My High Def Life: In praise of TiVo.

by Erica Sadun

I've owned my Series 1 TiVo since around '99 or '00. The little guy is still ticking away. It's on its third hard drive (started out with 14G), hasn't had a working warranty since shortly after its purchase (voided it early, voided it often), and has long, long passed the cost/benefit inflection point for its lifetime service.

I'm going to keep using that sucker until it drops dead, which heaven willing, will not be for a long, long time.

So recently I looked into upgrading to a High Def TiVo. After checking out (and nearly passing out at) the price, and checking out the features, I passed. I decided to build my own TiFaux with a Mac mini, an eyeTV hybrid, and AppleTV. I just couldn't see where the near-thousand-dollars of cost would be worth it, even with the Series-1 upgrade discount.

Still, there are many things I love about my TiVo--things I don't get with my TiFaux. Here are a few of the more important ones off the top of my head.


2007-03-15 13:54:05
> "voided it early, voided it often"

That's the spirit :)

> "you can't pause and resume standard def [using Eye TV]"

Really? Yowser. I can on mine. But mine is a bit older.

Scott Cantor
2007-03-15 14:27:03
FWIW, if you can afford the price, the Series3 is exactly what you'd wish for in an HD Tivo. Everything your Series1 does now, but with two tuners and HD. In my case, with a lifetime sub transferred to it, so apart from the crazy up front price, I'm actually paying less in cable bills.

I considered building one, but it would be a sad joke by comparison. Even the horrible DVR from the cable co would be better.

Erica Sadun
2007-03-15 14:42:50
Paul: On my eyeTV Hybrid, you can only pause standard def if you're recording it. Otherwise when you "resume", you go back to live and you can't rewind.
Eddie Hargreaves
2007-03-15 14:42:56
I agree that a TiVo Series 3 is incredibly expensive at $800, but the combined cost of a Mac mini, EyeTV Hybrid and Apple TV is actually more expensive at $1,048. Of course, I'm guessing you didn't actually build the TiFaux since the AppleTV hasn't even shipped yet.
Erica Sadun
2007-03-15 14:47:13
Actually my set-up will cost quite a bit more than that, because I got a rather maxed-out mini.

But yes, I have been using the mini + eyeTV + a DVI-to-HDMI cable and it's a fully functioning TiFaux. You can check out earlier articles in this "My High Def Life" series for details.

Randy Stewart
2007-03-15 15:58:34
Sadly, I've switched to Windows XP Media Center Edition. It's pretty much everything that EyeTV is not - reliable, fast, and fairly bug free, at least in my two weeks using it. I'm sad that I'm not using a Mac and that I'm locked into Windows Media DRM, but it integrates so nicely with my Xbox 360 and does pretty much everything I'd want it to.

Generally, I don't like Microsoft. I've been a Mac user for 17 years at this point, but MCE is really, really polished. One nice thing - the two EyeTV Hybrids worked great as "WinTV-HVR-980s," which is what they showed up as.

Randy Stewart

2007-03-16 09:05:33
I don't know about Tivo listings, but TitanTV listings seem to go out about 2 weeks.

And, my ConvertX can pause and resume live TV. Apparently some of the features in this list must be dependent on which hardware someone uses.

Charles Albrecht
2007-03-21 15:53:16
It should be noted that (I believe) "Standard Def" is used here to mean "Analog" and not "Standard Definition Digital"