Tivo is often praised for it's superior user interface. Here are some of the problems and issues you haven't heard about.
- Tivo can not be easily setup without a phone line. Yes there are tricks to do this and sometimes they even work but it's amazing that it's 2005 and the only way to setup Tivo is with a land-line. The software to use a network card is there, but it's not being used. Along similar lines a network adapter costs about $1.50 to add to the motherboard. Why isn't this standard on new boxes?
- Tivo's initial user experience requires you to wait 4-8 hours! For some reason Tivo needs a lot of time to process something and you can't start using it for the first 4-8 hours. I can't imagine what it's processing but for an initial use you want it working out of the box.
- Overall Performance is slow. Menus and especially the TV-guide is particularly slow. You can actually see it rendering the grid of programming. Yuck. The TV guide experience should be as attractive and smooth as ESPN sports scores. The TV experience should extend to every aspect of the software.
- When you have 10 or more season passes rearanging them can stall the system for several minutes. This is a particular area of performance that is much worse then the rest.
- When you schedule a show it's quite common for the TV networks to be a minute or two off. TiVo allows you to compensate and record a few minutes early or a few minute later. The problem is that you don't want to always schedule extra minutes because sometimes shows are scheduled back to back and scheduling extra minutes will cause the other show to be canceled. Tivo should auto-pad a couple minutes if there isn't a back-to-back show. When you play a show it would start from the official start time but allow you to rewind the extra minute if needed.
- TiVo desktop needs to be re-written and simplified. It's currently a messy application that is fairly confusing. I may pick this apart in a future post but there are a large number of problems with the desktop application. Adding photos and music is confusing and transfering shows and actually playing them is hard. The simplicity of the tivo interface should be caried into the PC space. There's no reason the PC experience has to be difficult.
- Music or Photos - Even though the feature is called Music & Photos it seems that no one thought about these two things together. It sure would be nice to watch a slideshow of your photos while listening to your music. The music experience is very limited not even a simple visualization. Both of these features seem to be the bare minimum.
- The remote control has too many buttons. Although this remote is better then most, people still can get confused as to when to use the top section (left right up down) directional arrows vs the bottom section directional arrows (ff/rew/select). The controls seems to be modal meaning you don't need to use the ff controls when using the directional controls. The aspects of both of these could be combined to center the remote interface around a single directional control and a top level menu button. I find the numbers for entering a show are un-used 99% of the time since channel numbers become less important. A simple on screen list of channels or a number box could allow users to enter channels.
- There isn't an easy way to mark a channel as a favorite. Tivo supports the idea of favorite channels and allows you to filter your shows based on this but you can't easily make a channel a favorite without useing a long process.