Will we ever get any competent DVRs? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 34 Old 01-22-2010, 10:44 AM - Thread Starter
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Here is what I want:

-A 21st century looking UI that doesn't look like a 5 year old drew it with crayons
-Buttery smooth UI that responds instantaneously to my commands
-Competent remote that doesn't require me to press buttons multiple times and doesn't buffer 10 commands at once and unleash them on the DVR
-Large storage space such that I don't have to worry about cleaning it every week
-Does not crash

It's incredible how horrendous these cable boxes put out by Motorola and the rest of them are. Literally the most backwards technology I've seen. Our smartphones have better CPU/GPU power than these POS.

Am I asking too much?
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post #2 of 34 Old 01-22-2010, 11:50 AM
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There are DVRs that you can buy, like the TiVo and Moxi, and of course Windows 7 Media Center systems with CableCARD, which can vastly improve your experience. That said, it all depends on if you're willing to pay for it. If you're laboring under the assumption that your cable MSO is ever going to provide what you're asking for here... don't hold your breath. It's not going to happen.

The fact is, as long as they provide the bare minimum (a DVR with some disk, with a UI, and it mostly works), that'll get enough business that they don't care about making it better, allowing expandability, or offering cutting edge hardware - in fact, it interferes with their ability to make a profit.
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post #3 of 34 Old 01-22-2010, 11:58 AM
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Sounds like you are asking for the Dish ViP722k DVR. Tivo is nice, but not always as fast as it should be. I have no experience with the others.

-Ted
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post #4 of 34 Old 01-22-2010, 01:53 PM
 
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TiVo HD will fit the bill very well.
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post #5 of 34 Old 01-22-2010, 02:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sanne View Post

It's incredible how horrendous these cable boxes put out by Motorola and the rest of them are.

There's the issue. A blanket statement about DVRs in general really doesn't hold water, but when you bring up the ones offered by cable companies it really clarifies that statement. One of the things holding me back from going to cable is they force those god awful boxes down customers' throats and penalize you if you seek out good alternatives.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sanne View Post

Am I asking too much?

According to cable, yeah, but not as far as I'm concerned.
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post #6 of 34 Old 01-23-2010, 05:37 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bidger View Post

There's the issue. A blanket statement about DVRs in general really doesn't hold water, but when you bring up the ones offered by cable companies it really clarifies that statement.

You can be sure that if the cable companies started deploying DVRs that are as good as TiVos, then loads of folks would start complaining that they're trying to drive TiVo (which isn't profitable to start with) and other host device competitors out of business, by using their stronger financial position to undersell competitors.

The maxim is clear: No matter what, people are going to complain about something.

If you want a better DVR, then buy it yourself, just like I have.
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post #7 of 34 Old 01-23-2010, 01:39 PM
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To answer the OP's question.
You'll never get what you want from the cable operators.
Now-if cable operators (& sat for that matter) were banned from renting hardware, then the marketplace would expand and more consumer options would become avaliable for purchase.
As it stands cable co's put out just enough functionality/reliability at the absolute cheapest price point to themselves to be able to say: "I do offer DVR's to consumers.....", but they dont give a **** what consumers want because consumers have very few alternatives (by the cable op's design).
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post #8 of 34 Old 02-05-2010, 11:44 AM
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I LOVE my Dish 722, it's great at what it does. I just wish they didn't have the reputation for eating hard drives. I had to replace the drive in mine last month after owning it for about 2 years.... On the plus side, the drive wasn't hard to replace. Also on the plus side, if you lease your DVR from Dish, they will service/replace it for as long as you are with them.
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post #9 of 34 Old 02-11-2010, 09:43 AM
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I love my Dish Network 622 also. I got it when they first came out and I think I have had it about 4 years. No hard drive problems here. It has a snappy response always. I love the slow motion (1/4 speed and 1/15 speed). Also the 30 second skip is fantastic. My only problem is it crashes maybe once a month. Even then it reboots and immediately starts recording so you only miss 2-3 minutes of any program (It never has crashed when operating unattended).

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post #10 of 34 Old 02-11-2010, 12:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick_R View Post

My only problem is it crashes maybe once a month. Even then it reboots and immediately starts recording so you only miss 2-3 minutes of any program (It never has crashed when operating unattended).

