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Tivo HD

September 17th, 2007

tivo I bought a Tivo HD last week because I’ve really wanted to be able to record HD TV shows.  I had actually taken one of my old PCs and installed Windows Vista Home Premium on it to use as a Media Center PC and have been pretty happy with the experience.  I strongly considered getting a Media Center PC for our living room, but it was just cost prohibitive.  I was leaning towards a Velocity Micro Media Center PC but after configuring one on their web site, the total was $2700 which that seemed a little exorbitant.  I hope the price point for a media center pc comes down in the coming year, especially resolving the issues with getting CableCARD compatibility.  You can’t build a DIY media center PC (my preferred option) because the CableCARD tuners are not available aftermarket.

I debated the Tivo Series 3 vs. the Tivo HD and couldn’t pass up the much cheaper price for the Tivo HD.  I’m losing out on THX certification, the fancy remote, OLED display and the bigger hard drive of the Tivo 3.  I’ll address the latter with an eSATA drive for the Tivo HD at some point.

So far, the Tivo HD has performed well.  The menu speed seems about as fast as my old Series 2.  Comcast came by to install the multiple stream (Mstream) CableCARD so I have dual tuner capability.  It took the Comcast technician about an hour, and he had to use a second card because the first wouldn’t work.  Fairly painless compared to what I’ve seen on the internet.

HD recordings seem good.  I can’t help but say that the 720p direct from the Comcast HD cable box I had seemed a little sharper than the 720p being outputted by the Tivo HD.  Both devices were connected thru Component video.

Dolby Digital is a little annoying on the Tivo HD.  If you want to hear the Tivo sounds, you need to set the Tivo to PCM output, but then when there is an actual Dolby Digital audio stream my receiver (Harman Kardon AVR-635) doesn’t actually pick it up.  I have to go in and change the Audio output to not PCM in that case.  Could be my receiver, but don’t like that part.

Links:  Tivo HD, Velocity Micro

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