Article first published as iPad App Review: TiVo Premiere Companion App Fully Explored on Blogcritics.
Last month, I finally bit the bullet and upgraded my TiVo Series 2 DVR to the newest and greatest TiVo Premiere. Despite some mixed reviews including one by the famed Walter Mossberg, I went ahead with the purchase. I was tired of not being able to record in HD, and I was also able to get rid of my cable converter box from RCN using the TiVo and CableCard combo instead. I have to admit that a big selling point was the pending release of the TiVo for iPad app, something that the company has been touting on their website since early November. Well, the day has finally arrived as the app officially hit the App Store earlier this week. More thoughts, screenshots and a hands-on look after the jump.
Some of my current complaints with TiVo Premiere after just one month are the slow menu interface, the teasing HD design for only some of the menus, and the lack of a keyboard when searching for shows. Now, I know that TiVo released a separate remote with a slide out keyboard, and while I do love slider devices, I'd rather go with the price of zero instead of shelling out $65 for a remote. Slow menus may be a thing of the past, as the iPad experience (when working - more on that later) is smooth and I'm able to access TiVo menus much quicker than through my television. The design interface is polished for the most part, and the search bar integrates the onscreen keyboard well.
Everything Looks and Feels Better on the iPad
The five tabs on the bottom feature Info, Guide, My Shows, Browse, and Manage.
OK, When's the First Update?
All is not rosy for the TiVo iPad app, and there are still improvements to be made. First, I was among a number of users to experience a ton of spinning circles when first using the app. This rendered the app nearly unusable, and I was a bit concerned. However, a quick trip to a TiVo support forum revealed a conflict between Bluetooth and the WiFi signals, and when I turned BT off on the iPad, the TiVo app sprang to life with the snappiness that I was hoping for. Still, for those who regularly use a Bluetooth peripheral with their iPad, this is not a good solution, and I suspect a fix will be topping the list of any forthcoming update. The missing remote control buttons mentioned at the beginning of this post is another disappointment, as I still need to find my real remote to turn the TV on/off and adjust the volume. Lastly, the dead end when trying to view a Netflix title was a minor flaw that may be corrected in the future as well.
While we're on the subject of dreaming for a better iPad app, I might as well throw out the idea of watching one screen on my iPad while still having content stream on the television. Essentially, I can do this already with my Slingbox setup, but wouldn't it be cool if it was seamlessly integrated into the TiVo app? Can't a techie geek dream?
Overall, once I switched the Bluetooth off, the TiVo iPad app lived up to my high expectations and can be deemed "worth the wait." I will call this app the ideal companion app and not a replacement remote since it's still unwieldy to use an iPad instead of a handheld device. App developers can take notes from the overall experience that TiVo has created for its end users, as it is outstanding. Will a less featured iPhone or Android app be next?
The TiVo for iPad App is available for free in the App Store. Please note that a TiVo Premiere DVR is required.
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