TiVo HD vs. cable DVD HD -- should we make the switch to TiVo? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 93 Old 12-01-2008, 01:29 PM - Thread Starter
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We just got a letter from our cable company warning of yet another price increase (just less than $3 a month, but still the third increase in 3 years). Once again it leads me to contemplate getting a TiVo HD and just dumping the HD DVR from the cable company (and going with their HD service and Cablecard).

I am looking for opinions from others in a similar situation, i.e. folks who used to have HD DVR cable and made the move to TiVo HD, and your opinion of both. Was it worth it? Which is really better? Are cablecards still problematic?

BTW right now we've got a Scientific Atlanta 8300HD DVR. I've been very happy with it thusfar, and it's given us only a little trouble (not much though), but the cable rates are getting to be a bit much, hence the reason we're thinking of switching. Yet I hesitate because I've loved having/using the DVR....

Thanks in advance!

DGK
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post #2 of 93 Old 12-01-2008, 01:42 PM
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Would you actually save any money by going with a Tivo? Even if you got the Tivo for free, you're looking at what, $13/month for the Tivo Service and maybe $2/month for the cablecard. How much is the cableco's DVR? If it's $15/month, then you break even.

And that's if you get the Tivo for free. Of course you could pre-pay and get the Tivo service for less, and perhaps you can get a CableCard for free. Do your own math to see what it means to you.

Keep in mind, that getting Tivo means that you'd gain Amazon Unbox, TivoToGo, 14-day guide, better OS, and I think Netflix. You'd lose access to VOD and potentially more if your cable system uses SDV.

note - I have neither a Tivo or a cable companies DVR. I use a Sony DVR with Comcast.
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post #3 of 93 Old 12-01-2008, 05:33 PM
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If you want a TivoHD without fees, it will cost you significantly more. Here is TiVo's order page for its boxes without any fees.

Most people elect to buy the version of the TivoHD with fees ($199 @ Costco) and pay $12.99/mo or $129/yr. You may or may not save money over your cable company in the long haul. In many areas, like mine, the provider basically hits you twice for the cable DVR; they charge you $5 to $8 for the hardware rental, and then another $13 to $16 for the DVR service itself, for a total of $18-$25/mo. The TiVo fee is about $10/mo when you pay by the year ($129/yr), so even if you are paying that much, it would take you almost two years to pay off the initial cost of the TiVo.

I think there are many reasons to buy a TiVoHD for cable service -- such as superior usability, reliability, capacity expansion, streaming Netflix HD, remote scheduling, and the ability to download recordings to your computer -- but saving money is not really one of them.

You can find TiVo tips and screenshots in this AVS post.
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post #4 of 93 Old 12-01-2008, 07:20 PM
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Tivo gets you a much nicer user experience. Add in Netflix streaming and Amazon Unbox and in my opinion it is a no brainer.

Tivo will also allow you to schedule your recording over your mobile phone!

If you are OK with spending the money, Tivo is no doubt the better product.

FWIW I have an SA 8300 DVR from Cox. I have also seen the new HD Tivo. Frankly, they are not even in the same league in terms of fit and finish and overall quality
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post #5 of 93 Old 12-02-2008, 05:04 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the input, everyone. If we did go with the TiVo we'd probably buy one of the refurb ones that TiVo is offering ($179) but there is the monthly fee. We do get hosed over the fees we have to pay just to have the DVR...I have a Panny DVD recorder as well, but use the DVR a lot more often.

Ah...in the end, I will probably end up just doing nothing again, like I did last year when the cable prices went up! LOL Thanks again.

DGK
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post #6 of 93 Old 12-02-2008, 07:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeeKaye07 View Post

Thanks for the input, everyone. If we did go with the TiVo we'd probably buy one of the refurb ones that TiVo is offering ($179) but there is the monthly fee. We do get hosed over the fees we have to pay just to have the DVR...I have a Panny DVD recorder as well, but use the DVR a lot more often.

Ah...in the end, I will probably end up just doing nothing again, like I did last year when the cable prices went up! LOL Thanks again.

