Tivo Newbies Week 1 Impressions

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by MokTask, Jan 23, 2006.

  1. MokTask

    MokTask New Member

    Jan 12, 2006


    Here are my first week’s impressions of the Tivo - Series2 540040

    The Bad:
    Makes a "noise": I heard the dreaded “whine” from it the first time I powered it on. my wife heard it that night when she was up looking after our infant. It sounds like a HD spinning high all the time. Which it turns out is, but the HDs in these are supposed to be “quiet”, oh well. This is “normal" with all NEW Tivo units from reading and searching the forums. --- Guess I'll upgrade that HD sooner rather than later!

    Live TV: It has become (or always was) a general consensus “You shouldn't ever watch Live TV on it (or channel surf)”. It isn't "made" for that, from most people perceptions. It /is/ made to record a show, while watching a pre-recorded show from earlier, that is what it is best at. It is also designed to start recording a show, then about 15 minutes into the original start time, start watching it, then just fast-forward through the commercials by the time the 1-hour show is over, you’ll be all caught up and almost on time to actual ending. This whole notion of not watching live TV is a very, VERY hard thing to get used too. My wife and I are having a very hard time getting used to this, also since
    I've hooked it up from the Dish to the Tivo using the RCA cables, setting the Tivo in "standby" doesn't give me access to the Dish, oh well. I hope I’ll work around this soon as this could be the deal-breaker for my wife.

    Re-learning the remote: The remote (and interface) isn't the "best" it isn't laid out all too well with button placement, you tend to hit buttons on the remote you don't want. Especially the thumbs-up and thumbs-down buttons.... It also isn’t the most responsive remote I’ve used, it is downright sluggish. This could be more the Tivo unit, not the remote, as the remote “lights up” as soon as you hit a button.

    The Tivo interface: The GUI has things in what I'd call the wrong places, but I guess you just have to get used to it. Settings, and other things just are too far down and you have to dig for them. Other things aren’t as obvious.

    Tivo Suggestions: yeah. I think they’ve got some pretty “shady” programmers. First night it was set up. It downloaded 2 programs from the Soap channel, Dallas and old night-time soap. Yeah. Real funny guys, it DID enable me to learn that you can just hit “clear” on the Now Playing menu, to delete, instead of digging down into the program first. Still, Dallas, first night Tivo suggestion? I find that funny. This past weekend, it recorded like 3 shows off the game-show network. I had manually recorded a game show on Comedy Central (“Distraction”) but didn’t do an up or down preference on it, but the “Suggested” show was that old “match game” show, I don’t think so. I guess it will learn.

    Reporting Home: The Tivo /can/ transmit your preferences There is a 1-800 number you can call, but I’m not sure. I do NOT like the idea of my Tivo phoning home and telling corporate headquarters which shows I record, “not identifiable” PAH-LEASE! Give me a break. The shows are encoded with the serial number, the user list is identified by the serial number, you REGISTER your serial number to subscribe to the Tivo service, and the thing calls home every night to get updated programming information. How stupid am I? Doesn’t send personally identifiable information. Yeah, can’t identify if it was me or my wife making the recording, nope can’t tell that. Can it identify which house recorded what, you bet your butt it does. My problem is, if I don’t let it transmit my recorded shows (and habits) will the Tivo Suggestions still work? Maybe I’ll create another thread to ask this question….. The information and number can be found here - http://www.tivo.com/5.11.3.asp

    Thought I’d get my initial “bad” list out of the way, so on with the good!
    The good:
    Amazing technology: All the way around this hardware was/is made for Joe-idiot-consumer. I could tell as soon as I opened the box, they tried making this thing easy to use, with few support calls. How? Well, look at all the hook-up options you have. TV doesn’t have RCA plugs, use the RF (coax), has an Svideo, well then, by all means use that. I really would have liked another set of inputs though, but that’s just me (although I guess another set of inputs would almost demand a dual-tuner option). They also should consider putting in a large 1-sheet with more than just the 2 options of hooking up the system, you /could/ thumb through the manual, but the poster they have in there would be better if it were twice the size, and fit twice the setups on it, don’t make Joe-idiot-consumer search for the information.

