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Is Tivo a Cult?
April 20, 2003 7:36 AM   Subscribe

Is Tivo a Cult? - The New York Times discusses Tivo owners and their propensity to evangelize. What is it about Tivo that turns us into volunteer salesmen? I feel the devotion myself, you'll take away my Tivo when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers...
posted by Argyle (35 comments total)

 
Simple answer really: because it makes a television worth owning. With all the tripe, crap and detritus on the tube these days, there's probably only about 8 hours worth of watchable programming in a given week (of which 2 is the Daily Show). With a TiVo, at least, you'll see it all.
posted by psmealey at 8:11 AM on April 20, 2003


Because I no longer have to stick to television schedule (except for Formula 1, which I prefer to see live).
posted by riffola at 8:28 AM on April 20, 2003


I've had my TIVO for about a month now, with DIRECTV. It's a nice way to rearrange how to watch TV, particularly if one is inclined to plan out viewing opportunities ahead of time, but I still channel surf quite a bit. It's funny, though: I know other people with TIVOs, but I don't think any of us has been inclined to evangelize. Maybe when DVR computer software (or media center computers) get to the point of reasonable usablity...

Wait, is this Metafilter? Third post and no snob has entered the fray with the typical "I wouldn't know; I never watch television."
posted by troybob at 8:42 AM on April 20, 2003


I can't become a volunteer TiVo salesman, because everyone I know either has one already, or wants one already. Though I guess I can take credit for this one guy I know who bought four DirecTiVos -- two for him, two for his wife. Of course they were only $50 each at the time, so it was a no-brainer.
posted by kindall at 8:43 AM on April 20, 2003


tivo sounds awesome, but is it avail to canuckleheads too...? if so i would be a willing convert. right now i use timeshift to catch my fave shows on my own schedule.
posted by t r a c y at 8:49 AM on April 20, 2003


Most of us evangelize when we became enamored of a new technology; I love preaching about my Pocket PC, for example. Especially to those wicked Palm users.
posted by davidmsc at 8:50 AM on April 20, 2003


I don't have TIVO, but my neighbors do. I spend more time over there than I do at work. A cigarette break during an overtime hockey game? It's like a gift from God himself.

Is TIVO a cult? I don't know for sure, but if TIVO told me to drink cool-aid, I'd do it.

(boop-boop!)
posted by Samsonov14 at 8:56 AM on April 20, 2003


I'm pretty sure the Word of the Tivo was part of the third prophesy of Our Lady of Fatima, wasn't it?
posted by crunchland at 9:08 AM on April 20, 2003


I don't have a TiVo, probably won't for awhile until the price drops more. My only major problem with it is the use of "TiVo" as a verb. It sounds so stupid when someone says they "TiVoed" a show.
posted by dogwalker at 9:40 AM on April 20, 2003


Oh, you'll change your tune quickly, dogwalker. You'll see.
posted by Samsonov14 at 9:53 AM on April 20, 2003


It sounds so stupid when someone says they "TiVoed" a show.

How is that worse than "recorded an album"? Or "taped a movie"? Or "wallpapered the room"?

I too am a Tivo devotee, btw. Hubby and I demo'd ours to my parents on their last visit, and a week later they had one up in the wilds of Maine.
posted by Medley at 9:53 AM on April 20, 2003


I've wondered why we haven't seen any cheap Tivo knock-offs, like a harddrive based video recorder.

Pausing live tv and random access playback/record could be done without a subscription service. I'm a little cheap and would rather put in the start/stop times myself (sure I'll miss it if the show's delayed but that feature is not worth hundreds of dollars to me). The cult would probably think I'm a lunatic for suggesting this idea.

Oh, has anyone tried TV Torrents, for catching missed shows? A little slow at times but fairly good quality.
posted by bobo123 at 10:09 AM on April 20, 2003


bobo123, harddrive recorders are available. Philips, Nokia, etc make 'em. If you are in the US, you might have to get it imported.
posted by riffola at 10:16 AM on April 20, 2003


I've wondered why we haven't seen any cheap Tivo knock-offs, like a harddrive based video recorder.

