Major Tivo Withdrawals

Behold the intoxicating powers of HD

After switching from my beloved DirecTV w/ Tivo service to Comcast’s HD w/ DVR service a couple of weeks ago, I now understand why every household doesn’t have a DVR:

Because mainstream DVRs, in and of themselves, suuuuuuuck.

This new Comcast 6412 box in my living room is such a royal pain to use that I’ve begun watching less TV simply because I hate interacting with it so much. I pull up the channel guide and it shows me only six channels per screen. I hit rewind and the box doesn’t even acknowledge my keystroke for a couple of seconds. I look for the 30-second commercial skip button and there is none. The amount of annoyances this little box ships with is almost unbearable. It’s a high price to pay for recordable HDTV, and I will probably continue paying for it, but it sure does feel like almost every other piece of Microsoft technology I’ve ever used: just good enough to tolerate and just bad enough to piss me off at every turn. If it weren’t for the fact that I can record Anna Kournikova in high definition and transfer the footage to my Mac for viewing over and over and over again (see actual screen capture above), this thing would be on the first van back to Philadelphia, or Redmond, or whatever heathen land from whence it came.

Following is a comparison of my DirecTivo service and my Comcast HD service —

  DirecTivo Comcast 6412 HD PVR
Local, Recordable High Definition Channels No ★ Yes
Hardware Footprint Big ugly dish on deck, receiver in living room ★ Receiver in living room
Easy to Transfer Video to Mac No ★ Yes
Interface Makes Me Want To… ★ Hug my TV Never watch TV again
30-second Commercial Skip ★ Yes No
Channel Guide ★ Useful, efficient Wasteful, maddening
Responsiveness ★ Great Awful
RW/FF Snapback ★ Yes No
Recordings Begin and End On-Time ★ Yes No
Remote Easily Controls A/V System Volume ★ Yes No
Channel Volume ★ Normalized All over the map
Standard Definition Channel Quality ★ Digital, very good Analog, borderline unwatchable

I have decided to tolerate this Comcast box with Microsoft interface until a more Tivo-like product is available, but I’m definitely not happy about it. I also worry about DirecTV’s impending HD push because they’re offering their own box instead of a Tivo-powered one. That Tivo isn’t just owning every living room in America right now is a sad, sad tragedy. Here’s a message to Comcast, DirecTV, Dish Network, Microsoft and any other company trying to control my living room:

Make it harder for me to watch TV and I’ll watch less TV. Make it easier and I’ll watch more.

56 comments on “Major Tivo Withdrawals”. Leave your own?
  1. Mike – I got so frustrated with my Moto 6412 that I’ve relegated it to permanent “hooked up to mac” status. It sits here plugged into my Alchemy TV card for normal TV watching and plugged in via Firewire for recording HBO’s HD movie offerings.

    It seems I’ve tried every home media option out there and have determined that the best way to go (for me, at least) is the hacked DirecTivo (bought two on eBay cheap) which allows for EASY transfer to my Mac. So easy, in fact, the first time I did it I didn’t believe it. All the details can be found at

    With the hacked TiVo, I’ve got the best of all worlds. DirecTV service – great picture, etc., multi-room viewing for the two TiVo’s in our home (better than advertised), and the ability to telnet to the dang thing and add software.

    If only I could justify the expense of the HD TiVo. I would pitch this MOTO into the dumpster.

  2. Ted Pearlman says:


    I have experienced the same thing. Same old box, same new one. And I’m with you, axe at the ready. Let the village revolt begin.

    Denver, CO

  3. Mike D. says:

    It’s shocking how dramatically the TV-watching experience degrades when all the details surrounding it are poorly executed. A little delay here, an indirect navigation path there and you lose all desire to even operate the remote.

    But then again, maybe that’s the point. On a macro level, if all TV owners have DVRs and all DVR owners skip commercials too easily and frequently, there goes the entire economic model of television. I think this is definitely going to be an issue sooner than people are anticipating.

    David: That TivoTool looks awesome. I’ve always heard the Series 2 DirecTivos were very hard to hack though. Is that not the case?

