TiVO Elite - Another gutless wonder

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by dcooper2025, Sep 7, 2011.

  1. Sep 7, 2011 #1 of 172

    dcooper2025 New Member

    Sep 28, 2008
    So, I'm a long time fan of TiVO, I was customer number 156 or so in the original, but the customer base is now less than half of what it was in 2007, and the decline continues.

    I've filled out survey after survey from TiVO telling them what they are doing wrong and they just really have hopelessly lost their way as a company, I have concluded.

    The bottom line: per-unit cost over user experience. Back with the original TiVO, it was awesome. Innovation abounded, software innovation was rapid and updates came often.

    And then innovation died, the machines and software languished, software patent lawsuits consumed the company's resources, per-unit cost cutting trumped innovation, and mass marketing decaying products became the new MO of the company.

    I had just about written off the company when they released the Premiere & XL. I eagerly ordered one despite the horrific reviews about sluggish performance and screen switching, lack of a second CPU core enabled, and poor terrible UI for non-core DVR functions like Netflix, Pandora, etc.

    Doing a bit of research, it became clear what the problem was: the company had skimped on the processor in the Premier, opting to sacrifice user interface performance for a few dollars of per-unit costs. In fact, tragically, the Apple iPhone 3GS outperforms the TiVO Premier.

    See bit.ly/phXFwp for the graph

    This one fact banished TiVO's hopes of becoming the "entertainment hub" of the home, and made the non-DVR functions painful and unpleasant to use. The introduction of the iPad and iPhone apps helped, since the UI was finally responsive, but using the actual box UI remains painful to the point where, if any reasonable alternative were available (hello, Apple, come and collect 2M users), TiVO would find itself without a user base, left as nothing but a shell company / patent troll in the course of a year or two.

    Why? Why did it come to this?

    Shortsighted focus on per--unit costs and a fundamental lack of understanding of the importance of the user experience.

    For a prime example of a fluid-to-the-point-of-liquid interface, take a lok at the XBox 360. The controller is all wrong, sure, and there's no cable connection or DVR functionality, but the UI is liquid fast and smooth as butter. Even dipping out into the far reaches of the interface is painless, because the UI is simple and wicked fast and fluid. Sure it's basically a little supercomputer Microsoft had to sell at less than cost for a few years, but if TiVO would simply shell out the extra $50.00 per box for a circa-2010-era CPU in it's new boxes, it might have a chance at survival.

    The really tragic irony is: post after post of TiVO die hards proclaim their loyalty and willingness to pay up to $1,000.00 per box for something stunning and magical. But somehow, somehow, TiVO doesn't get it: you simply cannot expect to become the "entertainment hub" of anything when it makes users experience actual, physical pain to use your product. And adding even more functionality and services to a grossly underpowered machine will not improve things.

    Certainly, you can never expect to be able to innovate like Dish has with their DVR unis adding Internet Slingbox capability to them, for example, since the box is too anemic to ever perform such demanding tasks in addition to it's original functions simultaneously. And the lack of simple Gigabit-capable ethernet in the Elite is another example of long term blindness for short term savings. How much money did they save by using a 100Mb ethernet chip vs a Gigabit chip? Maybe $5? That would have enabled wicked fast inter-home video transfers and enabled future applications not yet conceived of. And customers have proclaimed in writing they are wiling to foot the bill already! It's insane.

    No, I think we are seeing the death throws of the star that was called TiVO. If they continue on their current path, the star will soon collapse onto itself, having run out of fuel or users, accelerated if a company like Apple seizes the opportunity, and TiVIO will be a white dwarf shadow of it's former self we can all sadly point to in the sky and say, "I knew them when they had so much promise, look at them now".

    Here's hoping that won't happen. But I fear it's already too late. Analysts believe Apple is coming to this space in 2012 and that one single announcement, if and when it comes, will wipe TiVO off the map for good. Apple loves a good patent fight after all. And they know User Experience is King, something TiVO has long forgot.
  2. Sep 7, 2011 #2 of 172

    aadam101 Tell me a joke

    Jul 14, 2002
    I think you need to spend more time reading here. The complaints and anti-Tivo posts are pretty frequent. They may even outnumber the people who still praise Tivo.

    I still consider myself a fan of Tivo but I realize they are slowly dying. I keep hoping they will do something to make me fall in love with them all over again.....
  3. Sep 7, 2011 #3 of 172

    djwilso Member

    Dec 23, 2006
    Phoenix, AZ
    I had a Series 1 TiVo and still have an original Series 3 (OLED) TiVo.

    When the Premiere came out, since it still had only 2 tuners, I was not excited in the slightest.

    However, with the Elite, I am excited for the first time in years and this will definitely be the TiVo that replaces my Series 3.

