Tivo vs. Time-Warner DVR
September 29, 2008 11:22 AM   Subscribe

I have a Series 2 Tivo. After 5 months of no TV at all, I have TimeWarner cable again. In my area, T-W uses the Sci. Atlanta DVR tuner. It's less expensive than Tivo, by several $ a month. Is Tivo worth the extra $ and hassle?

Tivo will only get the 1st 100 channels, unless there's been some sort of upgrade, so no BBCTV, and a few other channels that occasionally have good content and are above 100. I don't have a wifi adapter for my Tivo, and don't want to run a cat5 cable, so I'd have to buy one. But the reviews of the Sci. Atlanta DVR are really bad and Tivo has a pretty great interface.
posted by theora55 to Technology (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Around here (Cincinnati) there is uniformly bad word of mouth for the Time Warner DVRs. However I don't see a flock of people making the switch to TiVo. Only you will know if the extra bucks are better than dealing with the pain.
posted by mmascolino at 11:34 AM on September 29, 2008

Best answer: Instructions are for Macs. I don't use Windows. This can probably be done using Windows TiVo software but I don't know how nor have any interest in trying.

1) Hook your Series2 Tivo to your local network at home. Wired or wireless using their USB adapter thing they sell. Either way will work.
2) Assign it an IP number or allow it to get one via your router's DHCP server.
3) Download the TiVo Desktop software from TiVo's sit and install it on your Mac.
4) Download Visual Hub, very good transcoding software that uses FFMPEG (a long time Linux transcoding software).
5) In the disk image for Visual Hub is a quick little app that Techspansion wrote that tricks your TiVo software into sharing not just photos and music with your TiVo but also video files. Follow the directions included. When done, your TiVo system prefs pane will have an extra tab for Video.
6) Now you can use Visual Hub to convert any video files you have to Tivo-formatted files.
7) In your "Now Playing" menu of your Tivo, you'll have a link to the shared folder you set up on your Mac. Mine is called, for instance, "Videos from Mac".
8) You can now transfer video files from you Mac to your Tivo and watch them on your television.

I do this all the time. It does not, as far as I can tell, require an active listing or account. Mine is still active even though I use my Verizon DVR now to record shows from cable. My Tivo has turned into a tool I use to push video files from my Mac to my Tivo. It works wonderfully and with all versions of 10.4 and 10.5, including the most recent updates.

I ended up getting a Verizon FiOS DVR because the Series2 TiVo was crippled as a dual-tuner DVR when Verizon made the switch to full digital signaling in June. I suspect the same thing has happened to you with being able to only see the first 100 channels.
posted by mrbarrett.com at 11:41 AM on September 29, 2008 [2 favorites]

I would say a TiVo is worth the monthly cost if you use the extra features, namely transferring shows to/from your computer through TivoToGo, using the advanced search features to record programs (Wishlists), or any of the on-TiVo extras (games, Rhapsody music, etc).

While the TiVo interface is fantastic, I'd be fine with paying less for a cable DVR that records individual shows, season passes, and will play/fast forward/rewind without hassle. The other "benefit" to a leased cable DVR is that if it breaks down you can generally just call up and get a replacement box.

As you can tell by my use of the official TiVo uppercase/lowercase spelling, I'm definitely a fan - but that's only because I bought the lifetime subscription several years ago (and transferred it once with a fee). Once my current Series 2 dies, I will be hard-pressed to pay the up front and monthly fees for a new TiVo when cable and satellite companies offer lower priced options.
posted by shinynewnick at 11:43 AM on September 29, 2008

I'm not sure why your tivo would only get the first 100 channels. I have two series 2 tivos and both work fine with the digital cable offered from Comcast. You just have to pay for the digital cable box and then hook it up through the Tivo. According to the Tivo site, there may be some issues with using the SciAtlanta box, but it seems to be mostly resolved.

Check with your local cable office and see if they have the smaller digital cable boxes that don't automatically include the dvr.

It's really about what you are willing to put up with. I've never heard anything good about the dvrs from cable and satellite companies, or rather, compared to my Tivos they never sound all that good to me. But then again, I can't imagine life without my tivos so I'm kind of biased.
posted by teleri025 at 11:46 AM on September 29, 2008

Aside from being a little sluggish occasionally, I'm very happy with Time Warner's DVR. After hearing negative reviews from many, including my installation person, I wasn't expecting much. Do beware, however, as they distribute at least two models. I have the Scientific Atlanta 8300HDC.
posted by biggity at 11:48 AM on September 29, 2008

I'm a new TiVo user. I've had DVR's under a number of companies, like Mediacom and Comcast and DirectTV. While TiVo isn't the worst, it's not the best.

I definitely prefer the TiVo interface over that of Mediacom/Comcast, but still messes up doing, you know, the only thing it's really supposed to do: record shows. Not that this is entirely the fault of TiVo: guides change, times, change -- but when I'm paying them $12 a month, can't they at least make sure that the guide is correct? And why is it so hard to only record NEW episodes of the Daily Show (even though I have it set to record new only, no re-runs)? Every day I have to delete at least two or three re-run episodes. That's inexcusable.

The best goes to DirectTV. Their menu/interface was stellar, I never had duplicate recordings. All around great.