  4. Faruk Ateş says:

    You know, to me you sound a bit spoiled. ;-)
    No offense meant by that, but around here (Netherlands) we don’t have either TiVo or HD TV. Or a bazillion channels for that matter (unless you get satellite, of course).

    However, I’ve come to notice from living in a place where there’s no standard cable available that I don’t really need TV at all. I’m not watching any TV at all these days, and find myself quite happy about it. Do I miss it? Nope. Movies? I buy dvd’s and go to the cinema a lot. Talk shows? Eh, I can live without them. Cool series? Friends ended and Joey’s way behind here, I download the eps so that I don’t have to wait half a year before knowing what everyone’s talking about, then I buy the DVD’s once they’re out.

    All in all, I’m not missing TV at all. I’ve never experienced TiVo mind you, but I have experienced an HD TV with dvd and games, and -that- was awesome. The display quality was wonderful, but I wouldn’t care about it for television purposes…

    Oh, and I have more time for my own projects these days, too. Convenient!

  5. Mike, I’ve heard the same thing about hacking the Series 2 DirecTivo. In fact, with a little help from DealDatabase, I tried it myself. The carnage included the only remaining PC in my house, several hard drive ribbon cables, and a couple of broken torx drivers. Then again, I’m 90% idiot.

    But luckily I found a few sellers on eBay that had successfully streamlined the process and were selling them already hacked. The guy I bought mine from also offered hacked hard drives – just had to drop one in my Series 2 box and I was up and running.

    TivoTool is wonderful. I’ve been using it every day since it’s release and have successfully transfered dozens of shows to my Mac. All across a wireless network with no trouble.

    BTW, as I’m writing this comment, my 6412 reset itself – something my TiVo has never done. So sad.

  6. Sid Upadhyay says:

    Hey Mike, You can always try this option…

    to qoute, “For under $500 you can build a computer that will record HDTV, schedule your favorite shows anywhere in the world, allow you to back up and archive your standard or high def content, display your favorite RSS news feeds, and play all your old-school MAME roms. All this without any monthly subscription fee, made possible with MythTV.”

    You might want to consider it since if can also work on an Apple computer with this;

  7. Dan says:

    It’s somewhat interesting that media providers have such shabby equipment. One of my roommates has a PVR from Cox and seriously it’s got issues. On a side note though, it can record HD programming in HD, so that was nice when I was working later than normal and still able to come home and watch 24 in HD. However, I do agree with Mike, the controls are shabby, the reliability, well it’s not there (and it’s supposed to be teamed with the cable company’s tv guide system *sigh*).
    Is it possible to use an HD TiVo with your cable company? Or is it only possible to use hardware that has been approved by them?

  8. AkaXakA says:

    Faruk: In Holland (and the rest of Europe) standard tv picture quality is so much higher than in the US that HD just doesn’t represent a dramatic boost in picture quality. (Indeed, it’s the old NTSC vs PAL debate.)

    TiVo is making (some) inroads into Europe however. They’ve launched in the UK, but as the rest of Europe is lagging behind with digital channels, it doesn’t look likely that we’ll be getting the TiVo any time soon.

  9. Jay says:

    Your lucky you’ve got HDTV at all… here in England we are presented with so many “fake” HDTV’s that its almost impossible to find a real one!

  10. Stacie says:

    What is the big deal with HDTV? So what if you can see the picture better? It doesn’t change the fact that most of what is on television is crap that caters to the digust factor.

    When the quality of the programming matches the quality of the picture, would HDTV be worth-while. Until then I’ll stick with reading.

  11. anon says:

    Maybe you should have rearched it before you bought it? Duh.

  12. Faruk Ateş says:

    Yeah, our PAL is quite a bit better than NTSC as it is, but despite that I must say I’ve rather loved the picture quality of the HD TV that I checked out a while ago. Mostly, HD is so much better than LCD or Plasma screens, but it’s still flat and therefor convenient. Big difference, there.

  13. Summerville says:

    Don’t hate on Microsoft too much. Windows Media Center Edition is even better than TiVo in my opinion. It has nominal HD capabilities right now, but the 2006 edition is expected to be much better.

    I hate watching TV without my Media Center, and that includes watching TV at my parents’ house which has TiVo.