DGK

I got the refurb $179 Tivo HD with the lifetime service. Then I got the Tivo extender at amazon. That was the biggest factor for me, I needed the space for recording. The Comcast dvr drive is too small. One thing you can also do is transfer files from your tivo to a PC and then transfer back when you want to watch them or stream from t he PC. However either way is pretty slow on a wireless network. But if you know to plan ahead and xfer a file overnite, i's fine.

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post #7 of 93 Old 12-02-2008, 10:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeeKaye07 View Post

Thanks for the input, everyone. If we did go with the TiVo we'd probably buy one of the refurb ones that TiVo is offering ($179) but there is the monthly fee. We do get hosed over the fees we have to pay just to have the DVR...I have a Panny DVD recorder as well, but use the DVR a lot more often.

Be aware that Costcos in many areas offer new TivoHD DVRs for $199. If you are planning to get lifetime service ($399) to eliminate all service fees, you can buy a new TivoHD for the equivalent of $150 direct from TiVo.com.

Refurbs include boxes that people returned, either from TiVo.com or at retail. I'm sure TiVo tests them to see that they work, but just because TiVo didn't find problems doesn't mean there aren't any. I would personally feel safer with a new unit, especially if the difference is only $20.

If you do buy the TivoHD, I would budget another $125 for a drive upgrade, either a 1TB internal drive replacement or the "officially supported" 500Gb Western Digital "My DVR Expander." A 1TB drive upgrade will provide 157+ HD hours capacity, whereas the "My DVR Expander" will increase capacity to 86 HD hours. See the bottom of the first post in this thread for step-by-step upgrade instructions. Of course, make sure the TiVo works as it should with the original drive before you do any internal or external drive upgrade (especially with refurbs).
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post #8 of 93 Old 12-03-2008, 08:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bfdtv View Post

If you are planning to get lifetime service ($399) to eliminate all service fees, you can buy a new TivoHD for the equivalent of $150 direct from TiVo.com.

I cant seem to get the link at tivo.com to allow me to buy the "Holiday Special". Has anyone else gotten it to work? Is it just for existing customers?

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post #9 of 93 Old 12-03-2008, 01:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Docray1 View Post

I cant seem to get the link at tivo.com to allow me to buy the "Holiday Special". Has anyone else gotten it to work? Is it just for existing customers?

That link was in an email that was sent out to existing TiVo customers. The original link also included the service number of the customer that was emailed. I see now that the "Buy now" button is not present without that service number. I've sent you a pm with the full link that works.
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post #10 of 93 Old 12-03-2008, 01:11 PM
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The discount on service is only for existing customers.
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post #11 of 93 Old 12-03-2008, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by slowbiscuit View Post

The discount on service is only for existing customers.

That's not exactly true. You need a service number to get the "buy now" button on that page. Beyond that, however, it doesn't matter whether you are a new or existing customer.

In fact, the whole point of the link is to allow people to buy new, subscription-free boxes as gifts for others.
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post #12 of 93 Old 12-03-2008, 01:21 PM
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The fine print at the bottom of the page says that the MSD is only for existing customers. So the average user can't just go and buy this bundle for that price without help from a Tivo customer.
But you can look at it however you want, I guess.

† To be eligible for TiVo multi-service discount agreement, you must be an existing customer with a current paid subscription to the TiVo service (a "Qualifying Subscription") as further defined in TiVo's TiVo multi-service discount agreement. For full terms and conditions, please see TiVo's Multi-service Discount Agreement.
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post #13 of 93 Old 12-07-2008, 09:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeeKaye07 View Post

We just got a letter from our cable company warning of yet another price increase (just less than $3 a month...
DGK

My Charter cable is giving a general increase that is much more than $3, but none of it is due to the DVR total cost changes. However, that doesn't mean that money cannot be saved by switching to TiVo, which I am now actively considering, and also end up with a better DVR. For me, and I'd guess for some others, these are the issues:

1. Every time the cable company changes their plans, they increase the possibly of making a mistake, and decrease our understanding of how much we are actually being charged for a DVR. At Charter, their DVR rental is a sum of several charges...some of which may not be necessary. For example, several months ago, by carefully going over their price structure, I discovered I was being changed an extra $10, which on first questioning, Charter contented those charges were components of my DVR chargers. A week ago, I finally talked to a customer service representative that fully understood Charter's price structure, and my total DVR charges dropped from $30/month to $20/month. This representative said that the total DVR charges have been $20/month for some time; however, the components that go into that total have changed.

