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August 30, 2015

What JJ is thankful for

by JJ Hawkins, posted Nov 20th 2007 4:41PM
TV Squad TurkeySeveral of my colleagues here at TV Squad have listed personal video recorders as one of the things they're most thankful for this holiday season.

I wholeheartedly agree with them and think the list could even be extended a little bit further.

We live in an age where our televisions, computers, cellphones, PDAs, PMPs, video game consoles, and a myriad of other products can all communicate with other devices wirelessly and at broadband speeds - all in the pursuit of making the TV watching experience as convenient as possible.

From a technology perspective, it's never been a better time to be a fan of watching TV. Here is a list of the TV related items I'm most thankful for this holiday season.

1. Dual Tuner TiVo (and a cellphone)

TiVo Central on an iPhoneEarlier this year, the wife, the toddler, and I decided to go visit a friend who lives about three hours away.

At some point during the drive it occurred to me that I failed to set the TiVo to record some program that the Mrs. really, really wanted to watch.

I panicked for a split second, then calmly pulled out the old cellphone, fired up the web browser, headed to the TiVo Central website, and scheduled the show to record.

An email confirmation arrived a few minutes later and let me know the show was set to record. I confidently drove the rest of the way knowing I didn't let my wife down. Crisis and potential fight averted... ("You remember to record every OU football game, but you can't record one episode of Oprah for me when I ask you to!?!?!?")

While there's a multitude of other reasons I'm thankful for TiVo, remote scheduling is the one that sticks out in my mind the most. TiVo provides me with an unprecedented amount of flexibility when it comes to watching the shows I want to watch.

Which leads me to point two.

2. Content on Demand

Xbox 360 Download CenterBetween my networked TiVo, Xbox 360, the cable companies set-top-box, and personal computers, I count no less than four ways I can access television content on an on demand basis.

Occasionally, you completely forget to record a program or you encounter a rare instance where three to four shows air in the same time slot when your PVR can only record two.

I find a certain comfort knowing that should I inadvertently miss an episode of a show, there's a good chance I can download the show a la carte, watch it at my leisure, and continue along with the season like I never missed a beat. Throw Bit Torrent into the equation for those shows that aren't available on demand and there's really no reason for anyone to be missing TV episodes these days.

iPod Classic, Zune, iPhone3. Portable Media Players

Some may argue that their PVRs cause them to watch less TV because tit allows them to cram three hours of programming into about two hours (sans commercials).

I disagree. I actually find myself recording more television than ever. The only real difference is I end up watching it at peculiar times during the day.

Case in point, I routinely transfer shows from my TiVo or downloaded shows from iTunes to a portable media player and watch them at various intervals during the day.

I can catch up on the news while standing in line at the grocery store, watch an episode of America's Next Top Model while waiting at the doctors office, or glance intermittently at an episode of Cathouse while barreling down the freeway. Um, you didn't read that last part...

4. TV on DVD

Heroes Season 1 on DVDThere's times when I completely miss the boat when it comes to a television series.

I've never seen an episode of Grey's Anatomy, failed to realize Nip/Tuck was a quality show until season three had elapsed, and did the same thing with the critically acclaimed Damages.

I also don't subscribe to Showtime so I've also missed out on great shows like Weeds and Dexter.

The only reason this is palatable is because I haven't really missed out on anything. These days, it seems like a season hardly ends before it's available on Amazon.

Sure, you typically have to pay a pretty penny to get an entire season of a show on DVD but it usually ends up being well worth it. Factor in the fact that Netflix has most seasons available on a disc by disc basis and TV on DVD becomes an even better option for catching up on missed shows.

5. High Definition Programming


Pores, pimples, sunspots, birthmarks, bruises, cataracts, moles, wrinkles, bumps, and sties. Did I leave anything out?

Television has never been viewed in better clarity and based on the list of skin blemishes mentioned above, I haven't quite decided if that's a good thing or not

All kidding aside, every other month my local cable company is adding another network to an ever expanding list of high definition channels. If you haven't yet made the jump to HD what are you waiting for? Move on to number six.

6. Ridiculously low prices on HD LCD Sets

Vizio LogoThere are some phenomenal deals to be had on high definition television panels these days. The deals get even better if you're willing to try out a slightly lesser known brand like Vizio, Westinghouse, or Olevia instead of the bigger brands like Sony, Samsung, and Phillips.

I fancy myself a bit of a technophile and I'm perfectly content with the picture quality found on a 37", 720p, Vizio LCD that I picked up from Wally World when my old TV went on the fritz.

If you don't feel like shopping at a brick and mortar, most of the online deal sites do a great job of keeping consumers apprised of HD panels that cost less than a grand.

7. Slingbox Pro

TiVo over the Slingbox

Last but certainly not least is the Slingbox Pro. If you're on the move regularly, it is by far the best option to get content from your home pushed to wherever you may be in the world.

For instance, I spent a week in Italy late last month. Television in Italy was pretty much torture, but with the aid of a Slingbox Pro, a wifi connection in the hotel room, and a laptop, I was able to keep up with the content on my TiVo and set-top-box back in the states.

All in all, I only watched about two shows (who watches TV when they're in Italy?) but it sure was nice having the option available to me.

If Sling media releases the rumored iPhone client that's been whispered about on the web, my life as I know it just might cease to be. Death by television. If anyone could do it, it would be me.

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My boss loved his Tivo, but was not happy with it - felt it could be beefed up. He researched the issue and decided to build his own. He calls it the Free-vo (although it cost almost 2k with components and software). It can record 8 channels simultaneously and stores over 1000 hours of HD programming. He can access it over the web to make changes. Damn thing is cool.

November 21 2007 at 11:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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