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TiVo Personal TV Recorder
You got to have one
Joe Chirico
Boston Area Diving Coach

TiVo – The Best Innovation for Diving Since the Cheeseboard

A TiVo is a “personal TV recorder”, sold at most TV/small appliance stores, that provides an automatic video playback.  Once you use this machine you won't remember what you did without it. While designed to record TV shows, when set up properly, the machine allows divers to watch themselves on TV just seconds after doing a dive, without taking up the coach’s time out of coaching to rewind and playback video.  Every coach or team should get one – its worth every dollar.  It may even pay for itself by creating one more “station on deck” allowing room for one more diver at practice.

A TiVo system is a computer hard drive, which stores and plays back a video image.  It has a time delay, which should be set for 30-60 seconds.  This allows the diver to dive, receive coaching and then walk over to the TV and get instant feedback.  It confirms what the coach said (hopefully).  It can also be played over and over, even in slow motion and freeze frame. The TiVo system can also record to a VCR.

The ToVo system is perfect for Masters divers who practice on their own or for teams with no coach because it allows the diver to coach themselves.  This is a tool which will help our sport. If you don’t have one yet – go get one.  (It also works great for viewing your golf swing).

Tips on buying and setting up the TIVO system

TiVo has licensed its process to Phillips, Sony, Replay TV. ,Web TV. and Echo Star Each work similarly, so buy whichever one is less expensive.  Watch for rebates and do not sign up for the monthly TV guide plans.  Although the second generation TIVOs are now available, and offer more storage, you will not need one with a lot of storage (minimal storage is fine for coaching purposes).

Setting up the system can be a little difficult; it is not designed to be used with a video camera.  I strongly suggest reading the directions.  You can either install the monitor and TIVO system permanently in place, or on a cart.  Most teams have used a TV cart so they can lock it up in a secure place.

Please note the Replay TV. does not have the frame by frame back button. (do not get one)

You will need to purchase the TiVo system, a video camera (usually a team parent has an old one not being used or go to your local mega-video & camera store and buy the cheapest one you can get with video out)

What you need and Cost:

Tivo System                $299 There's currently $100 rebate
Video or surveillance Camera $0-300.00 Get the cheapest video Camera you can.
27” TV   $249-400 Get a "open box" or return set (look for S-Video in
Tripod for Camera $10-40  
TV Cart   $100 You should be able to get one for less
S Video cable 50’ $20 All other wires come with systems

You should try to get a camera with S video out and a TV with S video in.  The S video is a single line (in place of 3 RCA jacks) it carries more “lines of resolution” thereby giving a better picture.  If you cannot get equipment with S video, you will get a standard picture.

Set up

Since a TiVo system works by storing digital video signals on a hard drive, you must “format” the hard drive based on your needs.  To do this, you must plug the TiVo system into a phone jack (it has a built in modem).  The system calls an 800 phone number and downloads the latest “drivers” and formats itself.  If you need a pin number to call out at work, it won’t work properly so do this part of your setup at home.

All TIVO systems come with quick directions which are easy but do not cover connecting the system to a video camera.  Plug your video camera into the personal television (PTV) unit, make sure it’s on. You do not need to setup any infrared (IR) blasters. Next connect the output from the PTV to your television, and plug in the power and phone. Turn it on, configure your input sources and you're about ready to go. Your PTV unit controls your input sources; you use the PTV remote to change the channel, it ferries the signal to your input source and changes the channel for you. Your PTV remote can control other devices as well. After wiring the PTV to your home system, but before you can start using it, there is a waiting period while it downloads channel lineups and configures itself ("initialization time").

Things to Consider: As the quality of the recording increases, the number of hours that can be recorded decreases. For example, a Replay machine can record 30 hours on its lowest quality setting, but only 9 hours with its highest quality setting. Set it for the best quality.

You will use your TV remote control to do the setup.  When you come to the “program source screen” choose “cable with cable box”.  As you go through the screens, you will be asked to provide your cable company and other information – none of these answers matter.  You will get a screen titled “connections to receivers”; choose either the video input with RCA jacks or S video (whichever you are going to use).  You need to avoid using the RF jack. 

Once your TIVO is setup and running, you will need to hit live TV on your clicker and make sure there is a signal coming through the video camera before use.

Prices have dropped significantly since these units were released in early 1999. ReplayTV's all-in-one approach builds the cost of service into the price of the hardware. TiVo separates these costs, so after you buy the hardware, you have to pay for the service. Which for coaches is useless. So do not order it.

No need to read more. Go get one!

More information

Comparisons Price Shop More Price Shopping
More reviews   PDCA Article by Doug Beavers

More information than you need

ReplayTV Dish Direct Your Digital Home Amazon
TiVo Roxy The Digital Kingdom 800.com

Available at Best Buy, The Good Guys, Circuit City, The Wiz, Ultimate Electronics,Best Buy, The Good Guys, Circuit City, Fry's Electronics, Sears

How it really works. Normally when you watch television you are seeing more or less a live broadcast, but when you are watching personal television the signal is being transparently and quietly recorded by the unit. Whatever you're watching on live TV is now buffered. The difference between TV and PTV and the benefit of live TV buffering appears when you want to "instant replay," or want to stop watching for a moment without missing anything. Live TV can be rewound and paused, so while you are playing back what is in the buffer, the unit is continually recording the live signal. But you can't leave it paused forever, you'll run out of space. Each PTV allocates space differently, so how far out-of-synch the buffer and the live signal can be is the unit's buffering limit. Both PTV units allow you to resume watching the live signal by pressing a button on the remote. Your unit may allow you to create a new recording using part of the live TV buffer (convert to recording). If you are watching a program live that you wish you had set up as a recording beforehand, this feature will save the current channel's show as if it were a regular recording. The ability to record the whole show is ideal -- not just from the point you hit record. This won't work if you've waited too long so that start of the show is no longer in your buffer.





Personal Television unit





Remote control

This remote comes with the 2001, 2003, and 2004: 48 buttons, many of them tiny; QuickSkip button; universal remote can control up to 6 devices; traditional remote shape.

The left remote comes only with the 2020, 3020, and 3030: Slims down to 45 buttons, controls up to 4 devices, redesigned look and shape. The right remote comes with the Panasonic models and is functionally identical.

30 buttons, many of them do double-duty; volume/mute can control either TV or stereo; power can control either one, or both simultaneously; contoured remote.

This heavy-bottomed, 37-button remote is bundled with Sony units. It comes with an additional button that brings you directly to the list of recorded programs. It also has a power button.


1 RCA audio/video cable
1 S-Video cable
1 Phone "Y" splitter
1 Dual IR blaster cable
1 A/C power cord
1 25' Telephone cord
2 AA batteries
1 RJH to 9 pin adapter
1 Pass-through serial cable
1 9 to 15 pin adapter

2 RCA audio/video cables
1 S-Video cable
1 Phone "Y" splitter
1 Dual IR blaster cable
1 A/C power cord
1 50' Telephone cable
2 AA batteries
1 RG-6 coaxial cable
1 DB-9 serial cable
1 DB-9 to DB-15 converter

Optional accessories

Extra remote ($29.99)
Extra RCA cable ($14.99)
Wireless phone jack ($69.00)

Extra remote ($29.95)

Initialization time

About 20 minutes

Depends on your lineup but can take 2-4 hours

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