It took only eight years, but TiVo is finally offering its DVR boxes for free. According to the offer at the company's Web site, you can score a free 40-hour box if you sign up for a year's worth of monthly subscriptions at $16.95 each. That works out to $203.40 for a year of DVR joy. But wait: you can buy the same DVR for $50 after rebate and pay the standard $12.95 for 12 months, which works out to $205.39--a savings of $1.99. Regardless, those yearly totals are still roughly twice what it would cost to rent either a high-def or a standard DVR from your cable company; Time Warner NYC, for example, charges $8.95 per month. Also, remember that while TiVo's interface is better than that of most cable or satellite DVRs, and it can do lots of tricks, it can't record high-def or record two programs at once. That's probably why just about every CNET reader answered yes when we asked the question "Is your cable company's DVR better than TiVo?" While TiVo's offer is a step in the right direction since it brings its prices more in line with the competition's, it's still not enough to really compete with other free DVRs. To do that, TiVo needs a new dual-tuner Digital Cable Ready high-def box that maintains the same pricing structure, and I don't see that happening any time soon.
How well do you know your surge protector?
Whether you're looking to add more outlets, or want to add a layer of protection between your gear and the outside world, here's what you need to know.