free html hit counter Rant: The Comcast HD DVR Is Simply, Terribly Awful - John Battelle's Search Blog

Rant: The Comcast HD DVR Is Simply, Terribly Awful

By - November 02, 2006

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This has been boiling in me for a long, long time, and I need to get it out. Why? Well, last night the power went out at my house, not uncommon here in Marin, where the homes are old and the weather rainy. It came back on in about five minutes, and nothing much changed in our world.

Until my wife and I got upstairs and snuggled up in bed, ready to watch our sacred 45 minutes or so of Tivo’d television.

Now, allow me to explain. I got Tivo back in the Series 1 days. I love Tivo. I have written about it here many times. I love its approach to user interface, I love its corporate attitude (I know it can’t keep it up given the reality of the market), and I even love its shortcomings. It’s the Macintosh of television.

And Comcast, Lord knows, is the Windows. And not Windows 3.1. Windows 1.0. Or worse, if there is such a thing. But back to the narrative. Or rather, the backstory.

A few months ago my spiffy Series 2 Tivo (my kids use the Series 1 downstairs) started sputtering and blacking out. It got so bad that I had to retire it to the guest room, never to be used regularly again. (I thought. But it turns out it was not working because I had turned it on its side, and the hard disk did not appreciate my realignment of its gravitational kharma. But I get ahead of myself).

Well, having put my second Tivo out to pasture, I thought I’d splurge. After all, I was having a good year – The Search was a bestseller! – so I bought my very first HD television set (on credit, natch, it takes years to see any royalties, and hell, who knows it they ever really come). And since I’m no fool (I thought), I ordered up Comcast HD service to go along with it. Even I know you need HD service to enjoy an HD set.

That’s when the trouble started. First of all, it took weeks to get the service hooked up, but as you are surely quite familiar with how hopelessly lame cable companies are when it comes to customer service, I won’t attempt to add to the literature in this post. The truly evil portion of the install process came when the cable guy unwrapped a new cable box for me – a box that I had to use in order to enjoy Comcast HD. It included Comcast’s very own DVR, their HD version of a Tivo. (That link, by the way, is to Comcast’s website. For a preview of just how lame Comcast is, try to use that site for more than two minutes.)

Now, I had read about Comcast and its ilk getting into the DVR game, and what I had read was not pretty. But I figured there was no point in buying another Tivo till I give this a test drive.

Grantorino

Good Lord, it doth suck. The interface is simply abominable. Unintuitive and careless, it copies the major features of Tivo’s approach but fails at every single detail – and in UI design, everything is in the details. No surprisingly, it utterly misses the core purpose of a DVR: to treat television as a conversation instead of a dictation. Without a doubt, this is an interface built either by Machiavelli’s cohorts, or by graceless bureaucrats, or both. No, wait, it’s worse. This is a product built by people who fundamentally don’t understand the computing paradigm. That’s it – they really don’t get television as a database. Imagine the folks at DEC trying to build a Macintosh. That’s Comcast’s DVR.

Not to mention, the damn thing is slow – beyond unresponsive. There’s no way you can accurately predict where and when the thing might stop and start when you are fast forwarding or rewinding. The Tivo is like an Audi, but the Comcast drives like a 1972 Gran Torino Station wagon. And the remote? My God, what a piece of sh*t!

But that’s not where the crappiness ends. No, not by a long shot. Turns out, the f*cking Comcast HD DVR *does not have a hard drive.* That’s right, when the power goes out, the f*cking box loses ALL OF THE SAVED PROGRAMS!!!! Are you KIDDING ME? The damn thing uses RAM instead of a hard drive!?

Yup. To close the loop on last night’s experience, that’s what my wife and I discovered when we turned on the television last night. Our entire lineup of shows was wiped out.

Those cheap bastards. Those unholy blasphemers! It took me about ten times as long as Tivo to use their crappy search to figure out how to program the damn thing to record my favorite shows, and in one five-minute power outage, I lost every single episode of Battlestar Galatica! Every Rescue Me! Every goddamn Daily Show, every Gray’s Anatomy, every random movie I thought “hey, I’d like to watch that sometime.” (I was halfway through The Guns of Navarone, for God’s sake! Oh, the humanity!!!!)

And when those programs were lost, Comcast, you lost me. I will never, ever use your box again. Tivo HD, here I come. And not a minute too soon.

There, I feel better already. Thanks for listening. Now, back to watching TV the old fashioned way…shiver. At least until I get my new Tivo HD….

Update: Hey guys, I NOW KNOW IT HAS A HARD DRIVE. I was wrong about that, I thought maybe it was some kind of client server thing with a bit of RAM inbetween. Still and all, it blows….thanks for all your great comments, and your helpful advice.


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235 thoughts on “Rant: The Comcast HD DVR Is Simply, Terribly Awful

  1. daryn says:

    hi john,

    the dvr certainly isn’t as nice as tivo, but you’re mistaken about the storage. look through the vents at the top of the box: there’s a hard drive sitting right there. 100+ gb of ram would be extremely expensive and impractical.

  2. t0r0t0r0t0r0 says:

    Absolutely perfect description of the debacle that is Comcast DVR. My wife loves Tivo and hates this thing. I don’t think the user interface could be worse, the performace slower, or the overall crappiness more crappy.

  3. Ed says:

    You are aware, I hope, that Comcast will be offering the TiVo guide and software on the Motorola HD-DVRs by the end of the year. It’s expected to cost an extra $5/mo.

    They’re also rolling out new HD-DVRs, made by panasonic, soon.

    I’d say both are worth a shot before you drop $800 on a crippled S3, not counting service.

  4. If it has a hard drive, why on earth does it lose the programming? I tested it, it loses it every time.

  5. Ed says:

    Also, losing your recordings following a power outage is not normal. It is normal (and annoying) to lose guide data with this model after a power outage, but you won’t lose configuration, saved recordings, or scheduled recordings. It sounds like your box is broken :(

    The box has its share of other problems that you haven’t encountered. Like the 12/31/89 recordings that you can’t delete and that lock up the DVR until you cut off its power. That sucks.

  6. Rick James says:

    Your take on this box is right on..

    I have a Tivo and this Comcast abortion..
    Tivo is great, and the Motorola box
    needs to be redesigned from the ground up.

    Recently I was contacted by Motorola for
    a job doing set-top box testing. I had
    to think about it for a while before I
    decided.. needless to say it I think there
    would be some job security– unless the
    whole development team gets sacked for letting
    such an terrible product out the door.

    For Shame Motorola !!!
    Comcast– well, I wasn’t expecting too much
    from you– hell, I’m still stuck with your
    poor service 10+ years later.. but don’t worry–
    your time is limited.. Verizon will be installing
    fiber soon enough.

  7. Kevin Burton says:

    I guess this isn’t a PayPerPost….

  8. Chris Hanson says:

    The Comcast HD DVR – that is, the Motorola 6412 HD DVR that Comcast gives to their customers – does in fact have a hard disk. However, like John I’ve discovered that it doesn’t necessarily keep track of information like the program guide and what has been recorded using the hard drive. Evidently that would be, like, hard, even though any first-semester CS student should be able to implement it in their sleep. Seriously, it’s that bad.

  9. All Evolve says:

    I agree with nearly everything you said about how horrible the GUI and features of the HD DVR are. However I’m not sure why your bos loses all of its information after a power outage, but mine has never lost stored shows after one or even after pulling the cord out of the back of the box. Maybe you have a defunct box – as if they’re not all defunct, anyway. If Ed is right about the Tivo stuff coming to Comast, I’d hold out – otherwise I’d run back to Tivo, also.

  10. Louis Gray says:

    Wow John, what an impressive, and oustanding, rant. We love our TiVo. We love our Macs. I am glad to have read this for when we make the move to HD, we too will be sure to avoid this Comcast horror. Good luck to you and your wife. Maybe with the TV taking a breather, some of your future snuggling could not involve television at all?

  11. Jason Fields says:

    John,

    I have also been using TiVO since the series 1 and all I have to say about it is great things as well. Its simplified the way my wife and myself and my 4.5 year old son watch TV!

    I started with the SONY SVR2000 Series 1 TiVO, then upgraded to the TiVO Branded Series 2 (this one was abused in our move SF to LA) and then this past year got the famous Dual Tuner Series 2 w/ 80GB HD… which is sooooooo cool… as now I can record two shows at once and never wory about running out of space!!!

    I too have had the worst luck w/ Comcast (thats what my cable provider was in SF), I am always open to trying out new UI (its my job after all), and the Comcast DVR was in my house for less than a day… I returned it to the local office and never looked back!

    Side note for your readers: a great DVR/PVR related site for information and inside tips on TiVO and other devices is PVRBLog.com.

