I've been reading reviews and reports of Motorola's dual tuner, HDTV 6412 DVR, and word on the street is that it's finally reaching a lot of major Comcast markets. While almost all reviews of cable company DVRs have been mostly poor, due to bad software, bad hardware, or an overall low quality experience, this one looks like a serious TiVo fighter, since it packs a lot of features you just can't get in a TiVo.
Dual tuners for cable - DirecTV users with TiVo know the joy of this. Basically season pass conflicts are rare once you've got two tuners going at once, plus you can watch other live programs while things tape, which comes in handy.
Records HDTV - only 15 hours of HD content max, but there are only about ten channels on Comcast systems so it's probably not too much of a problem.
60 hours of regular TV recording - pretty good number, probably using a 80 to 120 Gb drive to fit that much standard TV and HDTV.
HD VOD - video on demand movies, in full glorious resolution (though you can't record them). I'm not the biggest fan of VOD, but it's certainly a cool feature when you can get a pay per view movie right now instead of having to wait for TiVo to grab it later tonight to watch tomorrow, which is how I use DirecTV's PPV.
My friend Lance got one of the first units in San Francisco and he posted a full review on his site, and we did a little back and forth interview about the particulars, which follows:
So how's the new HD recorder? Glorious or just so-so?
The interface is kind of klunky, the remote has way too many buttons on it, picture-in-picture isn't really, and it lacks the thumb's up/thumb's down capabilities of tivo, naturally, so it won't record anything you don't tell it to
On the plus side, two tuners is aces, recording hd programming is great, it's relatively cheap, it's simple, it has a huuuuuge program buffer (up to 60 minutes for digital programs, according to the manual) and the remote is fairly programmable.
You can't record on-demand programming, it'll hold 60 hours of regular programming or 20 hours of hd. It's very quiet.
you have to watch the VOD stuff live?
Yes, you have to watch on-demand as you order it
The ffd and rew are really smooth, and ffw goes hella fast if you want it to
The tivo-lag in changing channels disappears, of course, and it takes some getting used to to remember that you can now swap tuners and record one thing while watching another, or record two things at once.
As usual, the installers don't have any clue about what they're doing (yet) - same problem I had when I got hd-cable installed. they can plug stuff in, but when it comes to answering questions they have no clue -- which is why i suppose they gave me the wrong box on friday. i said "this looks exactly like the old one," and he said "it is, except for the hard drive" but it didn't weigh any more. the real box weighs a few pounds more and it's labeled DVR on the front, otherwise it looks exactly the same
Whoa, that's crazy.
I think they realized the problem, though, because the manual includes how to tell the box what kind of tv (740, 1080, 480i, 480p) you have so your signal works properly. It records dolby digital when the broadcast uses it, too.
I haven't checked on what ports it has -- and which ones actually work. Looks like two usb on the front, probably 1.1 rather than 2.0 but you never know. The back has digital video out as well as component and rca
No DVI or anything?
The things i miss most are being able to tell it what channels i use versus which ones i receive, and the guide isn't as well integrated as tivo - yeah it has dvi out
You're using component to drive your widescreen Sampo TV, right?
The 'last' button seems to have endless memory. It goes backwards through whatever channels (or screens) you accessed as many times as you press it
Whoa, like a browser history. That's cool
You can change the color of the guide screens through about a dozen different templates, i'm using 'pewter'. there are two guide views, one (when you press guide) takes over most of the screen and shrinks what you're watching into the upper right, the other (when you press OK) appears on the bottom of teh screen showing just two channels at a time
heh, it's always about the skins.
Digital cable channels look uniformly crisp and not too much jaggedy going on. analog channels in the low register look ghosted and uniformly awful. Luckily, most of those are also hd-capable since they're the networks and pbs.
Haven't found too many glaring idiosyncracies. the pic-in-pic needs relabeling or they need to make it work. the guide has an hd-only mode but it doesn't show all the channels for some reason, most obviously it doesn't list hbo-hd.
You can record a series and it has the usual options (first run only, keep until space needed or keep until i delete it, re-order based on priority) but you can't search a database, you need to go into the guide, find the show, hit record twice to bring up the recording options and then it'll record the series.
That kind of blows
it's awkward. when you go into the dvr, there's a bar that shows how much memory you've used up so you can kind of manage things. if you tell it to record a single show, that will always override a series recording but you need to remember that.
Oh, it doesn't notify you of the conflict? lame.
TiVo seems much more 'set it and forget it' than comcast's solution, but i think they see their competition as directv rather than tivo, because of hd and twin tuners. You either pay a grand for a satellite dvr hd solution, or $10 a month for this
It sounds like it's great except for a few "yeah, but..." things
I'd say that's about right. if i had no tivo experience, i'd give it a 9 out of 10. but having seen the tivo interface and being used to its ease and simplicity, i'd downgrade this to an 8. the stuff i miss isn't the stuf i use all the time, it's more about my convenience.
and the ability to record hd, plus having two tuners raises the bar a lot.
i think i may miss 'tivo selects' surprises as the days go on. i kind of enjoyed sitting down on a weekend and seeing what tivo found for me that i didn't know was on. now i don't get that, so i've sort of lost my programming concierge.
and i never really used tivo media and i doubt i would have found tivo-to-go very useful, personally.