TiVo and Comcast DVRs

 Ars Technica has an article about TiVo software being certified for use on Comcast DVRs. At home I have a TiVo and Comcast DVR, and there are definite advantages to both.

This is great news. We love our TiVo, but the new series 3 are just too expensive. Now TiVo no longer allows you to purchase lifetime service so you are stuck with a monthly fee. The Comcast DVR is a decent box, but lacks the superior features and functionality of TiVo.

At our household we have TiVo in one room and a Comcast DRV in the other, and here are our observations:

ComcastLogo Comcast

  • Dual Tuner – Ability to record two channels simultaneously, or record one show while watching another
  • 2 Hour Buffer – If left on the same channel, up to 2 hours of television will be buffered up
  • Good size hard drive – We have had over a week’s worth of programming on the box, and we haven’t hit over 60% full.
  • No entry fee – you pay a monthly fee for the service, there is no entry fee to initiate the service
  • Pay monthly fee for service – about $12 a month on top of any additional Comcast services
  • Play controls are teh SUCK – Controls to view programming, play, rewind, fast forward, pause get stuck. Sometimes if you hit a control such as fast forward, the box will not acknowledge the signal, unsure if the box received the signal you hit the button again. Now a commercial is playing and the wife says something like, why don’t you just fast forward through the commercial? Wow why didn’t I think of that? So you hit a few more controls and nothing happens. Then when the box feels like it, all the commands you sent it have been buffered up and will cycle through in sequence. Especially frustrating if towards the end of the show, and you hit the end because the box doesn’t feel like accepting commands.

TivoTiVo

  • Dual Tuner on newer boxes – Ability to record two channels simultaneously, or record one show while watching another
  • 30 Minute buffer – If left on the same channel, only 30 minutes of television will be buffered up. If you reach the end of the 30 minutes, the show will play, unless it is being recorded.
  • Different size hard drives – depending on price. 80 hours to 300 hours
  • Entry Fee – Depending on the box purchased price can range from about $100 – $800 – The Series 3 sounds cool, but I don’t have $800 laying around for a DVR
  • Monthly fee for Service – Depending on service contract 1 – 3 years, price will be about $13 – $17 a month. They used to have a lifetime service contract – a one time fee that paid for itself in a couple of years, this is no longer available. I say boo to that
  • Play controls are teh rockin! The box responds immediately to controls sent as you would expect. When fast forwarding, you have ability to fast forward / rewind 15 minutes. Use Thumbs Up / Thumbs Down to let TiVo learn what shows you like / dislike
  • TiVo Recommendations – After picking shows you like / dislike TiVo will start to select similar shows that you might like. These shows are stored in an area for recommendations and will only be recorded on a space available basis
  • Wish Lists – you can create a wish list of programs to record by subject, actor / actress or director
  • Cable box integration – I am not sure if Comcast is trying some power play, but the older boxes have a serial plug that TiVo could connect to for changing the channels. The newer boxes do not have this serial port, so you have to use this goofy IR setup that let’s TiVo send commands directly to the IR port on the cable box

Summary

Comcast offers a functional DVR with no entry fee barrier. The features and functionality are not up to par with the TiVo box. After a while the isse with the box not accepting commands, buffering them up and the performing them one after the other will make you want to hit yourself in the head with a hammer.

Overall I think the TiVo DVR is definitely a better system then the Comcast DVR, but there is the initial purchase of the box, and then a month to month fee. The features and functionality of TiVo are far superior to the Comcast DVR.

Something else to take into account is that TiVo has a large community and fan base. I don’t see any equivalent community for Comcast. On the TiVo Community forum you can get answers to questions, tips and tricks as well as upgrades and accessories for your TiVo.

I see TiVo software is being certified for Comcast boxes as the best of both worlds. Hopefully no entry level fee, and only a modest month to month fee. Great features and functionality at a reasonable price.

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2 Responses to “TiVo and Comcast DVRs”

  1. Tony Brown Says:

    Currently happy with comcast, splitter, and two tv’s and vcr’s for tape — oldstyle analog. Uncle Sam wants to darken our old age in February, so I’m looking into Tivo and Comcast DVR. Not overwhelmed with useful information on the internet about either one. Possibly you know exactly what I want to find out.

    The Tivo situation I like to imagine is: my wife and I would program, independently, things we wanted to watch. If two of them overlapped, Tivo could handle it and record everything. We could watch everything in the living-room, where the Tivo lived. Or I could copy things from the Tivo onto DVD, and she could watch those in her den. And anything worth keeping for my real old age (I have a closet full of VHS tapes of the movies of my youth — but they scarcely come up on TV any more) I could keep on DVD.

    I suppose the one point of substance here is: does the Tivo machine have a slot for recording on disk, or a port that a DVD recorder can hook up to?

  2. Sherry Says:

    I want to do the same thing. How do I connect tivo and Comcast DVR together?


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