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Tivo & Longevity

April 19, 2003

Luke Hutteman is concerned about Tivo staying around.

I was an early Tivo adopter, now own a second one (a DirecTivo), and am anxiously awaiting the HD version this year to buy a third… Although it’s of course quite subjective, I feel safe to say that the value I’ve gotten out of it (in convenience and pleasure) have already far outweighed the entry costs. 

For several years, one of the best deals going has been the DirecTivo, which incorporates two DirecTV receivers.  Since it’s partially subsidized by DirecTV (like purchasing any other receiver), and since it forgoes the expense of having an MPEG2 encoder (it just saves the encoded satellite data stream), it is usually sold very cheap—every so often it’s offered free for new subscribers, and for less then $100 for existing subscribers. 

Since it records the raw datastream, the playback quality is indistinguishable from normal DirecTV playback.  As it receives it’s guide updates from DirecTV (rather than the Tivo phonecall), I suspect it would be very likely to still be usable should Tivo eventually go down the tubes. 

The downsides are that the DirecTV version still doesn’t offer the Home Media option, and of course, you’ve got to use it with DirecTV (which just changed ownership).

Leaving that aside, I’d still have to think the prospects for Tivo’s longevity are good; with their only real competitor (Replay) having an uncertain fate (it was just bought up in a bankruptcy auction), they essentially own their market for the time being.

The other thing to consider is the substantial Tivo hacking community.  So many things on the Tivo have been hacked to be extended and enhanced, I’d be shocked if someone didn’t come out with a hack to allow guide updates from another source should Tivo shuffle off this commercial coil.

In any event, I’m sure most Tivo owners would say to forget all of that and just do it—using a TV without a Tivo is like using a microcomputer without an internet connection—sure, a lot of folks do it, but they’re missing out on a substantial amount of utility.



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