    Ease of use: Once we get over the whole "we don't (shouldn’t) watch Live TV anymore" this will be quite wonderful. But, I don't know if I'll ever get my wife to NOT watch live, we'll see. I would like to see a “default season pass” configuration, so you can just hit one menu item to set the season pass up, just the way you like it, you could still have one where you could configure all your options, but at least 4 out of 5 times, I set the season pass to the exact same way.

    The power: Yeah. Power. I set up a season pass (which records the same "show" on that same channel no matter when it airs, every time, either ALL episodes, all new episodes, or every single episode even if it is already on the Tivo. There are also Wish-Lists - put in an actor, or show, and it will search all the channels you get and start recording that show/actor (whatever) all the time. It seems to be “smart”, if you are watching a show “live” and it needs to switch channels to record one you have set, if you answer no, it will try to find that episode again somewhere else and record it later.

    The remote and channels: We’re down to 1 remote, instead of 3 (TV, Dish, Tivo). When we watch live TV (told you it was hard) if we want to watch dish, type in the dish channel on the remote, watch NBC, type in its channel number on the same Tivo remote, and it just tunes in the over-the-air channel. It is seamless, something I think Dish Network should have done with their remote, instead of having a TV and Dish button on it, if you want local channel 18 just type in 18, if you want Dish 169, you type in 169 and it tunes to the Dish. Oh well, can’t have everything.

    Networking: Once the home network is completed, that bad boy will/can surf the internet. I can schedule recordings while at work or on the road, and tell it to record a program at home, and it will do it. This also means I can RIP shows from the Tivo to my desktops, and then re-encode them for burning on media or storing on the Media Server. The downside is they’re in a much larger format that I like to use, so it will take up more space than I’d like but I guess you have to pay the price somewhere, and this price is in storage size.

    Expandability: So far from what I’ve read the max expansion is about 1Tera (so that's just over 1,000 hours on basic quality). That would be a pair of 500gig hard-drives in there. That is a whole lot of stuff, more than most people would need.

    Medium and On-The-Fence Items (neither hot nor cold):
    If we had cable, instead of Dish Network, this would be SO MUCH BETTER than it is right now. It works just OK for Dish (not bad, but not great either). With cable, it would be awesome. We’re talking the whole tuning thing, it has a built-in tuner, which could tune in standard cable channels, for the Dish, you have to use the IR-Blaster dongles, little things that convert the Tivo remote control buttons into Dish signals. It isn’t that hard, IR-Blasters have been around for a long time, basically I type in a Dish channel number on the Tivo remote, the Tivo then re-works them into a Dish unit signal and transmits it through a pair of little IR emitters that you “stick” to the Dish tuner box, which still tunes the channel.

    General NOTES:
    I'm pretty sure I can get rid of the "whine" by installing the new HD in there. If not, the original will go back in, and I'll get it replaced, unless the TV is on, I can't take the sound (I'm really sensitive to noise). I also noticed that it doesn’t make the noise when it is recording, and that noise is almost gone when it is playing back. So, definitely the HD. Problem is, I have a Maxtor drive still in the box that I /could/ use in it, but I recently replaced the HD in one of my computers recently with a Maxtor and it is a LOT more noisy than the stock on, same size too, 160gig. So, maybe I’ll try and get another type. The “noise” these drives makes is more of data-crunching, not a “whine” but I think that would get annoying too. Guess I’ll have to give one of the other two big-dogs a try, WD and Seagate. I’ve said it before, I have no allegiances to any HD manufacturer for reliability, every one knows someone who had a brand fail, so those are the bad-drives of the month. Fact is, they all fail, they’re very intricate moving parts, of COURSE they’ll fail, they have to, and they defeat the law of average if they don’t.

