When people learn I work from home, they tend to assume I have a ton of free time. Unfortunately, that’s not really the case. My work as a web developer keeps me pretty busy, and I’m often up working until late at night. This makes it hard for me to watch my favorite TV shows when they first run. As a pretty avid fan of good TV, I decided to look into some ways I could watch my favorite shows on my own schedule.
To my surprise, TiVo turned out to be the best option. Because TiVo has been around since 1999, I assumed it was a little dated. Turns out, however, there’s a lot of cool new stuff going on with TiVo. Here’s my full review:
Most likely, you already know what TiVo is. You can probably even recall that famous “bloop” sound right now. Still, just to recap: TiVo is a service which allows you to record TV shows. Everything is stored on an internal hard drive. Of course, that’s just the basics – TiVo has a ton of additional features, most of which were news to me.
I admit, when I first started looking into this stuff, I thought TiVo was a bit old-fashioned. After all, my cable box already provided some DVR (digital video recording) capabilities. But once I looked into it, I discovered my cable DVR options were pretty weak. The storage space was small (about four shows total), the menu was confusing and there were a lot of small, mysterious cable fees.
TiVo can learn what sort of shows you like, and will record other shows which you might be interested in. Called TiVo Suggestions, this is where you can vote thumbs up or thumbs down, and teach TiVo your viewing preferences.
TiVo is the only service to offer “trick play.” This is when you can pause live television. You can go back and replay up to a half hour of previously viewed TV. This is a patented feature.
Personally, trick play is one of those things that I never knew I needed until I actually had it. I don’t have to run to the kitchen or the bathroom during commercial breaks. My family and I can rewind if we miss a line of dialogue, or just want to see that winning play one more time.
The Season Pass features lets you record an entire season automatically. Set it up once and you never have to think about it again. I’m already scheduling some binge-watching.
Your shows will be recorded even if the TV schedule suddenly changes, thanks to TiVo’s Smart Recording feature. This applies to single shows, an episode in a Season Pass, and any other situation where a show’s airtime suddenly changes.
TiVo is perfect for families. The Parental Controls can lock channels based on content. While I don’t have any reason to use this features, I did check it out for review purposes and found it easy to use.
Beyond just TV, TiVo offers tons of on-demand movies and music. You can also directly connect to any existing Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, MLB.tv and xfinity accounts. Note that you need a broadband Internet connection in order to use all of these features.
The Roamio and Why It’s Revolutionary
TiVo is all about the Roamio device. While other devices are still supported, the Roamio is the only one you can buy directly from TiVo. This new device allows you to stream recorded shows to your mobile devices. You really can watch TV from anywhere. That’s the heart of what makes the Roamio so appealing – it seamlessly combines TV and web entertainment.
TiVo has two components: the Roamio device and the service. There are a variety of payment plans. Basically, the more service you sign up for in advance, the better deal you’ll get.
The standard Roamio and service bundle is $199.00. You can record up to four shows simultaneously. There’s about 500 hours of storage space and built-in WiFi. This service works with both digital cable and an HD antennae.
The next plan is the Roamio Plus and service bundle, which is $399.99. You can now records up to six shows at once, as well as the ability to now stream directly to mobile devices. This means if you can watch it on your TV, you can now watch it on your tablet. The built-in WiFi is still there, only now it’s joined with a MoCA adapter. Storage capacity is increased to 1,000 hours.
The premier plan is the $599.99 Roamio Pro DVR and service bundle. Basically, this is the same service as the Plus, only with a storage space of 3,000 hours. If you know you’ll be recording a lot of shows, especially long events like games and movies, this might a good option.
There are three service plans. Monthly is $14.99. Yearly is $149.99. Lifetime is $499.99. The idea of a lifetime subscription package is, well, a bit of a commitment. But it’s actually a great deal in just three years.
About four months ago, I went with the Roamio Plus bundle. Since that includes one year of service, I figured I had enough to time to check it out. Instead of renewing for another year, I’ll most likely just go for the lifetime. My thinking is if I do too many annual plans in a row, I’ll start to lose money compared to the Lifetime plan.
TiVo’s been around since 1999. In that time, they’ve had their ups and downs. But I only really care about how TiVo will work for me, the new customer. The main criticism in the news currently involves some changes to certain Season Pass features. To be honest, this doesn’t apply to me. What do I care about is the reviews for the new Roamio. They’re generally very positive.
Personally, I found installation a snap. However, your mileage may vary – and a lot of that will have to do with your cable company and internet provider. I suspect that the TiVo people have made installing the device and starting the service pretty simple for just about everybody with a common cable set-up, however.
At this point, TiVo support is a well-oiled machine. They offer live chat and phone support every day of the week, from early in the morning until the evening. For non-urgent issues, you can also send an email. Plus, there site has a wealth of self-service FAQ’s. The support options were certainly what I’d expect from an industry leader.
I was pleasantly surprised at the expertise and friendliness of the TiVo people. I guess because I was using the TiVo to watch TV, I was expecting service on the level of my cable company – and that’s not exactly great service. Instead, the TiVo people seemed to actually appreciate my business.
I’ve been very impressed with TiVo. In some ways, I can’t imagine watching TV without it. The price seemed high initially, but I think it’s been a great value. I use it in some capacity every day, whether recording or watching. I’ve even grown to love the “bloop” noise (although you can turn it off if you want).
The new features of the Roamio device are great. My daughter uses the streaming features to watch TV in her room. I’ve even been known to take a tablet into the garage and watch a game while working on my car. So far, TiVo gets my highest recommendation. I fully intend to sign up for a Lifetime Subscription.