TiVo - TV OUR Way
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA -- I have been a subscriber to TiVo's service since 2001, and I would have considered myself one of their greatest advocates . . . until recently. Now, I am fast becoming one of their greatest detractors.
I upgraded to the TiVo Premiere in July 2010. It worked fine . . . until TiVo deployed its updates. Although TiVo's Marketing Director suspects I received a defective unit, the machine worked perfectly for about 1-1 1/2 years before gradual deterioration set in, following a major software update.
I will be the first to admit that, when it works properly, TiVo is phenomenal. BUT, when it FAILS, one has no other recourse but to launch the machine from a catapult atop a tall skyscraper.
If your TiVo unit fails, and you have filled it with (hundreds of) hours of recorded programs, you will be faced with the following ultimatum: Cough up another $250-$400 to replace your machine and LOSE all your recorded programs; or, retain your recorded programs and learn to live with an expensive – and bulky – paperweight. Unless you plan to continue paying the monthly service fee for the second unit, once deactivated, your old unit will lose all its recordings. So, if you have accumulated a volume of recorded programs and, especially if you added the DVR Expander for additional recording capacity, you will be wishing you hadn’t if you ever have to replace your machine. Oh, and don’t even consider TiVo’s networking feature of transferring programs between machines – most programming, these days, is copyright-protected and, as such, these programs may NOT be transferred between TiVo DVRs, even if they reside within the same household.
Perhaps TiVo should change its slogan to: “TiVo – OUR WAY OR THE HIGHWAY!”
BEWARE, if you begin to experience the following:
*Manual restarts EVERY DAY; sometimes, 2-3 times per day
*To view upcoming shows from the menu selection "Recording Options", plan to click several times to return to the necessary screen, as TiVo will ALWAYS automatically return you to the previous screen, as your cursor moves upward and before you have a chance to select "View Upcoming Shows"
*Expect to inadvertently click "Play From Beginning" EVERY TIME you want to change a "Keep Until" date, now that this redundant and utterly useless new "feature" pushes all other menu items down one line (Seriously, why do we need this feature, when we can simply hold down the "replay" button to return to the beginning?)
*Season Passes with lower priority levels, as supposedly prioritized by the user, will be selected by TiVo over higher priority programs, often removing the higher priority recordings from the "To Do" queue. This happens, even when the lower priority program is scheduled to be broadcast one week AFTER the higher priority program.
*Partial recordings, even when TiVo indicates there is plenty of space available.
*Randomly deleted recordings, when TiVo claims their expiration date arrived - often on the same date they were recorded and, sometimes, when they are set as "Keep Until I Delete"! - and there was still plenty of space available for it to be saved longer.
*Currently recording programs disappear if you delete a different program while the current program is recording. The "Recording History" will indicate either "an internal error" or, more likely, that "not enough space was available" - again, even though TiVo's system page indicates that there is plenty of space available (30-40 SD hours, which is the same TOTAL HOURS as the original TiVo!).
*Inability to set recordings, due to "not enough space available" (see above), even if only a single ½ hour sitcom is scheduled in the "To Do" queue.
*Inability to set recordings if you have something else in your "To Do" queue set to start recording within the next 12-hour period.
*Prepare to check, double-check and triple-check, on a frequent basis, your "To Do" queue, because TiVo will not honor your requests; instead, TiVo decides for itself what it will record. TiVo will randomly delete recordings set in your "To Do" queue, for no apparent reason. On occasion, I've had to manually reset a program to record as much as four times in a single day, because TiVo kept removing it from my queue.
*Regarding NetFlix - DON'T EVEN BOTHER! TiVo's NetFlix browser is WORTHLESS AND WEAK. I use either Roku or my LG Blu-ray player to stream movies, since TiVo's system requires buffering and reloading about every 5-10 minutes (that is, assuming you can get the movie to play in the first place) . . . what a way to watch a movie.
Recently, I recorded a movie at midnight. When I awoke the next morning, I looked for my recording in the "My Shows" list but, guess what? It wasn't there, so I reviewed my recording history and, sure enough, there it was listed as "Deleted"; according to TiVo, it was deleted because its time had expired and the space was required for another program. It provided an exact time for that other program, but NOTHING was recorded at that given time on my TiVo; in fact, NOTHING AT ALL was scheduled or recorded after the deleted midnight program, and my TiVo indicated that I still had 24 hours of space available for recordings (the deleted program was a mere 2 hours).
