It's nice to see you active on a national scale again. You have always added needed insight to various cable issues in the past.
I'd like to respond to your questions in a productive matter: First, this needs to be viewed from "my prospective" (and that is just as true for others responding). I've never had TiVo, so I do not "miss" TiVo features. I do have 4 S-VHS recorders in the house and used them to record my programming until I got a SA8000HD, and later a SA8300HD (to which I added an external drive). PQ has always been important to me and TiVo/Replay/Ultimate never delivered acceptable PQ on SD.
So what I would like to see:
1) MOST IMPORTANT TO ME: Retain external Hard Drive capability!
2) Ability to set up recording priorities that allow multiple (more than 2) recording requests to be handled (some sort of user notification that a "decision" had been made and "xxx" will not be recorded at "yyy" time/date.
3) Better choices of recording all programs: SARA 1.88.17.a100 only offers:
..a) On this channel any day in this time slot
..b) First Run only on this channel
..c) On this channel at any time
I suggest that the following be added (they may be there on other versions of SARA or on Passport):
..d) On this channel on this day of the week in this time slot
4) Remember where you left off viewing a program - so you can come back to it later. I would think that limiting this ability to 4 or 8 programs would be acceptable (though more is always better).
5) Of course: glitch-free performance
Regarding Delivering of HD:
1) I feel that it is CRITICAL that maximum Picture Quality be maintained! Here in Rochester, NY it is. They only put 2 HD channels on one QAM channel. But I am afraid that with the push for more channels they will start putting three there! TVs are getting better all the time and many people can see the artifacts that result from even normal HD broadcasts. The two HD DVD formats will soon be setting high level of expectations for HD quality. Satellite isn't delivering that quality today, but you must remember that FiOS can. So I'd urge TW to maintain their current 18Mbps HD QAM bit rate.
2) It seems that SDV is a reasonable solution to the capacity issue (I have a separate post on this subject). We have UniversalHD here on SDV, though I don't watch that often (which is likely why it is on SDV), but it appears to be a satisfactory approach (unless one has a CableCard).
3) I am skeptical about the remote DVR concept based on my current experience with OD. In order for it to replace "on premises" DVRs, it needs to have all the FF & RW functionality and have much lower command latency (time delay between when you issue a command and it responds). A real concern is that the pressure to avoid FF past commercials will limit functionality in other ways (for example: the ability to quickly scan Leno to see if any of his guests are of interest).
I hope that my comments are constructive, and that your new venture is successful.