I now have the Motorola DCT 6208 DVR. Here are my thoughts on the DCT 6208 DVR, Tivo, and how they compare...
This article is more for the person that is not that familiar with DVR's. The Tivo expert may want to skip this article.
If you never had a DVR then I highly recommend that you try the DCT 6208 DVR (if your cable company offers it). My cable company is Comcast. If you have a Tivo or Replay TV, then you will be mixed on your feelings and like most, you will say why would I want the DCT 6208 DVR.
If you don't have a DVR at all, then try the DCT 6208 DVR first, if it is available to you. You donâ€™t pay any upfront costs like the Tivo and Replay TV. The DCT 6208 DVR will cost you an additional $10 a month to rent from your cable operator. Tivo and Replay are $10 and $13 respectively but they offer lifetime subscriptions for $299.
Since you have to purchase Tivo/Replay TV, the cost varies on which model you purchase. The differences are the amount of recording you can do. The cheaper the model, the less you can record. The cable companies don't offer any choice (right now). The amount of recording is about 30 hours and that is set by the cable company. You cannot pay a lifetime subscription. Every month it will cost you $10. Keep in mind, that with all these DVR's, you pay on each unit. So getting more than one can be costly.
The DCT 6208 DVR only comes with an 80 Gigabyte Hard Drive which offers about 30 hours of excellent quality video and audio. Keep this in mind; it takes about 2 Gigabytes per hour for excellent quality video. I would consider excellent quality better than VHS. More like DVD and SVHS. If I were to buy a Tivo, than I would buy the 80 Gigabyte recorder as the minimum.
The DCT 6208 DVR is a digital cable box that now integrates DVR functionality. Here is what you will love and what you can do:
You can watch everything that you are used to watching; Regular TV, Digital TV, PPV, and ON Demand. Here is what is new:
DVR capability, HD capability, and a new Program Guide supplied by TV Guide. The Program Guide allows you to view all channels as well as sort and search for shows, sport, and movies by title. The Program Guide goes about 15 days in advance which is VERY nice. Now here is where the DVR comes into play. You can, with one button, schedule a show to be recorded. There are options that let you fine tune how you want this recording to be carried out, such as, once and weekly. Also you can add time to the recording at both the beginning and at the end. I find this useful for sporting events, since they rarely end on time. Being able to add an extra hour and a half to the recording is nice.
You can record anything that is currently playing. By default, whatever channel you are on is being recorded. Letâ€™s say you are watching CSI and the phone rings. No problem, just hit pause. Finish your conversation and hit play. The rest of the show is being recorded and you can watch the whole show never missing any part due to the phone call. You can even rewind with 4 different rewind speeds and fast forward the same way. Once you fast forward to the actual time in the show you will see "Live" on the screen and that is live TV. Obviously you cannot go past what is currently happening, but you can always go back.
If you decide to record a show, by selecting record, that is running or upcoming then once it has been recorded it will be in the "My DVR" section. This area indicates all of your recordings that are in your DVR for you to watch. You can also see what you have scheduled to record in the future.
The only thing you cannot record is "On Demand". That is unfortunate since I would love to order an ON Demand movie and save it to my DVR and then watch it at my convenience. You can record PPV, but when you have On Demand, PPV becomes less convenient.
So far, I have recorded about 10 shows in varying length and the DVR has only hit 40% full. The cable company tells me about 30 hours of recording for non HD TV which seems correct and 10 hours of recording for HD TV. I don't have an HD TV so; I'll take their word on it.
You will have to manage your recordings so that you donâ€™t fill up the DVR. If you do, then you cannot record anything new. There are settings, that you can change, that will let the DVR keep a few episodes as well as delete old ones when space is needed. These are helpful features. You can always connect the DCT 6208 DVR to a VCR and/or a DVD Recorder to archive recordings.
You won't miss your VCR once you try a DVR. You don't have to worry about making sure you have a blank tape, the clock on the VCR is set, and you won't have to step through the tedious programming screens. With a DVR hit one button, and the show is recorded. Secondly, you can see everything recorded on one convenient screen. You can't do that with a VCR.
One nicer thing is you don't need a phone line connected to receive Program Guide updates. Those are delivered via the existing cable connection.
All of these features are great and are far Superior to VCR recording but, there are still some drawbacks to the DCT 6208 DVR that I will explain here...
