Monday, November 26, 2007

TiVo is Here!

I've always wanted TiVo, and to be honest, I'm not quite sure why. I have a set-top box at home with a built-in PVR that lets me record TV programming on the fly, set future recordings, and pause, rewind, and fast forward live TV. But yet I've always wanted one of those "cool" TiVo's that they talk about on American TV all the time. Maybe it's sort of like the iPod vs. every other portable audio player on the market. They all essentially do the same thing: let you listen to digital tunes (and sometimes video) while on-the-go, or through a home audio system or separate speakers. But the iPod arguably does it best, with an easy-to-use, and quite sexy interface. Is that what TiVo promises?

To be honest, I don't know because I've never had the chance to play around with one. Well now, I just might. The company has confirmed its entrance into the Canadian market, and now I feel like an anxious Mac-addict that salivates every time he sees the iPhone commercial. We've waited so long for this device to come to Canada, I was beginning to think that Canadian broadcasters might have to bleep out the word "TiVo" every time it was mentioned and voice-over "PVR" just so we wouldn't feel left out.

In the U.S., "TiVo" has become much like the terms "Kleenex" for tissues and "Xerox" for photocopies, both of which are actually brand names, not products. The same thing happened with the Sony Walkman in the '80s, where virtually every portable player, whether made by Sony or not, was simply lumped into the "Walkman" category. When it comes to TiVo, I, in Canada, will say I missed Dexter last night, but no worries: IPVR'd it; while U.S. TV watchers are more likely to say I missed Dexter last night, but no worries, I TiVo'd it! Do you catch my drift?

Back to TiVo in Canada: although the box that will be available in early December ($199) does not support high-definition signals, up to 80-hours of standard definition content can still be recorded for later viewing. A reader to our news Website commented that the move is "a day late and a dollar short", stating that, since so many people have already converted to HD, they won't bother with standard definition recording. Au contraire, I say. There are tons of consumers out there that haven't yet bought into the HD craze: in fact, the penetration in Canada is projected to be just about 48% by the end of this year, according to the CEMC. Even so, I'm an HD viewer, but I'd rather record a program in SD than not record it at all (of course I'd prefer HD if given the option).

A subscription will cost $12.95/mo. (in U.S. dollars, not that it makes much of a difference), or less depending on how many years you sign up. As for compatibility, a press release issued by TiVo says that it's "optimized for cable households". A TiVo spokesperson tells me that it will also be compatible with satellite boxes; and dial-up Internet connections (albeit with the turtle speeds that dial-up users have become accustom to).

Maybe it's marketing. Maybe it's U.S., pop culture TV. Maybe it's the same juice iPod-fanatics are drinking. But I'm happy to see Canada added to the TiVo culture. Better late than never, as they say. Next up: the iPhone. We're waiting....


Anonymous said...

First, if you think a Rogers PVR is anywhere close to a Tivo, think again. The Rogers PVR has an interface that looks and feels like it comes from an Atari 2600 game. Tivo is light years ahead in terms of searchability, reliability, and ease of use.

Second, it is a day late and a dollar short. HD is the reality for many TV owners, and will be for most. How hard can it be to offer an HD version in Canada? What Tivo and Rogers/Cox/Bell etc. are missing is a huge opportunity. If Tivo offered an HD box for Canada, I would buy it in a heartbeat. If Rogers offered Tivo software on its PVR, I would order it in a heartbeat. Instead, all I have is strongly negative feelings toward Rogers for selling me an inferior product and trying to tell me it is state of the art.

Hopefully Tivo will instill some competition into the Canadain market, because the PVR innovation in Canada has been nil.

Anonymous said...

I have had a Tivo here in Canada for just over 2 years now. Bought it in Bellingham for $99 USD (single tuner 40 gig) and have been paying 12.95 a month. I just upgraded to the dual tuner 80 gig version on for $99 AND it included a $100 subscription credit.

I think its great that Tivo is finally "officially" here and you can buy them, but why not give us some decent offers - any moron can surf to and see what the USA is getting for offers and um, yeah our dollar is worth more than the USA

Jaybird said...

It has been so long waiting for the TiVo to come to Canada I have almost lost any excitement over it.... but it is admitatly cool and seeing the add on the Future Shop web page got me excited again.

As far as the HD goes, I wonder if you can drive down to the US, buy an HD TiVo there, and hook it up here.... would it still work? I'm sure it won't be long before someone will try it.