Sounds strangely like the DTVPal DVR. Must be a Dish thing.
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post #11 of 34 Old 02-12-2010, 06:34 AM
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I agree with the original poster 100%. Right now I'm using Windows 7 Media Center and while it does almost everything the OP requested, it isn't as stable as TiVo was.

The biggest problem with most DVRs is the UI.
  • TiVo looked great in 2005, now it looks like a Palm Treo.
  • Moxi looks great, but the x-bar based UI is just terrible and the fundamental design decisions were bad -- with the worst being the live TV (aka spoiler window).
  • DirecTV is slow as molasses and ugly as sin.
  • DISH Network is probably the ugliest of all of the usable DVRs are the market (so not counting the dreaded SARA etc).
  • Windows 7 MC is based on a PC and requires the 360 as an Extender which is noisy, wastes power and breaks. It also isn't as stable as other DVRs, reboots, lock ups and EPG data issues.

In addition to a great looking and functional UI (WMC is the best example right now of this) a DVR needs to be as reliable as a TiVo in both stability as well as EPG data. But here are a few more things a modern DVR should have.
  • More than 2 tuners -- really we got a dual tuner in 2002 and no growth since?
  • MoCA for networking -- the coax is there connecting the DVRs, why do we need to run CAT5 to every box?
  • Multi-room viewing should be super simple, meaning all the DVRs in your house should act as one (single Now Playing List and Single To Do List for entire house) regardless of if the content is marked Copy Once.
  • 1TB drives -- a 1TB drive is less than a $100, no excuses for using 160GB drives anymore.
  • DLNA Server and Client -- moving content to and from the DVR should be easy and should be based on standards.
  • tru2way for VOD access and to eliminate the need for a Tuning Adapter

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post #12 of 34 Old 02-12-2010, 09:21 AM
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The driving force in our economy is cost compression. As the great unwashed watch their disposable incomes shrivel up, they have shown time and again they are willing to put up with product flaws and outright sub-standard performance as long as it's cheap enough -- the walmart mentality reigns. People want ever more wonderful features, but don't expect to have to pay for them. Even small changes cost money to develop and implement. If no one is willing to pay for it, what incentive is there.

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post #13 of 34 Old 02-12-2010, 11:45 AM
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I'm actually pretty happy with my HR21 from D* with the latest firmware. The last few updates really addressed a lot of issues I had with it. It's still pokey at times, but the feature set is much better.

Now, most of my complaints are just small nitpicks.

My parents have TiVo and I really don't like it any better than my DVR.
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post #14 of 34 Old 02-12-2010, 05:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bdraw View Post

Moxi looks great, but the x-bar based UI is just terrible and the fundamental design decisions were bad -- with the worst being the live TV (aka spoiler window).

The "spoiler window" is not even close to a fundamental design flaw.

It doesn't break any UI guidelines or user expectations. It's only a flaw to the few who think it is for no logical reason other than their own proclivities.

For the vast majority the picture in guide is very useful and an expected norm. If you don't want to be "spoiled" don't watch the channel to begin with or pause it so it doesn't go any further.


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post #15 of 34 Old 02-12-2010, 07:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VisionOn View Post

The "spoiler window" is not even close to a fundamental design flaw.

It doesn't break any UI guidelines or user expectations. It's only a flaw to the few who think it is for no logical reason other than their own proclivities.

For the vast majority the picture in guide is very useful and an expected norm. If you don't want to be "spoiled" don't watch the channel to begin with or pause it so it doesn't go any further.

Ben's view may not be in the majority, but it is very common.

Many older DVR users record or timeshift (watch on a time delay) virtually everything, including all sporting events. They don't want to see a liveTV window with the current score or outcome. They don't want to see future plot points for a movie or series. The first DVRs made it a point to hide liveTV so scores and plot points weren't revealed early. As a result, this became the expected behavior for many users. [No, Moxi's way was not first.]

The picture window is not the problem. It is great to have a picture window that shows the currently selected recording while you browse the menus. It is great to have a picture window that shows the current timeshifted feed while you browse the menus. A picture window for liveTV is fine too, so long as you've actually requested liveTV display with a menu or button. What Ben and many others find objectionable is the design that makes liveTV display the default behavior for every action.

