Move From Tivo to Dish Network DVR

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”

28 thoughts on “Move From Tivo to Dish Network DVR”

  1. Tivo has the best interface, period. I believe, and I could be wrong, that several of the super cool interface features are patented by tivo. If they were not why wouldn’t everyone have the season pass feature in TiVo? My wife and I have tried Directv’s dvr, two cable companies dvr’s, and the dish dvr’s. They all fall short compared to tivo.

    I wish that someone else could come up with an interface that was as nice as TiVo, but I have yet to see it.

  2. Agreed! When we are at friend’s houses that have Tivo we almost get teary eyed remembering the good ol’ days.

    We say a commercial for the Dish Network DVR where they said, “Better than Tivo”. Boy… that’s false advertising if I ever saw it! 😉

    I’ll say this, with all the other flaws I do like the 30 second skip forward button. Hitting that about 5 times almost always gets me to where I need to be.

  3. Good luck switching back to Directv and TIVO. That option has been discontinued with new subscribers (or re-subscribers). I have the grandfathered TIVO with Directv and also have Dish Net (with the 722 vip). There hasn’t been anything close to TIVO yet, and I don’t believe that there ever will be. That machine and its software are incredibly good.
    I only wish that these money hungry satellite companies would allow you to have the good stuff.
    Better than TIVO? In your dreams.

  4. Agree with all the comments.
    My husband wanted to upgrade to HD and we wanted European channels so we changed to Dish from Direct TV. I am not too techsavvy but I never looked at a manual for TIVO.
    The Dish DVR not only has the most complicated interface but the manual is incomprehensible.
    On the plus side when and if you finally figure out how to use it the quality is good.
    I could not agree more about the losing the feature where the DVR is always recording.
    Who writes this software? I miss my TIVO!

  5. After years of DirecTV service with a DirecTiVo (a wonderful little machine), I stopped watching TV entirely for a long time and so canceled my subscription and service back in 2004. Today, I just had a Dish Network DVR 625 installed (really for no other reason than the price is lower than DirecTV for the channels provided, and my understanding is DirecTV doesn’t directly support TiVo anymore (bad move, guys :)).

    I absolutely loved my TiVo, though I will admit that it was something that had to grow on me. I suspect this new DVR 625 will be the same thing — I’ve only mucked with it so far for a few hours but I have noticed the “live buffer” vanishes as described. That’s a bummer, but I suspect it’s also not a huge deal overall either.

    As far as picture quality goes, there *shouldn’t* be any actual difference in quality between a Dish DVR and a regular Dish receiver — the DVR is just writing satellite stream data to disk to save recordings, and is *not* re-encoding it as it’s being stored.

    So far, on an assortment of channels, I have not seen any quality degradation compared to what I see on DirecTV broadcasts (I’ve seen more recent broadcasts than 2004 — several places I visit each week have DirecTV).

    As far as the DVR’s interface goes, yes, it does appear to need more “keystrokes” on the remote to accomplish tasks. Like the TiVo, though, I can already tell I’m adapting to the way the thing works (think back to when you first mucked with a TiVo — even *it* does things differently than a regular satellite receiver does) and I am pleased so far.

    As Roy suggests, “better than TiVo” is a very, very high target to aim for. This little DVR here probably doesn’t hit that target yet, either, but I will definitely give it a “on par with TiVo” score without hesitation. It is most definitely more responsive (it feels faster, draws screens and menus faster, etc.) than my DirecTiVo ever was, even when recording two shows and playing a third.

    The bottom line is, just like when I first got my old DirecTiVo, I’ve got a new toy here in the DVR 625 to explore, adjust to, and get good at using 🙂 It seems like a pretty good machine. It’s not a TiVo, but it’s not trying to be. It’s still a good DVR.

  6. After years of solid use with various Dish Network receivers, my SONY series II TiVo is having compatibility problems with Dish Network. I have one of the TiVos with lifetime subscription, so there is no monthly charge. Every think worked fine, until recently.

    Now, there is a long wait navigating with TiVo, I am not convinced that the problem is with the TiVo.

    Now, Home Shopping Network is recorded instead of Daily Show. How is that?

    My last call to Dish Network Technical support suggests that Dish Network may be introducing incompatibilities where none had existed before via the software updates to the Dish Network Receiver. If the hardware hadn’t changed, what is the source of the incompatibility?

    The big draw back of the Dish DVR is that it does not record antenna signals, leave alone provide over the air schedule information, I’d have to upgrade the dish and add local channels to my subscription. The big problem here other thaqn cost is that the new dish is larger and Dish is not installing them on roofs. We don’t want a dish on a post in the yard or mounted on the side of our house.

