Saturday, January 06, 2007

One (huge) step forward, two (little) steps back

So we've had our TiVo Series 3 for a week now. First of all, this is the way to watch HD. The picture quality is amazing, the sound is amazing, and it's got all the ease-of-use that is TiVo's hallmark. Unlike the old one, it can record two shows at once (or record a show while you watch a different live show), and the remote control is more substantial, adds several ease-of-use features, and is trainable. The Series 3 supports 1080i as the maximum HD resolution, but nicely it can also take care of up-rezzing all your content to display at 1080i. If you have an old-school analog CRT HD set (like me, with a 38-inch RCA behemoth), the changing of video modes was really annoying until this.

Why is it not yet perfect? Well, several reasons. Most importantly, the cool new software features that have been added to Series 2 TiVos in recent months (one-touch deletion, unerase, TiVoCast, KidZone, among others) are not yet present in the Series 3. It basically has the software feature set from about a year ago in the Series 2. Also, the greatest features of Series 2 (TiVoToGo and Multi-Room Viewing) are not yet supported - and neither is the eSATA port on the back of the TiVo, just begging for me to attach an external 500GB drive to jack up the storage. This is because of bizarre CableLabs rules dictating that any external connectivity must be certified by them if CableCARD will be allowed in the device. No certification, no CableCARD. CableLabs are terrified that you might try and remove the content from the box.

So it's not TiVo's fault that the connectivity doesn't work, but it still detracts some from the overall experience. With CES this week, hopefully a software update'll be announced to deal with some of it.

But still, we've got TiVo in HD now, and life is definitely looking up!

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