The Upstate Life
The Upstate Life

Friday, October 07, 2005
TUL's Take: DVR @ My Apartment

Well it's been exactly one week to the day since RCN came over (albeit an hour late outside their absurd 11am to 2pm time frame) and installed DVR into TUL's apartment. Heaven somehow found a home in my Ikea media center and I can easily say it won't be leaving anytime soon. This is truly one of the best devices ever (only second to the iPod 'natch) and surpasses TiVo on so many levels that it boggles TUL's mind that people actually purchase it instead of DVR, especially if you have digital cable (and that your provider offers it, obvs).

First off, there's only one box (the just-released Motorola DCT6412) that does all the work as opposed to using two separate components when working with TiVo (digital cable box and TiVo unit). This really simplifies the process of recording and practically eliminates any interoperability issues between devices. Secondly, if you ever upgrade to HDTV, RCN's DVR box is already HD-capable and can not only record standard definition programs, but has the ability to capture high-def shows as well.

The back of the box contains nearly every available connection out there for your audio and video needs. You have your basic RCA connectors (composite video and analog left/right audio), but it also contains the higher quality S-Video output (which is what we used to hookup to our 27"). For HD service, not only are there your standard component video outputs, but also has connections for Firewire and HDMI-capable TVs. And to top it all off you also have a choice between using coaxial or optical audio output for true, digital sound. We went with the former since TUL was out of optical inputs on his home theater receiver. What's great about this is that we can now watch certain HBO programming in Dolby Digital sound, a feature we didn't think was possible unless you had something like DirecTV. Another thing that's also quite nifty (or dorky, take your pick) is that when you tune to the HD channels, not only are you able to get a widescreen picture (in standard-def obvs since TUL doesn't have an HDTV as of yet, but still looks much sharper and clearer as opposed to tuning to the regular, analog broadcast), but also receive digital 5.1 sound. This comes especially in handy for sports, specifically all-day Sunday for football.

The built-in hard drive has a whopping capacity of 120GB, allowing plenty of room to record hours upon hours of shows (storage varies depending on what you're recording - analog, digital, and HD channels). What stands out as one of the best features and puts TiVo to shame is the built-in dual tuner, allowing one to record one show while watching another, watch a previously recorded show while recording another, or even record two shows simultaneously! Perhaps one of the very few disadvantages is the unit's interface which is not nearly as user-friendly as that of TiVo. It takes some getting use to (especially when it comes to the remote - but that depends on your cable provider), but the pros still far outweigh the cons when using RCN's service. The only edge those TiVo users have got on you are hearing the iconic blip and beep selection sounds. When it comes down to it, if you have RCN or Comcast digital cable, I'd hands down go with this rather than TiVo. Plus, if someone asks if you have TiVo, you'll have the distinct, snobby pleasure by responding "yeah, but better." Hell, I think I've said that at least three times already.

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