All in all, the TiVo isn't bad, but had I not signed a contract I probably would have just gone back to Comcast's DVR since it's half the cost and does basically the same thing, with the same faults, with a slightly less than impressive interface.
posted by nitsuj at 11:59 AM on September 29, 2008

Also keep in mind with TiVo you don't get to take advantage of the cable company's on-demand service. Sure, you can use things like Amazon Unboxed through TiVo, but you're STILL missing out on all the free options through on-demand.
posted by nitsuj at 12:00 PM on September 29, 2008

I liked the TW DVR until they changed the freaking interface. Now I really dislike it, but I hate TiVo more, so I'm sticking with TW.

And I realize that that's not very helpful. Sorry. A switch for me wouldn't be worth it if I couldn't get the BBC on my DVR.
posted by cooker girl at 12:20 PM on September 29, 2008

Yeah, you'll definitely be able to get more than 100 channels. I have a TiVo HD that goes up to the 700s, since I get HD over it, but even before that, with a normal S2, it's capable of going up and over 100. I love TiVo, frankly, because I hear other boxes crash, fast forwarding and rewinding is cludgy (they don't do the auto-bounceback that TiVo does), the interface is balls and basically, they flat out miss shows some time.

Plus, TiVo HD at least, can play YouTube and run Rhapsody, which are both great bonuses.

I haven't ever experience guide data issues in about 5 years of owning a TiVo, and it works exactly as expected for me.
posted by disillusioned at 12:23 PM on September 29, 2008

nitsuj, my Comcast Motorola DVR also records about 3 episode of The Daily Show a day. It must be something with the way they (Comedy Central, the TV Gods?) set the listings so that the DVRs think it's "new." I might cancel my Daily Show Subscription, it's so annoying.
posted by Bunglegirl at 1:26 PM on September 29, 2008

Best answer: You’re paying for interface. TiVo is to Macintosh as generic “PVRs” are to “PCs.” Your digital video recorder is an inscrutable black box; all it is is its interface, and TiVo mops the floor with the competition.
posted by joeclark at 2:56 PM on September 29, 2008

I have both the TiVo and a Scientific Atlanta DVR (mine's with Cox).

TiVo beats the snot out of the Scientific Atlanta. TiVo is easier to use and consistently recommends programs that I like. Even though it only get 100 channels since I don't pay for an extra cable box, I love my TiVo.
posted by 26.2 at 4:51 AM on September 30, 2008

Best answer: Also keep in mind with TiVo you don't get to take advantage of the cable company's on-demand service. Sure, you can use things like Amazon Unboxed through TiVo, but you're STILL missing out on all the free options through on-demand.
posted by nitsuj at 12:00 PM on September 29 [+] [!]

Um. Not true. I have a Series 2 TiVo that I use with My Comcast Digital Cable. Not only do I get more than 100 Channels, I can also use all of Comcasts on demand features, as well as all of TiVos special features. As long as you have a digitial cable box for digital cable, you should still get on demand no problem.

Also, if your Series 2 TiVo is a Dual Tuner (like mine), often you can only get the Digital Cable (channels 1-999) from the cable box on one of the tuners and only channels 1-99 from the basic cable input on the second tuner. This could be why you are under the impression you would only get 100 channels. In reality as long as one of the tuners gets your premium channels you should be fine. The only time this would ever cause a problem is if you wanted to record 2 things on 2 different channels from 100-999 at the exact same time. I've never had that instance occur, but if it did, I'm sure I could find a second airing of one of the shows to resolve the conflict.
posted by veronicacorningstone at 3:02 PM on September 30, 2008

Best answer: For those who have problems with The Daily Show, I solved my problem by deleting the Season Pass and creating a Wishlist Search like this, which I learned from the TiVo newsletter:

1. Go to Find Programs, and create a new WishList(r) search.
2. Enter the show title as your first Keyword: Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
3. Select “Done entering Keyword.”
4. Next, select Keyword again, this time entering the generic program description (the following is the generic descriptor for Daily Show): A humorous slant on top news stories.
5. Now give it a Thumbs down. (By default, your first Keyword gets a Thumbs up.)
6. Set the WishList to “Auto-record” with “First-run only.”
7. Delete the old Season Pass recording for Daily Show.

(It's Comedy Central's fault; they don't provide correct/unique guide data.)
posted by greendress at 7:26 AM on October 6, 2008 [3 favorites]

I've had TiVo for many years now, and have been in love since Day 1. I had a Cox DVR for a while, when we got our HDTV and TiVo didn't have an HD DVR yet -- it was completely balls. Horrible interface, and completely unreliable -- we had to keep our TiVo as a backup, and have duplicate Season Passes, so that when the Cox box inevitably failed to record things, we could at least watch the missing shows in standard definition.

In what must be about 8 years or so, I think TiVo has failed to record something maybe 2 or 3 times, and that includes power outage problems.

Plus, for me, the TiVo interface is a dream. Once in a while I think of something that I wish was different... and then half the time they end up making it so down the road. (Like folders, and then deletion of entire folders.)

I have no idea where this 100-channel limit idea comes from, but I've had the original (series 1), Series 2, and Series 3 HD, and have never seen or heard of such a thing. Whatever channels you can get from your cable company, your TiVo will show and record quite happily.
posted by greendress at 7:34 AM on October 6, 2008

Response by poster: followup: My series 2 Tivo can see the 1st 100 channels easily. It can only see above 100 on 1 of the 2 inputs streams, and can only record one >100 channel at a time.

I don't have a wifi card for the tivo, and the network cable is inconveniently located. Will probably go wireless at some point soon.

I ended up keeping Tivo, as it's such a good interface, and worth a couple extra bucks/month. Thanks.
posted by theora55 at 7:30 AM on November 21, 2008

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