"When it works, it's great"2.5 starson by tstarn04
Pros: Good PQ, small footprint, Decent GUI
Cons: Misses recordings, audio dropouts.
Summary: Well, I've owned this box for three weeks, and already three software updates in the middle of the night. Biggest problem/issue: It will record a show, but when you go to play it, it freezes up at a black screen with the counter along the bottom stuck at 0:00. It's a known issue, along with others (just check out www.dbstalk.com for details). The latest software update, 10/4, release notes say they "black screen of death" isn't even fixed yet, but it should happen less. How can you release a piece of hardware that requires three software updates in three weeks? Didn't someone beta test it? And this is a machine that has been delayed for months during 2005 and 2006. They should have stayed with Tivo for their software, rather than giving the money to NDS, which also is owned by Murdoch.
David, trust me when I say that there are a lot of unhappy Directv customers out there regarding the HR-20 glitches so far. Granted, when it works, it's great. But if a DVR can't record a program and let you watch it 99-100 percent of the time, it's really not a DVR. At least not yet.Updated
Directv continues to download firmware fixes/upgrades to the HR20, and mine is now working (fingers crossed). But others are reporting ongoing reliability issues (on www.dbstalk.com). Today, Directv began its latest firmware update, and this one finally unlocks the over-the-air tuner (which had been disabled). There are several other "fixes" and some great new features (that get into Tivo territory). Still missing: Dual buffers so you can pause one show and watch another, and vice versa. Not sure if it will be added, but if they get the reliability issue really fixed for everyone, and the OTA and new features work, then this will be a winner. But so far, in 4 months, it's not there yet. Interesting to see how this will all shake out with yesterday's announcement that News Corp. is trading Directv to Liberty Media. Have no idea if Liberty will continue to use News Corps. DVR strategy, or look to other strategies (maybe reconnecting with Tivo?). Anyway, as I said initially, of this DVR becomes reliable, I think it can be a winner. The jury is still out, but the verdict looks more favorable than back in September.