TiVo is a mythical device in tech lore. The only survivor of the first DVR war and clinging on to life through lawsuit after lawsuit. TiVo is a device that is either passionately loved or considered an overpriced relic. We are still TiVo subscribers and we continue to pay for it, sometimes begrudgingly and sometimes happily.
TiVo has been with us for 5 years now. We purchased a original SD dual tuner box during college to help us catch up on our favorite shows (Hustle on AMC and the like) that we would otherwise miss due to class or meetings. Our original TiVo soldiers on and still works even though it has been placed in our tech relic box. A little over a year ago we upgraded to an TiVo HD when we received a new HD television. At the time, we did not even think about buying our new TiVo and happily hooked it up to our new television.
Over the past year though we began to reconsider our TiVo and were frankly stuck on one big point: price. TiVo service costs us roughly $12.00 per month on top of our cable card service and HD service from our cable provider. Part of our concern comes from rising cable provider costs that have added up when we consider our entertainment package. Our initial reconsideration of paying for TiVo is due not only the additional costs, but the perceived lack of value due to TiVo's infrequent updates and dated user interface.
Mac integration for TiVo has been woefully lacking in the 5 years that we have been owners. Our old roommates had a killer home theatre setup and we were often wishing we could play iTunes media through the TiVo to the sound system. Unfortunately, the ancient software TiVo has gimped along was difficult to use and a serious resource lag on our iMac. Even worse if we wanted to export videos to our mac we had to pay $100.00 for Roxio software when PC users had access to a $25.00 TiVo software product that did even more than Roxio's anemic offering.
But where TiVo shines is the ease of use and features, even if they are somewhat incomplete. We have noticed time and time again that just using the TiVo interface is a breeze compared to the crappy software that DVR's from the cable company offer. Additionally TiVo works very well with our Netflix subscriptions and shows we purchase on Amazon. The DVR and ability to download or stream media makes us a happy customer when using TiVo. The HD TiVo has become and will likely remain the center of our television room.
You are likely wondering why we have not contrasted the TiVo with home brew DVR solutions. We have used many setups that our friend have ranging from hacked Boxee machines to custom built PC rigs. While we like all of them, the simple fact is the TiVo may do less and look more shabby, but it has crashed once on us and is utterly dependable. In addition, it does not require constant fiddling or excessive technical knowledge. That is a nice thing because when we get home in the evening, installing service pack updates is the last thing we want to do. Besides, we think our HD TiVo is a decent looking box that easily hides itself in our media shelf.
The more we think about it, we're firmly committed to our TiVo. While we have noticed its shortcomings, it is dependable and easy to work with. And like any good piece of consumer technology, it recedes into the background putting the focus on our media and not the device serving it. In our minds, a little slice of tech contentment.