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Ultimate TV Receivers vs TIVO
on May 12, 2002
Let me start by saying that I too did a lot of research before buying. I did buy a Sony Ultimate TV receiver instead of the RCA. I do have an RCA Direct TV receiver as well. Since buying a receiver is tied to buying a service along with it, I think a few comments relevant to Ultimate TV vs. TIVO is relevant to Amazon customers.
If you surf the web, and type in Ultimate TV vs. TIVO into a major search engine, like Google.com or Yahoo, you will be lead to sites with very elaborate, feature-by-feature comparisons of the two. You will notice that the older they are, the more they favor TIVO. The newer they are, the more they become balanced between the two. I will tell you up front, that Microsoft is behind Ultimate TV. The receivers are built for the future of viewing, with built in twin USB ports, and a LPT1 printer port. They are hardly functional at the moment, but the future is only a little bit around the corner. The TIVO receivers I have seen don't have any of that, so the future of viewing is not even in the running. I don't plan on having to upgrade hardware anytime soon, since hardware upgrades are simple add ons with the USB-Universal Serial Bus system.
If Netscape Navigator was any lesson, we learned that when Microsoft gets into a competition, the investing world bails out of backing the competitor. I see that happening here also. The hardware is futuristic, the software is something that they download, free of charge, on a regular basis. I read many comments about the search features of Ultimate TV being a little less than desirable. I didn't have the unit more than 2 days, and lo and behold, I woke up the second morning, turned on the unit, and had an upgrade from Ultimate TV with over 30 enhancements to the search functions loaded on the machine.
When Internet Explorer first came out, it was free, but not as good as Netscape Navigator. Then an upgraded version came out, and it was superior to Netscape's Navigator. That is truly what I believe will happen with the TIVO-Ultimate TV wars.
These receivers are bought with more than just a few weeks use in mind. My RCA Direct TV receiver has been in use for over a year. I did experience a failure of my first one, after only 6 months. On the other hand, I have a Sony Direct TV receiver, which is about 2 years old, and that unit has given me zero problems. I had read the reviews pertaining to reliability, and that drove me to choose the Sony Ultimate TV receiver.
Pertaining to the intuitive nature of the control functions, it did have a slight learning curve to it. The logic of how it is designed is refreshing, once you learn the simple commands. I have heard complaints of not being able to erase a recording quick enough> I think it takes me about 3 to 5 seconds to do it now. A warning screen comes up to make sure you do not erase something you want to keep. One more quick click, and your in.
Ultimate TV receivers by Sony also come with a keyboard, and three free hours of Web TV service. You can surf the web in your TV. The future of computerization will integrate your TV, Video experience, and your audio into one system. I could write a book about how excited I am about that, but it would not be serving the interests of the subject at heart.
As all others have told you, once you experience the Ultimate TV-TIvo experience, you will not ever want to go back to watching TV the old way again. An advantage of Ultimate TV over TIVO is the commercial skip feature. Commercials are 30 seconds. U-TV fast skip forward button is able to skip single whole commercials at a time. Very exacting. TIVO on the other hand only has a fast forward feature, or fast rewind. Invariably, what happens in that situation, is that you have to try and stop the fast forward at the end of the 6th commercial, or however many are running. You always over shoot it, then need to rewind, then fast forward, then reverse, and finally get to it. Not the right tool for the job. Some say that feature alone is worth it, in your decision of Ultimate TV over TIVO. This is only the beginning. I am telling you that Ultimate TV will reign supreme in the Star Wars. Regardless of my feelings of the fairness of the Microsoft stranglehold, I am a pragmatic enough to realize what the best bet in digital recorded TV-Video-Audio is. It is simply a matter of software upgrades, which are automatic, for the victory to be won, and that is Microsoft's strength.
TIVO came out in 1999 with a big head start. Ultimate TV has been out for a shorter time, so it is a matter of catch up. The advantage is that MSFT has the TIVO service as a study guide, and they have the developing teams to take it to the next level.
I know this review has not been a blow-by-blow analysis of the difference between the two. Since that very elaborate information is covered very thoroughly, on web sites accessible by the major search engines, as stated earlier, I thought the herein contained comments are something essential in your buying decision.
I have found the current functionality of Ultimate TV to be very intuitive, and easy to use. Like all other software or feature rich systems, you have to get into the objectives at hand, to understand the methods of accomplishing them. It is easy to use. Learning all the cool new things you can do takes a little while longer. That is more of a result of breaking into new ground, as compared to being a design function irregularity.
Go with Ultimate TV. I don't think TIVO is a bad system; as a matter of fact I am sure it is great. I just think that it will not be the Ultimate TV service of our future.