"If it isn't a TiVo - its not a DVR"4.5 starson by bob-atkins
Pros: Well designed, intuitive interface. Great integration of broadcast TV and online content. Built in ASTC (off-the-air) tuner. Excellent picture quality. Ease of setup. Netflix, Pandora Radio, Youtube. MyTivo web management interface. Very reliable.
Cons: Takes way too long to re-order season passes. HD menus could be faster. Lifetime subscription no longer available!
Summary: Once again - TiVo has proven that it is *the* DVR - nothing else even comes close! I have used the latest DirectTV DVR as well as Verizon's FiOS Motorola HD DVR and they aren't even in the same league as a TiVO Premier!
I had a TiVo Series 2 (DirectTV) for almost 8 years. I wanted to move up to HD service and since DirectTV (in their infinite stupidity) didn't have a TiVo HD DVR so they lost my business after 14 years! In August 2010 we switched to Verizon FiOS TV and purchased a TiVo premier with a 2TB (~380 HD hours) upgrade from Weaknees together with a Lifetime service plan. Prices for the same unit that I purchased dropped $200 in November but now you cannot purchase a lifetime subscription for the discounted units. :(
Setup was a snap with an Mcard from Verizon FiOS. I have the TiVo connected by ethernet cable to my home network so it has full access to the Internet for program data, software updates and video on demand. I love the direction that I see things going. TiVo offers a wide variety of free Video on Demand as well as for-pay services such as Netflix, Amazon and Blockbuster. I have Netflix and I have been using an LG BD-300 BlueRay player for streaming. I now use my TiVo Premier because the user interface is more user friendly. I can't say that there are any visible differences between the video quality of Netflix streaming between the LG and the TiVo but, I feel that the TiVo interface provides a better viewing experience.
Unlike what others have said here my Tivo has been VERY reliable. It has not crashed or locked up since I installed it and we use it frequently and heavily with over 80+ season passes, several scheduled Internet shows (Revision3 TV and CNET for example) that are downloaded regularly, listening to Pandora radio and watching Netflix and Youtube videos. Granted, mine may be more stable it has the latest software or it is possible that others complaining about stability may be suffering problems due to unstable power. I have all of my entertainment equipment running from an UPS to protect my gear and because I don't want my Tivo to stop recording just because of a power glitch. Overall I am very happy with the reliability.
I really like the ability to program shows to record via the web using MyTiVo. It made scheduling the 80+ Season passes that we watch much simpler. Yes - that's 80+ Season Passes. Try doing that on a DirectTV or Motorola DVR and see how far you can get!
I am very pleased with the recent addition of Pandora radio!! I can now stream my Pandora stations directly from my TiVo with all of the artist information on the screen. If you haven't tried Pandora - you are missing a really great way to listen to music you like while simultaneously discovering new artists that also appeal to your musical tastes.
I also love the way TiVo has improved their interface - making it even easier to schedule shows to be recorded. I especially like how they have made it easy to review a show's season pass and get more information about it seamlessly from Internet sources with the Swivel search feature.
Another plus that I really appreciate is the ability to receive off the air TV with the built-in ASTC receiver. Its nice to know that you don't need to pay for a cable service if all you prefer to watch is available from off the air TV stations. The ASTC receiver plus the ability for TiVo to download and stream free Internet content and Netflix make it a powerful alternative to cable TV subscription service.
Is there room for improvement? You bet! My biggest gripe is the ridiculously long time it takes to re-order season passes - several minutes for what should be a simple sort function that any computer should be able to accomplish in less than a few seconds - even with 80+ season passes. As a software engineer, I am appalled out how long it takes to re-order the season pass list during which time you can't do anything else but wait. This is the exact same problem that I had with my DirecTV Tivo. I would have thought that in 8 years of development that Tivo would have fixed this. At the very least relegate it as a background task and don't make the user wait looking at a message that says 'Please Wait'.
HD Menus look slick but are slower than they should be given the processing power that is available. There is also a curious inconsistency in which the 'Exit' key does not exit the main HD menu back to either the Live TV or recording that you were watching.
However, in spite of the above two cons, Tivo just thrashes every other DVR doing its primary task very well - recording scheduled shows consistently, dealing with scheduling overlap gracefully, providing excellent video and audio and fully integrating broadcast and Internet sourced entertainment.
Once you have a TiVo - you'll never have anything else!