I have a gazillion boxes of various sorts connected to the two TVs in our household, but the longest-serving one is my TiVo DVR. I got it when I moved into my present home and signed up for Comcast cable TV — and I still remember suffering a brief anxiety attack when I learned that using the TiVo meant I couldn’t get Comcast’s robust library of on-demand programming. (Going with Comcast’s DVR would have meant giving up TiVo’s interface for one which would have left me wanting to fling the box through my window on a regular basis.)
If I were starting all over again, I wouldn’t be faced with that dilemma: TiVo is now working with Comcast to put Xfinity on Demand on TiVo boxes. It’s arriving first in my neighborhood, the San Francisco Bay Area, with more locations to come; it requires one of TiVo’s Series 4 models as well as Comcast TV service, and folks who already have a TiVo will get the software as a free update.
Xfinity on Demand is folded into the TiVo experience pretty much the same way that Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and other services are. It’s another choice in TiVo’s video on demand section, and it’s integrated into TiVo’s universal search feature so that you can search for stuff to watch and find it no matter which service (or services) it’s on. I visited TiVo today and got a demo, and it looks nice and straightforward.
A growing percentage of TiVo users get their boxes directly from service providers such as Comcast, RCN and DirecTV. If you get yours the old-fashioned way, by going out and buying one, prices start at $149.99 for the box, and $14.99 a month for the TiVo service, on top of whatever else you’re paying for TV. (I’m allergic to monthly fees, so I paid a flat fee for lifetime service.)
Even though I do much of my TV watching these days on devices that aren’t TVs, without cable and TiVo being involved — and still flirt with the notion of kissing Comcast goodbye, period — I still get enough out of TiVo that I’d pay for it all over again. And perhaps I will. My TiVo is an aging Series III model, so I won’t be able to get the Xfinity upgrade unless I move to a Series 4. It’s tempting, and other upcoming TiVo features, such as a gadget that will let you stream and download recorded shows to an iPad, should keep TiVo interesting even in an era of endless competition for our TV-watching eyeballs.