Is TiVo Still the Best DVR to Use?
March 03, 2009 | by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
When it comes to digitally recording live TV, there’s no doubt that TiVo was the first big player in the market.
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Posted by IsleOfMan  on  03/03  at  10:43 AM

I’ve owned a few Comcast Motorola DVRs and now TivoHD.  The reliability is vastly improved over the Comcast boxes… I never have to worry about the Tivo not picking up a recording it is supposed to. 

I also love the network transfer features of the TivoHD.  I can easily, through the Tivo’s built in web-server and without dedicated software, transfer recordings over my home network to any PC… this is great for transferring recordings to my laptop to watch while I’m traveling (and much more reliable with better PQ than the SlingBox Solo I tried prior). 

With third party freeware (PyTivo) I can also seamlessly transfer ANY video file that FFMPEG can transfer (avi, mkv, divx, xvid, h.264, etc) from my networked PCs back to the TivoHD.  This gives the TivoHD extended use as a network media player for nearly any kind of video file I can find.  SD files transcode and transfer quickly enough for immediate playback, while HD h.264 files require advance transfer due to transcoding times. 

Tivo is also continuously expanding they ways to get content on to the device.  Amazon UnBox, YouTube, and Netflix are prime examples.  Access to an internet TV portal such as Hulu would be the crown jewel. 

For all of this functionality, I’ll gladly pay the monthly fee which I would be paying as rental for the Comcast box anyway, and it’s actually less per-box per-month since we have 2 Tivos in the house, and maybe a 3rd soon.

Posted by Joseph Massimino  on  03/03  at  12:00 PM

I’ve had them all, and made my own 5 channel media center DVR. I eventually went back to only Tivo. Tivo constantly strives for customer satisfaction, and their product showes this. Take away the hadware knowledge that I have and I would have no choice. I have looked into MythTV and other systems as well as BeyondTV up to the latest version, and Beyond media. They are two fo the best, but they don’t compare to the ease and friendlyness of Tivo. You don’t have Tivo if you don’t have a box that says Tivo on it. Tivo stands out as the king of DVR’s.

Posted by Jason Unger  on  03/03  at  12:18 PM

Having used both TiVo and the Motorola boxes from Comcast, I love the TiVo interface a lot more. It’s way more usable than the cable company software.

But I’ve always hated the fact that channel changing takes longer on TiVo—no matter how you connect it (IR blaster, RS232, straight to cable, CableCard, etc.)

At heart, I’m still a channel flipper—and the cable box is just quicker at that. I’d rather not use the cable DVR, but the delay annoys my wife even more than me. So TiVo lost that battle, at least in the living room.

Posted by Joseph Massimino  on  03/03  at  01:00 PM

Sorry, I have a multistream Comcast car in my HD Tivo and all three of my Tivos change channels fine. If you are using an IR blaster, or any other device between your Tivo and TV, such as a satelite box, it will slow you down a little, but only when you change the channel, not browse channels for what’s on.

Posted by GWGuruMan  on  03/03  at  01:16 PM

I have a TiVo HD unit with the Comcast Multistream card installed and I can change among the channels just fine.  Maybe I see a second to two second delay, but thats about it.

I have had the Comcast HD DVR prior to this and it had just a basic way of finding shows.  The Tivo HD unit has an interface for finding shows, actors and doing Season Pass recordings that just do not exist on the Comcast DVR unit.

Posted by GWGuruMan  on  03/03  at  01:25 PM

One other neat thing I have setup for my Tivo HD unit is a free piece of software called Galleon ( ) that connects my computer to the TiVo HD unit without installing any software on the Tivo HD unit itself.  It then allows me to show all kinds of computer music, photos and videos on my TiVo unit plus much more.  Even my computer desktop can show up on my TiVo unit.  This runs under Windows, Linux, MAC OSX and Unix.  All written in Java.

Posted by Jim Haigh  on  03/03  at  01:45 PM

I own both a Tivo HD and two DIRECTV HD DVR’s. An area nobody mentions is the transport system.  I am a big sports fan and do a lot of fast forwarding through games. On the Tivo the picture is perfect on FF speed one and easy to watch.  The DirecTV is jerky and hard to watch.  It is also hard to know when to stop to see the play. I even purchase the HR21P hoping it would work better but it is the same.

