Wednesday, May 7, 2008

My love affair with TIVO is just about over...

I was one of the biggest and most vocal fans of TIVO for many many years. Several friends bought TIVO after seeing demonstrations in my home. And I currently still have 3 active TIVO boxes (a lifetime Series 1, and two Series 2).

But over the past year, TIVO began to do evil things to me....

My problems started last year, when TIVO mysteriously increased the monthly billing rate for my Series 2 system from $6.95 to $12.95 WITHOUT NOTIFYING ME! They had my credit card, so this silent increase continued for several months before I noticed it.

It took several phone calls just to get things back to the way they were. A credit was given, and a correction was made so everything should have been business as usual.

But, one month later, $12.95 again. I was upset enough that I tried to leave TIVO and purchased an entirely new high-end HP Vista Home Premium box with Windows Media Center. Luckily for TIVO, Media Center is total garbage and proved to be unreliable.

In full disclosure, there was a clause buried in the TIVO multi-box discount agreement. If a TIVO box with a lifetime subscription is inactive for 180 days, they assume the box is no longer in service and discontinue the multi-box discount. Reconnecting the lifetime TIVO after 180 days is not good enough. Apparently their Server software can turn the discount off, but it has trouble turning the discount back on. Nice.

Technically, I thought I was doing TIVO a favor by not taxing their analog phone lines with regular Series 1 phone calls. But TIVO sees things differently, they need to have it make regular phone calls. So now - in order to make TIVO happy - my analog Series 1 box sits alone in a quiet room. It's exclusive purpose in life is to make periodic phone calls to TIVO so it can "phone home". I hope TIVO is happy now.

My newest beef with TIVO has to do with their TIVO Desktop software. In prior versions of TIVO Desktop, Desktop included a feature for free which lets me transfer MPEG files from any PC in my house to my TIVO Series 2 boxes through my LAN. This effectively gave me a networked video-on-demand system! I loved this set-up.

But in a recent TIVO desktop upgrade, they moved this feature from the free version to the Plus edition. So now I must pay an additional $24 for a feature I've had for the past couple years. Unlike a typical software upgrade, this upgrade removed features. Transferring files has ZERO impact on TIVO servers because its completely contained within my LAN. So now do I stay with TIVO and upgrade to Plus? Or leave TIVO out of principal for removing a feature and expecting me pay $24 to get it back.

Maybe I'll build a MythTV Box....

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