Questions regarding TiVo

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Vin, Jul 5, 2001.

  1. Vin

    Vin Supporting Actor

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    I'm thinking about getting TiVo but I have a couple of questions:
    1)I was considering the Philips (either the 20 or 30 hour stand alone) to be used with my Hughes DirecTV receiver.
    Is anyone using either of these and would you recommend it? Any significant differences between Philips and Sony units?
    2)Is the video quality as good as the original satellite broadcast? How much difference is there in video quality using the various recording modes/speeds?
    3)As I understand it, you can use these DVRs even if you don't subscribe to the TiVo service......is anyone doing this?
    Are there really any big disadvantages to not using the service?
    Thank you for any information you can provide!
    Vin
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  2. aeveritt

    aeveritt Agent

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    The Tivo definately gets my recommendation. The only differences in the Philips and the Sony units are very, very minor differences in the interfaces. Picture qualities would be the same. The exterior look of the unit and the remote, of course, would also be slightly different. I wouldn't hesitate to buy either. Feel free to buy by price or personal preference for one brand over the other. Everything else is virtually irrelevant.
    Video quality won't be quite as good as the original broadcast but it is still quite good. Remember also that everything that you will be watching, depending on how you hook it up, will be going through the encoding process so everything you watch will be degraded, to some slight degree, in quality. If you want to avoid that, then you should purchase a DirecTivo. I would really recommend that over the separate Tivo because it records the DirecTV bitstream directly so what you record would be the same as what you would have ordinarily seen on the screen. No additional signal degradation.
    As far as recording using the different quality modes, there are some definate differences. The lower end setting is decent but somewhat annoying if you are sensitive in any way to picture quality. It is quite grainy. Best and Medium are really the only way to go. If picture quality is a major concern, go with the DirecTivo.
    You could, at least in the past, use these recorders without the service. It may still be possible (I haven't tried it), although new versions of the software may have prevented it or could prevent it in the future. Either way, without the service the unit works like a VCR. Set program channels and times and it will record. The service is really a worthwhile investment. It will allow your Tivo to record programs by simply choosing their name. It will also allow you to get "season passes" to programs that you want on a regular basis. Finally, it will record programs based on your interest. In other words, if you get a Tivo and don't subscribe to the service, you are really "missing the boat". It is so much more than a VCR but without the service it really isn't much more than one.
     
  3. Vin

    Vin Supporting Actor

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    Thank you!
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  4. Mike St.Louis

    Mike St.Louis Supporting Actor

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    I'm curious about Tivo's archiving ability.
    Is it possible to save programs onto tape or (better still) can you save programs electronically on your computer?
    It would be nice once the hard drive starts filling up to be able to offload material.
     
  5. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    Vin --
    Just one man's opinion, but if you don't plan to get the TiVo service, you might as well buy a VCR. Ninety-nine percent of what makes TiVo worth having requires the service. Especially with the new software, TiVo's flexibility in adapting to changes in broadcast schedules is worth every penny I paid for the service.
    For example: I follow a number of cable shows that conflict with each other but are rerun throughout the week; TiVo can be programmed to record my first choice, and then automatically pick up the rerun of the conflicting series later in the week.
    I'm also a fan of several shows that are in lengthy syndication on several channels (the Star Trek series, NYPD Blue). Only with the TiVo service can I get a screen of upcoming episodes, on all applicable channels, from which I can pick the ones I want to record.
    With the service, TiVo can also be programmed to look for programs that fit defined criteria. My wife is a big fan of an obscure film from 1980 that occasionally shows up late at night on one of the movie channels. I have TiVo watching for it, and the next time it runs, TiVo will record it automatically.
    Mike --
    quote: Is it possible to save programs onto tape or (better still) can you save programs electronically on your computer?[/quote] Transferring to tape is relatively easy and straightforward. There may be models that provide a PC interface, but if so, I'm not familiar with them.
    M.
     