    I can't wait.
  4. Sep 8, 2011 #4 of 172

    Series3Sub Well-Known Member

    Mar 14, 2010
    Even with the many horrific reports (there were some good ones, as well, but not many) on this forum regarding Premiere, I would be gladly willing to spend the $$ for the Elite because of its 4 tuners, except this new power box has NO ATSC OTA tuners. Yours truly is OTA, NOT cable. Thanks for losing my business, TiVo. You almost had me adding an Elite to my S3 for a whopping amount of money. Too bad.
  5. Sep 8, 2011 #5 of 172
    Chris Gerhard

    Chris Gerhard Well-Known Member

    Apr 27, 2002
    I am OTA only and I say so what to the lack of a 4-tuner Elite, OTA isn't the market for that kind of box, you are a rare exception. I suspect cost is the reason OTA tuners aren't included and there could be no justification for the added cost to the huge majority of the Elite market that won't use the OTA tuners. With 2 dual tuner TiVoHDs, I have never once had a conflict and don't recall ever needing more than 2 tuners at any one time but I am ready if I do and I don't want to be restricted by having the Elite cost tied up to a single display.

    I am so happy with TiVoHD and the ability to transfer a program from one TiVo to the other when needed, I wouldn't consider the Elite even if I could afford it and thought 4 OTA tuners in one box was needed.
  6. Sep 8, 2011 #6 of 172

    atmuscarella Well-Known Member

    Oct 11, 2005
    Rochester NY
    I am OTA only also and tend to agree with Chris's comments.

    Unlike cable with OTA there is no extra fees when you have multiple DVRs so the only advantage I see for OTA users to have one 4 tuner DVR versus 2, 2 tuner DVRs is scheduling conflict management.

    I actually have 6 OTA tuners and 5.25TB of storage in 3 HD TiVos. I have never used more than 4 tuners at once and in my opinion the ability to have more storage and your TiVos connected to more than one TV out ways having 4 tuners in one TiVo.

    Regarding the "horrific reports" the Premiere is an excellent DVR. My Premiere out performs both my Series 3 HD and TiVo HD in ever way I can think of so if someone really wants a great OTA only DVR get the Premiere and use the discount code mention in various threads to get service at $9.99/mo if paying for lifetime is too costly.

  7. Sep 8, 2011 #7 of 172

    mr.unnatural Well-Known Member

    Feb 2, 2006
    I've been a long time Tivo user and advocate. Unfortunately, Tivo is a prime example of yesterday's technology. Technology aside, I'm the type of person that likes to get the most bang for my buck, and Tivo falls way short in this area. The new bells and whistles they keep adding amount to nothing more than band-aids to cover a gaping wound.

    The new quad tuner models may help to stimulate sales, but it's a case of too little, too late, IMHO. For any serious TV watcher (i.e., diehard couch potato like me:D), even four tuners is insufficient. I built an HTPC originally to record OTA channels using six ATSC tuners. The idea was to supplement my DirecTivos rather than pay a monthly fee for something I could already get for free. Besides, DirecTV doesn't offer all locals in any given market regardless of what they claim.

    With the introduction of the Ceton InfiniTV4 last year and my switch to FIOS almost four years ago, my HTPC now includes four ATSC tuners and eight digital cablecard tuners (i.e. two InfiniTV4's). Windows 7 Media Center does everything I need it to and does it at least as well as any of my Tivos ever did.
  8. Sep 8, 2011 #8 of 172

    uw69 Member

    Jan 25, 2001
    Sounds like you have the ideal solution for your needs, but you may be the exception rather than the rule. I think the Elite is about two years late to market. I have several OTA and cable card Tivo's to more that fill my needs and am not too excited about a $1000 box (w/lifetime). I'm sure the Elite will fill a need for many however.
  9. Sep 8, 2011 #9 of 172

    DrewS3 Member

    Sep 19, 2008
    I don't think the problem is hardware - it's the software. Tivo's software hasn't been actively developed in many years. We get occasional refreshes which are poorly done and buggy, such as the HD UI, Photos, Music, Netflix, Rhapsody. I suspect that Tivo has either farmed out all their software work, or else their remaining software guys are in constant firefighting mode with fixing guide data aggregator bugs or other glitches.
  10. Sep 8, 2011 #10 of 172

    dlfl Cranky old novice

    Jul 6, 2006
    Dayton OH
    LOL! Well, that settles it. TiVo's problems are purely the result of poor management. :rolleyes: Never mind that their size and unit volume are less than 1/100'th that of Apple. Ignore the hurdles put up by the Cable operators going digital requiring the CableCARD and the kluge known as a Tuning Adapter, and doing everything they can get away with to impede TiVo's successful use of these devices.

