Rarely do I like to praise anything that comes from those money-grubbing fools at Comcast, but despite the fact that I think they charge too much for the services they provide, I can't dispute the fact that they provide top-notch products. I think their high-speed internet is far superior to DSL, and their cable TV I can't argue much with either.
So yesterday, I upgraded my cable box to one of the new fandangled dual-tuner DVRs from Comcast. For those of you not in the know, a DVR is a "Digital Video Recorder". If you hear people talking about a Tivo, it's essentially the same thing. Tivo is a brand name, but they make DVRs. Of course, what can you DO with a DVR? I'm glad you asked!
In its simplest form, it works just like a VCR, except that instead of recording things on a VHS tape, it records it digitally on its internal hard drive. You can play the shows back whenever you want, fast forward, rewind, pause, basically everything you can do with a regular VCR. But that is where the similarities end.
The excitement begins with the fact that it's fully integrated with the on-screen TV guide. The advantage here is that all you have to do is find what you want to record in the TV guide, and press the record button on the remote, and you're set. It knows exactly when to record it, and won't forget. No chance of messing up the times or anything like that.
The excitement continues... say I want to record the same show whenever it's on. For example, I set it up to record The Price is Right every day. Now, if I get home from work and want to watch it, I can watch that morning's show whenever I want! And I can even set the option to only keep the most recent episode, so my DVR doesn't try to store weeks worth of shows, but only todays. It's... ehem... Comcastic?
The excitement builds... so since I'm too tired to stay up and watch David Letterman at 11:30 every night, I can just watch it the next day when I feel like it. But what's better? Since it's all pre-recorded, I can fastforward through all of the commercials. An hour long show is immediately cut down to something like 40 minutes or so. Plus who really wants to watch all of those commercials anyway.
The excitement never ends... it's more than just for watching pre-recorded stuff. You can also do lots of neat stuff with live television. Last night I was watching Law and Order and I got a phone call (during the most exciting part, of course), so I missed part of it. Then I remembered... I can actually PAUSE live TV. So I hit the pause button and the DVR and all is well... except that it took me about a minute to remember that I could pause it, so I missed some stuff. NOT A PROBLEM... I can also REWIND live TV because the DVR automatically saves the last 20-30 minutes of what you're watching, so it's easy to go back if you missed something. (I haven't tried this with say, a football game, but sounds like a pretty neat feature there!) No chance to miss anything.
So, why am I so thrilled? Why can't I live without this? I probably could... but wow is it a neat thing and now even when there's nothing on live TV, there's plenty of stuff I can watch pre-recorded. Is there a catch? Of course, it costs me more. But I was actually considering a Tivo before I realized how far superior the Comcast DVR is. Tivo costs $12.99 a month, PLUS you have to buy the Tivo box which is NOT fully-integrated with your digital cable. With the Comcast DVR, no up-front costs-- the box is provided-- and the monthly fee, only $9.95 a month on top of my current cable bill. BUT... this actually replaces the HDTV box that I'm already using, which was $6.50 more a month... so if you subtract that, add the other, you realize that it's only costing me $3.50 more a month! Well, that's what the original plan was. But there's one more catch there (leave it to Comcast to zap every bit of money out of your wallet)... you MUST subscribe to Digital Cable in order to get DVR. I was originally just using the basic cable package. So another upgrade to the Digital Classic base plan was an additional $10 more a month. The result... $13.50 more a month, but that also includes a whole bunch more channels (including my good friend the Game Show Network). Somehow that all worked out I'm paying $13.50 more and am perfectly happy with the result.
And believe it or not... despite the price that I still think is higher than it needs to be... it's still Comcastic. :)