May
10
2010

  I Ordered A Tivo

I've been thinking about getting a Tivo for several months now, and tonight I did it. The catalyst was when I saw an ad for a new version of the Tivo box on the wrapper of the latest Netflix DVD. I saw it a few weeks ago, but only remembered to look it up tonight.

Because I wanted to watch House, but got distracted and before I knew it, it was already 8:10pm and I missed the first part of the show, so I didn't bother tuning in. I'll watch it from online later. At some point in the season, T and I usually go online and catch up on various episodes of our favorite shows that we've missed for whatever reason. Since I wasn't watching TV, I decided to use the rest of the hour to research this new device.

It will record two HD channels at once, which is nice since we can watch one show and record another, or even record two shows and watch a third that was previously recorded. It also uses less energy than previous versions of the boxes, which was one of the reasons I was hesitant to order it before. But this new one is energy-star compliant, so I can live with that.

The bad part, is that it does not have a built-in wireless connection. It's designed to get the internet through an ethernet cable. Terry said it would be difficult to string a wire from the other room into here, but I don't think it would be that hard, we did it before when we had the antenna-internet. Still, we'll try using the wireless adapter thing we used to use with the Audrey (my erstwhile kitchen internet-thing) first. It's really old, but hopefully it will at least work well enough so that we can access the guide so we can record shows. We can buy a newer adapter or string the ethernet cable if we want to stream video to our projector. Although really, it's not that big an advantage to use the Tivo for that since we can already do that using the PS3. We don't use the PS3/Netflix official interface since it's not really streaming and has a poor buffering function, but we do move files wirelessly from T's computer to the PS3 then watch the shows in the lounge. It's all kind of complicated; it is possible that the Tivo interface will be so much easier to use that it will be worth the effort to get it hooked up to our fastest broadband speed with some new equipment, but this remains to be seen.

The website says it takes 4-6 business days to get the Tivo once it has shipped, so I should get it next week at the latest. However, I've often received products much more quickly than websites predict, so I am hopeful it will arrive this week. I have read the forums, and am already mentally prepared for the set-up to be challenging. Perhaps it will be less-so for us in particular since we're just using over-the-air signals and not cable. I think the Tivo will replace our current HD converter box, so we can use that in another room if we wanted. Although we already have a converter box for the TV downstairs, and that's our only other HDTV. We have a little 13" TV, but it's got the free government-issue digital tuner thing I got when they took analog signals off-the-air. I guess we should probably sell one of our HD boxes if the Tivo works out for us.

It is still not entirely clear to me if the Tivo will record in full HD or not, so I am prepared to return it in their 30-day test window if the played-back shows don't look as good as the live shows. Because if we want to watch our shows in a lower resolution, we can do that already by streaming them online, and that's free. I just run the cable from my laptop to the projector, and we watch them on the big screen either way. But it will be worth the $11/month for the Tivo to see them in HD, and not have to wait a week for the episode to be posted online.

I got the player that will record 45 hours of HD shows. That seems like a lot of TV to me. The alternative was 150 hours. But I figure realistically, if I ever had 150 hours of shows lined up, I'd never actually watch them all. It's all we can do to fit in watching one Netflix movie per week. We'll typically watch 1-3 hours of TV per night for 3-4 days per week. So that's 12 hours max. Once in a while, we'll binge and watch another 2-3 hours one night if we're not tired. Regardless, that's a long way from 45 hours, so we'll be able to keep a backlog of shows that we can watch on Friday-Sunday nights when we usually don't turn on the TV since nothing good is on. And it would be nice to watch our late-night shows at 10pm, it won't matter to us that they're from the night before. . .

Unfortunately, we don't get TNT over the air here. It's just on cable or satellite, and we don't get either. We do get the CW, so maybe one of the main station affiliates will decide to carry TNT on one of their extra HD channels, but I'm not holding my breath for that. I don't think any of the major networks owns TNT, and I figure the CW must be owned by NBC since it's on their affiliate's 3rd HD channel. I mention this because Conan O'Brien is going to have a show on TNT starting this fall, and I would like to watch it. But will be unable to watch it, unless someone starts broadcasting that channel over the air around here.