Talk to me about PVRs

So my wife had mandated that one of those “Tivo thingies” will be coming into our home this xmas. She watches a lot of TV and follows many different shows so I’m surprised I’ve made it this long without owning one :D

I, not being a TV watching person, haven’t followed the technology here at all so I’m looking for some advice/recommendations from the savvy QT3 crowd. Basically I see myself as having 2 options:

  1. Buy a commercial product (Tivo, ReplayTV, etc). The upside here is the service as I understand it. I shell out a few hundred for the recorder, hook it up to my home LAN, and it downloads listings automagically (though I pay for this service?). Probably a nice slick interface as well. Do these things incorporate DRM to keep me from using the recorded programs in unapproved ways? What models are the best right now?

  2. Build one of my own. The upside here is that building one would be a really fun little project, but I think I would end up spending more than a commercial unit. I would probably end up a with a ton more features though, so it might be a wash. I’m also guessing I don’t get the slick automatic listing updates that the commercial units get. Anyone gone this route and want to comment on particular hardware/software packages that worked well?

How do you get your TV, cable/digital cable, directv, dish network?

Regular old cable TV. Digital cable is available but I already pay the bastards at the cable company too much every month :D

Many digital cable and satellite cable companies offer free DVRs or include them in the package. I absolutely love my TiVo, but if I had it to do over again I’d probably go with one of these package deals.

Also, this is a good site on DVRs:

OK, this is a thing for your wife.

Are you mad? You’re talking about this as a project for you! Buy your wife a Tivo; the interface is polished and the remote is really well designed and easy to use. My Mom loves her Tivo’s ease of use. Once you have that, go build your project box for yourself if you want.

I have Time Warner’s Tivo clone box. It sucks compared to an actual Tivo, but it is loads cheaper - $10 a month, and the box is free. My box died a couple months ago, so I just exchanged it for a new one.

The low end tivo is only 100 dollars after rebate (40 hours at lowest quality).

Try it for a month and return it with 30 days if you don’t like it – would only cost you one month subscription. It will work for one week without a sub as well.

You can upgrade the drive yourself – that might satisfy your need to do a project. Great deals on Seagate 160 gigs for 50 dollars after rebate everywhere – 5 year warranty and very quiet, perfect for tivo.

Nothing else compares with Tivo-- and I’ve tried them all, mythtv, ultimatetv, freevo, replaytv, ms media center, timewarner pvr, even the ancient dishnetwork pvr a while ago. Get a tivo. You’ll love it.

TiVo definitely.

Direct TV with their TiVo powered receiver-
35 hours
tivo software- Tivo is sweet- I highly recommend it

The box was 99 bucks with a 50 dollar rebate- I pay 53 dollars a month for 2 tv’s and all the channels plus locals, and tivo-

The only thing I don’t get are the premium ones like HBO-- that is what netflix is for.

If you stick with cable, still, tivo… you do have to pay monthly for the service but after having it for a month… I am getting a second tivo for the living room…

Thanks all, looks like I’ll be buying a cheap tivo. Now I have to wire ethernet to the dang living room when it’s a good distance away from any other LAN equipment in the house.

Tivo Negative - they monitor what you watch.

I have a Dish Network PVR which is just outstanding. Even if you’re not a TV watcher, when you do you will appreaciate it. Want to watch a football game? Just start watching 45 minutes late and “skip” all the commercials. It’s just outstanding for that reason alone.

I’m not sure about Tivo, but my one complaint with the dish network DVR is that you can’t rename shows (that I have figured out anyway). So let’s say you weekly record CSI, you go into and watch them and the only way to tell them apart is the recording date. It would be nice to be able to rename shows.

It can also download stuff through the phone line. At least my model does. And if you don’t have a phone jack nearby, you can buy kits that turn any electrical outlet into a phone jack. That’s what I did.

Of course, if you wire ethernet into the living room, it opens many possibilities for Xbox Live. :)

I can’t possibly see why this would matter. TiVo must get so much data that I doubt they do much with it other than high-level analyses, like their 100 most popular Season Pass list.

The worst I could see is that TiVo would harvest the data and sell it to marketers so they could target marketing to you based on what kind of shows you watch. And that would actually seem like a good thing to me. Advertising or marketing tailored to my interests is good.

I too was initially bothered by the fact that tivo tracks programs but frankly if they see that I watch Enterprise, other than thinking I am an idiot for watching that show… eh, who cares.

Besides, the ease of use makes it worth it.

And yes, the ablity to start recording a show, then hop in say 20 minutes or so into the show and then being able to skip commercials is sweet.

Tivo doesn’t monitor what you watch, it monitors what an aggregate of subscribers in your zipcode watches. And you can opt out of even that. Seriously though dude, the tivo is so far superior to the dish network POS that it’s not even in the same ballpark.

On the series2 models, which you will certainly be getting, you can also use wireless adapters, so no need to string any wire at all. You’ll still need to plug it into the phone for the first call though.

You don’t need to hook the tivo up to broadband, it will use the phone line just fine. Or a wireless adapter – if you don’t have a wireless home network, get a super cheap 802.11b router and card, as the tivo can’t take advantage of g at the moment anyway.

Broadband will let you stream pictures and mp3s to the tivo, nothing big. Although if you have 2 tivos the remote viewing is great.

Tivo rocks. The easiest, most intuitive electronic device I have ever used. Best remote evar. My wife picked it up and was setting up Season’s Passes for herself within minutes…after years upon years of leaving the VCR programming up to me. Great device.

And you can go wireless fairly easily, as Quaro suggested. I just got a USB wireless adapter and had very little trouble configuring it.

Tivo has changed how I watch TV for the better. Although I do feel like I’m in a cult.

“My Tivo thinks I’m gay!”