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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

FROM: COD [E-Mail]
DATE: Thursday August 4, 2005 -- 9:01:38 am
The command line is your friend.

FROM: Paul
DATE: Thursday August 4, 2005 -- 9:36:27 am
I'm not afraid of the command line (I use it every day - both Windows and OS X flavors) but I honestly don't think installing a PVR/DVR should involve it - especially not if that PVR/DVR wants to get mass appeal.

FROM: Joseph
DATE: Thursday August 4, 2005 -- 10:46:35 am
This goes back to the old argument: "If I'm paying so much (and more every year) for cable TV, why do I have to sit and wait for five minutes of commercials?"

This type of corporate double billing pisses me off. Remember when cable had no commercials?

I understand that it seems that the networks are hardly watched anymore and manufacturers have to display their ads somewhere. That's fine. So lower the price of cable TV accordingly. You know the cable companies don't need the monthly charges to make a buck with all those advertising dollars rolling in. TiVo is just next on the list of those who establish a market and then suck the customers dry.

FROM: Aanen
DATE: Friday August 5, 2005 -- 11:45:16 am
In Norway, they show the entire program on TV then have the ads after. I'm not sure if it's true for every channel, but I remember watching a show where the commercials came on later.

Why not get a tv card for your pc and record programs that way? Make sure your system can handle it though. I didn't have enought umph in mine to do it but I can watch tv okay.

FROM: Merle [E-Mail]
DATE: Sunday August 7, 2005 -- 3:26:22 pm
Aaron, Paul was saying "...but they've all required some moderate to heavy tech knowledge.". That's the problem with just getting a tuner card for your computer.

Besides, it might not be the case in Europe, but in the US, there are no noise standards for PCs. They're hideous. You would never want one in your TV room. Even watching DVDs is painful, as most drives sound like jet planes as they spin.

If anyone makes an off-the-shelf quiet PC that does not consume too much power (*nobody* needs a 350W power supply), then they've got me sold. I'll even pay twice as much for it...

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