First Look: Is the TiVo Blockbuster video download service worth signing up for?

First Look
First Look: Is the TiVo Blockbuster video download service worth signing up for?
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Australians have another way to hire movies from the couch with the launch of TiVo's Blockbuster movie download service

Price: $35
> Pricing info

Following a free "Movie of the Week" trial, TiVo now lets users download new releases for $5.95, initially with around 20 to choose from. Older movies can be downloaded for $3.95, plus there are a handful of free movies along with free trailers of upcoming releases.

Once a movie is downloaded you've got 7 to 14 days to start watching it (depending on the free space on your hard drive) and, once you press play, you have access to the movie for 48 hours before it is automatically deleted.

Hiring movies requires creating an online account with Blockbuster, entering your credit card details and then linking the account to your TiVo account. Initially $35 is deducted from your credit card, which is automatically topped up when you get down to $10. Any unused credit is returned if you cancel your account. As part of the setup process you get to set a 5 digit PIN which must be entered before you can hire a movie.

Now you can browse and hire movies using nothing but the TiVo remote control, although the menus are sluggish compared to the rest of the TiVo interface. The service is not quite Video on Demand, taking a few minutes to appear under the Now Playing menu. If your connection is fast enough, such as our 3 Mbps link, you can now watch the movie without interruption. You can pause, rewind and fast forward movies as with standard TiVo recordings.

Download can be scheduled to start at 2am, which is handy if your ISP offers extra off-peak data. All TiVo downloads are unmetered for Internode customers, and the ISP has started selling TiVo via its website.

TiVo claims the movies are "DVD quality with 5.1 surround sound", and we found them barely distinguishable from DVD on our 46 inch Bravia hooked up via HDMI. Playback is very smooth, although the service has experience teething problems with corrupt files and our first movie refused to play correctly.

Movie trailers are the most problematic, with many failing to play in full or even download at all. The help desk line is open from 10am to 10pm and is surprisingly helpful.

At the moment TiVo's Blockbuster service is hampered by a limited range and teething issues, but it is easy to set up, easy to use and offers very good picture quality. The pricing is also on par with its closet competitor, the Australian iTunes store (which also had teething issues).

The Blockbuster movie service, along with the recently launched TiVo 1TB external drive, certainly makes the oft-maligned TiVo a better value proposition for your lounge room.


See more about:  tivo  |  blockbuster  |  video
Comments: 5
11 May 2009
TiVo service looks good and has lots of extras but will only ever work in Australia with free to air digital channels plus these 'added' services - most of which cost extra. It doesn't work with pay TV (Foxtel, Austar) and probably never will and will eventually falter here due to price and lack of options. $700 for the original unit is pretty dear for a PVR that doesn't work with pay tv

Comment made about the PC Authority article:
First Look: Is the TiVo Blockbuster video download service worth signing up for??
Australians have another way to hire movies from the couch with the launch of TiVo's Blockbuster movie download service

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12 May 2009
*hugz his topfield*

seriously though the TiVo must have not looked at the uptake of foxtel/austar rates before marketing the machines here as it's not has big has you might think. the problem with TiVo is it's not offering much for the price ...unit cost then the monthly repayments for access and lets not for get the drama of the customers having to PAY for a unit update that was way over the price of the small file update that got sent out. ... It also requires ib on demand internet access via ADSL/Cable which is another monthly expense on top of the all the other costs involved - and only one provider is offering free content for the machines (internode) all others will be limited to the quota / speed of their choice of ISP. Until we get better speeds with better quotas it's not a really winner here in Australia...
Adam Turner
12 May 2009

I wouldn't hug a Topfield until its got its firmware storted out. Early adoptors of the 7100 got screwed, I think they've fixed it now.

Also, there are no "monthly repayments" for TiVo - once you buy the unit it's free unless your hire a movie or pay for the networking update. Most people are paying for internet anyway, so I wouldn't take that cost into consideration. iPrimus is also offerin unmetered TiVo traffic and I'm sure others will follow.
Adam Turner
12 May 2009
also @mordie

I bet your Topfield cost more than a TiVo, yet it can't access Pay TV either and you need to pay for a service like IceTV if you want remote scheduling (which may not work coz Topfield's firmware is so crap).
17 May 2009
yup tivo worth the money definantly being able to fst fwrd advertisements is excellent, two week (i think i cant remember..) advance tv guide, being able to record shows based on your preferences, i didnt like that at first but its actually good.
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