Look DirecTV, I'm not buying your BS. I dont have a contract with Viacom. I have a contract with you. If Viacom wants to change your cost, that's your problem. If you jack up our rates, then it's my problem, or possibly your problem if those rates, for the same channels, are not competitive with your competitors.
So, again, this is your problem. Stop trying to make it my problem.
DISH clearly has some despicable marketing practices. First among them is the practice of paying people to post spam comments all over the net.
It could simply be that DirecTV is lame and totally inept, but there are a lot of reports from customers having great difficulty ordering and obtaining the new TiVO THR22 DVR from DirecTV.
DirecTV seems to be doing all they can to try NOT to sell you a TiVo and if you do finally order one, they are doign all they can to ensure you never actually receive a TiVo.
I know when I ordered mine, the website and the people on the phone really had a hard time entering the order into the system. Then, the installers were not able to get the TiVo boxes. It was a real mess that was only straightened out because the third-party installation folks really worked with us and helped us coerce DirecTV into doing what we wanted - which was nothing more than to give them money for a product they supposedly want to sell!
People are reporting that even when they finally get an order placed with DirecTV, they still have a hard time getting a TiVo, saying that DirectTV ships a normal DirecTV DVR instead of a TiVo.
Likewise, when you try to buy a TiVo, the agents try to steer you toward the DirecTV DVR instead, claiming that it is "the same thing" (using TiVo like "Kleenex" to simply mean a generic DVR). And they might waive the cost of the DirecTV DVR, but not the TiVo, even though they are listed as the same price on the website.
These are the hoops people have to jump through to get a TiVo from DirecTV and yet, the new TiVo is still selling out everywhere, by all reports, in spite of DirecTV.
Is DirecTV going out of their way to try to kill TiVo... again? Is there a contractual dispute on the way?
In my recent Hands on with the new THR22 DirecTV TiVo HD DVR post, I noted that the interface of the brand new TiVo for DirecTV is similar to the old HR10-250 HD TiVo. Of course it's not identical to that interface and there are some cool new features in this new TiVo. Below I describe some of the best ones that I've found so far:
Multiple search terms in WishLists
The new THR22 TiVo lets you create WishLists using multiple search terms, like two actors, several keywords, etc., and putting conditions on them (this and that, this or that, this but never that). This is pretty slick and the TiVo makes it pretty easy to do. This TiVo page tells you how:
The example on the TiVo website shows how to set the TiVo up to record all programs with George Clooney but never the series ER:
- Title Keyword: -ER
- Actor: George Clooney
A minus sign means that this term is excluded. Press the thumbs button twice to make a term optional (shows in parentheses). Press it again to make the term required (default).
Wildcard matches in wishlists
Use asterisks when you're looking for a range of similar words, or are uncertain how to spell a word. For example, the keyword MUPPET* catches the "Muppet Movie", the "Muppet Show" and "Muppets Take Manhattan".
Suggestions appear in their own folder now so they don't clutter your own recordings. I don't remember this being an option on the HR10-250 TiVo.
This is TiVo's version of a "unified search" - more like the HR-series search but providing deeper results. Swivel search requires an Internet connection and looks across all accessible video, including upcoming programming, on-demand, and available downloads. TiVo calls it Swivel search because you can "swivel" off the results. For example, drill down into the cast, then pivot on the actor, and see other TV shows and movies they're in.
Swivel Search finds programs that match the text entered. Like a WishList, the results include more than just title matches. Even better, it's a live search, narrowing results as you type.
At first I thought this was something that DirecTV had TiVo make just for them because the interface seems a little different, and less TiVo-like, but it turns out this is a standard TiVo feature: http://support.tivo.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/198
I'm sure there's more in this new TiVo that I haven't found yet, but these are a few of the cool new features making it more than just a direct copy of the previous DirecTV TiVo.
Basically, I want this to read like a Top Gear segment, where they spend the first 90% explaining how awful the car is, then they break into how utterly majestic it is in some key aspect.
That's how I feel about the new THR22 DirecTV TiVo HD DVR. There are so many things to dislike about it. It's based on the, now very outdated, HR22 hardware platform. It's only got a SD UI instead of the TiVo Premier HD UI. The "peanut" remote that ships with it isn't as high-quality or as comfortable as the old DirecTV TiVo or a real TiVo remote. It's lacking many features of the normal TiVo Premier and even lacks some features of the HR-series DirecTV DVR. DirecTV is charging too much for it. It's not worth the extra $5 per month "TiVo tax".
But then, you use it for a while, and you forget about all that. It is utterly majestic, especially if you've suffered with the HR-series boxes, as we have in my household.
So here are the nitty gritty details:
It's basically an HR22 running a port of the TiVo software with DirecTV-specific mods (such as VoD).
