We found our TiVo deal randomly at http://parentstv.org/. I guess TiVo is a sponsor of the PTC and if you sign up for a year plan (we did the one-year, $129 one), then they give you the box free. The box costs about $250 at Target or Best Buy.
If you have digital cable or satellite, it would make more sense to pay the DVR monthly fee and just use the equipment they will loan you. However, we only have basic cable. We pay $10.50 a month for about 100 channels. So paying another $10 a month for the TiVo service is perfect for us.
Pros: No commercials, the box is free, and KidZone. My kids can only watch the shows that I prerecord for them, and they can only access LiveTV with a password. Megan can easily select shows to watch from the list of 20 or so I have taped for them.
Cons: Quality. We are used to watching shows in high definition. We pay $10 for cable, but our TV has an HD tuner, and we get about 20 channels in HD for free. Since these channels are on the airwaves and not through the cable, we cannot record from them on our TiVo. However, if you have a smaller television, or are not used to watching television in HD (once you start, it’s hard to go back), then you will be happy with the recording quality. You can also adjust it; better recording quality, less recording time, and vice versa.
Overall I am very happy with the purchase. The TiVo service is easy to setup and user-friendly (Megan has no trouble operating it.) The unlimited educational television shows at my kids’ fingertips are alone worth the $10.75 a month. Oh, and the Masterpiece Theater Jane Austen series!