Is TiVo really worth the money?
Now this might seem overly complicated but I currently don't have a DVR and I'm paying $12/month to rent this STB. So my original idea was to buy a TiVo and not pay $12/month. To my surprise, I'll instead be paying around $20/mo due to the cost of the service subscription and renting a cable card from Verizon (fios). For $20/mo I can get a multi-room DVR from Verizon… if I want to watch TV in another room with TiVo, my cheapest option is buying a mini and now paying $26/mo ($6/mo for mini subscription). I know I can buy a lifetime membership to these but that is a lot of money considering If I upgrade my TiVo or buy another box, I have to pay that again and again/more and more.
I really want to convince myself that TiVo is so much better that it's worth the cash, but the more I think about it, the less sense it makes to me. I even tried the idea of cutting cable, getting an HD antenna, and just getting the basic Roamio box to navigate and record the (15-ish) channels... but at that point, I honestly feel I'd be better off just forgetting that option and spending the $15/mo on Hulu.
I guess by the end of this question, I'm really wondering if TiVo can even survive with their current strategy? I have a smart TV, a Chromecast, and a PS4 so it's not like I'm lacking access to internet services... as far as I can tell, I'm just missing the DVR function. Anyone have some words of wisdom?
If you want to try and use an OTA antenna have you looked into a Simple.TV or similar devices? They have a smaller monthly fee and the hardware is far cheaper.
On a side note: I personally think DVR's are one of the most overpriced items in the living room. It's kind of bizarre to me that in 2014 the way we have to consume content is through an auxiliary recording device, rather than just a quick queue through a menu.
In this particular case since they are on Verizon, getting them for free is not an option at this time since they don't encrypt the locals.
Not true....... at least not if you have Comcast
"Comcast provides CableCARDs for both professional and do-it-yourself installations. The first CableCARD in a retail device (e.g., TiVo devices or CableCARD equipped televisions) is provided at no additional charge to Comcast customers ( This means FREE). If a second CableCARD is needed for the same device (i.e., TiVo Series 3 boxes), the cost is $1.50 per month for the additional card. Again, this only applies to a second CableCARD in the same device. (this would not apply to Roamio or Premiere boxes)
In some, but not all, areas, cablecards may be subject to rate regulation for cable equipment, just as other equipment (e.g., cable boxes, remotes) are.
No longer do you 'have' to miss the game/show/movie to listen to somebody, complete chores, or deal with horrid commercials. It's rare that I watch anything live anymore and I watch a lot of sports. Getting rid of my DVR now would be like going without my iPhone, dishwasher, etc. it's just not something I'm mentally prepared to do and I personally think it's worth much more than the money I pay. Instead of a football game taking 3-4 hours of my time on a Sunday/Monday night, I purposefully wait to start watching the game and cut the time at least in half.
The only issue, is that I have found I only really watch the DVR now for recording live programming. If that's not what you are into, you'll find that over time you'll watch less and less shows on the DVR as you can get almost all of them online whenever you want.
I had the same concerns about Tivo surviving as well. That was two years ago and they just upgraded their service, so it's continuing to be invested in and getting better. Much better than any DVR+Cable solution out there.
Incredibly happy we did the move.
1 - decreased total bill and will now have an easier transition between FiOS and Comcast if we decide to change in April when our 2 year contract is up.
2 - we rarely used the tv in the second room
3 - being able to stream from the Roamio to an iPhone or iPad in or out of the house knocks the solution out of the park.
4 - being able to save shows to an iPad or iPhone for off network viewing wile traveling is another grand slam.
5 - if necessary, we could add the mini , BUt for the last month, we have been very happy to be able to it in out favorite place in the house without the tv and catch up on individual shows we like, then go into the family room to enjoy common shows.
I would definitely suggest you make the move.
One caveat. The FiOS DVR requires explicit scheduling of shows, the TiVo learns through the Thumbs up and down, what types of shows you like, so the TiVo often has more shows recorded at any time, many that you didn't ask for. This is great when you are looking for something new, but if you are used to managing space on a basic DVR, your mindset needs to be adjusted. This is more a point of reference than a problem.
I'm looking at this today because I'm switching back from Optimum to Verizon FIOS because Optimum's deals have ended and the costs are prohibitive. We're installing the Tivo and foregoing the Verizon DVR. We had to pay the install fee because you can't sign up online and get the free installation when you forego their DVR. We just bought a top of the line router, which also become useless. Guess we will have to sell it. Optimum has been ugly during this termination process; perhaps Verizon would be nasty too if we were leaving instead of coming. Our big concern now is the availability of wifi hot spots with Verizon. Optimum has been convenient. I'll be holding my breath.
For those concerned about the transition, Tivo kept all of my backlogged recordings. And Tivo converted the channels on all of my Season Pass Manager items. I had to go through the channel listings and deselect the more "exclusive" channels that FIOS meshed into the ones I receive. They are everywhere in the channel listings, unfortunately. That was a rather tedious process. Even Verizon doesn't seem to know which channels are in which package, btw. I recommend that you go thru the Tivo Guide channel by channel, see if you can bring it up, and note on a piece of paper which channels to delete. If you go by the Verizon Channel Lineup they provide, you might miss a few channels that work just fine.
