"Now that all features are enabled, this box blows cable co DVR's away! Worth the upfront cost."4.5 starson by jonbmw
Pros: Powerful & intuitive interface, ability to save recorded shows to computer, extra hard drive option, Season Pass, Wish Lists, Online scheduling, Amazon Unbox, monthly service fees can be less
Cons: Up front cost of box, getting cable co to correctly install CableCards, no cable on-demand (but there's Unbox)
Summary: **THE EDITORS REVIEW IS NOW OUTDATED. THE TIVO-TO-GO, EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE, AND MULTI-ROOM VIEWING ARE ALL ENABLED NOW!** Both the editor and user ratings would be higher if this was the case previously. There are more new features like on screen Rhapsody music service too.
First off, ignore the people who've abused this review system and rated the product down without having any knowledge or experience with it. Once you take those nay-saying rants out, you'd see the user rating is very high, as it should be. It's very rare to find a TiVo user who regrets their purchase.
I bought a TiVo Series 2 DT 80hr box before this product came out and fell in love with the TiVo interface and extra features. We'd been using the cable company DVR for years and while it had the basic advantages of a DVR (pause live tv, record shows to watch later), it had its share of downfalls. It was difficult to find the shows I wanted to record, the scheduling wasn't very accurate, and it would crash fairly often.
I won't go into all the details of the features of the TiVo HD since the editors review does a nice job with it, but I will correct some things that are now incorrect.
The TiVo-to-Go feature is now enabled which is my favorite feature of all. You can save almost every show you record, including HD programs, to your hard drive to free up space, archive for later, or take with you on a laptop to watch when traveling. The only exception are a few digital channels that have copyright restrictions, but all the major networks work fine. Want to save a whole season of Grey's Anatomy in HD quality? You can! The files are in the original HD quality which can run up to 6.5 GB per hour, so keep that in mind.
Speaking of hard drive space, TiVo now offers a 500 GB "DVR Expander" for $199 that gets you 60 more hours in HD or 600 SD. You have to buy the TiVo certified drive to work, but that is because PC drives are not designed for the incessant writing that DVR's do, and $199 is still a comprable price. Cable company boxes can't compete with this capacity. Even the included 20 hours of HD is more than most cable boxes. If you don't want to spend the extra money on the external drive, you can transfer it to your PC's drive and still access it on your TV, which will stream it off your PC.
The Universal Swivel Search deserves an extra mention too because it's really amazing. Say you're wondering who the actor is you're watching on TV right now.. With 2 clicks you can see who the actor is, what shows or movies he/she's been in, and schedule any of the actor's shows to record or download it instantly from Amazon Unbox. It'll tell you what episodes are coming up for your show and recommend similar shows that you'd like. TiVo has lots of picture and music options too which it will get from your computer, the internet, or Rhapsody where you can stream any full song/album on demand. Rhapsody requires a subscription, but the stuff from your computer is free.
One thing that everyone seems to bash TiVo on is the cost. Yes, I know that $299 is asking a lot when compared to a box you get "free," but you clearly can not view them as equal boxes. I and most any TiVo user you ask would say it's worth the price premium, just like adding options on a car, but consider this.. The TiVo HD could actually save you money over an extended period of time. Say you're paying $15/month for all the cable DVR rental and service fees and associated taxes. You can get TiVo for $8.31 a month if you buy 3 years up front. It obviously takes a while to make up the $299 investment, but in 45 months you will have done it and it will save you money every month after.
TiVo Cast is another cool feature. If you're a gadget fan or CNet fan, be sure to subscribe to the CNet TiVoCast. It is a 15 minute show that showcases some of the newest products so you're always up to date. You can also see what shows celebrities are watching, or what Maxim recommends by using Guru Guides.
One last useful, exclusive feature. Let's say you forgot to set something to record and now you're out of town. With a cable box you're SOL, but with TiVo you just go to TiVo.com, type in the show, and click a button and it's sent to your TiVo box and added to the record list. It'll be there waiting for you when you return.
The only bad thing I can say about the TiVo HD is actually the cable company's fault. Cable companies aren't used to installing CableCards so some people have had trouble finding a cable person who can set it up correctly. It's a simple process, but the people on the phone just aren't used to it. This may be better by now as the device has proliferated the market more... I got mine early on, so by now they may be better trained on it. The other downside is also the CableCard's fault and that's the loss of on-demand programming. Personally, I don't miss it since my TiVo has everything I'd want to watch "on-demand" already. If you ever have any questions or problems, the TiVo support people are really nice, and you can tell they truly value their customers. Try finding that with your cable operator.
I could go on forever, but really you need to just experience it for yourself. With the unbeatble interface, expandable storage, tivo-to-go, and the multimedia options, it is well worth the upfront cost. If you try it and disagree with me, come back and comment on this review. You can always return the box and your first 30 days are risk free with the service too. Basically, if you can overlook the upfront cost you'll be much happier with a TiVo HD.