Yes, I agree. The DVD factor is a big one; I forgot about that! I do appreciate watching DVDs on my widescreen HDTV. Most HDTV owners do use their HDTVs for PS DVDs.
Yes it is a bitch. My biggest disappointment isn't with the technology, it's with the networks. It isn't handled professionally at all. Some shows cropped, some in 480, commercials get loud and then the show gets quiet, pops, clicks, glitches, and distortions abound. It's like a five-year-old is at the controls. NBC, the biggest network, only broadcast ONE show in high-def at at 11:30pm! HELLO?
1. What exactly are 'artifacts', both visually and technically?
Visually: unwanted little pixels that distort a picture.
Technically: A digital picture (whether satellite or HDTV) is made up of pixels or little squares. Since a TV image is made up of thousands of pixels that rapidly make up a moving image they must be compressed (although HDTV is not I believe). The more compression, the more artifacts there will be.
2. What exactly is 'time-shifting?
Simply watching shows when YOU want, not when they are broadcast. You could time-shift with a VCR but Tivo makes it child's play.
3. What is so great about TIVO that warrants a $10 monthly fee as opposed to a S-VHS recorder?
I would pay $100 month for Tivo if I had to, seriously. With Tivo you don't watch live TV. Think of Tivo as Blockbuster in your house. With TV you are spoonfed 5 good shows a day at specific times. Tivo records these shows automatically while you watch other shows previously recorded. It lists them nicely in a NOW SHOWING menu. But here is what's truly great:
1. My 5 year old has 20 "Arthur", "Dragon Tales", and "Dora the Explorer" kid shows all at the ready and can play them herself on Tivo. And I don't have to worry about a show being too adult for her.
2. I haven't seen a commercial, stupid political slander commercial, or news teaser in two years.
3. All my favorite must-see shows are waiting for me when I get home. No need to rush home for prime time tv.
4. I get more out of HBO since it finds shows I would never stay up for. So if a Clint Eastwood movie is on at 2 am, it knows I like Clint and records it for me without me even asking it to!
5. If I want to watch Friends, I can start watching at 8:20 pm, start at the beginning of the show, skip the commercials and catch up to the end.
6. Bathroom break? Anytime with Tivo, just pause the TV.
7. Miss what that actor said? Just hit the "back" button to six second-back. It's like an instant replay. I wish DVD players had this.
8. Fast forward through a whole movie in, um, 10 seconds.
9. Search new shows by name, actor, channel, time, date, director, etc!
10. Store 30 hours of programming without tapes, labels, rewinding, indexing all with almost perfect reproduction, and simplicity. It's nothing like a vcr.
I recommend a DirectTivo which combines and records DirectTV signals with no loss in quality. Plus it can record two shows while you watch another! They can be had for $100 with a new DirecTV subscription (try Americansatellit.com or Orbitsatellite.com). Add either the $10 a month from Tivo or $250 for a lifetime subscription and you're set!