  12. adam says:

    I have one of these craptastical boxes too, and it makes me wish I could smash it into a pulp… one tiny thing I have discovered is that you can call Comcast’s 800 number and have a rep send a reset signal through the wires, which, sadly only temporarily, clears up the lagging and backup of commands. At least for me, it doesn’t erase my recorded programming.

    When it comes right down to it, I miss my Tivo… I really hope Comcast comes out with something better soon, but the rep I talked to yesterday to reset my box yet again said it’s not coming before the end of next year and had no idea about any potential Tivo integration. Paying for something this awful hurts.

  13. TDrive says:

    Awesome post John! I too am a huge TiVo fan, and you have absolutely captured the perfect metaphor for it. TiVo is the Macintosh of the TV world…

    Reminds me of a great article written by Rick Reilly in the 12/23/2003 issue of Sports Illustrated, describing TiVo as ‘The best invention ever. Period.’

  14. jessie says:

    I was a Tivo Series 1 person as well, and a convergence of that box showing its age and Comcast rolling out an incompatible, non-DVR cable box caused me to try their lousy DVR. After many missed programs, having the DVR record 5 minutes and then crap out, having the DVR mute itself and be unable to un-mute without turning the damn thing on and off again, and having to reboot it about every other day, I gave up. I now have Dish. Their DVR, while not a Tivo, is a nicely designed box. The only drawbacks are not having those wacky Tivo suggestions and a less robust search feature, but I can live without those things. Plus, it’s a better price than cable.

  15. Drew says:

    I too HATE the moto/comcast dvr. I had a DirecTivo setup at my last house and I LOVED it. It didn’t get in the way and made watching TV something I enjoyed. The comcast setup just pisses me off. Pretty much every day the thing will get stuck for 30 seconds to a few minutes queuing up button presses.

    It makes me upset just thinking about that POS!

  16. bobdow says:

    we too suffer with one of these boxes at home. Comcast has replaced ours (twice) and has rest it remotely about 8 times in 7 months.

    after TIVO and DirectTV (a combo we loved), the Comcast + motorola DVR combo feels like Microsoft Word 6…. bloated, slow, and pointless.

    DirecTV made some poor choices when it dropped it’s TIVO offering as well… leaving consumers back at square 1.

    we have found that bitching to Comcast gets a response, but no credits on our bill and a new device doesn’t seem to be coming anytime soon. Thanks for posting about this issue

  17. andy says:

    hear hear!!! we switched from tivo when the new comcast (now time warner) boxen arrived… and man do i miss that tivo. we still make the noises ourselves when ffwding etc. just because we miss them so.

  18. iggy says:

    Don’t take this as fact as the person I heard it from may have it wrong. But I work for Comcast as an installer and I’ve heard that the current interactive guide is a Microsoft hand me down. It was apparently an early version of their interactive programming guide that they decided wasn’t good enough and Comcast bought it from them for their DVR’s. Explains a lot doesn’t it.

  19. Nick Woods says:

    I recently acquired a Comcast DVR/PVR and wholeheartedly agree with everything you said about how BAD the product truly is. I don’t think I’ve encountered a more badly designed piece of consumer electronics and horrid example of UI design gone terribly wrong. I consider it basically unusable. I had been meaning to write to Comcast letting them know how badly they needed to dump the product and get something better as something definitely needs to be done. It definitely isn’t worth the monthly fee which doesn’t help them and doesn’t help anyone else. Why can’t they work with someone like Tivo and license their technology? Comcast could help a good company and product succeed while having a usable product to provide to their customers. A win-win situation in my opinion. At the minimum Comcast/Motorola should fire the current UI designer(s) and everyone who let this product make it to market and hire someone with even a slight amount of common sense to design their interface next time.

  20. Jason D- says:

    A-fucking-men brother!

  21. Jennifer Emick says:

    Don’t forget all the mysterious glitches these things have. I’m on my sixth box…each lasts about a month or two before spazzing out.

    The last one jusr randomly recorded whatever it wanted- like ten hours straight of Chinese television, or random 5-minute blocks. One stopped putting titles on the recordings…it was like having a pantry full of cans with no labels, you had to pick something random and hope you got lucky. The last one stopped letting me change the channel. The current version unschedules everything, but it’s the most reliable version I’ve had so far…

  22. stevieAnn says:

    i made comcast come and take it away. seriously.

  23. Coyote says:

    Funny how you compare the Crapcast DVR with Windows, because Windows Media Center just works. As a turnkey solution, it records standard cable and over-the-air HD without problems. The video quality is excellent, the interface is responsive, and the program guide is free.

    Yes, Home Theater PC’s are an ugly and quirky solution. The beauty of Media Center is you can keep the big ugly PC in the office and connect an inconspicuous Xbox 360 to your HDTV. This works just as well as having the PC out in the living room, and the PC can be used for something else at the same time.

    If you want to get fancy with Media Center, you can. Vista will natively support digital cable. In the meantime, there is an easy way to connect the standard Comcast box via firewire.

    How about skipping commercials while the show is still recording? Start watching 10 minutes after it starts, and you’ll never see another ad. That’s also easy to set up. Want to keep it? Burn it to DVD or archive it as WMV, Divx, or whatever format you want. It can even save a whole season for you automatically.

    Does MS include any of those nifty features? Well, no. But it’s really just Windows XP underneath, and that’s the beauty of it. It’s open! There nothing to keep you from extending the functionality. (Yes, MythTV is even more flexible, but there’s nothing as elegant or powerful as the Xbox 360 extender for linux)

  24. Remember how we used to laugh at Soviet engineering, horribly misdesigned ripoffs of western technology, replete with armor-like chassis & fragile vacuum tubes when the rest of the world had gone to colorful durable plastics & tiny transistors?

    That’s the Comcast DVR miscegenation compared to a TiVo.

    The Comcast DVR is WRONG. So wrong you wonder if it was designed by folks who had ever used a television or were actually members of some previously unknown tribe of engineers who had heard vague rumors of ‘television’ and then been commissioned (cheaply!) to build a DVR based on those 3rd-hand jungle telegraph stories. So awfully wrong that you wonder if the Comcast DVR is actually some incredibly hip, sly, ironic commentary on the dysfunctional buerocratic nature of modern mass media and we’re all gonna be blown away by the sheer brilliance of the social hack when the culprits finally ‘fess up to it.

    “Your show will be recorded between noon and 5pm on Tuesday.
    You must be present for it to be recorded.
    I’m sorry, our records show we tried to record it but you weren’t home.
    We can reschedule your recording for 4 months from now…”

    It used to be that the USA was where the world went to see what tomorrow would be like. Broad orderly roads marching off to the horizon in neat right-angles. Clean efficient technology supporting a dynamic culture endlessly reinventing itself. Prosperity, security, superiority, a shining beacon to the world… Now we’re the poor sods with 525 flickery lines who can’t master HDTV, modern cellphones, or grok a next-generation DVR.

    But lets not be abject TiVo-worshipers. It’s a great technology, brilliant interface, just a pity TiVo Corp. is the consumer electronics version of Novell. Great stuff, rock solid, oughtta own the market; instead they’re so mind-bogglingly incompetent they’re pissing it away with one half-executed strategy after another.

    Home Media Option, thumbs-up-to-record-this, inserted advertising, self-destructing recordings, Netflix-downloads, TiVo-To-Go-(not-to-a-Mac), and the late-to-market, overpriced, underwhelming, HD TiVo. One disappointment after another as TiVo becomes increasingly less relevant, possibly to soon be nothing more then a trivia question & patent portfolio.

    Oh, and TiVo-on-Comcast-DVRs, so many years coming ya gotta really wonder about the caliber of engineers at TiVo. This has taken longer then the whole Series 1 TiVo took to develop & build, and it’s only now going into limited beta testing. By the time they get around to rolling it out ranches in Idaho will have IPv6 fiber networks spewing RSS feeds of iTune’d Bittorrents for the asking.

  25. noir says:

    Yes, the comcast DVR is a monster. I have had numerous problems in the year and a half I’ve had it. In retrospect, I should have stuck with Dish Network. But to be fair to Comcast, it does have some excellent features. For example, you can watch a program while recording another one on another channel. You can watch a recorded program while recording two other programs at the same time! Yes, the interface is a grievance, but it could be a lot worse. What bothers me most is the way you can’t fast forward through a show without being forced to watch most of it. Until a recent firmware upgrade, I couldn’t prioritize shows to save my life. They were showing up with the same number on the priority list and I couldn’t move them up or down. Fortunately, Comcast upgraded the reciever overnight and it worked great the next day. Yes, it has problems, and yes, they are way too slow being fixed. But in all fairness, I’ve never lost all my programs from a power outage. I’ve lost the guide functions, but they usually come back after about an hour.