2. TiVo offers features that cable DVRs do not offer, and that can also save money. For example, with TiVo, Video on Demand is accomplished by downloading from the Internet. Amazon.com is one of those websites, and their Video on Demand cost less than Charter's. Netflix is about to become another, and for $9/month with Netflix, you not only get unlimited DVD rentals, but you can also download movies that include cable's Starz Channel movies. To get Starz at Charter, next year it will cost between $10 and $14, depending on how many other premium channels you subscribe to.


3. I have had Charter's Moxi DVR for several years now, and have been very happy with it. However, the Moxi is old, there is some question whether Charter will continue to support it. The most important Moxi feature to me is the ability to add an external hard-drive. That feature alone has given me more flexibility to watch what I want, when I want to, and do it without spending any time setting up and recording onto VCRs or DVDs. TiVo seems to be the only cable option with this feature.

At current TiVo prices and subscription rates, the TiVo HD would pay for itself compared to my Moxi Rental in about 2 years, and after that save more than $10/month, with features that are still better than the Moxi. Because of the TiVo HD XL model's large internal hard drive, I would prefer that model, which I've concluded is a reasonable price difference for the size of the hard drive, as well as the decreased probably of losing all recordings because of an external hard drive failure.

I haven't committed to this purchase yet, so I would appreciate any comments on my rational.

Don
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post #14 of 93 Old 12-09-2008, 03:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bfdtv View Post


I think there are many reasons to buy a TiVoHD for cable service -- such as superior usability, reliability, capacity expansion, streaming Netflix HD, remote scheduling, and the ability to download recordings to your computer -- but saving money is not really one of them.

No VOD, no firewire port, no... Oh wait, those are the reasons NOT to get a TiVo for your cable service.

I'd love to get TiVo, but usability has to take a back seat to functionality, and it lacks too much functionality at this point.
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post #15 of 93 Old 12-09-2008, 07:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Person99 View Post

No VOD, no firewire port, no... Oh wait, those are the reasons NOT to get a TiVo for your cable service.

I'd love to get TiVo, but usability has to take a back seat to functionality, and it lacks too much functionality at this point.

The VOD being offered by cable is replaced with VOD via the Internet...and with many more options. I don't have any personal experience, but from the reviews I've read, the VOD offered by Amazon and Netflix is equal to the quality of a DVD, and is expected to soon become HD quality.

But more to the point, with a large external hard drive, I found myself never watching Charter VOD....I simply maintained recording of my favorite HD programs. I found this more reliable than VOD at watching what I want, when I want. If one wants to stay with cable (although I am not convinced I do), only the Moxi and Tivo offer a larger hard drive option.

Satellite TV is another option... the Dish Network, offers a larger hard drive option, but their DVRs are not connected to the internet, so their VOD is probably more limited. DirecTV DVRs are connected to the Internet, but the reviews of their DVR are not good.
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post #16 of 93 Old 12-09-2008, 10:58 PM
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djk,

Quality on Amazon Unbox is not particularly good; they are still using low-bitrate MPEG-2 for backward compatibility with old Series2 TiVos. Netflix's SD is all 480p VC-1, typically at 2.2Mbps, and is noticeably better than both Amazon Unbox and the SD VOD I got from Comcast.

If you are only interested in HD VOD, then the cable company box has the definite advantage there for now. Netflix has around 300 HD titles available via the TiVo, or closer to 500 if you count individual episodes as separate titles, and is adding around 20 new HD titles per week. However, that is still considerably less than you can access for free with Comcast and other cable companies. Even if Netflix does rapidly expand their streaming HD library, it's still limited to stereo audio for now.

You are right that a TiVo can act as your own personal HD VOD box, given sufficient capacity. My TivoHD has about 175 HD recordings on it. Using wishlists, the TiVo can automatically record new HD movies from various premium movie channels and sort them into folders of your choice. If you haven't used a standalone TiVo in the past year, then you probably haven't seen the greatly expanded wishlist functionality (DirecTiVos don't have it). Of course, you also have a folder for each of your favorite series.