There is only one tuner in the DCT 6208 DVR. With only one tuner you cannot move off the channel you are recording. If you do, then you lose that recording. If it is a scheduled recording, then you lose from the point where you change channels. This is a hassle if you want to record while you are watching TV. If you record while you are away from the TV, such as while you are at work or sleeping, then you won't have to worry. But trust me, once you see how easy it is to record with a DVR, you will want to record everything, and even shows you may not think you have interest in. It is addicting.
There is a new Motorola DCT 6412 DVR (not available as of yet) that has dual tuners. This model will allow you to watch one show while recording another. Iâ€™m looking forward to it coming out. I will certainly get it if my cable operator offers it.
One glaring problem for me is that there is no indication of where you are in the recorded show. Letâ€™s say you recorded a movie and you wanted to see how much time is left till the end. You can't. There should be a way to do this but there isn't. On the plus side though, if you stop viewing the recorded show, and then come back to it later, it will remember where you left off. That is nice.
Now that does not sound like there are many bad problems with the DCT 6208 DVR. The good far outweigh the bad.
Now, if you are familiar with a Tivo and/or Replay TV, well the DCT 6208 DVR cannot compete. Iâ€™ll explain later. Where the DCT 6208 is superior to the Tivo and Replay TV is that it integrates the DVR and HD into the one unit. Tivo and Replay TV are not integrated, so you need separate boxes; HD, Tivo or Replay TV, and your cable box. If you have Digital cable like me, then all you need is one box, the DCT 6208 DVR. Everything is integrated. That is convenient in and of its self.
Letâ€™s say you have digital cable and you run out and get a Tivo or Replay TV. The Tivo/Replay TV will let you watch and record all non scrambled and no digital channels just fine with all the many Tivo/Replay TV features. But once you have digital cable you have to have your Tivo/Replay TV control your digital box via an IR cable. This introduces two problems. The first issue is that your Tivo/Replay has to switch the digital cable box. This means that changing channels becomes slow. The second issue is that the Tivo/Replay TV/Digital cable box my get confused and instead of recording channel 189 you may record channel 89. This is just not a good way to watch TV. Now, if you have Direct TV receiver (satellite) with Tivo built in, then the above mentioned problems are non existent.
For people with cable, I would go with the DCT 6208 DVR over Tivo and Replay TV. If you have Direct TV then I would definitely get the receiver with Tivo integrated. In that, and only that scenario, I can recommend Tivo.
Now, if you are a Digital cable subscriber and you want to try Tivo/Replay TV, then by all means do so. The features of Tivo/Replay TV far outweigh those of the DCT 6208.
With Tivo/Replay TV you get some nifty features...
One of the best features is the ability to record the show when it is really on and not by what the guide indicates. For example, letâ€™s say you record a show every Thursday at 8 pm for 30 minutes. The president comes on for 10 minutes at 8. Now your show is missing the last 10 minutes. Not with Tivo! Tivo knows to record that actual show and not the time it was suppose to be on. That is awesome!
Another feature is the "Season Pass". Letâ€™s say you want to record every CSI. Well with Season Pass you can and never need to worry when it is on. The Tivo will do the work for you. You can set it to only keep new episodes or record CSI every time it is on no matter what channel it is on. That is awesome too!
Another nice feature with Tivo and Replay TV is the ability to connect them via your Broadband Internet connection. You have to pay more (Tivo, included on Replay TV) but you can receive Program Guide updates via the Internet instead of a separate and necessary phone line connection. With this added feature you can also add another Tivo/Replay TV and send (stream) the video from one to another. For example; letâ€™s say you recorded a show in your living room DVR and now it is late and you want to watch it on your bedroom DVR. Well, you can, just start the transfer and start watching. Of course to do all this, you have to have your home wired/wireless with High Speed Internet. Not included.
Although the DCT 6208 does not have these features with the TV Guide program guide, there is another player, Microsoft. Microsoft has released their TV Foundation Edition 1.7. This looks great! It has many Tivo features! The new DCT 6412 DVR and the new Microsoft software may be better than Tivo and Replay TV. We will have to wait to see since neither is available as of yet.
Well, I hope this helps someone that has never tried a DVR of any type. I am not against any of the three options, but just want to shed some light on what you need to know and expect before you make the plunge. My only suggestion is to make the plunge. Whichever choice you make, you won't be unhappy. And most of all, your TV viewing habits will certainly change. You will be in control!