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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here is a little exchange I had with CR over a report in DEc 2001 (p. 37) on PVR's.


Consumer Reports Editor:




I have had enough of your poor research and investigative procedures. When you published the results of beer ratings, I wrote to complain that “tasting panels†are routinely used for such ratings and “experts†should be identified. In that tasting, bland Mexican brews won out over century old European brews. How sad. When I read your wine ratings, I noted the same poor methodology. Two tasters --unidentified “expertsâ€-- tasting and then rating the wines is not a substitute for a tasting panel. If you, or your “expertsâ€, had a shred of credibility, you would identify them.




NOW, in this month’s “Digital video recorder†article I note a GLARING OMISSION. This omission could have been gleaned by simply picking up any of a dozen major electronic retailers Sunday advertisements. You would have discovered, for instance, that Circuit City, sells three different digital video recorders. Replay, Tivo, and MICROSOFT’S ULTIMATE TV are the THREE service providers to these digital video recorder systems. Your omission of this fact, and the poor methodology demonstrated by your other reports, leads me to make the only objective decision. I will not be renewing my long-term subscription to Consumer Union. I will not be renewing my long term “gift subscriptionsâ€. I will not be sending you any additional money whatsoever this year or next.




As a scientist, I am disgusted by your duping of your readers into thinking there is anything well researched or objective about your “reportsâ€.


-------------------------------

CR response:


Thank you for taking the time to write regarding our article on digital

> video recorders. I was sorry to read that you do not agree with our

> article.

>

> As a subscriber, you're probably aware of the two main criteria that we

> utilize to determine which products, and which product brands, we test: 1)

> Reader Suggestions (like yours), and 2) market share.

>

> Each year, we send out our Annual Survey to our millions of subscribers,

> and provide them with the opportunity to not only share with us their

> experiences with their household products, but also to tell us what

> products they want us to test (i.e. Mattresses, Camcorders, etc.) They

also

> tell us which brands they are most interested in.

>

> To help us determine which particular brands to test, our Market Analysts

> look at the reader suggestions. They also conduct research on each brand

> name in the product category and select those that have the highest market

> share at the time we begin our testing. Then, our secret shoppers go to

> work and purchase the models that we have decided to test. If there is a

> model that our shoppers cannot readily purchase, we sometimes have to

> exclude it from testing, as strict testing deadlines have to be met by our

> engineers and editorial staff. Exclusion of a product from a report does

> not suggest that it is a poor performer. Nor does it imply that we have

no

> knowledge of the product. If the product was not available for testing,

> then we would be unable to comment on it.

>

> I -- and the rest of the Consumers Union staff -- truly appreciate hearing

> from all our readers. I was saddened, however, by your decision to

> discontinue your support of Consumers Union, and hope you would

reconsider.

> We welcome all comments, both favorable and unfavorable, as reader letters

> do help shape our work. I will, of course, share your letter with the

> appropriate members of our staff for their review and consideration for a

> future report on digital video recorders.



MY RESPONSE BACK:


I note the following about this response:

1. The original article did not RATE digital video recorders. It was

informational only. The information was incomplete. What Peter is telling

me about surveys and "secret shoppers" is not even relevant.

2. "Market share" would dictate the mentioning of Ultimate TV and the

corporation backing it--Microsoft. It is like doing an article on ISP's

and not mentioning AOL! In fact market share is pretty evenly divided in

this order: TIVO, Ultimate TV, Replay. Replay is number 3!

3. At least they express concern over my decision to end any more financial

support--but it does not change my decision.




Posted for your continued entertainment...
 

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I haven't read the article in question, but could it be that they compared the two PVR's that support antenna, cable and satellite, and omitted the integrated satellite systems?


Some Replay owners got mad not that long ago (within the year) when an article came out comparing UTV and DirecTivo, and failed to mention ReplayTV at all.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
There are NO COMPARISON or RATINGS at all in this article.

The CR article was strictly an informational article on what DVR's are and what they can do. They did separate on air recorders from satellite only recorders with a short blurb at the end of the article (but still no mention of UTV). Again, to omit this kind of information was not proper.
 

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I worked in the electronics/appliance retail business for a few years and cringed every time someone brought one of these magazines in with them to shop. The reason being that not only do they routinely leave out common models from their lineups, but they also leave out features from some models. I can't count the number of times that when speaking to someone who has one of these magazines they say "I don't want this model because it doesn't have ", then I take them over to that model and show them that it really does have . Sometimes the customer didn't even give me the chance to show them that a number of facts in the article are totally inaccurate, insisting that the magazine had to be right. I don't know how the CR guys/gals can do this - I don't think it's intentional, but it happens way too often.
 

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Did they mention the DishPlayer and DishPVR? They probably have as many units shipped (or more) than Tivo...
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Brett,

No they did not mention Dish PVR's directly.

They only had a short blurb on satellite dependent PVR's.

Forgive me for not knowing, but arent Dish PVR's are served by Tivo? Just today I saw an article that ATT was testing a Tivo driven PVR for cable. Gee, it is nice to see them stepping into the 22nd century...
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by dleithaus
Brett,

No they did not mention Dish PVR's directly.

They only had a short blurb on satellite dependent PVR's.

Forgive me for not knowing, but arent Dish PVR's are served by Tivo? Just today I saw an article that ATT was testing a Tivo driven PVR for cable. Gee, it is nice to see them stepping into the 22nd century...
No, the DishPVR doesn't use Tivo's software at all. I think it may be based on their old DishPlayer (with the software written by Microsoft, I think), but I'm not sure about that.


