Tivo is now Free

TiVo (my favorite toy) is now free (after rebates  at Amazon — the TiVo TCD540080 Series2 80-Hour Digital Video Recorder is $220, and has a $220 rebate with activation.


I normally hate doing rebates, but this one was a no brainer (It arrived yesterday).

This is my 2nd machine — first one has lifetime subscription — and the monthly fees on a 2nd are only $6.95.

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  1. Chibi commented on Nov 21

    Of course their monthly fees are another story now. I love Tivo, but $19.95 a month? Not sure I love it that much.

  2. George commented on Nov 21

    Yeah, I just got a fancy Gillette Fusion razor for free, too.

  3. ml commented on Nov 21

    Tivo is like AOL. It’s only a matter of time before it death w/o some newly defined niche. It’s a glorified hard drive. You already have systems out there w/o the monthly fee. They’re just not as user friendly yet.

  4. Norman commented on Nov 21

    By calling TiVo I found out hat it turns out this rebate is available in any store that carries the product, for instance, Best Buy.

  5. Donaldo commented on Nov 21

    I agree, TiVo’s days are numbered unless they can give the service for free and still make money somehow (ads somewhere?). I have a HP media center PC and I love the interface for recording TV programs. Plus I can burn a DVD if I want and since I have a wireless network at home, I can watch recorded programs stored on my desktop from my laptop anywhere in the house; even in the bathroom. TiVo can’t beat that.

  6. muckdog commented on Nov 21

    Not a fan of the monthly fee. Everything that has a monthly fee just creates a little angst on bill paying day.

    I’ve been using Windows XP Media Center, a Wi-Fi network, and a Sony Media Extender for the geek worthy DVR choice.

    I was saddened to hear that the new Playstation 3 doesn’t support wireless streaming of video. XBOX 360 does. I was hoping to replace my current DVD player, Playstation 2, and Media Extender with just one box.


  7. dave commented on Nov 21

    Great, this will offset our electric company’s 8% rate increase next summer…

  8. Andy K commented on Nov 21

    TIVO rocks —

    I had a DVR with our cable company, and it was okay —

    Tivo has great design, interface, and ease of use. Everything else is second rate

  9. toddZ commented on Nov 21

    I am embarking on a bold television-free future… So far I’m two months in and loving it!

    I have bunny-ears in case something big happens, and I lean on YouTube to provide clips of all the noteworthy TV junk.

  10. T commented on Nov 22

    Tivo kicks ass… I have an HD DVR (motorola) from my cable company, and I still use my regular-def Tivo instead — it’s that much better.

    Barry — why not the HD Tivo? Pretty sure you can swing the $800. I’m hoping they’ll come down to $300-$400 over the next year, then I’m in.

  11. Johnie commented on Nov 22

    I think the best future for Tivo is to go into the software licensing model. The biggest complaint from users of “other DVRs” (ie cable system’s) is that the interface is not as nice as Tivo.

    They’ve already started this with the license deal with Comcast. They just need to sign up a couple more customers (ie cable systems) and they’ll be set.

  12. Tarik J. Ghbeish commented on Nov 29

    It changed the way I watch TV:

    I read all the other reviews, good and bad before deciding to actually write one myself. TiVo has its problems, and while I’m tolerant, perhaps because of my own software engineering background, I can see how many people might not be.

    To summarize my review up front. Despite the problems, TiVo has changed how I watch TV and my wife, very skeptical and tolerant of her ‘geek’ husband is also a total convert. If our TiVo dies, another one will be on order in 24 hours. We’ve had our TiVo for over 2 years and we wouldn’t be without it.

    Now let’s get to the nitty gritty. We have one of the first of the Series 2 machines with a lifetime subscription and we did in fact have to exchange it early in it’s life. Since then, we’ve had very few problems. Here they are.

    The problems :

    * The machine occasionally locks up and need to be rebooted. How often? Sometimes several times a week. Others, maybe less than once every few months.

    * The machine occasionally reboots itself without warning. I’m still not sure if this is deliberate. It’s never done it while recording or playing back a show, but it has done it while I was watching live TV, which is not necessarily detectable unless I’m time shifting. Things work great after the reboot, but it’s a bit irritating if I’m time shifting live TV, which honestly is rare.

    * Our first machine’s hard drive died. We had decent service replacing the machine, however we did have to pay S&H. TiVo could certainly improve here, but the service WAS very acceptable.

    The nits (design issues, IMO) :

    * My favorite feature is turned off and hidden. This is setting the skip to 30 seconds. When watching live TV, hit select, play, select 30, select. This has to be reset every time you restart. I imagine this is not the default to prevent lawsuits from unhappy networks because I don’t even watch their commercials sped up any more.

    * I wish changing the channel didn’t flush the 30 minute live TV buffer.

    * I wish the buffer was 60 minutes.

    The raves :

    * My favorite feature. 30 second commerical skip (see above).

