Tag Archives: TiVo

Thank You TiVo for Hulu Plus, But No Thank You

TiVo has been rolling out Hulu Plus on their Premier boxes for awhile now and it became available to me around the first week of June. I had used and cancelled Hulu Plus, before so I wasn’t eligible for the free trial. However, the Premier TiVo is connected to our living room TV, and I thought Hulu might be something my husband would like so I went ahead and paid the subscription fee. After using it for ten days I have already decided I am going to cancel it at the end of the month. Part of the reason I am going to cancel is how Hulu works on the TiVo and part is Hulu itself. The first problem I ran into was trying to find it on TiVo, it is not under Video, which is where you would expect it but under Music, Photos and Showcase. The second problem is the number of clicks it takes to get to something you want to watch on Hulu. Lets assume you are watching live TV and decide you want to watch a show you’ve subscribed to on Hulu, here are the steps you have to go through

1.  Hit the TiVo button

2.  Hit the Music, Photo & Show Case button (wait for it to load)

3.  Hit the Hulu Plus Button (again wait for it to load)

4.  Move to and click the Que and Subscription button

5.  Hit the Subscription button

6.  Find and hit the show you want to watch

7.  Find the episode you want, click on it and again wait for it to load.

The above list assuming everything goes has it is suppose to, but inevitably I end up hitting the most Popular button by mistake and have to wait for it to load before I can get to what I really want. That’s the biggest problem, it is not the number of steps, it is that at almost every step you have to wait for something to load. They are not short load times either, sometimes it can take quite awhile. Half way through the process I am thinking do I really want to watch this show is it worth the effort.

Then I finally get to the show I want to watch and start playing it. But wait first I have to watch two commercials and then the show starts. At that point I am thinking ok I knew there were going to be some commercials I am not happy about it but I accept it. Then 10 minutes into the program two more commercials play, then 10 minutes later two more commercials, another 10 minutes two more commercials and finally just before the end of the program two more commercials. Each time a commercial plays I become less accepting and more frustrated, especially since there is no way to fast forward through them. Having to watch eight commercials during an hour show when you’ve are already paying $7.95 for the subscription is just too much for me. To make matters worse you get the same commercials over and over again.

I do appreciate that Hulu Plus is now available on TiVo, however for the above reasons and the fact I can get a lot of the same programs through Netflix and Amazon Video much quicker and without the commercials. I am not going to be renewing my subscription at the end of the month.

DirecTiVo to be Released Soon?

Recently it seems that satellite TV provider DirecTV accidentally released some information about the DirecTiVo, which used to exist, went away, and then was brought back, but has been “in the works” for around three years now.  Users over at the DBSTalk forums began reporting that the DirecTiVo briefly appeared as available for purchase on the DirecTV website for sale at $99.

According to the reports, the user interface looked more like the old TiVo HD as opposed the newer Premier.  That makes sense since the thing has been in development for so darn long.  Not much else is known, but I would assume it will contain the standard two-tuner hardware and not much of any ground-breaking features.

I had the original DirecTiVo and loved it, but had to replace it to move on to HD TV.  The HR-23 box is far from terrible, and actually is pretty good, especially compared to other cable DVR’s.  It has home networking capability, a 500 GB drive, and USB and eSATA ports that allow for additional external drives.  That said, I am sentimental for the old TiVo UI and if the hardware is comparable to the HR-23 then I will be plunking down my $99 for the new DirecTiVo.

TiVo Remote for the iPad


nullI recently lost my TiVo remote and I don’t care. It’s not because I not using TiVo anymore I use it almost daily. However I have fallen in love with the TiVo remote on the Ipad.   It is so much better and easier to use then the physical TiVo remote.  The TiVo remote is free from the Itunes App Store. When you first open the application up it will ask you for the Media Access Key, which you can get either off your TiVo under Account & System Information or on the TiVo Web site under your account. Once you get it connected you have a couple of options on how you can use it. The first option is to use it as you would a normal remote, where everything appears on your TV screen. The way I like to use it however is with the information sitting in front of me on my iPad.  At the bottom of the screen you have your Info, Guide, My Shows, Browse and Manage icons. Click on the Guide button it will bring up the Guide screen on the middle with the show you are watching highlighted. At the top of the screen you get some basic information on the show. You have the option to record the show, see if there are any upcoming episodes and share what you are watching. You can also see it the show is available through other places such as Netflix or Amazon download. It will only show you what is available through your TiVo, so Hulu will not show up.  If you click on My shows you can pull up what you have recorded.  You can choose to watch, explore, get a season pass or delete the show. You can also check to see if there are any upcoming episodes. You can even  share what you are watching  to Twitter or Facebook. Under the Explore button you may get information about the actors and crew. it will also suggest shows you might like based on the show you are exploring. Not all shows will show the same information. It is fun to be watching something and say I know I’ve seen that actor before somewhere and click on his or her image under the Explore button and up pops the shows they have appeared in, directed, wrote or produced. You can also add the actor or crew member to your wish list. At the very top of the screen it tells you which TiVo you are connected to. Change your connection to Twitter or Facebook and reset the application. You can also search what is available through TiVo.

