This past week, I FINALLY made the transition to HD television. Oh, for a long while, I've had a TV capable of the appropriate resolution, and enjoyed the pristine picture with DVDs and BluRays. But I always held out making the switch for "regular" programming because I was brand loyal (to a fault?) with both DirecTV and TiVo.
I love DirecTV, and for me, their service, performance and customer support has been second to none. (Hell, I may even wind up moving because of it, but that's another story for another day). For years, I've had the DirecTV receiver with integrated TiVo (and before that, I had seperate TiVo boxes). When I was at someone else's house, or during a hellish 5 month relo situation where I was tortured with the TV gang rape of Comcast, I experienced other DVRs, and found them all to be lacking when it comes to the functionality and friendliness of good old TiVo. But this fall, a few chinks in the armor began to show:
* My own units, older and surely worn out from the sheer volume of use, started to have small glitches, freezing up or requiring a reboot. (Good soldiers that they were, if they were functioning, they never missed an appointed round).
* A DirecTV HD receiver with TiVo brand DVR has long been rumored, but thus far, it has remained as elusive as unicorns, Santa or Tiger Woods' integrity.
* During a delightful trip back to the motherlands of Georgia, I stayed with two groups of friends who both had the DirecTV HD DVR hookup. I looked down my nose at first -- this is no TiVo! -- but after playing with them for a while (and being stunned at the picture quality, of course), they didn't seem so "foreign" and unwelcoming.
* I spoke with the fine folks at DirecTV about the possibility of upgrading, just out of curiosity, and they agreed to give me the whole HD and DVR hookup at a price that can't be beat.
So this week, I pulled the trigger. (Just in time to read 108 tiny names written on a lighthouse mirror wheel on Lost!) Obviously, I can see a HUGE difference in the HD picture. That goes without saying. But what I wanted to briefly ruminate on is a comparison between the DVRs. I thought I would be completely aggravated without the comfort and familiarity of the TiVo interface, but I have to say, just a few days later, I'm really at peace with the decision. Here are a few initial observations:
Things That Work with Both:
* The ability to customize the onscreen program guide. When you have a channel selection that reaches into the hundreds, there are obviously channels that you're never, ever going to watch. I don't want to see them cluttering up my screen when I scroll through the guide. It was just as easy with the new DVR to create a "ShanTV Guide" that completely eliminated all shopping channels, all religious cult programming, all kids and parenting channels and anything having to do with cooking, health, hockey, soccer and "reality" shows.
* Watching and pausing two channels at...