Tivo is in the process of rolling out its latest software version to Series2 DVR owners. The upgraded software, version 8.3, is being called Tivo's "Spring 2007 Service Update." At the time of this writing, there's very little information available on the web or from Tivo to explain what's included in the update. This article is an attempt to pull together available information and personal research to document the new features Tivo's made available with this release.
When your Tivo updates with the 8.3 release, it reboots your DVR and gives you the following message:
"We just upgraded your TiVo(R) service with the Spring 2007 Service Update!
This update includes more options for programs in your Now Playing List and integrates incremental support for TiVoCast content.
- More Options
When viewing the Program screen for any recording, you'll now notice a 'More Options' menu item. From here, you'll be able to schedule additional recordings, including the option to "Get a Season Pass."
- TiVoCast Support
You'll now see logos for our TiVoCast partners, making it easy for you to identify the source of your broadband video at a glance.
- The TiVo Team"
Three Major Upgrades
Based on the official notice and personal experimentation, it appears that the service update includes three major feature upgrades:
- The "More Options" screen for all recorded programs.
- Upgraded TiVoCast support
- Reverse TivoToGo support
Let's take a look at what each of these features is all about.
The new "More Options" menu is a feature that Tivo users have been asking for for a VERY long time, and now it's finally here. Here's the deal. Now, when you open up a recorded program in your Now Playing list, you'll have a "More Options" selection included along with the old "Play," "Keep until...," "Delete now," and "Save to VCR" options. If you click "More Options," you'll have two new selections available to you for that program. One of the new options let you "View upcoming episodes." With the other option that was added, you can either "Get a Season Pass" if you don't already have one or you'll be able to "Modify Season Pass" if you do. Why is this so cool? Here are a couple of scenarios for you:
- Let's say you watched a recording and found out that the end had been cut off too soon. We've all been there. Prior to 8.3, if you wanted to look for upcoming programs to rerecord the episode (with a couple minutes pad this time), you'd have to get out of the "Now Playing" screen and go mess around in the Find Programs screen. You wouldd do a Search by Title or go into Season Pass Manager. Now, with version 8.3, you're only a couple of clicks away from finding future airings and setting up the new recording. Nice.
- Along similar lines, let's say you just watched a recording from the Tivo Suggestions list. If you loved the show and want a season pass, you've got the same hassle as before. Prior to 8.3, you had to leave "Now Playing," go to "Find Programs," do a "Search by Title," and then get your season pass. Now, your "Get Season Pass" option is right there with the program information. How convenient!
Upgraded TivoCast support
According to the message included with the update, version 8.3 of Tivo's software includes additional "support" for TivoCast content. This supposedly means special icons in the Now Playing list for TivoCast content. Unfortunately, as of this writing, I don't see any new features for TivoCast on my DVR, nor do I see any icons in my My Playing list for TivoCast content. That said, any disappointment I may have felt about a seemingly lame TivoCast upgrade is easily offset by the other two excellent upgrades. So let's move on to the third, and in my opinion, most exciting new feature with the Spring 2007 Service Update.
Reverse TivoToGo Support
Tivo doesn't mention anything about changes to TivoToGo in its official message, nor have I seen anything else on their website about this yet. I did, however, find this new feature on my My Playing list just after I received the latest update.
As of previous software versions, Tivo allowed you to copy content off your Tivo and onto your PC using the "Tivo Desktop" software. Once it was on your PC, you could watch it on your PC, burn it to DVD, or even edit it with a program like VideoReDo. With the previous software versions, however, there was no way to get the video back from your PC to your Tivo. Friends, I'm happy to report that limitation no longer exists as of the Spring 2007 Software Update.
If you have Tivo Desktop software running on a networked PC, you should now be able to see your PC's name in the Now Playing list, just below the "Tivo Suggestions" and the "Recently Deleted" folders. If you select your PC, you'll see a list of all the programs that you previously copied over. You can select an episode and Tivo will begin copying the program back from your PC to the DVR, allowing you to once again watch that program on your TV. Why is this a big deal? One word: ARCHIVING.
With this new feature, you can now archive shows on your PC without taking up valuable space on your Tivo. When you're ready to watch them again, just select them from the Now Playing list and you're back in business. Hard drives for PCs are dirt cheap these days, so increasing your Tivo's "virtual storage" capability is easy and inexpensive.
Also, with the Tivo Desktop software's "Auto Transfer" feature, you can set up an auto-archiving process that requires little intervention on your part. Here's how:
- Open Tivo Desktop on your PC and click "Pick Recordings to Transfer."
- Click on a recording that is part of a series and click "Auto-Transfer this Series." This will give Tivo Desktop a standing order to transfer all shows in that series to your PC when they appear on your DVR.
- Let Tivo record episodes as always and Tivo Desktop will make copies on your PC. You can delete the shows on your Tivo DVR whenever you need to free up space, but your PC copies will remain. You can keep entire seasons of shows this way. Just keep an eye on your PC's disk space.
- Then, whenever you want to watch an archived show that's no longer on your DVR, just select the show from your PC's folder in the My Playing list and you're good to go.
So those are the three main features I've been able to find from the Spring 2007 Service Update. If you've found other features on your own Tivo, please let everybody know in the comments section of this article.