TiVo

TiVo

TiVo: All those satisfied customers can't be wrong

TiVo customers are enjoying the benefits of one of the best PVR systems available today. Sure, they pay a premium for the service on top of whatever method they're receiving their television programming. But once they have a subscriber service or their digital tuner in place receiving channels, it's just a matter of setting up the TiVo set-top box to display their electronic program guide.

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With TiVo, you can benefit from all the time-shift TV features of PVR. You can pause while watching a program in progress, record, and fast-forward through commercials. No loading tapes or fumbling through outdated menus systems that require a degree in engineering. TiVo's menu and programming systems are designed to be intuitive and their customers give high praise for ease of use compared to a VCR.

You also get some unique TiVo functionality. The ability of their boxes to skip forward 30 seconds through commercials is a very nice feature, far superior to conventional fast forward that inevitably makes you rewind momentarily when you pass into your show because you were too eager to skip all those commercials.

Other TiVo-specific features include their Season Pass, a feature that automatically records any instance of a show across the guide. Wish List is a feature that allows you to enter a hot topic into TiVo and it automatically finds and records anything pertaining to that topic based on data from the program guide. Let's say you have a favorite actor and want to see everything about him or her. Program the name into the Wish List and it'll find shows and movies that include this actor in the credits. You'll find yourself seeing their appearance on shows you didn't know existed, not to mention interviews and appearances on Jay Leno and Punk'd. Online scheduling puts the power of the web into your programming guide. This allows you to set a show to record from a browser if you're at a remote location and unable to get home. Forget having to call a friend to drop in and record something for you - just do it yourself from a computer. Some TiVo set-top boxes even have some multi-media capabilities to integrate with your home network. You can use the TiVo with the digital music player feature to playback MP3s saved on your PC through your home theater sound system.

TiVo is the most popular PVR service but, again, it requires a separate monthly fee. So, if you already subscribe to satellite TV or digital cable, you'll have an additional subscription to TiVo to pay for. Plus, you have to buy their set-top box up front. Suddenly the services don't look as good, considering most cable and satellite services have their PVR system included in the set-top box you need to receive their channels anyway.

However, TiVo users are highly satisfied with their service and claim to have troubles going back to other PVRs. The TiVo's primary purpose is PVR, compared to many other set-top boxes that add PVR functionality. This means they might not be as fast or their menu systems might have bugs and quirks that make them frustrating at times. Ask anyone who's used some of Motorola's digital cable terminals that use PVR - early versions were bug-ridden affairs for which they would have paid good money.

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