I had yet-another 12+ hour power outage in the wind storm last week, and it’s not even winter yet. I’ve had it.
So lack of DHG clock has pushed me into the dark side – I bought a used Series3 Tivo. Then on cue, I had a second power outage right after getting the Tivo up and running, quickly proving it was the right choice.
It’s been very interesting seeing how the other ‘better’ half lives. The ‘superior’ so-good-you-will-gladly-pay-extra-monthly-for-it Tivo versus the ‘lowly’ Sony DHG with free TVGOS. Tivo is not as awesome as I imagined all these years, nor was our little ole DHG such a second class citizen after all.
It’s still early days for me with the Tivo so far, but I already have some first-time use impressions.
Currently the score is DHG:18 Tivo:4 (with another 5 points currently in the swing state)
The DHG features you took for granted…
Things Sony DHG did better than Tivo:
Things I’m in the middle on (jury still out):
- The Tivo runs HOT! It requires a PC-style fan in back to keep the chipset cool. You can hear whenever the chipset does any work at all (such as updating the season pass) as it makes the fan spin up wildly. Ever time I move the cabinet the Tivo sits in, the darn thing spins up its fan (motion detection?). In comparison, the DHG runs very cool (did it even have a fan? If it did, you never heard it)
- Worst still, the Tivo fan in back is VERY NOISY! When it spins up – which it did for two days straight at the start of system reset and again for two days after the second power outage, the fan is so shrieking loud that you cannot have a conversation in the living room. Is an F16 taking off in the room? No, it’s just the Tivo doing a little CPU work. (The SO threatened to throw it out the window on the first night)
- I will end up replacing this fan with a quieter model if I can find one.
- DHG has MUCH QUIETER disk drives than Tivo – hearing the constant click clack of the head moving on the Tivo drives is very noticeable across the large living room and bothers me. EVEN IN STANDBY – this disk is still in constant use. In comparison, the DHG drives seem only a quarter as loud where it is hard to notice a disk drive sound without looking for it.
- Tivo is missing any POWER BUTTON! Neither on the remote or on the box. Are you kidding me? The lack of a power button on the Tivo really bothers me! To put the Tivo into a slightly-less-power-hog mode where the two tuners aren’t both 24/7 broadcasting to the (turned off) TV… you have to navigate through multiple menu key clicks - every time you ‘turn off’ the TV and Tivo. That’s NUTS – and will drive me nuts – every night I watch TV. DHG had a standby power button on both the remote and the unit itself. I get up and turn the physical TV power switch off on the TV, power button off on Receiver, power button off on DHG… Tivo… oh wait… no button… to turn Tivo into standby… you have to navigate many clicks via the remote – they discourage you – and the worldwide user community – from trying to save any power less than full-bore everything-everywhere-full-on.
- I haven’t put my KilloWatt on the Tivo yet (would have to endure another two days of fan noise) but am curious how little standby saves that Tivo would encourage users to leave ALL of it at full power, including the two tuners broadcasting and recording, LEDs, etc. That’s got to be more than a few watts worth. When you turn the receiver on, you hear that Tivo has been actively broadcasting both video and audio all night as its default. Really Tivo?
- Tivo pretends to be dumb – or that you are dumb. What is disk space?? Disk space doesn’t exist! Hey Tivo, I just deleted 15 shows, so tell me, how much disk space did I just clear? You know, that little feeling of satisfaction you get when you cleared up space? Tivo says “I won’t tell you!” Hey Tivo, I just set up & recorded 50 season pass shows, it’s been a week now, how is my season pass setup doing? How full is the disk already? When will I start losing “delete for space” shows out of the trash bin? How many of my “keep until I delete” shows have already filled the disk at this point? Hey Tivo, when will I start missing the new shows not being recorded because I might have more “keep until I delete” than I should because I recorded too much via Season Pass? Tivo pretends such questions and concepts do not exist. Like a banana republic dictator, it struggles to keep you ignorant and in the dark. NO. SUCH. THING. DISK SPACE. DOES NOT COMPUTE. DANGER. DANGER.
- How do I get around this on Tivo? There must be some patch that shows free vs. used space? MUST! Right?
- Tivo does not allow you to set the recording defaults – they’re fixed! Really? On DHG my standard is “keep until I delete” for all my shows that matter, which is 90% of what I schedule, where 10% of shows like nightly news are the ‘fodder’ that can be deleted when needed. DHG lets me set the default options to match my recording tastes. How luxurious, who knew? On Tivo, it wants to encourage you into letting it delete all your shows by default. DICTATOR. For every show in the season pass (56 so far), I have to enter the special ‘change options’ menu and adjust each of the three recording options – that’s THREE times for EACH and every show! (No, Tivo, keep until I delete; No, Tivo, keep all episodes; No, Tivo, keep first run only). It gets old fast. Clearly the Dictator does not want you doing this.
