Ready, Set, TiVo

I could not resist.  The recent promotions on the TiVo Series 3 HD DVR made me bite.  I tried to resist the temptation, I really did.  If you aren't aware, they dropped the price of the TiVo from $800 to $600 then offered a fathers day rebate of $200 on top of that.  So I ordered one from to take advantage of the $400 deal.

My present arrived safe and sound a couple of days later.  As soon as it arrived, I picked up the phone and called Verizon to order a couple of $2.99 CableCard decoders.  Those CableCards decrypt the signal and give the TiVo the ability to record all of the channels I receive.  In effect, it duplicates the capability of the Verizon HD DVR.

Why wouldn't I just continue to use the Verizon HD DVR?

There's a simple answer to that.  The Verizon DVR only records about 20 hours of high definition programming.  In the fall and winter when many of the US broadcast networks are in full swing, you can fill the recording space very easily in a week.  If I'm traveling, that becomes a terrible situation.

The TiVo comes with a 250GB hard drive.  I added an additional 500GB drive.  Now, I have about 100 hours of high definition recording capacity or roughly five times the capability of the Verizon HD DVR. 

So why not use Windows Vista?

I was really, and I mean really, torn with this decision.  Windows Vista Home Premium and Ultimate have similar recording capabilities.  However, in order to use a CableCard with Vista to record high definition programming, you must purchase a specially designed and certified machine from approved OEM's.  Those machines are referred to as "OCUR" capable machines.  OCUR is the acronym for the CableLabs standard called OpenCable Unidirectional Receiver.

In essence, the timing was good/bad (depending on the way you want to look at it) for me.  The current market for shipping machines that are OCUR capable is pretty limited.  The machines that are shipping aren't cheap.  I don't mind spending a little extra money for an emerging technology, but I just haven't seen the right configuration to jump on.  When we see some x64 Quad proc based OCUR machines I can afford, I'll revisit the possibility of using Windows Vista. 

The TiVo promotion was in the right place at the right time.  I wonder how many Series 3 units shipped in the past two weeks.  A bunch I bet. 

So what will I lose by using TiVo instead of the Verizon HD DVR?

CableCards are one way.  As a result, it's common to lose the Video On Demand (VOD) and Pay-Per-View (PPV) features.  In my case, this is no big deal.  We rarely use PPV.  We used VOD more frequently with Charter Communications, but that was because we had fewer premium movie channels and it was harder to find something live we wanted to watch.  That is not the case with my Verizon FIOS TV channel lineup.

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