If you decide that you rather have the information on your TV screen this is where the access button for it is. The button looks like a the physical TiVo button click on it and a virtual representation of the TiVo remote appears. To be honest I don’t use this option very often. The only time I use it is when I am fast forwarding through commercial. At the bottom of the screen is a time line and you can use that to swipe backward or forward through a recorded show. Unfortunately they haven’t figured how to enable you to fast forward through a live show and believe me I’ve tried. However you can go back if you missed something on a live show. It also has a keyboard that I actually enjoy using, instead of one that makes me want to throw it.  The share button tends to be a little flaky at times and refuses to work. The other negative is that the TiVo remote on the iPad is that it works only with TiVo Premiere and Premiere Plus. For a Series 3 TiVo I recommend DVR remote which is available for both the iPhone or iPad.  If you have an iPad (version 1 or 2) and a Premiere TiVo I highly recommend downloading this app.

GNC-2010-11-22 #629 Headed Home

I have had a very productive trip here in Albuquerque but I am more than ready to head home. Lots of work to do in the studio and not a lot of time to do it. PLus my honey do list is a mile long. I expect to do a Saturday Morning Tech Show if the Studio is ready. Sunday we announce the Slate for 2010 Podcast Awards so it has to be ready. :) Have a great Thanks Giving and be Safe.

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TiVo Premier

I have been looking at various media boxes, that would allow me to stream media to my TV from both the internet and my own network. I have looked at the Roku, the XBox and even the Google TV and all had their pluses and minuses, then I realized that I already had a solution right in front of me, my TiVo Premier. With a little additional software, it does everything I want a media server to do. First the TiVo without any additional software allows you to do the following

The first addition I would recommend is TiVo Desktop, which allows you to play music and view photos that are on your network. On Windows it also allows you to transfer shows to your computer for viewing. To do this on a Mac you need the Roxio Toast Titanium software. The second thing I would add is a piece of software found under Google Software code called PyTivoX. PyTivoX allows you to play videos that are on your network thru your TiVo. Once you download and install it go to preferences and click on Streambaby which is under the SB icon. Then click on the plus buttons and add any folders with videos you want to view on your TiVo. On the TiVo these videos can be found under “Showcases and extra” at the bottom of the list or under Now Playing on some TiVos

There are a couple of problems I have run into when using the Premier TiVo. The first is YouTube has never worked correctly. After logging in (which is a pain to do) you should be able to pull up your subscriptions and favorites. I can only pull up my subscriptions, my favorites never show up. I have tried several fixes, but none seem to work. I really don’t watch YouTube that often on my TV, so it not that big of a deal for me, but for some people this maybe a deal breaker. I also don’t understand why YouTube is listed twice once under Find TV, movies, & videos and then again under Showcases & extras. If you are on a Mac the number of online videocast are limited to what is available when you first go on TiVo. With a PC you can purchase Tivo Desktop Plus and your choices become almost limitless. There is a solution to this on the Mac, simply add the folder on your computer where you download your podcast to your PyTivoX list and you are set. The biggest negative of course is the price, a subscription for TiVo is 12.95 a month, plus what ever you pay for cable. The final negative is the UI is messy and its hard to find where stuff is at first. There is a rumor that Hulu Plus is coming to TiVo which I really hope happens. If Hulu does come to TiVo this is a sure sign that TiVo is trying to leave its dependency on cable behind. I know that TiVo is not the answer for everyone, but for me it works.

Will We Ever See The New DirecTiVo?

When I signed up for DirecTV back in 2004 I received the, now legendary, DirecTiVo (the Samsung S4040R).  I loved it.  I almost cried in late 2007 when I bought my first HDTV and “had” to give it up for a DirecTV HD DVR.  Time marches on, though, and DirecTV and TiVo were no longer partners.