  14. Guido says:

    I still don’t get why companies like Comcast and the guys that make the SA boxes can’t just imitate the TiVo functionality. Having used a TiVo for years, and then having to switch to a SA box to get HD in Canada, I nearly stopped watching TV altogether.

    What usually happens in the marketplace is that Company A sets the standard and every other company copies it (and some even improve on it) to try and get a piece of the pie. Yet in the DVR case the competition has actually produced WAY worse products.. just doesn’t make sense to me.

  15. I have the same box in with Shaw in Canada and also could not find the skip key. Fortunately, the remote can be hacked to provide features like 30 second skip (and in fact you can even add other buttons to skip any amount of time).

    Instructions for the skip are at:

    A google search for hack remote motorola 6412 brings up many other gems (including reverse skip)!

  16. Eric Schwarz says:

    I’m sorry to hear about your bad experiences…we have a Dish Network system (no HD, no DVR), but even the normal stuff is very easy to use and laid out in a logical manner. I’ve seen plenty of digital cable boxes and they just plain suck.

    If you can live without the HD (really), you might want to consider going back to the DirecTiVo (or maybe see what Dish Network offers – I know they have HD programming, but I’m not sure about the DVR part).

    Lately I’ve been letting my Mac fill my basic DVR needs (with an Miglia EvolutionTV). It’s not as easy to use as a TiVo, but everything seems okay with the little Mac windows on everything…

    Good luck.

  17. Eric Schwarz says:

    Just wanted to add a link to the Dish Network HD receiver with DVR. It’s expensive, but it might be more what you want (I have no experience with the software, but they advertise the crap out of it on Dish Network). I know the regular HD receiver also works as a normal HD tuner (so you can watch KOMO, KING, KIRO, and the rest in HD)…

  18. Mike D. says:

    Faruk: Yep, anyone who has ever used a Tivo is spoiled. It’s a lot like using a Mac. You just can’t bear anything less once you’re used to the gold-standard. I would say it’s actually much more true with Tivos than Macs in fact. As for watching less TV being a good thing… yes… that is potentially the only upside to being so annoyed by this device.

    David: Nice tip about buying the pre-hacked DirecTivos… good idea.

    Sid, Dan, Summerville, and Eric: The problem with *any* non-Comcast solution (like MythTV for instance) is that I can’t get HD channels. I had an over-the-air HD antenna before but I live on the outskirts of the city and apparently the HD signals have a hard time getting here. I needed to do all sorts of antenna gymnastics to get a signal… not reliable.

    Stacie: Yep, there’s still a lot of crap on TV… that’s for sure. But watching great HBO shows like The Sopranos and decent movies in HD is pretty cool. Oh yeah, and women’s tennis. :)

    anon: Moron, I *did* do my research. Direct quote from my original post on the topic — “I fully expect a crystal-clear high-definition 16:9 viewing experience with a woefully disappointing interface.”

    Faruk again: What exactly do you mean when you say “HD is so much better than LCD or Plasma screens”? HD is the signal quality. LCD and plasma are just screen technologies.

    Jim: Unfortunately, people in Seattle are the only people in the country who get the Microsoft version of the interface, which *cannot* be programmed to do the commercial skip and all the other good stuff. Talk about pouring salt on the wound. Infuriating.

  19. Faruk Ateş says:

    Around here, the signal is all non-HD, but the HD-capable tv’s that we have here (very, very few) have a flatscreen display that uses technology not available in LCD and Plasma tv’s. All LCD and Plasma tv’s have a screen quality that I personally find to be not up to par to an ordinary (PAL) tv. I like to switch to a flatscreen tv, but LCD and Plasma have kept me off of doing so. HD-capable tv’s here have a picture quality (I forget which added technology is the cause of this) that is even much better than my ordinary high-quality tv.

    So yes, it’s a screen technology that this is about, but only the HD-capable tv’s here have “the right technology.” Don’t ask me why that is, though. If they could get LCD to be this pretty, I’d buy that, but it ain’t happening.

