TiVo review

TiVo is a new way to record TV. Find out how it performs.
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04.Getting used to TiVo

We've had TiVo in our test home for several months now and there are some things that we find really helpful – others are just annoying.

Things we like

  • Skip back when fast forwarding. When you press the play button to stop fast forward, TiVo jumps back a few seconds more to ensure you don't miss the beginning of the scene. It means you sometimes get a few seconds of the part you're forwarding through, but that's much better than having to backtrack manually.
  • When we've indicated that we don't want a program, TiVo has been smart enough to stop recording it in the future.
  • It's reasonably quick to change the channel.
  • Setting a recording using the EPG is simple.
  • You can change the format of the EPG's display – see Things we don't like.
  • Managing the programs that TiVo has recorded is easy. The file structures are logical, but can be repetitive if a program fits in more than one category.
  • TiVo gives plenty of warning if it's going to delete a program for space and you can stop it from doing so.
  • TiVo records programs based on what it 'thinks' will fit your preferences. These have their own folder so they're easy to identify and manage.

Things we don't like

  • TiVo does seem to be learning our preferences, but it has been a bit tedious at times. We had to give the thumbs down to almost a week of news programs at one stage to make it clear we didn't want the news from all channels every day.
  • We're no longer having intermittent problems with SBS reception. None of the other set-top-boxes in the house ever had a problem, but TiVo was occasionally pixelating so badly that SBS was unwatchable. Previous testing suggests this problem is a combination of some interference in the region of the house and TiVo being a bit sensitive to impulse noise. This isn't something we expect TiVo can fix easily, but if you normally have intermittent reception problems you should make it clear to the retailer that TiVo may not be suitable in your home. Get the store's assurance that they'll let you return it if you can't get it to work.
  • The EPG grid layout tends to truncate program names so that you can't easily see them without hovering the curser over them. The default TiVo layout has less of a problem with truncation.
  • You can't see which programs TiVo is planning record in the EPG. It'll put a red dot against programs while it's recording, but you have to go through a couple of menus to the "To Do List" to find what it plans to record. Also, the To Do List doesn't appear to include programs you've selected a season pass for.
  • The channel selection button on the TiVo remote control is very sensitive – making it very easy to skip the channel you want. It's a niggle, but annoying.
  • Occasionally, TiVo has not recorded programs with three thumbs up or that we've entered as a season pass. The latter is very annoying.

Things we'd like to see in future upgrades

  • A change to the EPG that indicates which programs the TiVo is planning to record would be very helpful. Perhaps a green or yellow dot.
  • Also, it would be useful to be able to stop a proposed recording via the EPG rather than having to go through the menu system.
  • The design of the EPG would be greatly improved if program names weren't as truncated.
  • More detailed descriptions in the EPG information. This could make browsing the EPG a similarly engaging experience to browsing a paper guide.
  • Currently there's no way of knowing how much space is left on the hard drive. Very annoying if you're planning to make a long recording, but aren't sure if it'll fit without jeapodising current recordings.

Other EPG issues

One thing TiVo has highlighted over the past few weeks is a problem that befalls all EPGs - they're only as good as the information put into them.

Unfortunately, during the Paralympics the EPG information for ABC HD was just wrong. Instead of our ABC HD season pass programs or shows we liked, TiVo recorded the Paralympics. TiVo or any other DVR can only read the information put into the EPG and the ABC didn't change its HD program data during the Paralympics.

Errors in programming happen often with all channels, but they're usually in single instances and mainly limited to start or end times. This problem persisted for weeks and we think the channels should watch out for major changes such as these.


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