TiVo's Cable Wrestling Experience

from the user-friendly? dept

One of the big complaints many people have with new gadgets is that designers rush to add in all sorts of new features without ever thinking about the user experience. Here’s a great example of that. A columnist for the San Jose Mercury News details her experience setting up a TiVo. She mentions a “complexity theorem” she has about setting up products – saying that the more cords they have, the more difficult it will be to set up. The TiVo comes with six cords. She found it nearly impossible to set up, and was dismayed by the requirement to hook it up to your telephone jack, as she said her house doesn’t have a telephone jack anywhere near the television. These are valid points. Early adopters may say “so what, it’s worth it”, but your average consumer doesn’t want to spend all that time and effort for a device they still don’t full understand. Now, I know the TiVo is a wonderful invention, but maybe one step needed in convincing more people would be to think a bit more about ways to make the setup much easier.

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Comments on “TiVo's Cable Wrestling Experience”

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Oliver Wendell Jones (profile) says:

Make the effort (or make it worth the effort).

Sure it would be nice if everything you bought came out of the box, plugged into an AC outlet and just *worked* without any other connections, without reading any instructions and without requiring any of your time. And while we’re wishing, I want a pony…

My satellite receiver has a phone jack on the back that is needed for purchasing Pay-Per-View events. I have never in all my years as a satellite subscriber (5+ years) ever purchased a PPV event and probably never will. However, Dish Network recently pushed down a new feature via a firmware update – on screen caller ID. I immediately made the effort to connect a phone cord to all four of my satellite receivers – took all of about 5 minutes each.

I made the effort – because it suddenly became worth the effort.

munich says:

Re: Not THAT much effort if you do some research

The cable issue was one reason why I waited until Tivo was integrated into the satellite set-top box. Not only less cords, but also no more boxes surrounding my TV (DVD, VCR, Stereo receiver, etc.)

I also don’t have a phone connection close, but the thing comes with a 30′ phone cable. Once a week I string the thing to a connector in the next room, hit the “synch” button and wait three minutes to be complete, while watching TV. You really don’t need the phone connected all the time and Tivo tells you that once a week is fine.

tobias d. robison (user link) says:

TiVo does the best it can, good enough for many

So TiVo comes with a bunch of chords and requires a phone hookup. The many wires are there because there is no single standard way to connect TiVo to cable boxes and TVs. They have to offer alternatives.

TiVo makes their need for a phone hookup very clear, and they go to a lot of effort to document you through the connections with “startup” text. They also have an excellent 24/7 help line, and you can buy installation from them if you prefer.

I was mildly daunted by my TiVo package but I worked it out. I would not have been able to use TiVo at all had they sent me only connections for uptodate cable boxes; our cable company uses and oldie.

Some people will fail to manage these installs, but you should not assume this woman speaks for a majority.

Obviously TiVo would sell more units if it simply had one chord you plugged into every TV or cable box, but this is impossible and they are managing pretty well considering.

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