Ironically, TiVo now requires more micromanagement from me than the old TV/VCR combination ever did! Back then, I could set my VCR to record something, come home from work (or wake up in the morning) and . . . voila! . . . my recording would still be on the tape and would play back beautifully. Hmmmmm... technology is good; progress not so . . . .
Oh, and on another note, TiVo service in my area was down for several hours on two separate occasions. I contacted TiVo's so-called "customer service", only to have what I already knew confirmed. They assured me that my bill would be discounted for those lost hours, but did I see any such discount on either respective bill? In a word, NO! TiVo reps are NOT TO BE TRUSTED.
I've got a life, but TiVo just doesn't get it!
My biggest beef with TiVo (and other DVR services) is that, ten years ago, I paid $400 for a DirecTV/TiVo DVR and I OWNED the machine. I did not have to return it to TiVo, because it was COMPLETELY MY OWN PROPERTY. Now, one still has to fork over roughly the same amount, but the machines are leased ( i.e. NOT owned) by the consumer.
And this brings me to my next point: I still OWN my 1st and 2nd TiVo DVRs, on which I can continue to view my recorded programs, even if their recording capability is no longer available. It's similar to having a library of DVDs without taking up valuable shelf space. But, after deactivation, the recorded programs on the TiVo Premiere will be no longer accessible. People "buy" DVRs, obviously, to record hours of programming, so they can "watch television when they want to watch it". In what world does it make sense, then, to require people to return (or deactivate) their machine when they need to replace it with a new one, only to lose hundreds of hours of programming? So much for watching “TV your way”.
In a nutshell, TiVo lets you watch TV when it decides to let you watch TV.
In an analogous situation, should I be paying a monthly fee to Sony? After all, I still own and view my VHS tapes, loaded with programs recorded using my Sony VCR. (And, actually, many of the programs on my old VHS tapes look 10x better than the same programs recorded off digital cable/satellite – I’ve tried both – onto my TiVo DVRs).
I do have to give some credit to the Marketing Director for his response to a similar review I posted elsewhere and for his efforts but, on behalf of TiVo, he cannot offer an amenable solution to my situation. Suspecting my current TiVo unit to be defective, he sent me a replacement machine, on the basis that I would transfer the programs from my old machine to the replacement and, then, return the old unit to him. And he gave me two months overlap time, for both machines to remain activated, to do so before returning the old machine. This would have been no problem, if I could actually transfer my hundreds of hours of recorded programming between machines. All the programs on my current machine, however, appear to be copyright-protected, so they cannot be transferred from one machine to another, even if both machines reside in the same household ( i.e. on the same network). And, thanks to TiVo's heavy promotion of its large capacity hard drives (Record up to 300 HD hours with TiVo® Premiere XL4! - Now with 4 tuners, so you can record even more shows!), and the DVR Expander, I have accumulated over 1400 hours of SD programming on my DVR. If I were to keep the new machine, I would lose all that recorded programming! I, even, offered to pay the additional monthly service fee for the second machine, if I could keep both machines until I clear the old machine of its programming (by either viewing the shows or re-recording them on the new unit - though many of the shows are rarely re-broadcast and still many more will never be re-broadcast).
So, after just 2 years of service on my current TiVo DVR, it looks like I will have to fork over yet an additional $250.00 PLUS an additional monthly fee for TiVo service on a second machine, just so that I can record on a (hopefully) properly working DVR, while still retaining the hundreds of hours of programming that I have recorded on my current DVR.
On second thought, perhaps I will simply request a new generic DVR from Time Warner Cable (after all, the unit itself is essentially free, since I will only have to pay the monthly service fee, and I had initially returned their DVR when I received my TiVo Premiere) and FORGET TIVO ALTOGETHER!
IN CONCLUSION, BEWARE:
If you are anything like me, and you record a lot of programs on your DVR, you'd better hope and pray that your TiVo NEVER fails. Mine lasted only about 1 1/2 years before it began to deteriorate, thanks to bad software programming/deployment and/or a defective machine. Now, capitalism rears its ugly head as I must empty my wallet again for the sake of TiVo and my own sanity.
TiVo - and Capitalism - wins again!