The FIOS picture is much clearer than Optimum Online. We're still sorting out whether the internet connection is better or worse. We recently upgraded our Apple IOS on our phones and tablets, so the performance might be due to the ghost of Steve Jobs, not Verizon's connectivity. We'll see.
The big negative is that Verizon has few Wifi hotspots. Maybe that was why we were paying over $75/mo more for service? Most of Verizon's hotspots are in hotels and airports. Verizon seems to recommend that we use the Verizon hotspot on my phone, but that's not a replacement for what we had because my wife doesn't have the hotspot feature on her phone. They have a portable device we could buy. Again, we'll wait and see.
Oh, when the technician gives you an account name, it isn't your email address, at least not until you opt to make it your email address online. You have to sign into Verizon at verizon.net and pick an email address. I went right into the email box and composed an email, so Verizon created an email address for me on the spot with some convoluted computer generated name. Then I went and changed my settings. Oops!
the one thing i dont like about it is the tivo premier, which is what i got because it was refurbed on their site for eighty bucks, is its a bit slow. i wish it were just a bit more snappy.
Regarding cord cutting, that term is overrated. I'll cut the cord when the prices for stand alone broadband is dirt cheap. Cord cutters save very little or don't save at all. It's an illusion. I thought about it for a moment, and it made ZERO sense to me. The standalone fios speed I wanted would have cost me $75 a month. $65 for the firsst 12 months and $85 for the next 12 so that's $75. Their bundle cost $99 and you get a $300 gift card. If I cut the cord, I would still need a way to find my sports, a league pass here and a league pass there and the cost is surpassing the promotional bundle package. Like I said, zero sense to me. When kick ass broadband can be had for $25 a month, then I'll take cord cutting more seriously. Otherwise, get a bundle and when your two years up, get a bundle from the competitor. Switch providers like cellphone companies. People who stay beyond the promotional prices are the ones who are getting ripped off and you should cut the cord if you don't want to bother with doing a little song and dance with the cable company every two years. If you're willing to switch up every 2 years, then promotional bundles makes more sense than cord cutting.
The SD product can also stream to most dlna capable devices (some devices don't know the rules when dealing with live/unseekable content and don't work, also for mpeg2 streams that most cable uses, a wired connection is best). For verizon most channels are not protected so DTCP-IP isn't needed, this is nearly everything but HBO/MAX... but accessing channels by dlna can be "painful" but it is something to look into and the latest beta now has favorites which makes it less painful... for HBO/MAX, a ps3 supports DTCP-IP so can access the protected content, unfortunately a ps4 does not at this time.
If you weren't interested in a DVR, Samsung makes the GX-SM530CF (retails for about $150) which is a cablecard capable smart media player (since you already have the smart TV, the "only" advantage of this is the cablecard tuner. Unfortunately verizon charges about $2/month higher than most other companies for the cablecard rental so it will take a little longer for the device to pay itself off.
I actually used an old laptop laying around and threw on an external 1.5 TB HDD. Now It's 3 tuner capable and works great!
BUT, we stopped using the Series 2 a few years ago when we were moving around and got FiOS (Digital). Now we're on the East Coast, NC, and have Time Warner. We don't subscribe to cable, we just pay for internet in an effort to cut costs. What's nice about this is we get the basic lineup for free (1-99). I get a new TiVo, the Roamio entry level box, only to find out it's digital only. This means that getting a CableCARD for it would cost me $2 a month, on top of the $15 a month service, and the $20 a month subscription to basic cable I would need from Time Warner before they would let me have a CableCARD.
When I talked to TiVo about this, they said I absolutely, 100% needed a CableCARD for cable. I don't need a CableCARD for digital with an antenna, so I still don't understand why, but that's their story and they are sticking to it. And, as far as I could tell, it was true. The support rep told me the Premier (entry level) still had a tuner that would work in my situation, but I just don't see the value in getting an older device with a shorter lifespan on updates and lower performance just to DVR my OTA equivalent cable offering. I can see this being a concern for many people who are trying to cut the cable and save money. At the cost per month, all aspects considered, I'll be getting something else or building a media center PC to fill the role.
I honestly feel like it's hard to beat the TiVo service. The boxes are great, the software is awesome, and the support is good. But, it seems to me the cost is beginning to outweigh the benefits, especially for someone in my position.
That being said, I believe your only option is a CableCARD. I'm not a professional in these topics though; I just recently did a massive amount of research trying to get my own to work. Your best bet would be to hit up for tivo forms and see what they have to say about it, though often times I left slightly more confused than when I showed up.
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Having said all that, if mine breaks tomorrow I'd go with the cable dvr until I see whatever Apple has up it's sleeve. (Of course I'd get my lifetime Tivo box repaired too.)
Tivo doesn't offer lifetime service anymore no doubt because of customers like me.
They've also lost a lot of their goodwill over the years with crappy products after the S3. The latest appears to be a better product but like i said, I'm waiting for nextgen AppleTV.
Is a DVR/Tivo worth the money? You're kidding right? Hell, Yes.