TiVo joined forces with DirecTV in early 2002 with units made by Phillips, Hughes, and Sony.  Later RCA and Samsung joined in.  Then in late 2006, when NewsCorp gained control of DirecTV, They phased out TiVo in favor of another NewsCorp company, NDS, which was already manufacturing DVR’s for the European market.

In late 2008, with NewsCorp out of the picture, DirecTV again announced a partnership with TiVo.  And, since then, we have waited….and waited….and waited.  Delay after delay has been announced.  It’s really gotten to the point where DirecTV subscribers are starting to think of it as gamers think of Duke Nukem Forever!

The latest release, which was scheduled for late 2010, has apparently been pushed to early 2011.  Rumors persist that beta units are floating around, but I know of nobody who has received one and requests to DirecTV are denied.

So, is this the ultimate Vaporware?  For that matter, after reading reviews of the new TiVo Premiere, do users really want it?  The current DirecTV HD DVR (the HR23-700) has a 500GB hard drive, which is more than most other DVR’s issued by cable and satellite providers.  The software (interface) isn’t that bad either.  I am starting to think that TiVo, as much as we all pull for them, are verging on extinction.  They seriously need to get their Comcast and DirecTV boxes out the door yesterday before the battle is completely lost.

GNC-2010-09-14 #610 Nooooooooooooooooooo!

I share with you early on in the show, why I screamed no over the weekend some of you had troubles downloading the last show and that was part of it. Watch your ears at the end as I share a special audio No :).. This one is packed to the rim folks with lots of tech and assorted goodies. The new news links you all have been providing are dangerous. Thanks to all of the Ohana that keep this show at the top of their listen list. I am very grateful.

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Updated Western Digital DVR Expander

For those of you with a cable or satellite DVR or TiVo, Western Digital has updated their My Book AV DVR Expander hard drives.  Among other things, is the addition of a USB port, to the already existing eSATA port.  That means the drives are now compatible with the Sony PS3 and other media devices such as camcorders.

This is TiVo’s one and only “official” method of hard drive expansion.

The capacity has not changed – it’s still 1TB, but I think we can expect that to be expanded on in the near future.  Although, 1TB is an awful lot of HDTV recording.  I never came close to filling the 500GB drive in my DirecTV HR23.

One thing to watch out for, at least for DirecTV users (and I have no idea if this applies to other DVR’s) is that this drive replaces the internal drive.  The good news is that it replaces, but doesn’t overwrite.  In other words unplug this drive and reboot to the original internal drive and all of your previous recordings are still there.  It would be nice if it added to, instead of replacing, but beggars can’t be choosers.  And, since most cable DVR’s have ridiculously small drives, this is a no-brainer of an upgrade.

So, what do you pay for this convenience?  It retails for $149.99, but Amazon already has it for $119.00.  This is what we should have from our TV providers to begin with, but, for now, we  have to pay extra for.  And this is, by far, the best extra you can add to your DVR.

LG HD Monitor

201006022058.jpg I was looking for a 23 inch monitor that was HD ready. I was able to pick up an LG monitor Model B233OH for a total of $257.00 including tax at the local Best Buy. I am using it as a media monitor. It was easy to put together, my husband simply snapped the base into the monitor and it was ready to set up.

The first thing I did was to use the HDMI input and connect that to my TiVo Series 3 DVR. I had I connected my Apple TV to the DVI input using a HDMI to DVI adapter I have. This is just a temporary set up until I can pick up an HDMI switcher. Right now I am not sure which one will give me the best value for its price. The next thing I did was to connect the TiVo to a Kenwood receiver I had. The receiver is about eight years old, so the only video connection it has are S Video, and composite video, because of this I decided to use it for audio only. I connected the TiVo to the DVD optical audio input. I used composite cables to connect the Apple TV to the Tape input on the receiver. I plan to pick up another optical audio cable, but for now the composite cables work fine. I then connected the speakers, two rear, two front and one center, with no subwoofer. Obviously, this is not an optimal setup, but it works and it was cheap.

After, having this set up for about three days I am happy with it for the most part. The picture is nice although during the daytime when the sun comes thru the blinds, there can be a problem with glare. This doesn’t last very long though and it depends on what angle you are watching from The sound is good. The biggest problem I have is getting Comcast HD to stay up, when it comes in its great, unfortunately I keep losing the signal. This unfortunately is a problem I can’t solve, other then that I am very happy with my set up. I do have a question for the readers, what HDMI switcher do you recommend and who should I purchase it from. I was looking at Buy.com, are they a good company to buy from? Any other recommendations?

