Charter DVR vs. TiVo HD -- looking for a recent fair comparison

Discussion in 'TiVo Series3 HDTV DVRs' started by dolphin, Apr 14, 2008.

  1. dolphin

    dolphin New Member

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    Dec 3, 2007

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    Hi everyone,

    I'm looking for a fair and unbiased recent comparison of the "Charter DVR" vs. TiVo HD.

    When I called Charter, they said that the Moto 5100, the SA 8000, and the Moxi box was deployed in my area (Dallas). They said that when (and if) I ordered, then I could select which DVR I wanted. He said Moxi tends to be far more preferred and deployed than the others.

    I'm very familiar with the basic TiVo functionality, having had 2-Series 2 models for several years. But now that its time to upgrade to HD, I need to make the price/benefit tradeoff again. I expect TiVo to be more feature-rich as well as better hardware.

    What I don't know is how much different the "Charter DVR" might be. Any actual hands-on fair comparisons would be appreciated.
     
  2. moyekj

    moyekj Well-Known Member

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    Mission...
    How reasonable is it to expect unbiased comparisons in a Tivo forum? Why not just try the Charter DVR for a month or two and see for yourself? That's the beauty of renting cable co. DVRs - there is usually little to no upfront costs (besides the monthly rental fees) for trying them out and you can cancel at any time.
     
  3. dolphin

    dolphin New Member

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    Dec 3, 2007
    I think its reasonable enough to ask. There is a large population of people who know a lot about DVRs on this forum. I think there are some fair people here. Perhaps some have already done this comparison as they've upgraded and can sure their decision-making process, and why they chose TiVo.

    Its a huge cost to "try" for a couple of months. Time out from work to meet the tech. Re-wiring the AV system for maybe only 60days? What do you think that costs? Re-training the family on something new when maybe we would just go on to TiVo. Lots of costs over the simple install plus 2 months fees.
     
  4. logicman1

    logicman1 New Member

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    Jan 10, 2008
    Carmel, NY
    Find out what software runs on their boxes. I have experience with 2 DVR OS's. Passport Echo was decent enough but fell short of TiVo features. TV Guide Interactive was extremely bug ridden, difficult to use, frequently rebooted, was slow to respond to the remote, the programming data contained many innacuracies, Series Recordings (like TiVo Season Pass) recorded the same show episodes over and over again regardless of whether or not first run was selected, etc. etc. etc.
     
  5. moyekj

    moyekj Well-Known Member

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    Mission...

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    YMMV, but at least for my area if you already have digital service then you can pick up a DVR yourself at one of the cable co. retail locations - no tech visit needed. AV system re-wire should not be hard and would be needed for a Tivo as well anyway and you can re-use the wiring you do for the cable co. DVR for you Tivo if you decide to go that way.
    I'm just saying that the most useful comparison would be your own, but obviously if you think that's too hard then you have to rely on opinions of others. As stated above the particular software your cable co. uses is a huge factor but being a past Tivo user it's almost a guarantee none of them will live up to your standards. It's not enough, for example, to know that your cable co. uses Motorola or SA hardware as there are many different software implementations for the same hardware. With Moxi then it's a little clearer what software is being used. You can visit AVS Forums to find out all the gory details about the DVR and software used in your area. That's probably the best and most comprehensive way to get all the info you are seeking. You can start here to find the thread that pertains to your area:
    http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/forumdisplay.php?f=45
    Then you can look here for details on that particular configuration:
    http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/forumdisplay.php?f=42
    I have my own writeup here for Motorola 64xx/34xx systems running Passport Echo software that I kept up to date when I still had the cable co. DVR and it includes a section on comparison to Tivo Series 3:
    http://replayguide.sourceforge.net/dct6412/DCT6412_Passport.html
     
  6. AdmiralTivo

    AdmiralTivo You talkin' to me?

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    I had the SA DVR for a short time last year after making the switch to HD. I also had been a Series 2 user, but at the time my only TiVo choice was the Series 3, which was a more significant $$ commitment. After about a month I couldn't get rid of the Charter DVR quickly enough for all the reason that logicman1 cited. In addition, the day before the tech was supposed to pick up the DVR, it actually stopped functioning altogether.

    I don't regret sticking with TiVo one bit.
     
  7. RonDawg

    RonDawg Well-Known Member

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    Neither...
    Before getting a TiVoHD, I had an SA8300HD and a SA8000HD before that. It was running the SARA software (which I understand to be WORSE than the Passport one). Here are the pros and cons vs. the TiVoHD:

    Pros

    1. Had the ability to send a different recorded program to the video recording device of your choosing, or even to a second TV, though you won't be able to pause/ff/rew that feed, it goes all the way to the end.

