TiVo Premier Elite Initial Impressions

The new TiVo has been installed for a few weeks now (since March 29th).  It’s been a huge improvement over the FiOS DVR which exasperated me daily with its poor user interface.  So what’s so great about the TiVo?  For me, it’s the response time.  When you press the controls to fast forward, rewind or pause, they act in a predictable manner.  Which is to say, they work.  Everything beyond that is gravy.  Really.

The four tuners eliminate the conflicts of multiple shows airing at the same time.  You’d think there wouldn’t be more than two things you wanted to see on at the same time, and if you were the sole user of the DVR, you’d be right.  But when there are two kids, a mommy and a daddy using the same DVR, it happens frequently.  I love to watch all four tuners recording at once.

Another benefit of the TiVo is the recording capacity.  It’s got a 2 TB drive, which TiVo says is enough for 300 hours of HD.  I haven’t checked that, but right now, there are 383 recordings, 202 of which are in HD and it’s using 8% of the drive.  Keep in mind, my TV is 720p not 1080p.

One of the things I enjoyed about my series 2 TiVo (the new one does this, too) was that it found shows I didn’t know existed.  It tracks what you like (you can vote on shows, 1-3 thumbs up or down) and, when one of its tuners isn’t busy recording something you’ve asked for, it records shows it thinks you’ll like based on your votes.  It calls this a “TiVo Suggestion” and it works really well.  For the first week we had the TiVo, I didn’t have all of our recordings set up, but the TiVo started to record our favorite shows without being asked.  Of course, you can tell it to always record your favorites, just as any DVR does–this is called a Season Pass.  To give you an idea of how useful  Suggestions are, at the moment the TiVo has 314 suggestions.  This is far more than the 42 recordings I’ve asked for.

Lastly, there was one feature I hadn’t thought about before I started looking at the Elite–it can use MoCA, which is Multimedia over Coax, your cable company’s cable.  This means you don’t need an Ethernet cable or a wireless Ethernet adapter.  The TiVo uses the Internet to get TV listings and to stream shows.  Wireless isn’t really fast enough for this, so having MoCA means you don’t have to run a network cable to the TiVo.  Streaming works between TiVos and also from Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube and my NAS.  I don’t have Hulu, so I can’t comment there.  Netflix works well, but has a quirk that it only streams from you queue.  You can’t pick shows from the TiVo.  You have to pick out what you want on your computer.  I’ve only watched a few things from my NAS.  One item refused to transfer, but I don’t know if that’s the TiVo’s fault or not.

Another improvement that could be made is in the tuner scheduling.  If we’re watching live TV, the TiVo will sometimes ask to change the channel to record a show even if there are other unused tuners.  Of course, you can tell it to do so, switch to an unused tuner and change the channel, but you shouldn’t have to.  And if you’re watching behind live (the TiVo buffers a 1/2 hour of TV so you can pause for a while and catch back up), you’ll lose the buffered part of the show.

So, to sum, it’s not perfect, but it’s close and I love it.