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A bad experience from every angle
on July 6, 2010
Tivo is one of the most crooked and dysfunctional companies in existence. The device they sell ceases to work unless you continue to pay them a subscription fee in perpetuity, just to receive program schedule information that you can find for free elsewhere on the web.
When I first got the Tivo Premiere, I paid for the mandatory one-year subscription up front. This was supposed to take care of my obligation to pay for the subsidized portion of the cost of the receiver, i.e., the part that wasn't covered by what I paid when I purchased the receiver, and that would be paid for over time via the subscription. With that obligation over and done with, I rightfully should receive a discount on the monthly service fee. As if this is not enough reason to be outraged, during the telephone conversation I had with them to discuss the possible renewal of the service, they told me multiple times that if I renewed the service but did not complete the monthly payments for another full year, that I would be charged an "early termination" fee. This is outrageous, because I have fully completed my obligation to them. I was told this multiple times by more than one person, at least one of whom was a "supervisor". Does the word "crooked" come to mind? It should.
I have been using the Tivo Premiere for a full year now. On a regular, ongoing basis I have informed them of the problem where the Tivo Premiere box occasionally goes into a state where it does not process the events it receives from the remote control. When this problem occurs, you cannot even change the channel. The amber lamp on the front panel flashes, acknowledging receipt of the event from the remote control, but with no evidence of the full handling of that event until about ten minutes later, at which point it processes the most recent event that it received from the remote control during that period. I have reported this to Tivo numerous times, and I have pointed out to them that if their software engineers are at all competent, they will surely understand the prioritization of tasks within the receiver and will surely understand exactly why this occurs, and ought to be able to fix it. Yet, a year has gone by, and they have done nothing. They have evidently focused their efforts on the capability for the Tivo Premiere receiver to display advertising whenever you do just about anything other than change channels.
Tivo's user interface is horrible, for reasons that go far deeper than the design of the menus. As you peruse the guide and move the highlight cursor over different programs, occasionally the little TiVo character that you see in the upper left corner of the screen turns green and gives the thumbs-up. You can't help but notice that this occurs for the programs that you have scheduled for recording, and you naturally infer, at first, that this indicates that the program is scheduled to be recorded. But when programs that you thought were going to be recorded are not recorded, you realize that this is not how it works, i.e., that the green appearance of the dude with the thumbs up is not a positive indication that a program is scheduled to be recorded. It means next to nothing in fact.
In the configuration setting, you can disable the behavior whereby the device autonomously selects programs to record on your behalf. If you disable this behavior, the indicator that was previously useless and misleading is even more useless than it was before, but you still cannot get rid of it. And you still cannot tell, at a glance, which programs are scheduled to be recorded. To confirm that a particular program is scheduled for recording, you have to move the cursor over the program in the guide and then press the "Select" button. Or, you can press the "Tivo" button to enter the menus and then navigate to the "To Do" list.
Then there is the matter of conflict resolution, which is so badly done as to be essentially useless. When you attempt to schedule a recording but there are already two programs scheduled to be recorded at that same time, you are shown an indication that there is a conflict. It is curious to me that sometimes you see both titles that are already scheduled and other times you see only one of them. When you are shown both titles already scheduled, there is no way to know which of the two programs previous scheduled is being cancelled.
There is a problem with the ability to find the subsequent programming times for a program that is playing at the present time. When you bring up the guide, if you want this information for a slot in the guide corresponding to a future time, you can simply press the "Select" button. But the scenario where you are most likely to want to find the future times for a program is the scenario where a program that interests you has already started, and in this case, pressing the "Select" button has the effect of changing the channel (i.e., redirecting the tuner that you are presently monitoring, to receive the other channel). The obvious way to fix this is, when the guide is active on the screen, for the "Info" button to give you access to the menus through which you can find that information, the same as this button does when the guide is not active on the screen. When the guide is active on the screen, the "Info" button stupidly duplicates the behavior of the button in the lower right corner of the remote: it brings up the screen for changing the behavior of the guide.