When you turn on the Moxi, what do you always see? LiveTV. When browsing recordings and recordings-in-progress, what do you see? LiveTV. When playback of a recording ends, what do you see? LiveTV. When you swap tuners, what do you see? LiveTV. When a recording starts, the DVR swaps tuners and what do you see? LiveTV. For someone that watches virtually everything timeshifted, this serves as a spoiler. The pause button is not a solution; it doesn't work with every scenario, and with sports, it only serves to freeze the score on the screen.

On the subject of sports/event recording, keep in mind that TiVo, Windows Media Center, and SageTV make it easy to setup series recordings for specific sports teams and events. With most cable DVRs, you can only create a series recording for a program title like MLB BASEBALL, NBA BASKETBALL, or COLLEGE BASKETBALL; the solutions mentioned above allow you to create series recordings for specific pro and college teams, all NCAA tournament basketball, all Bowl games, all MLB/NBA/NHL/NFL playoffs, etc. That greatly reduces the need for live viewing, as it ensures that such content is always available to watch recorded or in-progress, on a delay.
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post #16 of 34 Old 02-12-2010, 08:47 PM
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Indeed bfdtv, that live TV behavior you describe with the Moxi would be intolerable for me. Absolute fatal flaw. During the brief warm up period of my TV, I always stab the TiVo button a couple of time on my Series3 as I turn the TV on so I am never faced with any spoiling live video (as you may know, this takes you to the "Now Playing" list) because I too only watch time shifted material. At least with the TiVo there are easy ways to avoid getting that unwanted glimpse of the future. Thank you bfdtv for this valuable information!
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post #17 of 34 Old 02-13-2010, 04:40 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bfdtv View Post

Ben's view may not be in the majority, but it is very common.

Without knowing precisely how common, there is no way to know whether it is so common that the view is significant. I bet that while it is "very" common it isn't common enough to be significant. Neither of us know, so it's a stalemate, with the manufacturers casting the overriding vote regardless, based on their research into what makes their product sell best.
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post #18 of 34 Old 02-13-2010, 11:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bfdtv View Post

When you turn on the Moxi, what do you always see? LiveTV. When browsing recordings and recordings-in-progress, what do you see? LiveTV. When playback of a recording ends, what do you see? LiveTV. When you swap tuners, what do you see? LiveTV. When a recording starts, the DVR swaps tuners and what do you see? LiveTV. For someone that watches virtually everything timeshifted, this serves as a spoiler. The pause button is not a solution; it doesn't work with every scenario, and with sports, it only serves to freeze the score on the screen.

The IPG viewing window layout is the most widely used IPG template in the world and has been for years. Why? Because it works.

Viewers expect to be able to see what is happening while they do something else. It's the same approach to every device manufactured now. If you can't multitask now that is considered a design flaw. Calling out the Moxi window as a "fundamental design flaw" is laughable. When Tivo redesign, I will guarantee they will have a viewing window, just like almost every cable operator and DVR manufacturer in the world does.

There are plenty of UI design flaws with Moxi, but the viewing window is not one of them nor is it something that is unique to them.

You might think it's common but in the larger picture the complaints about it they are a drop in all the oceans of the world. It's the equivalent of viewing a forum thread and seeing a spoiler about something that you haven't watched yet but everyone else has. If you don't want to be "spoiled" don't view the thread, or in this case don't have the channel running in the background because it's your own fault if you see or hear something you might not want to.


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post #19 of 34 Old 02-15-2010, 12:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VisionOn View Post

The "spoiler window" is not even close to a fundamental design flaw.

It doesn't break any UI guidelines or user expectations. It's only a flaw to the few who think it is for no logical reason other than their own proclivities.

For the vast majority the picture in guide is very useful and an expected norm. If you don't want to be "spoiled" don't watch the channel to begin with or pause it so it doesn't go any further.

I was going to respond to you, but honestly I can't say it better than bfdtv. I will add that I believe that as more and more people watch recorded TV first and Live TV second that the spoiler window will lose favor.

Bottom line is a good DVR should have options and not force you to watch TV the way it wants you to.

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post #20 of 34 Old 02-15-2010, 01:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VisionOn View Post

Calling out the Moxi window as a "fundamental design flaw" is laughable. When Tivo redesign, I will guarantee they will have a viewing window, just like almost every cable operator and DVR manufacturer in the world does.

I didn't say that offering a preview window was a design flay -- or didn't mean to anyways. But forcing the user to watch Live TV all the time is. At the very least, hitting stop should stop the video in the window. This is how Windows Media Center does it. Now adding optimized views with and without a preview window, to maximize the use of the screen real estate would be icing on the cake.

