Pros Reliable, well-designed, intuitive, gets over-the-air & sat
Cons Cannot be upgraded to MPEG4, slow menus
Summary I've had this device for almost 2 years and it is exceptionally reliable. Of the few failures it has had, all but two were the result of bad data sent by DirecTV (e.g. wrong format, inccorect program data, etc). And even that was infrequent.
The menus and user interface are excellent, if a bit slow (the newest software speeds this up), and the Season Pass function is rock-solid reliable.
The unit gets over-the-air AND DirecTV signals, although you have to sub to DirecTV to get anything -- they subsidized the price and want to get their money back. Most cable units will not do this, nor will most other satellite boxes. If you have a roof-top antenna this is important. If you live where there is no local HD over satellite, this is REAL important.
Unfortunately, DirecTV is transitioning to a newer HD compression format (MPEG4) which this unit can never do (done in hardware, not software). The newer DirecTV HR20, which replaces the HR10, can do MPEG4, but it is designed by another company and is widely panned due to crippling bugs. DirecTV HD users are shortly going to be in a difficult position: a reliable box that cannot get 50+ HD channels, or a box that can, but crashes a lot.
This device, while being obsoleted, still goes for a premium on eBay. Go figure.
Pros Good job of recording HD shows
Cons Good luck finding something you want to record
Summary I have had no problems with the unit itself, but it is horribly limited by apathy of DirecTV. First of all, their $11/month HD package gets you ESPN and ESPN2 HD plus a bunch of garbage channels. Since they can't provide you with local HD channels you can only get them by investing in your own OTA antenna and hoping you can pull in the signals. Beyond the HD content limitations, the only TiVO software that DirecTV supports is about 4 versions behind what the latest stand alone Tivo's run. According to DirecTV there is not plans to upgrade it at anytime in the near future and provide customers with enhanced capabilties. This is consistent with DirecTV's overall service philosophy of providing minimal functionality for maximum cost.
Pros HD, Satellite rcvr and Tivo all in one
Cons interface is a little slow. will need to be replaced or upgraded when mpeg 4 comes out
Summary The slow interface is really not that bothersome. It is only a few seconds at most and it is not all the time. $500 is a little pricy but no one else is offering this bundled technology yet. I got it to consolidate my entertainment area after I got my HD tv. The MPEG4 thing is not a big issue. Direct TV just came out with a policy in November that if you have this receiver and old HD dish they will be replaced (or software patch for recevier) at no cost for the equipment. At least that is what I was told by customer service. However, I would like to know if anyone else has heard this as customer support are not always right.
I had regular tivo before so I think the interface is great. I don't mind having to wait 2 to 5 seconds every once in a while. Also people are comparing ultimate TV to this receiver. They are not the same. Does ultimate TV recieve and record in HD? No, it doesn't. Does ultimate TV pick up off air HD signals? Again, no. This offers a lot more features than Ultimate TV receivers. If you want the all in one capability this is the only game in town and at $500 it is a pretty decent value for what you get.
Pros Its the only game in town
Cons Pricey with higher than average failure rate.
Summary What happens when Mpeg4 comes to town, If a grand isnt an issue than get it now. I love the HD quality and price is irrelevant.
Pros Good for HD broadcast from DirecTV.
Cons Problems with OTA station that broadcasts on VHF. Internal ATSC tuner seems to have sensitivity issues with HD material broadcast on VHF.