Should Google Buy Blockbuster? Why Not?

Google Blockbuster
Google Blockbuster

The once-king of movie rentals is now losing on market share big. Their online rental system is non-existent, thanks to a patent battle win by Netflix in 2006. So how can Blockbuster cure part of their problems? Maybe sell to Google?

Back in 1985, David Cook put together the first Blockbuster store in Dallas, Texas. Scott Beck, John Melk and Wayne Huizenga took it to franchise – which would then be bought by Viacom.

From there, it was pretty much opening stores and gobbling up others like a Pac-Man game. I remember a local company called Doorstep video that was acquired by Blockbuster by 1990. By 2000, Blockbuster was the dominant movie rental chain.

Enter the Online Movie Revolution

Once the Internet began to infiltrate, the ability to order movies at home caused concern to the rental industry. The only thing to do is join the revolution. Blockbuster and Netflix show up with rental business models. What a great idea – Rent a movie from the computer and wait a week for a disc, watch it, then wait another 2 weeks for the next disc.

Of course within time, that model would get better. No late fees, return at any time. They even found it worked on a gaming model with Gamefly.

Blockbuster sweetened the pot with the option to return to their stores and get more movies while they wait for the next titles. Add no late fees – It looked like a great option. Netflix went a different route. They went the online way – Movies from your computer right now. Through the web or through a set-top box.

Movies on Demand – Netflix on everything

Netflix’s model seemed to be more powerful than Blockbuster’s. Of course, you could only get Blockbuster on limited devices. Netflix is on the web, through your Boxee, Roku, TiVo and more. Last year, Netflix subscriber base grew and Blockbuster lost share. They closed stores, but that was not enough to keep up with Netflix and now emerging Red Box locations – where you can rent movies in the grocery store (which you have to go to anyway).


Franchise owners sued Blockbuster for their “Total Access” feature. Netflix sued Blockbuster for copying their online model. Blockbuster was also investigated for their “No Late Fee” claim. The issue was over it possibly being misleading. Blockbuster would charge a “restocking fee” for any movie 30 days late, as well as charge the renter the full price of the video if it also was over 30 days late.

It’s probably a good thing they didn’t buy Circuit City in 2008. Blockbuster might not have been around today if that acquisition came through.

So why should Google buy Blockbuster

After all that, you may be wondering why I think Google should buy Blockbuster. It seems like the company is a failing business model, but that’s not completely true. It’s just disorganized.

Blockbuster needs to enter the on demand market the same way Netflix has – ASAP. What a better way than through Google.

YouTube by Blockbuster

YouTube has struggled to get their online rental model going. Distribution companies like Paramount and Universal try to limit the on-demand option by at least 30 days. On Demand rentals turn into a “let’s watch this movie while we wait for the new stuff”. Hopefully you can find something in the sea of B-movies.

With Blockbuster’s online rental, along with brick and mortar stores and YouTube’s on-demand models, it might be a great marriage. Add to that, YouTube has reach on Boxee, Roku and TiVo already, along with a host of other devices. For $14.95 a month, you could get the best of both worlds.

How moving Google on the block would change Blockbuster

There is still something to be said about the store on the corner. Google could definitely take advantage of the older business model. Just look at how popular the Apple store is.

Google Blockbuster stores could not only have movie and game rentals, but also be the place to try out the Android OS. Maybe play with a Android tablet or phone. You could buy some Blogger wear and get expert advice on Google Adsense or maybe how to make a good YouTube video.

Get in on the Gaming

Oh, yeah – we didn’t even touch game rentals. Of course, Google would enter in a new market. They would compete with Game Fly for rentals and Best Buy for purchases. The “games on demand” market is in it’s infancy. When it explodes, Google will be right there to cash in.


Google would get local exposure, while Blockbuster’s model would grow dramatically. YouTube would get a boost on their online movie rentals, Android might get a home and Google would get into the gaming market at the right time – when it is low.

One should expect that to change when people start spending again, because there is still a great predicted growth in this market.

Blockbuster is trying to cut costs to keep investors happy. Their stock price is bordering on losing their filing. They have put their international assets on the market and will be closing stores in the next quarter to compensate. Google stepping in and paying a modest price including stock buyout would keep the company from going under.

Of course, this is only a suggestion. Other companies would also profit from getting Blockbuster – Best Buy and Walmart for example. Even Apple could see great advantage to incorporate what Blockbuster has. It’s just a question of who’s gonna do it.