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Background: We’ve had the Series 2 Tivo made by Toshiba, the SDH-400 (the one with free basic service) for the past year. We’ve been very happy with it. Tivo has converted us to the world of DVR and we realize now we’ll never go back to non-recorded TV. The only problems were: (1) We needed a second DVR unit for my parents and (2) We didn’t want to shell out the extra $13 a month for the rest of the features like “Season Pass” or “Wishlist”.
We opted to upgrade our 2 Dish Network receivers for a dual tuner DVR receiver, the 625 model. We were already paying an extra $5 a month for the second receiver, so upgrading to the 625 meant simply adding an extra $5 a month for what turned out to be two DVR units with full functionality (not the watered down “Basic” service we were getting with our Tivo).
A few instant things we’ve noticed over our first week:
Pros to Dish Network’s DVR over the Tivo:
- Overall, cheaper for more features.
- Better / seamless integration since the receiver and DVR are made to go together.
- Better quality recordings (we were getting about 80 hours of low quality on the Tivo and about 100 hours of good quality on our Dish Network DVR).
Cons to Dish Network’s DVR compared to Tivo:
(Disclaimer: A lot of these are nit picky items that we probably just need to adapt to)
- It seems to take way more button presses to get the same tasks done.
- After watching / deleting a recorded show on Dish you are brought back to the top of the list of recorded shows. With Tivo you were put back in the same position on the list as you were before.
- When you leave a recorded show for live TV and then go back to the recorded show it doesn’t seem to remember your position (where you left off) and you have to FF to find your spot.
- Speaking of FF, one of Tivo’s coolest functions we miss the most is this: During FF when you hit play it automatically skips back about 5 seconds since 99.99% of the population (and technology) won’t react fast enough once you reach the spot you want.
- Tivo was always recording 30 mins worth of any show no matter what (until you changed the channel). So far it seems that no matter what we do, when we are watching something live on Dish, then go to recorded shows, and then go back to “live tv” there isn’t any history of the live show that was playing during the time we were watching recorded shows. With Tivo we could go back to live TV and watch the last 30 mins of whatever channel was on.
- We haven’t found a way to search for a show (and all episodes) without going through the process of setting up a recording.
- When pushing record on an item in the guide the default is to record all instead of just the single occurrence.
As I mentioned, it has only been a week, so we’re still learning all the ins and outs. I’m especially interested in learning all the secrets and shortcuts (tips and tricks) of using this unit.
Update 10/4/07: I received the following email that I really enjoyed and wante to share:
“I just read your article and I can’t tell you how much I agree, at least with the cons. My wife and I have had TiVo for 2 years and just recently switched to Dish network and the DVR. After 3 months, we can’t stand it. We are considering paying the early contract cancellation fee to get rid of Dish Network and go back to DirecTV and TiVo.
As for your Pros, here is our opinion.
We think the recordings are of less quality than the TiVo, at least it seems that way. I don’t remember a quality issue with TiVo.
The extra 20 hours hasn’t made a difference because we never used all of the 80 hours.
As for more features, I don’t really care for any of the additional features, as they simply clutter the interface and make it more difficult to use.
I develop software for a living and am often tasked with designing user interfaces. I can tell you from years of experience that the user interface for the Dish Network DVR is horrible. I would never let an application out the door with that confusing of an interface. The TiVo interface was much more ‘user friendly’.
To sum up, we will be switching back to TiVo as soon as our Dish Network contract expired and perhaps even sooner.
Feel free to post this to your web site if you like”