Wednesday, March 22, 2006
So we got Tivo’d, and it’s greatly improved the quality of our TV-watching lives.
To be precise, we got the Comcast DVR offering, which shows two things: firstly, like sellotape and hoover (both of which only work in the UK, interestingly) Tivo has become the generic word to describe digital recording from the telly, and secondly, Tivo themselves must be worried, losing customers to the big cable companies who offer a simpler but cheaper service (and rental, not purchase, of the box itself).
With a nine-month old in the house, your limited recreation time cannot be scheduled to coincide with your favourite programmes, especially as herself gets put to bed around 7.30pm. Wrestling with the old VCR wasn’t going to happen, so being able to record shows easily (and set up standing orders for a whole series) makes plenty of sense.
So now we’re watching The Daily Show when we want to, and all of Arsenal’s Premiership games are going to be sitting on the drive waiting.
Initially we had some problems with a bug/feature that set the box to mute when it switched itself (and the TV) on to record something. With the mute button on the remote only working the TV’s mute, I was stumped until the internet helped me.
But better than that, I also got the code to add a 30-second skip to the remote, which means nipping through ad breaks is now silky smooth, and it takes much less time to watch shows because you’re only watching the show. Pausing live TV is also pretty cool, but why watch it live at all, when it’s quicker to watch it later?
The generic term for this phenomenon in broadcasting and tech circles is ‘time-shifting’. Podcasts mean you can listen to NPR’s Morning Edition when you like (or in my case, catch The Archers omnibus at my leisure), and having a hard drive full of TV shows waiting for you begins to shake the old tenets of scheduling.
Prime time doesn’t mean anything any more in our house, as we’ll watch something originally shown at 2am at 9pm (or vice versa). And the network’s reputation isn’t that important either. The DVR will seek out old episodes of House or CSI wherever it can find them, and (appropriately enough for a time-shifting device) we watched the first episodes of the new series of Dr Who over the weekend, even though we hardly ever find ourselves watchind anything else on the Sci-Fi channel.
For an extra ten bucks a month, we’ve got a tool that gives us the power to build our own tv station and even shift time itself. Very cool. Now I’m waiting for the place-shifting add-on that lets me watch shows I’ve recorded on my PDA, or on my computer at work.