What is TiVo?
What's the big deal with TiVo? Is it just a glorified VCR, or is it really a revolutionary new way to watch television? Get the scoop on TiVo here...
TiVo - TV On Your Terms
There's no doubt that something has impacted popular culture when it becomes a verb. Xerox, Google, and now Tivo are all action words. So if you have not yet gotten with the program, literally, maybe now is the time to join almost four million others and take control of your television.
TiVo is a digital video recorder that will record every episode of your favorite TV show, so you can view them when you want. You can also control your viewing in real time or recorded shows with rewind, fast forward, pause, slo-mo or instant replay. And everybody's favorite TiVo benefit is that you can skip right over the commercials when watching a recorded program. That's a big time saver, typically shaving 20 minutes off the viewing time for a one-hour show.
The onscreen guide connects to your TV service provider so you can search the listings by title, actor or category. If you record a show and the program changes its time slot, your TiVo will adapt and continue to record it. You can also select movies or other specific channel content such as sports, news, music, etc. And after watching a show, you can grade it with a thumbs up or down on the remote and the clever device will suggest other programs that you may like.
Did I mention that you can zap the commercials?
TiVo Hardware and Service Plans
There are several different TiVo models and subscriptions available. Let's start at the low end. The Series2 DT DVR can save up to 80 hours, record 2 programs at the same time, is compatible with cable and satellite systems and has an MSRP of $149.99. But beware, this model does NOT support high definition TV.
The next least expensive model is the TiVo HD DVR. You get a whopping 180 hours of standard video or 20 hours of HD programming. While this one doesn't support satellite, it is compatible with your antenna and cable and carries a price of $299.99. Top of the line is the HD XL DVR. While it only holds 150 hours of content, it is THX certified for excellent audio and video and includes a premium remote. The cost is $599.99. The company also offers refurbished models at a reduced rate, if you're willing to take a chance on iffy hardware.
Monthly service is only $12.95 but other plans are available. Pay for a year's worth at $129.00 and it knocks it down to $10.75. Three years will cost you $299.00 and the price is only $8.31 per month. And if you get a large tax refund this year, $399.99 will provide you with free service for the life of your TiVo.
What About the Free TiVo Basic Service?
I should mention that in addition to the TiVo plans that require a monthly fee, there's also a TiVo Basic option, which is free. But unfortunately you can't just buy a TiVo unit and get TiVo Basic.
For reasons that remain shrouded in mystery, you can only get the free TiVo Basic service if you buy certain Pioneer or Toshiba DVD Recorders. This free service gives you a limited 3 day program guide, manual hard disk drive recording up and control of live TV with pause, slo-mo and reverse. It will also allow you to watch a recorded program while the device is finishing the recording. What you will not get are the Tivo Plus services of the Season Pass, WishList Search, or online scheduling through the USB connection on the back of a TiVo box. If you decide you want to upgrade your player/recorder at a later date, that is possible, too.
Since I've mentioned non-TiVo DVR devices here, I'll also point you to a companion article Which DVR Should I Get? to help you decide if you should get a Tivo, a store-bought DVR, or DVR service from your TV provider.
Other TiVo Amenities
TiVo KidZone is there for the little ones. They will recommend shows from such organizations as the Parent’s Television Council and Discovery Kids. Needless to say, you can limit your child's viewing if you feel there is questionable content.
The company recently added Netflix to its programming capabilities for those who have an unlimited plan with the service and certain models of TiVo. This gives you access to over 12,000 movies and TV episodes on an instant queue. You can receive two weeks of Netflix free to give it a try. In addition, the service gives access to YouTube, Rhapsody music, Nero Liquid TV and other online stations.
And you can actually order Domino's Pizza on your TiVo through its user interface. Although this is not the greatest food on the planet, perhaps it will lead to other services and restaurants following suit. No word yet on controlling your microwave with the TiVo remote control...
The company is big on customer service. Their website is full of information concerning usage with many videos, billing issues and helping you decide which TiVo model will work with your existing service. One thing is sure. You can save money with a TiVo if you have cable as you will no longer have to rent a cable box. The DVR uses one or two CableCard decoders for only a couple of dollars per month and you actually own your equipment. And there are always specials such as free limited subscription with box purchase.
Do you have a TiVo? Post your TiVo comments, questions, tips and tricks below...
Posted by Bob Rankin on 24 Feb 2009
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- What is TiVo? (Posted: 24 Feb 2009)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved