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Finally got TIVO. Questions, Tips from people who have them?

Old 11-06-03, 12:09 PM
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Finally got TIVO. Questions, Tips from people who have them?

Okay, here are my first impressions after 3 days with my Tivo. I need some help from experienced Tivo'ers.

I dont' have DirectTV, so this is just standard Tivo.

Positive:
Obviously it's sweet that there's always something on that I WANT to watch. Plus I can pause a show and come back. After all, that's why we buy these things, right?

This is actually a lot of positives rolled into one, so don't mistake the list below as complaining... I love the service, just have some questions since I'm a newbie.


Negative: (not really faults in the player, just things I misunderstood beforehand)

1) I bought the player with "80 hours", thinking that would be way more than enough. It probably is. But the only thing that bugs me is that it's 80 hours on the lowest quality setting which is crap. I'm watching on a little 21 inch TV and it still looks bad. I have to record at a higher setting but not sure which one yet. I still think I'll have plenty of space, so it doesn't bother me too much but I'm glad I didn't get the 40 hour player.

2) I was led to believe by a friend that the tivo could record shows without the commercials. What's more, if you were watching recorded "live" tv after pausing for a bit, you could just skip the commercials as you watched.
From what I see, what you really need to do is fast-forward through the commercials. This is fine and still very cool, but not quite the same as a "skip" button like skipping a chapter on a dvd. I can see how the tivo may not be able to tell where commercials start and stop.

Questions:
1) What do you do when you are away from your tivo?
It seems like a pain to go in to the menus and put it in standby mode every time you are done watching (the remote doesn't have a standby button), but if I don't, tv just keeps running (evidenced by the audio coming out of my stereo system, which I have to mute or shut off).

I'm also curious what happens if a scheduled show needs to be recorded but I've left the tivo on live tv and am not there to hit the button that says "do you want to record the show or keep watching live tv?"

2) Commercials
How do you get through the commercials? Single speed fast forward seems too slow but if I do double speed, every time I end up about 10 seconds into the show and have to rewind... and I'm pretty good at skipping commercials on a vcr etc, it's just tougher for me on this. Do I just need practice?

3) Do you allow lead-time on shows that you are recording? Most of mine cut in within a few seconds of the start which is good. One show was quite a bit off but that's probably the station. So what do you use as a setting? The biggest problem with lead time or extended time (even by a minute) would be that it would conflict with a show the preceding or following hour that you may want to record.

That's all I can think of right now... I still need to get a splitter so I can watch tv while it is recording, and a cable that will allow me to plug it into my cable modem for "always-on" action.

I'm having a lot of fun with this thing...
Any other cools tips?
Old 11-06-03, 12:14 PM
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Re: Finally got TIVO. Questions, Tips from people who have them?

What unit do you have, and what software version???

1) I bought the player with "80 hours", thinking that would be way more than enough.
It's not!
Visit the tivocommunity forums to see how to upgrade your tivo quite reasonably for just the cost of a hard drive + a little patience. Here's an ongoing 2 year old, 900 post thread there:
How-To Upgrade your TiVo
I have two 160GB drives on mine for 200+ hours at 'best quality' . (NOTE: I wouldn't recommend this using a DirecTV DVR with TiVo until they implement folders as the Now Playing list is "a little slow". In hindsight, I would have bought a second DTVo and just put 120 GB drives in each and had 4 tuners [Only DirecTV models have 2 tuners])

From what I see, what you really need to do is fast-forward through the commercials. This is fine and still very cool, but not quite the same as a "skip" button like skipping a chapter on a dvd.
To enable your 'go to end' button to skip 30 seconds each time it is pressed, while watching something from your Now Playing List (seems to work better than using LiveTV) press Select-Play-Select-3-0-Select. (NOTE: You can't change it to '9-0' to skip 90 seconds, etc., just 30)

Everytime your TiVo reboots, you will have to activate it again, but I haven't had to do that in weeks (just when new software comes in, usually a couple times a year).