    Our over the air reception of PBS is excellent. Most of our viewing is PBS and after the changeover to all digital, I expect that the selection of programming offered on the ‘digital tier’ will improve. Right now it is filled up with ‘how to’ and ‘lifestyle’ programs. So, I think we could get by fine without Dish, Direct TV, or cable. Just an aerial, a new HDTV set and a TiVo box.

    However, I will be checking with Direct TV and cable. Looks likely that we will be giving Dish Network the boot.

  7. I just got a call from Dish Network and they claim that their Americas Top 250 can be purchased for $39.95, for one year, including the DVR function. I am currently paying about $67.00 for the Directv, the Extra Pac.
    I’ve had Tivo for over 3 years and Love it. I’m wondering if I change to Dish can I still keep and use my Tivo, something about the IR function??My mother had Dish for 18 months and I simply did not like the DVR when compared to Tivo.
    I’ll save about $264.00 for the first year then who knows. Any help would be appreciated, thanks Steve Zimmett

  8. Stephen, we had DishNetwork with our Tivo for about a year and they worked fine together. You just have to setup the IR remote extensions so the Tivo can control the Dish receiver.

  9. In last communication I had with folks at Dish Network I was told under no uncertain terms TiVo will become wholly incompatible with Dish Satellite Rx, even for older unites that have been working fine before,

    After years of mostly trouble free use, there are now long pauses going to a recorded program, and when scrolling channels in live tv, there is a delay waiting moving to the next screen. Often times, Home Shopping Network is recorded instead of the chosen program. This happens despite the fact that guided set-up works fine for channel changing –all the tests cone out fine.

    Why that should be when it would seem simply a matter of the TiVo mimicking the Dish Remote is an open question. Both Dish and TiVo tech support can give no guidance on IR codes. I have tries a few alternates. Neither TiVo, or Dish Network tech support offer any guidance on IR codes.

    This is not surprising since they are in litigation. Direct TV did settle with TiVo over patent infringement. Dish Network refuses. I’m caught in the middle.

    It appears that Dish Network will make sure that their receivers, even their old receivers will be incompatible with TiVo. That is the only way I can interpret what I was told by technical support. I was very clear. Same hardware that was working fine before. The tech support rep was very clear –doesn’t matter, it will become incompatible.

    Maybe a IR communications expert can tell us what sort of hand shaking is going on when the devices talk to each other.

    However, I am not sure it is all on Dish Network’s side. I have a TiVo Serier II SONY unit that was purchased with the lifetime TiVo subscription, so I pay no monthly charge. So maybe TiVo is mucking around with their software updates.

  10. Thanks so much for the replies. As I said earlier, my mother got Dish some 2 years ago and after about a week of trying to figure it out, I almost gave up.
    I learned my Tivo in less than 1 day. One problem with Dish is that when you are viewing a recording, and you let the channel, say CNN on your receiver, then go back to live TV, you can not go and back up the receiver to watch what you may have missed. I’m not sure if the newer DVR 625 will do what the TIVO does with this feature.
    Perhaps saving some $264.00 may be worth the difference in price, I’m simply not sure. The other nice thing about the Dish is 2 receivers, so that you can change channels on a second TV while someone else is watching another program in another room. Directv charges an additional $5.00 for this feature.
    The Tivo I have is an older model, the SD DVR 40. Only 32 hours of recording time. But I seldom go over this time frame anyway.
    I wrote to Directv about the savings, have not heard anything back as of yet.
    Perhaps $67.00 is an honest price to pay for the Directv Extra package. I purchased it some 2 months ago when I realized the the NHL Network was on the Directv system. Dish does not offer this channel.
    Any way, who know?? Thanks again, Steve Zimmett

  11. I wondering about my TIVO, series 2, SD DVR 40.
    With the new government regulations in February, 2009, will I have to replace my TIVO with a newer model?
    I currently have Directv.
    I’ve read some claims as follows:
    Two years from next month, by law, all TV broadcasters will have to cease broadcasting in traditional analog format and only broadcast using the new digital TV standard. Existing TVs, VCRs, and DVRs (other than the new TiVo) cannot receive, record, or display that format.
    I’m wondering what is meant by (other than the new TIVO).
    Also:Cable and satellite TV subscribers with analog TVs hooked up to their cable or satellite service should not be affected by the February 17, 2009 cut-off date for full-power analog broadcasting.

    So if you had a dual-tuner Series 2 TiVo it was now a single tuner. Is that also true??

