What is a TIVO?

Discussion in 'Digital TV & Video Players & Recorders' started by Geofbob, Jan 30, 2009.

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  1. Geofbob

    Geofbob
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    There are constant references in the forums to the Tivo recorder. But apart from the facts that the machine is no longer marketed in the UK, and that its supporters claim that it is superior to other recorders, I know next to nothing about its specification and capabilities.

    So I should be grateful if one of those enthusiasts could enlighten me (and others), as to the basic characteristics of this marvel.

    I am posting this in the PVR/VRC forum as creddish recently stated that he though the Tivo was the original PVR; but if the Administrators/Mods think another forum more suitable, do doubt they will move it.
     
  2. Cyril

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    It used to be, maybe still is, the world's most popular and powerful independent PVR.
    Sky+ has now become more popular in terms of numbers though, especially as its now free with a Sky sub.

    ReplayTV was the first PVR, with TiVo following shortly afterwards.
    In 1998/1999 they were both better than anything we have in the UK as far as design, EPG and software features IMHO.

    Modern hardware is a lot better than that in 1998, but the software is worse :(

    TiVo is available in Australia, Taiwan, USA, Canada, Mexico City.

    ReplayTV has only been available in the USA, and is now owned by DirecTV -www.replayTV.com , so not much chance coming to UK, though is part of DMH who own Denon, Marantz and McIntosh.

    TiVo UK - TiVo Community
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Xd6f88JIp4

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TiVo -(Note the TiVo suggestions problem has been fixed, -wikipedia is out of date)


    I have owned literally thousands of gadgets and TiVo is probably my favourite, way ahead of the Wii,360,PS3,iPhone,Sonos,Treo, ipod and many leagues above Psp,SkyHD and the FoxsatHDR.
    The upcoming iphone killer from Palm (Palm Pre), might be my next favourite.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2009
  3. mossym

    mossym
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    the beauty of tivo was it learned what you liked to watch. you gave programs a rating, and based on the ratings you gave shows it would either recommend programs for you to watch, or if you let it it would just go and record them for you. and it was good at doing it. also the software was just far slicker than sky+ series link were much easier to set up...and they had nice easy things like a maximum number of episodes of a show to keep, so if you just always wanted to have a few simpsons on the box just in case, it would just keep the last 5 episdoes shown, not just record every one.

    plus you could search programs by interest, by keyword, by program type, by actor, by actress...it was very powerful
     
  4. Regdor

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    Cyril covers most of it.
    I bought one when Comet discounted the last few in stock. Thomson made them and they sold at £400 plus £200 lifetime subscrption. Pricey for 5 years ago! They sold in small numbers but they are loved by their fans.
    They dial out to get the program data which is what the £200 is for. No over the air epgs then.
    They are just a pc so many people hack them to networks and it is easy to buy new hard drives. I went to 250Gb about 18 months ago.
    They are very big in the states so much so that "to Tivo" is a verb like to hoover
     
  5. Cyril

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    The UK TiVo was released in 2000 - so over 8 years ago, not 5!

    Functionality was better in 2000 than anything we have in the UK in 2009! :(

    The new TiVo series 3 HD makes what we have in the UK look like badly made copies of Fisher-Price toys :(
     
  6. Geofbob

    Geofbob
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    I'm sorry, Cyril, but that does not answer the simple questions I put - what are the specs & capabilities of TIVo? (I now see that the final "o" should be lower case.) As usual, you've told me in detail how wonderful it is and how popular it is in those countries it's still available.

    Take two steps back, and two big breaths, and simply explain to me - as though I'm the idiot newbie I am in this particular regard - what the TIVo actually contains in terms of HDDs, tuners etc, and what it does; plus perhaps what it does which isn't done by other PVRs.

    Frankly, that doesn't sound so difficult to me; and I look forward to hearing from you and/or other TIVo aficianadaos.
     
