Review of TiVo - The World's Smartest PVR

Review of TiVo - The World's Smartest PVR January 31, 2019 · 11 min. readWhile the thoughts and opinions are my own, this article was brought to you by a third party. Also, this article may contain affiliate links.

Last month I wrote about Access Communications' new TiVo system. As the month has gone by, I've used it more and more and in return it's learned more about me. TiVo is known as "the world's smartest PVR" because of its artificial intelligence. You can vote content up or down to give TiVo a hint, or you can just watch the content you enjoy, and TiVo does all the algorithmic work in the background.

But what does that mean for user experience? Well, let's talk about it.

Accurately Predicted Interesting Shows

One of my lesser-known passions is urban planning. I love learning about how to house, transport and feed people more effectively. Not to get all hippy-dippy, but I believe we are at cross-roads between a dystopia like Kowloon Walled City or a utopia like Orbit City.

I could write a whole article about this topic, but it's something I shy away from because it doesn't fit my niche. So, imagine my surprise when The Great Guide to the Future: 'Housing' popped up in my predictive shows. TiVo recorded the first episode for me to watch and I was enthralled by it the moment it started.

Urban planning is a topic that a lot of my readers don't know I have, so TiVo knowing this after a month was not only very unexpected, but also very cool.

The Great Guide to the Future: 'Housing'

An Option to Remove "Fly-Over" Channels

Many people consider Saskatchewan a "fly-over" province. Instead of taking your time and driving down the endless stretches of highway, it's easier to just fly over it and get to your destination. But, as you know, there are gems hidden in Saskatchewan that you'll miss if you fly over it.

Like Saskatchewan, there's a lot to see on TiVo. So much so you might be tempted to skip some of it too. Of the 700 channels I get, 90 of them are Stingray Music and 30 are radio stations. That is over 1/7 of my channels dedicated to music. Sure, I enjoyed the Christmas music channel during the holidays, but most of the time I have no need for them.

Thankfully, TiVo knows this and offers a way to hide these channels from appearing all together. But be careful: if you don't stop to look, you'll never know what you might miss.

Offering Exclusive Content

I like YouTube and Netflix, but they don't have access to everything. One example is Samurai Jack, an animated television show from 2001. Samurai Jack revolves around Jack, an ancient warrior and his conflict with the demon Aku. In the first episode, right before Jack slays the demon, Aku rips open a time portal and throws Jack into the distant future. From here Jack is forced to transverse a harsh, broken world hoping to find a way back to his own era.

I remember watching this show and being fascinated by it. Time travel, demons, apocalyptic worlds... Gee, those themes seem familiar! I really enjoyed this show as a child, but eventually I lost track of it.

Samurai Jack

Almost two decades later I found Samurai Jack on TiVo. The moment I saw it, I set up a One Pass to record every episode. Now I have dozens of episodes to watch and relive. This show is not on Netflix and is only available in low resolution on YouTube, so being able to watch it in all its glory on TiVo was pretty awesome.

Samurai Jack isn't the only show that fits in this category. TiVo also has access to local shows too, like P.A.S.T., Knights of the Dark and Pinoy Talk. These shows are produced by local talent I would otherwise not be able to find.

Pinoy Talk

Recording Your Favourite Show

Like my previous point, TiVo allows users to record shows and watch them whenever it is convenient. I do this with Samurai Jack all the time, but I recently had an unexpected issue. 

In one episode of Samurai Jack, Jack finds a time portal in the centre of a battle arena. In front of the portal is a guardian who has never been defeated in combat. Jack challenges the guardian to battle, but there is no way he could win. If Jack loses, he joins the pile of fallen warriors, but if he wins, his adventure concludes.

(And since this is only season three of a five season show, neither of these can happen… right?)

Jack and the Guardian

The battle goes back and forth, with each warrior getting the upper hand. They fight for the entire show, but Jack ultimately falls. The guardian picks up a bolder to crush the samurai but is interrupted by a rumbling from within the time portal. The guardian acknowledges the message, puts down the bolder and whistles.  A moment later a large dragon appears from the sky and lands in the arena. The guardian and dragon look at the broken body of Jack and then…

The recording stopped.

I was sitting on the edge of my seat. What happens next? What did the gate say to the guardian? Was this a two-part episode? No. Instead, it turns out the episode had just run late and TiVo ended my recording early.

Access Communications knows this is a limitation with PVR technology so TiVo has an option to set the recording to end minutes, or even hours, after the show's supposed completion. This is great to know now, but I wish I had known earlier.

Solving the Commercial Problem

It might seem strange to some people, but in other parts of the world, commercials aren't a part of everyday life. For example, Germany has a "radio-tax" to keep the airwaves free of commercials. This means whenever you want to listen to music you can toss on your favourite station and hear actual music, not a mattress salesperson.

This is where, I feel, traditional television is falling behind. As somebody who hasn't watched television in years, I find the commercials infuriating. I made myself a bowl of popcorn, sat down on the couch and flicked through advertisements for over an hour while trying to find something to watch.

Although TiVo can't control commercials, it offers a way to skip past them. When you record a show, you can fast-forward over commercials and get to the content you enjoy sooner. You can't speed up shows that are "live", but you could record it and come back to it once it is complete.

TiVo Remote

Universal Search

After realising TiVo knew I liked urban planning and samurais, I taught it about one of my other favourite topics: aliens. I wanted it to show me everything it had about aliens, UFOs, secret military exercises and livestock abductions.

