Friday, August 12, 2011

Over the years Tivo has added lots of features to the product. Unfortunately I'm not interested in most of them. Things I don't care about:

  • Swivel Search
  • Guru Guides
  • podcasts
  • Discovery Bar
  • KidZone
  • radio stations
  • games
  • TivoCast
  • Photo, music, video streaming from my computer

I do like the internet guide loading (so I don't need a phone line), the Netflix/Hulu/Amazon streaming, and support for HDTV (Cablecard).

What I'd really like are features without funny names:

  • When I press a button on the remote, the Tivo should react instantly.
  • No more waiting. When I change a season pass or settings, I shouldn't have to wait for the Tivo to do its calculations. It should let me continue while it works in the background.
  • When I delete several shows in a row from a folder, the Tivo shouldn't get confused. I sometimes find that it tells me the group is now empty, and I have to go out and back into the group to see the remaining shows.
  • When I add a show to be recorded (or a season pass), I want to choose a folder. I don't want to use the folders by show name; I want to choose folders that mean something to me, like “history shows” or “time travel movies”. This didn't matter when the capacity was 40GB but the more storage there is, the more useful folders become.
  • Instead of assuming I receive all 500 channels, ask me which level of Cable TV I subscribe to, so that I can see just the 100 channels I actually get. Every channel change can be relative to that list. Right now, most channel changes are irrelevant to me, and end up adding channels that I don't actually get.

I suspect that as a company gets larger, it's easier to get management to approve people working on features with names than on features without names. However, this is pure speculation on my part.

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3 comments:

snarfed.org wrote at Friday, August 12, 2011 at 8:28:00 AM PDT

do you think the dvr functionality itself has much life left? honestly, it seems like broadcast was just a hack until we could do on demand. a glorious hack, to be sure, one that succeeded wildly and will take decades to fully die...but still a hack. the vast majority of (US) content is already on netflix, hulu, itunes, etc, and that will only grow.

Amit wrote at Friday, August 12, 2011 at 10:02:00 AM PDT

Four reasons I'm still using TiVo far more than any of the alternatives:

I find that I treat Netflix/Hulu/Cable very differently from iTunes/OnDemand/Amazon/DVDs — I am much more likely to try new things that I'm not sure about. This leads to a lot more discovery, and I really enjoy being able to try new things out. I'm not going to pay $4 for Sharktopus but I might watch a little bit of it on TiVo just to see what it's like.

I'm also enjoying being able to use the TiVo in a mostly-uniform way to access both TiVo and Netflix stuff. I can't access Hulu or iTunes on the TiVo so I almost never use Hulu, iTunes, DVDs. I don't want seven different ways to watch TV programs.

The TiVo also works great for me when my network connection is poor. Some people have great internet connectivity but I don't.

The user experience, especially in a family setting, has been better for me on TiVo than Hulu/Amazon/Netflix/iTunes. It's not great but it's significantly better. With Amazon, my wife has Prime so she can pick shows, but Amazon won't let me pick shows. She'd have to share her Amazon account with me and the kids and house guests to make it work. iTunes has some sort of sharing system that I haven't figured out, but there too she has stuff and I have stuff and each of the kids have stuff and we can't easily watch things together. Netflix has some multi user features but it doesn't work that well and doesn't work at all for streaming.

(A topic for another blog post: on demand might be a temporary situation until broadcast works for large amounts of content, maybe 40 years from now.)

Laurence wrote at Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 3:09:00 PM PDT

I mostly agree with your list. KidZone may be useful for me at some point... I haven't tried it yet.

Another feature I'd like: stop switching to Live TV automatically! If I leave the Tivo in the menus I want it to stay there.

The channel lineup thing is ridiculous. Theoretically they know which channels you get, because you're supposed to edit the list. They make editing this list way harder than it should be, though. You should be able to flip through the channels, and for anything it gets a signal say "yes" or "no". The current UI assumes that you know exactly what channels you get without checking.

Tivo's Netflix UI is also lagging behind other platforms. Last I checked, it only lets you see your queue. On the PS3 it lets you browse recommended categories and also has search.