Product Review - Sony SAT-T60 - Part 2 - Set-Up


  Tivo Set-Up

Upon completion of your equipment connections, TiVo will guide you through a very simple set-up procedure. Window by window the set-up assistant steps you through the process of your personal configuration settings.

An important set-up step is to make sure you have chosen the correct satellite dish type. Remember, in order to utilize the dual tuner capability, you will need, at a minimum, a dual LNB satellite dish type. There will be two RG-6 coaxial cables coming off the dish and either going directly to the two satellite input feeds on the back of the receiver or into a multiswitch. You will still need to inform (select in the menu) your receiver of the correct dish type so it will recognize the second satellite feed and initiate the dual tuner capabilities.

The phone connection holds a lot more importance in the use of TiVo service, as compared to past DSS receivers. I would not recommend using those wireless phone jack systems that plug into an electrical outlet so that you can create a nearby phone jack. If a phone jack connection is not close at hand, then use a long phone cord extension cable. TiVo will be making many calls for your programming and software information, so you want to be sure it is using a local dial-up number, not long distance. If there are no local numbers, you can request an 800 number. TiVo will go through a process to see if you qualify and can be authorized for a free 800 number. After set-up is complete, you can go into the System Information screen to double check that your chosen settings have been recorded correctly. You can see if the unit is set up properly for two tuners, and also verify that Dolby Digital audio is available for recordings. Information on the software version number and the unit's internal temperature is shown in this screen. I will talk more about the unit temperature a little later in this review. You will need software version 2.5 for the unit to be able to recognize and utilize the second tuner properly. My T-60 came with version 2.0. To upgrade to version 2.5, you can either wait for TiVo to get around to making an upgrade call or force the unit to make an upgrade call immediately. I would advise doing the latter, because your probably itching to run this baby through its complete dual tuner paces. Once you have completed all the set-up procedures, you are now ready to call DirecTV to activate the receiver and the TiVo service. Then you will be set to start playing with the features of this unit.

TiVo Features

When viewing live television through the T60, you are also always recording into a 30 minute buffer system. This unit automatically saves the past 30 minutes of live TV. Change the channel, and the saved material is cleared, and the receiver starts to record again on the new channel. This gives you the power to control live television. You now have the ability to pause, rewind, and produce your own instant replays. Once you press the pause or rewind button, a status bar will appear on the bottom of your screen. While watching live TV, the status bar represents one hour, whereas with recorded shows or movies it represents the complete program's length. This gives you a positioning map of where you are if you have paused or rewound the live broadcast. It will also show you how far away you are to catching up to live TV. The status bar will automatically disappear after a few seconds of watching television at regular speed. If the phone rings, the kids are fighting, or if it is just nature calling, you can always pause the TV and return at your leisure. That is the main idea behind this technology. You don't have to miss anything.

Pressing the replay button on the remote allows you to jump back 8 seconds. Press it again and you can continue to jump back in 8-second intervals. Pressing the slow button after the instant replay allows you to create your own personal slow motion instant replay. While the freeze frame and slow motion are not quite to the picture clarity of a DVD, it is still amazingly clear. These trick play features are far superior to any offered with VCR technology. Plus you have the added knowledge, that since everything is in the digital format, you are not damaging or stretching out video tape, nor making your video heads dirty. There are no video heads or tapes to worry about preserving. Fast forward, rewind, and pause to your hearts content. Plus, you don't have to type in the day and time to start recording, or the day and time to stop recording. The darn thing is so easy to use, that if you like to watch a lot of TV, this kind of product is a must have.

The channel banner, always a solid feature of DirecTV, seems a bit more informative than my last DSS receiver. I noticed more info on audio formats, aspect ratios, and descriptive detail for each individual program. Channel surfers do not realize the value of this feature until they go without. Ever been stuck at a relative's home while someone else is channel surfing? Aunt Margaret has yet to upgrade even to cable, so when the cousins have control of the remote, get ready for some real torture. They will stay on one excruciating boring channel and watch the most inane program until they can figure out its title. It gets to the point where you will offer to run out in the rain to the local mini-mart and bring back a TV Guide. With TiVo service, your DirecTV Advanced Program Guide can now go 14 days in advance, rather than just two or three days. But going through the grid to find programs to record is still slow, so TiVo has a better way.

The search capabilities of TiVo are just what television fanatics always dreamed they would be twenty years ago. These methods are the perfect combination of digital television technology and new computer information age. Finding your favorite programs could not have been made simpler. There are five different search methods you can choose with the TiVo service. The first and easiest is to just Search by Title. With the use of the scrolling keys on the remote, you just spell out the name of the program and TiVo almost instantaneously lists all matching programs for the next two weeks, to the right of the window. You can title search through an all-inclusive 14-day database, or limit the parameters (i.e. Movies, Sports, etc.)

Creating WishLists is a second interesting search methodology. You can create WishLists using four different variable types, or use a combination of variables. This method includes searching by actor, director, category, and or keyword/title. For example, if you choose to search by actor alone, TiVo will generate a list of every program that person appears in the next 14 days. This list will not only include programs and movies, but also list guest appearances on programs like the Tonight Show and or Saturday Night Live. You can better pinpoint your search if you list more than one variable. Harrison Ford and Movies will generate a list of only movies that he has appeared in that will air in the next 14 days. You can even use a Keyword/Title WishList for programs you want to view, but are not airing in the next 14 days. You can set it to be automatically recorded when it does become available. If you have a guilty pleasure like Raquel Welch in “One Million Years B.C.”, and it is not on in the next 14 days. Well, then just set the WishList to auto record, and the next time Raquel is prancing around in loin cloths, TiVo will record it for your personal pleasure.

Season Pass is still another search method that locks in your favorite program. By choosing a Season Pass, TiVo will automatically record every episode of your favorite program. All without you putting in individual requests each week. Season Pass also includes options that will enable you to record just new episodes. This way you do not fill up your free space with reruns or episodes from past seasons in syndication. Other search methods come directly from TiVo and the Television Networks. TiVolution Magazine is an interactive onscreen guide to the best upcoming programs generated by the TiVo editors. Network Showcases spotlights a particular channel's upcoming programs, movies, and specials. With all these search methods, you will begin to call into question the value of your print guide subscriptions.

Beyond recording programs of your own choosing, TiVo will also record programs for you that it determines you may enjoy. These recordings are done in your free hard disk space and never take priority over your chosen programs. How does TiVo determine what you may like? It will go by both your past recording history and a personal rating system. Your remote includes two rating buttons simply called Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down. You can rate any program within a range from a high of 3 Thumbs Up to a low of 3 Thumbs Down. The more programs you rate, the better TiVo has in finding programs to your liking. Fear not conspiracy theorists! TiVo says it is not collecting a database on you to send to the Pentagon. TiVo has a privacy policy to protect its subscribers, that you can read in detail either on the TiVo website or within your model documentation. So fear not, Mulder-ites!

Click Here To Go To Part 3 - Performance


© Copyright 2002 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity
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