  7. creddish

    creddish
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    I think mossym listed the features which caused the term "Personal Video Recorder" to be coined. The features he described enable to unit to carry out recordings based on your "personal" preferences and the programmes you have "personally" watched and rated previously. I don't believe any of the current devices we choose to refer to as Personal Video Recorders (PVR) achieve that level of intelligence and learning ability so do not justify the title of "Personal Video Recorder".

    Colin
     
  8. Cyril

    Cyril
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    They have been built by many different companies: Humax, Thomson, Toshiba, Sony, Pioneer, Hughes etc..
    Specs are listed on TiVo Community in the various FAQ, or the newer ones on TiVo DVR: your ultimate source for entertainment - TiVo

    There are very many TiVo versions, some with built in OTA tuners, some analog, some digital,some High Definition, some single, some twin, some satellite, some cable, some with DVD, but only one UK version.

    Thomson UK series 1 spec from year 2000:

    Ancient 16Mhz processor (which still beats the modern SkyHD when it comes to EPG speed!!!)
    16MB RAM
    40GB Hard disk (can be upgraded to 1TB or even 2TB with a LOT of hacks)
    Analog PAL TV tuner
    MPEG2 encoder and decoder so it can record from any analog source
    RGB SCART input
    RGB SCART output
    RF input
    RF outpout
    VCR SCART output
    stereo phono output
    modem
    IR front blaster
    IR external port
    serial port

    To receive digital TV you need to connect an external set top box which it can control using its built in front IR blaster or external IR lead

    The UK EPG covers 28 days -about 21 days more than most other UK DVRs/PVRs.
    It also supports Sky,SkyHD, Freesat, Freeview, Tiscali TV (was Homechoice),Virgin standard and VM+ and maybe a few other strange UK cable/analog satellite platforms

    As new set top boxes arrive, e.g. FoxsatHDR, the TiVo IR database is updated and you can download the new remote control codes over the telephone modem or via broadband if you have hacked the serial or network ports.

    It can even cope with 2 EPGs at the same time ( a feature now available in Windows Vista TV pack).
    However you are restricted to just Sky and Freeview , though in theory Freesat and Freeview should also work.
    If you are prepared to do a bit of hacking, other EPG combinations may work.



    Software features are too many to list!
    Hacks -thousands -too many to list!
    Additional hardware options:
    network card
    network cache card (extra 512MB RAM can cache entire database to speed up menus, database loading)

    The personalisation aspect is the key:
    it is smart enough to prioritise in case of wishlist, series/link or season pass clashes, smart enough to carry on recording when one season ends and another begins, smart enough to learn your viewing habits and suggest similar shows you might like . keep shows for one day, only keep x amount of episodes, record only Jackie chan shows when uma thurman appears in a documentary, record all shows with Isabella Rosselini and bruce willis , record all shows directed by Kurosawa etc.
    If it encounters a database problem it will even try to repair itself and keep as much of your data intact as possible unlike other DVRs which just crash, or decide to repair itself by wiping out all your recordings (like SkyHD).

    With hacks it can do a thousand more things - never record episodes you have seen, transfer a clashed show to another TiVo to record on that, show callerID and name address of someone who phones you up, send a daily email with a status report, and many many more things


    Celebrity TiVo users - you might find them talking about how much they love it on their shows:

    Jay Leno
    David Letterman
    Howard Stern
    Donny Osmond -eek!
    Samuel L Jackson
    Steve Wozniack
    Sarah Michelle Gellar (one of the Buffy the vampire demons is mentioned he has to go home so he can watch TiVo)
    The cast of Charmed (in 12 Angry Zen Phoebe 'steals' Piper's TiVo!)
    Elled De Generes
    Mandy Moore
    Cast of sex & City (there's a whole episode about Miranda's TiVo)
    Cast of Friends (Rachel tells her dad she got TiVo -there's a Sony TiVo often visible in their apartments)
    http://www.tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb/showthread.php?t=50026
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2009
  9. Geofbob

    Geofbob
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    Thanks, Cyril. I now understand a lot more about TIVo, and about your enthusiasm for it. Clearly, its software is far more sophisticated and flexible than that of the general run of DVRs and PVRs.