  6. Vin

    Vin Supporting Actor

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  7. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  8. Don D

    Don D Extra

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    Note that the DirecTV with TiVo product will record the bitstream directly to disk. That means that the recording quality is exactly the same as if you had recorded it live. That's definitely better than S-VHS.
    Thus, if you're recording for the purpose of timeshifting then the DirecTV with TiVo unit would be a better choice than S-VHS.
    But, if you're recording for the purpose of archiving and filling up your video library then you'll want an S-VHS deck -- regardless of if you get TiVo or not. TiVo's not really meant for archiving given that it has at most 35 hours of capacity.
    Don
     
  9. Keith Mickunas

    Keith Mickunas Cinematographer

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    In my opinion, the Tivo recording quality is pretty good, even at the lowest end. When I had cable, there wasn't much point in using any of the higher quality modes. Even with satelite I don't think you'll get much degradation in the medium setting. I now have Dish and am still using the lower setting, its got some artifacts but its not too bad.
    As for backing up to a PC, yes there are ways to do it. However Tivo is actively working on ways to prevent that. Hollywood is going to scream if there are easy ways to create high quality archives, and Tivo doesn't want to deal with any Napster/DeCSS style lawsuits. I doubt there will ever be any official/legal device for doing this because of copyright concerns. Tivo/ReplayTV could potentially hit problems because of the way they allow you to skip commercials, but I don't think there's much of a case against that with the current laws.
    You can use it as a DVR without service, and Tivo has pretty much promised not to eliminate that capability, even though it hurts their business model. But at $250 for lifetime service its a hell of a deal. The guide they have is way better than anything else (cable or satelite) and their season passes and wish lists are quite handy.
    As for brand, I've been quite pleased with my Philips, as have my friends. I don't know anyone with a Sony, but I doubt there's much difference. One thing I found that was nice was after my Tivo's modem got knocked out of commission by lightning, Philips replaced the Tivo free of charge, which I believe to be against their policy. Its either because it was less than 90 days old, or the guy didn't note that it was lightning related. I don't know why, but it made me happy.
     
  10. ryan_m

    ryan_m Stunt Coordinator

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  11. Vin

    Vin Supporting Actor

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    Thanks for all the great information guys! Most likely I'll give it a shot...if it doesn't meet my expectations I do have the option of returning it for a refund.
    Thanks again.
     
  12. Rob Scott

    Rob Scott Extra

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    One thing to watch out for with the DirecTivo: If you are using an off-the-air antenna to get local channels, you will NOT be able to record them with your TiVo.
    Since the DirecTV signal is already compressed digital, the DirecTivo records it directly; therefore it does not have an MPEG encoder. This makes for excellent quality DSS recordings but is a bit of a bummer for those of us without local channels through DirecTV.
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    Rob Scott
     
  13. Bob Jackson

    Bob Jackson Stunt Coordinator

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    Also any unti that ship with 2.x software (including all DirecTiVo's) don't do much of anything w/o service. No recording, just trick plays.
    The standalones still allow recording (with the nag screens of course) since so far they still ship with 1.x.
     
  14. PaulG

    PaulG Stunt Coordinator

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    Mike St.Louis,
    There is a Save to VCR function in TiVo. With the Sony TiVo and Sony VCRs (not all Sony VCRs however), the TiVo will control the VCR. At this point in time TiVo only allows you to setup one show at a time to be saved to VCR, no batch saves. The TiVo will put up a title page before the playback begins, and some of the remote functions are disabled during this mode to prevent mishaps. I quite often will just do a normal playback and record while watching, so the commercials get recorded on tape at FFF speed. TiVo has 2 sets of A/V outputs so you can run one to the TV or receiver and another to a VCR. Only one of these outputs is S-video compatable, but both have composite and audio L/R. The RF output is not stereo. Hope this helps.
    Edit: this post is relative to the TiVo standalone units, I am not familiar with the DirecTV with TiVo units.
    [Edited last by PaulG on July 26, 2001 at 04:41 PM]
     
  15. LesterLiu

    LesterLiu Extra

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    its pretty simple to save to computer, you just need a
    rca -> usb cable, i think you can find them online. once you have that cable, it pretty much treats the tivo as a hard disk, only downside is it takes awhile to record because you have to play back the entire show in real time to write it to the computer.
     

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