I noticed that Woot today has refurbished HD Tivos for a nice price. I’d recommend picking one up, if you have been waiting for a good opportunity. I actually just bought a brand new one last week from Amazon, and I barely got it all setup just yesterday. It’s been pretty cool, so far, though I still haven’t decided if its worth the extra cost in service fees.
The picture on the Tivo is absolutely gorgeous. It outputs in every HD and standard format, 480i, 480p, 720p and 1080i and can display the recorded or live shows either in its native format or force them to another one. Don’t ask me how that one works.
The interesting thing is that I had to go to Comcast’s office and pick up a CableCARD for it to pick up the encrypted digital channels. The first time I went, they gave me a single-stream card. The way it works is that there are two types of CableCARDs, a single-stream or a multi-stream. The Tivo HD box has two slots for cards, so you can either use one multi or two single cards. So, I had to go back to Comcast and pick up a multi-stream one instead, so that I could watch TV on both tuners.
The dual HD tuners is one thing that I already like above my old Series 2 Tivo. Both of the tuners are in HD, while my Series 2 Tivo had one digital tuner and one analog tuner. That shouldn’t matter, but some shows, when recorded on the analog tuner, the audio would drop out of one channel, so I’d get mono sound on the left channel only. Kind of odd. Now though, I can record two HD streams at once, and I must say, it is very nice.
I’m also on a promotional plan for Comcast right now. Even though I think all their prices suck, this one was the best I’d seen so I didn’t want to pass it up. I’ve got the basic cable for $24 a month for 6 months. With that I get somewhere around 20 HD channels aside from the local stations. I can’t remember all of them off the top of my head, though I know there’s stuff like two Discovery stations, TLC, USA, Universal and TNT. Having all those channels is pretty dangerous, since I’m actually trying to watch *less* TV, not more, and the whole thing has had an interesting side effect — with the HD picture being so gorgeous, every show you watch is just so visually appealing that I want to see it, despite how crappy the actual content is. So far, it hasn’t mattered what’s on TV, I’m just mesmerized by how nice it looks. I don’t think that will wear off soon, either. I was watching American Idol last night and I just kept watching the picture more than the show itself. :) It’s kinda hard to get used to. And to think that I’m still only getting 720p as my best input so far. I still have yet to see any true 1080p signals. I wish the stupid prices on the Blu-Ray players would come down.
The Tivo itself is nice, as always. One thing that really surprised me was that the menus were exactly the same as my Series 2. Since the HD Tivo is a Series 3, I’d have expected it to be a little different, but the only changes were the additional menu items for HD TVs, and that’s it. Even the remote is the same, with the only difference being that there is an Aspect button.
I do like the A/V connections on the box, though. It has both HDMI and Component out for video, as well as SPDIF out for Dolby Digital. Right now I’m just using the Component output, since the box came with free component cables (I thought that was a nice touch, certainly wasn’t expecting that) and also because I don’t have any free HDMI cables right now. There is also a port for eSATA if you want some external storage. I haven’t read up on it, but I assume any old harddrive would work with that. Then of course there’s the standard Ethernet and phone line jacks, as well as 2 USB slots, then the normal RCA outputs for audio and video.
The only thing I hate about the Tivo is the service fees. $12.95 a month. Of course, I hate service fees of any kind. One thing I’m curious about is I wonder if my Tivo would pick up my local HD channels if I didn’t have the digital package with Comcast. My HDTV picks them up just fine since they are unencrypted, it’s just that I don’t have any way to record them. Well, I’ve got my PCHDTV card which I have *never* gotten to work, but that’s a whole ‘nother story. I guess I won’t be able to find out what the HD Tivo can do until I cancel the service. I do know, though, that it didn’t pick up any HD channels at all without the CableCARD in there, which also seemed odd. Chances are that it won’t work unless I’m paying Comcast the big bucks.
So, I still haven’t decided if I’m gonna keep this thing or not. The picture is absolutely amazing, and it’s really nice to be able to finally (and easily) record HD channels. TNT has Without a Trace and Cold Case in HD, and it’s a great treat to watch Discovery Theater as well. I’m just not sure if it’s worth all the extra cost or not. We’ll see, I guess.