    To be honest, Comcast sucks, but you’re unlikely to get anything that’s truly better from the competition. I’ve tried Dish and it was excellent, but it had serious problems as well. Anyway, great post!

  26. Victor B says:

    Yes. Same goes for Time Warner Cable (presumably the same box)…
    Our Tivo started crapping out, and the cheap ($0 down, $8.40/mo) alternative from TWC seemed like a no-brainer. Well, that’s who made it, alright. Jesus. Your “NEC making a Mac” analogy is perfect. Someone do something.

  27. Cory says:

    John-

    Excellent post. I have the same crappy ass box. I made the move to Comcast HD when moving households and left behind my previous DishNetwork HD setup, which I loved.

    My biggest complaints are that it constantly reboots itself and the remote is unresponsive and then decides to catch up…

    Crap, the box just now rebooted while I was trying to pause a program.

  28. Mike Downey says:

    I could not agree more. I have this same piece of junk – which I pay a LOT of money for, and I’m stuck with it because I live in a building without access to a DirecTV dish.

    I have to call Comcast to zap the damn thing over the air every 6 weeks because this pile of crap gets progressively worse over time. The image starts mirroring in two halves at first, then it just starts going black until you’ve played a saved video, then it starts recording only a fraction of your recordings (only 6 mins of The Office, for example), then one day, it just stops working entirely.

    I’ve never had a single piece of electronics in my home that was this poor in quality. It amazes me that Motorola was irresponsible enough to release this piece of junk.

  29. The Man says:

    why must we continue to dumb down everything. Macs exist so that morons can use a computer without actually having to learn anything about them. Same must go for TiVo given the analogy. I’ve had a Comcast DVR for several years and have never had a problem. If you simply spend 5 minutes and learn about it everything makes sense.

    It’s funny how TiVo and Macs both attract the same type of person… people who sacrifice functionality for ease of use…

  30. Michiel says:

    Your link “I have written about it here many times” should be without the space between “site:” and “batellemedia.com” . Now we see results from all the web for the three words in stead of only “tivo” from the “site:battellemedia.com”
    (In this comment I took away the space in the link).

  31. missakins says:

    We have the dual tuner Comcast DVR too. We have had it wipe our recordings several times as well. If you can, I’d see if Comcast would trade this box for a single tuner DVR. We had that one for over 2 years before ‘upgrading’. The single tuner box never lost it’s programming in that entire time. It doesn’t have series recording though.

  32. Angel Phyfer says:

    @The Man – You obviously aren’t a regular user of TiVo (or Macs for that matter) since you make the statement that people are sacrificing functionality for ease of use. I own both the TiVo and the Comcast HD DVR and the TiVo beats the HD DVR hands down when it comes to functionality and reliability. I keep the HD DVR around because it’s cheap and it records HD.

    However, I have gone through two Comcast boxes that have just mysteriously failed and taken all of my recordings with it. There have been several times when it hasn’t recorded a new episode on a season recording, not to mention it’s slow to respond. What problems do I have with my TiVo? None. It records everything with not a missed episode, I can easily transfer my programs to my PC every night with ease, the UI is clear and sensible and I can stream content from my PC (movies, TV shows, photos, music, etc.) The only way to get content off my Comcast HD DVR is to use my Mac (which I you don’t believe is all that functional). Streaming content from and to the Comcast HD DVR is not an option.

    @John – I’m not sure where you got the idea that the Comcast box (Motorola 6412) doesn’t have a hard drive. It does and it shouldn’t erase everything when the power goes out. My power has gone out a couple of times since I’ve had my Comcast boxes and I’ve never lost content because of it. I’ve just lost content because the boxes were crap.

  33. Cap'n Ken says:

    Great post, John, and right on. Very similar to a friend of mine’s experience – longtime TiVo fan, couldn’t get Dish or DirecTV at his house and got stuck with Comcast when he went HD. Sad, sad, sad.

    Personally, I’ve been a fan of Dish Network’s DVR equipment going on 6+ years now. They’ve had their growing pains but I find the features, interface, etc. to be very good and I prefer it to TiVo (especially since until now TiVo was a poor choice for pure digital TV). Of course, their nice execution of DVR apparently came from stealing from TiVo …

  34. Many people are down on the HD series 3 Tivo, and I don’t understand why. I’ve been using Tivo since 1999, and I bought a series 3 the day they were announced. I love it; it’s exactly like my old series one, except HD and it can record two shows at once. I have comcast cable, and they installed two cable cards with no fuss.

    It’s simple, it works, and it saves me from TV schedule tyranny. Just like a Tivo should.

  35. Sean says:

    I have the Comcast box and have had no issues. I know I’m one of the lucky ones, because my in-laws have gone through five of them.

    My one issue was with the remote. Ungodly slow and it would take 5 seconds to register that I had hit a button, but only sometimes. Simple solution – get a Logitech Harmony remote. If you already shelled out for an HD TV, you might as well get a worthy remote to go with it. The Harmony is not only instantly responsive, but it lets you access the 30-second-skip feature that Comcast doesn’t want you to use. Push that button six times and you’re through a commercial break in 2 seconds.

    As for losing programs, I have tripped a circuit breaker several times and my programs have all survived. The guide data on the other hand…

  36. Amen to the crappyness of the Motorola firmware (assuming that Rogers here in Canada uses the same firmware as Comcast, ‘cos it’s the same set-top box)! Even my wife prefers the interface on our MythTV media PC to the interface on the Motorola box. True, the Harmony remote does make things somewhat better, but there’s no fixing the fact that the UI is an unadulterated mess. Now if only I could hook my MythTV box up to my HD digital cable, I’d be set…

  37. Sligo says:

    When I had Comcast the box would often reset for apparently no reason, each time losing all of the programming information. I eventually switched to RCN and was horrified to discover they used the exact same box and software! The good news is that at least RCN has gone through a software upgrade so the interface is a hell of a lot better now (but still no TiVo).

  38. Seth Brundle says:

    I love TiVo. I reviewed a pre-production unit and have owned 5 since, and given away 4 as gifts to friends and family. I have owned series 1, 2, and now 3.

    I also have lived with both Comcast Motorola and Cablevision Scientific Atlanta boxes.

    If I still lived in Comcast country, I would not have bought the Series 3. I got used to that box and while not as ‘fun’ as the TiVo, it was functional and basically free in comparison, and TIVo had no HD solution for the 18+ months I owned it. Sounds like you have a dud, because it is not that bad.

    It also had some of its own innovations TiVo could take a tip from, like the very well done PIP feature so you can watch TV *while* you are using most menus, and the ability to ZOOM through the program guide by holding down buttons, while the series 3 simply *crawls*.

    Add no guided setup, no hardware cost, no phone line or network adapter needed, no install (they do that for you), and the ability to pick up the phone and get a new one if it breaks regardless of warranty, and the Comcast box, while not the cutting edge, is actually a comparitively insane value.

    The Series 3 cost me about $900 including taxes and shipping, plus about $20 a MONTH for subscription + 2 cablecard rentals. its truly fucking ridiculous.

    Why did I get it? Well, because I have been stuck using a Cablevision Scientific Atlanta HDDVR in CT. If you havent used one of these, you have no idea what a bad HDDVR looks like, because it blows huge chunks.

    The guide is 4:3 with grey sidebars. If you switch to 4:3 cahnnels you have to navigate a menu to stretch it. And once stretched, HD channels are ALSO stretched beyond the screen, so you have to go back to the menu! The program guide takes TWO button presses to get to. The interface makes the Comcast interface look beuatiful.

    Oh it also goes into sleep mode so when you first use it every day you have to push a button on the remote and wait for it to ‘wake up’!!

    I also have a couple of other beefs with TiVo. The series 1 was absolutely perfect. The series 2 left a very bad taste in my mouth, launching it with the ‘promise’ of ‘undisclosed’ ‘cool’ features, taking forever to launch them (for $199!!!), then never launching the 802.11g/USB 2.0 which you really needed to make some of them even usable without wiring your whole house for Ethernet.

    I also owned one of the series 2 which touted the new ‘Extreme Quality’, which was actually worse, and triggered a class-action lawsuit.

    Finally, and worst of all, TiVo left me in the HD lurch for TWO YEARS after the cable company boxes launched their HD-PVRs. And while they the interfaces werent as great, any HD owner will tell you that ANY HDPVR is preferable to watching stretched recompressed SD video on a 50-inch widescreen.

  39. This is why TiVo is still in business in the face of competition from generic DVRs from pretty much every satellite and cable company. Bottom line: TiVo is just a far superior product. DirecTV stopped making integrated DirecTV/TiVo boxes, and users are clamoring for them still. In fact, users are moving over to cable to get the HD TiVo boxes that you link to – and that don’t work with DirecTV.