    We recently switched our baby-sitters. She comes to our house every day to watch the boys and I /just/ taught her how to work the Dish remote, and now the Tivo remote is next. Not looking forward to that. Tivo really should get its act together on the “guide” too, why not put the picture in the corner so you can still “watch” while you’re looking at the guide? The whole “overlay” thing doesn’t work well, not at all in fact, but I guess you can still hear the audio, having it in a window would be perfect.

    Also, why is there a “picture in picture” button on the remote if you aren’t going to use it? Come on, how many PiP people are out there that use it? Why not enable it so you can keep watching TV (live or recorded), and push the “Tivo” button, and the TV show is still shown in the window? Too much to ask? Ah, would be a nice feature.

    Stand alone dual-tuner models. This would be GREAT. I would buy another Dish Receiver if I could get a dual-tuner Tivo. I /suppose/ I could get another Tivo for the 2nd Dish Recover, but that wouldn’t be as elegant. AND, it wouldn’t help with the whole “Live TV” problem I’m having. With dual-tuners, that becomes an invalid problem.

    PC Based PVR: I’ve built and used one. This is a great asset. I could have forgone buying the Tivo in the first place, if my wife would have been more “up” for the idea of using it with the remote (clunkier than the Tivo, SageTV) and get “over” the idea of having a computer in the living room. I also had to make some “adjustments” to my setup on how things worked, old RV-only style TV needed to have something like the VCR on in order for this setup to work, but that was fine for me… Well, needless to say, the PVR is staying, but it will go in my office, and it will only be used for recording over-the-air broadcasts that we don’t (or can’t) catch with the main Tivo. I LOVE the HTPC, want another tuner, just pop one it, bigger HD, no worries. Set it to batch-transcoded the raw video into Xvix or Divx, excellent for saving space. Oh, and if I wanted to play a game or surf, do that right on the TV screen, the tuner cards use practically NO CPU overhead, so don’t have to worry about dropping or losing frames, or stuttering
  2. dgh

    dgh New Member

    Jul 24, 2000
    Medium :D

    Before you wager body parts, it might be worth tracking down the discussions started by people who monitored the data that was being sent. I think this horse was pretty thoroughly beaten to death around 5 years ago.

    Live TV: Took about 3 minutes to get out of that habit here, but that was the purpose of the TiVo. Your issue with Dish is that the Dish receiver only outputs one channel. No device that comes after your Dish Receiver can turn one channel into many. If it's an issue after 4 minutes (;)) then get another receiver.

    I think the remote on my Sony TiVo is the best remote control I've ever had. (Of about 14 total.) However, there have been near fistfights here over the years over whether the TiVo Peanut or the Sony remote is the best.

    The rest I only skimmed, but Welcome to the TiVolution!
  3. DancnDude

    DancnDude Thrice as nice TCF Club

    Feb 7, 2001
    Madison, WI
    Welcome to the TiVolution! Here's a few bits of info based on your post:

    - Anonymous data is anonymous. There have been studies on what the TiVo "sends home" (and you could probably find it on the boards around here) and it does separate things. The data it collects is sent separately and does not include info identifying your serial number or box. Separately it downloads guide data.

    - Suggestions are handled purely on the box, because the box is the only thing that knows what recordings you have set up. They will get better as you record more things. At the beginning, you don't have any preferences and the TiVo is kinda wild. Setting up a season pass automatically gives 1 thumbs up to that program so even if you don't mess with thumbs at all, suggestions will improve.

    - Breaking away from "Live TV" might take a bit but eventually you will enjoy the freedom it gives you.

    - Once you get networking set up, your TiVo's storage space becomes limited only by how much space is on your PC. You can easily transfer and archive things onto the PC and transfer them back so you don't have to worry so much about having a huge hard drive in the TiVo.

    - TiVo just showed off a Series 3 at CES this year which will have dual tuners and will record HD. It's to be released this year.
  4. arc6th

    arc6th Fair and Balanced

    Jun 26, 2002
    San Antonio, TX
    I found beaking away from Live TV wasn't a matter of sitting in front of the tube @ 8pm and saying "No, I'm not going to watch Survivor, now."

