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December 01, 2006

Direct TV DVR? You Suck.

No, seriously. Your DVR is quite possibly the most annoying, counter-intuitive, slow, kludgy piece of garbage I have ever dealt with.

See, I had a TiVo. A real, honest-to-God TiVo, with quick-loading menus, Season Pass management options that didn't suck, and the ability for the internal timer on the recordings to keep up when I fast-forwarded. Then that TiVo, sadly, died, but you came to my rescue with a shiny new DVR.

Of course, the fact that you were careful to call it a DVR should have tipped me off.

The menus? What the hell. You can't do a one-click season pass. You have to search, record an episode, tab over to a new menu, and SURPRISE! Even when you manage to push all the buttons, INCLUDING the one that specifies "first run only," you STILL end up with every stinking copy of the episode ever. And as someone who actually watches X-Play, which airs approximately 437 times a day on G4, it is important that I get only the first run episodes, dammit. My old TiVo? Understood the concept of FIRST RUN ONLY as more than just a fun label with no actual meaning.

And God forbid you want to do something simple, like have the episodes start one minute early and finish one minute late. If you select those options on the POS DVR, you will end up with exactly one minute of a show taped. Also, the DVR doesn't notice when there are schedule updates, like when 2 new episodes of a series come on back-to-back. It only catches one. My old TiVo? Totally caught that stuff.

And the fast-forwarding. The internal timer on the recorded episode can't keep up, and gets stuck about 11 minutes in, and then EVERY SINGLE TIME you go back to catch the rest of the episode, it starts it 11 minutes in. That is, if it doesn't give you a black screen, which happened last night with my episode of Supernatural.

Word to the wise: you do not screw with my recorded episodes of Supernatural. I will CUT you.

Did I mention that the POS DVR is "free," if by free you mean "locks you into a 2-year service contract, which we won't mention when you agree to have us send it to you but will tell you about when you call to activate the service?"

I have 3 shows I watch regularly. Is it too much to ask that in the year of our Lord 2006 I be able to, you know, WATCH THEM at my convenience?

I hate you, DirecTV DVR. I hate you with the fiery hate of a million super-novas. You can take your two-year service agreement and your shiny silver POS DVR and put them where the supernova don't glow. I want my TiVo back. Well, obviously not the one that died, but you know what I mean.

I think I hear the siren song of Best Buy...

Posted by Big Arm Woman at December 1, 2006 11:25 AM

As a fellow TiVo-phile, I thank you for this product review. I'll know when I go to get a second recorder (let's not even say the word, "replacement", as I'm on my second-gen TiVo box now) not to get sucked in by the evil DirecTV DVR.

Amazing, isn't it? Most people, when they are going to clone some competitive product, take care to first replicate the features of the product that people love (implying they try to find that out through, y'know, surveys and stuff), then make it cheaper. What went through their minds, do you suppose on this mess? Anyhow. Cheers!

Posted by: Sheryl at December 2, 2006 08:28 AM

When deprivation is bliss--

Our cable service (Proudly entering the 20th Century!) only has DVRs--no TIVOs--available.

Which means I don't know what I'm missing, thank goodness, because yes, the thing works like a first-run project built by computer engineers (Counter-intuitivity-R-Us). So I have no clue what I'm missing.

And it is a big step up from the Video-tape that never worked right.

Posted by: Carbonel at December 2, 2006 04:50 PM

I have a TIVO branded DirecTV Receiver/DVR (they're ALL DVRs BTW, but TIVO did invent the category in the same way that Kleenex invented tissues - all TIVOs are DVRs but not the other way around) which has been running reliably for years but will die someday. Shortly after I got mine, DirecTV and TIVO (separate companies) terminated their agreement and DirecTV struck out on their own and fell behind. The DVRs now sold by DirecTV are not TIVO branded any more (or are they?). Could you provide a link or model number of the one you dislike so much.

As I understand it, DirecTV is hostage to the schedule information provided to them by the programmers. For example, I record Leno and Conan and only want the first runs at 11:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m., respectively. I see who's on (is in the "info" bar - I like that) and delete 90% of them without watching any of it. Regardless, the DVR also snags the 2:05 a.m. and the 3:05 a.m. reruns. The complaint is with NBC, or other programmers for providing bad data rather than DirecTV.

For all things TIVO go here

for more than you could ever want to know. Seriously there are some extremely valuable FAQs and also resident gurus who are generous with their time and expertise. The main page for DirecTV is here

Posted by: Locomotive Breath at December 4, 2006 12:52 PM

LB -

Yeah, the one I got isn't TiVo branded--and the difference is large, indeed! The DirecTV website doesn't have the model #, but it's the "latest, improved" model, with the "30 second skip" feature that consistently causes the recording to get stuck about 11 minutes in, and the "quicker loading menus" feature that--if that's quicker, I'd hate to see what the old ones were like. Gah.

The problem on the first run stuff seems to be in the way the DirecTV DVR interacts with the info from the satellite - the TiVo branded DVR would make the occasional error on this front, as you say, because of the info, but it's almost like there's a programming error in the DirecTV version that isn't taking the "first run" tag from the satellite into account on anything except big network programming.

Frankly, it's worth the extra $100 for the TiVo brand, 'cause the DirecTV one is a ginormous piece of crap.

Posted by: BAW at December 4, 2006 01:24 PM

This is worth reading...

Sounds like you have the R15. You are not alone in your dissatisfaction. If you can get out of your agreement, return the R15 and try a R10 from these guys

I have not dealt with these people so I can't personally recommend them but they do have a pretty good "internet" reputation.

Posted by: Locomotive Breath at December 4, 2006 02:08 PM

I agree with some of what you wrote... But its time to get out of your house and get some culture that isint a remote click away. The biggest problem with Direct TV is Direct TV.

Posted by: Big Legged MAn at December 11, 2006 04:56 PM

Oh, yes. Because you're psychic, and know that even though I only regularly watch 3 shows--shows that I pay to watch, btw,--I am therefore devoid of culture. It has NOTHING to do with the fact that if I'm paying for a service I might expect that service to, you know, WORK. No, obviously I am a clueless plebe. I hope the glow of your self-satisfaction is keeping you warm this December.

I have no words to express how MUCH I appreciate being told how to live by some random commenter.


Posted by: BAW at December 12, 2006 09:49 AM