  40. meehawl says:

    In analogical terms, and also in terms of marketshare, Tivo was and is the Microsoft of DVRs – simple, easy to use, but restrictive. ReplayTV was the Apple analogue. Whereas Tivo was always about reduced features and playing along with the content owners, ReplayTV was about giving people as much control as possible over their content. And ReplayTV paid for this by continual litigation and, eventually, market death.

  41. PaulaG says:

    We used to have the TiVo plus DirectTV combo until an unlucky lightening strike. The new DirecTV DVR sucks too. I hate it hate it hate it.

  42. Michiel – I fixed that link, thanks! Great input, all, I guess I struck a nerve…

  43. Alex says:

    Ouch. We have Comcast cable, but a Scientific Atlanta DVR. It works perfectly and I like it a lot more than my friend’s TiVo. I’m astounded by how many problems people are having. Must have gotten lucky and gotten a non-Comcast box, eh?

  44. Josh says:

    I have two Comcast DVR’s (both Motorola w/ HD). While I can hear your concerns/arguments, the reality is that it does the job. It records/pauses TV while I’m watching it. And coupled with a Slingbox I can control/watch it from anywhere.

  45. David says:

    I agree completely with everything that was said. I decided to try the comcast/motorola DVR and I am shocked at how bad it is.

    I have a number of discounts on my account so I figured why not try it out for free. I have three Tivos, so this would be a good chance to compare them for myself.

    Yes, the UI, the software, the performance are all bad but
    the hardware quality is terrible also. I have replaced the DVR 3 times in three weeks and the 4th is going to need replacing also. Audio problems, video problems, automatic resets while recording or watching programs. It is terrible. Then the customer service is even worse.

    It will be great to have the Tivo software on the cable company’s box and only pay a monthly fee, but if the hardware quality is not going to change we won’t be any happier. I think the users will be even more frustrated having great software they can’t use because the hardware does not run.

  46. Ed Bott says:

    John, of course the Comcast DVR has a hard disk. In fact, if you think about it for even a few seconds you’ll realize that the box could not possibly keep all the HD content you’ve recorded in RAM. A single program can occupy several gigabytes of disk space. You probably have a 160GB disk drive in that box, and to replace that with RAM would cost, at current prices, about $16,000. Not to mention requiring 160 memory slots.

    You have a defective box.

  47. Ed – yeah, I probably do. But the UI is not defective, no wait, it is, but they MADE it that way.

  48. Jarid says:

    Replace “Comcast” with “Cablevision” and I couldn’t agree more. My Cablevision DVR pales in comparison to my Tivo Series 1.

    For example, I can’t comprehend why on the Cablevision DVR if I stop watching a show in the middle and come back later, I have to start watching from the beginning again! #$%#$@#!

    But, unfortunately, it took Tivo three years to come out with a HD Tivo, and at a $1000 price point (including service) to boot. For even the most loyal Tivo fans, that’s a large pill to swallow…

  49. John says:

    When it comes to Comcast’s web site, I think they got caught up in Web 2.0 hype.

  50. Ashley Thomas says:

    My power goes out frequently during storms. I bought an $80 UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply) which has worked very well. If it helps you decide on a UPS, my box draws about 30 watts.

  51. TCL says:

    I was forwarded your post by a friend of mine who knows that I share your feelings about both the TiVO (perhaps somewhat less enthusiastically, but certainly relative to…) and the Comcast HD-DVR. I had a Series 1 (given away to an old girlfriend) and have a Panasonic-branded Series 2, as well as the POS Comcast Motorola HD-DVR box. I hate the latter like the Taliban hate freedom.

    I know others already have posted the correction that the box does have a hard drive. I admit that I didn’t read all of the preceding comments, so someone may have mentioned this already, as well: It doesn’t wipe clean after a power outage. Here’s how you recover both the already recorded programs and the scheduled upcoming recordings (which you’ve entered using the worst interface since Burroughs made computers):
    (1) Call up Comcast and sit on hold listening to that bad cover band “bluesy” wait music, then tell the service rep your problem so she can send a signal to the box;
    (2) Despite the fact that the whole problem was caused by a power outage, unplug the box for 30 seconds or so while you’re on the phone with her.
    Once you plug it back in and she sends her signal, your prerecorded programs will be there and once the guide info slowly downloads, your scheduled recordings will be there.
    I’ve had to go through this process about three times since I got the thing in May/June.

    Don’t get me started on how my TiVo S2 upconverts everything to 720p, but with the Comcast Motorola box, if it ain’t in HD, it stays in 480i. Or how unreliable Comcast’s On Demand service is. Or….

  52. Dennis says:

    There are at LEAST 2 versions of the Comcast DVR software for Motorola Boxes. Washington state has a version developed by Microsoft and their MSTV division (which is ironically based in Mountain View, CA, not Redmond), developed specifically for cable boxes. The rest of their boxes are mostly using their own in house created software.

    Anyone in Washington willing to offer their opinions? Is it any better? Since you wrote this in Marin, I’m assuming you have the Comcast software.

  53. Jason says:

    You are a complete noob. Yes, sorry to stoop to typical internet name calling. But your nice little article read like a rant by someone who simply lacks the ability to adjust to something different and is so technologically inept as to make ignorant assumptions that school children would find laughable.

    I have three comcast DVR’s, all of which are the same model as the you have. They aren’t perfect, but they certainly aren’t anything like your low brow rant would lead one to believe. My only complaint with them is the small size of the HD and the occasional (once or twice per week) input lag I experience using the DVR. THe most recent software update may have helped that though, as I haven’t experienced it since, but time will tell there. If the remote control is difficult for you, maybe you should go back to twist knobs. I haven’t seen a remote control for any device that I found difficult in over a decade.

  54. Mike D says:

    I also switched from Tivo to Comcast DVR when I bought my first HD set about 5 months ago. I’ve had a similar experience, including losing all of my saved shows on one occasion. Now I’m just waiting for the Comcast DVR with Tivo to come out at the end of the year or wait for the Tivo S3 to come down in price.

  55. Andy says:

    I have the same Comcast DVR, and agree – it is far from perfect. I’ve never been blessed with Tivo, but it is not dificult to imagine the Tivo is far superior. The Comcast box sets the bar so incredibly low, almost anything would be better.

    However, in defense of the otherwise useless box – it’s never lost programming. I’ve had my box crash a few times so badly that it required unplugging to free it up, and every time it reboots I find all my stored programs intact. What I do lose, is the Guide data, but that eventually gets re-downloaded.

    The one critical task, which is to record and store programs, it does in fact do.

    Usability is a mess, and the occaisional remote lag is infuriating… but in the end it’s usable because it accomplishes that one critical task.

    _Am

  56. Bill G says:

    I also have 2 Moto 6412 Comcast boxes. I was a very long time ReplayTV series 5000 owner, loved them, but had to let them go to make the jump to HDTV.

    The input lag that I, and many commenters above, experience isn’t isolated just to the Moto DVR boxes from Comcast. A good friend has the non-DVR Moto box from Comcast and he experiences exactly the same thing. That’s what leads me to doubt that the promised TiVo software for the 6412’s will solve that problem. It’s a Motorola problem, not a Motorola DVR problem.

    I also do not lose recorded shows after power failures. Not clear what’s up with that, the unit has a hard drive.

  57. I have Comcast, and I live on the coastside in El Granada, where the power goes out all the time. It works terribly. The interface is awful. But in Phoenix, where I also live, I have Cox, and the Scientific Atlanta HD DVR box is worse than the Comcast. And you are right, neither is as good as TIVO. Why the cable companies didn’t just license Tivo at the outset is beyond me.

  58. Jim Cook says:

    You are going to LOVE the Tivo Series 3…it’s EVERYTHING the Comcast is not. We’ll all expect a post after you get it on just HOW GREAT the new Tivo HD is. It truly is the Mac or Lexus of the DVR world….

    Note: Even when the Comcast box is working it randomly lags (buffers) it’s input commands up from 1 – 5 minutes…completely ruining your tv watching experience when using any of it’s DVR functions.

  59. Rob says:

    John, in a scary way you and I are on the exact same cycle right now. I picked up a new HD set at Best Buy in Marin City last week and then got the Comcast HD last night. My take away – this is a lot of effort and money for a relatively lame experience (except for the 5 shows and 2 sports programs that look great). As if to put an exclamation point on the issue you rant about, I recently purchased a beautiful 24″ iMac. The comparison of the consumer experience isn’t even fair. I think I’ll just use the Mac. :-)

  60. Kinda makes you wonder why TiVo and Comcast can’t get a deal done? TiVo his the UI and IP and Comcast has the distribution.

    TiVo you should be a software company!!! Stop selling boxes….