- No front panel clock on Tivo, are you kidding me? So now I finally have a real clock that works again within my entertainment center (we used DHG clock as the one clock in the room) – yet Tivo does not display it? The gods must be trying to drive me crazy. Break his TVGOS clock, give him Tivo clock, but then don’t display it. Who built this thing?
- The Tivo Settings Menu only lets you turn off the front panel LEDs.
- Looks like there is space for a clock display on the front panel – is there a Tivo patch that turns the front panel clock on??? Hope so!! None found yet.
- No front panel display scroll for the title of the current show?? Another ‘luxury’ feature that the ‘lesser’ DHG did have. Other viewers who walked into the room could see this was Nova or Independent Lens (etc), but not on Tivo.
- Tivo remote has horrible tendency to double-click every press – picking the wrong choices and sending you off the screen in some, no many, cases. Driving me nuts – seems a Romper Room remote made for kids.
- Is there a fix for this? The buttons on the peanut-remote seem big, squashy and kid-like. When you finally press it hard enough to register your press, it gives you two clicks, one on way down and one on way up. Extremely annoying. The DHG remote feels cleaner.
- Tivo put the pause button between the RR and FF?? It should have been the play button. Instead you have to hit the smaller play button above which does not seem ergonomic. I keep hitting pause by mistake to take it out of FF.
- The 8-seconds backwards button and FF button are fixed time intervals on Tivo, versus programmable on DHG (another DHG ‘luxury’). The 8-second button is a waste, does nothing, you have to hit it 8+ times just to get any movement meaningful to back before commercial end. Whereas on DHG I had BACK set to 1-minute (or was it 30-seconds) to get back before the commercial break. Easy, one press. Luxury.
- DHG has FF of 90x, whereas Tivo is only 60x. Tivo FF seems much slower by comparison.
- Tivo only lets you to start recording UP to TEN minutes before the show as its MAX? Nuts. It should have the same minus-3 hours option for recording before the show as it does after the show.
- There goes my capturing the 1:30 hour of pre-game hype and analysis before every Pats game, that the ‘lesser’ DHG allowed with aplomb.
- Live TV on Tivo can only be paused for only a SHORT scant 30 minutes? Already had a case where that was not long enough .. paused a LIVE TV show for a phone call, by time got back, 30 min window expired, your show pause-point is gone! On DHG I had it set to record the last 1:30 hour, so I could go backward for context to get news stories or ballgames if something big happened live. Surprised how much I already miss this.
- Live TV on DHG is superior – will likely keep this as my prime way to watch live TV.
- And on DHG, you also get the channel up/down button right there on front of the unit – walk-up easy as you hold the kitchen prep pot and knife – imagine that - unlike Tivo.
- The whole Tivo ‘delete-what-when’ scheme is apparently based on the listing order of your schedule shows. Yet it is hard to know exactly what shows and at exactly what multiple daily show times each show will trump the others on your list. In my 55+ season pass shows, I’ve already had unintended shows cancel others lower on the list out. Worst of all, for being the apparent heart of their system where you’d spend the most time - for every third show you adjust, Tivo says “wait” for a ungodly amount of time before it lets you continue sorting the rest of the shows (three at a time). This can take hours. No, Tivo, how about you let me make all my changes in one swath – since my time is more precious – and then you make all the updates AFTER. But no – you sit there waiting in dead silence as TiVo ‘thinks’ and says “WAIT”.
- And while you’re stuck doing that all night (moving shows up/down), the Tivo menu screen is NOT transparent where you get to see the live TV show in the background (as DHG does in all its menus, PIP no less) – no – you’re stuck on a dead menu screen for hours at end trying to fine tune the show ordering in the season pass list in complete radio silence. Where the double-clicks on the remote drive you nuts.
- Something I never noticed but did on DHG a LOT – I would press the One-minute skip ahead button while in 90x FF – to fly over break periods even faster. On Tivo, doing this brings you immediately to the end of the show. Another way that FF on Tivo seems much slower than on DHG.
- This is killer – there is no way to add “go to” chapter marks into the video you’re watching? Are you kidding me? This is the superior product? I used this feature all the time on DHG – to mark the big moment in the show – to mark the spot in the show where they had the exact perfect paint color for your SO – etc – to go back to the spot right after the show – or a year from now. Used this all the time in countless ways – very surprised Tivo does not have anything similar.
- Or do they? Haven’t found it yet.
- The dreaded Yellow Exclamation points! Without any ability to know how much disk space is free, you live in dread of all the yellow exclamation points on ALL your new just-recorded shows: “Oh no, yellow, Dad, is Tivo really going to delete my XYZ show we just taped last night?” I have no idea. Disk could be full, or disk could be empty, or your show could go at any minute. How does that make you feel? You feel ‘chained’ to the Tivo trying to rescue all the exclamation point shows before they are deleted. This is fun?!?
