Morning Tech Deals Highlights

Watches – Inexpensive, basic Casio watches, analog and digital, for $8 to $15. Normal Amazon shipping applies. [Slickdeals]

Laptop – Get $250 off the popular Dell XPS M1330 laptop. [Dealhack]

Toast Stamper – Imprint your toast with the image of the Virgin Mother for just $8, shipped. [Dealnews]

TiVo HD – Today’s Woot! is a refurbished TiVo HD for $185, shipped. TiVo subscription not included.

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3 Responses to Morning Tech Deals Highlights

  1. Skitalets says:

    Thanks for the XPS deal heads-up! I just picked one up to replace my first-gen MacBook Pro, which sucks under Ubuntu. I’m looking forward to decent battery life and not scorching my lap — the huge hard drive is just a nice bonus.

  2. Reed Savory says:

    As a dedicated fan of my TiVo, I finally moved my three-year-old TiVo Series2 (single tuner) down to my kid’s playroom, and bought myself a TiVo HD back at the holidays last year.

    I can definitely say that if you don’t own an HD DVR yet, or if you’re running one of the cable company DVR units, you really have to look at what the TiVo HD can do.

    However, just a few bullet points about things I’ve learned since getting my own TiVo HD:

    - Yep, works great, really pretty much identical user interface to the Series2 systems, but be sure to follow the instructions and download the latest firmware to get all functionality.

    - Sometimes you can transfer recorded programs to your PC and burn them to DVD, sometimes you can’t. It depends if the network showing the program enabled the “broadcast flag” or not, because TiVo won’t allow you to transfer programs that have the flag set – and no, there’s no way to know which programs do, and which don’t, until you actually go to your PC and try to transfer them.

    - The TiVo HD supports a maximum HD resolution of 1080i. If you are determined that you refuse to watch programs in anything less than 1080p (and I actually know someone who sent his TiVo HD back because of this), you’re going to be disappointed, and I wouldn’t buy the TiVo HD. Personally, I’m watching it on a 42″ plasma TV, and the 1080i is more than fine – crystal clear, to my eyes.

    - Yes, you can transfer video from your PC to your TiVo and watch it there. The TiVo Desktop software will do this, but personally I prefer the “pytivo” opensource app.

    - If you’re going to connect the TiVo to a wireless network (either 802.11b or 802.11g, TiVo doesn’t have support for 802.11n yet), be sure to buy TiVo’s own wireless adapter.

    - The build-in 160GB internal drive in the TiVo HD can only hold about 20 hours of HD programming, which I rapidly learned isn’t much. You can either let the box automatically erase shows you haven’t watched yet to free-up space, or you’re going to want to buy the external harddrive expansion kit (info is available on TiVo’s web site, and I believe you can also pick the drive up at most BestBuy stores). The TiVo HD has an eSATA port on the back for which at present there is only a single, specific 500 WD drive that’s been certified for use by TiVo HD. There’s discussion on the forums that other eSATA drives apparently work, but you aren’t going to get support from TiVo if you buy one they haven’t certified.

    - Be aware that the TiVo HD supports the CableCard specification, so it works great without a cable box. The only limitation is that CableCard itself does not support pay-per-view movies, so for example there’s no way to watch Comcast “OnDemand” through the TiVo HD. TiVo makes up for this to a certain extent by offering Amazon Unbox, so you can buy and watch movies through that offering via the Internet (right from the TiVo itself, once you’ve given it your Amazon account info), but if you’re a big fan of the cable company’s pay-per-view, you’re going to also want to keep your cable box, hook the cable box and TiVo both up to the cable feed, and run them through separate inputs into your TV.

    - I should mention I also have a fairly new Vista-based HP Media Center PC with an HD tuner card, but I just find the TiVo user interface and overall utility to be superior, and the “TiVo Suggests” function is the greatest thing ever. If you don’t have a lot of time to watch TV (and I don’t), knowing that you can turn on your TV at any time, and chances are your TiVo has automatically recorded something you never heard of before that you’re going to enjoy, is a wonder.

  3. icky2000 says:

    Reed, thanks for your comments – very helpful. I ordered 2 Tivo HDs last night and can’t wait. I had a Series2 ages ago and traded it for a HTPC running Sage. Sage is nice but I got tired of futzing with it constantly.

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