As far as no Firewire port, that can hardly be called a disadvantage for TiVo, unless you require use of a D-VHS VCR. No DVR better integrates with PCs and Macs than a TiVo. The TivoHD is the only DVR I am aware of that lets you download HD recordings directly to any computer in your home over your wired or wireless network. It's also the only cable DVR I am aware of that lets you transfer and play VC-1, MPEG-4, and MPEG-2 HD recordings from your PC without transcoding; that said, it's still no substitute for some media servers, because it is very picky about the type of files (i.e. profiles) it will play without transcoding.

The TivoHD DVR allows you to automate the transfer of specific shows [using officially supported software] to your PC for automatic commercial removal, and automate their transfer back from PC to TiVo [using officially supported software] for viewing, commercial-free. There are both free and commercial applications to automate the commercial removal. If that's not great functionality, I don't know what is. Of course, TiVo makes commercials very easy to skip with a remote, too.





If you use a Mac...and you are thinking about a TiVo, be sure to check out iTiVo for OSX.
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post #17 of 93 Old 12-10-2008, 11:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bfdtv View Post

As far as no Firewire port, that can hardly be called a disadvantage for TiVo, unless you require use of a D-VHS VCR. No DVR better integrates with PCs and Macs than a TiVo. The TivoHD is the only DVR I am aware of that lets you download HD recordings directly to any computer in your home over your wired or wireless network. It's also the only cable DVR I am aware of that lets you transfer and play VC-1, MPEG-4, and MPEG-2 HD recordings from your PC without transcoding; that said, it's still no substitute for some media servers, because it is very picky about the type of files (i.e. profiles) it will play without transcoding.

Ugh, here we go again, we're going to get the Firewire zealots started . For the life of me I don't understand why some folks think the Tivo HD is worthless because they can't archive everything via Firewire, when as you say for MOST content it's very easy to transfer it to a PC and do whatever you want with it anyway.
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post #18 of 93 Old 12-11-2008, 04:32 PM
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bfdtv,
Thank you for that thoughtful response. I can be happy with lower quality VOD for now...the larger hard drive is the most important feature to me. With Netflix, if one doesn't like the VOD quality, you can always have DVDs mailed to you for the same cost....perhaps replacing cable subscriptions to HBO, Showtime, and Starz....except both HBO and Showtime have some series that I enjoy. TiVo does seem to be quickly improving, unlike cable, and already has a lot of other features that I know I'd enjoy, including ones you mentioned.

There is one other concern about TiVo: The cable companies plan to start using Switched Digital Video (SDV) sometime in the future, which could reduce the number of stations the TiVo could receive; however, I've read this TiVo support article, saying that the cable operator was responsible for providing a Tuning Adapter for the TiVo, but I cannot find any mention on the web that such a device has become operational. Given cable's past experience with cable cards, I'm not sure I want to trust cable to provide it. Do you have any experience, or thoughts as to whether this is a real issue or not?
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post #19 of 93 Old 12-12-2008, 10:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djk1940 View Post

Satellite TV is another option... the Dish Network, offers a larger hard drive option, but their DVRs are not connected to the internet, so their VOD is probably more limited. DirecTV DVRs are connected to the Internet, but the reviews of their DVR are not good.

Dish now offers some 1080p VOD, but not as much as cable or Netflix, iTunes, etc. However, the DVRs can be expanded through the use of USB hard disks.

I am seriously considering getting a TivoHD to go with my antenna, and be done with paying cable or satellite companies. Anything I want that doesn't come OTA, I can get from iTunes or elsewhere on the internet.

Ted
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post #20 of 93 Old 12-12-2008, 10:49 AM
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I have to ask anyone who is on HD tivo and comcast.
My friend has his HD tivo and comcast cable. He had to get 2 cable cards.
It prevents him from getting on demand and his HD picture is the pits.
Comcast blames it on cable cards and tivo.

Anyone else see this as well..

PS I am very sorry to thread cap I was going to post new topic but decided not.
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post #21 of 93 Old 12-12-2008, 11:50 AM
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Originally Posted by etrin View Post

My friend has his HD tivo and comcast cable. He had to get 2 cable cards.
It prevents him from getting on demand and his HD picture is the pits.
Comcast blames it on cable cards and tivo.