What do you do when you are away from your tivo?
Putting it on Standby is unnecessary as far as the unit is concerned. As a matter of fact, some will say it's better to keep the hard drive humming then shutting it off. But as you say, since it now bypasses the TiVo and you are then getting the signal straight from your cable to the TV, then the sounds are on, you may still need to mute/turn off your stereo.


What happens if a scheduled show needs to be recorded but I've left the tivo on live tv and am not there to hit the button that says "do you want to record the show or keep watching live tv?"
It's asking if it's OK to change the channel if you are sitting there. Since, as in the question just above this, many never bother with standby, the machines are always 'on' even when they aren't around. It will assume that whatever just happens to be on LiveTV is ok to switch over if you didn't tell it not to during the one minute it asked you. That works great 98% of the time, but not when you are watching a sporting event (that your really don't care to record) but walk away from it and come back to a show it switched to record for you. Of course, it assumes something you said you wanted recorded IS more important to you, but sometimes it's an episode from HBO that will repeat many times later (and you then lost your buffer on the sports event). In cases like this, I tend to "record" sporting events (with a 30-60 minute buffer)/live tv just to keep suggestions/etc. from changing my channel.

Commercials
Do I just need practice?

No. You just need to activate the code above. Sometime people don't have luck with it right away (it sometimes takes me 3-4 tries to get it to 'take') but don't give up!

One show was quite a bit off but that's probably the station. The biggest problem with lead time or extended time (even by a minute) would be that it would conflict with a show the preceding or following hour that you may want to record.
Ah, the catch 22 of padding. I get a little help with this with the 2 tuners able to record at once, but occasionally I do have problems. You'll just learn who is naughty (NBC/HBO are especially bad) and who is nice. I always get the last minute or so of the Bachelor before Karen Sisco (which I start 'on time') but it always ends just fine. That means that those who end the Bachelor 'on time' miss the end. Some networks just 'stretch' their cash cows a bit to sell more ad time at the higher rate.

I still need to get a splitter so I can watch tv while it is recording
Do you? Why don't you just use the 'standby mode' that you spoke of before? If you have the inputs on your TV/receiver, you can certainly split, but you don't have to, right, since admittedly you get the signal when on standby?



Any other cools tips?
If you are already running v. 4.0 of the software (not available to me on my DirecTiVo ), then you already have folders and the ability to sort in the now playing list. If not, there's a code for that as well...

Last edited by Y2K Falcon; 11-06-03 at 12:50 PM.
Old 11-06-03, 12:23 PM
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1) TiVo will automatically choose to record a show if you are not there to select the other option.

2) I'm not sure if the Commercial-Skip option is still on Replay TV, but that was previously the only way to do it. After a while, I've found, you'll master the art of FFWDing through commercials. I became a TiVo ninja after a few weeks of practice, catching it almost perfectly everytime.

3) I only allow lead-in or out when I have to catch the first few seconds and I'm recording nothing prior. It's just a small downside of the greatest box on earth.

Go to the TiVo forums. There is more there than I could ever imagine doing. Personally, I plugged TiVo in and let it go to work from day one. I haven't dealt with upgrades or many other tips and tricks. If I managed to make my TiVo even better than it already is, I think I would live in a constant state of orgasm.
Old 11-06-03, 12:25 PM
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Setup the 30 second skip

This will help get you through commercials. TiVo does not detect commercials.

If you don't answer the 'change channel' question, it will change the channel anyways.

Why do you want to put it into standby? You shoudl alwyas just leave it on, when you're done, turn off the tv and your receiver, just like you would do without a Tivo.

Don't worry too much about lead time, I've never had a problem, there are a few networks that are off, but it's never been a big deal for me...sporting events would be another story, however.
FS
Old 11-06-03, 12:43 PM
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My tivo did an auto-update yesterday so now it's on version 4.0.

I'll go try the 30 second skip thing now and see how it works. That sounds perfect.
Old 11-06-03, 12:46 PM
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I have a ReplayTV and I hate it. But thats not very helpful, is it?
Old 11-06-03, 12:49 PM
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Originally posted by Thor Simpson
My tivo did an auto-update yesterday so now it's on version 4.0.


I'm slightly jealous!