  20. Oldman says:

    I’m stuck with Comcast digital HD cable…. why is Comcast still in business? The signal strength fluxuates, the audio cuts out, and Comcast customer service is non-exisitent. I use a card in my HD tuner, comcast wasn’t even able to install their card! I had to figure it out for them and I had the head tech in my home! I’ve even complained to the President of Comcast…. i’m now waiting for 2006 media center release but still doesn’t solve the Comcast problem.

  21. Mike D. says:

    Faruk: The reason your LCDs and plasmas don’t look as good is that they don’t hide the poor quality of standard NTSC/PAL signals as well as a standard interlaced TV set. When run through a standard interlaced 4:3 set, your regular TV signal looks “fine”. But take that signal and run it through a progressive scan display (like a computer monitor, an LCD, or a plasma) and you’ll notice all the imperfections. That’s what you’re noticing. Scanlines hide a lot.

    Additionally, most LCDs and plasma are 16:9 so if you’re just running a 4:3 signal through there, it’s going to stretch and generally look like shit.

    I’m not sure what the technology is that you’re talking about in some HD sets but it sounds like it’s probably upsampling or line-doubling to me. Basically, the TV can take a standard-rez signal and attempt to “rez it up” using algorithms and filters. It’s not great but it improves things a little.

  22. Faruk Ateş says:

    Mike, that’s entirely possible. Keep in mind though that the signal I saw on all the display TV’s was from a DVD.

    Signal was 16:9 and they were all showing the widescreen dvd trailer.

    *insert moment of research here*

    It seems it’s the DLP Technology that has been the cause of the much better picture quality. And as it turns out (by coincidence), around here the only tv’s that have that implemented are also HD TV’s.

  23. Mike D. says:

    Faruk: Ok, yes, DLP is going to improve things in some cases because it generally provides deeper blacks and just a bit better contrast in general. It doesn’t really affect the signal or resolution at all, but any improvements of course will help. Also note that DVD quality is not nearly as good as HD quality. DVD is 480p while HD is 720p, 1080i, or 1080p (top-o-the-line true HD). Still a good DVD should look great on any widescreen LCD or plasma set.

  24. Faruk Ateş says:

    Mike: if I’m in that store again, I’ll take some pictures of their display models for comparison. Won’t be all that much of a comparison of course, as you just can’t photograph that very well, but maybe it’ll show the difference between the HD TV (with DLP) and the LCD/Plasma screens, at least. I found the latter two vastly unacceptable, as I’m a screen quality nazi. ;)

  25. Mike D. says:

    Faruk: Oh I totally believe you about the quality difference… no question about that. Even just comparing plasmas to plasmas, there’s a gigantic difference sometimes. I was in Costco the other day and there were about five plasmas side-by-side, all with varying quality. The Panasonic was the easily the best, a few were ok, and one was noticeably worse. Also, another thing to consider is that a lot of times, TV shops will jack up sharpness and saturation to ungodly levels just to make you go “wow”, when really, the correctly calibrated picture would be a lot more to your liking.

  26. Leo Kennis says:

    I live in Holland.

    I have old fashioned cable-TV (COAX that is) in 4:3 (widescreen hasn’t really made it’s entrance over here :@ ), with no TiVO-like functions (skip commercials, watching programs anytime you want) at all. And I still use VCR.

    So shut up :P

  27. Faruk Ateş says:

    Mike: Yeah, indeed. Good thing I ran into an old classmate from high school at the store, who worked there and gave me some good information. I trust him, if only because his information was in full accordance to what I managed to find online.

    Oh, and after opening hours, they sometimes used that HD TV to play games on. Bastards ;)

  28. Eric Schwarz says:

    Oldman: Comcast is still around because they’ve bought up everyone else, and are the only cable/high-speed internet option in some regions…my parents are sticking with the dialup/Dish Network setup at their house just because of all the Comcast problems here.

    I live away at school, so I access the ‘net with the LAN and get cable through the campus’s system (non-digital, non-HD, but it works).

    I really wish that someone would step in about cable monopolies, but I think the whole telecommunications industry is getting away with anything but sex! (Do your research and see that Fox owns the major UPN stations, even though UPN is a Viacom network)

  29. Mike,

    Can you tell me how you connect the dvr to your mac?

