Yeah, I know. I’m the ultimate TiVo evangelist. I love TiVo. People who know me know the praises I have sung about TiVo. And yet… and yet. This past week I have come to dislike TiVo, the company.
Let me be clear, lest there be any misunderstanding. Time-shifting television has changed my life, and for the better. The concept, the interface, the simplicity with which TiVo presented this complex idea, was remarkable. Still is. There’s nothing like it in the marketplace. There are competitors, sure. There are HD competitors, and free competitors, and hackacble competitors… but none of them approach the ease-of-use, the interface, the simplicity of what TiVo hath wrought.
That said, this is for the search engines: TiVo sucks! The company, that is.
As you may or may not know, I have a new TiVo. A Series 2 TiVo, which is better than my old one in a couple of ways. First, it is blessed to receive the latest TiVo software update, which added some cool stuff like folder organization in my Now Playing list. (All of Aidan’s Mr. Rogers episodes are lumped together in a folder! Yay!) Second, this new Series 2 TiVo has Internet capabilities. You can hook it up to the Internet so that it can get schedule updates, so that you can schedule shows remotely, so that you can connect two TiVos (if you have two) in your home, so that you can see photos and listen to music from your home computer, and finally, so that you can save (and eventually receive?) movies to/from the Internet/your computer. It is an Internets-connected-glorious-potentiality.
To connect to the Internet, you have to buy some additional hardware (because in their wisdom they added a USB port to the Series 2. Not an Ethernet port. A USB port. For which there is exactly one use, attaching a USB to Ethernet adapter. Hello?). $20 for a wireless adapter if you have a wireless network at home, or $25 for a wired one, if you have an ethernet jack nearby. Of course, if you go with the wireless option, you’d best be running either no security on your network, or the easy-to-crack WEP scheme, because the very secure WPA scheme is not supported by TiVo. And if you go with the wired option, be sure to buy only one of the two tested and approved adapters, one of which is no longer made (be sure to find the version 1 adapter, because the current version 2 is not compatible!).
Should you actually get connected (and to be fair, many people have) you’ll then discover that the cool movie saving/sharing feature (called TiVoToGo) is not available for Macintosh computers. Actually, the whole photo and music sharing thing is not either, as TiVo points out that the required software is not compatible with the latest version of Mac OS X (Tiger). It works, with an error or two, some of the time, and there’s a hack you can download to get it to work more reliably, but you have to run it each time you want to share music/photos. Oh, and TiVo Online Scheduling? I was expecting to be able to log into my TiVo and manipulate it remotely, but that is not the case. What you can do is pick a show from an online list and tell your TiVo at home to record it. You can’t change its priority, you can’t see if it will conflict with anything else, it is purely a one-way transaction.
I pay my monthly fee (and TiVo has now added a “service contract” whereby if you cancel service within one year of signing up, you owe them like, $100, all that on top of the $12 monthly), and I get my service. But part of that service includes the cool TiVo Home Media Features: music and photo sharing, TiVoToGo, etc. I can’t get at those features without ponying up another $20 for an adapter. And even then, I personally can’t get them, because of my platform choice.
How much of my monthly fee do you think goes towards these services? Some of the TiVosi would suggest that these are free, because you used to have to pay extra for them, and now they just come with the system, at no extra charge. That seems disingenuous at best, and intentionally deceptive at worst.
I find I am terribly frustrated, disappointed, and even angry at TiVo for what I have to endure as a customer. It should just work. The original TiVo did. You plugged it in, and it just worked. It was glorious. This new box does everything the old one did, without a hitch. But all these new things, these new cool things… you have to pay extra, jump through hoops, pray and fiddle to even get it to sort of work. That’s not the way it should be.
In the end, I feel betrayed. I find I don’t care about the company anymore. I feel like they don’t care about me. The relationship between us is now just about money and service, like the way I feel about my cell phone company, or my cable television company. And to that end, I would be interested in some way to recoup my fees, since it is TiVo’s fault I cannot access these services they promoted to me. Anyone else interested?