What is TiVo?

TiVo is the most advanced and easy-to-use personal television service available. It’s a way for you to have total control over what you watch, and when you watch it. Here are some of TiVo’s features:

Season Pass: Digitally Record your favorite shows
Want to record every episode of your family’s favorite show for the entire season? TiVo’s Season Pass will do it for you – even if the network changes the show’s timeslot.

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All of your favorite shows are recorded digitally so there’s no hassling with videotapes.

TrickPlay: Pause and Instant Replay Live TV
Need to answer the phone? Simply press the Pause button on the remote during any live TV show, and when you return, pick up the show exactly where you left off. Want to see that play again? Miss a key moment in that movie? Just hit the Instant Replay button and watch it again.

Suggestions: TiVo’s Suggestions
How many times do you sit down to find that there is absolutely nothing on? TiVo’s Suggestions will recommend and even automatically record shows that match your interests.

Exclusives: TiVo Exclusives
TiVo Exclusives are special programs and features developed for the enjoyment of TiVo viewers.


The TiVo installation involves connecting some cables and following a guided on screen setup. All required cables and wires are included in the package and the easy to read instructions and diagrams make setup a snap. Simply follow these instructions in order to plug your cable box, satellite receiver, or antenna, into the personal television (PTV) unit, connect the output from the PTV to your television, and plug in the power and phone. Turn it on, follow the guided set up instructions, and you’re ready to go.

Before you can start using TiVo, there is a waiting period while it downloads channel lineups and configures itself, this is anywhere from 1 to 2 hours. Fortunately this is only required once upon initialization. I recommend you do this before bed, since the TV will not work during this setup. In order for your TiVo to receive program information you will have to purchase the service, this costs around $10 a month, or a lifetime subscription for $199. I recommend you purchase this immediately as TiVo only gives you the service free for a few days.

Key Features

Program Guide:
Cancel your TV Guide subscription, because with TiVo you’re always up to date. This is because it uses your phone line to call up a local number and download software updates, new television listings, changes in the channel lineup, and more. With the on screen program guide you have the ability to scroll through to any time and channel you wish, giving you the ability to plan your viewing schedule. If you are looking for a specific show use the search option, simply type in the name of the show, or even the actors in it and TiVo will display the show times and the channel; press another button and record that program.

Easy Recording:
With TiVo it is easy to record any program, whether it is a one time recording or every episode of a show that season; simply find the show listing in the guide and press a button to record it. No video tape to rewind, no turning the VCR power off, just press a button. TiVo also has a thumbs up feature, if you give a show thumbs up it will record that show anytime there is additional room in the memory. This program is stored for a while and can be found in the TiVo Suggestions listing. A great feature when there is nothing else on TV.

The TiVo remote is great, everything you need is there, and it is universal, so you can use it to control your TV and Stereo. The only problem with the TiVo remote is that if you lose it (like I did for a week) you are unable to control the TiVo since there are no controls on the receiver. So if that happens I guess you would have to purchase another remote or your TiVo is useless.

Trick Play:
TiVo PTV units support automatic recording of whatever you are currently watching (live TV). This is called live TV buffering. When you are watching a live signal, your PTV is quietly recording that channel. The difference appears when you want to “instant replay” or want to stop watching for a moment without losing your place. Live TV can be rewound and paused, so while you are playing back what the unit was recording, it is continually recording the live signal. But you can’t leave it paused forever, you’ll run out of space. The TiVo unit allows you to resume watching the live signal by pressing a button on the remote. This feature is a nice bonus, it may not get used to often, but it is great for those times when you are into a program and the phone rings or nature calls.

Final Thoughts

I have been using Phillips TiVo for a few months now and I have to admit that when I first heard about it I thought it was just another gadget to show off to your friends. Now I can honestly say that TiVo is for real. It actually does give you total control over what you watch and when you watch it … and that’s not just a catch phrase. While you can still live without a TiVo, it is a luxury item worth purchasing. For the reasonable price of $399 no home entertainment center is complete without one.