Dan Costa just wrote a good piece about what he expects to be a resurgence of TiVo DVRs in the face of cable DVRs. It’s on the PC Magazine website. He’s on to what I consider to be one of the most important issues in the differentiation between a cable DVR and a TiVo: a TiVo isn’t just a DVR. Many people think that a DVR is basically a generic box, and that TiVo has become the name for the box since it was the first large brand name in the field. Part of that is true, but TiVo has evolved far, far beyond just being a DVR, and that’s where the real issue is. A TiVo doesn’t just have a nicer interface and a much better remote than a cable DVR (although those are both true and important aspects of the experience). Simply put, the term DVR really undersells what a TiVo does. Here’s a quick, incomplete list of features on a TiVo that far outstrip anything on a cable DVR, and also most satellite DVRs:
- Amazon Unbox – Want something that isn’t being broadcast currently, like an old movie, or a super-new one? Likely, it’s here.
- Streaming music from a PC or Mac – Your TiVo is attached to your stereo receiver, so use your computer’s storage, and ditch the CD player or iPod dock. This is much better.
- Online Scheduling – Schedule shows from your web browser. Don’t type with the remote! (some satellite DVRs are getting this)
- Videocasts – More and more good, high quality content is available, and much, much more is coming. Do you want it on your PC or your TV?
- Transfer video to your computer – Burn DVDs, or take your laptop on a plane with shows you’ve recorded on your TiVo.
That’s really just a partial list, but these are some of the features I use that cable DVRs just don’t have. The TiVo isn’t just a DVR anymore.