Star-Bulletin Features


The next step in recording TV shows
gets rid of those bulky VHS tapes and
brings forth a smart system that will record
shows it THINKS you may want to watch

By Gary C.W. Chun

TiVo looks like the logical next development after the home videotape recorder. Instead of relying on VHS tape, TiVo allows you to digitally record your favorite TV programs on a hard disk (no more worn-out, creased tapes!). And channel surfers have the option of pausing and replaying "live" TV in case of that interrupting telephone call or needed kitchen or bathroom break.

People like Baron Fujimoto, systems administrator at, are finding their viewing habits have changed since they bought into the TiVo digital service, which you may have seen advertised by an instantly recognizable and cartoonish icon on TV.

If you're one of the growing number of local residents who have opted for digital cable television, you'll probably have an easier time using the TiVo service, since the remote control works like a digital cable one.

And Fujimoto finds that TiVo supplements his home cable service.

"You use it like a VCR, and because of its ability to time-shift what you watch, it's more convenient than the standard VCR."

While he found it difficult to program a VCR, manage an unwieldy stack of VHS tapes and was limited to linear tape searches, TiVo provides a digital video recorder with a hard disk that can record up to 60 hours of programming.

The "old" way of recording your TV faves with a VCR was by looking up the program in a television guide and manually programming the recorder, or using the VCR-Plus service, matching a lengthy numerical code with the desired show.

"Using TiVo," Fujimoto said, "I can search for any program by either title, category, channel or time via an on-screen menu and a special remote. It's very user-friendly, where I can record either single instances of shows or what's called 'season passes,' where, say, if I want to record all first-run episodes of 'The Simpsons' or 'The West Wing,' TiVo gives me that feature," even if the program's regular time slot changes.

TiVo has a "WishList" as part of its on-screen menu, where you can find and record programming featuring your favorite actors, directors, categories and even sports teams. (The remote also has specially colored "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" buttons to rate programs it will use as a reference to find and record shows its owner likes, automatically.)

Fujimoto has subscribed to TiVo for more than a year now, opting to pay a one-time, lifetime fee of $249; the other payment option is $12.95 a month. The digital recorder costs an additional $399.99. The system also provides parental controls.

"I rarely watch live TV anymore," he said. "It's easier to watch only the things you want to watch. Right now, it's kind of cultish, like Mac or hybrid car users, but I learned about TiVo from some of the folks here at work. In fact, some of us have pooled our money to buy the TiVo service as a wedding gift!"

For more information, check TiVo's Web site at

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