TiVo offered PVR services in Australia, and while it has been many years since you could buy one, the EPG service that powered it ran for nine years.
TiVo is the brand name of a line of innovative digital video recorders (DVR) to help you find, record and watch your favourite TV shows. Launched in the United States in 1999 by TiVo Inc., TiVo quickly became hugely popular with consumers right across the country.
However, it wasn’t until 2008 that the first TiVo unit was sold in Australia. Promoted as being much more than your average DVR, TiVo media devices connect to your TV and allow you to pause, rewind and record live TV. Specifically, the third generation TiVo model was launched in Australia in two different storage capacities, along with an expansion drive if you purchased the smaller 320GB hard drive.
With a handy seven-day electronic program guide (EPG), TiVo allowed you to plan your free-to-air viewing for the week ahead. You could quickly and easily select multiple shows to record well in advance, and even set up the recording of a particular show’s entire season.
With a 320GB hard drive, the TiVo media device sold in Australia allowed you to record up to 120 hours of Standard Definition television or up to 60 hours of HD television.
What features did TiVo offer?
TiVo records digitised video onto a hard disk drive. You could record any free-to-air programs you wish and then watch them at a time that suited you. If the 320GB hard drive was not big enough for your requirements, a 1TB expansion drive was available from Western Digital.
The digital video service incorporates a digital set-top box and supports HD and SD television in 1080i, 720p, 576p and 576i formats. It can be connected to your TV and sound system by using any of the following cables:
- Composite A/V
- Component video
- HDMI cable
- S-Video cable
- Digital optical audio out
Using broadband internet, TiVo could also go online to provide up to date information for the electronic program guide. Once your TiVo was connected, it worked in a similar way to any other DVR, but it also allowed you to pause and rewind live TV.
You could quickly and easily select multiple programs to record, or simply start watching TV as you normally would. TiVo also allowed you to set up your WishList to search for shows in your favourite genre, featuring your favourite actors or simply related to a specific keyword.
For example, you could search for any upcoming programming starring Angelina Jolie or related to the keyword ‘cooking’, and any shows which match your specifications would be automatically scheduled for recording.
Another feature of Tivo is the Season Pass option. This allowed you to record every episode in an entire season of your favourite show, without you having to check the guide every week and go through the hassle of programming the recorder. All you had to do is nominate a program and then select the Season Pass feature. TiVo could also ensure that each recording starts early and finishes late so you don’t miss a second of the action.
Parents could also take advantage of TiVo’s KidZone feature to control the programs their children watch. KidZone gave you the power to lock out certain programs and channels, set the maximum classification your children could view or even limit viewing to pre-recorded programs only. This gave extra peace of mind to worried parents, as only people with the password can could changes to the KidZone settings.
Can I stream off TiVo?
Over its service life, TiVo offered video streaming through its own in-house Caspa streaming service, and later on via Quickflix, with a range of TV shows and movies on offer.
Can I buy a TiVo?
While the TiVo brand launched with a flourish back in 2008, it has been a number of years since TiVo PVRs were sold in Australia. In the US, the brand has flourished and released updated models with more tuners and functions, including the addition of streaming services such as Netflix.
However, the brand never really took off in Australia, and was arguably a little ahead of its time. The newer models were never released in Australia, and just recently Hybrid TV, the licensors of the TiVo brand in Australia announced they were closing the EPG service by 31 October 2017.
This was the final death knell for TiVo in Australia, because for the small number of existing users, it meant that the smart software that made TiVo stand out would be effectively lobotomised. You could still manually program start/stop times, a la an old school VCR, but that's not the point of TiVo.
I've still got a TiVo. What are my other options?
PVRs as a category are very small in Australia. TiVo in Australia is running a promotion with Fetch TV for the Fetch TV Mighty Box, which performs many of the same functions, offering a $100 discount if purchased through Harvey Norman online.
You do have to have connected your TiVo to the EPG in the last six months however, so if your TiVo died years ago you can't get the discount.
Outside Fetch Mighty, if subscription television is of interest, Foxtel's IQ3 box is your other obvious contender. If like many you've switched from time-shifting free to air TV (the primary function of a PVR, after all) to streaming services, you could consider the Apple TV, Google's Chromecast, Fetch's own Fetch TV Mini or Telstra's Telstra TV set top box. We've compared all four streaming box solutions here.
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