Saturday, June 11, 2005

The 10 Things I Hate About You, TiVo

Wassup Y'all!

Now don't get me wrong and think I'm ready to drop kick my TiVo - one or both of my arms would go first before I ever go back to 'regular' television again - but I do have a few nits to pick with the current top dog of DVRs - the device dubbed by former FCC Chairman Michael Powell 'God's Machine'....

1) Subscription Fee

What's that about? I don't remember paying another cent once I bought my VCR back in the day (outside of for tapes). Yeah, I know there's the nifty channel guide and software updates, but when I bought my unit the 'lifetime' subscription fee was $299! That's three bills to you and me that could surely go toward buying some other gadget I desperately 'need'.

2) Slooooow

Dude, what's running under the hood - a Commodore 64 running DOS? The only thing more maddening than TiVo's 'Please Wait' screens that follow pretty much every action are those whack a** video game load screens. Clearly other solutions have caught on to this gripe as I caught a demo of Microsoft's IPTV and those screen changes were instantaneous. As in nature, TiVo - adapt or perish...

3) Miss A Minute, Miss A Lot

If you watch any TV you've no doubt noticed that shows don't always start and stop on time lately. Just like a VCR, TiVo's not going to save you the pain of missing the last seconds of the season finale cliffhanger if it happens to run long or will it figure out that a Presidential News Conference has shifted programming by an hour leaving you to discover a nasty secret after you grab a brew and some chips and settle on the couch to catch the last episode of 'Lost'. I think I can *still* smell beer on my wall...

4) No PiP

Let me get this straight - you've got two tuners but you can't pull off Picture in Picture? Microsoft's UltimateTV DVR pulled that off with two hard drives behind its back. Not only did it provide PiP it came with the side effect of being able to jump between four programs at once (the main program and the last channel recall in each window). Match that up with the NFL Sunday ticket and that's *almost* better than sex...

5) Conflicts!

Invariably, you'll run into a situation where you want to record so much content that you'll run out of tuners and timeslots. When this happens, TiVo dutifully shows you the conflict and gives you the choice of recording the new stuff or recording the old stuff. If you want to see the episode details of the old stuff to make an informed decision, can you do it from that same screen? Of course not - you have to navigate through three other screens, see whats what, navigate back then pull the trigger if you really can live without seeing your old choice. Another strike against a whack user interface, y'all.

6) CIA Monitoring

It best to not even think about it but *every* action you do with your TiVo is being monitored and sent back to TiVo central for 'anonymous aggregation'. Shows you record, commercials you skip over, scenes you freeze frame, every little detail. Creepy and totally invasive.

7) TiVo Suggestions

Touted as an innovation, I find this feature - where TiVo catalogues your recording tendencies and then suggests similar shows - annoying and inaccurate (actually annoying because it's so inaccurate). Although based on my feelings about item #6 though, this may be a good thing.

8) Tuner Trauma

Can't seem to have enough tuners as the networks ply their evil plan to put every show you want to see on the same night, in the same timeslot, on different channels. If you're recording two shows (one per tuner), you either have to watch one of them (what's the point of recording it?), watch one of your previously recorded shows or watch another TV entirely. I figure four tuners, rather than the stingy two, would be just right as I've never hit a situation where I needed to record more than three shows simultaneously. So with four I could record three and watch TV on the fourth.

9) Vaporizing the Buffer

When watching live TV on either tuner, TiVo will automatically buffer the most recent thirty minutes of programming allowing you to pause, rewind, etc. However, if you should accidently switch to a different channel and then jump right back, the buffer is gone and there's no way to rewind back to what you missed. Seems more intelligent to buffer whatever content you're watching, regardless of what channel you jump to.

10) The Temporal Black Hole

This one's pretty obvious - with all that content I record, it's all I can do to keep up with watching it all. Now I have my own TV show marathons as I slog my way through two or three back episodes of my favorite shows. Okay - in this case I'll admit - it's a good problem to have.



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