TiVo For Dummies Review

TiVo For Dummies
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TiVo For Dummies ReviewAn up-front caveat - I served as the Technical Editor for this book, so I can share the blame for any outright errors... I have no financial stake in sales of the book. That said, on with the review.
When I was first approached regarding "TiVo For Dummies", I was skeptical. I was an experienced TiVo user and I thought that the TiVo manual was pretty good. I wondered what such a book could add to be worth paying for. The answer turned out to be "a lot".
As easy as TiVo is to use, it is sufficiently different from the familiar VCR as to confuse many who are new to the concept of a PVR. I have seen many newcomers to "The TiVolution" plea for help with such subjects as: wiring to an existing system, setting up a Season Pass for unusual situations, tweaking the TiVo's settings to match personal preferences, using the networking options and expanding storage capacity. Andy Rathbone covers all these topics and more in a breezy, comforting style that is never condescending (the "For Dummies" in the title is not to be taken literally.)
"TiVo For Dummies" opens with a helpful introduction to the world of PVRs, and TiVo in particular. TiVo is a hard thing to explain to someone who hasn't used one. "It's a VCR with a hard disk!" Yawn. "Pause Live TV!" In the past, this has been argued as a big selling point of TiVo, but to my mind, it is one of the less interesting features. "Record your favorite shows, no matter when they're on!" Now you're talking. "Record shows you like that you didn't even know were on!" Say what??? (This is one of my favorite reasons to love TiVo.) Rathbone explains TiVo in a way that most readers will "get" - a worthy result in itself.
After discussion of the various types of TiVo boxes, the book walks you through installation and setup, with detailed explanations of many different configurations that go far beyond the manual's "reference book" approach. Next comes the most useful part - how to best take advantage of TiVo's many features to enhance your life. Really, most people who have TiVo will tell you that it makes TV so much more enjoyable, especially as you are freed from the tyranny of the networks' schedules. Rathbone illustrates clever uses of TiVo's options, some I had never considered before.
The next several chapters cover the TiVo Home Media Option (HMO), which uses a network connection to share recorded shows with other TiVos in your house and to view pictures and listen to music stored on your PC. At the time the book was written, HMO was an extra-cost option, but now it is free with the standard service. Rathbone walks you through setting up the network and enabling the feature, and then discusses various TiVo and non-TiVo tools for sending pictures and music to the TiVo.
The last major section of the book talks about upgrading the disk space on a TiVo, (easy to do if you are comfortable with adding a disk to a PC), and troubleshooting common problems.
The book ends with a collection of short chapters filled with tips and tricks, and some reference material, such as the differences between TiVo and a generic PVR.
If you are looking for information about "hacking" your TiVo, modifying it to do strange new things, this book is not for you - there are a couple of other good books on that topic, such as "Hacking TiVo" by Jeff Keegan. But if you are relatively new to TiVo, "TiVo For Dummies" will significantly enhance your TiVo experience and will reduce, if not eliminate, the small frustrations that some run into. Giving TiVo as a gift? "TiVo for Dummies" makes a great accompaniement!
And if you don't have a TiVo yet - read this book and see what you're missing! Chances are, you will soon be joining the TiVolution on your own.TiVo For Dummies Overview

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