It sounds like one of the first reported problems with the series 3 TiVo is that the infrared sensor might not work if you have a plasma/LCD TV and set the TiVo close to the TV's own sensor. People are saying it'll require a hardware change to fix and one enterprising owner has already done that on his own (here are the full instructions).
I have a plasma and a series 3, but the TiVo is in a lower cabinet about 8 feet away from the TV, which is mounted back up on a wall. I get great remote coverage, easily out performing the Comcast DVR it replaced. From reading the tivocommunity thread, It's unclear if this is due to certain models, backlights, or just faulty hardware.
If you're running into these issues, be sure to check out the thread on it. [thanks for the tip Wook]
Interesting news/rumor from TechCrunch: Will Tivo box the Amazon Unbox?
Although Amazon's Unbox has already caught some heat for the lame DRM behind it, I have to say I think it'd be a great fit if this turns out to be true. Two years ago, Netflix and TiVo were going to work together but eventually that idea died. Also, Apple entered the fray by announcing the iTV player to come out next spring and Amazon could beat Apple to the punch by using the already-installed hardware of TiVo boxes nationwide.
I'm a big fan of watching stuff on the couch. Currently I run a hacked xbox wired to a plasma TV and I frequently use usenet and bittorrent to grab missed TV shows. I have it completely automated to where I just click a single download link and about ten minutes later I can enjoy it in the living room. Video quality varies but is usually pretty good but I do wish HDTV were possible (and that my xbox had hdmi out).
I don't just download ripped TV shows, I also pay for video downloads. I've got a video ipod and I buy a lot of shows from the iTunes Music Store to enjoy on planes, trains, and automobiles. It is kind of frustrating when you come home and want to finish a show on your TV and instead you have to use a computer.
I'll likely buy an iTV when it comes out, but given Amazon's endless inventory and my already existing TiVo sitting in my living room, I'd go that route as well if it meant quick access to any movie or DVD in their inventory.
The first thing you learn after you get a new Series 3 TiVo is that soon after unpacking the box, your next major hurdle is getting two CableCards from your cable provider so you can get all your HD and pay channels directly from the TiVo.
The TiVo Community boards have loads of threads on the (mis)adventures of getting customer support reps and techs to understand what a CableCard is and how to get one. I'm a Comcast customer trying to get one and I've really enjoyed the official Comcast CableCard Thread.
If you read a few pages of it, you'll find a small number of people are able to pick up CableCards from their local office, plug them in, and call Comcast to instantly activate them, while everyone else is being told only cable technicians can do it. Some are saying only one card was delivered, and lots are finding out there are many bad CableCards on hand. Then there is the pricing. Cruise through a few pages and you'll find people hearing everything from $15/month/card to both cards being free. Installations are running from $75 to $17 to free as well. People are calling Comcast's 1-800 number several times and getting several different prices.
For the record, here's my experience so far:
It sounds like a lot of people in the Seattle area are able to walk in and get perfectly working CableCards. On the whole, Comcast is being weird about this -- it's not rocket science and shouldn't require a tech to install (even those sound way more complicated than they should be).
Here are the main takeaways everyone should keep in mind:
Anyone here have experiences getting a CableCard from their provider for the Series 3?
My TiVo is finally on a truck headed my way, but the buying process was filled with a lot of conflicting information and mismanaged expectations. Instead of making this a big anti-TiVo rant fest, I want to highlight lessons that any company could learn from. Some of these might sound nit-picky, but it's important to always give the customer a clear and consistent message and it would certainly cut down on support costs if buyers weren't in the dark. Support costs money and a lot of it could be avoided by making small changes in email and web server programming.
I'm happy that TiVo's Series 3 sales exceeded expectations and this happens with any highly-anticipated launch (see also: xbox360, Playstation 2, iPods), but I think there are a few small changes that could have gone a long way towards keeping everyone happy and up to date. If the website said "shipping in 5-7 days" and the confirmation emails had information that reflected my order, I'd be a happy camper waiting for my TiVo to arrive sometime today, instead of reading posts on other blogs saying TiVo lied, don't buy from them, and I would have had an easier time lining up a cablecard install appointment.
I ordered a Series 3 TiVo off tivo.com Tuesday morning fully expecting to get it by Friday. It said it would ship in a day or two, and I had overnight shipping. Thursday night, I got an email saying there was "excessive demand" and it would definitely ship Friday (and they'd waive the shipping charges) and I should expect an email. Friday came and went, and there's no email.
Turns out, lots of other people have had the same experience. Gear Live has a good wrap-up of TiVoCommunity threads and an HDbeat editor had the same experience I did. It's looking like no one that ordered online has gotten their new TiVo yet.
It's great to see TiVo have such demand for a high-end product, but I'm shocked at how poorly it is being handled. Everything in business is about managing customer expectations. From the outset, the expectation was set at 1-2 day for shipment and even as the orders poured in, you'd think a dynamic website could be programmed to shift that as the day wore on. Apple is a company that deals with high demand online sales and they're fantastic about estimating when something will be in your hands.
I would have skipped the TiVo.com route and bought one at my local BestBuy, but when I called them last weekend, they said they were only getting a couple units 1-2 weeks later. I'm really surprised to hear the TiVo.com online orders can't be canceled, as that seems borderline illegal for an unshipped unit.
I'm hopeful TiVo turns this all around next week. With all the people calling customer service, they must have gotten the message that they have thousands of disgruntled superfans on their hands, so I'd like to see an honest, accurate email Monday letting me know when I could really expect a unit. I'm glad I didn't schedule any cablecard installers yet, but I did buy a TiVo wireless g adapter from Amazon that is sitting here unused.
While away at a conference this week, I noticed loads of new announcements worth talking about:
Finally, the day I've been waiting almost two years for has arrived: TiVo is selling their HD-ready CableCard ready DVR. At the moment, they're selling with no rebate and no incentives, at $799. The pre-paid monthly plans don't save much money unless you do the 3 year plan, which saves you about $150 in fees.
Considering I pay Comcast $10 a month for a crappy box, I don't mind paying for the TiVo service on top of the price, but hopefully in a few months they'll bring the prices down below $500 with incentives and rebates.
Since I've been waiting forever for the box and keep losing recordings on my Motorola box, I splurged. I'll post a full review after I've had it a few days:
I continued poking around the Circuit City site and found their shopping catalog has a page with the Series 3 marked with "Available in October". Screenshot:
Hopefully they'll be a bit early so I can enjoy the new fall shows on it, but October as a fallback works too.
Reader Ryan sent me a scan of this ad from TiVo (click for full-sized):
This ad ran in a television/advertising trade magazine that I happen to subscribe to, Television Week (September 4, 2006)