Saturday, November 12, 2005

The Blogosphere Comes Through...

Special Churn thanks to Tivo Lovers for setting me straight.

I think the point about the extra features cuts both ways though. I don't want my recorder finding stuff for me, and I'm certainly smart enough to figure out when my favorite shows are on. If I want a show on my PC...well, that's what BitTorrent's for. Also, none of the networks can stop me from recording a show or erase the tape after a week. I just don't like how this new technology assumes that you're a moron that needs everything done for them automatically.

I just can't believe that there isn't a market for a simple PVR that doesn't require a monthly fee to use.

Mike G.

1 comment:

MegaZone said...

There are basic DVRs that have no monthly fee - but they cost a lot more up front. I don't like monthly payments either, so I've paid lifetime on all 5 TiVos I've owned. (I have 2 now, I've sold the other 3.) Just think of it as a $350 DVR with no subscription and a lot of good features. The cost of a TiVo with lifetime is usually less than an equivalent non-subscription DVR, and it is a better system. If you really want something basic there are also the Pioneer and Toshiba TiVo/DVD systems with 'TiVo Basic' included. Like I said - a basic, no-frills, DVR would have to compete with the cheap cable company supplied boxes, and the advanced DVRs like TiVo, AND the DVR/DVD-R combos out there. And they'd also compete against the millions of VCRs already out there. If all it is is a tape-less VCR, it is a harder sell to convince someone to buy it and stop using their VCR. There has to be more incentive. There were some no-frills DVRs on the market from various vendors, but most of them were dropped because they didn't sell. The market for the DVR/DVD-R units is hot though, so there are a number of them out there.

BitTorrent is OK, but you have to hope someone has recorded the show and done so at a decent quality. With TiVoToGo you can archive shows and move them back to the TiVo if you want. And where do some of those Torrents come from? People recording on their TiVo, moving to a PC, and removing the DRM. (Which is trivial really.)

The deletion issue is a red herring, completely. The reports that have spread around the net are ridiculous. Heck, I had dinner with a TiVo product manager Thursday and the Macrovision scare was one of the conversational topics. People are afraid networks are going to start marking things for deletion - but that'd be *illegal*, so it isn't going to happen. Every case so far has been traced to human error or a technical glitch, and resolved. Macrovision is present in pretty much every commercial recording product - VCRs, DVRs, even some PC capture cards. It is in there for other kinds of content, like OnDemand and broadband content. And there are VCRs with obey the flags - only on the VCRs it just refuses to record, the same thing has happened with capture cards. With a TiVo you still have an analog hole if you wanted it - dump to a VCR.

As for knowing when your favorite shows are on. Sure - people can keep track of that. But why? Isn't your time worth more than that? I know mine is. And the networks play games all the time - moving shows to a new night, special episodes that are an hour and not 30 minutes (Arrested Development did that last week), skipping a week, etc. And then keeping track of when new episodes are going to air. That's data processing, and that's what computers are good at. Instead of trying to figure out when Fox is going to yank Arrested Development around the schedule, I just tell TiVo to record any new episodes of the show and that's it. There are other shows which have gone on hiatus for extended periods, and suddenly come back - and the TiVo knew to grab it without me having to know it was coming back.

With a DVR you can skip all the ads - which is nice. But you're also skipping all the promo spots, and then you start missing the notices about schedule changes. Instead of spending time scouring the weekly TV schedule to make sure things haven't changed, let the machine do it and spend that time doing something more productive. That's what I really like about TiVo - I get to enjoy television without any hassle. I watch what I want, when I want. I skip the ads (and any dull/dumb parts of shows). I never have to worry about schedule changes, etc.

Believe me, I understand where you're coming from - that was my view 4 years ago, before I got one. I had been thinking about getting a DVR for a while before that, since I was aware of both TiVo and ReplayTV back to 1999. But I had a few VCRs and I couldn't see what the real advantage was. It is one of those things that is hard to explain, but once you have it and get used to it, it is a transformational technology. It changes how you live. It isn't about assuming the user is a moron - in fact, I'd say that's a very erroneous view - it is all about making things easier. If you want to do everything manually, you can. But I don't see why anyone would want to - that's tedious work. I've done manual type setting, and if I wanted to I could print a paper by hand. But I use a word processor because I don't see the need to do something the hard way.

Now I just tell TiVo what I want to see, and let it do all the work. I think it is a great example of technology improving the quality of life. Even TiVo Suggestions is nice (and you can turn that off if you want). It has found things for me that I didn't know about and enjoyed. And if you game your ratings a bit, you can influenence what it records. I'm a big Law & Order fan, and I have it recording all the new episodes. But there are a lot of old ones I missed - so I gave all of L&O high ratings, and now I pretty much always have some syndicated episodes in Suggestions if I want to watch them.

Over the years I've known a lot of people who have tried out TiVo and thought they'd never use the features - and ended up loving it. I just sold one of my old units to a friend a month ago or so. His wife wasn't that happy with it, she didn't see the need. Now he say's she can't stand watching TV without TiVo. :-)

TiVo comes with a 30 day money back guarantee, so you can always try it and return it if you really don't like it. And if you don't like monthly fees, pay for lifetime - it is a better value anyway, since it is the rent vs buy argument. You have equity in the box so resale value is higher if you ever decide to drop it.