Favorite things, day 8: TiVo

For the days leading up to Christmas, I’m counting down a few of my favorite things. These are not in priority order. The closest thing there is to an order is least surprising to most surprising.

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TiVo has a special on their OTA Bolt until 12/29/19. Including lifetime service, it costs $350. There’s also a bonus package deal for a STB for another room. I recommend taking that. (Not an affiliate link.)

Twenty years into the existence of the DVR, there is still no substitute for the company that (almost) started it all: TiVo.

The company, whose name is synonymous with the digital video recorder, continues to create the best of them — even if vast majority of people don’t use theirs.

TiVo has the most polished interface of the combo DVR/streaming devices.

It also has four features that put it well ahead of everyone else:

  • Universal search. I can do one search for content across the vast majority of the recorded and streaming universe.
  • Extensive metadata. The search is powered by metadata that you can browse to your heart’s delight.
  • Automatic commercial skip. For heavily watched programming, like primetime network shows, you don’t even have to press a button. When the TiVo detects it’s at a commercial break, it skips past it.

The most important, for me, is offline download. I can store recorded shows on my iPad for watching on planes or in hotel rooms.

I can also stream shows from my home wherever I am in the world. There are no error messages that I’m outside of the license area for the content; no messages that my show has disappeared because it is no longer in the viewing window.

I can also watch recorded shows in other rooms with a dedicated device or a TiVo app. From the TiVo app, I can send it via AirPlay.

When I talk to PMs (both senior and aspiring), TiVo is always my cautionary story of how you can have the best product and still lose.

Distribution is incredibly important, as the cable companies have shown. The first 10 revs of cable company DVRs were horrible, horrible products. Comcast has finally come close to catching up with X1.

Deadweight loss quotient: Up to $600. But the OTA version will save you a ton of money over cable. Pair it with an HDTV antenna ($20-$50) and you’ll come out ahead in less than a year.

About Rakesh Agrawal

Rakesh Agrawal is Senior Director of product at Amazon (Audible). Previously, he launched local and mobile products for Microsoft and AOL. He tweets at @rakeshlobster.
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