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Let Your Centro Drive Your TiVo!

Thu Nov 27, 2008 - 3:31 PM EST - By Annie Latham


TiVo, Inc. (NASDAQ: TIVO) has made an announcement that is well timed with the upcoming holiday. It is something that is sure to have TiVo owners snoopy dancing. The creator of (and a leader) in television services for digital video recorders (DVRs) has just launched TiVo Mobile, a free mobile phone-optimized Web site that allows subscribers (and non-subscribers) alike to browse, search, and discover television shows, regardless of mobile platform, carrier or browser. The site, located at m.tivo.com, can be accessed with any Internet-enabled phone through any network, regardless of carrier, opening up the service to millions and millions of cell phone owners. Basically, it provides a way for television fans to stay in touch with their TiVo DVR when they are away from home (or the room where the TiVo box is located).

The TiVo Mobile web site, which was built in conjunction with mobile application development agency, Mobui Corporation (www.mobui.com), offers a simple, intuitive interface that has been optimized for ease of use on a small screen.

Giving it a test drive: Being a TiVo owner, I was eager to try it out. Using my Centro, I went to m.tivo.com, where I was prompted to log in. It uses the same account information I set up when I established my TiVo service. That made things simple. I was greeted with:

Welcome to TiVo Mobile! Search, discover and schedule TV shows on your DVR.

Right away I was given options to search for programming. It also offers links to Daily Picks and Most Popular. Curious, I scrolled down and found the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving show, and decided that would be a great one to try.

When the screen popped up with a description of the show and the time, I was given the following options: Record this program, View upcoming showings, If you like this..., and More about this show.

I selected "Record this program" and followed the prompts to set up my TiVo to record it. I was especially thrilled to find out that I have the option of programming how long the recording is kept. If you have ever set a recording and had TiVo magically erase the program because it felt you needed the room, you know how cool this is. So I clicked on Keep Until I Delete, and then I was all set.

The way it works is that the next time your TiVo "dials in" to download programming, it will receive the instructions to record the program.

I ran another test. This time, searching for the latest Top Chef (Wednesdays at 10pm on Bravo). Of course, Bravo tends to repeat that broadcast a lot. And it appears that they are having some sort of Top Chef marathon. So I used the View upcoming shows link and selected the one I wanted recorded.

Now what? For both of these, I received emails telling me my request has been received. But would my TiVo REALLY respond? I had to know. So decided to take matters into my own hands and tell my TiVo to contact "the mother ship" outside of its normal cycle (I believe programming occurs in the middle of the night).

Here are the before and after pictures.

Yes, the message was received. That part works. On Wednesday morning, I check my Now Playing list and there it was.

So to sum things up, I am grateful that my Centro and TiVo are on speaking terms. This is an awesome service that is easy to use and is well overdue. Right now, TiVo is saying this is in Beta, but it seemed to work just fine for me.

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