Sunday, June 06, 2004
07:39 pm UTC
Gotta love TiVo
As I mentioned in a previous blog, I've recently switched to DirecTV. DirecTV is cheaper than Comcast for our area, and when you sign up, you can elect to get a TiVo for $99 (other than that there's no sign up or setup charges). Let me tell you what. I love that little guy. The only complaint I have is that he's silver, while the rest of our TV and associated equipment is black. My wife, (Crazy) Audrey won't let me get near it with that can of black spray paint I bought either.
TiVo watches what you watch. That's a concept that fundamentally bothered Audrey at first, since it reports your viewing habits to the TiVo central brain in a fashion that we're assured is anonymous. Personally, I'm all for this. The Nielsen group didn't elect me as one of those people who get free television in exchange for letting them watch my viewing habits so that I can shape what the networks put out there, so TiVo is the next best thing. I like the idea that a company watches what I watch. Maybe then they'll get the hint that I always pause TV (a feature of TiVo) when certain commercials come on which I find offensive, annoying, or are for products which I'm personally boycotting, then fast forward once enough time has elapsed that the commercial should be over. Maybe I'll also have some small say ultimately in what goes on TV. I hope that network execs pay attention to the TiVo stats; this is much more real than the smaller Nielsen sample base of people who are actively aware that their viewing habits are being used to shape the future of television. As an aside, I always wondered if such people were ever approached by show producers, and offered sums of money to watch a show that might otherwise get canceled, or to artificially inflate ratings to drive advertising dollars.
Anyhow, TiVo watches what you watch, and it learns what you like. There's little green and red thumbs up and thumbs down (respectively) buttons. If you see a show that you don't like, give it 1, 2, or 3 thumbs down. If you see a show that you do like, give it 1, 2, or 3 thumbs up. Eventually TiVo gets a good idea of what you do and don't like, and takes it upon himself to record things he thinks you'll like in his spare disk space. So you come home from work and find nothing on the TV, you can check out what TiVo recorded, and chances are good you'll see something you want to watch there.
You can also tell TiVo that you want to automatically record certain shows using a feature called "Season Pass." You can set it to record each showing, or just first-runs. It's also smart enough to not record two copies of the same episode (it knows what each episode is). TiVo takes care of disk management on his own, automatically erasing the oldest stuff (unless you mark something as a keeper) to make room for new stuff.
Enough about TiVo. I enjoy my DirecTV service in general, we've not had any reception problems even in a hail and wind storm, and the picture is more clear than our regular cable was. There's a broader channel choice (especially if you're in to sports, which I'm not), There are 5, count them, five Discovery channels. And the on-screen interactive guide to what's on and what's coming up is golden. You can see little synopsises of each upcoming show, then just push the Record button if you want to record a specific show that'll not be on until another day.
I don't yet have experience with their billing department, but that's about the only thing that still has much chance of disappointing me about DirecTV. If you're thinking of switching over, I'd recommend it. DirecTV is cheaper than cable, and if you have cable Internet, you can switch to DSL (Verizon offers CHEAP access if they're your phone provider, much cheaper than Cable Internet), which is more secure, and just as fast unless you elect the uber-cheapo-I-don't-want-good-net-access plan. You'll have higher quality service on each front, and you'll be stepping on the toes of Comcast, who I personally believe is chaired by an evil entity of firey origin.