Thursday, May 13, 2010

New TiVo Premiere -- User Experience

I am now the proud owner of a new TiVo Premiere and I thought that I would share that experience with those of you out there thinking about upgrading or jumping into the TiVo world.
I bought the TiVo from Weaknees because they let you order one with an upgraded hard drive. Instead of the stock 400 SD / 45 HD hours, I got one with 2,777 SD / 317 HD hours!

I upgraded the drive in my old Series 2 TiVo myself with a kit from Weaknees. I've also used a "do-it-yourself" program to increase the size of the old TiVo, but so far nobody offers a way for users to upgrade the drive in the new TiVo Premiere EXCEPT Weaknees.

The TiVo came in its normal box, like any of the ones you can get at Best Buy or wherever. The only difference was a couple small advertisements for Weaknees inside the box. They included a very small sticker that says "this TiVo was upgraded by Weaknees". The nice part is...
they leave the sticker for the customer to attach.
 They don't just slap their sticker on the back. You can't even tell the TiVo was ever cracked open!

The remote is a little different than the old one. It has a shiny black finish and the bottom has ridges so you can tell immediately if you are holding it upside down. The buttons have been moved around slightly and there are a few additional buttons that only work with the Premiere. I thought it would take a little getting used to, but my thumb seemed to naturally find the right placement. I think the slightly different layout makes sense. The new remote would be perfect if it had the little 1/2 switch like the old ones. I know there is a way to still switch it (hold down a couple buttons, then type the number of the TiVo you want to control), but a simple switch was so much easier.

The new "HD" menus are nice. I have an older model HDTV, so the left side of the new menu gets cut off. I can't really see the different colored dots in front of the shows, so I can't easily tell if something is recording or transferring. I've connected it to another (newer) TV and the HD menus looks great! For now I have switched to the standard SD menus. I'm not at all disappointed to be using the SD menus because they are so fast and it still has a few extra things that the old Series 2 does not (like the option to play a whole folder!) Someday I will upgrade my TV and switch over to the HD menus, but I'm not in a big hurry like I thought I would be.

As with the old Series 2, my new TiVo Premiere lets me transfer videos that I have on my computer. These can be home movies or even recorded programs that were transferred TO the computer (to cut out the commercials for instance.) They advertise that the new TiVo has a faster transfer speed. I couldn't believe how fast they move now! It takes less than 5 minutes to transfer a half hour show! After the first 2 transfers finished I had to check them because I literally thought there must be a problem! The old TiVo transferred at about 1 to 1... a half hour show would take about a half hour to transfer (maybe a little faster.) I can also transfer shows directly between the 2 TiVo's, but only shows that are not marked as "Copy Protected" by the broadcasting station. Of course the transfer can only go as fast as the SLOWEST link in the chain, so transfers from TiVo to TiVo are as slow as the old Series 2 transfers have always been.

One of the common complaints about TiVo is that you can't copy your season passes from one TiVo to another. They have gone to great lengths to make it easy to find shows at least. The new TiVo Premiere goes one step further in making it easy... it supports a USB keyboard. When I purchased the Premiere, I also purchased a fairly cheap wireless USB keyboard. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I only needed to plug it into the USB port on the back, and it was instantly working! The arrow keys are just like the up/down/left/right keys on the remote. Enter is like Select, and some of the function keys map to some nice shortcuts. Oh, and of course, you can TYPE the name of the show you are searching for in the season pass menu!
That feature alone makes it worth the upgrade.

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