"Still the best alternative and worth the extra $"4.5 starson by ssolomo
Pros: Easy to use, intuitive, reliable
Cons: Subscription cost, dealing with cable company
Summary: As the owner of two Series 2 TiVOs, you could say that I'm a believer. In my pre-HDTV days, and no-pay channels, these worked great via analog cable signal. However, when it came time to upgrade from 27" tube TVs, research was necessary.
I have Verizon's FiOS service. Overall, even with standard set top boxes (going through the Series 2 TiVO), the picture clarity is much higher than I had with Comcast, both digital and analog signals. This baseline is what I'm evaluating the TiVO HD versus the FiOS Motorola HD set top box and DVR (which a number of my friends have, with similar plasma screens).
The TiVO itself is a piece of cake to set up. The interface is just as easy (my mother, who struggles how to get solitaire to open in Windows, uses TiVO effortlessly). The picture quality is top notch. The features are great - storing shows on a desktop computer (if you have something you want to keep for eternity or burn to a DVD for your own personal collection), streaming music, downloading video blogs, scheduling the TiVO to record something remotely (I use this ALL the time), etc.
The issue lies with the dreaded cable cards. The cards themselves are not the problem - the cable providers cannot (do not) get a reliable supply of functioning cards - but more importantly, their techs have not the slightest clue how to make them work. I had one card that would only pull the analog signal - four techs came out trying to fix it - wasting hours of my time and the cable company's time. Ultimately, after going through many layers of technical support on the phone with Verizon, the problem was that the home office didn't "turn the card on with the right signal". It was possibly one of the most frustrating and annoying processes to go though. This is no fault of TiVO - solely Verizon in this case - but read up on the TiVO community forum how to install the cable cards. I wish I had - would have saved me hours upon hours.
The other negative is the additional cost - however, once you account for the lesser cost of the cable cards, the difference is minimal (buy a year at a time subscription and save money). Overall, TiVO HD is completely worth it over the cable company's mediocre DVR offerings.