    Comcast you should care about bringing best of breed solutions to your customers instead of purely leveraging your oligopoly power for max profit.

    Bring on the IPTV!

    Bring on RSS distributed video!

  61. Gene says:

    Many, many points in your rant are true. I find the Comcast DVR to be a real pain in the ass to use most days; it is horribly slow and prone to weird hiccups. Then again, my TiVo was doing the same things after the last software update.
    This entire issue really boils down to pricing and marketing tactics.
    The Comcast DVR is $9.99 per month for dual-tuner HD recording.
    The TiVo Series 3 is $16.95 per month… plus the outrageous $800 purchase price plus whatever your cable company charges for cable cards plus you still need the cable.
    This makes the difference, not the software or hardware issues. The price.
    “Just get a TiVo instead” is a glib and ridiculous answer to the problem. Few people I know can afford to plunk down an additional $800.

  62. ep says:

    A FEW TIPS & TRICKS TO EASE THE COMCAST AGONY…

    30 SECOND SKIP BUTTON FOR YOUR “COMCASTIC” REMOTE:
    I couldn’t live without this and missed it from my Tivo so I searched out this little pearl…

    Please read carefully and remember, once the button has been programmed, it is permanent. My suggestion is to use the [Help] button for the 30 second skip function. I have only set this up on the Silver remotes and have not set it up on the black remotes yet.

    Take your remote:
    · Hit the Cable button – It’ll blink
    · Press and hold the Setup button until the cable button blinks twice
    · Enter 994 – The Cable button will blink twice
    · Hit setup (do not hold)
    · Enter 00173 on your keypad
    · Hit any button that you don’t use (like FAV or Help or a button close to your 8 sec rewind)
    Now that button will be your 30-second quick skip feature.

    COMCAST SAVINGS:
    If you have Comcast Cable and want to save some money call them and ask them what specials they are currently running. The lady on the phone just told me that every customer is entitled to 2 promotions per year. For example, my Silver Package is $76.99/month and I just got a special for three months for $49.99/mo for three months. My last special was the Silver Package for $39.99/mo.

  63. Andrew says:

    It’s amazing that you posted this story as I was complaining about the same crappiness last night about the Comcast DVR. I was trying to delete some shows while a HD show was playing in the background. After about five minutes of the DVR being completely unresponsive (the dang thing queues commands, so will execute them quickly after it frees up and then lock up again!) and sporadically issuing commands, I turned off the TV and went to bed. Figured I would take care of it later.

    Hopefully if what is said about the Tivo software and Panasonic DVR’s above is true, I will swap out my DVR soon!

  64. marah says:

    i hate hate hate hate hate my comcast dvr. the one i had w/ time warner last year was much better, though not available where i live now.
    first of all, sometimes my dvr just won’t record a program, even though it’s in there, confirmed, etc. oops! who knows why!
    second, i find that the comcast dvr, in comparison to the time warner dvr, cannot determine when a program is new and when it’s a rerun. i have it set to record, let’s say, all new episodes of the colbert report. well, it apparently thinks this is all episodes of the colbert report, as long as they’re the “new” episode that ran the night before. meaning, it will tape 4 episodes during the day while i’m at work, unless i go through and specifically tell it not to. it’s not just that show, either. it’s so frustrating, so clunky, and sometimes when i turn it on, it’s muted, and i can’t get it to unmute unless i power down, and power up again, missing minutes of whatever show it was taping.

    thanks, comcast! you’re truly and industry leader.

  65. ArcSine says:

    Think about it. Comcast’s DVR is their way of getting people to hate DVRs and stop wanting them.

  66. Scott says:

    John, thanks for this post. I was going to go and pick up the Comcast HD-DVR tomorrow, but now I think that I will wait for other options.

    Does anyone have anything positive to say about this beast? Are there any other options if you are on comcast?

  67. Doodle says:

    You are so right, John. I’ve been using this box on Mediacom for a few months, and it is truly crap. Guess I’m stuck with it because I’m not willing to shell out for a Tivo or build a PVR, so I won’t whine too much…but you’d think they could release a firmware update or something.

    The remote lag is truly odd. And while I don’t find the interface so horrid, it’s not very good.

    Sometimes it will simply refuse to record a series. It seems to accept the new series recording, but no dice.

    Worst of all, like you I often lose recordings for no reason I can understand. If I don’t catch it in time, I’ll lose subsequent shows as the box won’t record anything else until I unplug to reset it. After that the programs come back. Maybe that’s the problem for you.

    FWIW, Mediacom insisted it has to do with a bad cable connection, which they “fixed” (squirrels chewed through cable at the tap)…but it still does it.

  68. Dave says:

    ComCast’s HD DVR absolutely sucks. I went through 4 of them because of overheating problems, guide sluggishness, tiling, and so on. I also had this same unit while living in a different state using COX. This Motorola DVR is just junk. Get a TiVo instead.

  69. MikeM says:

    Welcome back to Tivo. Thanks for the heads up on inferior Comcast units. FWIW the DirecTV DVR is not bad, we use that in our guestroom.

  70. Tim Russell says:

    John your box sounds very broken if it lost all your recordings I have movies that I have saved from months ago.

    I guess I’m the only one that doesn’t mind the Comcast DVR. I have the 2 tuner unit and it has a HDD. It doesn’t lose my recordings after a power outage but it does lose the guide for a bit until it downloads. I’m a PC geek type person so I guess a few hitches don’t trouble me.

    It does bug me that it’s response slows down at times and I have had to unplug it once or twice to clear it and call Comcast once for a reset when it wouldn’t let me play a program (took under 5 min to fix).

    Why I like it more than TIVO. Works with my cable system and I can record all channels I get. 2 tuners so I can record 2 things and watch a 3rd that I recorded earlier. Yes you can do that. I don’t have to buy a box for big $$ and pay a subscription fee.

    My one problem with all DVR’s is that they feed my TV addication.

  71. Jimmy McColery says:

    I haven’t read through all of the comments before mine, so it may have been said already, but I wanted to say that I’ve had the same experience losing DVR recordings. My girlfriend and I moved to a different apartment in the same building, in which our box (a Motorola 3412) was unplugged for a couple of days. After moving into our new place, we wouldn’t have cable right away, but we had a box full of shows, so we thought we’d just watch them while we wait for our technician. When we plugged our box in, we couldn’t see the shows and we called Comcast multiple times. Some reps said we had to have concurrent cable service to access our recorded shows, some said it should be working fine without cable service. Once we had our cable service moved, the shows were still missing. We finally got a tech who was probably not supposed to give us the straight truth, but told us that when a box is unplugged, it’s really 50/50 if the shows will get lost. ugh. I’ve read about transferring shows from the box to a PC using a firewire. I’m going to give this a try soon.

  72. Eeno McBeano says:

    Amen, brutha!

    My girlfriend and I almost went insane with this thing. I took it back ASAP and we waited until we could get our hands on the 3rd gen Tivo. I would list the crazy details of my rant, but you have sdone it ever so elequently!

  73. Willy says:

    The Moto box may suck, but all I care about is the ability to record 2 HD shows at once. The only other option is an $800 Tivo box + $17/mo. to run it.

    There is no way im trading my HD for a “better interface”. Thats like choosing to drive a Acura over a Lamborghini because it has AC and and an Ipod dock…

  74. julianmiller says:

    Thanks so much for the review – I just moved from NYC to Chicago and have encountered all the problems with Comcast cable which is preinstalled in my building. I got their basic cable box which blows – counter-intuitive/retarded in every way – you can’t tell which shows you have set to record by looking at the onscreen menu nor can you tell when the “to record” list maxes out; the box has a tendency to reset itself; the controls on the remote don’t work; …
    And I thought that Time Warner had problems.
    If this is their competition then T-W should move in for the kill.
    I have just signed on to TiVo – thanks again before I rant too much about Comcast’s terrible products and services.

  75. Mama says:

    Is anyone having a problem with the Comcast DVR box losing sound in the recording process? We experience a lot of signal break-up, as well as random audio loss, although the audio loss often happens without any distortion in the video portion. The end result is just as if the mute button is being used randomly during the recording. (And I swear it knows the most crucial audio to lose — especially on murder mystery programs!) We’re on our second Comcast DVR box trying to fix this problem, which Comcast denies ever having heard of before.

  76. chief says:

    Man you people are a bunch of whiners. If you don’t like the comcast DVR, don’t use it. Go out, buy your $1,000 series 3 Tivo and then bitch and whine to comcast to allow cable-card use, that’s all it takes.

  77. Glenn says:

    The Motorola 6412 box can be frustrating at times, that’s for sure. But it absolutely should not lose recorded programs when power is lost. Never has for me.

