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August 4th, 2005

TiVo, Has Thou Forsaken Me?

Oh, TiVo. TiVo, TiVo, TiVo.

I first wrote about TiVo back in 2000 when I had had it for a while. I’ve been a big fan of TiVo for a long time for so many reasons. The concept is wonderful. The execution is the best on any DVR/PVR/whatever I’ve used. The interface is geeky brilliant, and the remote is the best remote control I’ve ever used.

But now, I’m concerned. Not only did TiVo recently license its “ad platform” (gah!), but banner ads are here. Now, to be fair, they are nowhere near as intrusive as they were in the testing phase. But here’s the rub: if I’m paying $13/month for TiVo’s service – er, excuse me, The TiVo Service? – why do I have to watch any ads?

The bigger problem is this. TiVo started as a simple concept: you control your TV. But the TV industry wasn’t big on that until TiVo changed its concept to be, “Advertisers can find new ways of getting ads to you.” It’s a big ol’ “WTF, TiVo?” for sure. The downside is that there isn’t anything better out there – not in my experience – so it’s a catch-22.

What really needs to happen is an open source project that focuses on the interface of the DVR, can be loaded on a super-cheap PC or Mac mini, and doesn’t require any command line knowledge to work. I’ve seen open source DVR/PVRs before, but they’ve all required some moderate to heavy tech knowledge.

In the meantime, TiVo’s ads are a bit of a warning shot. Ads won’t be escapable, even when you buy a device that offers the ability to skip ads.

Posted in Technology

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