    On the other hand, there must be good commercal reasons why TIVo never took off in the UK, and I guess that its complexity is just too much for the average TV viewer. Possibly also, one of the features which clearly appeals most to you - the "personalisation" aspects - might not be of interest to everyone - eg those whose TV viewing is almost totally confined to football.

    How does the 28 day EPG work - is it received in the normal way (eg via terrestrial aerial for Freeview); or do you have to connect to the Internet? (I'm not too unhappy with the 8 day EPG on my Freeview PVR; but would appreciate something more than the now & next EPG on my FTA satellite box!)

    Anyway, thanks again for the info.
     
  10. Jedi Monsoon

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    Are there any plans for a Tivo relaunch in the UK. I think it would be successful in the modern market.
     
  11. Cyril

    Cyril
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    Well TiVo was very expensive when launched - imagine paying something like £1000 to £2000 now for a Topfield or Humax!
    I paid over £4k for my 10 TiVos in 1999/2000 and thought they were a bargain as commercial DVRs were a few grand each at the time!!!!
    42" plasmas were also over £4k then or about £8k in todays money :) You could buy a house in Chelsea then for under £1m , whereas you only get a 1 or 2 bed flat now :)
    Secondly, Sky decided to go with the vastly inferior (but cheaper) Sky+ system developed by NDS. This was 20 years behind TiVo, but is what we are stuck with in the form of Sky+ and SkyHD :(.
    Thirdly no integrated satelitte Sky or twin tuner TiVo was launched, so the UK TiVo fell far behind in terms of hardware.
    The PQ could only equal Sky+ if you bypassed the DA conversions by using an expensive SDI mod to the TiVo and connecting it to another expensive SDI-modded sky box (or even SDI-modded Sky+box).
    Now we have SkyHD the UK TiVo is very very far behind in terms of hardware, but very far in front in terms of software (though Windows Vista TV pack (released Oct 2008) has most of the features of an 8 year old TiVo).

    Fourthly, TiVo had so many features that even users who have happily used it for 5 years still don't know what it is capable of!


    TiVo is not complex to use - my SWMBO and elderly relatives can use it. However, they don't use the more complex functions.


    As regards the 28 day EPG -it depends on which TiVo model you have.

    The UK TiVo downloads the data by either telephone modem or by broadband (via network card or serial PPP).

    The Australian TiVo is more like a Freeview+ box or Humax 9200T and so will probably use OTA downloads, but I'm not sure.


    If you want more than now&next on your Freesat or FTA box you can just connect it to a 9 year old UK TiVo! If your FTA box is not currently supported, just get hold of/borrow a pronto and email the codes to guys on www.tivocommunity.com in the UK section and they will update the TiVo UK database.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2009
  12. Cyril

    Cyril
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    Humax were going to, but changed their mind last year :(

    However, if I can get 500k I will try and get a high Def one released, maybe in 2012.


    Unfortunately I think the UK market has too few PVR afficionados, and Sky+/Freeview+ 'is good enough' for joe public who don't know any better.
    Current PVRs/DVRs at under £100 are real bargains as they have more features and disk space than the commercial DVRs of 1999 which used to cost many thousands of pounds.

    I think a new TiVo can only cater to the super-high end market.
    Much like Kaleidescape is to a DVD player -check out www.kaleidescape.com. Their DVD systems cost about £30k!! Jason Plato has one!

    TiVo is VERY relevant to the UK market.