    * I virtually never watch live TV any more. Channel surfing is DEAD in my household. My observation is that many people in other reviews complained about how slow the channel changing is. I guess this is true, even with the serial cable, but the whole point of the TiVo is to NOT have to change channels or watch live TV any longer.

    Seriously, if you’re intent on channel surfing, you won’t get the point of a TiVo and it probably isn’t for you. My father in law doesn’t get our TiVo and it doesn’t make sense for him or anyone else with a 30 second – 5 minute attention span. A DVR doesn’t make sense for you at all. That doesn’t denigrate your TV-watching style, it just means don’t purchase a DVR.

    If you’re the sort who likes to change channels during the commcerical (I used to do that), TiVo doesn’t make sense unless you change your habits. I have. I don’t watch commercials either.

    * I have managed to catch up on all my old TV series using season pass. This has been easy even when I’m not sure when the shows are because TiVo finds them on various channels and surfs to record them for me.

    * Wishlists have turned up old hidden 2am gems that I like to watch occasionally. This is fun.. to catch on old movie or find a show with a favorite actor or topic.

    * I thought at first that I had to watch everything my TiVo recorded. No way, that isn’t the point. The point is to have a diverse set of wishlist items, season passes, and suggestions from selected from thumbs up and down information you input over time to always be able to watch if and when you decide to watch TV. That is empowering as I now choose what and when to watch.

    * We’re starting a family soon, and TiVo supports parental protection based on show ratings. We have it turned off right now, but when our children get old enough to hold a remote, that will be turned back on and customized to our preferences. That and we can skip commercials are powerful tools in our parental toolbox.

    * You can network your TiVo and hook it up to your home network for updated TV listings via network instead of phone line and to play your family digital photo album on the TV as well as your collection of MP3’s. If you have a stereo hooked up for movies, this is very nice.

    * The user interface is pretty easy to use. Even install, while involving many steps is about as easy as one can make it given how many decisions must be made at the user’s end (how did you hook it up? what kind of cable, satellite, etc? what channels do you get? and so on).

    * You can hack your TiVo. There actually are some good reasons to do this.

    1) It’s cheap to add more hard disk space if you need it. I should do this soon.

    2) Part of the process involves backing up the hard drive. If the hard drive in your TiVo dies, this means you have a backup and may be able to repair your current box (with a lifetime subscription in my case) instead of purchasing a new one.

    3) Some people I know are also able to save video onto their computer and burn their own dvds. I considered this but decided against it for now because the quality isn’t exciting, and the legality is questionable (although you can now purchase a TiVo/DVD burner combo that does the same thing).

    Suggestions :

    * Seriously consider hacking your TiVo once it’s out of warantee at least to add your own warantee of a backup hard drive, even if you don’t add hours to it. There are services that will do this for you if you pay them.

    Alternatives :

    * Replay – I haven’t spent much time looking at Replay. Their approach has caused so many lawsuits, and they’ve been in and out of brankruptcy, I decided not to bother. People rave about it though.

    * Ultimate TV – Microsofts offering. My brother-in-law enjoys his, but it’s no longer available. What’s out there still works and it seems to be a nice system.

    * MythTV/FreeVo – these are free software systems that you can use to build your own computer into a TiVo live DVR that incorporate even more features like computer gaming and so on. I’m very interested as a software engineer and will probably build one (and have friends who have done so), but it’s more of a hobbiest approach and you do have to constantly tinker to keep it running in excellent shape.

    Final comments :

    I love my TiVo. It has truly empowered me to watch what I want, when I want, and HOW I want. I don’t watch commercials unless I really want to. TiVo suggestions have showed me that there really is worthwhile TV to watch (we watch a lot of FoodTV, Discovery, TLC, DIY, etc. type shows) available… more than I have time to watch. Thumbs up and thumbs down on various shows have really fine tuned what the TiVo records as a suggestion (only using available space).

    It definitely has little quicks and problems. I could do without the occasional hangs and I’m always nervous that the hard drive might crash. TiVo probably could use better customer service although I have never had a problem. However, I use a lot of honey in my interactions with customer service people (I used to work in tech support) and almost always get better results than the irate grumpy people I know, even calling the same help lines.

    The value has FAR exceeded the cost, IMO. Watching what I want when I want. Saving 15-20 minutes an hour and 7-10 minutes for half hour shows by skipping commercials is time I spend on other things. Watching more shows if I’m lazy, but more usually fixing up things around the house and getting projects done. Hopefully you will find the same, but at least you can make the decision informed in as much detail as I can give in this little space here.

  13. Marcos commented on Jan 7

    monthly fee, pshhh, I use my computers windowsxp mediacenter edition and pay no monthly fees and can even burn cd’s or dvd of something I recorded.

  14. Pam commented on Mar 4

    Wondering WHY TiVo has no monthly fee with media edition computer, but there is a monthly fee if get it for TV set??

    Does anyone know why?

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