Tuesday, December 13, 2005

TiVo set up experience and initial impressions

We received our 80–hour TiVo earlier than expected, so I had a chance to set it up; here are my thoughts and experiences:

  • I activated the TiVo at home on the internet — very easy to enter the promotion code from the gift certificate that gave me 12 months of service.  It is important to note that you can apply the value of the 12 month service certificate to the lifetime membership if you want to.
  • Although some people have reported success doing the initial set up over broadband or over Vonage, I did the initial set up with a land-based phone line at my office.
  • The initial set up is very easy once you have a phone line and have the TiVo connected to a TV — you need a tv to see what you are doing on the screen.  I found out that I needed to have a video source going into the TiVo to work through the installation, but luckily we have a DirecTV receiver at work close to the land-based phone line, so this was not a problem.
  • Initial set up takes about an hour and then the TiVo unit needs 4–8 hours to process everything it downloaded; during this time I was instructed by the unit not to unplug it, so I just left it at work overnight.
  • There is no option that I could find to gracefully shutdown the TiVo unit, so I just unplugged the power cord when i picked it up from the office.
  • Everything was very straight forward when I plugged the unit into my entertainment system last night.  I’m bummed that there is not component in and out on the unit; highest quality video in/out is S-Video.  The TiVo does not come with S-Video cables, so you need to purchase them if you want to use that option.
  • The use of the IR cables to control my DirecTV box was a little sketchy — I made it through the initial set up just fine, and about 30 minutes later, the TiVo couldn’t change channels any more, so I had to adjust the position of the IR transmitters.
  • Setting up the universal remote to control my tv and a/v system was a pleasure.  Although the set up was not much different than any other universal remote, the experience of reading codes from the tv screen is so much better than trying to read from a list of microscopic codes in a manual.
  • I plugged in the Netgear 802.11g USB wifi adapter that I bought at CompUSA (note that the box of the adapter has the TiVo symbol on it to make your life a little easier than having to check the serial number).  The TiVo automatically detected the adapter and ran my through the set-up process, which made it very easy to select my network and enter the WEP key.  Hopefully I won’t ever have to use a phone line again with the TiVo.

We used the TiVo last night to pause live tv, which is pretty cool and reminded me of a post I wrote in January 2004 about using DVRs to watch the first 10 minutes of a reality show, fast forward through the middle 40 minutes, and watch the last 10 minutes.

The TiVo has not been set up long enough for us to have scheduled anything to record, so I cannot yet speak to that feature set.  My wife seems to find the interface very intuitive and I think both of us are very happy with the single remote.  One of the big questions that my wife had was whether we could record one show while watching another — unfortunately, unless you have DirecTiVO, I don’t think there’s a TiVo box that supports multiple inputs (and we’d need another DirecTV receiver in the living room).  I did explain to her that we could record something while watching recorded content, so I think once we get some stuff recorded, this will become less of an issue.

I need to go buy some S-Video cables.

No comments: