Tuesday, May 01, 2007

DirectTV DVR Review

When I upgraded to HDTV I was a little worried about dropping Tivo and getting DirectTV's DVR, called the HR20. But after a couple of months of use I have to say that I am pretty pleased. As Rorschach commented, in some ways the HR20 is better than Tivo.

  • Record two things at once - This could be done with Tivo, but required additional equipment. I get it automatically with the HR20 and DirectTV HD. I didn't think this would be a big deal, but now that I have it I have to say that it comes in a lot more handy than I thought.
  • Preview Window - Whenever you are navigating the HR20, whatever you were watching - either recorded or live - goes to a little corner window, so you can watch and browse at the same time. The Tivo had a grid come over live TV, and you couldn't watch anything when looking at recorded features
  • Filtering - The HR20 has nice automatic filtering features for watching live TV, like "HDTV Channels", "Sports", and so one. Tivo had some of these but were not as obvious as the HR20.

Stayed The Same:

  • 30-Second Skip - This was THE feature I didn't want to lose. The HR20 has it, although it shows the video during the "skip" rather than just skipping over it. Since it takes about the same amount of time, it is not a big deal. The nice thing they added was seeing how many "skips" you hit, so you can see how friggen long some commerical breaks really are (more than five minutes isn't uncommon).
  • 3-Second Back - Exactly the same

Missing a Little

  • Thumbs-Up and Down and AutoRecord - The one thing I miss is Tivo finding stuff I "might" enjoy and recording it for me. It would record a lot of crap, but everyone once in a while it would find something that surprised me. And I really miss giving three thumbs down to stuff I really hated.
  • Navigation - I heard reviews that the HR20 navigation isn't as natural as the Tivo, but it isn't THAT bad. It is "okay", and does have deeper menus than Tivo for some tasks, but isn't terrible. Tivo did have an edge.
  • Controller - The Tivo "Dog Bone" controller was pretty nice and better than the HR20, but is a minor gripe.
  • Set-Up - Setting up my channels, etc. was harder with the HR20, but that was a one-time deal.

Overall I miss the Tivo less than I thought I would and am fairly pleased with the HR20. Of course the awesome HD picture is probably helping the transition. I didn't realize how much better it really is, especially for sports.

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