"Designed by comittee in a hurry who obviously didn't know about Tivo."2.5 starson by dukemang
Pros: HD, Universal Remote
Cons: Not even close to Tivo, No off-air antenna, Pitifull HD offering
Summary: This unit looks nice if you buy it you will become a beta tester. The menus are not intuitive. Tivo required very little reference to the manual but the HR20 requires you to read it to figure out how to do things that should be simple.
Recording all episodes (season pass in Tivo) isn't hard, but there is no place to confirm that it will actually record them. When you look up coming episodes they do not show the "R" next to them in the future. For the Tivo user there seems to be too much hoping and praying that shows will be recorded.
After fast fowarding the sound takes a full second to come on after the video starts.
No Off-Air capability. The HR-20 was released without the ability to add an off air antenna. This may be due to the fact that they want you to hire a professional to add a 5LNB antenna to your system to get local channels. Yes, that's right, the 3LNB antenna you bought just last year is not enough. Still not fixed as of 11/3/06.
Flipping back and forth between tuners kills the buffer each time. With Tivo you could flip back and forth between tuners and time shift each one separately so you could back up or pause a show and then watch another without commiting the show to the record list. The HR20 doesn't do this.
The manual is inadequate considering you need it. I read the recording section 5 times and still had to just experiment to figure things out.
This unit has very little usefulness with DirecTV's lame HD offerings. 5 Channels of HD plus your local stations if you have the 5LNB antenna and your area is connected. This is not compelling which is why they are currently providing 4 months free.
Now on the positive side, the universal remote does actually turn the volumn up and down on my Samsung Plasma without having push and let up for every increment/decrement. Also when a program is paused for a while a screen saver pops up to reduce the chance for burn in. There is a mini guide that will let you scroll through the guide one line at a time without blocking the entire screen.
With several bugs still needing to be fixed and little compelling HD channels, I would recommend staying away until DirecTV fully commits to HDTV with both programming and hardware.