"Don't Settle For What Your Cable Company Offers"4.0 starson by KevinCLovesU
Pros: HD, HDMI, Works great with both OTA and cable, High storage capacity, good-looking interface, no subscription, CableCard, 90 minute buffer, "trick play" that leaves TiVo in the dust
Cons: Channel changing can lag, remote is a little light on controls, TV Guide on Screen is sometimes aggravating, HDCP compliance can create problems, single tuner
Summary: I bought this DVR a few months ago, and I must say...
For years, my family has been craving a DVR, specificallya TiVo. Then one day we decided we would buy a TiVo. By some luck, we didn't go buy it that second, and realized that TiVo wouldn't work with our setup, since we use HD, CableCard, and VoiP. I went on CNET and found this little unit.
The first day, I was overjoyed at how simple setup was. Plug in the power, screw in the input(s), put in the CableCard (if you have one), connect the HDMI, DONE! Unfortunately, it did take 24 to get program information, but it was alright, it's FREE!
After your guide information comes in, you then have to sort your channels. Difficult? Yes. Annoying? Yes. Worth it? Yes. After that, unless you pull your cablecard or reset your location, the order should stay.
Now, it's time to use the DVR to it's fullest. I reccomend setting "format" to 720p or 1080i, depending on which you watch more. You can always go back and change it. If you choose "Auto HDMI", channels will take twice as long to change, and your guide will not be widescreen on 480i/p channels.
Using the TV is simple and efficient once you master it. Play around, read the manual, learn EVERYTHING you can to make your experience more enjoyable. In the guide, you can look at listings, access your schedule and your recordings, or search for new shows. The search function is handy and helps me find shows I would like to watch. You can search by title, keyword, or category. Recording is simple. Just highlight the show, hold record for one second and release. Press twice for "regular" recording (records all occurances of that show on that channel at that time), three times for "weekly" (that channel, that timeslot, every week), and four times for "suspend" (I'm not sure why anyone would do this). Tip: go into the guide's "setup" and "change default options" and "record defaults". Change the default quality to SP or LP to save space on your DVR. I see a VERY small difference, and it takes up WAY less storage. You can always go back and change the quality for individual shows.
When scrolling around the guide, if you want to skip far ahead, type the number of hours you'd like to travel and press the direction you're going.
Now the TiVo guide maybe be better, Sony's playback blows TiVo's out of the water. I'll spare you on how to do it, but learn how to take advantage of ADVANCE and REPLAY, as well as chapter mark. I use advance and replay to skip commercials faster, without having to FF or REW.
Now to comment on my cons. Channel changine can be slow when switching between formats (for example, switching from FOX HD to CBS HD) there will be a pause. To (slightly) resolve the problem, set format to 1080i or 720p. If you're watching HD, you should switch it to whatever your channel provides. For example, on FOX and ABC, put it on 720p. NBC, CBS, WB, and UPN should be on 1080i. usually watch FOX, so I leave mine on 720 and occaisonally swith to 1080 for CBS or NBC.
The remote problem depends on your setup. Keep the other remotes handy for the features the Sony doesn't have.
Now, HDCP will only affect a small amount of people. A few cable companies [ilegally] insert "digital flags" on digital channels which your Sony will see, and refuse to record that program. My cable company's DVR is non-compliant, so it gets away with any recording, whether or not the flag is there. So, to keep us from purchasing the DVR, they inserted flags. The cable reps lie and say that they don't know about it. If you watch a lot of digital cable and your company inserts flags (very few do) you do not want this product. Flags are non-existent OTA.
This product is a single tuner. So I suggest a splitter so you can watch one show, record another. You cannot record two shows. This is not a problem for me, I very rarely wish for the ability to do two recordings.
If you want a DVR that works with OTA or just works better than your cable's, pick up this unit. You won't regret it.