    2. Automatically compatible with PPV/VOD/SDV/whatever technology your cable provider will throw your way.

    3. If it breaks, call your cable provider and they will give you a new one. I upgraded from the 8000 to the newer 8300 (which had HDMI) just for the asking.

    4. Less power consumption and slightly less noise when not being used, as it had true power off ability which spins down the hard drive.

    5. It had a nice big clock on the front.

    Cons

    1. HORRIBLY buggy interface. You think your TiVo was slowed by a previous software update? It's still fast compared to the SARA software. Pause/rew/ff functions are imprecise at best.

    2. You can't do anything that remotely resembles a Swivel Search. You can barely set up a Season Pass, which then proceeds to record EVERY single showing.

    3. Nothing resembling TiVoToGo, though certain models have true MRV features when used with the appropriate equipment.

    4. Absolutely no online scheduling. TiVo has had this for years, as well as U-verse (don't know about FiOS).

    5. Heat production. I don't know if Scientific Atlanta decided to go retro and use vacuum tubes in their DVR's, but they put out an incredible amount of heat. The top surface is all ventilation grille, that's how bad it is. To prevent damage to other electronic components and possibly even start a fire, I had to leave my SA DVR's outside of my A/V cabinet.
     
  8. rodbac

    rodbac New Member

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    Aug 16, 2005
    I had the Charter DVR before switching to the TivoHD, although I'm not sure which model it was beyond being a Moto.

    I'll just echo what RonDawg said, mostly. Season Passes were a nightmare, and rew/ff/pause were worse. I could never stop at the right spot, and invariably ended up having to rew some small amount after ff'ing. Further, it was buggy and FF would freeze up about 30% of the time, then skip all at once ahead.

    And so on.

    I'd sum it up this way: if you don't use the TV (and therefore the DVR) that much, it might be passable considering you're probably not paying much for it. If you use it more than a few times a month (rough guess, and IMO), though, a couple hundred bucks on a THD will be money well-spent.

    I'll also say that if you doubt this rec, go to the cable co. and get their box and use it for a while. You'll never appreciate Tivo's interface more.
     
  9. brettatk

    brettatk Thread Killer

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    Powder...
    Time spent rewiring your AV system? Let me see... plug in the dvr power cable and then connect an HDMI cable. That might take 30 seconds.

    My neighbor has the Charter DVR and he is always complaining about missing a TV show because for some reason it did not record. The only negative I can think of about the Tivo HD is that once you buy it you are pretty much locked into using cable. I almost pulled the trigger on getting satellite many times when fed up with Charter. Now I'm pretty much at their mercy.
     
  10. dolphin

    dolphin New Member

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    Dec 3, 2007
    Perhaps your system is rather simple. Mine will more than likely take me a minimum of an hour to properly install. It's installed in a remote AV closet and somewhat difficult/awkward to reach.

    Plus, if you don't know what you are installing (the whole purpose of the initial question), then how do you know if you might need more power or some other line? Perhaps the Charter DVR doesn't have HDMI, and only composite.

    Why not research, ask a few intelligent people who can pose thoughtful responses, and then make a decision? That's what I'm doing.
     
  11. brettatk

    brettatk Thread Killer

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    Oct 11, 2002
    Powder...
    Actually my setup is not very simple but it would still only take me five minutes tops to add a DVR to it.

    Charter's DVR will have HDMI. Generally if you ask someone that has never owned a Tivo how they like their cable DVR they will say it's fine and that they like it. People I have known that have used a Tivo before say it's terrible. There is no guarantee it will record what you want plus you are stuck with small amount of recording space it comes with.
     
  12. RonDawg

    RonDawg Well-Known Member

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    Jan 12, 2006
    Neither...
    The SA8300HD which is the latest model (at least when I switched to a TiVoHD last fall) has HDMI, component, s-video, composite, even RF.

    The previous SA model which was the 8000HD only had DVI, which was disabled by Charter.

    I don't know about the Moto's as those were never deployed by Charter in my area.
     
  13. mrro82

    mrro82 New Member

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    I recently bought a TiVo. It is my first. It's the series 3 TiVo HD. Best $300 I have ever spent. I have had a number of DVR's over the years and this is the best. I have had the MOXI (which does not have HDMI) and most recently the motorola DCH something or another. I can't remember the numbers. Setting up a series recording on the MOXI was easy and you can schedule recordings online with them now. I never had issues with my MOXI until it died. Then they gave me the DCH thing. Awful DVR! Series recording would record everything not just new ones even thought I told it to only to new ones. It would just not record things for no damn reason. It was awful and the reason I bought my Tivo.
     