The AT&T deal with Tivo is a mainly a marketing deal, with AT&T Broadband marketing a new Tivo model. From what's been released about it, it seem very similar to the current stand-alone boxes, but has 2 USB ports for "future use", plus a smaller physical size, up to 40 hours of storage, and the future ability to change channels via the serial port instead of IR blasters.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Acutally, CR did mention "EchoStar" and Direct TV DVRs--but no mention of service providers. I strongly suspect that Dish has more PVRs out there than Direct TV... but I cannot prove it.


As I blurted out numbers that I thought I might know, I now discover I did not know the subscriber numbers..


These are the numbers I know:

Tivo, as of 7-31-2001, had 229,000 subscribers (from 3Q fiscal report). This was the most recent number I could find. Dish, as of 11-13-00, had 150,000 PVR units in the customer hands (from a Microsoft market potential presentation!).


As for Microsoft Ultimate TV, I have not been able to find the numbers. I cannot find similar info for Replay. There is a marketing research report on these numbers (or I think it should include these numbers) which costs $495.... I think I will continue searching elsewhere.


Anyone know any other relevant numbers. Now, I really want to know!


dL
 

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Well, if they mentioned DirecTV PVR's, then they are referring to UTV and DirecTivo systems, right? Of course, it would have been handy for people not familiar with them to have more details!
 

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According to this NTY article from 11/05/2001:
http://www.nytimes.com/2001/11/05/te...gy/05TIVO.html


these are the numbers:


Tivo - 300,000 (I'm assuming this is standalone plus DTV)

UTV - 100,000

Replay - 75,000


(You may need to complete the free registration to read the arcticle).


I read the Consumer Reports article - it talked briefly about the DirecTivo, but didn't mention UTV at all, which is a major oversight IMHO. Details such as dual-tuners, PIP, etc. were not mentioned in the short blurb.


Arjuna34
 

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When did UTV reach 100,000??? They just made it 30,000 a few months back.....
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
FROM NYTimes ---- Networks Sue Digital Recorder Maker


NEW YORK, Nov 01, 2001 (AP Online via COMTEX) -- "Three major television networks are suing the maker of the first Internet-ready personal digital video recorder, saying the ReplayTV 4000 lets people make and distribute illegal copies of television programs.


.........

Digital video recorders devices have yet to take off - there are only an estimated 750,000 users."


SO,

Tivo: 300,000

UTV: 100,000

Replay: 75,000


AND,

According to a Rocky Mountain News article on the Dish / Murdoch bids on Hughes Direct TV, "DirecTV is now the nation's No. 1 provider of satellite television service; it has about 10.3 million subscribers, up by 425,000 in the third quarter. EchoStar is second, with 6.4 million."




Extrapolating, Then Dish has 275,000?? That number seems very high.

I thought, but cannot confirm, that only about 1% of satellite TV customers have PVR's. The UTV figure seems reasonable since Direct TV has been marketing the combo, and 100,000 is just under 1%--the remainder could be Tivo combos... But, the extrapolated Dish figure is way off--something is missing in the above figures--or their growth has been much higher at Dish than the rest of the market.

Is there something missing?
 

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That article is not very accurate all around... here's a small quote:
Quote:
"Both types of DVRs can automatically record the kinds of programs you like. TiVo-based models continue to offer a "learned preferences" feature, which relies on what you've watched in the past to guide what it records. We prefer ReplayTV's keyword option, which allows automatic recording based on a title, actor, or director."
Did they even use a Tivo or ReplayTV for more than a few minutes? Anyone who's actually used a Tivo, for instance, more than a day or two, will know that they have these little things called "Wishlists", which can not only record based on "a title, actor, or director", but can also be prioritized with a little thing called Season Passes, which record shows that you want it to record. They make it sound like it's a crapshoot with Tivo... "Hmmm, I hope Tivo will record Law & Order, because it knows I like NYPD Blue!" The Suggestions feature, although nice, is not the primary way people get there shows recorded. And for them to think it is indicates to me that they haven't actually used a Tivo much. ReplayTV models also have guaranteed "Replay Channels", which record on particular shows, not on keywords.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Yeah, but it fun to talk about since CR stands so high and mighty at times (on their self made soap box).


I have gotten lots of useful information from this discourse. I am still looking for clarification and exact figures for the number of PVR subscribers.


dL
 

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I think actual numbers on PVR subscribers is close hold info and anything in the open news is probably suspect.


I agree that this makes CR look weak, which has been my view for some years since the Internet became the source of much current info on almost anything.


Ed
 

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I was at first excited to see the front cover of CR and thought I'd find PVR ratings and a complete run down on the rapidly changing and growing PVR category.


It was just an article any rag could have wrote and so full of holes, it was unbelievable. I was completely disappointed they would be so careless. They are supposed to be experts and many consumers rely heavily on what CR prints.


I'm no research expert, but it appears I know a whole lot more about PVR's than CR. There's no excuse for this. If they can't be bothered to do a complete and thorough review, especially just before the busiest buying season for PVR's when I think many consumer's will be considering them, then what in the world is the point? Are they trying to sabotage an industry?


Again, I was very disappointed with CR's report and would be suspect of all CR research after reading this failed attempt about a fairly inexpensive consumer product that changed my life.


If CR had done a serious, complete and concise report on PVR's, then maybe many more consumers would have had the courage to try this new technology an would be enjoying the benefits of a PVR come January 2002. I got the impression CR dismissed the PVR as still just some gizmo you don't what to buy yet unless your a couch potato. What a total shame!
 
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