In October, I switched from cable to DirecTV. I have an HR34 (Genie) and two C31 client boxes.
I had been a TiVo user since 2003 with two Series 2 units (one of which was originally my mother's, but it came to me after she got an HDTV) and a TiVo HD. The original Series 2 died a couple years ago. The other Series 2 soldiered on in my bedroom on an old SD set, and for the last several months only saw a few channels because of my cable company's elimination of most analog channels on the wire.
I got a new HDTV in October, which freed up the older HDTV to move to the bedroom, retiring the old SDTV there. I had no interest in running an old Series 2 that only tuned a few channels on an HDTV. I also experienced chronic problems with the CableCARD in my TiVo HD. Every now and then, it would drop a channel or two in the HD lineup, forcing me to use the SD version of the channel. Not ideal. I don't think my box ever fully responded to a "hit" sent by the cable company to make the card behave itself. At one point, they restored my lineup by sending a guy out with an actual TiVo HD, into which he temporarily installed my CableCARD, did the whole setup, and then put the card back into mine. That kept the channels in line for a few months, and then every month or two one or two would go black.
I decided it was time to try a different provider.
I still have the TiVo HD running, but at this point it merely backs up (via antenna) local station recordings done on the HR34, plus a few programs broadcast on subchannels not available on the satellite. Call it a bit of rain fade insurance. I am also considering the $50 device that gives the HR34 two OTA tuners. (It would still only be able to utilize five tuners at any given time, but up to two of them could be OTA if needed.)
I have never played with a TiVo model newer than the HD. I'm sure the current models are pretty sweet.
Channel issues notwithstanding, the HD was a pretty reliable box for me. Had a few glitches here and there, and the occasional unscheduled reboot was necessary. I generally found the response to remote control inputs to be very adequate, and consistent
. And there is no more an intuitive remote than the beloved peanut remote.
Bringing that user history to the HR34 has, admittedly, led to some disappointment. The response to remote input varies far more than the TiVos ever did. Sometimes, you simply have to push the button again, and/or wait a split second, and clearly I have proper line of sight to the unit's IR receiver, etc. Sometimes you get yourself one or two keystrokes ahead of things, and that pisses it off temporarily.
Is it a deal breaker? Well, not really, but coming from the TiVos, it does feel egregious. I'm being picky, but I think the average user would notice. Don't get me wrong, the functionality I have with this equipment is quite an upgrade to what I had before, but this little annoyances dull its shine for me. I love having all recordings available at all three televisions. I love five tuners. I love the hefty storage capacity.
The C31 client boxes are noticeably more laggy than the main HR34. (Their size is nice, though...roughly like an old Beta videotape.) Part of that is surely due to anything you're doing being served up from the HR34 and not local to that box. C31 remote performance is even worse in my opinion. Frankly, the inconsistency of it all bothers me more than the speed itself.
Sometimes when I turn on the bedroom C31, it is necessary to channel up and down once to make it properly display the channel it's supposed to be on. Sometimes the audio breakout cable I use on it (I drive the TV with an HDMI cable, but also send audio to a small bookshelf stereo to in turn drive ear buds for night viewing) delivers audio with loud hiss or static. It is necessary to then power cycle the C31. A couple of times, it wouldn't perform trick play properly on live TV, requiring a power cycle. (This is not quite the same as initiating a formal restart in the C31's menu...I'm merely using the front power button).
I haven't had this trouble with the basement C31, which is connected to a small SD set. Not using HDMI on that one, though, so maybe that makes it less fussy somehow.
The remote control layout is quite "busy" compared to the peanut. I miss the peanut! After the first week of viewing in my darkened bedroom, I ordered a backlit version of the DirecTV remote. (One dividend from that, though: I now have "his and hers" remotes in the living room.) Six weeks later, it's still not intuitive or "automatic" to me. That bugs me a little bit. I really miss the TiVo-X shortcuts, like TiVo-1 for season pass manager, TiVo-2 for the to do list, etc. I miss the sound effects during trick play. Not just because of "TiVo nostalgia," but hearing those little ba-DOOPs also served as a means of tell you that the box has received your command. The C31 would really benefit from such a confirmation because it sometimes takes a second or two for trick play movements to begin.
I do like that I now have four forward and backward "gears" instead of three. The six-second back button never seems long enough; ten was better. At least the four remotes I have are identical, aside from the one being backlit.
Okay, that'll suffice for now. Any questions?