    Maximize your experience with this less-than-perfect box (and minimize frustrations) by bookmarking and reading the excellent and well-maintained Wikipedia information on it here:

    http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/How_to_use_a_Motorola_DVR

  78. John-

    The outpouring in this thread is pretty amazing. Do you think that anyone at Comcast is listening? This really is the beauty of the local monopoly that Comcast and the other cable companies have.

    I remember picking up my first DVR (ReplayTV) and marveling at the simplicity of the device and how well it worked. Even then I thought, if these things catch on, the cable and satellite companies will crush Replay and Tivo by leasing these boxes to their customers. I mean, the software was simple, right? It sure looked that way.

    And therein lies the rub. The software isn’t simple, it’s made to look that way. Both Replay and Tivo started with some great design and iterated like hell. The mundane details like automatically buffering the ends of the program, resolving conflicting recordings, disk space management, yadda, yadda, yadda.

    The point is, Tivo delights us and Comcast kicks sand in your face. Tivo has to compete like hell and Comcast counts the money rolling in.

  79. Karen says:

    We have 2 Comcast HD/DVR boxes and have had to replace both a few times when they just stopped working completely. I hate having to reprogram all of my shows, but I love DVR and can’t imagine not having it. I did notice the weird mute issue. One one tv, I can just increase or decrease the volume to unmute but on our other tv, you can’t do anything to bring the sound back until the program you are recording is finished. That’s annoying. Has anyone ever had this happen– the TV turns itself on or off at the beginning or end of a recorded program! We used to think there was a ghost in the house but then I realized it happens when recording is starting or stopping. It’s an adventure for sure…

  80. Charles Lai says:

    It did cost quite a chunk of change, but I’m glad I have Beyond TV and a terabyte of hard drive space on my HTPC which allows me to record a lot of SD and HD. The system has passed the wife test with flying colors, and the HD looks glorious on a 50-inch HDTV screen.

  81. willow foster says:

    There really is very little for me to add – we got the HD TV and then this P.O.S. DVR from comcast and it has been nothing but the nightmare that John describes.

    Here’s where I’m tripping and would like some further invetigation: we lost everything (all recorded programs and all scheduled to record) on Nov 1st…does that map to John’s loss? (He posted on the 2nd and referred to the incident as happening ‘last night’.) We had no power outage, our machine just randomly shuts itself down, which is what happened this time. Methinks there is something larger going on here…

  82. Jed N. says:

    The amount of feedback and commentary on this post is incredible. Tivo stock has had a pretty volatile run over the past two years. I keep coming back, however, to the fundamental thesis that they will eventually start making money because of very comments made above. I think the name Tivo is probably worth $500mm alone. I live in Mill Valley and have both a Tivo and Comcast HD DVR. There is no doubt that I will pay the $5 additional to have the Tivo software on my box as soon as it becomes available. Let’s hope that the rev share on the Tivo side is enough to keep them in business.

    JN

  83. Ken says:

    Category: Comcast Cable Television

    Sub-Category: Service

    Dear Comcast,

    I agree with the opinions expressed on the Comcast DVR in the following article.
    http://battellemedia.com/archives/003055.php

    Without an option, I remain a subscriber. Will there be a better product for
    Comcast DVR subscribers soon?

    Thank you,
    Ken

    Dear Ken,

    Thank you for taking the time to write us.

    The DVR has undergone 2 updates in the past year. It is possible another update
    will be available to address any issues in the future. With the feedback
    provided this will help us to improve the service.

    Thank you for the opportunity to assist you. If you need further assistance
    with any of your Comcast services please reply to this email and we will be
    happy to assist you. Thank you again for choosing Comcast we appreciate your
    business. To visit our local support page including links to contact us via
    Live Chat, as well as many downloadable forms,and FAQ pages, please visit:
    http://www.comcast.com/nesupport/

    Did you know that Comcast offers its customers a variety of free benefits?
    These include McAfee Antivirus, Firewall and Privacy software as well the
    Comcast tool bar that lets you take Comcast.net with you while you surf, and the
    Desktop Doctor to help you restore lost settings…plus much more, please visit
    http://www.comcast.net/downloads/ to see all of the extras that we provide.

    Sincerely,
    Brian

    Comcast Electronic Customer Care – New England

  84. Nic says:

    I have the HD Tivo and while the product itself is predictably elegant and easy to use keeping its two CableCards working smoothly has been a hassle – I’ve had to call into Time-Warner Cable once a week or so and have them re-send the EMMs that authorize the cards to decode the premium channels. Other than that, it’s great – although I’d been a ReplayTV user since PVRs came on the scene, and I do miss the Replay’s superior pause-live-TV handling.

  85. Kevin says:

    Ladies & Germs,

    I feel your pain. . . I’m on my third Comcast HD/TiVO box in maybe 5 mo. Understand, I had no previous experience with TiVO but did have a DVR for another TV with the analog channels. Pretty straightforward to run.

    Anyway, Comcast box 1 sounded like a jet engine, so I took it back and exchanged it. Box 2 would make programs disappear – or perhaps they were never there – intermittently. I knew I was recording them, saw the red light on while watching something else in some cases.

    As an additional FYI, I shut down the TiVO box at night – sometimes programs stayed on the hard drive (yes, there is one) and sometimes not. Called in again and was told it might be a bad hard drive.

    Tech came out and replaced the box – so far, I’ve got shows that are stored on there that haven’t gone away yet. It’s all a great mystery to me!

  86. great rant…if you want to see the latest Battlestar Gallactica check out this link :on not legal but it still is there…youtube…http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=frrackkit

  87. GRFBWM says:

    Kind of funny that you jumped to the conclusion that it doesn’t have a HD. Typical non-technical idiot Mac user.

  88. Ian says:

    Comcast DVR licks the sweat off a dead Tivo’s balls.

  89. dumbfounder says:

    wow, LOTS of commenting going on here, I think you found a hot topic! a similar situation happened with me and directv. My directivo died (probably because I modded it and put a second hard drive in, and it tended to overheat) and so I went back to best buy to get another only to find that they didn’t sell them anymore. All they had was the directv version, no tivo. So I reluctantly bought one for $100 (and the guy informed me that I DON’T OWN IT EVEN THOUGH I JUST BOUGHT IT AT A RETAIL STORE) and brought it home and started using it. That didn’t last long. It just does several things so very wrong that tivo demonstrated how to do the right way. I eventually almost stopped using it altogether. Then a few months later I moved and canceled my directv. Now they have sent me a box saying I need to send them the receiver back or I owe them $479. What the crap is that?!?!? I guess I will see if it is an idle threat because I sure as heck ain’t sending them a damn thing.

    but I also heard from a friend that tivo series 3 is pretty bad too, like they reverted back to series 1 for a lot of features. haven’t used it firsthand though.

  90. Donovan says:

    No hard drive? I have the same model from a Canadian Cable company, and it has a hard drive, I find it hard to believe it records only to memory, HD programs are around 5gigs an hour!

  91. Metz says:

    I have the Washington version of the 6412 comcast DVR. While the user interface looks fine, the navigation is still abysmal compared to my older ReplayTV. There have been several bugs like FF sticking (you had to wait for the entire show to FF before the unit would respond) and having all your recordings get lost when you switched to daylight savings time and each time Comcast has released a software upgrade they’ve broken something new.

    The hardware is underpowered. It responds very sluggishly to remote control commands and it takes at least a full minute when you try and resolve conflicts before the box comes back.

    However it’s dual tuner, records most of the time in HD and I’m smart enough to have a HTPC as a backup unit. Ths cost is worth it ($10 a month) compared to dropping a grand for a series 3. The biggest issue is that the box reboots itself at least 1x a day, usually at a very inconvenient time.

  92. Jim Stanton says:

    I too have one of these, coming from the HD DirecTiVo. So craptacular!

    It does in fact have a hard drive, but neglects to store the file directory on it, only the data, so after a power outage it doesn’t know what’s on the drive anymore.

  93. Todd Vernon says:

    John, i feel your pain man. We renamed ours :-)

    …More on the Comcast DVR

    We just yanked all the comcast and directtv crap out of our house and replaced them with series 3 tivos. And to those that are excited about the tivo software on the motorola platform. Good luck that box runs the temp of the sun.

  94. Christian Madden says:

    I dropped $800 on a TiVo Series 3 because I felt that the Comcast HD-DVR was having an adverse effect on my quality of life. I would swear out loud at it daily, typically because of the infuriating remote queuing issues. I hated it in a way that I have hated very few things in my life. Pre-S3, I had no other options for HD DVR via Comcast. Even at $800, I ordered one the day it came out, and I’m not looking back. I’ve owned an S1, S2, and now an S3, and I’ve loved them all with iPod-esque passion. Your comparison with Audi is great, I drive one of those too :-)

  95. Hey GRFBWM: Regarding your nicety: “Typical non-technical idiot Mac user” – listen dickwad, turns out I’ve been in the business for 20 years, and I thought they were using some odd architecture of VOD and minimal local RAM or flash. I figured the main bits were being stored upstream, and the system was improperly architechted in the case of power failure. Turns out I was wrong, and I’m happy to admit it. But man, I bet you never are wrong, are you?