    Instead, it's a decision @ 6pm not to rush through dinner with family or friends just so you can be home @ 8pm to watch a favorite show. It's a decision to enjoy that moment knowing that Survivor can be seen in its entirety later that night or tomorrow or Saturday or next Thursday.

    Once you start enjoying the rest of your time, i.e. not allowing network programming decisions to affect your behavior, then you'll find your Now Playing List will grow. There will generally be an inverse relationship between the number of shows on the Now Playing List and you desire to watch Live TV. Maybe some shows - like Idol or Survivor - will always be live or near-live viewing for you - it is TV Your Way, after all - but you'll probably ween yourself from Live TV over the next few months.
  5. bomberjim

    bomberjim Member

    Aug 30, 2003
    Rapid City...


    Couple of quick comments: my wife was initially disappointed by slow channel changes, and upset that channel surfing was now difficult. She still watches alot of live TV, but now surfs the guide rather than channels - might help ease the transition.

    You do realize that replacing the hard drive is not just a matter of swapping drives I hope. Do some research in the upgrade center forum.

    Your impressions of "if I had cable" seems to indicate that you think that Tivo can use both it's internal tuner and control a cable box at the same time. This is not so, Tivo has to be setup (in guided setup) to use one or the other. If you use the internal tuner, you won't be able to contol, or even use (in the Tivo path) a cable box. It's basically the same situation you have now.

    Jim L
  6. arc6th

    arc6th Fair and Balanced

    Jun 26, 2002
    San Antonio, TX
    You do realize that swapping drives can be just a matter of simply swapping drives I hope. Do some research in the upgrade center forum.

    Also, the TiVo DVR can be set up to have both satellite and cable at the same time. It was very convenient when I had DirecTV, but DirecTV didn't carry my locals. I was a basic Comcast customer for the locals only. The TiVo DVR could use its internal tuner to get the locals, and it controlled the DirecTV receiver for all other channels.
  7. bomberjim

    bomberjim Member

    Aug 30, 2003
    Rapid City...

    Is this true even though he has a standalone, not D*TV Tivo. I thought not, but if so, then I stand corrected. You seem to be implying that no Linux programming of the new drive is required.

    Jim L
  8. Jonathan_S

    Jonathan_S Well-Known Member

    Oct 23, 2001
    You don't need any linux programming if you buy a drive from someone like weakness who pre-formats and configures the drive for your DTiVo.

    The downside of this is that this is more expensive than a drive from your local computer place (or at least more expensive than a drive from a reputable online store; you never know about the prices at the local computer place ;)). And that non of your settings or programs will be copied from your existing drive to the new drive. If you roll your own upgrade it is possible to preserve these.
  9. bomberjim

    bomberjim Member

    Aug 30, 2003
    Rapid City...
    Thanks, I understand. I just didn't want the OP to think he could buy a hard drive at Best Buy and pop it in there.

    Jim L
  10. MokTask

    MokTask New Member

    Jan 12, 2006
    Thanks all for the input.

    Yeah, not more than 10 minutes ago, I got "the look" from the wife when I asked where the Tivo remote was, because she was using the TV tuner to change local channels and has the Dish receiver turned off. Oh well. I guess this just isn't going to work. Everyone here know "the look"? Yeah, good stuff.

    Almost like the look I get when I change something on /her/ computer. Yeah, we have to have separate machines, because "you screw with things too much", ah, yeah its called "progress". :)

    So, at some point maybe she'll get used to it, but I'm going to have a LOT of "looks" to suffer until then. I DOUBT she will ever get used to NOT watching live TV. As a teacher, she has a very fixed schedule and waiting to do something is not something she's capable of (mentally and physically).

    As for the upgrades, I am quite aware that it isn't as easy as just popping it in the unit and thinking it will work. I did a lot of research before I bought to make sure I'd buy the right one that could be upgraded. Granted, this 540040 isn't as upgradeable as the earlier models, like if I want to hack it, I'll have to have the eProm changed out, but I don't think I want to do that anyway (yet). Linux, I've known for years that Tivo was a Linux set-top, probably the most famous. I have a Linux box here at home, and 2 at work I administer, so I'm not too worried about that portion of the upgrade. Besides that, most of the guides are very clear an easy to follow.