In terms of the user-interface, this new TiVo is actually quite similar to the first DirecTV High-def TiVo, the HR10-250 from 2004 (the box they made me stop using in 2008, which was the original inspiration for this blog). In some ways, that's not a bad thing. The old HR10-250 TiVo interface was simple, fast, and easy to use. One could argue that you're getting an old outdated UI with this new TiVo, but for me, getting that old HR10-250 TiVo interface back via the new THR22 makes me realize how much I missed it. In other words, that eight-year-old TiVo experience is still vastly superior to the DirecTV HR-series DVR experience, at least for everyone in my household.
So that's strike one. You could argue that the interface is old and outdated.
A second strike could be that this new "peanut" remote is not as nice as the old one nor is it as high-quality and comfortable as the current stand-alone TiVo remotes. There is no "List" button on this new remote. Instead, you have to press the TiVo button twice. The arrangement of the navigation arrows and the select button is not as natural as the old HR10-250 peanut remote. The overall build quality and feel is cheap. But it's still better than the normal white DirecTV remote in all respects except that the white remote has nicer power on/off features to turn the DVR and TV on/off all in one press. Whereas with the TiVo remote, you have to turn on/off the TV separately from putting the TiVo in standby.
Those that hate the TiVo (or perhaps they really just hate TiVo zealots) argue that this new TiVo doesn't have a bunch of features that the normal HR-series DVRs have. This supposedly long list of missing features mostly boils down to no support for the Whole Home DVR service nor the DirecTV iPad app. These are legitimate gripes. But for me the trade-off in terms of the benefits of the TiVo TV experience far outweigh the loss of these features. I never wanted to pay the extra $3 per month for Whole Home DVR anyway and the iPad app is kinda cool and fun to play with, but not something that's really all that practical, at least for me. Some people say the DirecTV TiVo may support these features someday. Frankly, I doubt it, so if they're important to you, it's something to think about before getting the new TiVo.
In terms of the cost, I don't love the fact that DirecTV won't sell us any of their DVRs anymore. They only "lease" them to us, so they always come with a monthly fee. But that's not unique to the TiVo DVR. However, there is an extra $5 per month fee for the TiVo box, in addition to the normal $7 per month DVR lease fee. This is the so-called "TiVo Tax" that TiVo haters like to talk about. However, in my case, as a lifetime TiVo subscriber, I don't have to pay this extra $5 per month, so it's not creating me any pain. But this shouldn't matter anyway. Think about it. I'm paying DirecTV over $150 per month and the TiVo is what actually makes that TV experience enjoyable, so shouldn't they get paid for that? If I'm willing to shell out $150 to DirecTV every month, doesn't it make sense for TiVo to get some of the money since TiVo is so important to the experience?
Another strike you hear from TiVo-haters is that this TiVo is using the HR22 hardware. Sure it would be nicer to be on newer hardware, but for me, the experience is what matters, not the CPU or MHZ, and so far the THR22 experience has been so much better than any HR-series box, regardless of the supposed hardware performance, that I can live with the fact that the hardware is "outdated". The one thing I do fear on this front is that there will be no updates to this thing, ever. For that reason, I hope it is so successful that neither DirecTV nor TiVo can ignore it and it gets lots of upgrades and support prospectively. Let's hope there is a THR54 some day!
I have also seen complaints about the TiVo and 30-second skip, but I don't get it because the old TiVo had it as a "secret" feature that could be enabled with remote-codes and this new one has it built-in. In my case, although I've had this feature on the TiVo and on the HR-series, I seldom use it. It seems like I spend more time repositioning after using 30-second skip than just using fast-forward - and, as I'll discuss below, the TiVo fast-forward is so much more responsive and more precise that it's my preferred way to skip commercials anyway. I suppose if you are in love with the 30-second skip on the HR-series then, apparently, you may not like the TiVo 30-second skip as much, but frankly I can't explain why.
What's worse than all that is how DirecTV intentionally cripples the box, forcing TiVo to remove many features that stand-alone TiVos support. Here's a short list of features that a real TiVo supports that DirecTV forbids:
- Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, BLOCKBUSTER On Demand
- TiVo App for iPad and the TiVo App for iPhone
- Transfer recordings to your laptop, iPod, iPhone, PSP, or other mobile device
- Transfer recordings to your computer and burn them onto a DVD disc
- Audio podcasts on your TV or home entertainment system with Podcaster
- View photos from Picasa or Photobucket
- Stream music from Pandora, Rhapsody, Music Choice, or Live 365
|Feature||HR-Series||- THR22 TiVo -||TiVo Premier|
|Share recordings with other rooms|
|Maximum Season Passes|
|PC or Mac photo libraries on your TV|
|Recover Recently Deleted Items|
††† plus $19.99 per month or one-time $499.99 for Lifetime service
So there you go. This thing must suck, right? WRONG.
