Well, it is July 29th in Australia, and that means TiVo is official available. Of course, Harvey Norman started selling TiVo two weeks early so it isn’t as big a deal that the official date is here. Unfortunately it seems not all is well. Despite the lengthy development period and later than expected launch, iTWire reports that the online scheduling is not yet available, but that TiVo tells them it will be available by “the end of next week.” It is kind of hard to believe that, given all the time they had, they didn’t have it ready for launch and only need one more week.
While iTWire says of TiVoI think it’s the best choice for Australians who want a PVR that “just works”, they still have some issues with it. And the article counts down their top ten. I’ll take a shot at them.
10. No thumbnails on recordings list
Adam, the article’s author, had been using Windows Media Center so this is something he was used to there. Personally I don’t think it is that useful, the title of a show is more meaningful to me than a random thumbnail image from a recording.
9. Can’t use the onscreen display to flick through EPG
From the description he gives it sounds like PIP, watching one program with a PIP image of what’s on other channels while surfing the guide. I suppose if there is a free tuner and PIP it could be a nice thing to have. But it’d only work if a tuner was free, so it could be confusing for users if it works some of the time but not all of the time.
8. No picture in picture
See #9, I think you’d need this to do it. Since the newer TiVo units have two tuners it seems like it might be possible for TiVo to add PIP. It has certainly been something US users have requested too.
7. No warning against changing the channel when time shifting
While I don’t use Live TV, I fully understand the desire to have this. As long as TiVo flushes the existing buffer when switching channels it would be nice to have some warning if you’re behind in the buffer. One accidental channel change can ruin your day. People have been asking for this since the earliest days of TiVo.
6. Can’t limit a Season Pass to episodes screening at a particular time of day
This is something else US users have repeatedly requested. The most common examples are The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, which often have bad guide data and cause TiVo to record all five airings of the same episode. Users have wished for a way to tell TiVo to limit the Season Pass to, say, between 23:00 and 00:00. Sure, you can use manually recordings to work around this, but then you give up many of the advantages of a Season Pass – such as automatically handling conflicts, and doing the right thing when the guide data is correct.
5. Can’t check remaining hard drive space
The Free Space Indicator (FSI) is perhaps the most oft requested TiVo feature in the history of TiVo. Sure, I understand that TiVo’s philosophy of use is supposed to make the FSI unnecessary. But users increasingly expect it as nearly every other DVR on the market has one. And it is a natural thing to look for since legacy recording technologies such as VHS and DVD-R require the user to be aware of the remaining time. And no, there is no technical reason TiVo couldn’t do it. While bit rates can certainly vary, TiVo knows the maximum bitrates. The maximum bitrate is the ‘worst case scenario’, so TiVo can certainly say “There is at least X time remaining”. While I initially didn’t feel the FSI was a big deal, over time I’ve changed my opinion and now I really think TiVo should implement an FSI.
4. No 24 hour skip forward or back in the onscreen EPG
Well, this we know is part of the 9.4 update now rolling out in the US. So hopefully Australia will see this in a future update as well. (Incidentally I still have not received 9.4 on my Series3.)
3. EPG doesn’t indicate which programs are scheduled to be recorded
This is another feature long requested in the US. I don’t understand why TiVo doesn’t do this, it seems like an obvious UI feature. You’d expect to see some indication in the EPG of upcoming recordings, so it is hard to understand why user-friendly TiVo has never implemented this.
2. No ad skipping
He’s basically referring to 30 second skip, which we have in the US as a back door code. It seems the code has been removed from the Australian software, seemingly by Seven Network’s. Since TiVo has included this in all of their US software (even the Comcast software) it seems unlikely that they’d elect to remove it in Australia without Seven requesting it.
1. No streaming content from a computer
The Australian TiVo lacks the networking features found in the US units, such as TiVoToGo (transfers from TiVo), and the associated TiVoToComeBack (transfers to TiVo). The Australian units are expected to receive these features in a firmware update early next year, so this should be resolved then. Though TiVo’s media support is still lacking compared to other media extenders. Hopefully TiVo will expand the native media support to MPEG-4/H.264 and WMV/VC-1 in an update so that everything needn’t be transcoded to MPEG-2. (While 9.4 adds H.264 support for YouTube playback it remains to be seen if they’ll extend it to generic playback support.)