A couple of months ago, I took Time Warner up on their offer to preview their cable DVR/box. You can watch one show and record another at the same time! You can record 60 hours of programming! Recording a show is as simple as clicking an on-screen guide! And it was half price for three months!
Fast forward a few months later and I cannot imagine t.v. without it. While my friend was getting up at 3:30am to watch the Aussie Open, I was sleeping like a baby, secure that I could get up, click a few buttons and watch the match in its entirety. I could live without the $18.95/month price tag but I do love my DVR.
So last week I was strolling through Costco and there was an 80 hour TIVO for $169.99 (after $100 rebate). It said all I needed was a phone line (no problem) and it worked fine with cable or satellite. And I got to thinking that in two years, even with the $299 lifetime subscription, the thing would pay for itself in two years. And I could beat “the man” (Time Warner) in the process. So I bought it, activated my lifetime subscription, and went about configuring the thing this morning.
All went smoothly until 20 minutes into the installation. I was following the on-screen installation and when I got to the part where it said I should be seeing video, it kept telling me that it couldn’t find video. I had followed the instructions and schematic to the letter. Three phone calls (two to TIVO; one to Time Warner) and four hours of frustration later, the TIVO rep and I came to the unhappy conclusion that my HDTV cable box is incompatible with TIVO. The tech’s recommendation to disable the HDTV component when I wanted to record was unacceptable. .
So I called and got a refund on my lifetime subscription and returned the TIVO to Costco.
I hate it when Time Warner wins. If TIVO ever comes up with an HDTV compatible DVR, I’d consider buying it. But I tell you, the simplicity of hooking up Time Warner’s all-in-one box is a huge hurdle they’ll have to overcome.
Tivo does have an HDTV-capable DVR, but it’s only available through DirecTV satellite.
They will have a Cablecard-compatible HD model out at the beginning of next year (Cablecard is a technology that allows a PCMCIA card to act as an authorization module in a TV or set-top box; it basically eliminates the need to get a set-top box if your TV is compatible).
However, it’s even money whether the company will go teats-north before then. All the cable and satellite companies are renting their own in-house DVRs for $5-10 a month, without an upfront fee.
I’m sure they will have a consumer Tivo with an ATSC tuner for HDTV sooner or later - currently, they only offer an HD unit for DirecTV satellite customers.
Another option, of course, would be to get a “home entertainment” PC with lots of drive space and an HD tuner card.
Here is the link for the DirectTV / Tivo unit that supports recording TWO SIMULTANEOUS HD channels
I highly recommend DirectTV and the DirectTivo…I’ve been a subscriber (though not to the HD version) for about a year and a half and can’t imagine life any differently.
By comparison, Time Warner was more expensive (Tivo service through DirectTV only costs $5/month), and their DVR boxes are noisy. A friend has Time Warner DVR and you can actually hear the hard drive churning once in a while!
Another feature that Tivo has that Time Warner doesn’t (as far as I know)…Wishlists. My Tivo picks up any movie that Charlie Chaplin is in. Every once in a while, a Chaplin flick just appears in my Play List. How cool is that?
I’ve had a DVR from Comcast for just over a week now, and I’m pretty happy with it. Comcast charges only $9.95 per month, a lot less than the $18.95 per month the OP is paying Time Warner. I don’t know what sort of box Time Warner uses, but this Comcast box is a Motorola DCT6412, and it’s very quiet. The only problem is that it occasionally freezes. About a week ago, it was freezing every time a particular commercial came on the local Fox affiliate (it was a promo for a news report for later in the week, so it ran about once an hour).
The big advantage of a cable company-provided DVR is that there’s no separate cable box, and it’s easy to record digital channels. I’ve heard that Tivo’s user interface is supposed to be better, but the Comcast box is a simpler installation, and it’s less than the cost of the Tivo service. The Tivo box with the cablecard slot might be the ideal solution, but I agree that Tivo’s long-term prospects are not good.
Dewey and Lute, I considered a DVR but was scared away because I have not been able to successfully record to my VCR from the cable box. Recording from the cable directly to the VCR was no problem, but once I introduced the box (and you can’t get HD without the box), I could only record shows that were currently showing on the screen.
I have considered DirectTV, but they have one major drawback and that is that they charge $5 per box, and unlike cable, you cannot bypass the box. Since I have 4 t.v.'s in the house, I’d have to pay an additional $20 to hook up all my tv’s and that puts it slightly above what I’m paying for cable.
I’m not a complete dolt when it comes to following schematics and such but I can’t imagine someone like my parents, who still call me with questions about their DVD/VCR combo, would ever buy a TIVO. Once again, I think that this is a huge hurdle for TIVO to overcome if they want to remain viable. The cable company’s DVR is nearly plug-and-play. Yes, it’s $18.95 (though, to be fair, it is a combination device, so it’s only an additional $10 a month from what I was paying for just the HD box), but it is extremely user friendly. And it does pain me greatly to say this because I look forward to the day when I can buy digital programming through the internet via a home media center and bypass the local cable company altogether.
I got the DVR in my bedroom and I can’t stand watching TV in any other room.
I have the TW DVR, Cable, Roadrunner, and soon will have the digital phone and TW Home Security Monitoring. I already use AOL for my e-mail.
Couple that with my subscriptions to Time and EW, LotR triology, and my preference for DC Comics over Marvel and it seems that AOL-TW owns my sorry ass.