I just (finally) picked up a Tivo. I’ve wanted one for a long time but simply couldn’t afford it. It wasn’t even the initial cost–often they’re available for < $100–it was the monthly service fee of $12.95.

Well I came across a deal I simply couldn’t pass up. Thanks to SlickDeals.net, I found a Toshiba Tivo with 140 hour capacity and a DVD-R burner for $100. As an added bonus, the unit includes basic service for free.

Here’s the deal breakdown (this is ridiculous): pick of the $600 unit and use a 50% off coupon at checkout. This brings it down to $300+tax. Then send in a $200 rebate to bring the final cost to $100+tax. Hell yeah! I was lucky enough to find one in stock and have it all up and running. Many thanks to SlickDeals.net.

The unit includes 45 days of TivoPlus for free so I am enjoying all those great features. I admit that I will probably end up picking up the service after the trial expires, if only for Season Pass.

One thing I don’t understand with this thing is that it still requires a phone line to set up initially. After the first 20 minute phone call, you can use a sold-separately network adapter to hook the unit into your home network, but you’ve got to make that call at least once. Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal–but I don’t have a phone line!

There are lots of sites that give tips on using special dial codes, etc. to avoid the phone line stuff but none of them proved successful for me. I ended up hauling the unit over to my Dad’s to borrow to the initial setup. No big deal.

Another thing I’m confused about is commercial skip. What happened to it? It seems this is a feature that they removed to appease the television guys. Oh well. It was just a button for crying out loud!

So now the only remaining issue is whether or not to buy the Plus service. If I do get the Plus service, which I probably will, do I get the lifetime subscription or go month-to-month? The lifetime subscription isn’t as good as it initially seems because it’s good for the life of the unit, not the life of the owner :). If a unit malfunctions, though, the service would then carry over to the replacement unit.

The cost? $12.95/month or $299/unit-life. I’m leaning toward the lifetime subscription. It’ll pay for itself in just under two years ($299/$12.95 = 23 months) and people tell me that their Tivo’s have been running for at least that long. Even if it dies, the service can carry over to a new one, anyway.

I know the subscription thing is what made me hesitate to buy initially but let me explain. The unit is not likely to become obsolete for a least a little while–it’s currently top of the line. The subscription is optional (it used to be required!). I’m not in college anymore so I have a little bit more money.