    It's a bit like ignoring cars, motorbikes, helicopters and planes because we only have horse and carts available for sale in Uk and Europe! :)

    So I think a super-high end UK HD 6 tuner 2TB PVR server with 4 clients for multi-room HD viewing might be viable for around the £4k mark.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2009
  13. son_t

    son_t
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    No one has mentioned if the originally UK launched TiVo still works as it is supposed to now. I assume so as there is still the EPG for UK TV..? Also is the EPG still fetched using the telephone connection?

    What about facilities like Accurate Recording or Auto Tracking - (how) does it cope with schedule changes and delayed/early starts of programmes?

    Can you still say the the original UK launched TiVo is still better than what we have here in the UK - better than a Toppy with TAPs or the new Freesat FOXSAT-HDR?

    If I was to pop across to one of those countries where TiVo are active and for sale - and import one to the UK - will it work like the bees knees?
     
  14. Fe_man2000

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    No - its a constantly asked question in the tivo forums - but you cannot use one from aboard in the uk. There may be a extreme set of hacks I dont know about to jury rig some functionality since my Tivo is currently boxed in the loft and has been for a couple of years and hence I somewhat out of the loop. But unless things have changes radically - you cannot use a non UK tivo in th UK.
     
  15. Major Dude

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    No one has mentioned if the originally UK launched TiVo still works as it is supposed to now. I assume so as there is still the EPG for UK TV..?

    Yes there is.

    Also is the EPG still fetched using the telephone connection?

    That is correct

    What about facilities like Accurate Recording or Auto Tracking - (how) does it cope with schedule changes and delayed/early starts of programmes?

    Its pretty accurate and you can specify both early start and add padding to individual recs and season passes.

    Can you still say the the original UK launched TiVo is still better than what we have here in the UK - better than a Toppy with TAPs or the new Freesat FOXSAT-HDR?

    Yep it is still miles better with a much more user friendly EPG which you can list by both date/time or alternatively by Channel. You can also set up wishlists by actor or director or genre or by keyword. The recorded programmes are better listed in a 'Now Playing' list which you can delete at any time from the list. If you come to a programme late you can hit record and stitch on the contents of the buffer up to 30 mins prior or at least since the last channel change. Lastly a TiVo can be set up to control most external set top boxes.

    If I was to pop across to one of those countries where TiVo are active and for sale - and import one to the UK - will it work like the bees knees?

    No I'm afraid not. Only Series 1 UK TiVos work in the UK worst luck.
     
  16. son_t

    son_t
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    The only down side is:
    • Only Series 1 UK TiVo works in the UK*
    • It does not support AR/AT, only autopadding
    • It is a single tuner, and can only record analogue (and via another receiver)

    *If I was purchase a second hand UK TiVo with life time subscription to the EPG - will it still work? I.e. is the subscription easily transferable?

    (Also can any link pictures of what the GUI of the Series 1 UK TiVo, this would be great... or are there lots and lots of 'skins' for the UK TiVo?)
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2009
  17. Ben

    Ben
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    Weirdly enough, it's that episode on E4 now.
     
  18. nvingo

    nvingo
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    I liked what this guy at Tivoland.com did with the PCB from a Freeview STB.
    I'm tentatively considering something similar for my Thomson Scenium.
     
  19. MarkE19

    MarkE19
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    Nothing needs to be transfered as the lifetime sub belongs to the TiVo. As long as the box still works you will continue to get the EPG (at least until they stop creating the UK EPG that is).
    TiVo screen shots of many of the menus & EPG can be found on the UK TiVo web site - have a look Here

    Mark.
     
  20. Cyril

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    And I've just watched the pilot of Standoff - Matt says 'it has better Tivo value!'

    Regarding lifetime subs:

    If you do get a lifetime subscription it might be prudent to get TiVo UK customer services (all 2 of the Sky employees who are assigned to UK TiVo support) to register you as the new owner in case of any future disputes.
     
  21. Cyril

    Cyril
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    If you have a lot of money (£600?), you can SDI a Sky box and SDI your TiVo giving you a direct digital connection.
     
