The box is by Motorola and its rented from Comcast. Because I already had a high definition cable box the price increase is only about $8/month. Not only is TiVo an extra $13 more a month, but I'd have to buy their high-def DVR (rather than renting), and from what I last heard the price was hovering around the $1000 range. I don't have that kind of spare cash to lay down in one shot.
Again, it does what I want it to do. I have basic needs. Plain and simple, I just wanted a way to record high-definition programming. Comcast provides a pretty easy to use interface, though its not laid out in the best possible way. You can pause live TV, do the instant replay, the whole bit.
There are a few drawbacks. For one thing, when you set up a recurring recording it doesn't understand when things get pre-empted. I had set it up to record Pardon the Interruption on ESPN HD every weekday at 5:30 p.m. Too bad the next day ESPN nixed PTI for a round of golf. What happens to the DVR? I get the entire 4 hours of golf recorded for me. Great!
Also, there no dual tuner, so you can't record one thing and watch another or record two things at once. I'm told that TiVo can do this. On the flip-side, at least you can record something and watch something else off your DVR. Or, something that I do frequently, record something and start tuning in before its over. All you have to do is start viewing the program from the beginning while it finishes recording it. This can really cut down on the time spent on a program, too, since you can fast forward through the commercials and watch an hour program in 45 minutes.
There's four speeds of fast forwarding, which is very nice. At first I thought it was irritating, but then I realized the benefit of the slow fast forward (oxymoron?). For instance, I watched the entire Patriots game on Sunday in about 45 minutes. I had a great system. FF when the Patriots are on offense; FF2 when the Pats are playing D; FF4 through commercials, halftime, possession changes, etc., etc., and so on.
Again, its flaws are minor and don't make much of a difference. The only real complaint that I have is space. You can only record about 9 1/2 hours of HD programming (as opposed to about 100 hours of regular def). This is a severe limitation. I've already run into issues where I want to record a movie and I have to clean house on my hard drive. Its a pain and highlights the need for a standard HD DVD format to be brought to market at a reasonable price. DVR is your short-term memory and DVD is for the long haul.
The true test of the DVR, though, like anything, is how Darrell reacts to it. Let's just say that it was love at first sight. He was ready to get on the phone and order his own after one quick demo.
Anyway, I have Gattaca in beautiful widescreen HD sitting on my DVR box right now. I'll save it on there for when Joshua and Angie come out. There's nothing like seeing extreme close-ups of body matter falling to the ground in glorious 1080i.