    Also, I have a Diretivo HD box. Anyone know how I can hack it to output HD content to my Mac Mini or PC laptop. I have firewire on the PC.

  30. Calvin says:

    Yo Mike, now my ghetto Dish Network setup aint lookin so bad, eh? $35/month for DVR capability in 2 rooms. Hey my GUI isn’t as good as DirecTivo, but its not nearly as crappy as Comcast and I pay less than either.

  31. Eric Schwarz says:

    Isn’t there an EyeTV that does HD? Not sure if your Mac is up to it, but that could always be an option…

  32. David Spurr says:


    Have you thought about making your own PVR instead? You can get some pretty decent free software (I’m using GB-PVR in mine) and customise it to your exact needs (HD space, DVD writer, network link, commerical skips etc.).

    I’m not sure if there is any support for HDTV as we don’t have any HDTV channels in the UK yet. But if you’re happy building and tweaking a PC you can end up with some really great results.

    I did look at a commerical products back when I was thinking about getting a PVR and the limitations made me decide on a custom built machine.

  33. Danny Young says:

    Hacking the Directivo Series 2 with the new 6.2 software is actually pretty easy if you can work your way around basic harddrive connections and a few unix commands. Here’s a “guide:”

  34. Gene says:

    I wholeheartedly concur with your assessment of the Comcast DVR — what a huge pain the ass. To your list of complaints, I’d add the horrible recording software that attempts to mimic TiVo but misses. For instance, when telling the DVR to record only new episodes, it records that new episode EVERY TIME it airs. It has no memory of what it’s already recorded, like TiVo.

    Actually, there is a 30-second skip function in the DVR, but like the one on TiVo, it’s hidden. A quick search of the net yields a way to program one of the remote buttons for a commercial skip:
    1) Press the “Cable” button at the top of the remote to put it into Cable Box control mode.
    2) Press and hold the “Setup” button until the “Cable” button blinks twice.
    3) Type in the code 994. The “Cable” button will blink twice
    4) Press (do not hold) the “Setup” button
    5) Type in the code 00173 (for 30 second Skip)
    6) Press whatever button you want to map the skip
    Rumor has it that the TiVo software is coming to Comcast DVRs… wouldn’t that be great? Imagine, it might actually record only ONE instance of a show instead of EVERY instance!

  35. Mike D. says:

    Scott: Instructions for transferring video from the Motorola box to your Mac are here.

    Calvin: Your Dish deal isn’t bad, but again, no HD *and* a crappy interface. You pay $35 a month. I pay $39.95 a month and I have HD plus HBO.

    Eric and David: Yes, those are options, but I can’t get a good over-the-air HD signal at my place. It goes in and out. Comcast is my only option.

    Gene: Yep, those tricks don’t work with the Microsoft version of this box… hence, my extreme displeasure.

  36. Sherm says:

    Make it harder for me to watch TV and I’ll watch less TV. Make it easier and I’ll watch more.

    But they’re not in the business of selling TV, they’re in the business of selling commercials. A big part of “making it easier for you to watch TV” is allowing you to bypass their product easily. Why on Earth would they want to do that?

  37. Jeffrey says:

    Sherm: Product placement. TV is now full of it regardless of actual commercials. Less TV means less advertising.

  38. Kyle Haskins says:

    Summerville is absolutely right. “Windows Media Center Edition” is Microsoft’s best work yet. The interface design and usability is right-on. This product is what has kept me a PC user.

    You can build a PC pretty cheap, and buy an OEM version of WMC and a remote. There is no monthly cost, but as Summerville mentions, HD support is coming in the next version. But if you need a PC for testing, you might as well have one that is also a DVR.

  39. marko savic says:

    I agree about DVRs having horrible interfaces. I have the SA 8000 from Rogers up here in Canada. It sucks beyond all belief. It’s slow, unresponsive and never does what I want it to other than record shows. I think the worst part is, there is an option to record a show “on any timeslot” and so it’ll record the same show 3 times because its aired at 8pm, 12am and 3am!

    I wish there was a more elegant solution around, but theres no TiVo in Canada (and they wouldn’t have HD if there was). Rogers has no plans to update their line of products – the interface is even inconsistant with the rather sleek looking one used on the commercials.