    My "if I had cable" portion was if I had it INSTEAD of the Dish. We can't get cable here, it isn't down to this cul-de-sac of the sub-division, neither is DSL for that matter, we're in a dead zone. If cable was here, we'd "maybe" do that, I've checked prices, WOW, I see why people call it CommieCast... That is a lot of dough, for the "same type" of service.

    I personally use the "guides" all the time, both Tivo and Dish (not so much Dish any more, but sometimes I can't "trust" the Tivo guide, especially with the Nickelodeon channels). But, I don't know how long it will take the wife to do that, it will come, but it will take time.

    I get a little 'impatient' with her in the adoption of new technologies. Stands from too many years as the "go to" guy for IT, for users who just don't "get it". I guess my "you're just not doing it right..." isn't exactly the best way to handle it... I know another thing she gets annoyed with is the Tivo saying all day long "I'm going to change channels, ok?". She doesn't know what to do, so she lets it go, and then changes the channel on the TV or Dish receiver....

    (also just realizing I use a lot of /word/ and "word" all over my posts, that's /funny/)
  11. ChuckyBox

    ChuckyBox New Member

    Oct 3, 2005
    You don't have to force this change. Yes, surfing is slower, but the real change for me came when I realized that with TiVo there was always something good to watch in the Now Playing list, and I didn't have to surf. (Besides, digital cable was much slower in channel changing than analog, so surfing became annoying anyway.) Once you've set up some wish lists and season passes, your surfing days will be forgotten.

    Give it a chance. At first it just grabs stuff to see what you think of it, hoping that you'll give a thumbs up or down. Later you'll see that there are some smarts to it. I've found shows that I liked but didn't know about through that feature. But I took the time to rate the things it found for me. It took a while to convince my box that I spoke neither Spanish nor Chinese, but it did get the message. Just give the suggestions a thumbs up or down and it will learn. (Save the two or three thumbs for entire categories of shows you like or hate.)

    Find a show she likes and set up a season pass. My girlfriend had never watched "Buffy," but after watching a couple of episodes with me, she decided she liked it. Over the next few months she was able to catch up on seven (?) years of episodes because TiVo happily found them playing on various stations. Now we're going through Law & Order and NYPD Blue (do you have any idea how many of those there are?), and a lot of design and remodeling shows. Needless to say, she now loves TiVo and the idea of live TV and commercials have become alien to her.
  12. dgh

    dgh New Member

    Jul 24, 2000
    Not waiting is what TiVo is all about. Instead of waiting for a time slot specified by someone else to sit down and watch a show, you sit down whenever YOU are ready, and find a list of shows waiting for YOU in Now Showing. I stopped waiting on TV almost 6 years ago. I would never go back.
  13. Impulses

    Impulses New Member

    Jan 24, 2006
    Puerto Rico
    Hrm, I'll agree that the TiVo unit itself IS in fact pretty sluggish, when I decide to make extensive changes to my Season Pass and such it can take a good deal of time for it to recognize them all and let me carry on with whatever I want to do... But the interface is far far from clumsy imo.

    The whole reason I bought a TiVo is that, having used a relative's in the past, I knew I could teach everyone in my home to use it. I could easily assemble a DVR/home theather PC hybrid that would have a lot more functions and capabilities than the TiVo, it'd probably be snappier too (faster components, bigger drives, multiple tuners, seamless disc burning, etc)... But it would never be as easy to use nor as reliable in all likelyhood.

    The live TV vs recorded content watching habit is really the biggest paradigm you're faced with when you start using a DVR... I still flip around to watch CNN live (they don't even seem to have a centralized news show anymore, it's all Situation Room this and Anderson Cooper that, ugh) or to watch sports semi-live, but once you manage to add enough content thru Season Passes and Wishlists you quickly realize the value the unit and the way it's programmed.

