TiVo - buy out right or subscription?
August 11, 2004 7:03 PM   Subscribe

I'm in the market for a TiVo recorder. Should I pay the $299 one time fee or pay the $12.95 monthly subscription fee? Common sense says that if I have it for at least two years that the lump sum is the way to go, but I'm afraid that in that amount of time, TiVos will have gone the way of the MiniDisc. Should I have asked this question two years ago?
posted by ColdChef to Shopping (10 answers total)
I asked that question two years ago, ColdChef, and am pretty glad that I picked the lump sum answer. Of course, Tivo has more competition these days, from digital cable boxes with Tivo-like features and other things, and their stock isn't doing too well lately, so the next two years may be very different. Tivo-esque services are here to stay (subject to the DMCA and Hollywood's legions of lobbyists) but it's not at all clear that Tivo itself will last. So I guess the question boils down to: do you feel lucky, chef?
posted by Zonker at 7:33 PM on August 11, 2004

Two years ago it was basically a no-brainer, but it's unfortunately a much tougher question now. Even TiVo doesn't necessarily expect to be in the hardware business for the long run--I understand that their back-up plan is to be a service provider and live within the boxes that the cable/sat companies distribute.

I'm expecting Matt might have an informed opinion on the topic.
posted by LairBob at 7:48 PM on August 11, 2004

tivo's actually 100 bucks cheaper now, so maybe it's worth it? I'm waiting for my cable service (Time Warner) to make it more worth my while pricewise to get one of theirs.
posted by amberglow at 8:31 PM on August 11, 2004

I've gotten a new one every two years, so I've never really considered the lifetime option as a good deal, but then I've got upgrade fever.
posted by mathowie at 8:35 PM on August 11, 2004

You take the hard drives out before throwing them away, right Matt? If not, what a waste.
posted by Keyser Soze at 9:05 PM on August 11, 2004

amber, you can get a TW DVR even with extended standard cable now, I think, call 'em and ask.

I got my free TiVo thanks to Kottke and MeFi and I've kept paying the $13 fee since '00. I've had two TiVo modems die on me (including the box I have right now), this problem only affects Series 1 models, so I guess with a Series 2 getting a Lifetime (of the box) subscription might make sense.
posted by riffola at 12:23 AM on August 12, 2004

We got a dual tuner (you can record TWO PROGRAMS AT ONCE! OMFG.) TiVo thrhough DirecTV; I think it was $100 for the machine and about $5 monthly for the TiVo service. (This could have been a special promotion.) It kicks ass; go the dual tuner route if you can. The upstairs TiVo (don't say it) has one tuner but a big fat upgraded hard drive, which I also recommend.
posted by mimi at 6:27 AM on August 12, 2004

If you can get DirecTV, the combination DirecTV/TiVo units are the way to go, and they also answer your question nicely, because there are no pricing options. You have a choice between $5 or $6/mo, or free, depending on how many premium channels you have. These combo units tend to be cheaper than standard TiVos, and as a bonus they can record two channels at once.

If you don't want/can't get DirecTV, the lifetime versus monthly choice is just a coin toss. Personally, I'd go lifetime, if only because you have a very decent shot of recovering a good piece of it on ebay, if you decide to switch to a digital cable based pvr system.
posted by mosch at 6:37 AM on August 12, 2004

I'd go lifetime, if only because you have a very decent shot of recovering a good piece of it on ebay, if you decide to switch to a digital cable based pvr system.

So lifetime is tied to the machine, but transferable to other parties?
posted by rschroed at 7:09 AM on August 12, 2004

I wouldn't pay the lifetime fee. Who knows where TiVo will be in a year or two. And $12.95 is the cheapest bill I pay, deducted directly from my credit card.
posted by agregoli at 7:41 AM on August 12, 2004

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