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Oh, TiVo How I’ve Missed You!

I forgot TiVo had Hulu Plus, and so much other juicy goodness until AVAD reintroduced me to arguably the best DVR on the planet.


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How have I gone 9 years without a TiVo?

My name is Julie Jacobson and I haven’t had a TiVo in nine years. Furthermore, I haven’t really kept up with the product, except for the editorial TiVo sponsors in each issue of CE Pro.

So it was great to get up to speed on the DVR at the recent AVAD Vendopalooza in Van Nuys, Calif.

How could I have lived so long without this?

As most of our readers should know by now, I think Time Warner Cable has the worst DVR on the planet, and possibly the worst GUI of anything that has a GUI.

I love Windows Media Center because of the excellent user interface and especially the fact that it’s free, no matter how many TVs you stream to.

After I learned to love Media Center, I didn’t feel like paying $12.95 per month for TiVo. But here I am paying too much for a TWC DVR, with costs that are pretty much buried in my whole TWC plan.

“Most people don’t realize how much they’re paying for a cable DVR,” says Paul Malmquist, director of retail sales for TiVo. “There is a separate service fee and the box rental.”

Stupid me.

Furthermore, TiVo is a decent investment even for cord cutters, Malmquist suggests, thanks to all of its OTT (over the top) services and built-in ATSC tuner.

“I’ve watched 110 channels in HD,” Malmquist says of the tuner.

Best of all, TiVo (as always) offers probably the best user experience of any media box.

And, as Malmquist says, “You never have to leave Input 1.”

Here are a few things I didn’t realize about TiVo. I probably knew, but just needed a refresher course.

  • Netgear’s ReadyNAS has a built-in TiVo client.
  • You can stream TiVo content locally to your iPad via TiVo Stream.
  • Browse your library from your smart device, and then flick to send it to the TV.
  • You can download unflagged content.
  • It has HuluPlus (which I had forgotten about).
  • It supports 16 HDMI keys.
  • TiVo won’t transfer lifetime subscriptions from older boxes to new Premiere boxes.

Where do I place my order?





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Article Topics

News · Blogs · Avad · Tivo · All topics

About the Author

Julie Jacobson, Co-Founder, EH Publishing / Editor-at-large, CE Pro
Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson.

18 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by topp  on  12/28  at  01:51 PM

They have a great product line, I use two personnaly, have sold many, and my customers love them.

One interesting thing that I discovered recently is that they make an excellent ATSC tuner.  If you wait for a sale or shop around, you can find the older Premiere 45 hour DVR for around $50.  A lot of my cord cutting customers with older TVs that don’t have built in ATSC tuners can use this as a bargain tuner with HD outputs.  Try to find another HD ATSC tuner in that price range.  And it works as a tuner without the subscription.  You don’t get the guide service and you can’t schedule recordings, but it tunes off air broadcasts just fine, and it will pause live TV. . .

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  12/28  at  01:53 PM

That’s great advice, Topp. thanks!

Posted by Joe Whitaker  on  12/28  at  02:16 PM

Welcome back into the fold Julie. I cannot live without my Tivo. Note from the integrator….. you can control the Premiere’s via IP not only with the Tivo app for iDevices and Android, but also with control systems like Control4. Hulu….and you forgot to mention PANDORA.

Posted by DaveZ  on  12/28  at  04:15 PM

Just the Premiere has ATSC OTA capabilities. The Premiere 4 and XL4 are digital cable only, fyi.

The apps are sluggish at best, crashy at worst. Most will be better off with a $50 Roku or $100 Apple TV. As a TiVo owner, I flip inputs for a quicker, more stable, and more expansive app experience using Roku & aTV.

TiVo Stream is indeed THE killer feature (beyond being a great DVR). Unfortunately, it’s only iOS at the moment and I just traded my iPad for a Chromebook and Android Kindle Fire HD.

Of course, being in TWC’s footprint you’re stuck with their SDV and tuning adapters which neither TiVo nor the cable providers seem very good at supporting or overcoming. TWC & Brighthouse are the least TiVo friendly. Verizon FiOS and Comcast are the best.

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  12/28  at  04:20 PM

Damn, you’re good, Dave! I’ve had infinite problems with TWC + SDV tuning adapter and Ceton + Media Center. So Tivo + CableCard and TWC don’t mix well?

The only apps I would use are Netflix and Hulu Plus. How is that with TiVo? I can flip from input to input (and we have Roku) but my husband needs a manual to switch inputs.

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  12/28  at  04:21 PM

By the way, Dave ... you’re killin’ my buzz. Thought you were a total fanboy.

Posted by DaveZ  on  12/28  at  07:54 PM

I’ve never been much of an anything fanboy, always a realist and a rather demanding customer. TiVo’s served me rather well over the years and as a DVR for linear over-the-air or digital cable, it’s one of the top options out there. Once/if the Mini extender launches to retail and once/if they build Stream functionality directly into the DVR, they’ll be hard to beat. Related, the TiVo smartphone/tablet apps are quite nice. But the current hardware/software platform just isn’t robust enough for these third party apps. As an occasional Hulu and Netflix subscriber, I 100% of the time access those services from other devices. I’d prefer it on Input 1 and I’d prefer it with the TiVo peanut remote, but the experience just isn’t there.

SDV and tuning adapters are often not pretty. But it should be better these days than when I was on Cox in 2010 given the FCC’s intervention. But I still hear of unpleasantries. And TWC is known for locking down content way more stringently than other providers which will inhibit your ability to offload via the TiVo Stream for taking shows on the road (as I did on FiOS for my flight to Israel recently). But beaming around the house will be no problem.

Posted by davenport  on  12/28  at  11:28 PM

I’m a dealer and I think that overall TiVo is great, but they are getting harder to sell due to the increasing the monthly fees and the lifetime subscription terms.  Even though the cable company often charges the same price per month for a DVR, at least the customer isn’t linked to a single box with an expired warranty that the time of failure.  Lifetime TiVo subscriptions should also include the 3 year extended warranty at the minimum.  There should also be a way to an option to transfer a lifetime subscription to a newer model while deactivating the old box. 

The TWC SDV adapters cause issues, requesting newer units than what originally shipped (in 2010?) has cured some installations.  TiVo really needs to build the SDV hardware into their units to improve reliability.

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  12/29  at  02:38 AM

Great comments. Thanks, DaveZ and Davenport.

Posted by DaveZ  on  12/29  at  07:24 AM

Yeah, good call on the warranty - 90 days on a device that requires a minimum 1 year subscription is just chintzy. While repairs are usually trivial for techie folks in the know (replace harddrive or power supply), if your cableco DVR breaks they swap it out.

Posted by Chucky  on  12/29  at  08:07 AM

I’m a happy TiVo customer, but I’m not a fanboy of the product either.

My motto:

TiVo makes the worst DVR’s in the world with the single exception of all the others.

Posted by rparker  on  12/29  at  09:51 AM

one of our biggest problems with TiVo (besides constant cable-card issues) is that you can’t get pay-per-view still!  TiVo keeps saying it is coming, but it never does and we often end up with clients that aren’t too happy.

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  12/29  at  09:58 AM

Can you get cable VoD?

Posted by rparker  on  12/29  at  10:00 AM

no- that is what I meant (sorry for not being clear)- that functionality is unavailable with the current units

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  12/29  at  10:02 AM

Thanks, rparker. But TWC makes it so freaking impossible to enjoy VoD that it almost doesn’t matter. http://www.cepro.com/article/time_warner_cable_worst_tv_interface_ever/

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