|TiVo Home Media feature/TiVo To Go|
| CNET review|
(5/27/03; updated 2/23/05)
By John P. Falcone
Setup and installation | Music and photo sharing | TiVo To Go | Remote programming | Multiroom viewing | Conclusion
TiVo To Go
TiVo To Go, the latest addition to the Home Media suite, allows you to transfer recorded programs from your TiVo to a networked PC (TiVo says it's working on Mac support). Once the file is on your computer, you can then burn the show onto a DVD using the latest version of Sonic's MyDVD software.
TiVo To Go is included in the latest (2.0 or higher) version of the TiVo Desktop software, which is available at the company's Web site. You'll also need to have your Media Access Key handy, which can be found on your TiVo or on TiVo Central Online.
To transfer a show, click "Pick recordings to transfer" from the TiVo Desktop. A new window is launched, and a list of programs on your TiVo is created. After that, simply check the boxes of the programs you'd like to transfer and hit Start Transfer. Occasionally, we experienced an error indicating a bad network connection, but restarting the program usually did the trick.
The biggest drawback to TiVo To Go is its transfer speeds. If you put a premium on picture quality, you'll have to wait a while to get your shows. For larger files, such as movies, we found it best to just set it up to transfer overnight, as the wait can be several hours.
30-minute show over an 802.11b wireless network
¹Transfer between a TiVo (wireless) and notebook PC (wired)
²Transfer between a TiVo (wireless) and notebook PC (wireless)
In our tests, a wireless TiVo and wired PC network setup yielded near real-time transfer times (see the third column in the chart above); an all-Ethernet configuration showed similar results. That means--unlike streaming video on the Web, for instance--you need to give your show a few minutes' head start if you want to watch it straight through. Using an all-wireless network--a wireless adapter on the TiVo and a wireless notebook PC--slowed transfer times significantly (the fourth column). It was unclear if this was a TiVo To Go issue, or a bandwidth limitation on our wireless router.
TiVo is adding support for 802.11g wireless adapters, but early firmware upgrades show no significant improvement on transfer times. Ideally, TiVo will ratchet up transfer speeds in a future firmware upgrade.
To play a transferred show, you need only select the show on the TiVo Desktop and click Play. You're immediately prompted to enter the password you set during installation. This copyright protection device occurs every time you want to play a TiVo file on your computer. We used Windows Media Player, but any DirectShow-compatible software should work.
Playback of the video is smooth, although we have noticed some lip-sync issues. Unfortunately, the only way we've found to fix this is to start the recording over; simply pausing and restarting won't help.
If you notice that your transferred files are extremely quiet even with the Windows Media Player volume maxed out, check your Preferences on the TiVo Desktop. You can adjust the audio boost on the playback of all your TiVo files. We found that 5.0x worked the best for us.
TiVo has partnered with Sonic MyDVD to offer DVD burning capabilities for TiVo To Go. Unfortunately, other DVD-burning programs are not currently supported, and many users (including us) in the TiVo Community Forum have found it difficult to configure the program. Make sure you take advantage of the 15-day free trial before you spend the $50 to buy it.
Once you load the TiVo file into Sonic, the video is editable, so you can remove commercials before you burn. The process was a little difficult because MyDVD's preview window was slow to update for us, but it worked fine with a little patience. Before a TiVo file can be burned on a DVD, it must be transcoded; this process can take several hours, even on a fast computer. The program is then burned on a DVD that can be played on most set-top DVD players.
John P. Falcone, an associate editor for CNET Reviews, no longer owns a VCR. Have a question for him? Let us know!