Wednesday, August 06, 2008

TiVo in Australia: works but disappointing

TiVo LogoAt my first attempt I was unable to register my new TiVo and so not use it. The problem was that the TiVo web site reported the name of the suburb was not valid, even though it is in the Australia Post Postcode List. The next day someone who read my posting said they had similar problems with the Transact system and had got around it by entering an adjacent suburb which has the same postcode. This worked and I was able to register the unit, but it was till not an easy process.

The next step after web registration is that the TiVo prompts for the Australian Postal Code to be entered with the remote control. There are a couple of problems with this: I had to think for a moment what an "Australian Postal Code" is (they are called Postcodes in Australia and someone has not completely localised the TiVo software. Thesecond problem is that the numeric buttons on the remote control are very small and hard to read, but hopefully I will rarely need to use them.

The system then said it would access the network which might take a minute, but only took nine seconds. The TiVo was then set up to use my Internet connection to obtain the TV guide and updates (and to send back information about what I was watching presumably).

The TiVo then started downloading more setup data, which was to take three to five minutes. A five step sequence was displayed on screen: preparing, connecting, getting information, disconnecting and loading information. As I have only a relatively slow wireless broadband connection I was worried how long this would take. But it was done in two minutes 38 seconds, less than the lower estimate given.

The TiVo then began scanning for digital free to air channels. This took a minute, which is about the same as other digital STB (and less than for an analogue TV). The TiVo found 23 channels, which sounds a lot but many are HD duplicates of SD channels and ones with test patterns, duplicate content or channel guides.

The TiVo then connected to the Internet again to get the TV guide the was expected to take 120 to 20 minutes, which makes me wonder how much data is needed for a TV guide. The process actually only took five minutes and 48 seconds.

The setup process was now complete. I then pressed the oddly shaped TiVo button on the remote to activate it. This then presented an animated introduction which was annoying as I wondered if this was I was waiting to be downloaded (or was filling up the hard disk I had paid for). The introduction also contained a product placement for Qantas.

After the introduction I was given the "TiVo Central" menu, from which I selected "Watch Live TV". So after about 24 hours elapsed time and several hours of hard work I was finally able to watch TV.

TiVo BooksMy assessment is that the TiVo is beyond the ability of the average consumer to install and very much more difficult to get to work than a typical PVR. Perhaps now installed it will be easy, but the setup process is not. Also the physical design of the box and the remote control is dated and disappointing. The web based registration process is seriously flawed.

I thought the idea of additional how to Books about TiVo, such as TiVo for Dummies was unnecessary for what was celebrated as an easy to use product. But these could be very useful.

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