Not exactly cheap, but a great concept.
posted by LinusMines at 10:20 AM on April 20, 2003


just so you know, tivo isn't so much the hardware as it is the subscription service to the television schedule listings.
posted by crunchland at 10:22 AM on April 20, 2003


Join us! Join us!
posted by inpHilltr8r at 10:42 AM on April 20, 2003


There are a couple opensource TiVo knockoff projects: Freevo and MythTV.

Both are designed to work with cheap off-the-shelf pc boxes running linux. I just bought a martian box, and would be stoked if I could get freevo or mythtv to run on it.
posted by mathowie at 10:48 AM on April 20, 2003


How is that worse than "recorded an album"? Or "taped a movie"? Or "wallpapered the room"?

For starters, TiVo is a brand name noun. People never said, "I Sony VCRed a movie." Or even "VHSed" a movie. Also, "record" and "tape" had legitimate, albeit somewhat technical, uses as verbs before products with such capabilities hit the public.
posted by dogwalker at 10:57 AM on April 20, 2003


Most of us evangelize when we became enamored of a new technology; I love preaching about my Pocket PC, for example. Especially to those wicked Palm users.

I evangelize my Tungsten T, especially to those wicked Microsoft users.

I evangelize my iPod to everyone, and they almost always drool over it.

I also evangelize Tivo, often times without even knowing it. "Oh, I Tivo'd it but I haven't watched it yet" or "I will remember to Tivo it when I get home." Everybody I know would like to have a Tivo, but they just think its too expensive. (One guy I know will buy a $200 soccer jersey, but a Tivo is too expensive... but people have different priorities for their money.)
posted by benjh at 11:50 AM on April 20, 2003


For starters, TiVo is a brand name noun. People never said, "I Sony VCRed a movie."

I xeroxed my response and fedex'ed it to you.
posted by crunchland at 11:55 AM on April 20, 2003 [1 favorite]


While high on heroin, I wore zippered pants and jumped on my trampoline. When I fell off and hit my head, I took an asprin, washing it down with some kerosine from my thermos.

Dogwalker, many trademarked words are now a part of the English language--how's TiVo (potentially) any different? (I'm also a member of the cult. Fun tip: while watching a recorded show, press select-play-select-3-0-play, and the skip to white mark-y thing becomes a 30 second skip, useful for zapping commercials)
posted by LimePi at 12:01 PM on April 20, 2003


It's not different and I'm not denying the use of brand name usage in language. I'm just saying that the phrase "I TiVoed a show" sounds silly. Mainly because it's a proper noun used as a verb and there are plenty of other words that could be used instead. And I find most words of that sort (Xerox, etc.) silly as well.

Sorry, I didn't mean to take the thread so off subject.
posted by dogwalker at 12:29 PM on April 20, 2003


Funny article, not as funny as My Tivo thinks I'm a gay pregnant man but close.

I was struck by the way people embraced this technology as a "pet." In the same vein, people in the thread I link above worried what TiVo "thought" of them. It's not a pet, nor does it think. To me, a pet is a warm furry creature that greets me at the door, sleeps in my bed and occasionally vomits on the new carpet. TiVo not alive, but people lose contact with the fact that it is just a hard drive in a box.

People in America (and as far as I know, in the industrialized world) watch too much TV. TV programing is the new mythology of our era, the shared experience that draws us together. Populations are no longer drawn together as communities, however, but as focus groups and demographics. People know Kramer's first name, Captain Kirk's middle name and what state the Springfield of the Simpsons is located in. (Well, maybe not the last one. Rumsfeld might say 'we know that we don't know') At the same time people don't know their neighbors, and in extreme cases, their own families.

I don't blame television, I'd put the responsibility on human nature. TV is easy, we like easy. Easy good. TiVO is even easier so we think "MMMMMMMmmmmmmmm TiVO goood." We give TV and its henchhard-drive-recording-devices power over our daily schedules, our personal thoughts and memories.

Okay, I do blame TV, to a point, for being so easy. TV isn't bad, I understand. Well, TV is EVIIIIIIIIIIIIIIILLLLL and is used to numb us into being non-voting, consumerist driven drones. All I can do is tell you, point out the shadows on the wall, try to show the way to the mouth of the cave where real life is running beautiful and wild.

