Friday, April 22, 2011

TiVo is Great!

Now that we have used out TiVo for three months, it has become an integral part of our TV viewing experience. It is a great supplement for over the air broadcast TV. The ability to watch programs at more convenient times and to access streaming content are key features.

My wife is not comfortable with a lot of technology, and she can use the TiVo for what she needs without any problem. She even said last night that she would like a TiVo box for our TV in out bedroom.

Our six year old grandson has a TiVo at home and is a whiz with it - of course.

Vudu vs. Netflix updated

The performance of both Vudu and Netflix streaming has improved with the installation of powerline Ethernet. You make an explicit choice of quality with Vudu and pay more for higher quality. However, it is difficult (or not possible) to downgrade to a lower quality, once a higher level of quality has been selected.

Netflix tests your link at the beginning of each film and sends you the best quality that it believes that you can support. It is automatic and will back down automatically if the link degrades while streaming.

I like the Netflix approach best. However, I think that Vudu generally provides better video quality. However, Netflix is certainly good enough and I would not choose to buy a Vudu film rather than watching it on Netflix. I would watch Vudu only if content I wanted to see was not available from Netflix.

Replacement VBR231 Blue Ray Player Arrived

After three weeks, I received a replacement VBR231. It works well. The Powerline Ethernet really improves the quality of streaming compared to WiFi in my home. I was able to watch Vudu content with 720p HD. Vudu said that its 1080p service would work for me, but that did not proved to be the case in operation. 720p is a big upgrade over SD.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Vizio VBR231 Blu-ray Player Failed

Just after installing the TiVo, my Vizio VBR Blu-ray play failed. I did knock the HDMI connector out of the Vizio while installing. After reinstalling the HDMI connector, the Blu-ray would not work. It would show the Vizio logo after powering on and then the screen would go blank and the TV indicated that it had lost the HDMI signal.

After some testing to verify that the HDMI cable was working OK, Vizio agreed to send me another VBR231 as a warranty  replacement. I have sent them the broken player and am now waiting for the new one.

This will be my third VBR231. The first one was an out-of-box failure. The second one failed after less than six months of use. This does not bode well for this product.

Powerline Ethernet

I bought a pair of Western Digital Livewire Powerline Ethernet adapters to connect my TiVo to my home network. I had to plug the Livewire adapter into a power strip, which Western Digital does not recommend. The Geek Squad person at Best Buy told me that it would work fine. He was right. I get better than 180 Mbps out of a possible 200 Mbps through the power strip and the extension cord that connects it to the outlet.

All I had to do was to plug in the adapters, and they worked. Their performance as seen from the TiVo has been great! I recommend this approach.

The Livewire adapter that is connected to my broadband router is plugged directly into a wall outlet. I tried connecting it to another power strip and the perfomance dropped to 40 Mbps. It looks like it is a good idea to plug the router side adapter directly into a wall outlet.

I selected the Livewire because's reviews showed that it had the best performance for units that have multiple ports. Having multiple ports will let me connect both my TiVo and my Blu-ray play to the Ethernet network.

TiVo Installation Problems

I ordered the TiVo with a TiVo N Wireless Adapter. I was not able to get it to work. It was apparent to me early on that the adapter was not working. It took me most part of a day on the phone with TiVo support to convince them of that fact.

TiVo sent me another TiVo N Wireless Adapter. This one worked, but its performance was not adequate to support the TiVo. I solved the problem with Powerline Ethernet adapters.

It appears that it is not possible to test the TiVo N Wireless Adapter from a PC. I thought that this would be a good way to confirm the operation of the adapter, but it just would not work for me.

I think that TiVo should provide diagnostics to confirm the Internet connection during the startup phase for the TiVo. These diagnostics are only available after the startup phase has completed. A diagnostic procedure that would identify Internet connection issues at the start of the startup phase would make it much easier to resolve these problem.

New TiVo

I now have a TiVo Premier XL, which has a 1 TB drive. I wanted the ability to record shows for watching at more convenient times. The TiVo integrates Internet TV content with the broadcast TV and makes it easier and more convenient to switch between them. So far the TiVo has provided a real step up in our TV viewing experience.