  14. SER71

    SER71 New Member

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    Feb 22, 2008
    Durham, NC
    You have had a TIVO before so stick with TIVO. Nothing else will compare. TIVO is hands down the most intelligent, best looking, easiest user interface on the market today. What you will not have with your TIVO HD is On-demand channels and any channels in your current line-up which are carried on SDV. I am with TWC in Durham, NC and used their SA 8300 box with passport. This DVR is awful if you have ever used a TIVO. Just go ahead and plan on rebooting the SA once a week every week. It has absolutely no intelligence what so ever. If you sechedule one program to go 1 minute longer it will not just clip the next program coming up, it won't record it at all, unlike TIVO. If you are recording on one tuner and it is set to record another program also and the second tuner is not busy, it wont automatically switch to the other tuner to pick up the other program. I had this box and still had a Series2 at the time, so needless to say, I was not impressed. I currently have the same series2 and now a TIVO HD. If installation is a pain in the butt for you, then just get the TIVO HD, skip even trying out the cable company's DVR, you won't like it. Not after having used a TIVO.
     
  15. zanyman

    zanyman thread killer

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    St. Louis, MO
    With Charter here in St. Louis, I had a moxi DVR for about 2.5 years until it burned up. When I called to have it exchanged, they brought out a newer Moto DVR and said the Moxis were being "phased out." I hated the new Moto box so much; it's what eventually drove me to get the TiVoHD.

    One thing I liked better on the Moxi than the Tivo is for the "Season Pass" (or equivalent) recording, you could choose the "time slot" your show normally plays in. That way, if the DVR couldn't distinguish from the guide data if the episode was new, it wouldn't record something at, say, 1:35 am, if that wasn't the normal "new" episode time slot.

    The Moxi changed quite a bit over time with their software releases, and a lot of nice features got added (30-sec. skip, ability to add ext. HDD, etc.). Of course, YMMV depending on which software version you get, along with other cable co. customizations.

    Good luck with your decision. If I'd had the opportunity at the time, I would have stuck with the Moxi box. That being said, I love my TivoHD and wouldn't give it up now.
     
  16. PowZoom

    PowZoom New Member

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    Used Moxi (it just died). Previously used TiVo. About to install TiVo HD.

    I agree that the safest course is to get a Moxi for a month and have Charter pull it out if you don't like it.

    Here's a quick rundown of some key differences I noticed.

    Moxi advantages:
    Moxi U-I is peppier than TiVo (using current software).
    You won't give up OnDemand with Moxi; you will with TiVo. (remember most OnDemand is free or included with premium channel subscriptions).
    Moxi makes it easy to search on shows without knowing the exact title. (L-E-T will find Late Show with David Letterman)
    Remote programming (from a web browser) has real-time feedback for conflict resolution.
    No upfront costs
    If it breaks... cable company replaces. (But Moxi units are scarce... and you can't be assured that they'll have a Moxi unit for you)
    Recording options include "by Timeslot" to help solve the "Daily Show" problem. (shows that air multiple times a day with no guide info to clue the DVR into the fact that three out of the four shows are duplicates.)

    TiVo advantages
    WishLists
    Grouping shows into "folders"
    sorting shows by various criteria. (Moxi offers only a "by Title" view)
    Easier to determine when shows will delete
    Lots of internet and home networking goodness. (Music, Photos, Networking multiple TiVo units, etc. etc.)
    Larger HDD (180 GB on Tivo HD; 80 GB on Moxi) Both support external drives, but on Moxi... an external drive is practically a necessity for HD recording.
    Choice of grid guide or TiVo "live guide" (Moxi has only one style of Guide, which I happen to prefer to TiVo, but opinions vary)
    TiVo comes with a plush doll of their logo
     
  17. RonDawg

    RonDawg Well-Known Member

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    Neither...
    TiVo has long had a similar feature. As you type in the letters, the possible matches come up on the right hand side of the screen. If those aren't what you are looking for, but are close, you can scroll up or down, or add more letters to further narrow it down.

    That is going to vary by provider and box. Charter definitely did not offer this, and still does not with their boxes, at least not in my area.
     
