TiVo Revolutionized Television Viewing

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You have probably heard of TiVo, in fact, some of you can’t even remember how it was to watch television without it. TiVo is not only a popular brand of digital video recorder (DVR) in the United States but it practically pioneered the use of the technology.

The year was 1997 when the company advertised that they can provide a means to record television shows in a very easy interface. During that time, recording shows on television involved pre-programming their VCRs. TiVo’s technology resulted to the sale of millions of their DVRs and subscriptions in the past ten years.

A TiVo unit is actually a device that is attached to your TV set. It’s like your VCRs but instead of using removable video tapes, TiVo uses non-removable hard drives, similar devices they use in your computers. Television signals comes into the TiVo set through an antenna, analog cable, digital cable or satellites and are connected through jacks at the back of the unit, just like your old VCRs.

Unique to TiVo, however, is an operating system (OS) or software which allows you to record programs automatically. The users can still pre-set the programs they want to record, but with TiVo’s software the unit can record programs that it thinks the user will be interested in.

Also, with TiVo, you can pause live television shows and rewind them for up to 30 minutes, and then play them again. That’s not something you can do with your regular cable subscription, can you? TiVo refers to this patented feature "trick play."

The file size of your TiVo hard drive dictates how many shows you can record. By choosing between Basic, Medium, High or Best qualities, you can increase the number of programs you can record in your TiVo. The lowest the settings, the less space the recorded shows take up in the hard drive. However, at low settings the quality is, of course, compromised.

When set to Basic quality recording, TiVo can record at least 30 hours of programming depending on the model. The new Series3 HD DVR of TiVo is said to record 300 hours of programming at the Basic setting, 120 hours of programming at the Medium setting, 76 hours of programming at the High setting, 52 hours of programming at the Best setting, and 32 hours of high definition programming.

When the hard disk becomes full, TiVo’s software will search for older files to delete in order to make room for new ones.

At the beginning, TiVo only makes their DVRs through third party manufacturers. Eventually, the company began manufacturing their own units with their own brand on it starting with the Series2 TiVo.

The Series2 had several upgrades including allowing users to record two programs at the same time. The latest TiVo Series3 HD DVR with the key difference of having high definition channel features.

Also new are six overall tuners, 2 each for over-the-air transmissions, digital NTSC (including HD), and ATSC. The unit is equipped likewise with HDMI, component, S-Video, and composite cable support with outputs reaching 1080i.

TiVo has diversified its products by offering cable companies the use TiVo software on their cable boxes. One such agreement was with Comcast in 2005. Both companies have signed development agreements that would integrate TiVo software into other makers’ boxes such as Scientific Atlanta, a unit of Cisco Systems Inc .

Advertisers, on the other hand, remain troubled with TiVo. Because TiVo can actually record programs and in the process can bypass commercials during replays, advertisers fear that they could lose a lot of revenue.

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