friends have been rendered speechless when I told them about this feature.

Plus, TiVo has one of the best interfaces I’ve ever seen, be it on a DVR or even a computer. A child could figure it out, and it’s fun without being too cutesy.

Oh, a couple other things I almost forgot!

TiVo recently made what was called the Home Media Option a free, standard feature. If your TiVo is, again, hooked up to your broadband connection, you can stream music and photos from your computer to your TV. I imagine this is incredibly useful (especially the music part) if you have your computer and your TV in separate rooms. I live in a studio, so I never use it, except to show people how cool TiVo is. :slight_smile:

Finally, if you have a Windows-based PC, you can take advantage of another new (and free) feature: TiVo-to-go. Basically it lets you download programs from your TiVo for viewing on your computer. This is obviously more useful if you have a laptop than a desktop. And, again, the TiVo needs to be on your broadband network for this to work.

I’m fairly sure none of the cable company DVRs have this feature, or the aforementioned ability to schedule programs online. But I could be wrong.

Word of warning on this one - I bought one in March and about two weeks ago the dvd portion of it crapped out on me. It can’t read dvd’s anymore at all and if you put in a blank disc, it won’t even know it’s there.

On the plus side, their customer service was very nice and I’ve already received a brand new unit for free. I just have to switch it out with mine and send my broken one back.

In conclusion: good customer service, but mine broke very quickly. I don’t know if this is indicative of the quality of their product or if mine just happened to suck and it was a fluke. Your call.

I have had a Replaytv for a few years now and it is really one of the best things in my everyday life. If someone comes up with an automatic muddy dog paw wiper, things will change, but until then…I highly recommend it.

I like Replay better than TiVo as it is (IMO) easier to use, auto-skips commercials instead of manually advancing 30 seconds, has less idiot-proof warnings (are you sure you want to delete? Yes. Really? Yes. Maybe you should reconsider.) and is based on my broadband connection. I also like the lifetime service fee instead of the monthly fee. I’ve already saved money. Check it out for yourself…Whatever one you choose, you will easily become a convert and will find yourself oft times confused while watching commercials at so-called “friends’” houses that lack such basic necessities :wink:

On the “bad” side, you can find yourself without things to watch as you are essentially getting back 15-20 minutes for every hour, you can pour through shows quickly so this whole summer I am watching shows I never would like Monk and The 4400 simply because they are there and I have 80 hours to fill up.

PS: I hear a lot of mom’s rave about this since it cuts commercials from kid’s shows as well.

If their customer service provided a new replacement this quickly, I would suspect that they’re pretty confident that this was just bad luck for you. Providing new replacement products on a significant percentage of a particular model is a good way to get your company to go tits up. I’m not much of a business-minded individual, but I doubt that most companies incorporate that (going tits up) into their strategy.

I’ve done it. I ponied up $199.00 for a refurbished 140 hour model. Now we’ll see how tricky it is to actually get it up and running.

I have a wireless DSL connection - is this all I need to use the extra features?


You’ll need to get a USB adapter, obviously, so that it can communicate with your router. TiVo recommends a few brands, but I use a D-Link one that isn’t on the list and it works just fine. Make sure you get the connection up and running before you do Guided Setup.

Now, the TiVo folks will tell you that you have to have TiVo hooked up to a landline to do Guided Setup. Lies!! When you’re starting guided setup, you’ll have a chance to set dialing options. Tell TiVo to use a dialing prefix of “,#401” (that’s comma-pound-4-0-1) and it will use your broadband connection to connect to the TiVo service for setup instead of using a landline. It’s much faster and very useful in a time when many people don’t even have landlines anymore.

Mwaha! Another one down!