Thursday, January 10, 2008

A new dawn

If you noticed something special in the air today -- a certain ebullience, a feeling of liberation, let's say -- it might have been coming from our house.

Today we entered the orbit of TiVo HD.

We've put the days of our cable company's combination decoder box/DVR behind us. Someday we will remember navigating its ugly, difficult menus; trying to record an entire series and ending up with all the repeats as well; deleting series recordings when trying to cull repeat episodes from our queue; lacking the capacity to perform the simplest search for a show's title; and all the other quirks of its subutilitarian design, and we will laugh.

When I called to schedule a service call so that CableCards could be installed in our TiVo HD, the representative told me that the price of the cards had just been slashed by more than 1/3 with the start of the new year. When the representative came today to do the installation, he told us that we only needed one CableCard instead of two because he had just learned, much to his surprise, that the ones our cable company offer are multistream. And by the way, the service call occurred during the first half-hour of the four-hour window the company had provided. Clearly, something extraordinary was afoot in the universe.

When I got home from work this afternoon, our decoder box was done. The green light of the TiVo HD glowed confidently. Its distinctive "boop-boop" and "pip-POP!" was once again heard in the land. The pleasant, intuitive, cheerful interface seemed to take a task like recording all the first-run episodes of Project Runway, or any movie directed by Raoul Walsh, or programs with the word "Vegas" in the title or description, and shoulder the burden of interpreting the details and executing the complexities, like a butler murmuring, "no, no -- allow me, sir." Babysitters and visiting relatives will no longer need to read a two page handout to navigate our universal remote, on which the TV set's power button has been relegated to the CABLE page; we will hand them the TiVo remote, tell them to press power, channel up/down, and volume up/down, and they will smile in understanding.

Little wireless antennae glow as they transfer programs from our Series 2 box in the bedroom to the new HD box in the living room. If need be -- and you'd be amazed how often the need be, in this house -- we can record three shows at once: two on the dual tuner HD machine, and one on the old one, then watch them on whichever TV we like, whenever we like.

In short: food tastes better, beverages are more refreshing, and every passerby seems to have a song on his lips and a spring in his step today. The crazy plan worked, and we're giddy as schoolgirls. I look forward to filling up page after page of the Now Playing menu with HD goodness, while Noel can't wait until the queue is whittled down to a concise and manageable playlist. Right now two red lights decorate the TiVo's minimalist front panel; My Name Is Earl is recording on NBC, and last night's Daily Show/Colbert repeat is recording on Comedy Central. Everyone's a winner.


fjohn said...

Too bad the writer's strike is still going strong.

Eric Grubbs said...

I still feel satisfied with my TV's rabbit ears and VCR. The only channel I clearly get is ABC, so it helps when I tape LOST and watch the Charlie Brown holiday specials.

If I had cable, I'd watch a lot of TV, leaving little time for me to write, read books, exercise, play drums, watch DVDs, surf the Internet -- all things I love to do.

In other words, I'm a long way from TiVo HD.