So go ahead, ignore me, see what TiVo recorded for you based off the surveillance it's gathered from your viewing habits. And as you grow etiolated and withered on your cheeto stained couch, I'll be out in the sunshine, flirting with women wearing sundresses.
posted by elwoodwiles at 12:35 PM on April 20, 2003


Also, there's vcr. It works with the avifile library (linux mainly I think), which allows it to use most classicly windows-only codecs. It requires a fair bit of cpu power (the author suggests at least a celeron 466 for low motion divx), but it does it's job. For the tech savvy people, that and a few crontabbed scripts (possibly using tvpref(selflink, a customisable listings service for holland)) make a quite acceptable tivo replacement. (In theory, I haven't tried it myself yet)
posted by fvw at 12:55 PM on April 20, 2003


for what it's worth, dogwalker, I often say "taped" when referring to a program on my tivo, but some wiseguy smartalek (like my wife) often reminds me that there's no tape involved in the process.
posted by crunchland at 1:36 PM on April 20, 2003


Elwood, you're wrong--my tivo is alive! It understands that I love to watch ANZac movies and scrupulously records them for me without my even telling it. How could Timmy (see, I gave my pet a name) do that if it wasn't alive? Sometimes I even have to punish it for doing bad things. Are you a carbonist or something?
posted by billsaysthis at 3:21 PM on April 20, 2003


...see what TiVo recorded for you based off the surveillance it's gathered from your viewing habits

This is why at night (since the TIVO stays on always, even when the TV is off) I set the channel to some really asinine religious broadcasting. It sometimes records 'Matlock' or 'Golden Girls' on its own, but it's fun.
posted by troybob at 3:22 PM on April 20, 2003


I love my tv tuner card in my 'puter, but with no line currently going back to my TV, it can't be as nice as having a TIVO.
posted by adampsyche at 3:50 PM on April 20, 2003


To me, a pet is a warm furry creature that greets me at the door, sleeps in my bed and occasionally vomits on the new carpet.

I know people like that.
posted by Grangousier at 4:04 PM on April 20, 2003


The article (which I read on dead-tree media this AM) seemed to imply that TiVo requires cable or satellite TV. Is that true? Or is it just that if you only have say six channels to choose from (the three old networks, PBS, Fox, and WB), there's not a lot of obscure programming that it can find for you?

I'm interested in the whole PVR concept, but plan to stay far away from cable etc. So a computer-based solution sounds pretty good to me.
posted by sesquipedalia at 11:25 PM on April 20, 2003


>TiVo requires cable or satellite TV

Nope, a stand-alone Tivo (a non Direct-tv one that is) can be used to record anything. I'm a direcTivo owner so I'm might be a bit off here, but the Tivo simply uses an IR LED to control your TV. It says, "Goto channel 6" and then the Tivo either has its own RF antennae or uses a line-out from the TV to get the signal. It also uses the phone line to get programming schedules.

The DirecTV setup is a little different. Programming schedules come through the dish, the digital stream is recorded perfectly onto the drive, and its only $7.50 a month because DirecTV bought out Tivo for their market.

> So a computer-based solution sounds pretty good to me.

Also, you might want to check and see how far the freevo project has gotten.
posted by skallas at 12:58 AM on April 21, 2003


My DirecTV Tivo service is only $4.99 a month (maybe it depends on your program package--it's free if you subscribe to everything). I think the satellite reception is the main thing that will keep me from seeking home-built PVR solutions; the recording device would require an access card port.

If I had cable, though, I'd definitely look into the home-computer-based systems, mainly because you can forego the monthly TIVO service charge by downloading the schedule information via the Internet (there are pages out there that teach this hack.)
posted by troybob at 7:28 AM on April 21, 2003


The reason that I rhapsodize about my TiVo is that it's one of the few consumer products I've bought in the last ten years that actually lives up to the hype surrounding it. I doubt I would bother watching TV without one. Once you paused your first show to go grab a beer from the fridge, you cross a rubicon that is not easily uncrossed.
posted by vraxoin at 10:05 AM on April 21, 2003


Dig it. I love my 3 year old tivo. Can't watch tv w/o it. . . .let alone listen to radio or watch movies, "what, wait, what did he say, rewind that, D'oh!"
posted by tomplus2 at 10:28 AM on April 21, 2003


I have a ReplayTV, not a Tivo, but never mind that. I practically never watch TV without it. And just like my broadband internet connection, I can't imagine going without a PVR in the future.
posted by Songdog at 9:46 AM on April 22, 2003


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