The TiVo Digital Video RecorderEdit
A TiVo DVR serves a function similar to a videocassette recorder, in that both allow a television viewer to record programming for viewing at a later time. Unlike a VCR, which uses removable magnetic tape cartridges, a TiVo device stores television programs onto non-removable hard disk storage. Also, the TiVo device does not have any buttons on the front panel; its functions are solely controlled by remote control.
A feature that distinguishes TiVo devices from similar digital video recorders is the sophisticated software written by TiVo Inc. that automatically records programs — not only those the user specifically requests, but also other material the user is likely to be interested in. The TiVo device also implements a patented feature TiVo calls "trick play," which allows the viewer to pause live television, and rewind and replay up to a half hour of recently viewed television. Finally, more recent TiVo devices can be connected to a computer local area network, which allows the TiVo device to download information and even video programs and movies from the Internet.
TiVo gets program information for the next two weeks, program description, regular and guest actors, directors, genres, whether programs are new or repeats, and whether broadcast is in HD. Information is updated daily from Tribune Media Services.
Users can select individual programs to record, or a "season pass" which records an entire season (or more). There are options to record First Run Only, First Run & Repeats, or All Episodes. An episode is considered "First Run" if aired in two weeks of the original air date.
When user requests for two programs conflict, the lower priority program in the Season Pass Manager is either not recorded or clipped where times overlap. The lower priority program will be recorded if it is aired later. TiVo systems with two tuners record the top two priority programs.
TiVo pioneered recording programs based on household viewing habits, this is called TiVo Suggestions. Users can rate programs from three "thumbs up" to three "thumbs down". TiVo user ratings are combined to create a recommendation, based on what TiVo users with similar viewing habits watch. For example, if a user likes The Simpsons, Family Guy and Futurama, then another TiVo user who watched just the The Simpsons might get a recommendation for the other two shows.
A limited amount of space is available to store programs. When the space is full, the oldest programs are deleted to make space for the newer. (Programs which users flag to not be deleted are kept.)
While watching TV, the current channel is recorded for up to 30 minutes. (Dual tuner models keep two channels.) This allows users to rewind or pause anything that has been shown in the last thirty minutes: useful when viewing is interrupted. A viewer can also decide to record a show that they have already started watching. The Tivo will capture the previous recorded segment, up to 30 minutes, to ensure the start of the show is included.
Unlike VCRs, TiVo can record and play at the same time. A program can be watched, even if it's in the middle of being recorded, which is something that VCRs cannot do. Some users take advantage of this by waiting 10-15 minutes after a program starts (or is replayed from a recording), so that they can fast forward through commercials. In this way, by the end of the recording viewers are caught up with live TV.
Unlike most DVRs, the TiVo Series2 is easily connected to home networks, allowing scheduling recordings on TiVo's website (via TiVo Central Online), transferring recordings between TiVo units (Multi-Room Viewing (MRV)) or to/from a home computer (TiVoToGo), playing music and viewing photos over the network, and accessing third-party applications written for TiVo's Home Media Engine (HME) API. TiVo is adding 3rd party content. TiVo users can access Yahoo Photos, Weather, Traffic, Fandango movie listings (including ticket purchases), and Live365 music.
On June 7, 2006, TiVo announced TiVoCast, a broadband download service which initially offered content from the NBA, WNBA, The New York Times, Heavy.com, iVillage, CNet, Danger Rangers, H2O: HipHop on Demand, Union on Demand, Rocketboom, and Here! TiVo announced an agreement with Brightcove for more broadband content.
TiVo is expanding media convergence. In January 2005, TiVoToGo, a feature allowing transfer of recorded shows from TiVo boxes to PCs, was added. TiVo partnered with Sonic in the release of MyDVD 6.1, software for editing and converting TiVoToGo files. In January, 2007, TiVoToGo was extended to the Macintosh with Toast Titanium 8, Roxio software for assembly and burning digital media on CD and DVD media. Other means of manipulating files are described at the TiVoToGo Unleashed tutorial. In August 2005, TiVo rolled out "TiVo Desktop" allowing moving MPEG2 video files from PCs to TiVo for playback by DVR.
The information that a TiVo device downloads regarding TV schedules as well as software updates and any other relevant information is available through a monthly subscription, or at a prepaid level. Customers can purchase a 1 year prepaid plan, 3 year prepaid plan, or service for the lifetime of their product. Monthly and yearly subscriptions are referred to as recurring plans with recurring billing.
Once a unit's commitment expires, it will continue to be billed at the current monthly rate. If the rate later goes down, TiVo will continue to charge the maximum monthly rate that applied at the time of purchase of the unit.
The TiVo service is only available to the United States, United Kingdom, Canada (except Québec), Mexico, Australia and Taiwan at present. On November 26th 2007, TiVo announced that TiVo would be available at Canadian retail outlets in early December. TiVo HD launched in Australian in July 2008. TiVo Series 1 DVRs have also been modified by end users to work in Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, and South Africa.
TiVo service was launched in the United Kingdom in the autumn of 2000. It sold only 35,000 units over the next 18 months. Thomson, makers of the only UK TiVo box, adandoned it in early 2002 after BSkyB launched its Sky+ integrated 'set-top' decoder and DVR which dominated the market for DVRs in homes subscribing to BSkyB's paid-for satellite TV service. Many manufacturers, including Thomson have launched integrated decoder boxes/DVRs in the UK for other digital platforms, including free satellite, terrestrial, cable and IPTV.