Tivo's Spring 2007 Service Update

Tivo's rolling out its latest software update to Series2 DVR owners. Software version 8.3 is being called Tivo's "Spring 2007 Service Update."

It's a rather modest software upgrade, offering one excellent new feature and one rather mediocre upgrade. This article is an attempt to pull together available information and personal research to document the new features Tivo has made available with this release.

Official Notice

When your Tivo's been updated with the 8.3 release, it reboots your DVR, then 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"

While there are undoubtedly a number of "under the hood" fixes and enhancements, the Spring 2007 Service Update boils down to two updates from a customer usability standpoint:
1. The "More Options" screen for all recorded programs.
2. Upgraded TiVoCast support

Let's begin with the TiVoCast upgrade. I want to save the best for last.

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. Also, TivoCast content is still restricted as far as the ability to transfer it to PC via TivoToGo functionality.

Personally, I think Tivo is just laying groundwork for a future bet that may or may not ever pay off. At present, there is limited content available via TivoCast. If you've been watching Tivo's business dealings, however, you've probably noticed that they're really putting an emphasis on expansion through partnerships. They may very well be preparing TivoCast to be the conduit for future "partner content" offerings.

If anyone's noticed tangible differences in the way their Tivo handles TivoCast content since installing the Spring 2007 Service Update, please drop a note in the comments section so we can get the conversation going. Otherwise, let's move on to the much more exciting upgrade in version 8.3: the "More Options" screen.

More Options

The "More Options" menu is a new 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 options for that program.

You can "View upcoming episodes" or you can either "Get a Season Pass" if you don't already have one or "Modify Season Pass" if you do. Why is this so cool? Here's a couple scenarios for you:

  1. 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 clicks from finding future airings and setting up the new recording. Nice.
  2. 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!

Reverse TivoToGo Support

In an earlier post, I described the functionality of what I called "Reverse TivoToGo" support. This is the ability to re-download video from your PC, back to your Tivo, that had been previously copied to your PC using the TivoToGo feature. While this feature is available and offers tremendous archiving possibilities, it is not a new feature as of the 8.3 release. Thanks very much to Megazone for the update here!

Tivo Service Phone Numbers Removed

One other bit of Tivo news, worthy of mention but not directly related to this update, pertains to Tivo's dial-in numbers. On March 1st, Tivo started removing some of the available service update phone numbers. This move is undoubtedly in response to increased use of network connectivity and an attempt to continue moving in that direction.

If you're still using a phone connection to get your Tivo guide updates, you might be affected by this change. You may get a notice from your DVR that it is running out of guide data. If this happens you can either go into Phone & Network settings and select a new phone number, or better yet, consider networking your Tivo. Networking your Tivo would free your phone up and allow you to use a number features on your DVR that aren't available for phone-connectors. DVRPlayground will soon be publishing an easy step-by-step guide to help you get your Tivo DvR networked and enjoying its full potential.

So those are the big changes with Tivo's newest software and their changed dial-in policies. If any of you have stumbled across additional upgrades associated with the 8.3 software release, please post a comment.