Thumbs Up for iPreview/TiVoMatic
One other use for the Thumbs Up button is called iPreview (previously known as "TiVoMatic"), which is the ability to automatically enter the Record Options screen with the press of the Thumbs Up button during a commercial or show preview. If you're watching a commercial for an upcoming program and you see an ovoid box in the upper right corner of the screen with the Thumbs Up icon on it, pressing this icon on your remote will take you to the Record screen and allow you to set this upcoming show to record. When you see this iPreview icon, pressing Select will work as well (see Figure 3.3).
Figure 3.3 The iPreview icon for an upcoming show.
Grown-ups aren't the only ones who love the stand-alone TiVo remote control ("The Peanut"). Little kids are drawn to the cute shape of the remote, the big colorful thumbs, and the cartoony "TiVoGuy" button at the top. A few minutes of the neighbor kids playing "What does this button do?" with your remote and your carefully crafted Thumb Ratings can be ruined. Keep this in mind, and keep your Peanut out of reach of button-crazed bambinos.
IPreview is also used in the "exclusive" preview programming that TiVo offers, such as through their partnership with TVGuide. The weekly TV Guide Insider Picks program (which shows up in Showcases every Monday) uses iPreview. TiVo, Inc. was hoping that more networks would be using this technology by now, but it does seem to finally be spreading. Eventually all previews for upcoming shows may offer this built-in easy recording feature. One can also imagine that advertisers might want to get in on the action too. Special ad content already shows up in TiVo Central and in Showcases, with offers to enter contests, send you product brochures, and so forth when you hit the Select button (in which case, you're agreeing to let your account information at TiVo, Inc. be accessed to fetch your address info). It seems only a matter of time before this type of "interactivity" comes to regular TV commercials where a press of the Thumbs Up is all you'll need to get "free" stuff from advertisers.
The iPreview feature works in a recorded program or in live TV, even if the iPreview icon goes away and you have to back up the show to find it again. The iPreview code is actually embedded in the TV signal.
When I spoke at NATPE in 2001 about TV and the Internet (see introduction) and told the TV execs I never watched commercials now that I had a DVR, I got a bizarre reaction from two of them. They came up to me after the talk, assured me that they knew all about DVRs and the future of TV advertising, and that it could all be summed up in one word: "coupons." Huh? "Here's how it'd work," said one confident exec. "You're watching TV through your TiVo and you decide to skip the commercials. All digital recorders would have a small built-in spool-printer, and for the commercials that you skipmaybe all of themcoupons would be printed out, and lottery-like tickets and stuff." I looked at him in disbelief and said, "Well, I just wouldn't keep paper in my printer." He thought quickly and added: "The recorder could be designed to not work without it." I thought about this conversation when I started to see TiVo pushing contests, brochures, and other ad-related "goodies" on TiVo Central. I thought this was a fine, non-invasive way of alternative advertising via TiVo. But something as obnoxious (maybe more so) is in the works as I write this. Advertisers and TV execs are bandying about the term "TiVo-proofing" to refer to ads actually embedded in shows and ads that pop up ON TOP OF shows. Please make it stop!!
If you want the iPreview icon to go away during a show preview or commercial, just hit the Clear button on your remote. The Clear button can always be used to dismiss any information that's laid over the TV programming (Guide data, the channel banner, status bar, and so on).