In what can’t be a good sign for the progress of the TiVo software for Comcast, CNET’s Matthew Elliott has posted in their Crave blog that he’s finally given up in frustration and returned to using the standard non-TiVo Comcast DVR. He first starting using the TiVo software May, and while his initial impression was favorable overall, he had some issues with it as well – especially performance.
He followed up in July, and by then the bloom was already off the rose. His patience was low with the performance issues by then and he was experiencing frozen screens and missed recordings. He was already considering returning to the standard Comcast DVR.
Things apparently improved for a while starting last month. The number of glitches dropped and the performance seemed to improve. But then, last week, he was locked out of On Demand and lost the ability to record anything – and that was the last straw. As he sums it up:
My two biggest gripes with the Comcast + TiVo service were its speed and reliability. Setting a recording took anywhere from 20 seconds to over a minute. With Comcast DVR, a recording is set almost instantaneously. Service reliability was the bigger issue; TiVo would regularly freeze up and required to be reset–a process that required me to pull the cable box out, unplug it, plug it back in, and wait 10 to 15 minutes for the service to return–and then re-enter the 30-second skip code for the remote. Other than encouraging me to read more, the only advantages I found with TiVo were its suggested recordings, its ad-free channel guide, and a better organized list of recorded shows, which grouped multiple recordings of a show and all HD recordings into folders.
I’d really like to see TiVo succeed in bringing their software to cable DVRs, but the road so far has been long and rocky. At this point it seems that there is still a lot of work to be done, and some of the troubles may be due to the lack of power in the fielded hardware. The TiVo software is running on top of a middleware layer (currently a precursor to tru2way, and it should be tru2way in time) which runs on top of a base OS, and that means it will be hard to match the performance of a native OS. A solution for this could be newer generations of cable DVR hardware which are bring designed from the start to support tru2way applications, instead of existing hardware that has been updated with software.
There are so many variables involved it is hard to say if the troubles are with TiVo’s software, the middleware layers, the base OS, the hardware, the head-end servers, or something else. So the issues may be out of TiVo’s hands. But in the end it doesn’t matter to the end user, they just want the software to work and don’t care who’s problem it is. So I hope that TiVo and their partners can sort things out and make it ‘just work’, or it will continue to struggle to gain traction.