Interesting; I just replaced a Panasonic Plasma using cable card with a Pioneer Kuro that has no cable card slot. I loved the cable card as it sent the native output resolution of the station to the TV. With my #%$*& Comcast HD DVR I have to pick a default output, so I'm constantly switching between 1080i and 720p depending on how the station broadcasts. I'm considering moving to Tivo because I liked the cable card. Also, I've read the picture from the HD Tivo is as good as, if not better, than a cable box...
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post #22 of 93 Old 12-12-2008, 02:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djk1940 View Post

The VOD being offered by cable is replaced with VOD via the Internet...and with many more options. I don't have any personal experience, but from the reviews I've read, the VOD offered by Amazon and Netflix is equal to the quality of a DVD, and is expected to soon become HD quality.

I have HD quality VOD right now from Verizon.

Also, I was thinking of the VOD for kids shows and such. You lose that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by djk1940 View Post

But more to the point, with a large external hard drive, I found myself never watching Charter VOD....I simply maintained recording of my favorite HD programs.

If you have a firewire port, you have infinite storage--D-VHS. I can take them quite easily from room to room should I want.
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post #23 of 93 Old 12-13-2008, 08:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Person99 View Post

If you have a firewire port, you have infinite storage--D-VHS. I can take them quite easily from room to room should I want.

True, one can record and carry tapes from room to room, but I found it a lot easier and cheaper to let the electrons do the traveling from room to room: For me, it was worth the time to run wires between my DVR and all my TVs through a component A/V distribution amplifier, making portable recordings unnecessary.

But gosh ... when I discovered DVD recording, I said I'd never go back to tapes; when I discovered hard drive recording, I said I'd never go back to DVDs. Having an organized, single data base of recording that can be accessed by all TVs has made watching our recordings a lot simpler for both me and my wife.

TiVo's ability to transfer video to a computer, plus the addition of an external hard drive is close enough for me to infinite storage....and with my setup, I have immediate accessability.

Don
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post #24 of 93 Old 12-13-2008, 09:16 AM
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Oops!
Just when I was thinking TiVo was my the best alternative, two more alternatives appeared: A new commercial and cable supplied Moxi DVR, described here.

Digeo is more than a year late at offering their new Moxi DVR, and rumor was that the commercial version had been canceled. However, it is now listed for sell both onAmazon and the Moxi website. Since I've thought of the old Moxi as being the best that cable offered, I may need wait for more information about the two new ones.
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post #25 of 93 Old 12-14-2008, 08:41 AM
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Uh yeah, for $800 with lifetime service included. A Tivo HD refurb upgraded with a 500GB drive + lifetime service would run you around $650. But comparing list prices, it's close to a wash between the two. However, there are a lot more USEFUL features on the Tivo, such as the Netflix streaming access that they just added. I also see no mention of the Moxi having multi-room viewing or PC video transfer support (I'm looking at their feature set page here). However it does have commercial skip, which is a huge plus if it works most of the time.

Not that the Moxi looks bad, it just doesn't appear to have as good of a feature set (right now). I'm very glad that Tivo finally has some real competition in this space, and I hope it keeps them on their toes.
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post #26 of 93 Old 12-14-2008, 03:04 PM
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The maturity of the TiVo does give it an advantage. With time, Moxi may eventually have features like Netflix streaming, but that would be the chance a buyer would have to make. Besides its external hard drive capability, another features I like about Moxi is its TV guide which has more information than TiVo, plus the Moxi guide does not have advertising, and is easy to use. The TiVo TV guide seems to be the same free one available on other products, like the no longer manufactured Sony DHG DVR, which I also own.
Notice that not only does the commercial Moxi not have an OTA tuner, it doesn't even have a cable analog tuner, although they will provide one to be attached to the USB port, if requested. So TiVo is still the only option for OTA customers. However, it good to finally see competition within the cable DVRs.
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post #27 of 93 Old 12-14-2008, 05:45 PM
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The bottom line for me is that the TiVo software is the most capable and reliable in the industry, by far. There is simply nothing else like it. The downside to TiVo, though, is that, compared to renting a cable company box, it is VERY expensive. This means that if you want the best you will have to pay for it but it is very good, indeed. That's why I held my nose and bought a TiVo S3 a couple of years ago, although my cost of ownership will end up being a lot higher than the cost of renting a cable company box. Still, I remember the quality of my TiVo, although I have forgotten the price.
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post #28 of 93 Old 12-14-2008, 07:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djk1940 View Post

Besides its external hard drive capability, another features I like about Moxi is its TV guide which has more information than TiVo, plus the Moxi guide does not have advertising, and is easy to use. The TiVo TV guide seems to be the same free one available on other products, like the no longer manufactured Sony DHG DVR, which I also own.