    Woe is Canada, for we have poor PVRs (no, not DVRs.) Personal Video Recorders to go with Personal TV.

  40. Brian Sugar says:

    At 2Wire we deal with these issues on a daily basis.

    We are creating a multi-room HD PVR (Dish Network) that integrates content (Yahoo! among others) from the web and enables access to it from TV, PC, and mobile device…think TiVo, iTunes, Windows Media Center, Sonos, Sling, Akimbo, etc but from a service provider (SBC).

    We are hiring in our San Jose office people that care about the issues raised here.


    Check out our site and drop me an email. We are looking for engineers, product managers, and UI designers.

    Brian Sugar
    VP, Marketing

    bsugar [at] 2wire [dot] com

  41. Diego says:

    In addition to the already mentioned 30 second skip, there’s a remote hack that allows you to skip 15 seconds back.

    Also, the remote can be set up to control the volume of any supported AV equipment (not just in AUX mode, but in CABLE mode as well). By default, the volume is set to control the volume of your TV in CABLE mode. I don’t have the remote’s instruction sheet in front of me, but you can set it to control your AV receiver’s volume (which also sets the Mute button’s behavior).

    The lag between pressing a button on the remote and the DVR responding is the worst aspect of Comcast’s system, in my opinion.

  42. Mike D. says:

    Again, none of the remote control hacks are available for this version of the box. No commercial skip, no tuner swap, no 15-second back, and no A/V system volume control in cable box. The Microsoft version of this box disables all of the above. Good times.

  43. Zon says:


    Thanks for being the latest roadblock to me selling my soul to Comcast. All the promises – local HD, bundle with high-speed Internet, $400 to “ditch the dish” – aren’t worth putting up with their crappy technology. Not to mention the quality issues with “normal” channels.

    For the record, I have the never-talked-about Dish Network DVRs in my house and have used their DVRs for about four years now. Aside from the “season pass” and watchlist-type functionality (and the fact that their early machines would die after about six months), I think they’re doing DVR pretty well. I have their dual-tuner 721 in my living room (I think I may be the only one in the country with this box), and they were the first provider I knew of offering two tuners.

  44. Eric T says:

    Have your cake and eat it too: HDTivo. I have it, it works great.

  45. Olly says:

    In the UK, NTL and Telewest are the major cable providers. I know many many people who have switched to Sky (satellite tv) simply because the set top box provides the worst user experience imaginable.

    Press the red button to “go intereactive or access exciting information services”… wait for it… keep waiting… oh, it might do something now… nope, still nothing… oh it’s got back to me, at long last… with a “please wait” graphic.

    It will never go away and all the time it’s there, I can’t change channels or indeed do anything else at all. Oh great, now it’s gone and crashed.

    It’s no wonder that disgruntled users set up an NTHell website to rival the company’s own corporate website.

  46. greg says:

    so, coming from a lifestyle of knowing only direct tv / tivo and after reading this, i really feel like i don’t want to get comcast hd, but feel that financially it’s the best option. we don’t have a phone land line set up at our apt, so i was looking into the comcast digital cable/internet package. that way, i’m not paying for anything i don’t need, ie; a phone line i don’t use, only for direct tv connection and probably sbc dsl. instead i’ll get the cable package from comcast. can someone tell me if cable is any different from sbc dsl? i just moved, at the old place we had direct tv, a phone line and dsl. so that’s my story in a nutshell.

  47. David says:

    After going through much pain with Comcast regular cable (no DVR), I luckily found a dual tuner Direct TV/Tivo (Series 1) box right when they were introduced for the low price of $99! Tivo at that time was $11-13 per month.

    Tivo was an incredible upgrade to the viewing experience. One of the few annoyances was the box having to make the periodic phone call to home base to “update the listings” or “freshen our account” or what ever. If we didn’t let the box make the call, we were unable to use all the features, i.e. record new programs.

    We decided to stop DirecTV for almost a year. When we started back up 6 months ago, we found that Tivo’s price was reduced to $5 per month AND we could continue to use the features without ever having the make an update phone call. Currently we haven’t had the box make a call for 590 days and experience no problems.

