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All About Tivo

Updated on December 30, 2010

I Love My Tivo!

Tivo is a technology that was invented several years ago. It is a Digital Video Recorder (DVR), but don't be fooled into thinking that other DVRs out there are a substitute for Tivo. Tivo's software really allows it to stand head and shoulders above the other DVRs out there. I love my Tivo. If you have never tried Tivo, you may not know why they are so great. I didn't know what I was missing out on before I got one, either.

What's So Great About Tivo?

Tivo allows you to free your life from the TV schedule. Say you really love the TV show Survivor. You want to watch it every week, and you don't want to miss an episode. You can either a) make sure that you are home every Thursday night so you can watch it, or b) make sure that you set your VCR to record it if you're not going to be home. However, in life, sometimes things happen. Let's say you're at work an Thursday afternoon, and an emergency happens. Your boss wants you to stay late. You're going to miss your favorite television show! It's too late to set your VCR to record it, you weren't planning on being away from home. That's where Tivo comes in.

If you owned a Tivo, having to stay late for work wouldn't be a bad thing. Well, it might be a little annoying to have to work late, but at least you wouldn't miss your favorite television show. Tivo already knows that you like to watch Survivor every week, so it is already recording it for you.

Recording our favorite shows is the main reason that we have a Tivo. My favorite television show, Survivor, is on at the same time that we have church every Thursday. I don't really care though, because I can watch the show when I get home, on my time. We also enjoy watching 20/20 on Friday nights. Prior to owning a Tivo, we would get involved in doing something, and we would forget to watch it. This happened quite a lot. With our Tivo, we just record it, and get around to watching it when we feel like it.

Photo by mzacha at sxc.hu.

No More Commercials (Unless You Want to See Them)

Another feature that is great about Tivo is that you don't have to sit through commercials any more, unless you want to see them. Tivo has a neat little fast-forward button, where you can click through any commercials. We usually do this, although we often stop to see any new Jack In The Box commercials, because they're pretty funny. This allows us to watch an hour-long TV show in about 40 minutes.

We also use the Tivo's fast-forward feature to fast-forward through any boring parts. Sometimes 20/20 has a segment that we're not interested in, but we're not stuck watching it. We just fast-forward to a part that is more interesting.

In order to use the fast-forward feature, the program actually has to have been recorded already. Tivo does not have a magical ability to go into the future and pull future television segments out of the air. If you want to fast forward through the commercials, you might want to start watching a show 20 minutes after it has started (for an hour long program).

Oddly enough, we do the opposite thing at the Superbowl. Since neither me or my husband likes football, we record the Superbowl, fast-forward through the boring football, and watch the commercials. The one time of year we actually want to watch commercials.

Photo by mdw81 at sxc.hu.

Never Miss Your Favorite Show

Sometimes television schedules change. A special basketball game might move your favorite show for a different night, or perhaps it is moved to a later time slot to make room for another program. If you have a Tivo, that doesn't matter. Tivo communicates with a giant server in the sky to find out when your favorite programs are going to be on, so you don't have to.

Tivo has a nice feature called "Season's Pass". You tell it which shows you want Tivo to record every episode of, and it will record it for you, even if another program forces it to change when it airs. You can prioritize your season's passes too... you tell Tivo which shows you like the best, and if two shows come on at the same time, it will record the one you give higher priority to. Some newer Tivos can record two different shows at the same time, so that reduces that problem.

Filter TV for Your Kids

I've heard some parents complain that there's a lot of junk on television (which I agree with). They don't want their kids running into programs that they shouldn't be watching. Sometimes you run into things that you don't want to see, even when just flipping channels.

With my Tivo, I rarely flip channels any more. Tivo records all the shows that we are interested in, and I just watch everything from the Tivo "Now Playing" menu. There's always plenty to watch. I set up Tivo Season's Passes to record television shows specifically for my kids. Since they're almost always watching television through the filter of the Tivo, I don't have to worry about them running into anything that I don't want them to see while flipping channels.

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But I Don't Watch That Much TV!

Whenever I tell my friends and family (that don't have a Tivo) how much I love Tivo, they're response for not wanting to get one is "I don't watch that much TV!" Yet they'll sit at home and watch the Game Show Network or will mindlessly flip through other shows, and they'll miss the beginning of shows that they do enjoy because they forget about it.