Things Tivo did better than Sony DHG:
- Season Pass - Seeing as how Tivo was promoted as being how the “better side lived” for so long, I expected much more in its “so good you’ll pay for it” feature set. If I set up a season pass for “Modern Family”, I thought it’d be smart enough to find every MF episode showing across every channel I get, compare the titles already recorded on the disk, and record the new one if I already don’t have it. It doesn’t seem to be that slick – despite all the CPU heat it generates. Instead it just records a season pass of a show on that ONE channel only. So I have to set up multiple season passes for EACH channel it is on in both first run and syndication. Given their list-order paradigm – this could be good or bad – so jury is still out for now.
- I thought Tivo had a much better live sense for when shows run over (which is the whole reason for shelling out an expensive monthly ‘internet-live’ Guide charge). I had a season pass for “Sunday Night Sports Xtra” which appears every Sunday after the Patriots game. Instead it somehow recorded 30 minutes earlier on the newscast, as if it only went by the static downloaded guide (like TVGOS did), versus a live internet-provided “hold on, the show went over” signal. I expected too much. Their guide is the same as the free TVGOS, no more, no extra features. OK, fine. Call it equal. Except I’m paying for it.
- Channel 2-1 Greater Boston first run show is 7pm. Using Season Pass with “first run only”, I can’t get Tivo to stop recording the 12am re-broadcast on 2-1 later that same night. I want the 7pm Greater Boston first run ahead of other shows, so I have to put it high on the order list, but then I miss out on the other 12am show I’d rather record instead of the Greater Boston repeat – the “first run only” doesn’t seem to be working on Tivo. This schedule scheme is klunky. I might have to end up using the manual recording option … like on dead-TVGOS DHG … how ironic.
- There’s another daily show that uses its Friday night time slot as a special recap for the week. Normally on DHG I just recorded the Friday show. However with Tivo Season Pass, I can’t figure out how to get it to record just Friday only and skip the Mon-Thur shows. On DGH – it’s easy - you have the daily vs. weekly setting that allowed me to record Friday only – simple & perfect. Tivo season pass has less scheduling options than DHG? Really?
- I expected I could set up and record Netflix streaming shows on the Tivo app while I was at work – so that my slow DSL buffering delays would be hidden and that I could watch the show without delays already stored on the hard disk – no such luck – same as watching it live on my PC – no difference – what a shame. Not a Tivo value add. But not on DHG either – so a wash.
- IT HAS A WORKING CLOCK (so unfortunately Tivo beats DHG on this one point alone in this Rovi-killed-TVGOS era). Sad really.
- Apart from the very noisy fan that everyone in the house has to withstand for two days upon power up, Tivo does survive power outages fine. See working clock.
- Tivo gives you its iconic little ‘doo-dupe’ sound effects whenever you hit the FF or other buttons – half the family likes them, other half hates them. DHG is silent on key presses (less child-like than Tivo interfaces).
- Having a trash bin to restore recently-deleted-but-not-yet-actually-deleted shows from is nice. DHG trusts you meant the deletion and it’s instantly gone forever.
So now having had both – it’s clear that I would have still kept buying the DHG over Tivo - if only the DHG still had a working Guide and working Clock today.
While I made this recent move to Tivo out of the fear for ‘wasting my time’ with the DHG by resetting its schedule on the roughly 6 times a year I’d lose power, it already seems clear to me - in this first week - that I have already spent way more time just by fooling around with the Tivo Season Pass options and bad defaults and most especially with its Season Pass all-critical listing order. Given all the Season Pass recordings, it might take even more time babysitting this 2x bigger Tivo than the smaller DHG system did. This is an improvement?
And on the ‘superior’ Tivo, I don’t even get the comfort of knowing how much disk space is left before I HAVE to delete my shows – I could be good for a year, or just a week – no way to tell! I’m denied the feel good moment of seeing the disk space free up on deleted shows. Tivo says "There is no such thing as disk space”. So thus Tivo chains you into deleting/freeing things every night – ‘just in case’. At least with DHG, I knew when I’d have to spend the once-every-four-weeks session of cleaning out shows once the disk space was >90% full, had the comfort knowing how much time/space I had left, and also the satisfaction of a reclaimed space.
The points so far go to DHG. So far, the Tivo guide and feature set doesn’t really seem any better than the while-it-was-working TVGOS for free, and wouldn’t be worth the extra monthly cost… if only DHG had a working clock.
But it is early days yet. There’s still time for me to get converted into the “disk space is not real” and “always feel at risk for losing recorded shows” Tivo mindset. We’ll see.
Am I missing any other hidden Tivo features cherished by advanced users that might sway me into the “Tivo is such an improvement over DHG” camp?