21 January 2006

ReplayTV RULES!!!

All you ever hear is Tivo this and Tivo that…

Well, I’ve been a dinosour when it comes to making the move to DVR.
I resisted the urge to get a DVR for a long, long time.
Finally, I decided it would be nice to be able to grab some of the Super Bowl highlight shows that runs on NFL Network (Channel 212 on DirecTV) from time to time.
With consulting, you never know when you’ll have time to watch anything so its hard to commit to watching any particular show.
The idea of telling the DVR to record the entire season of 24 with a single press of a button and then be able to watch it when I actually do get time, was compelling enough to push me into taking the leap…
OK, so I’m getting a DVR… now which one do I get?
There’s the one that DirecTV is now pushing themselves.
There’s Windows XP Media Center Edition which, as a committed gadget geek would be ideal for me right?
Then there’s the one everyone knows… Tivo… and of course there’s the one that started it all…ReplayTV.
So many choices…
OK, the DVR from DirecTV was very basic and I didn’t feel like having to upgrade my satelite receiver, so that eliminated that choice.
MCE was certainly compelling, but believe it or not, I felt I had more than enough tech gadgets and I didn’t feel like having to "tweak" my DVR as well especially since my wife would be using it as well.  Usability would have to be a top priority.  I also didn’t want to spend the money on a license for MCE.  Basically, I wanted to just be another consumer getting something that just worked!
So that left me with Tivo and ReplayTV.  I started comparing them.  Everyone said Tivo was really easy to use.  I must be because it took the lion’s share of the DVR market so quickly even though ReplayTV was the original DVR.  (Many think Tivo invented DVR, just like the Video iPod which is leading everyone to believe Apple invented portable video players, when in fact it is not true.)
As I compared the two, I started homing in on what I considered to be most important to me.  In the end, there both matched up evenly, but there were two features that swung the pendulum into ReplayTV‘s favor.
  1. Unlimited pause/rewind time.
  2. Network enabled.
Well almost unlimited pause/rewind.  Fact is you’re only limited by the amount of space on the unit as to how long you can pause or how far back you can rewind.  I was very happy to get home late one night, go to bed and then rewind to 9 PM the night before to watch a program I forgot to schedule for recording!  With Tivo you can only pause or rewind for something like 2 hours.  At least that was the number when I researched it.  That means if you have the 5504 model with the standard 40 hour hard drive, you can pause live TV for 40 hours.  You could pause your show, go out for the evening and the resume tomorrow morning!  Sweet!

Now you may be thinking… what’s the big deal about being network enabled…  Let me tell you… it IS a BIG DEAL!  By having the unit be network enabled, a whole world of possiblity opens up.  First thing is that it gives you the ability to stream shows from other ReplayTV‘s on your network.  It’s not a big deal, but if you’re watching TV football in the living room and then for whatever reason you have to change where you’re watching from to another room, you simply pause the show and go to the other room from where you can then resume your show.  Nice.  Of course it gets better… the network ability allows you to schedule recordings on another unit if it conflicts with a recording on the current unit.  Sweet.  Now here’s the best part of all…  You can stream shows from another unit.  So if you recorded a show on the bedroom unit, you can watch it on the living room unit.

Big deal?  Enter DVArchive!  Now DVArchive changes EVERYTHING!  Why?
DVArchive is a little Java app that you install on any computer on your network.  When you runDVArchive it essentially makes your computer look like another ReplayTV unit on the network.  Now you can’t record on the DVArchive unit, but you can certainly stream from it!  Now me, with my 1.5 TB (that’s right TERRABYTE!) storage server really can use that!  I simply download shows from the ReplayTV unit to the DVArchive and then I can simply stream my shows from there!  SWEET!!! 

Now I’m about to embark on upgrading one of my 5504 units from 40 hours of recording time to 640 hours!  I will detail that in here later!

Like I said, Tivo can’t touch my ReplayTV!


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