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The TiVo HD: What a Piece of Craptastism

After some four years of successful, albeit it at times frustrating, television viewing with my Series 2 TiVo, a power outtage and then a 70-Volt brown-out finally made it kick the bucket.

For years now the monthly fee just to get TV schedules (everything else TiVo offers is completely useless) has felt like an army of nerdy little crabs have been chewing on my scrotum. So when it died, I decomissioned my mini-ITX experiment, ordered a tuner card, and tried to make a MythTV box (via Mythbuntu). Unfortunately one of the recommended tuners costs almost as much as a TiVo, and knowing Linux I figured something wouldn’t work so I bought a TiVo HD also.

Yeah. What the fuck indeed. I got a few other places you could point those arrows....

Yeah. What the fuck indeed. I got a few other places you could point those arrows....

Thanks, TiVo, for making it impossible to buy a box from your website without bleeding another 50% on top of the monthly fee for the right to “enjoy” more than one TV at home. Luckily Amazon was selling new TiVo’s for about 20% more than the price of the refurbished ones.

This new TiVo is a huge step “forward”, since it has dual tuners (my old one has only one), and, having been developed later, I figured it wouldn’t be slower than mole-asses. Not so. It’s clear the core processor on this turd fucker is the same shit they had in the Series 2. At first, changing channels was even slower than the Series 2 connected via IR emitter to a cable box. I know, how could that be! By the miracles of software it’s sped up since then. I figure the initial setup was consuming 90% of its TI-85 brain and so it couldn’t handle the tuners? I don’t know.

So it’s been a couple of months. In the mean time, my mini-ITX board has the one SiS chip that doesn’t work with the default Linux driver, and evidently the Intel version of the driver likes to fuck the newest version of Xorg in the shit. Eventually I realized I’d need a new board anyway, because I have an old tube TV and this board doesn’t have a TV out, and, apparently, it requires a chip that was optional (even though I’ve never seen that version of the D201GLY2 offered anywhere). Sure, I could just give up and buy an HD TV, but I doubt the board can handle it and hell if I’m going to pay those dick-lickers at Charter for the HD version of the shit they feed me. And I can’t get anything here with a set-top antenna so fuck it all to hell. I still want to finish a MythTV box, but I have better things to spend money on than new computer parts when I already have two carcasses (the mini-fucker and the power-hungry-mother-fucker) here.

Once already the TiVo has gone black. I know it’s not the signal, it just gets stuck. So I had to flip channels around to unstick it, but because it has dual tuners, you have to force one of the tuners to record something random so you can flip around with the other one, too. What if it does this while it’s recording a show that you actually want to see? Well my friends, you are fucked in the shit, because if you flip to the channel that is recording it will switch to that tuner.

Then one Thursday—one of the two weekdays where three of the five shows I record are on—the TiVo couldn’t get past the first half second or so of video in either tuner, and required a reboot. So all those shows were missed. Then when it comes to the off-season, it’s really hard to justify having the fucking thing. Maybe I should get rid of it, wait two years and just Netflix everything.

Speaking of Netflix. I bought the Roku box. Hot damn is that thing good. It’s tiny, has a small AC adapter, and is completely painless. I bought it because I had previously bought their music streamer and found that nearly flawless, too. Anyway, setup is easy, and when you’re watching TV shows, it defaults to going to the next episode after the one you last watched as you’re browsing through the list. Great for stuff like the A-Team, because I don’t pay attention to the titles anyway, and 10 minutes after watching an episode I have no fucking clue what it was about.

Anyway, I bought the Roku box before the old TiVo died, so now all of a sudden with the TiVo HD I could also stream from Netflix—what a great chance to do a comparison.

For starters, the dick wankers over at TiVo didn’t bother making a 4:3 version of the Netflix menu screen. Also, it took me a while to find where the hell it was, because it’s not under “downloadable shit”, it’s under “now playing, or, now you better hope I didn’t fuck it up when I recorded it”. As opposed to Roku’s neat “cover flow” style interface, the TiVo has a list as the main item on the screen, and it’s nearly unreadable on my 30″ TV. When you watch a TV show, the TiVo does not remember what episode you last watched. The default is to stretch the video to fit your screen (mind you I’m watching old shit that probably doesn’t even exist in HD), even if you have set it all over the place to 4:3. Then when you dig through the options to find the “don’t warp the fucking shot” setting, the blank bars default to a light grey color. Are you fucking kidding me? How many movies are mostly light colored most of the time? Why don’t you put a stock ticker there and the weather while you’re at it, you fucking whore?

I tried streaming Eddie Murphy’s Raw. The TiVo refused to not stretch it, and it was hiccuping and losing sound sync often. I tried it on the Roku box, and it had problems, too, but at least the image wasn’t stretched.

It can all be summarized by this: when you delete a selection from the queue in the TiVo, you get taken to a screen that—no, it’s not a confirmation—it says “so and so has been deleted” and requires you to press okay. Gee, thanks for telling me. Either have a confirmation screen, or don’t have anything at all. Geez.


1. The TiVo is still a slow piece of crap.

2. More bells and whistles doesn’t make up for the fact that your basic service is expensive and you are assholes for charging to have more than one TiVo in the same household.

3. It’s clear Netflix has defined the framework for streaming boxes very carefully, but TiVo still managed to fuck it up.

4. Is somebody out there selling MythTV boxes?

So yeah—you guessed it—this TiVo is definitely fucking me in the shit. And so is HD TV, for that matter. What a fucking scam. Don’t get me started on those converter boxes….

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