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post #21 of 34 Old 02-15-2010, 01:04 PM
 
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I think it is fair to say that a premium DVR should be as you describe. The reality is that consumers-in-general have created a consumer electronics cesspool, and we all have to suffer as a result. We used to teach that "Quality is Free", and I suppose it used to be true, back in the days when people would gladly pay 15% - 20% more for something that would last twice as long. Now, mass-market consumers act essentially like fools, comparing prices but not support quality or warranty terms. There are probably a thousand times as many bargain-hunting websites as there are quality-hunting websites. "Thrifty" shoppers have basically vacated the healthy market for quality goods and services. No wonder that we've got more than enough Wal-Mart's and Best Buy's around here, but Cambridge Soundworks and Tweeter have gone under.
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post #22 of 34 Old 02-15-2010, 11:19 PM
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Just change channels to something you do not care about, then the live window will be displaying a non-important program. You could do this before turning on the TV or even before turning off everything the last time the DVR is used.
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post #23 of 34 Old 02-16-2010, 12:29 PM
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I like way UltimateTV did it:

When you stop playback on a recorded show, it brings up a blank panel with the show title and description on it and buttons for "Resume", Start Over", "Delete" or "Live TV".

The list of shows and guide screens show whatever was last on the screen in a small window, be it the recording, the recording "stop screen" or live TV. Since the "My Shows" (the recordings) section is actually its own channel that works independent of the tuners, you can leave it there all the time so you'll never see live TV when you don't want to.

The fact is, it wouldn't be asking too much to have a checkbox in the settings of any DVR that would essentially toggle "show Live TV when not viewing a recording". That way, those that want to go back to live TV upon finishing a recording could do so (and that could be the default) and those that don't want live TV blasting at us after finishing a movie don't have to.
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post #24 of 34 Old 02-16-2010, 03:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike99 View Post

Just change channels to something you do not care about, then the live window will be displaying a non-important program. You could do this before turning on the TV or even before turning off everything the last time the DVR is used.

What if the tuner(s) are occupied recording things you want to see, but you don't want to see spoilt for you? I say have it be an option, but it should be an *option*, not forced.
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post #25 of 34 Old 02-17-2010, 02:26 PM
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My 622 can record 2 satellite channels and an OTA channel at the same time. I rarely set recordings for the OTA channel. As a result, if I come home and want to watch a game in process from the start, I turn on the satellite box leaving off the TV and home theater, set the satellite box to a OTA channel, turn on the TV and home theater, then watch the game from the beginning.

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post #26 of 34 Old 02-18-2010, 06:43 AM
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Can someone tell me if there is such thing as a blu ray player that includes an OTA tuner? I can not find one.
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post #27 of 34 Old 02-18-2010, 09:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by a8vdeluxe View Post

Can someone tell me if there is such thing as a blu ray player that includes an OTA tuner? I can not find one.

There is not to my knowledge, and I can't imagine anyone deciding that such a pairing is a good idea. They could share MPEG-2 and DD decoding stages, but that's about it; otherwise their functions really don't overlap enough to make it economical. If you meant a Blu-Ray *recorder*, nothing that's made it to the US so far.
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post #28 of 34 Old 02-18-2010, 03:42 PM
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Panasonic makes this BR/VHS player but it contains no tuner or ability to record.
http://www.amazon.com/Panasonic-DMP-...3947137&sr=1-2
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post #29 of 34 Old 02-20-2010, 12:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sanne View Post

Competent remote that doesn't require me to press buttons multiple times and doesn't buffer 10 commands at once and unleash them on the DVR

I thought I was the only one!

One other thing I would like to see on my Motorola box (Which was $700 when I bought it) is the ability to skip ahead on a recording. Not just fast forward over two bloddy hours of video so I can see that last 5 minutes I missed, but the ability to skip through in say 15 min blocks.

I'd like to be able to jump to say 45 minutes into the recording without having to watch the first 44 in high-speed FF.
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post #30 of 34 Old 02-20-2010, 09:04 AM
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The remote is not the problem with buffered commands, it's the DVR. Motorola, specifically. Neither the Tivo nor the Moxi have this problem. And both can skip ahead to specific points within a recording (Tivo jumps in 15 min. increments IIRC), but only the ReplayTV SD DVRs can jump to a specific point (say, 33 minutes in).
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