I used to have Comcast, who provide a pretty good DVR with their service. But then I moved to a place that had Cablevision, and their DVR was absolutely
horrible. It just sucked. When I was moving again to another place that had Cablevision, I decided to go with TiVo instead - the DVR is very important to me because I never watch shows at their standard time, and the Cablevision DVR was too awful for me to be OK with it.
I purchased a TiVo HD from DVRUpgrade - a customized model with 43 hours of HD recording time instead of the normal 20 hours. They threw in a free Wireless G Adapter worth $50, so it really netted me $50 for doubling the recording time, a great deal. It was worth it because now I never have to worry about my DVR getting filled; it never remotely comes close. And it helps more than I would've expected because of the TiVo Recommendations feature - TiVo automatically records some shows it thinks you'll like, based on what you're recording. One time I set up a recording for a South Park episode, and it automatically recorded three other episodes that I'd never seen, so that was cool. The TiVo also stores recently deleted stuff, in case you accidentally delete something, and having a lot of free space helps with that. TiVo offers an HD XL DVR that stores 150 hours of HD programming, but I don't think anyone would need *that* much recording time! That model costs $600, so an extra $50-$100 for doubling your disk space is a much better deal.
The TiVo has some bugs that pop up every now and then, but nothing big. The main one that I've found bothersome is that in pretty much every show I record, there will be a 10 second period where there's no sound. I can live with that though, and most people don't seem to have that problem. The TiVo is certainly the best DVR I've ever seen. It also has a good community - TiVoCommunity is a good place to find answers about stuff (it's where I learned about DVR upgrades).
One of the coolest things available is something called pyTiVo - this is a great piece of software that allows you to transfer videos from your PC to your TiVo! It's especially great because now I can use my beloved 30 second skip forward button on the TiVo on shows from my computer, while watching them on my large screen TV. You just place the videos in your Videos folder on your computer, then transfer them to your TiVo. It can take a bit of time to transfer so you probably won't be able to watch right away, but that's not really a big deal. I use pyTiVo pretty often and love it.
TiVo has a very user-friendly interface, and definitely the best features of any DVR I've used. The TiVo HD is the model to get, and if you watch a lot of TV (which I'm afraid most people do these days!) or record a lot of HD shows then you might want to consider getting an upgraded model. You'll probably be paying $129 per year or $399 for a lifetime plan, which are quite hefty sums themselves just for the service. So the cost of the upgrade is a fairly good investment.
On the lifetime subscription, it is written that TiVo policy is a Lifetime subscription cannot be transferred from one DVR to another. However when I ordered my subscription on the phone, I was told that if you purchased a new unit, you could call tech support (he specificially said not customer service) and ask for a one-time exception.
Some notes on things I've learned:
- The Instant Replay button goes back 8 seconds.
- To turn Closed Captioning on or off, hit the Info button and scroll down the the CC icon and hit Select. You can change your closed captioning options under Messages & Settings>Settings>Displays>Closed Captioning.
- The Advance button normally skips to the end of the recording, but I find it much more useful when it's altered to become a 30 second skip forward button. That way I can very easily skip commercial breaks - fastforwarding is much more annoying and cumbersome. To change it, while playing any recording, do the following: Play any recording, hit 'Select', 'Play', 'Select', '3', '0', 'Select'. If you did it right you should hear three bongs. To disable this and revert back to the default Advance button behavior, just repeat the steps.
- Also if you hit the Advance button while fastforwarding or rewinding, you will skip forward or backward to the 15 minute markers. This can come in handy, and makes the default Advance button behavior even less useful.
- You may need to set the display definition of the TiVo to 'Native' if that is not the default value after setup, or you may want to match the definition of your television. To set this go to Messages & Settings>Settings>Video>Video Output Format. 'Native' is the preferred option, as that will display HD shows in HD and SD shows in SD.
- For the TV Power, volume, mute, and TV input buttons to work, you will need to program them. This is done by going to Messages & Settings>Settings>Remote, CableCARD, & Devices>Remote Control. Then follow the instructions for Part 1. Setting up Part 1 should also setup the TV input button (Part 3). Part 2 is not necessary unless you have an A/V receiver for sound.