And TiVo delivered! TiVo's universal search option searches not only their own network, but other platforms like Netflix, Plex, Yahoo, HBO and their own view-on-demand programs. I spent about a half hour scrolling through shows about aliens, conspiracies, government espionage, terrifying creatures, investigations and political assassinations. I fed all this data to TiVo and now it shows me exactly the kind of anxiety-causing shows I know and love.

(And if you're listening, aliens, I know everything about you too.)

X-Files

It Doesn't Spy on Me

On the topic of being freaked out, TiVo has voice controls that could be eerily like "1984's" Big Brother. When I got TiVo, I was worried it would spy on me and listen to me talk to my cat about Samurai Jack. Thankfully, TiVo only listens when I push the "listen" button on the remote.

This is a feature I really like. My office at the Queen City Collective has an Alexa voice-controlled system and we are constantly telling it to stop listening. Knowing I can spend time in my living room with my cat and not worry about TiVo recording our silly conversations makes me feel a lot better.

(And makes me kind of regret the whole HAL 9000 reference in my previous article...)

Are you Listening to me, Tivo? Are you Listening to me, Tivo?

All in all, I like TiVo. As my first experience with a PVR, I am impressed by its ability to predict and pre-record shows. I also like that it can record shows for me to watch at a more convenient time. No, TiVo isn't perfect, but I enjoy using it and I'd recommend it for anybody thinking about buying one.

What are your thoughts on TiVo? Would you ever consider getting one? Let me know in the comments below.

Don't forget to pin it!

Review of TiVo – The World’s Smartest PVR Review of TiVo – The World’s Smartest PVR

And, as always, a big thank you to my sweetheart Jessica Nuttall for proof reading a countless number of my articles. I couldn't do any of this without you. I love you.

Don't forget to share!

Get Your Complete List of What to See & Do in Regina!

You might also enjoy

Xochimilco and The Island of the Dolls

The Island of the Dolls is in Xochimilco, a borough south of Mexico City. While it would be faster to take a car from Mexico City to Xochimilco, the traffic is dense and the roads are very congested. Instead, if you're going there, I'd recommend taking metro, which is easy and the cheapest in the world. What you gain in comfort, however, you lose in speed, as the train ride takes about 2 hours.

Mexico City and Xochimilco both sit in the Valley of Mexico. Until about a millennium ago, the whole region around Mexico City was surrounded by a massive body of water. Over the centuries due to both climate change and interference by humans, most of this water has dried up, for the exception of Xochimilco. With networks of canals crisscrossing the borough, car transportation is difficult and water transportation is essential. I'm sure there were motorized boats somewhere in the waters of Xochimilco, but I never saw any. Instead, canoes and rafts are common on the water. However, the most popular vessel is a trajinera – a colourful gonadal-like boat that is pushed along the water with a wooden pole.

Xochimilco is known worldwide for their Floating Gardens market, which are essentially canoes floating down the canals, selling wares to tourists on trajineras. These include things like food, drinks, silver rings, trinkets, ponchos and sombreros. Occasionally other trajineras full of Mariachi bands will approach tourists and offer to play beside them on the water.

Read More

Planning Your Alberta Bucketlist Biking Adventure

Most people know how to ride a bicycle. They learned sometime as a child and never forgot. I am not one of those people. I tried learning when I was a child, a teenager and an adult, and I have never mastered the two-wheel contraption. Whenever I see a child zip past me on a bike, I get a little jealous inside. I've always wanted to learn, but it's just something I've never been able to do. 

On my recent trip to Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, Alberta, I explored several of the many biking paths that wind through the area. The paths are also hikable, so I walked them instead. Although I've visited Cypress Hills several times, I never get used to the hills and lakes throughout the area. With dozens of kilometres of trails, you can spend a weekend there and never do the same thing twice. Although hiking around the park was incredible, I imagine it would be a lot more fun, and a lot easier, to bike it instead.

Beyond biking, there's plenty of other things to see in Cypress Hills too, like canoeing, stand-up paddle boarding, disc golfing, and comfort camping.

Read More

What To Do in Historic Philadelphia

A few months ago I entered a contest for a trip for two to visit Philadelphia on Two Bad Tourists. Normally contests like this are limited to United States residents so when I saw this one was open to Canadians I jumped at the chance. I've never won something like this before, so I actually forgot about it until I got the emailing saying I had won. Two Bad Tourists then worked alongside Visit Philly to organise the trip for me and my mother to explore Philadelphia for three days. Visit Philly paid for our flights, hotels and gave us a VIP Pass to experience the city to our heart's content. It is thanks to them that this trip is possible.

Several movies and television shows have tried to capture the essence of Philadelphia over the years – from the boxing Blockbuster Rocky, to the paranormal thriller The Sixth Sense, to It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and even Boy Meets World – but each described the city differently. There is no easy way to approach a city as dynamic as The City of Brotherly Love. With countless layers of art, history, religion and the paranormal, Philadelphia is a city unlike any other throughout the United States. 

One thing that surprised me the most about Philadelphia was the history. The city was founded and designed by William Penn, who is also the state of Pennsylvania's namesake. Born in London, England in 1644 he lived through The Great Fire of 1666 and The Great Plague of London from 1665-1666. Both events shaped Penn's life so he designed the city to be strictly stone buildings (to stop fires from spreading) and to have plenty of space between the buildings (as to prevent illness from spreading). This led to the older areas of the city to have winding corridors between old stone walls.

Read More