I guess my one comment on streaming services (I subscribe to a couple) would be, I can't stand the poor quality. If you're watching on a small screen, then it's ok. But put it on the 60" HDTV and it just looks bad. For most people, this is probably not an issue. But if you watch one OTA show on an HDTV, you will immediately notice the superior quality over streaming services.
On the matter of cost: you don't need a super computer to run WMC. I invested in a larger tower case with lots of drive bays because I like to archive. Up until 2012, I was still running a Core2Duo. At this point, I don't see any need for further upgrades other than storage. I look at the cost as an initial investment of a few hundred dollars, then cable card monthly fees with occasional HDD purchases.
I know there are a lot of MS haters, but I think that WMC was one thing they did right...which probably explains why they abandoned it. I know, I know...the money is in streaming and buying online...that's why they really abandoned it. Once tiered broadband is common place, I have to wonder how the streaming vendors will react.
1) WMC is prettier than TIVO and allows for some customization
2) There are no continued fees and can be cheaper (maintenance and upgrades are constant concern with WMC)
3) Can tune all the channels a TIVO does and is a PC!
4) Ability to upgrade well beyond the capabilities of a TIVO
1) WMC is neary unknown to media providers and leads to nearly no support from your cable company or satellite provider.
2) Microsoft has not made any substantial updates to this software in years and has clearly made moves to discontinue its use.
3) Plugins and add-ons with substantial added value are rare for WMC.
3) XBOX one will not work as a media extender and the hardware failure rate of XBOX 360s has already had me pay for 2 replacements over the past few years (expensive)
4) WMC can take alot of maintenance. You not only have computer failures to deal with, but also Micrsoft's shotty codecs which can't be substituted for others because of DRM built into their recording scheme related to cablecard.
When I was young single guy, I had time to tinker to improve and try to resolve the issues with WMC. I now am married and had to switch because my wife is not as technical as I am and needed a solution that would "Just work". I got tired of WMCs codec and stutter issues, multiple recordings of the same shows, and instances where settings for WMC completely reset themselves for no reason. For that I have switched to TIVO. TIVO isn't as customizable, pretty, or free from service charges, but TIVO is better supported by the vendor and cable providers. It also allows for an easy user experience where my wife figured out how to use it in a couple of days. My largest complaint with TIVO is the monthly and lifetime service fees. The interface and function provided by TIVO is no where near the cost they ask for, but it is still definitely better than the standard rented DVR from the cable provider. Hopefully their UI and services provided with get a much needed update with a new version of TIVO firmware.
Tivo is definitely worth it to me but not based on financial reasons. I just replaced our old Tivo HD and Comcast's RNG100 STB with a Roamio Pro and a Mini. We consume a lot of cable content which isn't all available via other sources and equipment that Comcast offers in my area is a joke. That said, if you're looking to save cash a premium option (like Tivo) probably isn't a good choice as a generic rule of thumb no matter what the topic.
If you do want to save money on Tivo then lifetime is a must. These devices have long lifespans so you can't just assume they're like smartphones or other fast changing tech. Further, devices with lifetime usually have good resale value so that can help to mitigate costs. Still, if you're scrounging to save a few bucks a month then Tivo probably isn't for you. You might want to consider other DVR solutions better suited to your budget. A WMC box can be put together on the cheap (more so if you already have parts) and doesn't have service fees.
Tivo can certainly survive. Again, subjective matter. Don't just assume that your situation represents all consumers out there. There are various product niches out there that serve different market segments. The fact that you fit one segment better doesn't mean that no one fits the other segments.
You really just have to determine what you're willing to pay for the DVR functionality you're after (if any at all as it sounds like you don't currently have one) and that will answer your question on worth.
Then again, I'm a huge TV fan. I watch hours of TV a day (too much, I'm sure), and Tivo is far and away the best user experience of any DVR on the market. Other's have gotten better over the years, but nothing compares to the Tivo interface, even the standard def portions of it :)
I also have the benefit that I was already a Tivo customer, and therefore was being given upgrade offers, which are significantly less expensive than the ones you see on their site. Because of that, I could justify the number of months it would take to make up the cost of the product/lifetime service versus the cost of the Fios monthly fee.
Regardless of my situation, I strongly believe that Tivo has the best product out there. I now have a Premiere XL4 and a Tivo Mini, and I love both products. I really hope that they finally support Android so I can give them money for the Tivo Stream.
Tivo offers a lot more in their dvr"s than the cable companies by way of better video quality and componets. I notice no Macroblocking or Tiling with Tivo, Verizon's dvr was awful in the video end with all of that.
Tivo gives you 30 days to try their product out. If you don't like it return it for a full refund. You do loose VOD with Verizon but, I have Hulu Plus and Netflix to fill in the blanks. To be honest, with 6 tuners built in I really don't need the VOD feature nor do I miss it.
As for the money end, I had Verizon's Muli-Room dvr, HD box, and a Digital box for a total of $37.99 a month. With Tivo, by the time it;s said and done, I'm probably ahead $7.00. But I know I have the latest DVR out there and the video and audio quality is fantastic. And this is was Tivo does, build DVR's. Give it a shot!