TiVo: Review, Links and Resources

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Okay, I know that TiVo has been around for a long time, But…

I was recently looking for a way to watch certain video podcasts on my TV. For the life of me, I couldn’t find a hardware set-top-box that will just play video podcasts on my television.

It seems like such a simple concept, right? It’s just a matter of checking an RSS feed, downloading a video, and playing it. Miro, and several other podcast players, can do it just fine. Why aren’t there any set top boxes out there that are capable of such a seemingly-easy task? I searched high and low to no avail.

That is, until I learned that the new versions of TiVo support video podcasts. It was on. I immediately went out an bought two — one for my living room, and one for my bedroom. (Video podcast support wasn’t the only reason, read on.) They were less than $100 each from Best Buy!

So, as with anything in life, there are advantages and disadvantages to using a TiVo in lieu of your cable-company-supplied set top box. Some of them are:

– Monthly service fee ($10 to $20/mo depending on your luck)
– Requires a CableCARD from the cable company (almost free, no big deal)
– TiVo doesn’t support the cable company’s On Demand service (again, no big deal. Keep reading.)

– Video podcast support
– Multi-room (record in one room, watch in another)
– Built-in Netflix On Demand
– Built-in Blockbuster On Demand
– Built-in Amazon On Demand
– Much better High Definition user interface
– Much better, and unified search logic

Regarding the unified search logic, let me give you an example. My parents are in town from Raleigh, NC for Christmas. My father watches It’s a Wonderful Life every single year. Even though I have almost all of the premium options from my cable company, it wasn’t available from them. However, once I hooked up my TiVo, I found that it was available from Amazon On Demand. TiVo’s search includes all of the internet-based options, in addition to what’s available on TV. So, a few remote-control clicks later, we were watching.

There are lots of features I haven’t played with yet, but I very much like what I’ve seen so far. I will add an update once I’ve had a chance to test everything out.

Two features I wish TiVo had:
– DLNA support for NAS devices on my LAN, like my Samsung Blu-Ray players have (or at least Linux support for this feature)
– Flickr support — Picasa and Photobucket but no Flickr? Very lame.

I’ll add the related links and resources I’ve found when I come back to update this post after I’ve had a chance to test everything. More coming soon…

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