My Personal Finance Journey

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2005: Should I Get A TiVo?

Contributed by mm | December 17, 2004 5:13 AM PST

In case you don't know, TiVo is a leading brand of personal video recorder that can "automatically finds and digitally records up to 140 hours of programming you want" and "pause, rewind and slo-mo live TV." I have been considering buying a TiVo for several months. Now it's holiday season, I am giving this idea some more thought.

The main reason I want a TiVo is because I am becoming busier everyday, and as a highly-selective TV fan, I don't want to miss even one episode from my favorite shows like Fox's 24 and CBS's CSI family. My working schedule increasingly creates more conflict with these show's broadcasting time, which bothers me.

The low-end TiVo model starts at $99.99, and this is not what keeps my on the sidewalk for these months. However, TiVo is a subscription service that costs $12.95 a month or $299 for the lifetime of the TiVo box, and I am naturally against any move that will permanently add something to my cost structure -- at PFBlog, you saw my efforts to reduce monthly fixed cost by moving to Vonage and Virgin Mobile. I am still debating with myself whether almost $13 a month is worthwhile.

I have also considered some alternative technology. For example, ReplayTV offers almost the same set of functionalities, although with a smaller subscription base.

Or, I can buy a DVD recorder, which more of less resembles a VHS Recorder but uses rewritable DVD discs as storage medium. Because I tend to be disorganized when it comes to my CD and DVD collection, DVD recorder might not be a good match for me.

I am also waiting for news from Comcast. Earlier this year, Comcast announced it will develop its own Tivo-type box -- Comcast subscribers probably can expect much lower monthly due. However, it might sound more like vaporware now.

Will I make an implusive purchase decision during Christmas to celebrate great financial progress in 2004, or will I leave it to 2005? I don't know, but I am thinking.

More PFBlog Articles You Might Find Interesting ...

This Post Has Received 9 Comments. Share Your Opinions Too.

RB Commented on December 17, 2004

Hi there:
I am in the same boat as you. I want the convenience of a PVR, but not the monthly service charges and I am a bit paranoid about TiVo knowing what I am watching. I am seriously considering building my own PVR box and upgrading whenever funds permit. Check out these websites:

Jonathan Commented on December 17, 2004

I have a Tivo, and just like cable tv, once you get it - you can't go back. Even when visiting relatives, you will miss the ease of being able to pause the tv to get the phone, use the restroom, or simply take a break and watch it later.

I agree that the price is a bit hefty, and that competitors are due. I will not hesitate to jump ship when something better and cheaper comes along. However, I think of it this way - I now watch NO commercials. The lack of ads bombarding you and your kids will probably save you $10 a month anyways. Also, the Tivo is elegant in that it simply works. My wife loves it, it is easier than programming a vcr.


Drew McManus Commented on December 17, 2004

Buy the TiVo. I guarantee you will not regret it.

kanton Commented on December 17, 2004

If you get one you should put my email address in as a reference! There is a referral program! BTW, cool blog.

Larry Commented on December 17, 2004

I've been thinking about the same thing. Building your own lets you customize it, but it's not really any cheaper. Also, you aren't dependent on TiVo or Comcast changing the software and limiting what you can do.

I've been seriously tempted by the Philips FDRW720. It's got a DVD recorder and 120 GB hard drive. It doesn't have all the features of a TiVo, but it's cheaper. ( is selling it for $380)

Darren Commented on December 17, 2004

I've been thinking about getting one also - hmmm - I think they are coming down enough in price so it might be time.

Dan Commented on December 20, 2004

We just moved this weekend. At my old house we had four Replays throughout and the kids could watch their shows without commercials (GREAT benefit -- no "I want this, I want that" at Christmastime) and we could stream content throughout the house. I haven't had time to hook them up yet at the new house and watching live TV is so painful now. I don't know what is worse - having to watch live TV or going from broadband to dial up (out here in the country).

While I am partial to ReplayTV (because of network functionality, the spying Tivo marketers and the monthly is cheaper) whatever PVR you get will change the way you watch TV. I actually watch LESS TV now - I am just more efficient at watching what I want. Think of it as YOUR own TV station with only content you want. I could go on and on but you get the point.

.....Dan at aslowerpace dot com

Michael Commented on December 20, 2004

If you're open to it, going wth DirecTV's Tivo is a great option. The fee is only $5/month and it has two tuners. Because the Tivo Is integrated with the sat. receiver it records in perfect didgital quality and you won't miss any channel changes -- which can happen from time to time with the stand-alone TiVo's depending on your set-up. I'll ping you with a post I wrote about my top reasons to own a TiVo.


Bill Commented on December 20, 2004

Yes, yes, yes. As Mike says, the two-tuner DirecTiVo is especially nice.

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