    Has any market analysis verified that TiVo's sales or profit would increase if they spent the extra $50 (probably much more than that actually) per unit to make the TiVo what the OP wants? I suspect quite the opposite.

    We'll just have to switch to other superior DVR's, right? BTW, which ones are those?
  11. Sep 8, 2011 #11 of 172

    aadam101 Tell me a joke

    Jul 14, 2002
    Why compare to Apple? Apple has developed hundreds if not thousands of products over the years. TiVo has only developed 1/100th of that. The numbers seem about right to me.........
  12. Sep 8, 2011 #12 of 172

    dlfl Cranky old novice

    Jul 6, 2006
    Dayton OH
    OK, pick any company that the OP might have compared to TiVo (although some of them don't actually produce a DVR) and tell me which ones don't have at least 10X the money to put into product development.

    However it isn't even that simple. Even if you have the money to put into developing a product, it doesn't make sense to do it unless the market analysis says you can make money on the more expensive product. The OP's attitude only makes sense if you accept the idea that TiVo's main purpose is to satisfy him (while pricing themselves out of the business).
  13. Sep 8, 2011 #13 of 172

    uw69 Member

    Jan 25, 2001
    Well you are cranky I'll give you that.:)
  14. Sep 8, 2011 #14 of 172

    aadam101 Tell me a joke

    Jul 14, 2002
    Why compare them to anyone? They built this business. They built this business model. They have known for years that it was not sustainable and have done very little to gain more customer/revenue.
  15. Sep 8, 2011 #15 of 172

    LKMcMillen New Member

    Nov 17, 2004
    I've been a TiVo owner, subscriber, and supporter since TiVo first became available. I currently own two TiVo Premier DVRs. As additional support of TiVo and it's services I've always been a contributor to TiVo's revenue stream by being a monthly subscriber, rather than the purchaser of lifetime service.

    Unfortunately, in order for TiVo to retain me as a customer, TiVo needed to come up with a TiVo branded Home Theater Media Center that provides at least the same features provided by my Home Theater (with a 4 tuner adapter card) PC Media Center. The Premier Elite fails to deliver those features.

    TiVo's epitaph will likely be:

    Here lies TiVo.

    Died due to having focused more on the needs and desires of media providers and networks, than those of revenue producing consumers.


    Innovate, or die.
  16. Sep 8, 2011 #16 of 172

    Hamstring Member

    Feb 12, 2007
    Chicago, IL
    They are too busy running Tivo and just need to worry about getting content to me in the best way possible. My 4 year old PS3 (while not a dvr) has given me more unexpected functionality than TIVO is doing and I only bought it to be a blu-ray player and a gaming machine.
  17. Sep 8, 2011 #17 of 172

    dlfl Cranky old novice

    Jul 6, 2006
    Dayton OH
    The OP compared TiVo to several other devices/companies, all of which either
    (1) Don't make DVR's or (2) have much higher unit sales or (3) can justify much greater per-unit development costs based on their market environment. I simply wanted to indicate how illogical such comparisons are.
  18. Sep 8, 2011 #18 of 172

    aaronwt UHD Addict

    Jan 31, 2002

    But it's not doing a better job than TiVo. Amazon downloads are on TiVo, Hulu+ is pretty much identical to the PS3. Netflix on the PS3 is currently borked so TiVo beats it. The PS3 always sends out a 7.1 PCM signal from Netflix now. The PS3 does have VUDU. But even that is borked on the PS3 since it won't bitstream the DD+.

    Plus the PS3 doesn't have native resolution output like the TiVo. Anytime the PS3 does any scaling it provides an inferior picture to what I get from my scaler that my TiVos are connected to.

    And the PS3 uses much more power. At one point the PS3 was worth it for me to use. But now it's been relegated as a backup to the backup devices for me.
  19. Sep 8, 2011 #19 of 172

    aadam101 Tell me a joke

    Jul 14, 2002
    I disagree. Your PS3 is not running 24/7. TiVo is costing most people more money unless you are using your PS3 excessively.
  20. Sep 8, 2011 #20 of 172

    csell Member

    Apr 16, 2007
    I've been saying this for several years and this seems like another good thread to post it in. There is one thing that Tivo really missed the boat on - an App Store. A few years ago, Tivo came out their their SDK and many of us, including myself, wrote some good apps for the Tivo. Unfortunately, Tivo simply released the SDK and then did NOTHING else with it. They should have come out with their own App Store which sold apps. At that time, only Apple had an App Store for their portable devices and no TV's had it. Now, several years later, every new TV has access to an App Store, like Samsung's Apps.... Tivo really could have been a leader in this new industry, but they decided to do it half-ass...

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