    Improvement all around.

    Too bad DirecTV is phasing out Tivo at the expense of their own (surely worse) DVRs! I guess that’s Rupert (and Tivo’s business errors?) for you…

  48. Grapas says:

    So that I can make sure we are on the same page…(Mike–I am in your boat, EXACTLY)

    I had the DirectTivo HD unit. yep, I shelled out for it. And in the Seattle area, unless you are in the city, HiDef is spotty at best. I got sick of only beng able to record the same glorious Discovery HD shows. yes, it’s great for those of you who are lucky enough to receive OTA broadcasts. The rest of us have one option: Comcast.

    So I got the 6412. and it records all our network shows. But it is the lousiest piece of crap I have ever used. Going from the tivo interface to this one feels like trading in a viper for a yugo. It’s pathetic.

    I could go with EyeTV, but I do not believe that it can consistenlty record all HD content from a cable device.

    Same with Windows Media.

    And with Myth, one has to navigate the rough waters of open source development. I have a wife. One that watches CSI. All of them. I want to keep her. If something were to happen courtesy of MythTV needing a kernel something or other, she would not be pleased. :)

    It would AT LEAST be nice if Comcast included a hard drive that was sufficient. But since they don’t, I have to delete all the shows that I was planning on saving.

    Anyway, if there is ever an option to record HD off of cable devices, I’d jump in.

  49. Thomas Luehrsen says:

    I appreciate your review, Mike.

    I am currently use a Tivo (Toshiba DVD-R) box with a Dish Network subscription. I am having a horrible time getting the Tivo and the Dish satellite box to talk to each other. Currently, I am missing a lot of shows because of various snafus. While I love the Tivo interface, reliability is much more important to me than anything else.

    Previously, I used the same Tivo box with Comcast cable directly out of the wall (no settop cable box). This was very reliable.

    I am thinking about returning to that setup.

  50. Ali says:

    I have decided to tolerate this Comcast box with Microsoft interface until a more Tivo-like product is available, but I’m definitely not happy about it.

    How can one determine whether the comcast 6412 box one has is a MS-powered version, or anotherinterface? (I’m assuming from the above thread that they originally came w/another OS, and were only later “upgraded” to the MS interface)

  51. Grapas says:

    No, I don’t think they upgraded any of them. It really depends on your location. Here in the Pacific Northwest, at least, we are all on the MS software. If you want some more info, check out this forum here:

    The other software for the 6412 is called “iGuide”. I really don’t know much about it. It really is a moot point with Comcast though. You have no choice over software, as far as I know, since it is geographically based.

  52. Mike D. says:

    Ali: Yeah, I think if you live in Seattle, you automatically have the Microsoft interface. If you don’t, you don’t. The easy way to tell, I guess, is that you can’t do the 30-second commercial skip on the Microsoft interface.

  53. Andrea says:

    I’ve been researching TiVo, DVRs and the cable company’s offering for the same. After reading so many positives and negatives on each. I think I’ll continue to do what I have been doing. Watch TV when I can and if I miss a must-see show, I’ll download it for two bucks from iTunes. Beats spending hundreds a year on a service or a DVR.


  54. Jim Slade says:

    Quick question on multi-room viewing and Tivo… do you need a cable connection for Tivo to work?
    In other words, could I get Tivo service for my home theater setup downstairs, and use multi-room viewing to send TV shows to a Tivo in my upstairs den?
    I know this is possible with Sling, but then I need a computer or something hooked up to my den computer. A second Tivo would be a self-contained solution if the multi-room viewing will work like this.
    thanks, jim

  55. JD on MX says:

    TV UE

    TV UE: Mike Davidson itemizes differences in the user experience between two digital video recorders. Both recorders offer similar basic functionality, but the one with more features actually takes a back seat because of the frustration when trying to …

  56. PVRblog says:

    Major Tivo Withdrawals

    Designer Mike Davidson is having major Tivo withdrawals after moving from a DirecTiVo combo unit to a Comcast HD DVR. Mike offers up a comparison, but the most telling quote is this one:I’ve begun watching less TV simply because I

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