While common US vernacular would have you believe otherwise, the fact of the matter is that most cable subscribers use a generic DVR (or PVR in Canada) provided by their cable company. TiVo, the stand-alone boxes that pioneered the time-shifting category make up a small relatively small fraction of the installed DVR base today.
How can it be that pretty much everyone agrees TiVo DVRs are significantly better (are easier to use, offer more innovative features, give you more spacious hard drives, and even now integrate with things like HP MediaSmart Servers for expansion), yet STILL opt for the craptastic box from the cable company?
Let’s find out what’s holding everyone back, shall we?
I’ve heard several people say they don’t use a TiVo because they can’t use their cable company’s video on demand (VOD) features. That’s still true; 2-way CableCard remains a pipe dream. But really, how much do you actually use VOD? I had it for years (until I dropped my cable package to near nothing to save money), and over that time only found a handful of things I ever wanted to watch. Netflix Instant Watch (something you can do on a TiVo if you subscribe to Netflix) offers far more variety of TV and movies in my opinion.
The most common excuse (which just so happens to be the biggest myth): TiVo is ‘too expensive.’ A few years ago I may have agreed with that statement, but today it just doesn’t hold true. With cable companies charging up to $16.95 per month for their DVR, TiVo is almost looking like a deal. In fact, if you have the means to prepay your service for a lifetime, a brand new TiVo Premiere could actually save you money over a four to five year period. Over three years prepaid, a good life for a DVR, it’s pretty much a wash depending on what your cable company charges for a CableCard (assuming you need one). If you have to pay month to month, it will be more expensive than the cable company freebie, but you’re also getting a whole lot more than just a DVR.
Finally, the ridiculous reason… “I don’t watch a lot of TV.” What exactly does that mean, anyway? If you really don’t watch TV, why have a DVR at all? Even if you only record the occasional show, and with costs roughly the same over time (meaning all things being equal) why does not watching a lot of TV mean you have to get less for your money? Besides, if this describes you, why exactly are you reading theTVaddict.com anyway?
I’m not here to try and sell you a TiVo. Even the new TiVo Premiere is hardly perfect, but it offers a heck of a lot more bang for the buck over the Cable Co boxes and is easy enough to operate that the whole family can use it to its potential. However, if you happen to be the kind of person to roll your own DVR or want something less mainstream, I would just as easily recommend Windows Media Center (part of Windows 7), Moxi or SageTV. My only goal is to show TV addicts like you how to get more for your sixteen bucks a month, and ultimately get a lot more from your television experience.
Satisfy your inner geek while fueling your TV addiction… TV Tech Fix is a column by Matt Whitlock, editor of the TechLore.com Consumer Electronics Community (plus several other gadget-focused community websites), and lover of both technology and TV. In this column, he’ll cover a wide variety of tech topics aimed squarely at the TV addicts of the world – from tips and tricks to help you better your TV experience, to gear recommendations, to the impact technology is having on the TV shows we love.