  22. son_t

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    ^ If I had £600+ I would build my own HTPC PVR ;) (Build a Freesat / Freeview HTPC) :) BTW, does anyone know which 'media center' software has the closest matching facilities to a TiVo?

    Three (final) questions:

    1. I assume I can watch a recording and record at the same time?

    2. I assume the input from, say a Freeview STB, to a TiVo is via the SCART input? If so, can I connect a SCART switch box to this input and have both Freesat and Freeview STBs connected and controlled by TiVo such that I can record a combination of Freeview and Freesat channels/programmes? (I also have to assume TiVo can use multiple EPGs?)

    3. Can the HDD be upgraded to use one that is 1TB in size?

    EDIT:
    If I was to be able to source a UK TiVo box, but it came without subscription, would I be able to obtain any kind of EPG data and can call up TiVo to get a monthly or life time subscription?
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2009
  23. Cyril

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    1. YES
    2. YES, but you can also have Freeview connected via RF and a Sky box connected by SCART. As far as multiple EPGs are concerned,the UK TiVo only supports a Freeview and Freesat multiple combo EPG out of the box.

    Using a SCART switcher is possible, but you would have to write or install a small hack to use the multiple EPGs to record off the SCART instead of one off RF and one off SCART

    3. YES 1 TB is possible, however you can also schedule transfers over ethernet so that you never run out of space

    Windows Vista TV pack probably comes closest to a 10 year old TiVo, and unfortunately I don't think any HTPC comes close to the new TiVo series 3 HD search facilities :(

    4. You can still call up and buy a £10 monthly sub or a £200 lifetime sub, but the staff might be surprised as you can buy a unit with lifetime on ebay for less than £200!

    If you don't subscribe, you would have to write your own hacks and supply your own EPG data (as done by Ozzie, Kiwi, Dutch, Danish TiVo hackers - however TiVo is now officially available in Australia). So you may as well use MythTV/Media Portal/Windows Media Centre etc of you have the money.

    The SDI mod is worthwhile if you watch a lot of Sky PAY TV and don't want to mess around with CAMs.
    However for 90% of people isn't worth the cost.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2009
  24. son_t

    son_t
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    Is this true, anyone?

    I've been told that a box with no subscription will still dial up, but only every fortnight, to get its EPG?
     
  25. son_t

    son_t
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    Reading this: Gizmo Lovers Blog » Blog Archive » UK TiVo Users Lose Suggestions seem to suggest, that the 'Suggestions' feature has disappeared - it this true? So is there a hack to overcome this yet?
     
  26. MarkE19

    MarkE19
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    No sub gets you no EPG and TiVo just becomes a dumb HDD recorder.
    A brand new TiVo will give you something like 2 weeks trial of the full subscription service, but once that has expired you need to subscribe to get the TiVo EPG.

    Mark.
     
  27. MarkE19

    MarkE19
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    It was true, but suggestions are now working again - well at least they are on my TiVo. So no hack is required for this feature to work.

    Mark.
     
  28. Pengbo

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    Yes Tivo suggestions is working on mine and my sisters so it has been fixed.

    However it can sometimes leave you gong ***!!!! by what it decides you like watching (I have to keep my nephew and niece of the cbb channels or it goes wild recording tons of kids programmes until I can convince it not to again) :) I am convinced mine has developed artificial intelligence and sulks because it's been recording the same sort of stuff for years now and when someone watches a new genre on it it sort of goes s bit schizo and seems to give the new stuff preferential treatment.
     
  29. creddish

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    So as well as being "personal" it has a "personality" as well.

    Colin
     
  30. Zaichik

    Zaichik
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    I don't have anything to add to the debate, but I will say that TiVo is the best gadget I have ever bought by a mile.

    One thing to note, however, is that the picture (even on best quality) may not look too hot on an LCD/Plasma TV. On a CRT, however, it's fine. Even medium quality is acceptable. (Basic wouldn't be acceptable on any screen!).
     

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