  96. Dennis asked about residents of Washington state. I live in an Eastside suburb of Seattle, and have had a Comcast HD DVR for about a year. I can’t compare the UI experience, never having seen a TiVo or ReplayTV unit in person; the Comcast unit is a little clunkier than the non-DVR version (with the phone-line download) was, but it’s livable.

    I’ve had to have the box reset once, following a major power failure (several thousand people out for more than a day), but everything was in place following the reset and the guide download. I’ve never lost a recording, lost a schedule, or lost the audio on a recording.

    And as for the Mac haters out there: I’ve been a Mac owner since the First 100 Days, back in April, 1984. (I’ve never owned anything else since, and the original still works if I bother to power it up.) At the time, I was a systems programmer in a university shop transitioning from an Amdahl 470/V8 under SVS to an IBM 3081 under MVS (I wrote the conversion utility for the differences in JCL) and putting in networked e-mail on the DEC-20s. (I wrote all the interface code to make the dialup setup look like an SMTP network connection–when SMTP was brand new.)

    I went from that shop to a well-known private university in the heart of Silicon Valley, where I was the systems programmer and operations chief for 4 DEC-20s, 2 IBM 4381s, Ultrix on VAXen and MIPS, SunOS 3 and 4, AIX on PC/RT and RS/6000, Macs and DEC Rainbows (running MS-DOS and CP/M-86).
    I worked for the largest networking equipment manufacturer in the world, then for the founder’s next startup (which brought me to Washington). I currently keep two privately owned DEC 20s running, in an XP environment where I have 6 versions of Linux running in VMware on my desktop.

    So that establishes my technical chops.

    And I still prefer using my Mac to do my personal computing, writing linguistics and classics papers, presiding over the board of a homeowners association, and everything else that life requires. Were I to build my own DVR setup, I’d start from the Mac, too.

  97. Bill K says:

    I’m going to chime in here as someone who’s had this DVR box for the past year. I considered also getting a Tivo – but wanted Dual Tuner capabilities and the ability to record in HD, and at the time, neither of those were easy (nor particularly cheap) options with Tivo. Having said that, the Comcast box provided that straight away from the get go once installed.

    Yes, it’s not a Tivo, but it’s design and functions allow me to accomplish what I want to do – namely record and watch television programs using series recording as well as one-off recording. While the interface and such could use some sprucing up (which may occur if the Tivo/Comcast partnership ever produces anything), this product accomplishes what I need it to.

    I’ve never lost any programs due to power outages, and we’ve had several over the last year.

    I will consider Tivo products in the future, if I don’t have to mess around with all kinds of setup just to get it to do what my comcast box can do right off the bat.

  98. I live in Bellevue, WA, having moved recently from Palo Alto, CA where I was a very happy TiVo user. I can confirm that the “Microsoft Enhanced” version of Comcast’s DVR is equally abysmal.

    Does anyone have any real substantive information about a possible TiVo box from Comcast? I have heard the rumor many times but the Comcasts techs claim to have no idea about it.

  99. And if you are curious, as I was, to what “Microsoft Enhanced” means, and for an excellent articulation of the Comcast DVR experience for all you lucky TiVo users, read on… http://wilshipley.com/blog/2006/03/this-post-is-microsoft-enhanced-tm.html

  100. For an excellent articulation of the Comcast DVR experience for all you lucky TiVo users, read on… http://wilshipley.com/blog/2006/03/this-post-is-microsoft-enhanced-tm.html

  101. For all you TiVo users wondering what all the fuss is about, here’s an amusing articulation of the Comcast DVR experience:
    http://wilshipley.com/blog/2006/03/this-post-is-microsoft-enhanced-tm.html

    I’d be interested to know what “Microsoft Enhanced” means exactly. If anyone knows please, do tell.

  102. benja says:

    Holy hell, you NAILED it. The UI is beyond bad and well into insulting. All of the functionality is there. Its just buried.

    We hate ours too…

  103. Jay Small says:

    I don’t own a Comcast DVR and haven’t used one. But God help you if it’s as bad as a Gran Torino wagon. My dad drove one of those beasts, and my family was big enough that I was relegated to the middle of the back seat. So I, literally, feel your pain. ;-)

  104. andrew says:

    so true i gave my 6412 back due to all these reason. it had one thing oging for it, i could download HD content to my PC via firewire with a simple driver install! WOW! not worth it though. went back to directv SD and thining of DishHD especially for theor xfer to PMP function!

    We were at comcast the other day (Sacramento) and they sayd the TIVO contract fell trhough. Glad I gave up on it.

  105. Butch Whacks says:

    You know, you don’t HAVE to get the DVR to get HD service from Comcast. They have an HD only box.

  106. dk says:

    Dennis, I live in washington and and have both a series 1 tivo and the comcast DVR. I decided last week, no HD was better than this unpredictable POS so its going to comcast. We definitely have the microsoft version up here but all the problems sound the same. I am already on my 2nd box. My buddy has one as well and he has had no issues (except an occasional reboot and remote lag). So this week I broke down and bought a series 3 tivo. I had a lifetime on my series 1 so at least i can transfer that. A funny story, a friend of mine that has never had a DVR, the comcast box is their first, I asked if they were having any problems, they said no. Except for it rebooting randomly, losing program guide and EVERYONE suffers from remote lag. I think they just don’t know it shouldn’t be that way. Its just what they know now.

  107. DWitt says:

    I think the trend in this thread points to the obvious–Comcast’s DVR sucks, and the haters sound like that IT Guy on Saturday Night Live. (btw, Mac haters, your rant is soooo 90s…got Unix yet, or are you still stuck on DOS?)

    fwiw, when we moved, we switched from Time Warner to Comcast–TW’s DVR was ok, but we hoped for something better. Well, Comcast was indeed a step backwards, with their horrible program guide GUI and terribly designed remote. Yes, we’ve also experienced the ‘no sound’ issue, and many other glitches which make us think that Comcast spends more money on their commercials and lobbying the government than they do on Product Dev!

    I will second an earlier posters recommendation for the Logitech/Harmony 890 remote–we’ve owned a lot of so-called ‘universal remotes,’ however, this is the first one that we’ve found to be so…it even controls our X10 lighting, and imo, the best feature is that it allows you to program Scenes, so that you can have one-button control to turn on all the components for a certain activity. My wife and I agree that it is one of the best hardware buys we’ve made!

  108. eric says:

    i doth think you are the moron…. i have used the comcast dvr flawlessly since it came out. i figured out how to use in a few minutes – very intuitive. for 9.95 month i’ll take it any day over tivo.

  109. Rick says:

    If you are a TiVo user, and haven’t had the opportunity to spend a week with one of these boxes, please do. You will quickly realize why TiVo can get away with charging $800 for their box.

    I had something going on yesterday afternoon, so I decided to use my Comcastic HD box to record the West Virginia – Louisville game. I was really looking forward to enjoying the game, and too the extra steps of sequestering myself from the national sports media. I get about an hour and a half into the game, and poof.. my DVR powers off. As a customer of Comcast, I am used to this type of reliability issues, and patiently waited for it to power back on, reinitialize, and communicate with Comcast to ensure I am still a customer of their DVR service. Since Comcast’s DVR doesn’t let you jump in fifteen minute increments for longer programs (like football games), I started the program, and hit fast forward. Still no major issues, until I arrived at the point of the game I had left off at. I hit play, but nothing happens. I hit play again, still nothing. I stand up and move closer to the DVR, ensuring good line of sight, and hit play. Still nothing. Now I start mashing buttons, but nothing still. Quickly, out of the corner of the screen, I see the scoring bug moving, touchdown, field goal, touchdown. I start screaming obscenities at my DVR, realizing that the game is ruined. I now know the outcome, and its all screwed up.

    This is the type of experience you can only get with a Comcast HD DVR. It is so unreliable, I have a standard definition TiVo series two that duplicates any HD recording I entrust to the Comcast box, and it gets used at least twice a week. The only reason I still keep it is because I want HD recordings, and am unable to spend $800 on the Series three.

    But don’t worry… I am saving up.

  110. Eugenia says:

    The only two things I don’t like about this Motorola-based DVR:
    1. The analog channels quality looks REALLY BAD. The previous cable box was doing better rendering of the analog channels, and when using my Sharp TV directly, it also looks way better.
    2. This particular Motorola model is freezing some times while trying to operate it, for up to 1 minute. For example, you press a button and the action takes place 10 seconds to 1 minute later! If you manage to turn it off and turn it on a few hours later (or unplug it), it seems to fix the slowness. This problem happens 1-2 times per week, very annoying.

