If it looks like a duck and acts like a duck, well, you know, it’s probably a duck. Nero’s LiquidTV TiVo PC looks like a TiVo and acts like a TiVo, but, brother, it ain’t no TiVo.
Actually, the package makes your PC act like a TiVo by adding a USB TV tuner and the same TiVo software that drives the set-tops. You also get a for-reals TiVo remote and an IR receiver so you can command content from the couch.
Ironically, that’s where you’re gonna get pissed. The remote can’t launch the software, so you’ll have to physically walk over and mouse it open. The remote can be programmed to turn your TV on and off, but it can’t put your PC in standby mode or wake it up again. If you do that manually, the IR receiver fails to wake up with the rest of the system.
In other words, as a replacement for a set-top TiVo, LiquidTV kinda sucks. Okay, but suppose you take the couch out of the equation and just focus on it as a PC DVR or second TiVo? Well then it’s not bad. The tuner can pull down analog cable/satellite signals or over-the-air digital, and comes with a telescoping antenna for the latter. And who doesn’t love the TiVo interface? It’s here in all its time-shifting, Wish Listing, Season Passing glory.
All this begs the question: Why bother with LiquidTV when Windows Media Center supplies perfectly good DVR features of its own — along with photos, music and a free EPG? Granted, you do get the tuner, the remote and a one-year guide subscription, so it’s a decent value, especially for frequent fliers who want the TiVo experience in coach. But where the couch is concerned, LiquidTV is no substitute for a set-top TiVo.