    Thanks Steve Zimmett

  12. I wish I had read this page a little earlier. I just got off the phone after ordering 2 of the 625 DVR Dish receivers to replace my 2 Tivo DVRs. I love Tivo, but the switch to Dish DVR was to allow all 4 tvs in the house to record shows but also to stop the problem with keeping the Tvio and Dish receiver in sync. Plus with the current promotion (ZERO DVR fees for life….) I could drop the 2 Tivo fees.

    However, I have a problem…. I wanted to keep one Tivo hooked to a tv and the second Tivo would go on a tv in the basement, connected to each other via the USB network adapters (as they currently are…). Is there a way to hook a Tivo up to a Dish DVR?

    Also, if I stop paying for the service for the Tivo in the basement (no cable, antenna or satellite) will it still function (all I need is to be able to transfer shows from the upstairs Tivo to the one in the basement)?

  13. You can hook up your Tivo, I have a 625 box and have it working perfectly. It took a lot of research. It may be as simple as changing the remote address on your dish box to address #1 this lets in the old codes from dish network. In my first attempt, I also put in a manual code I found searching the internet, but I don’t think that step is necessary, you should be able to use the tivo set up once you change the address code (in your manual under UHF pro set up) just change the address though nothing else. Ecostar is the brand name you look for in the Tivo set up.

    If it still doesnt work, the code I used is 10001-A (fast) the instructions for advanced IR setup are on the Tivo web site.

    The next thing to fix is the screen saver. first in the settings under preferences turn off the screen saver, it is set to come on after 4 hours by default. Then make sure your box is set at a specific time to download updates. then set the auto tune to tune in a TV show a Half hour after the download. this will keep you from recording hours of the screen saver.

    the next thing you have to do is make sure that all pay channels are removed from Tivo. if Tivo tunes in a pay channel, it will not be able to change the channel until you press the select button.

  14. OMG…to techi for me.
    Can anyone tell me in short:
    We are in a MDU which currently uses Directv but is changing to Dish Network within the next two weeks.
    We have a Directv HDDVR HR10-250 – is it possible to still use this once we change to Dish?? Or will it be redundant?? As an alternative do we sign up to Directv and use a small dish on our 30th floor balcony???
    Thanks in advance.

  15. Direct TV has signed an agreement with TiVo. Dish Network has refused to settle and is in litigation with TiVo over copyright infringement. As a consequence, there is NO technical support, at least any useful technical support, regarding interoperability between TiVo and Dish Network receivers. I have been told by a Dish Network support person that under no uncertain terms that Dish Network and TiVo will become totally incompatible, and that this applies as well to existing series II TiVo.

  16. Geeez, …I have not used my Tivo in almsot 3 years and have had DishDVR625. It in no way compares to the ease and functionality to TIVO. I have not had a phone line is why i never bothered to hook it up. I tried today and what a NIGHTMARE. Sounds like the best solution is to go to Cable and hook my TIVO back up.
    But, is this true about the FCC changes in february? My Tivo Series 2 will not be any good anyway?

  17. I have a correction to make to my earlier comments.

    I am now using my SeriesII TiVo with a Zenith Converter Box and a Dish SD DVR (there is a listing on TiVo web site for compatible converter boxes and instructions on splitting the LCD from the TiVo so that one goes to the satellite receiver and the other to the converter box).

    Everything is working fine in SD, though the TiVo service still seems to be added channels that I don’t receive with my Dish Network subscription. I’d like to find a way to disable automatic channel updates if I cannot correct this mismatch.

    What I really wanted to rep[ort is that once I went inot advanced setup and changed the setting so that an “enter” is sent after changing channel number, the problems I had been experiencing earlier –a proprensity to record the Home Shopping Channel instead of the Daily Show–went away.

  18. Any updates on this Tivo with Dish thread?

    I am with Comcast now and have a Series2 Tivo. I want to escape Comcast, and want to go with Dish. Can I just hook up the IR blaster with my Series 2 to the Dish Duo 222k receiver? Will that work? Anyone done it easily?


  19. I recently went to Dish after being with Directv for 5 years. Got the new Dish Network VIP722K and to tell you the truth it SUCKS when compared to my TIVO which is more that 5 years old. The TIVO is the SD DVR 40. No wishlist which I already knew and the remote, which I have already received 2 still doesn’t work properly.
    Only reason for the change was that Dish offered a $48.95 payment for 6 months, while I was paying $72.00 at Directv. More channels with Dish, but who really cares as I seldom watch many of them anyway.
    I’ll wait 2 years then probably go back to Directv.

