Just understand this: Within a few years, every decent TV will come with ‘TiVo’ capability built in. Or should. (Not that this will likely do TiVo itself any good, any more than Xerox profits when you photocopy something on your Brother 7300C multifunction printer/scanner/copier/fax.) You will be able to pause the show you’re watching, view it in slow motion, or ‘rewind’ it. You have no idea how handy this is until you’ve gotten used to it. You will be able to start watching the news 12 minutes late and, by skipping the commercials and the story that doesn’t interest you, finish the same time everyone else does. (As I’ve pointed out, saving 12 minutes a day 300 days a year saves you 60 hours – a full workweek.) Whenever you turn on the TV, you will have an inventory of programming you’ve recorded – Seinfeld! Meet the Press! – that you actually want to see.

Now that the capability is there, why on earth wouldn’t this be built into the average TV?

Microsoft is releasing its Ultimate TV version any day now, with two features TiVo lacks. (A single button lets you skip ahead in 30-second increments; both its internal tuners are active, so you can tape two different shows at the same time, or watch one live while you tape another.) But TiVo, having beaten Microsoft to the market by several months, may not be long in catching up with or leapfrogging these features. (It already has two tuners inside each TiVo; it just hasn’t switched them both on.)

I may be wrong about this. Maybe five years from now most people won’t have this capability, just as most people still watch black and white TV. (Remember all the hype about ‘color,’ when people thought that, too, would catch on?) But I think so.

Jerry Godes: ‘I absolutely love TiVo. I have to admit that when I first got it, I watched way more TV. Now, I’ve settled back into my old habits, and only watch a couple of hours a week, but I’m always watching things I want to watch. I can’t remember the last time I went channel surfing! Everyone I’ve talked to that has one loves it. Disclaimer: I work for Sony (one of the TiVo manufacturers), but I wanted a TiVo so bad, I got a Philips before Sony started shipping theirs.’

 

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