Sunday, August 15, 2010

Death of a TiVo

We've experienced a crushing loss this weekend, one that has left our souls bereft of joy and happiness. Our lives are emptier than they were just a short time ago, and we're not entirely sure what to do. I'm a little bit lost and undecided, struggling to find a new direction.

Our upstairs TiVo died on Friday.

Well, technically, it's not ours, but Uncle Curt's TiVo. As in, the lifetime guarantee is registered to him. You might scoff, but this is a big deal. TiVo has entirely ruined my normal television habits, and I'm not sure how to go about it.

Here's why: if we sit down to watch a television show, we use the TiVo. It automatically records shows for us. The upstairs TiVo recorded a rotating number of Scrubs and Simpsons episodes for us. For the kids, it recorded (and kept up to five at a time, deleting the oldest) Sesame Street, Batman, Super Hero Squad, Electric Company, Wordworld, and two or three other kids' shows. We honestly didn't use it much - almost exclusively for watching Simpsons and Scrubs, and for the occasional Sesame Street episode. That's it. But, we watched the kids' shows just often enough for it to be a positive thing. Barney is wonderful at times.

So, what do we do, now? We can have no TiVo, and cut down our television upstairs (positives: more reading, more social interaction. negatives: boredom, pregnancy). We can have no TiVo and just use the iPod (thanks, Ogans!) and DVDs (positives: variety of shows. Negatives: can't change DVDs or iPod shows with a remote, and one has to own or acquire the shows to watch, AND there's no convenient way to store DVDs in a room that routinely has small children). We can get out Nana's TiVo, which is currently gathering dust in the closet and use it as a dummy DVR, or shell out $100 for a year's service.

The problems with using the dummy DVR? I don't actually know what number the channels are out here, like, at all, other than SyFy, which is 127. Don't ask how I know that. And, I think Comedy Central is in the low 50s, like 53 or 54. 54, now that I think of it. I'm not certain what the major network channels are, and I know that I don't know the cable channels other than the aforementioned ones. I simply don't watch live television anymore, other than the one show per week that I'm fixated on. The last one was Lost, and that's done. Now? Don't know.

The other issue, which is probably more annoying, is that the hardware isn't good for it. The channels are still set for New Jersey and won't reset to Pittsburgh without a new service agreement. The clock isn't really set for the correct time, and it runs fast. By the time I broke down and bought a year's service agreement (which ended on The Wife's birthday this year), I had to set the clock 1 hour and 45 minutes faster to get it to record on time - AND I had to provide an extra 15-20 minutes of recording time at the end because the clock would gradually get faster during the week.

Sigh. It's possible to do it, but - as a friend said - it's kludgey. I'm not entirely sure that it's worth it. They will sell as a high definition box and a lifetime subscription to that (the new TiVo Premiere) for $450 ($200 for the service and $250 for the box), but I don't think that an unemployed family living in Grandparent's house should be spending $450 on a new toy that they don't need (...that isn't an iPad).

On a lesser note, I'm also kind of distressed about Comcast's digital cable signal. I bought a great program from TiVo called "TiVo To-Go" that allows me to tranfer files from the machine to my computer and convert them for my iPod. This was amazing, and I used it for YEARS to send my shows to my machine so that I could watch them at leisure - usually, when waiting for rehearsals to start, during lunch at work, in one of the those one-hour windows of killing time at work between the end of the school day and the start of a rehearsal, or on a bus ride, or whatever. I didn't upload / download them illegally; I watched them on my iPod, then I deleted them when I was finished. Unfortunately, Comcast sees that as a threat to their business model, and now all digital signals are broadcast with a "copy protect" flag. This means two things: 1) can't transfer them to my computer anymore without serious hackery, and 2) with many of them, if I don't watch the show within a week, it'll delete itself. Which is stupid.

This is why, when we move out, we're NOT getting cable television. Screw them. We don't need it. We'll get Netflix streaming and, maybe, Hulu Plus. Both go through my Playstation 3 in HD and would cost less than $30 per month. We'll watch our shows that way.

1 comment:

The Reluctant Crunchy Mama said...

I read this last night on my phone as I was waiting for my daughter to fall asleep. Didn't notice the title. So... I started reading... Heavy feeling on my chest... I was guessing a relative passed away unexpected or something... Then I read about the TiVo! You should be proud of yourself; you are a heck of a dramatic and funny writer!