  20. Bottom line – Dish DVR is a piece of Sh_t! I had Tivo from day 1, still have a Series 1 w/ lifetime and have a series 2 as well. Went to Dish 2 weeks ago and have been hating their DVR and remote ever since. Who designed the remote, a guy in a Chinese prison? There is nothing intuitive about the Dish remote, unlike Tivo which is a work of art. I will not go into the list of pros and cons, its already been done. I will say, however, that ANYONE that claims the Dish DVR is better then tivo is either on crac, never used Tivo or works for Dish. I will be throwing out my Dish VIP 722K and trying to make Tivo work with Dish properly the key problem, I believe, is figuring out how to get Tivo to change the Dish receiver for TV2 since TV2 operates in a different romm than the reciever and requires a UHF signal, rather than IR. I think the answer is to build an IR repeater and switch the receiver to use IR for both TVs. Anyway, save your money and time and stay far away from the Dish DVR. It really is a wannabe that is lacking in at least four or five MAJOR areas compared to Tivo. For programing and price Dish is good. For DVR, Dish gets a C-

  21. So how does anyone get Tivo to work with Dish? I believe I would need an access card in order to get the Tivo, which I currently have to use the Dish system.
    Had the Dish Network VIP 722k for awhile. Seems to work ok. One nice feature is that I can record many more hours with this compared to the 35 hour Tivo.
    Does anyone know how to get any Tivo to work with a Dish system??

  22. I called Dish the day I had installed and told them I hated it…compared to TIVO their DVR sucks !!!! The guy said it was so much better and I couldn’t cancel without paying out of my 2 year contract. I have now had it a year and still HATE it. The only good thing is that it is a dual reciever.

  23. I have had DishDVR since 2007 but, I had TiVo before that. The live TV buffer is not just an inconvenience when you are watching a program that you came in late for and it happens to extend past it’s originally scheduled time slot (unless you are mystic enough to set it up originally with that extra time). Football games and the Olympics have both been DVRd and I missed the thrilling finish because the DVR didn’t do that always record feature of the TiVo. At this point, I am so ready to go back. I have heard that the compatibility issues can be dealt with. At this point, second last second finish missed due to no live record feature, I am looking at upgrading to HD. Does the new Dish DVR auto record live TV or am I looking at a future of missed last seconds?

  24. Alternative viewpoint. I miss my Tivo too. I had the Pioneer Tivo with DVD burner. But I would never go back to DirecTV because I don’t want to support the Murdock dynasty and the Saudi Prince dictator that are the major share holders. I also don’t want to leave Dish because they carry one of if not my favorite channel which is Free Speech TV. It is worth putting up with any technology inferior DVR product, although it’s not really that bad, to be able to have Free Speech TV. Free Speech TV gives me access to the best news shows in America, Democracy Now, GritTV, Thom Hartmann, Mosaic and Al Jazeera. It’s nice to have a different perspective. I also love Now & Bill Moyers on PBS on Friday nights. John Stewart and Steve Colbert and Bill Maher. I also love having access to European channels. I am really tired of the mind numbing alphabet propaganda American corporate news networks. But I watch them all so that I can get a true Fair and Balanced view point! It’s not just about the technology.

  25. I’ve had my Dish Network DVR since June 2009. The model DVR is the VIP 722k. Ar first I thought my TIVO was a better system. But once I learned how to use this system, I found it to be somewhat better.
    The picture in picture allows you to skip all the commercials. Simply by using the PIP button you can switch between two channels and go back up to one hour and simply skip the commercials. My TIVO did not have this function. I cannot stand commercials.
    Just learned about channel 9415 thanks to another email. Free Speech TV. I’m somewhat tired of all the news media and how they broadcast the current news. I also love Now & Bill Moyers on PBS on Friday nights. Jon Stewart can give you more accurate news, although very funny, than the current news broadcasts.
    Although Dish network is getting somewhat expensive, some $83.00 per month, perhaps it is still a good deal,Who Knows??

  26. Can someone, in plain English, explain how to connect a TiVo series 4 to a Dish vip222k receiver? Diagrams would be great. I’ve read in this thread about IR codes, an explanation or a link to a website describing would help as well. I think most people are already convinced on the merits of TiVo, a couple of us have asked for some “how to” instructions.

  27. I agree with many comments. But I would never go back to Direct TV for 2 reasons. One, they don’t have Free SPeech TV which I consider to be the best channel in America next to Link TV. Two It is owned by Rupert Murdoch and I refuse to subsidize their business.

  28. You can get Free Speech TV and Link TV on Directv. But why bother, I agree with your comment about Rupert Murdock

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