Disappointed with TiVo Home Media Music Streaming

When I first got my TiVo, I declined the Home Media option. I wasn’t even sure that I’d like the product, so I didn’t want to invest $50—or whatever the fee was then—more on a product I was unsure I’d use. That indecision paid off; while I really like TiVo and have since bought a second unit, I also got lucky, for TiVo rolled the Home Media service into the basic package for Series2 users. For once, being patient slacking off paid off for me.

For the last week or so, I’ve been making use of the digital music streaming options on the TiVo. I’ve got to say that I’m unimpressed. Here’s why:

  1. The unit has no native playlist functionality. You can’t build a playlist on the TiVo; you either load a pre-made playlist from your computer, or you listen album-by-album. That’s a big detriment, I feel; SlimDevices‘s old SliMP3 had this functionality years ago. [I should know; I’ve played with Jeff and Amy‘s unit more than once.]
  2. When MP3s are and .m3u playlists are present in a folder, the TiVo will include the playlist with the individual files and will not differentiate between the two filetypes. I’m having to go and delete my .m3u playlists from folders containing music just so my folder-based playlists don’t have twice the play time that they should, purely because you can’t say, “Play from the .m3u,” or “Ignore the .m3u.” That’s annoying.
  3. No support for album cover art that I can find. The Series2 TiVo has song, artist, and album information available at all times on-screen, but there’s no sign of the album cover art. You’d think that a visual medium would do something like that.
  4. No support for playlist export to HTML, pinging, etc. Admittedly, this is an advanced topic, but I’m kinda used to MP3 playlist export at this point.
  5. No *nix support for streaming with TiVo Publisher. This isn’t an issue for me, but it’s kinda curious that a company building their set-top box on top of Linux would support a Linux streaming service. :shrug:

I thought, for a while, that the Series2 TiVo would keep me from wanting to pick up a Squeezebox. Instead, it has only stoked the fires. I do have a working solution, though, so I’ll be able to forestall it for a while.


  1. Check out the mood logic software. It allows you to set up playlists and do things like random play based on LOTS of different stuff. I am still on my 14 day free trail so I don’t know everything about it yet, but I really like it so far.

  2. Oh, I have no problem with creating playlists of my own, and I typically listen album-by-album anyway. The issue is that it wouldn’t seem to take very much overhead to program a playlist on the TiVo and have it stored either on the box or back at the computer doing the streaming, but it’s just not happening like that.

    I mean, you can’t even queue up a song. If one song is playing, and you back out to set up another song to play, the second song will start playing immediately. It feels rushed and hackneyed, which is totally out-of-line with the rest of my TiVo experience.

  3. I have to agree completely. If nothing else, it’s badly missing a “Play this song next” option. All I can suggest is, be patient/slack-off some more, because Tivo will probably fix it. Since the home media options became standard, I’ve already noticed some improvements in the handling of .m3u playlists. (The original rev of the software I had couldn’t cope with them at all.) I have to agree, though, they do feel half-baked, and I’m glad I didn’t spend any extra money to receive them.

  4. Geof:

    I’m not sure I’ve told you, but I bought a Squeezebox a few months ago (sold the SliMP3 to Brian). The main reason was that the Squeezebox can play PCM (WAV) audio natively. That means that I can store files on the server in any compressed format I want. As long as the server can convert them to PCM on the fly, the Squeezebox can play them (the SliMP3 can only play MP3). So far, I’ve tried Ogg Vorbis, WAV, FLAC, and even unprotected Apple AAC files (that one takes a bit of hacking).

    Then, just Friday, I installed the graphic display upgrade that they just came out with on the Squeezebox (all new ones now come with it). See the front page of slimdevices.com for details and a picture. It’s very nice. My only complaint is that it appears that the firmware that knows about the graphical display also contains a tweak to the IR receiver code that has severely cut down on the remote control sensitivity. I’ve got a bug report in on that one.

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