Owning a Tivo isn't about watching a lot of television. It's about making better use of the television time that you do have. I don't watch a lot of TV either. However, whenever I do watch television, I'm watching one of my favorite programs, not what happens to be on television at the time. Plus, I don't have to watch commercials while I'm at it.

Tivo allows you to explore different programs and record things that you wouldn't ordinarily watch. Like that documentary on Africa that airs at 2 in the morning. I don't want to stay up until 2 in the morning to watch a television show, but Tivo will for me. Perhaps it records it for me and I end up being too busy to watch it, or I lose interest in watching it. No biggie, Tivo will record over it.

Tivo will also record suggestions for you, based on what you ordinarily record, and what you tell it about your likes and dislikes. When you get your Tivo, you might want to take some time giving the "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" to different shows. That way it will know that your kids want to see more shows like Arthur and Sesame Street, but you're not interested in exposing them to annoying shows like Barney. The Tivo has, in fact, helped me avoid the Barney phenomenon by recording kids shows approved by me, but always skipping over shows I hate. You can also tell Tivo what adult shows you like as well.

Photo by Annalog85 at sxc.hu.

Tivo Knows What You Like

Tivo will suggest shows for you to watch based on shows that you have recorded and what you have given the thumbs-up to. If you think that Barney is extremely irritating, give it three thumbs-down. Then Tivo won't try to record it for your kids.

If you have extra space on your Tivo's hard drive, Tivo will fill up the empty space with shows that it thinks that you will like. You can disable this feature, but it usually records things that are relevant, after you have been using it for a while. Be sure to use the thumbs-up and thumbs-down features to tell it about what you do and do not like when you first get it.

If you're bored and are looking for shows to watch, Tivo can make suggestions for you. Often, the Tivo suggestions feature has a lot of interesting shows to watch.

The Tivo Desktop

Another Great Tivo Feature

Tivo has so many great features, that I could go on all day. One of the features that is nice about Tivo is the Tivo Desktop.

With the Tivo Desktop, you can watch Tivo programs on your computer. Transferring your Tivo programs to your computer allows you to watch them on your computer, or you can store programs on your computer's hard drive, so you can watch them later.

I watch Survivor on a regular basis. I usually transfer my Survivor programs over to my desktop so I can watch them again later, without taking up space on my Tivo. I have a Series 2 with only 40 hours on it, so I try not to keep programs around for too long. I can re-watch these shows on my computer, or I can transfer them back to my Tivo and watch them on the television again.

We only have one television in our house, so this feature of the Tivo occasionally comes in handy. Let's say my husband is watching Star Trek, but I'd rather watch this evening's Glenn Beck. No problem, all I have to do is transfer Glenn Beck over to my computer, and I can watch it there.

Tivo also has a Desktop Plus feature where you can transfer your TV shows over to your iPod, or you can transfer videos that you download over the internet to your television. It only costs $24.95, so it's not too bad a price.

Photo by speedy2 at sxc.hu.

YouTube, Amazon, and... Pizza?

New Tivo Features

Tivo is always adding features. If you have a series 3 Tivo, you can view videos from YouTube on your television through your Tivo. Amazon has an Unbox feature where you can purchase movies and have them downloaded to your Tivo. With newer Tivos, you can download Netflix movies and watch them on your television, without waiting for videos to arrive in the mail! Watching all this television might make you hungry, but no problem. You can order Dominoes Pizza through your Tivo now.

Photo by cyrulp at sxc.hu.

Lifetime Subscription Plans

If you buy a Tivo, you might want to consider purchasing a lifetime subscription. They may be expensive at first, but the investment pays off. In order to get the maximum benefit from your Tivo, you need to have a subscription to Tivo. That allows your Tivo to call up the Tivo servers and get new program info, which allows you to to watch the television shows you want.

You can get this subscription a few ways. You can pay a monthly fee, pay for a year or two up front, or you can pay for a lifetime subscription. The lifetime subscription stays with your Tivo for the life of your machine. If you decide to sell your Tivo and upgrade, your lifetime subscription transfers with your Tivo, which increases the value of your DVR when you try to sell it.

We have had our Tivo for more than 4 years now, and we paid for the lifetime subscription. No matter what our financial situation is, we always have Tivo.

Photo by Redjar at Wikimedia Commons

Tivo: Love it or Hate it?

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      Joan4 8 years ago

      My daughter-in-law loves her Tivo convenience - especially with the children's programs.