My problem is, sports are on DIRECTV not my Comcast Tivo.  I will have two units for sale when DIRECTV comes out with Tivo at the end of the year.

Posted by Lance Crabbe  on  03/03  at  02:05 PM

TiVo Rocks!
TiVo has the greatest depth of features including networking so you can watch programs recorded on one TiVo in another room that has a TiVo, most ways to find and search for content, and now great movie download options. They have consistently added new features in useable ways to their system through updated software pushed to the TiVo boxes. Now that the cablecard switched digital issues are solved with the deployment of tuning adapter boxes I think the only reason to now go with Tivo is if you have some specific priority needs such as channel changing speed.However, you really shouldn’t be channel surfing on the Tivo. All your content should be recorded on the Tivo for viewing at any time you choose. You can use your cable box for channel surfing and your Tivo for accessing content you want to see on your time schedule!

Posted by Joseph Massimino  on  03/03  at  02:12 PM

I’m not trying to down play Galleon, but my HD Tivo does get email, play Youtube Videos fro mthe internet, does slide shows, and much, much more. I can only imagine that Galleoon is mostlty geared to Series-II Tivo, and not Series-III.  With that said, I am happy to see software developed to interface with Tivo. One thing that will not be legal, but I still want it, is the ability to download my HD content to my computer. In any case, I love my Tivo’s.

Posted by IsleOfMan  on  03/03  at  02:29 PM

I’d say PyTivo and StreamBaby are much more interesting products on HD/S3 Tivos… the ability to either transfer or stream nearly any file type puts the Tivo in the realm of media streamer on top of being a great DVR.

Posted by Thom  on  03/03  at  03:07 PM

I have a Tivo HD and a Time Warner/Scientific Atlanta DVR.  The quality of the experience is not even close.  I think the SA box was designed by the same people who designed VCR controls. It is just so painful.
I can only imagine that those who voted for something else have never really used a Tivo.

Posted by Greg Castiglione  on  03/03  at  03:57 PM

We used to have TIVO but for the last several years we have Comcast television service and they make us rent their motorola HD-DVR’s we have two of them and the rental cost per month is about $15.00 each which does NOT include the cost of programming at all. We miss TIVO. If we switch back to Dish orDirecTv, we we automatically get a TIVO HD-DVR?? How does that work?—Greg—

Posted by LT in Texas  on  03/03  at  04:19 PM

What a weak article. For some reason, I thought it would discuss the various alternatives and actually choose a winner from all the major contenders.

For the poster who claims they can’t use a Tivo DVR with cable I guess they never heard of Cable Cards. Much less per month than renting cable co. boxes.

I have used both a Tivo HD and Directv HDVR 21. The HDVR 21 is fine once you get used to it. My series 2 Directivo’s (2) are still alive and running.

Posted by Joseph Massimino  on  03/03  at  04:55 PM

I don’t think it is weak at all. What everybody is saying is that they Love Tivo and we have all given many reasons why we love Tivo. Most of those who replied have owned, or still own other types of DVR’s, so their comparison was a fair judgment of the power and beauty of Tivo. Tivo is supreme in the DVR world. The only people who would like to say otherwise are Linux MythTv users. The main problem with Linux and MythTv is that it takes much more knowledge to configure the hardware, and software, and you take on the responsibility for all updates and maintenance. Most TV addicts are into their sports, or TV viewing as the main activity. They do not want to take on another hobby of the care and feeding of a MythTv box, or any other home brew DVR. This is my exact feeling, and I have the ability to run MythTv, or any other platform of DVR. I came back to Tivo and I have given up on all attempts to better it. Now I just enjoy watching TV, whatever I want, whenever I want. I watch entire seasons of shows in the summer when nothing else is on. I love my Tivo.

Posted by Stoli  on  03/03  at  05:03 PM

Tivo still is the best DVR on the market for ease of use look at all the great features home networking music from rhapsody Amazon movies and the best option just added netflicks.. I never watched TV until I bought my first Tivo way back when they started can anyone remember Sony SVR2000 series 1 this unit still works.. I have 7Tivos on my account I never miss any great shows my problem is I dont have time to watch them un less im traveling in my hotel room i watch thru my Sling box Pro or on my PDA in the airport. thank god for Sling media I dont have to Watch CNN any more in the airport I just snuggle up next to a an Electrical outlet plug my phone in and watch what i missed on my TIVO’s. Keep up tthe good work people @ Tivo..

