Forgotten Technology Series: What to Do With TiVo? Beep-Boop

Forgotten Technology - TiVo

Unfortunately, in this modern world of technology that we live in, one great idea is usually quickly replaced by something bigger and better just a few years later. If the original tech company doesn’t pivot quickly with their product, they get bypassed — and they become forgotten technology.

But just because these relatively forgotten pieces of technology are no longer as important as they once were, or if other technology has left them in their wake, it doesn’t mean you should discard them. A little creative thinking and some technical know-how will help you turn forgotten technology into useful new features in your life.

Welcome to the Forgotten Technology Series

This is the first of a series of articles we’re going to write on what to do with forgotten technology. This handful of things we’ve been trained to think we no longer need can still help you in your everyday life.

TiVo: The First Digital Video Recorder

Still, to this day, when I say I’m going to record a show or a movie, I say, “I’m going to ‘TiVo‘ it.” Unfortunately, when a brand becomes a generic term, that’s usually a very bad sign for the brand. It means you no longer really care about the brand, you just care about the job it does, which means you’ll take any substitute. (See: Kleenex, Band-Aid and Aspirin.)

TiVo replaced the term, “Just tape it,” as they were the first programmable digital video recorders, soon to be replaced by DVRs provided by Cable TV providers at a cheaper price, rolled into their cable bill.

Actually, TiVo is still thriving in some countries, and it does run with most DirecTV Satellite TV receivers. (The TiVo Roamio is also pretty cool, as it works as a combination of a DVR and a streaming set-top box.) But if you bought a TiVo DVR back in the early 2000s, like I did, then you likely stopped paying the monthly service, and it’s gathering dust in one of your closets.

How to Use TiVo Today?

Not everyone has a DVR in every bedroom. As a matter of fact, most just have one out in the living room, and everyone else either has a regular cable box hooked up to their bedroom TVs, or they are directly connected to the wall outlet.

If you hook your TiVo up to the wall outlet, or connect it from the cable box, and then to the TV, you can still use it as a DVR. The only issue is — you won’t have a channel guide to see what’s currently on TV or what’s coming up on TV. The remote control, however, is usually much better than the one provided by the Cable TV provider, though.

Put it in your kid’s bedroom, and set it to record their favorite cartoons (you’ll have to just manually set the recording to automatically happen each day, like you used to do with your VCR). Or you can set it up to record movies you don’t own, and want to keep.

In some cases, you may not be able to get through the guided setup for your TiVo if you don’t have a subscription plan and are connected to the Internet. If that’s the case, search around the Internet for workarounds, and at worst, you’ll just be able to use it as a live TV recorder, which gives you pause, rewind and fast-forward ability.

If you can’t get past the guide setup, consider signing up, paying for a month, then cancelling it once it’s all set up. Sure, it’s kind of a harsh workaround that might tiptoe around the ethics of the situation, but in reality, you bought the device (a hard drive) and you should be able to use it regardless of if you pay for a service or not. That’s like throwing out your cell phone because you switched providers.

On a side note, Suddenlink just became the largest Cable TV provider to allow their TiVo-enabled set-top boxes to provide direct access to Netflix. Suddenlink came in third in the Netflix ISP Speed Index from March.