TiVo

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by Adam Sanchez, May 22, 2005.

  1. Adam Sanchez

    Adam Sanchez Supporting Actor

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    Hey all,

    Most of your will want to file this away in the "dumb question of the day" category, but here goes...

    I've recently been thinking about getting of these TiVos. I know how popular they are and since I love modern things, I know I would love it. But I recently discovered you have to pay a monthly fee? Yeah I'm ignorant, but that sounds lame in my book. My question is, do you HAVE to pay for the service (whatever it is) or can you use thr TiVo without it?
     
  2. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    Yes. The earliest models would work without the service, but the current ones will not.

    If you want to record to hard disk, but don't want to pay for the TiVo service, there are many options, e.g., the various models of DVD recorder that include an HD for recording.

    But it's the TiVo services that makes TiVo worthwhile, not the hardware. That's what you're paying for. Otherwise it's just a VCR that records to HD instead of tape.

    BTW, there's an option to pay a one-time fee, good for the life of the TiVo unit, instead of a monthly charge. I believe the current one-time charge is around $300, but don't rely on my memory.

    M.
     
  3. StephenT

    StephenT Stunt Coordinator

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    Adam, this is a common complaint from folks looking into getting their first TiVo. I think it helps to understand what you are paying for.

    Using a VCR or most non-TiVo DVRs you can only put in repeat recordings based on time and channel. You can do this with TiVo, but the real magic is with season passes, wishlists, and suggestions. The monthly fee or one time fee gets you the daily download of guide data. The guide data is then used to schedule recordings.

    A season pass is based on a show and a channel. So say you want to record 24. You search for it and find it is on your local FOX affiliate. You set it up as a season pass, and you're done. You won't miss an episode. You can even tell it to only record first run episodes of shows. When a show's time slot changes mid season you don't have to do anything. TiVo will record it on it's new night. When the season finale is a special 2 hour episode like with 24 you don't have to do anything. TiVo will record the 2 hours. If you had a one hour slot set to record every Monday you'd have to know the finale was 2 hours and go in and change it.

    With wishlists you can record anything on any channel. If you don't want to just record Law & Order on NBC you could set up a keyword search to find Law & Order and it would come back with every airing on the absurd number of channels that show is on. You can then tell TiVo to record every wishlist result. You can do wishlists on directors and actors to record every movie they directed or acted in.

    The best use I make of wishlists is to record sports. I am a Pittsburgh fan and I have NFL Sunday Ticket, MLB Extra Innings, and NHL Center Ice (when they actually play). I want to record every game, but you can't do a season pass on live events, only on series. So I create a keyword wishlist: Steelers "NFL Sunday Ticket". The quotes are so it will have to have the words together in that order not just NFL or just Ticket. This gets me every Steelers game on the package and nothing else. I then say record the wishlist. The same for the other sports: Pirates "MLB Extra Innings". The reason this works is the guide data (which is what you're paying the monthly fee for). I looked at the data and noticed every game in a package had the name of the package in it. You can use anything in a description to search on. So I record every game without doing anything else. I don't have to know the schedule or set up individual recordings for each game like you would have to with other devices. It's fantastic!

    So the magic of TiVo is entirely based on the guide data which is what you'll be paying for. I have DirecTV and use their integrated TiVo boxes. You only pay $4.99 a month for the service for unlimited boxes in your home although you pay $4.99 for every additional box as well. I love it for the dual tuners they have. You can record two things at once or record one thing and watch another on one box.

    I went on and on, and I admit to being a TiVo advocate. However, pretty mush everyone who owns one is. If you buy a stand-alone version I'd suggest getting the lifetime subscription. You won't regret it. I don't think people fully realize how great and life changing it is until they have one.
     
  4. Stephen Tu

    Stephen Tu Screenwriter

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    Pay lifetime and just consider the extra $300 as part of the cost of the box, so $500 total. Yeah, it would be great if they could provide the box & the software & guide updates all for just $200, but the reality is that they can't make money at that price. That price probably barely covers the parts for the box, after all you are getting essentially a specialized computer, with motherboard/CPU/MPEG encoder/decoder/hard drive/power supply. Still have to pay people to write the software to make it at all useful.

    Heck, they haven't been able to make a profit even with the add-on subscription fee ...

    If you have HDTV or are getting HDTV soon though, I'd recommend renting the Comcast DVR instead ($10-15/month depending on whether you have digital cable). Tivo won't come up with an HD cable version until next year.
     
  5. Matt^Brown

    Matt^Brown Supporting Actor

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    Adam I hope you don't mind but since this thread is going I have a question as well. Is it really worth buying the lifetime subscription? I have friends tell me that in two years the ones that will be out will be so much better that I will be throwing my standard tivo away. So based on this information $5 a month x 24 months = $120. So is this a better idea then paying the $300 for a lifetime membership?
     
  6. Stephen Tu

    Stephen Tu Screenwriter

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    It's $12.95/month for standalone cable models. Only the DirecTV models are $4.99/month, for which lifetime is unavailable.

    At that rate, it's clear that lifetime is a better bargain on a standalone. Plus it's unlikely that you would just throw away a perfectly good Tivo; you could sell it, or give it to family/friend, and the lifetime sub would retain much of its value. Or you might keep it for another TV or as a 2nd/3rd tuner.

    I recommend against standalone Tivo + lifetime only if you have HDTV or will upgrade soon, or if you have or may want to switch to satellite TV. In those cases other alternatives make more sense in my opinion.
     
  7. Robert Spalding

    Robert Spalding Second Unit

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    the standalones work with mor than just cable. they work with Satelitte and over the air free tv too.
     
  8. Stephen Tu

    Stephen Tu Screenwriter

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    True enough, but I wouldn't recommend them for satellite usage. The satellite integrated models are cheaper, dual tuner, and provide substantially better audio/video quality as they just record digital data directly without having to go through another MPEG encoding cycle.
     
  9. DustinT

    DustinT Agent

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    rather than starting a new thread on i hope you don't mind if I continute on with what you all have going here.

    DISH has a DVR for basically $10/month from what i can see. $5/month lease, + $5/month for the service.

    However, I have a Tivo unit that was used for satellite that a friend who now has comcast gave me.

    Before comitting, my wife and i are trying to decide if the Quality of Tivo is Higher than the Quality of Dish's DVR. I have already been told that the Tivo is a better unit that whatever it is Comcast is offering.

    so can anyone tell me if i'd be better off subscribing to Tivo for a few bucks more a month since i have the unit alraedy, or instead to Dish which is a few bucks less, but requires that i also pay a installation fee...? i'm pulling for Tivo, but one bill would be more convenient.
     

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