Posted by Bradley  on  03/04  at  11:35 AM

TiVo is the best user interface… but lack of true video on demand takes it down a notch.  If TiVo would help the cable card along and make it a true two device much like the Comcast DVR… it would rule the DVR world.  I also would like to see direct web interface to the TiVo.. allowing orginzation of recordings, todo lists, season pass manager, etc.

Posted by Joseph Massimino  on  03/04  at  12:39 PM

Greg, Dish and DirecTV dod not have Tivo. They have their own DVR technology. DirecTV use to have Tivo, but they got away from Tivo and thought they could make a lot of money by using their own DVR. I think I heard that DirecTV may be going back to Tivo. If that is true, this just proves what all Tivo owners already know. There is only Tivo and other DVR’s, not all DVR’s are Tivo. Tivo is so good that the phase “I’m going to Tivo that”, has been used synonymously with any DVR recording process. Many TV personalities often refer to Tivoing a favorite show. I truly believe that most of them actual own Tivo because cost is one of the only thing that keeps some people from enjoying the benefits of owning a Tivo. As for your Comcast, you should keep it. You do not need to pay Comcast for their DVR, cancel them and give them back to Comcast. Buy a Tivo series-3, or Tivo-HD to replace them and call Comcast to install a cable card in them for you. The only thing you will be losing is the video on demand. This is the one area that I agree with. Actually I agree on two needed improvements for Tivo. The first is video on demand support from Comcast, and the second is the web interface for programming, control, and monitoring disk usage.  The cost of service on one Tivo is reduced by a multiyear agreement. The second Tivo is reduced by the multiyear agreement, and the multi-Tivo discount.
If you own a lifetime agreement on any Tivo, you are automatically given the multi-Tivo discount on any other Tivo’s you own. I agree that the lifetime service has gotten too costly for most people. I bought mine over 7 years ago when it was $250. I have had two series-1 Tivo’s, three series-2, and one series-3-HD. I currently have two series-2 and one series-3 in the house. They are all networked and most shows can be viewed from any room with a Tivo. The limitation is on the HD Tivo, they can only be viewed on the HD Tivo.  I think I rattled on enough.  Good luck.

Posted by Mike  on  03/05  at  10:11 PM

As a DirecTv customer, the loss of TIVO was agonizing. DirecTv became just a generic media pipe.  There is no feature or hook left to keep us with DirecTv, it is now just a price decision..  Unfortunately, Comcast with identical features is much more expensive, so we stay with DirecTv.  Several years later, I still get complaints from the whole family (each has their own DVR) about how awful DirecTV DVR is and how they miss Tivo.  DirecTv has improved their DVR over the years, maybe in a few years they’ll catch-up.

Posted by Vincent J. Bova  on  03/08  at  08:44 PM

Tivo is to the DVR market as “Jacuzzi” is to the hot-tub market.  But unfortunately for cable and satellite, Tivo is very good because other DVRs are not.  They lack the user friendliness, simplicity, and most of all “remembering” what a customer likes.  Throw in the fact that you can record by actor, actress, director or keyword and you have a very powerful DVR.  The little Tivo guy makes it more appleaing because it gives Tivo a face, a persona, and makes it appealing to everyone.

It’s not that the cable and Sat companies don’t know this already - the truth is that they would rather invest in other things like HD conversions, developing on Demand and original content than to shape up their DVRs.  Unfortunately this is a race that only Tivo is running in - and at the end of the day, its just a device that records content, not deliver it through it’s own veins.

Posted by RyanMC  on  03/09  at  09:30 AM

I could go through a detailed analysis of features and functions that explain why Tivo is better and justifies a pretty steep premium for those who care about having a premium experience but I don’t have the time to write and you likely don’t have the time to read.

The high order bit is that Tivo, since it’s initial release, has not only passed the wife test but has been a wife favorite.  It’s the only piece of technology in the house where she is the subject matter expert.

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