Sunday, December 12, 2010

It's the end of my 10 year affair with TiVo

It's been a long affair with my TiVo, starting 9/5/2000. After purchasing a Series One box in September of 2000, I was addicted. The functionality, the ability to get a season pass, being able to efficiently consume my favorite shows and skip commercials - I was hooked.

They are the pioneers and even with all the miss-steps, they are still here today. In the past month I started to question whether I should upgrade my TiVo or succumb to Cablevision's own cheaper DVR service. There were pros and cons to weigh, including all of the offers TiVo was dangling in front of me to upgrade, discounts on the Premiere box, etc.

With my current Series II setup, I was missing HD quality recording and with a nice 42" LCD I was missing out. I started to notice it more and more when I watched live sports at friends' homes. It also drove me crazy to have all the different remote controls and not being able to leverage the IO features easily.

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

I started looking into seriously switching in mid-November and started checking out the Optimum options. Cablevision offers a HD DVR for about $11 a month with no box to buy. I was paying TiVo $14.95 a month and would need to buy a new box and then rent a cable card from Cablevision.

In the end I called Cablevision and ordered the box.  It came via FedEx and I returned my old box. Easy and simple.

Now I'm on the phone with TiVo to cancel my service and I must say they made quite an effort to save me.  The rep put me on hold for 2-3 minutes while they  "processed" my cancellation. I'm sure it's scientifically designed to be the optimal process to create dumper's remorse. Holding was essentially listening to an infomercial for TiVo Premiere.

On comes my rep, who said he talked to his manager and because I'm such a great customer I was then offered a Premiere box for $99.99 plus my normal monthly fee. He also tried to give me a free month of service through December which would allow me to stay eligible for all the upgrade offers if I changed my mind about the Optimum DVR.

Am I pining away for my TiVo?

TiVo clearly is the best TV/DVR OS (operating system) out there. The remote is well designed, making it simple to navigate and drive your viewing pleasure. The discovery system, TiVo suggested recordings based on your likes (thumbs up), or dislikes (thumbs down) found many a TV show I never would have found. Southern Fried Stings is a recent example. I'm going to ignore the On-Demand streaming features because almost any device (game console, computer) you connect has them now.

The Optimum DVR has the basic functions of TiVo, but with some key limitations. The season pass functionality only allows you to look seven days out. If the show isn't on within the next seven days no luck recording it. There isn't any discovery functionality either, so it's now my responsibility to find new shows. The remote is a standard cable remote, but the UI isn't as smooth or well laid out as TiVo's. One nice feature is an iPhone app that let's you schedule or delete shows remotely.

Yes, I miss the TiVo operating system, but I'm disappointed that they never became the TV operating system for the masses. I would happily pay a couple bucks more a month for a TiVo software upgrade on my Optimum rented box. It's nice to reduce the number of boxes under my television.