Not enough to give you my second tuner for your folders, but still!
Old 11-06-03, 12:51 PM
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You asked for a tip. Well, I recommend rating your favorite shows with 3 thumbs up. Make sure your suggestions is on and then when your Tivo has surplus space, it'll record your favorite shows automatically.

I suggest high quality on a standalone Tivo. Not the best quality but the next step down. I had to strip down the programs I wanted to record since my Tivo came with only 22 hours on lowest quality. And I've been too lazy to upgrade the hard drive.

I'm currently using my ReplayTV because it has a higher capacity. Once I get around to upgrading the Tivo, I'll go back.

Edit: Make that a 14 hour Tivo.

Last edited by big whoppa; 11-06-03 at 01:29 PM.
Old 11-06-03, 12:51 PM
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Re: Finally got TIVO. Questions, Tips from people who have them?

Originally posted by Thor Simpson
But the only thing that bugs me is that it's 80 hours on the lowest quality setting which is crap. I'm watching on a little 21 inch TV and it still looks bad.
Do you have digital cable? I'm not sure why it is, but I've heard that people with digital cable get crappy results when recording in Basic mode. I record in Basic all of the time with my Series 1 (with extended basic cable), and never have a problem.
Old 11-06-03, 01:24 PM
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I have the original Series 1 Tivo and it only has 14 hours on lowest quality and I've managed (and I have over 50 season passes). You just need to keep up and delete things you have no intention of watching.

Yes you do need to get a splitter. Then you can watch regular cable while TIVO is recording something you want to watch later.

30 second advance is a great feature and yes, it and the ff do take some practice to get through the commercials quickly.
Old 11-06-03, 01:30 PM
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One thing I have always wondered is how you know how much recording time is left on the Tivo. Maybe I'm missing an obvious menu, but I don't know where you can find this info. I have a Directivo unit, series 2 I believe.
Old 11-06-03, 01:50 PM
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Do I have an old Tivo or new? Because when I fast forward and go too far into the show--say by 15-20 seconds, Tivo automatically--once I press play and am already unwantingly into the show--starts at the immediate end of the last commercial and I see the show from the beggining of the second act (of the show). It's perfect.

One thing I DO have a problem with is this. With all the great thing Tivo has, why doesn't it tell me how many hours are left to be able to be recorded. If I have 15 shows on there, why doesn't it tell me it's used up 10 hours and we have 25 hours left? I feel like I have to cancel episodes EVERY day just to make sure I have enough room (I do know that Tivo automatically cancls, but still).
Old 11-06-03, 01:57 PM
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This thread is an excellent starting point to beginners. I just got my Tivo less than a month ago, and the tips in here are very useful.

Also, if you FF through commercials, the Tivo should bring you back to a few seconds before you hit the button, to make up for the time your reflex takes. You need to be kinda quick, but I wouldn't say you need the reflexes of Barry Bonds or anything. I used to use the 30-sec skip trick, but I just didn't like it, mainly because a lot of commercials can be 15 or 45 secs long. But hey, whatever you prefer.
Old 11-06-03, 01:58 PM
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My Tivo did not automatically move back but I haven't used it in a few months so I don't know if the upgrades made any difference there.

I don't know why Tivo doesn't tell you how many hours/minutes of recording space is remaining. ReplayTV does.
Old 11-06-03, 02:15 PM
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I have a question, too. I dont seem to be able to "skip" channels. Like if there are chanels I hate and never watch, they still show up on my guide and when I flip through channels. I thought going into my favorites menu would stop this, but the channels Ive unchecked still show up. I used to be able to do this on my RCA receiver, but I dont seem to be able to do it on my directivo.
Old 11-06-03, 02:22 PM
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Originally posted by chrisih8u
I have a question, too. I dont seem to be able to "skip" channels. Like if there are chanels I hate and never watch, they still show up on my guide and when I flip through channels. I thought going into my favorites menu would stop this, but the channels Ive unchecked still show up. I used to be able to do this on my RCA receiver, but I dont seem to be able to do it on my directivo.
If you have a DirecTiVo, you need to change it through the display and not the menu. If you bring up the guide, it'll say which button to push to get "display" options. You'll need to change it from the default "channels I receive" (or default might be "all channels") to "favorites".
Old 11-06-03, 02:24 PM
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I think you have to select show all channels or show favorites only.
Old 11-06-03, 02:38 PM
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Holy Crap!!! Thanks Chew and big whoppa!!
Old 11-06-03, 02:52 PM
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Okay, here's one:

The opposite of the above, I receive a channel that's not listed under my cable service but it comes in clear (Fox Sports Net).