  18. rmorton0573

    rmorton0573 Barney Fife, my Hero

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    Mar 1, 2008
    Cameron, NC
    I have to say, I have both I have the Charter Motorola DCH6416 and the Tivo HD, Hands down I really love my Tivo, so far I have had no issues with cable cards, and fyi the 6416 is their newest box so it uses a cable card also, but when it comes to use the Tivo is much easier. the only reason I even have the charter box is at the moment I do not have another 300 to spare on a second tivo.
     
  19. PowZoom

    PowZoom New Member

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    Dec 15, 2006
    Similar, but not the same. With TiVo you must search on the first word of the Title. With Moxi, you can search on any word in the title. Examples: with TiVo, "C-O-U" will find Countdown with Keith Olberman, but "O-L-B" will not. With Moxi, however, you can type, "C-O-U", or "K-E-I", or "O-L-B" and find the show. With Moxi, "L-E-T" (for Letterman) will find Late Night with David Letterman., but with TiVo you have to type "L-A-T."[/QUOTE]

    The remote scheduling feature only works on Charter with Moxi boxes. The Moto 6412 or the Scientific Atlanta boxes don't support it. Because Moxi always has a live internet connection, it can report back on conflicts in real time and let you resolve them. With TiVo web scheduling, you don't get immediate notification about conflicts.

    BTW: One other huge difference between the experience with Moxi and TiVo is that Moxi keeps the live or recorded video playing in a corner of the screen while you browse the menu. With TiVo, the menu completely replaces the programming.
     
  20. lrhorer

    lrhorer Active Member

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    San...
    How is that a significant advantage? The fact one has a DVR, especially a TiVo, makes most VOD features largely moot. I can and do watch every program I want whenever I want without VOD. There are rather few programs on most CATV systems which are VOD only, excepting Pay-Per-View. Personally, I also consider Pay-Per-View to be superfluous. I admit there are some people who for whatever reason think they have to see it when it first comes out. If you ask me, though, those features are extremely minor at best.

    On the other side of the fence, you failed to mention Switched Digital Video. While all VOD is carried on SDV, some CATV systems are also placing many channels, including many HD channels on SDV QAMs. The TiVo is not currently capable of receiving any SDV content, including VOD, but also including in some cases some very desirable channels. The consumer needs to fully research this impact before purchasing, or at least refrain from kvetching in this forum if they fail to do so and find themselves not liking the result. The OP needs to look at their local CATV provider, make a guess at what future impact SDV may have versus if / when a solution is going to appear on the shelf.

    How is that easier than the TiVo? Entering "L" in search by title will find The Late Show with David Letterman. Filtering by genre makes the search even faster and easier. Starting with "0" will find every title within the genre (or every title, period if unfiltered), including The Late Show with David Letterman. The use of wildcards can help as well, both in the title search and in wishlists.

    My favorite search is <Search by Title> <HD> <Movies> <No category> <0>. This brings up every HD movie playing anytime in the next two weeks for selection to record. Sports nuts will like <Search by Title> <HD> <Sports> <football / baseball / basketball / hockey / whatever><pro / college / high school / 0>. Soap Opera addicts should either select <Search by Title> <Daytime> <Soap Opera> or seek professional help.

    Who cares? Having a few duplicates doesn't hurt anything with a TiVo. They'll be overwritten automatically.

    I think some of those goodies deserve their own category. Tivo-to-Go, burning to DVD, TiVo-to-Come-Back, Multi-room viewing, and 3rd party applications like Galleon and pyTiVo deserve a specific mention, IMO. Some people really love Swivel Search, as well, although I'm not into it myself.

    The S3 has a 250G hard drive - more than 3 times the size of the Moxi. What's more, TiVos can be purchased new in the box from vendors such as Weaknees and PVRupgrade with internal drives up to 1TB. One can also simply purchase a larger drive and replace the internal drive themselves, although this voids the warranty. I've done all three. One of my S3s has 2TB of storage, originally purchased as a 1TB from Weaknees, plus a 1TB Hitachi external drive. One has a stock 250G drive with an external 750G Seagate. The TiVoHD has an external only drive I upgraded myself, removing the internal drive. All three have full access to the video server, which currently has 5TB of available storage with 1.7TB free and over 400 titles online, some 250 or so of which are HD. They also have customized extended program information. That, plus of course as formerly mentioned some 4GB of music and 10GB of still photos on the server.

    You also failed to mention the fact the user can hack the TiVo if they so choose. Doing so allows the user access to fabulous applications like TiVoWebPlus and other 3rd party applications. It allows the user to take advantage of things like Jamie's backport drivers which have been reported to allow transfer speeds as high as 116Mbps using Gigabit Ethernet / USB 2.0 adapters.
     

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