Jan 8, 2012

2012 TiVo Premiere: Prettier, Snappier, and 33% Appier

This sentence contains so many caveats, I don't think it exists at all.
As a long-time TiVo zealot and a regular follower of the @tivodesign Twitter feed, I was given a bit of a preview to the recent major update for the TiVo Premiere (20.2-01-2-746). Once the update was downloaded and installed, the final step was a full reboot. Now, TiVo’s don’t reboot very often reboot. My old Series 2 TiVo (circa 2006) would go months between reboots (and then only because there was a blip in the power). So, needing to force a reboot of my Premiere made me kind of nervous -- kind of like there was no going back, you know? However, I steeled myself to the danger and rebooted.

Time is On My Side. Yes it Is.

A few minutes after power-up I noticed an addition to the static startup screens telling me this update could take "up to an hour, possibly longer" to complete. Not sure if it was created specifically for this update, but I think it was. I waited...about 15 minutes. I'd been lied to! My update didn’t take an hour; not even close. What, was Scotty in charge of this project? I estimated the time from reboot to the TiVo menu was less than 15 minutes. Not sure if that was due to me having a preview release, or because the TiVo graphics department was grossly overstating the situation. But I was pleased with the speed of the update regardless. So then I was like 'Okay, I thought, lets light this candle!'. Then I thought that 'light this candle' was a pretty lame expression. Then I thought about sandwiches. Anyway, back to this TiVo sandwich, er, update....

More HD in the HD UI. Well, Sort Of....

Most of the sub-menus still partied like it was 1999.
Having passed the time-to-update test with flying colors, I started looking for new stuff (release notes are for sissies). The first thing I noticed was the speed of the HD menu navigation. Though is still wasn’t instantaneous by any means, the navigation was a lot snappier than it had been. They even added a subtle whooshy animation to each screen change. Looked like they also added some more HD menus (when the Premiere was first released, only a few of the menu screens were in HD; all others were SD and not really formatted for a widescreen). Now the channel guide was now in HD (which was great) and some of the tertiary menu screens (e.g. Settings, Account Info, Amazon Video), well, they were let's say "HD Flavored". While they did get a fancy new TiVo icon, and appeared to be slightly higher-res versions of their predecessors, the text still seemed slightly squished and the little video window did not appear on these menu screens. But the guide was nice, I guess.

The New HD Info Discovery Beard Bar.

Once I got my fill of the menu changes, I took a look at the on-screen info bar. Since the beginning, the bar had appeared at the top of the screen and could be set to give more or less information -- thereby making the bar larger or smaller -- about whatever show was currently playing. Post update, the bar appeared at the bottom and, while still being available in two sizes, always seemed to default to the large size. This could be irritating because it obscures the bottom 50% of the screen.

"I get it. The Discovery Bar is HD now. Super. But the ladies can't see my beard."

There is a smaller info bar available, but the only way I was able to get to it was to hit the TiVo button and then the Live TV button. There may be another way to get to it, but I couldn’t find it. Even if there were, I still don't know why TiVo felt the need to move the info bar to the bottom of the screen. Were there a lot requests for that? I suspect it's just a solution looking for a problem. But I guess I'll get used to it.

TiVo Apps and The TiVo Apps...yeah I know, it's weird.

Pandering to a lucrative youth market? There's an app for that.
TiVo provides an SDK for developers to create their own TiVo applications. They've been doing this since the Series 2. These custom applications were called "Home Network Applications" (or HME's). But these days the kids are all about the iPhones and whatnot. So TiVo changed the name from "Home Network Applications" to simply "TiVo Apps" (or "TiVo Apps").

Now, there's another kind of app that's actually made by TiVo. That one is called "The Tivo App". This is a smartphone app and the kind  most the young hipsters think of when they hear the word (they also think tongue piercings are 'cool', but that's a whole other issue). The "The TiVo App" was developed by TiVo themselves and is provided for free for the iPad, iPhone, and (just recently announced) Android. Oh, and there's the "TiVo Desktop App"...but let's not get too far off track. Suffice to say TiVo does more than most people think it does.

So that's my initial musings on the first major update for the TiVo Premier. In short: It's Prettier, Snappier, and at least 33% Appier. I know I already said that, but I thought it was clever enough to say again.

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