Originally Posted by aprest
Also in a later post you say "It (the Tivo) supports MCARDs just like the new cable company DVRs, so just one card is required to support dual tuners." Two questions: 1) do both the Tivo-HD and Tivo Series 3 support the MCARDS? and 2) does Verizon FIOS support MCARDS? I asked Verizon that question and they had no idea what I was talking about. Note that Verizon pulled a fast one with the FCC and unlike the cable companies they are not required to even support cable cards for a couple more years.
The $250 TivoHD supports MCARDs, so one MCARD will support dual tuners. Comcast, Cox, and Time Warner offer MCARDs in most areas, but Verizon FiOS will not until 1Q 2008. Until then, you need two of their older 'S' CableCards to support dual tuners. Verizon charges $2.99/mo per CableCard.
Originally Posted by aprest
The reason I ask these questions is that I am debating whether to abandon DirecTV after about 12 years and use my FIOS (which I have had for over 2 years for Internet use) with new Tivo-HD or S3 HD DVRs. The capital cost will be much higher to go with FIOS because of the cost of four new Tivo HD DVRs vs the retention deals you can get with DirecTV. The monthly costs for FIOS will be lower especially if FIOS suupports MCARDS. In any case I have to be able to record 16:9 anamorphic video to my Sony and Panasonic DVD recorders. I don't really have the need to record in HD to a Blu-ray recorder on my PC although that is interesting to know for possible use in the future when Blu-ray media prices drop.
There is no perfect solution.
With DirecTV, you get the most HD channels today
and potentially cheaper equipment (depending on promos), but you give up the ability to download recordings directly to your computer. DirecTV users are not going to get that capability anytime soon, if ever. The fact that DirecTV is owned by one of the staunchest advocates of copyright protection doesn't help -- News Corp (DirecTV's owner) developed the broadcast flag for television, BD+ for Blu-ray, and is among those pushing most for the elimination of high-definition analog output.
If Verizon FiOS is available in your area, you won't see most most of the new HD channels before next spring; they have 27-28 HD channels now, 30-32 expected by the end of the year, 60 by next spring, and 150 by the end of next year. But you do get superior SD picture quality (704x480 @ 4-5 Mbps instead of 480x480 @ <2 Mbps), significantly better picture quality than DirecTV's MPEG-2 HD channels, and slightly better picture quality than DirecTV's MPEG-4 HD channels. Plus, you get the ability to download any high-definition recording directly to your PC, as seen in the screenshots below.
Once you download these recordings to your computer, you can cut out the commercials using VideoRedo and burn them in high-definition with DD5.1
to DVD-R and DVD+R media
for playback in high-definition resolution
on HD-DVD and Blu-ray players. For example, that $99 HD-DVD player at Walmart will play high-definition content burned to DVD. I'm not talking about upconversion; I'm talking about true
high-definition playback that is 100% identical to the original broadcast.
If you don't have a HD-DVD or Blu-ray player, and don't care about high-definition playback, you can still create standard DVDs with noticeably better quality than what you get with standalone DVD writer. Why is it better?
- FiOS SD recordings downloaded to your computer from the Tivo (MPG format) can be burned directly to DVD without any digital->analog->digital conversion.
What you get on DVD is 100% identical to the original broadcast -- that includes both the video and DD5.1 audio.
- FiOS HD recordings downloaded to your computer from the Tivo (MPG format) can downconverted to SD and burned to DVD with significantly higher quality than what you get with standalone DVD recorders.
Audio quality is obviously superior because you retain the original DD5.1 signal. Picture quality is better because you aren't limited to constant bitrates or low peak bitrates like 3Mbps, 4Mbps, or 6Mbps MPEG-2 of standalone DVD recorders. When creating the DVD on your computer from the original source recording, you can use an average video bitrate that varies from 2Mbps to 9.8Mbps depending on the complexity of the scene. The maximum possible bitrate is used to fit a given length program within the capacity limitations of DVD.
It really comes down to priorities. How important is it to have all the HD channels available now
? How important is SD picture quality to you? How important is the ability to download the original SD and HD recordings to your computer? How important is DVD recording quality? And are you willing to create DVDs using your computer's DVD burner?