    It took me a while to strike the right balance of Season Pass settings so that I'd always have extra content of interest but also enough space to record and keep the must-watch shows I want, but it's really nice once you get there. I definitely haven't experienced any of the 'shady suggestions' stuff you mentioned.

    Granted, once I started tinkering with my unit I immediately went thru a GOOD AMOUNT of the programming guide and pretty much gave a couple Thumbs Up to every show I was ever interested in, then went over a few of them and tweaked the settings, then messed around with the Season Passes for a week.

    Get used to setting up a Season Pass for shows you have mild interest in and then set 'em up to be deleted as needed and keep only a specified amount, then start prioritizing based on how often some are on and what you preffer watching (because the TiVo can just record a later showing of certain shows, depending on how you set it).

    I'm definitely gonna upgrade my untit's drive within the year so I can be even more liberal with the Season Pass settings and record even more stuff, heh. As for the particular drive and noise, if you're gonna upgrade it, make sure to pick up a drive with FDB (fluid drive bearings), if you're buying an older model or something under 200GB it could still have older types of bearings, which are noisier.

    Seagate usually tends to be the quietest (after Samsung, but Seageate's 5-year warranty is unbeatable) of the bunch, compared to Hitachi(ex-IBM)/Maxtor/WD anyway... I really haven't noticed much noise from my unit but our living room is close to the front of the house and there's a lot of external noise in PR (Coquis! and birds etc) anyway.

    P.S. The best way to ease the transition is to let your spouse or family members surf away but at the same time get more informed about what they like to watch and slowly build them up a library of content. They can switch the input all they want and watch TV regularly, but slowly they'll realize there's much more interesting stuff to watch that's already recorded.

    My sister (who's only here on weekeneds) likes watching Modern Marvels on Hist so there's always 4 or 5 of them waiting for her when she's around, my mom loves Law and Order so now there's always several of them ready to watch, they quickly lose interest in Live TV when their favorites are on tap 24/7. :p

    Play with those Season Passes too, don't just set one or two, set up several and place the most-often aired show at the bottom of the priority list, adjust the "Keep At most" settings based on personal prefference, etc.
  14. betts4

    betts4 I am Spartacus!

    Dec 26, 2005
    A Galaxy...
    Mok, It sounds like you and I are in similiar situations. Only I am the one getting "the look" from my husband who is not getting the beauty of the tivo machine. It is new in our house - just about a month old.
    We are still watching way too much live tv. It is a hard habit. Why watch a recording when we can watch it live? That is his thought sometimes.

    We had no problems with the new remote, but he is having a hard time getting used to the 'guide' as a way to find out what is playing or coming up. Me? I love it. That I can see what is on any channel for hours ahead of time....its great!

    I loved it just last night when we watched 3 hours of shows that we had been holding on to for viewing. To be able to sit and say "lets watch the old Shield" and then "lets watch BSG" and then "hey we have a Futurama and a robot chicken to view" was great. I think it finally started to sink in as what magic it can do.

    I really loved it tonight as I was playing and recording on dvd the Quantum leap episodes that were from sunday while my tivo was recording the new Shield ep for us to watch. Yeah tivo!!!!
  15. ZeoTiVo

    ZeoTiVo I can't explain

    Jan 2, 2004
    yep, my Wife setup a season pass after the TiVo was in the house just two days. she did it while I was at work.

    MY 7 year old was using the TiVo remote to get shows after about a month and loves to play Skull and Bones with me.

    My 12 year old is managing the season passes on the Kids TiVo with just having to run them by me for approval
  16. joe123j

    joe123j New Member

    Jan 25, 2006
    I have SageTV server on a PC in the basement and MediaMVP on 3 (now 5) TV's.

    The MediaMVP's are quiet (no noise), no fans, small. SageTV server streams data to all TV's via the MVP's.

    So you can have the PC running SageTV server in the basement/garage if you like while it streams data to all rooms. :D

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