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TiVo® is becoming a familiar word in many households in the US, Canada, UK, Taiwan, and Mexico. Jim Barton and Mike Ramsay, who incorporated their company Teleworld, Inc. in 1997, designed it. It combines both hardware and software features that expand the ability of the television consumer to record television and some Internet programs so that they can watch these programs when they choose, rather than at their normally scheduled time.
The ability to record programs you’d like to watch later has been around since the development of the VCR. You could even watch one program and record another at the same time if you happened to like two shows that aired in the same time slot. TiVo® differs from the old VCR recording devices in a number of ways. First, anything recorded is saved on a hard drive you can’t remove, instead of being saved on a tape. The machine is called a digital video recorder (DVR). Second, with a VCR you were limited to recording one show at a time. With TiVo® you can record multiple shows at the same time.
Another feature viewers love is the ability to fast forward through commercials. However as popularity of this service rises, with many people only watching recorded programs, sponsors worry about the lack of people viewing their ads. In Taiwan, for instance, there has been talk about disabling this feature, and if most TV viewers watch only TiVo®:, other countries might attempt the same thing, since advertisements are the way most networks make money. Increase in cable prices could also be possible to pay for lower ad revenues, which could be uniquely unfair for people who don’t use DVRs.
You can also use the software of TiVo® to record things you might have missed in the television lineup. For instance, you can create a wish list that will record any programs featuring you favorite actor/s. When programs with the actor air, software in this system will automatically record this, provided you have access to the channel on which it airs. You are limited as to your cable program; TiVo® can only record what you could actually have access to if you were watching TV.
A number of DVR devices have become popular since the inception of TiVo®, but Barton and Ramsay’s product still remains the most popular because of its software features. Typical DVRs that you can buy in the store can’t search through television directories to record what they "think" you might like. Instead, just like a video recorder, you have to program a DVR to record what you want. Of course the advantage to having your own DVR is you don’t pay for service; you just pay for your cable.
In order to get TiVo®’s service, you must first purchase or rent or lease a DVR box. Second you must subscribe for a monthly service, and frequently you’ll have to commit to a year’s service contract, with heavy penalties if you cancel early. Monthly service is still well under ten US Dollars (USD), which many feel is a reasonable price to pay for getting to watch TV when you want. A year’s service costs slightly over $70 USD, but prices can and probably will go up.
Some newer changes in TiVo®’s service is its ability to record Internet broadcasts, and its growing compatibility with computers in general. Depending upon your computer and operating system, you may be able to watch recorded programs on the Internet, and you can play programs recorded on the Internet on your TV. Since Internet television is becoming increasingly popular, this capability is likely to increase the popularity of TiVo®.
To clarify - you can only record multiple shows at the same if you have a dual tuner. My Tivos can only record one show - and if I want to watch live TV, I have to watch what the Tivo is recording. I've had a Tivo since 1999, and find it very frustrating to watch TV without it now.