Ehh? No.

There are two primary sources of guide information available -- Gemstar TVGuide (now owned by Macrovision) and Tribune Media.

Gemstar wrote the software on your Sony DHG DVR. TiVo does not get their information from TV Guide, nor do they use any TVGuide software. They do not have any advertising in their guide. TiVo buys their guide data from Tribune Media and delivers it to every box using their own Internet servers. Tribune is the same guide data provider used by DirecTV and Windows Media Center, and it is considered by many to be the most reliable and comprehensive source of guide data available anywhere. It is possible that Moxi uses the same information, but it is not possible for them to have better information, because that does not exist.

Tribune has a free online version of their guide at Zap2It.com. That's a subset of the guide information you get on every TiVo.

TiVo displays the TVGuide logo, but only because that is required as part of their license for Gemstar's guide interface patent. Gemstar owns the patent on a TV listings interface that every company must license before they can incorporate a program guide. Most providers now show the TVGuide logo in their software for that reason, regardless of where they get their program information.

Edit: TiVo does have some advertising on the main TiVo menu and program delete dialogs. Screenshots showing TiVo's advertising are below.



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post #29 of 93 Old 12-14-2008, 08:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bfdtv View Post

Ehh? No.

There are two primary sources of guide information available -- Gemstar TVGuide (now owned by Macrovision) and Tribune Media.

Gemstar wrote the software on your Sony DHG DVR. TiVo does not get their information from TV Guide, nor do they use any TVGuide software.

Tribune has a free online version of their guide at Zap2It.com. That's a subset of the guide information you get on every TiVo.

You are correct....the Moxi does use the same TV Guide at the zap2it website, which is different than my Sony DHG DVR and I know is from Gemstar. I am glad to find out the Moxi and TiVo guides are the same, since the guide is central to recording series without recording repeats, which my Moxi has been flawless at doing.

However, my Moxi does show more of the actors than the zp2it website...for example on Wed at 1am, The movie "Mystery Men" on AMC shows 10 more actors on the Moxi guide after the 4 shown on the zap2it site, ending with the names of the Producers, Robert Engleman, Lawrence. However, it could be that the zap2it site is not complete, but I remember a shorter TV Guide on an earlier TiVo I owned for about a week. Does TiVo show all 14 actors names plus the names of the producers for this movie?
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post #30 of 93 Old 12-14-2008, 08:45 PM
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Be aware that the Moxi available from your cable company is not the same thing as a standalone Moxi. As far as I know, the Moxi DVRs available from the likes of Charter use the guide data provided by the cable co, whereas the standalone Moxi will download guide information directly from the Internet, much like the TiVo. I don't know what guide data provider Moxi will use.

Unidirectional CableCard boxes like the standalone TivoHD and [new] Moxi do not have access to the program information offered by the cable company; that's why they must supply their own guide data.

Quote:
Originally Posted by djk1940 View Post

However, my Moxi does show more of the actors than the zp2it website...for example on Wed at 1am, The movie "Mystery Men" on AMC shows 10 more actors on the Moxi guide after the 4 shown on the zap2it site, ending with the names of the Producers, Robert Engleman, Lawrence. However, it could be that the zap2it site is not complete, but I remember a shorter TV Guide on an earlier TiVo I owned for about a week.

The Zap2It.com site only shows a subset of the information available from Tribune. It is their "free" site, after all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by djk1940 View Post

Does TiVo show all 14 actors names plus the names of the producers for this movie?

Yes and no.

Yes, the TiVo shows 15 actors, but they aren't shown on the main page for the show. They won't fit with the current font size. You have to click the INFO button to see the full list. Screenshots below:



And once you click the INFO button...



Paging down...

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