Since I need to specify my cable plan to get the tv guides etc, is there a way to manually ADD a channel that's not on there? I'd love to be able to record on this channel, but if not that,at least to watch it though the live tv option.

I suppose I could change the options from "basic" cable to "extended" cable and then set my favorite channels to the ones I receive, but it would be much easer if I could just add a channel instead of having to go thorugh all the ones I don't get.

I don't think this is possible, but anyone know?
Old 11-06-03, 07:47 PM
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Originally posted by spainlinx0
One thing I have always wondered is how you know how much recording time is left on the Tivo. Maybe I'm missing an obvious menu, but I don't know where you can find this info. I have a Directivo unit, series 2 I believe.
The advice I've heard is to let the TiVo or DirecTiVo record suggestions for you. The shows TiVo records for you will have a little TiVo icon next to them in the now playing list (on a DirecTiVo; I assume the stand alones are the same). Since it will try to fill your available space with suggestions, you can get a good guess on how much free space you have by monitoring the amount of suggestions you have recorded. Since they're always the first to go when it needs more space, you don't have to worry about them stealing space from the shows you've asked for. You can have a show sitting around for months and TiVo will always delete a suggestion before deleting your show.
Old 11-06-03, 10:48 PM
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That's a good idea, but very inconvenient. I don't want to count up the hours Tivo has programmed. I want an indicator somewhere.
Old 11-07-03, 10:52 AM
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Originally posted by spainlinx0
That's a good idea, but very inconvenient. I don't want to count up the hours Tivo has programmed. I want an indicator somewhere.
Yup. It's not like this would have been hard to put on there...

They probably programmed it in faster than the person typing out the method above.
Old 11-07-03, 11:09 AM
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It's convenient but does it really matter? If you tell Tivo to record something that'll take up more free space than what is available, Tivo will tell you what programs it will eliminate to make space for for the recording. Then it's your decision to record over the other programs or not record it at all.
Old 11-07-03, 11:22 AM
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Originally posted by big whoppa
It's convenient but does it really matter? If you tell Tivo to record something that'll take up more free space than what is available, Tivo will tell you what programs it will eliminate to make space for for the recording. Then it's your decision to record over the other programs or not record it at all.
Yep. And using the TiVo Suggestions isn't that difficult. At a glance, I can see that it has recorded 10 shows for me, so I know I at least have room for that much stuff.
Old 11-07-03, 02:46 PM
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Originally posted by Thor Simpson
Okay, here's one:

The opposite of the above, I receive a channel that's not listed under my cable service but it comes in clear (Fox Sports Net).

Since I need to specify my cable plan to get the tv guides etc, is there a way to manually ADD a channel that's not on there? I'd love to be able to record on this channel, but if not that,at least to watch it though the live tv option.

I suppose I could change the options from "basic" cable to "extended" cable and then set my favorite channels to the ones I receive, but it would be much easer if I could just add a channel instead of having to go thorugh all the ones I don't get.

I don't think this is possible, but anyone know?
Yup and it's very easy to do. (Although I might not remember exactly where it is). In one of the preferences sub-menus you can edit the channels you receive on a per channel basis. You can just type in the number it will jump to it and you can choose to check or uncheck that channel.

If you think about it this would have to be required if you have pay channels (which I do). When you add HBO or something it's not going to be listed in one of the standard packages so you'll have to add those channels manually.

Also Tivo does NOT automatically add new channels that are in your cable lineup to your listing. You'll get notifications that a channel lineup has changed (and a lot of this is just channels swapping #s or changing names) but sometimes a brand new channel will be added (NBATV for example). Since it's on a brand new channel that you didn't get before you'll only get a notification but it won't show up in your guide. You'll have to manually add the channel to your lineup.

Mordred

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