Review: TiVo Series2 DT DVR - InformationWeek

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Review: TiVo Series2 DT DVR

It's the same TiVo you know and love, but with the new ability to record two channels at once.

With the latest release of TiVo's $99.99-and-up dual channel DVR, complete with an Ethernet port, these recorders are really hitting their stride. The ability to record on more than one channel at a time makes the TiVo experience much more useful and less frustrating. And if that's not enough channels for you, the ability to control as many household units as you want from the Internet means that you can record as many channels as you can afford TiVos for -- a TV reviewer's dream.

Setup for the Series2 DT was a snap, despite my attempts to plug cables into the wrong ports, not having a phone line for it to get its programming information over, and my decision to use TiVo's wireless adapter right from the start.

On the last unit I set up, a phone line was required for initial communication with TiVo central, and TiVo's own USB Wi-Fi adapters were backordered, leaving me to hunt for a rare compatible adaptor. Once I got that one to work, it worked fine, but I was relieved to see that setting up the new unit was literally a matter of plugging it in and using the remote control to answer a few easy questions, including my zip code and type of cable access.

It took less than a half hour to hook up and download its programming information. The unit had no trouble finding the wireless TiVo adapter plugged into a USB port on the back.

Once up and running, I went looking for competing shows to record, and found it easy to schedule multiple shows with the remote. The program information display includes a note that you can switch tuners by pressing the "Live TV" button, which allows them to use the same "peanut" controller that they've been using.

Making The Idiot Box Less Idiotic

Scheduling shows from the TiVo Web site is even easier than doing it with the remote -- especially since you don't have to use arrow keys to pick out letters for show names.

If you've got multiple units on your account, you can assign names to each, and tell them which machine records which show. You could use the multi-room viewing feature to watch content on one unit in another room, but I like the idea that you can spread out the recording by area. It's a terrific feature if you've got a family full of individualists.

While the Series2 DT DVR does a great job with "basic cable inputs," digital cable subscribers can record only one channel at a time. TiVo claims that the higher number of channels available only to digital subscribers tend to replay the same content at different times, making the dual channels redundant.

The new features on the Series2 DT DVR are all welcome -- especially the ability to record two cable channels (or watch live TV while recording) and the out-of-the-box network compatibility, which anyone without a plain old telephone line will appreciate. Otherwise it's just a Series2 DVR with a shiny new brushed aluminum faceplate, and still works as well as ever.

TiVo claims that you'll soon be able to record programs directly from some Verizon cell phones. The company also claims it will unveil a service called TiVo KidZone, which is designed to let parents block shows they feel are inappropriate for children. Both these new services will work with the Series2.

If TiVo wants to add more features, I'd like them to consider making it able to play music and show pictures from your networked computer at the same time. I love the ability to show pictures from my computer over the TiVo, which makes "slide shows" much more bearable for my friends, but right now you can either show pictures or play music and I want to do both. Speaking of pictures, you can access your Yahoo Photos from the TiVo, though they haven't integrated the popular site, which Yahoo owns as well, at this time. I'd also like a TiVo keyboard and Web-surfing capability, but maybe adding those would mean acknowledging that it's really a Linux media pc in PVR clothing. The price is $199.99 for the unit with 180-hours of storage, or $99.99 for the 80-hour, both prices only after a $150 rebate and service activation.

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