As I said above, after a few days of having TiVo again with the THR22, my TV experience is simply transformed. The stress of "press... wait... press... wait..." is gone. So what is it that makes this so much better for me? Here's the short list:
- The "Live TV" button and switching between tuners - oh that is so sweet
- The "fast-forward" button. Okay what? Yes, having a working fast-forward button again changes things perhaps more than any other single feature for me. Smooth fast-forward (oh how I hate that jerky HR fast forward). Responsiveness and precision that lets me start fast-forwarding when I want and stop exactly where I want. How well this works on the TiVo just reminds me of how terrible this fundamental, and most common, function is on the HR-series boxes - even with the same hardware!
- Not running out of "series links" - my wife has over 150 season passes (the HR-series has a limit of 50). Enough said.
Overall, the much better response of the TiVo means much less frustration and a much more enjoyable experience. And while searching on the HR-series boxes has improved a lot from how it was at first, the TiVo searching is still better, faster, and more powerful with wishlists and season passes.
For my wife, the most important aspects of TiVo would be the intuitive interface that she can master without needing help from any computer nerds, including advanced features like being able to easily setup multi-keyword, multi-criteria wishlists and unlimited season passes - she brutalizes the TiVo; the HR-series boxes don't stand a chance with her. That would be followed closely by the two-tuner buffering/switching and the TiVo peanut remote.
For me, I could live with the searching and series-link limits of the HR-series. What is so much worse for me is simply the poor responsiveness across the board, especially the pause, fast-forward, and navigating the Playlist. That "press... wait... press... wait..." element of the HR-series DVRs is simply painful and frustrating - I almost forgot how bad it was, until I got this new TiVo again. Supposedly this gets better with the new HD interface that DirecTV is rolling out - I'll let you know because I still have one HR23 to compare with.
So I would say that if you're starting from scratch (i.e. not a DirecTV customer), I might look into Cable TV with a real TiVo Premier or TiVo Premiere XL. In my case that would have meant three new TiVo boxes ($300 each for the XL) plus three lifetime subscriptions at $500 each - total $2400. Whereas the two DirecTV TiVo boxes were $199 each, $398 total - a $2,000 difference! Plus, there's all the hassle of switching to Comcast. For that reason, I'm so happy DirecTV and TiVo finally got this new TiVo out the door. And there are things about DirecTV I actually like over Comcast. In my case, there are college sports that I cannot get on Comcast and my wife refuses to give up the east coast feeds of the cable channels and movie channels (because it means she is more likely to find a time to record all her shows without conflicts). Plus there's the HD quality. I think DirecTV still rules on that (Comcast around here seems to vary quite a bit in terms of quality of the HD).
In summary, with all the things you could legitimately complain about with this new THR22 TiVo, for my household, it's a godsend. It's been so long, I thought this new TiVo might land with a thud, and in some ways, you could say it should be a loser - but then you use it for a little while and all is right with the world. Haters are gonna hate, but I say, while I'm not happy that you took it away three years ago, I thank you DirecTV for listening to us and giving us TiVo again!
Ok, so DirecTV took my TiVO away and pushed their crappy DVR down my throat and it took them three years to give it back. But they did it, finally. And so, officially, I cannot say I'm a hater anymore.
Sure, I'm a tad bitter about it, and all those years suffering with the HR-series DVRs, but I have to admit that they, both TiVo and DirecTV, have persevered through whatever negotiations, ego and otherwise, to finally get a new HD DirecTV TiVo out the door, at a price I'm not thrilled about, but that I can live with.
Despite all the bad things you could say about this new TiVo, I'm happy. Perhaps not as happy as I could be, but I'm happy, so happy to have my "peanut" and responsive fast-forward, etc etc back. TV is enjoyable again.
Thank you DirecTV and TiVo for sticking it out and making it happen.
Yes, ! got the DirecTV TiVo HD DVR installed today!
It hasn't even had time to load all the guide data yet, but first reaction is mixed. It is comforting to have the TiVo "bleep bloop" feedback again for sure. But it's disappointing how much DirecTV has gone out of their way to cripple this new TiVo.
It is SO GREAT to have the two-tuner interface again, to easily be able to switch between tuners! If there's one feature I miss on the DirecTV DVR, that's it. With all the weird obscure features DirecTV keeps throwing onto that DVR it just amazes me that they can't give us a way to switch between tuners.
In general with this new DirecTV TiVo, the response to menus, typing text for searches and fast-forward, pause etc. are better (by far) than the normal HR-series DirecTV DVR... BUT it is still not as snappy and responsive as a real TiVo (or the old HD TiVo) - damn you DirecTV!
Don't get me wrong. Even as much as DirecTV has tried to ensure TiVo doesn't overwhelm their own DVR software, this new TiVo is still a VASTLY BETTER experience than the absolutely tortuous standard DirecTV DVR.
Full write-up coming soon.