In the last two days, I have been playing with my new toy. Whoo ... I should say it dramatically changed my TV experience: now I don't need to bring my laptop to the bed just to work several more minutes during the commercials, and my wife is happier because she can interrupt any show and check whether our kid has a sound sleep in another room.
How I played TiVo so far, and what I am thinking:
Setup: I guess the wiring may be a challenge to some users, especially those who have DVR, VCR, home theater and other devices; TiVo's documentation is very useful though. However, my TiVo did experience some several failed attempts (and 2 hours' wait) to establish and maintain a 10-minute phone call during the initial setup phase thanks to some incompatibility with Vonage -- it finally completed the call in the 9th attempt. Everything else in the setup phase is like a breeze; TiVo's on-screen Guided Setup is intuitive and well-designed.
What I Like: Of course, I love the capability to pause live TV and come back minutes later. TiVo is also changing the way I watch TV: now I can watch my favorite show whenever I want, without interruption. While it is a bit unnatural to search program by title on screen, I found scheduling recording via Internet works perfectly well.
Upgrade: I completed two upgrades so far. First, I bought a cable TV splitter from RadioShack yesterday for $10 so that I can watch a channel while TiVo is busy recording in another channel. Second, I did a little hack so I can use the ">|" button to fast forward 30 seconds (instead of 30 minutes) and better bypass commericals. (Here is an almost-complete list of hacks via the remote control.).
My Wish List: Not much can I complain about, but it looks like I might need a larger TiVo: the current 40-hour model can barely record 20 hours at good video quality. Before that happens, I hope TiVo can provide information about available recording time in the box. One more thing: I am a bit concerned about the fact that TiVo is constantly writing to the harddrive (to allow you to pause and replay the last 10 minutes of live TV). It would be great if TiVo has some auto standby functionality. (Or is this TiVo's strategy to force people to upgrade more frequently?)
Oveall, great experience. TiVo fills the bill of bringing more happiness and more free time, and it's a net gain for me from a personal finance perspective, because I can use the newly-gained time for other activities I like to do (like adding a new post to PFBlog). I can already imagine I will buy a second TiVo!
(This post is part of PFBlog Product Review series. Check out more reviews here.)