I’ve used TiVo for over two years now. I was wasn’t an “early adopter” for TiVo – in all honesty I was skeptical of the recording purposed and didn’t think I’d need to ever freeze live TiVo. Live and learn: I don’t want to live without it, even if I can do it. Recently I moved up to a Tivo2 box and have been less than impressed with the results… somethings were better but other things were lacking to the point of my signing up for the Comcast DVR service – I just got the box today…
You knew I’d have to have some comments on it!
With TiVo1 I had hardly any gripes: the guide was a little lacking, but that was about it. The TiVo1 guide only showed what was on for the current half hour, instead of the hour and a half grid that most cable boxes show. It was a minor gripe – obviously if I would still link to them – if only because I kept the service for so long.
When I saw that TiVo2 boxes had dropped to $99 (after rebate) I figured it was time to take a look at the new stuffs. I had a Sony branded box on the first go around, and now it looked like they were getting out of the PVR business; they had made a TiVo2 version about a year ago, but it’s long since discontinued. In fact, most of the boxes out there these days are produced under the TiVo brand.
The hook up was the same. The guide was vastly improved. The output was shitty. So much so that I posted a blurb on the TiVo forums and discovered two things: first, I was not the only one to notice and second, that the TiVo brand boxes had switched to a single decoder chip, which “might lessen quality for some people.” Consider me some people and I don’t think I’m all that observant of video quality. I even went so far as to get a new copy of Video Essentials, but after three hours of testing, nothing helped.
The day after I plugged in the new TiVo box, Comcast announced their new dual-tuner Hi-Def PVR box – this is typical of my life – but that’s OK… I didn’t have much interested until I heard what they were offering. On the surface it seemed that I would be getting the ability to record one show while watching another – and in HD quality – and their service was $10-ish a month [it gets confusing because I was paying $4 or $5 for HD and now that’s included in the PVR $9.95]. TiVo is $12/month (I think) and their HD box is $999 [satellite only]. Hah.
Then I started hearing about some issues with the Comcast box… typical 1.0 hiccups, but they sound uglier since TiVo has been doing this for a while and no one likes their TV recorders fecked off. I had also seen some screen shot of the guide and it looked like it would be the same as the current Comcast guide, which is ironically like TiVo1. But there was no long term commitment and no start up fee, so I figured I would run for a couple of months with both the new PVR and TiVo…
So here’s some first impressions of the Comcast PVR system:
The guide is much better than I expected. It does start with a “what’s on now” list, but if you hit the right arrow, it shows an hour and a half grid! Yay! The two tuners work invisibly: you watch TV like normal and the other tuner records when it needs to. What you’re currently watching can be changed, paused, etc. just like normal. The Rewind/Fast Forward modes have four speeds, which can be overwhelming. It does not give you an “auto backup” at high speeds like TiVo does – useful when skipping commercials, when TiVo would back off your stop point by a few seconds – but there is a “return” button that jumps back seven seconds… makes for a handy one press workaround.
The guide is also the foundation for searching for shows and right now there’s only about three days worth – if that’s normal, it’s lacking a good deal, but I’m guessing that there’s more info coming. It’s also got the same limitation that TiVo has: if a show isn’t listed you can’t recording… so I have to wait for the first show of The Sopranos to show up before I can add it to the list.
Since I hooked it up through DVI, my TV is always locked in HD/Full mode. This has its pros and cons… if I switch to a HD channel, I don’t have to change anything. If I watch regular TV, I still won’t have to change anything; I don’t mind the black bars. If I watch regular TV, and the show is in letter box, I might have a problem: there are now black bars on the top, bottom, and sides. This doesn’t happen often, but it does happen from time to time, and that’s when Wide Zoom comes in handy. Thankfully, the Motorola box has SVideo-out still, so I can plug that into the TV’s Video 1, too, which will let me switch to Wide or Wide Zoom mode.
Space wise, I saved a half hour show and it told me I had 1% of my space used. I’m guessing that means I have about 50 hours of regular TV. Or if my non-HD shows are saved as HD, I might have 50 hours of recording, over all! Won’t know about that until I play with it some more, though. Either way, I had a 30 hour TiVo for a long while and never ran outta space.
Pretty optimistic about it… so far, the only downside is a small window of guide information… I’m used to two weeks of data stored for browsing and three days seems too small. I also wonder if I’ll miss the TiVo-To-Go option that’s due this moth, if I drop them, but I don’t know how much I’d actually use that anyway. Oh, and the Harmony remote picked up the new cable box without a problem, so that too is working already.
I’m impressed so far: I’m used to cable companies charging twice as much for a quarter of what they should be offering and that’s not the case here!