Getting The Most Out Of Your TiVo

Who And What Is TiVo?

The TiVo Corporation was created in 1997. In 1999, TiVo Corporation unveiled for the world what it had created: the digital video recorder (DVR) known as TiVo. A DVR can be compared to a VCR, in that you can manually preset times to record programs. Unlike a VCR, however, the TiVo DVR uses a hard disk drive as its storage medium, which means you no longer have to deal with recording and storage of video tapes. TiVo will work with a cable system, satellite system and an over-the-air antenna. We estimate that TiVo currently has a subscriber base that exceeds 280,000. This year at the 2002 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), TiVo unveiled the TiVo Series 2 recorder, which has some interesting new features.

TiVo does not manufacture its units; the manufacturing and retail sales are done through Philips, Sony and Hughes. These manufacturers pay TiVo a royalty for the licensing of the TiVo software, as well as for the TiVo DVR technology.

TiVo uses a subscription-based Service Agreement, with the subscriber having two pay options - either $9.95 per month or $249.00 for a lifetime subscription ("Lifetime Subscription" is defined as the lifetime of the TiVo unit.) Space has been reserved on the TiVo which can be sold as advertising spots, which can be a combination of both text and video. The Service Agreement assures you get the latest software updates and the Scheduling Guide, which is customized to the system or combination of systems (i.e., Cable, Satellite, or OTA) you have. The stand-alone TiVo is currently at software revision 2.51. The TiVo service allows you to easily schedule programs for TiVo to record, using a point and click Menu System. Scheduling Guide information is provided daily from TiVo through a daily "call home," using TiVo's built-in modem. The daily call home takes place 24 hours after TiVo has finished the previous call home, so it is on a rolling schedule. Our TiVo was purchased with version 1.3 of the software, and has been updated by TiVo to the current version, 2.51. The TiVo Corporation continually improves and refines its software and user interface, and adds new features, as well.

The TiVo software provides the option to set a "Season Pass" on a viewer-selected program, which means that TiVo will record every episode of that selected program, even if the date and time slot changes during the program's viewing season. It is possible to set the Season Pass to omit program re-runs, too, so you won't have to watch re-runs of your program. TiVo also has a feature called the "Wish List," which allows you to search for and record programs based on your favorite actor, team, topic, hobby, etc. Another unique feature is TiVo's ability to allow you to actually pause and rewind live television broadcast programs. TiVo calls this feature "trick play."

The TiVo "Suggestions" feature helps the TiVo unit 'learn' your viewing preferences as you watch television. This feature keeps track of the programs you watch, and automatically records them for you, so you won't miss any of your regularly viewed programs. The "Thumbs Up/ Down" feature allows you to rate programs, so that TiVo can learn the programs you like and dislike. Based on your ratings, TiVo has an option (which can be disabled) that will attempt to seek out other programs of the same type and record them for you.