    Other than that, I don’t mind this DVR box, it’s not bad.

  111. ComcastSucks says:

    I got the Comcast DVR for my neices when they moved in for the year because I didn’t want my Tivo to be filled with SpongBob. What a piece of crap (the Comcast DVR)! It stopped working after 3 days. I turned it in for a new one that never worked, turned it in for a new one that worked (a relative term) for almost a month, and then then the last one. It only works semi-reliably if you don’t try to record two shows a the same time. If the cable companies were forced to share thier lines like the phone companies have to share thiers, then we’d see a rapid improvement in services. The Tivo isn’t perfect, but when

  112. HappyCamper says:

    You people are heathens. The Comcast DVR is the perfect piece of equipment. Now that I’ve come to realize it has my best interests at heart I’ve finally found nirvana. When I first got it, sure I was a little irritated that there were always these weirdly spaced delays if you tried to use the menu and features but that’s just Commie’s, (I call my Comcast DVR commie), way of getting me to slow down and relax a bit.

    Now, if there’s more than a 30 second delay I know it’s just Commie’s way of telling me to get up and stretch. Maybe water the plants or pet the dog. Sometimes when I get ready to watch Lost, I discover that it’s only recoded the first five minutes of the show. That’s just Commies way of saying this episode isn’t a winner, maybe I’d be better off talking to my wife and asking her about her day.

    We tried to set it up record every episode of The Sopranos but it never recorded a single episode. I figure, Commie knows best, it was probably too violent and filled with profanity. After a power outage all the episodes of Deadwood and Nip/Tuck went missing as well. I hear you loud and clear Commie! When there’s a power surge or outage and all the recording’s are gone that’s just Commie letting us know it’s like starting with a clean slate. Like kids with a new toy, we take the opportunity to just channel surf blindly, ready to discover new shows like, Three Wishes, The Ghost Whisperer and Dancing with the Stars, gosh I love that one. Commie really knows how to keep life fresh!

    Recently Commie has been on a religious kick, as now the second tuner only records the 700 Club. I trusts Commie’s taste implicitly but it took my wife a few days to come around. Once Commies decided to stop recording Grey’s Anatomy and Desperate Housewives, my wife saw the light. Sure, she was depressed for a few days and spend a lot of time muttering about Hal, but when you have a full season of just the first 45 minutes of Extreme Home Makeover to look forward to, how can you not be pumped!

    Look, you folks need to stop demanding so much control with your “IPod’s”, “SlingBox’s” and “Voting” and just learn to relax and follow God’s plan. After all, it’s a little disturbing to hear people talk about their “Tivo” like it’s a member of the family or something. That’s just wrong.

  113. tivo luvr says:

    Not sure if we had the same model (Moxi) or not.. but mine had one feature I LOVED:

    …and that it’s SKIP feature. You can SKIP forward or backwards one minute or 15 seconds at a time. Once you get used to it it’s far, far superior than Tivo’s system.

    When a commercial comes on you just skip forward one minute at a time until you see the show, click, click, click… then hit backwards 15 seconds till you see the commercial again.

    Very sweet!

  114. snarkolepsy says:

    It is quite probable your box is faulty. I would have to check the rants on my blog, but I think we have been through 3 of them since getting HD. That is just aside from all the other problems with Comcast. Even though we initially had problems with the series 3, my husband and I were practically beside ourselves when we had to send it back for a hardware upgrade this week.

    We’ve never used the DVR portion of the Comcast boxes, but I am pretty glad to see this entry and its replies. I really want Tivo to survive because it makes me so unhappy to pay such money to Comcast for them to consistently make me unhappy.

  115. SorenG says:

    109 comments for this. John, you may seriously want to consider changing this entire site, from a “Searchblog” to a “Tivoblog.” Your page views will sour.

  116. Alex says:

    Nice write up! Why don’t you tell us how you really feel :).

  117. Alex says:

    SorenG,
    Believe me, John is better of sticking with this website. I own TiVoBlog.com and I’m sure I don’t get nearly as much traffic as John :).

  118. Mouseman says:

    I agree with everyone’s comments. I have a Scientific Atlanta dual tuner box, and the thing has been nothing but problems since day one. It’s constantly giving me the impression that it’s taping what I want, then after it’s done the show vanishes. The only way I can find this empty show (because it didn’t actually tape anything even though the REC light was on and the show was on the list in red showing it taping) is to unplug the box and reboot it! But the program still takes up space, I just can’t see it to delete it until the machine reboots. I have to go through this once a week, but according to customer service, “It’s not defective.” The lag when you hit a button is another issue — I can accidentally hit stop on a live show and the box locks up for almost 5 minutes unless I change the channel, which still takes a few minutes to take. Why anyone would create such total pieces of crap when there is a good product already out there is mind-boggling. It’s like someone decided to replicate a Porsche and ended up with a kid’s wagon and is trying to tell me it’s the same thing!

  119. iggy says:

    Malcom Lewis asked “Does anyone have any real substantive information about a possible TiVo box from Comcast? I have heard the rumor many times but the Comcasts techs claim to have no idea about it.”

    I’m an install tech for Comcast and I have heard that there’s been some sort of a deal between Tivo and Comcast that will have them making our DVRs. Not sure if it’s just interface, hardware or both. One rumor I heard said possibly in 2007. But that’s just rumor. Haven’t seen anything official.

    Strike that…just checked the link someone posted above and it sounds like it will be Tivo UI, features and service on Comcast DVR’s. That article says mid to late 2006. That article was also written in March of 2005. So they’re obviously a little late on that one.

  120. GadgetGav says:

    What a bunch of pointless bile. It was all I could do to bring myself to keep reading after the bit where you say it doesn’t have a hard drive…! You really don’t understand anything about storage do you?
    I too have had Tivo since the Sony S2000, I am a Mac user (I bought a Cube, so don’t tell me about paying extra for style and function) and I am still not going to get the HD Tivo.

    You don’t even say which version of the Comcast box you have..? Is it a 6xxx series or a 3xxx series. It makes a big difference, not only in the functionality of the box and the guide but also in the backend technology that the Comcast use to get TV to your house. This is all important stuff and you don’t even mention it, probably because you don’t even know about it.

    There are forums where this is discussed by people who know and there are Comcast employees there who say that the Tivo software will roll out by the end of this year. The date might be fuzzy but the deal is a LOT more than rumor.

    With or without it, the Comcast box is acceptable to me. As a Mac user Tivo have always let me down anyway, and the S3 has even less features than the S2. No TTG (even on PC), no multi room viewing. Yes, you get wishlists and a better UI, but that’s not worth $1000 to me.

  121. satelliteisgr8 says:

    apparently gadgetgav did not do much reading. the same “pointeless bile” sentiment is expressed by everyone posting. as for myself, i don’t have a comcast box or their tv service (stuck with their internet because it is the only game in town). comcast is the most useless media company in existence but anyway, the reason i am burning time now is just to say how extremely satisfied i am with my dish network dvr. i still have the rolling stones live from madison square garden on it from a few years back (my intention is to dvd it at some point). the interface is simple and intuitive. the whole package is just incredibly easy to use and supremely reliable. but since it is about 5 yrs old i am considering now to switch to directv just to take advantage of the initial promotion cost and get 4 lnb’s. i have no idea how their dvr works (i don’t think they are in bed with tivo anymore….) i never embraced tivo only because of the cost, plus i always liked the schedule display with directv (i had that for 3 yrs prior to my current dish network) and dish network boxes. (i never embraced 8trk or digital audio tape, either) and i’m sorry but i kind of lump tivo in there, as well. anyway, if you hate comcast (as i do, their service sux), consider the ease of use of directv or dish network to solve your problems – slomo, fast forward/backward, skip ahead 30 seconds, everything. (sorry for all lower case but i’m just lazy)

  122. buckwheat says:

    Yes, the Comcast boxes are the result of the great 1998 International Cooperative of Electronics Superiority. Nations that participated in the design: Russia (full communistic at the time), Pakistan and Poland. This $8.9 bil joint venture was led by Microsoft, and funded by the Bill Clinton administration investment group.

    After a long and drawn out dog fight with appropriate law suits, yacht selling/purchasing and firing of the thousands of $1.45/hr software desiners, the great international company was abandonded in late 1999 when George Bush threatened to invade the developmental palaces in outer Mongolia. The spoils were sold to the Russian mafia, and picked up quickly by Motorola management thinking they too could own a yacht – if they could just find the right [sucker] buyer.

    The “complete system” was sold to an obscure East European Comcast investment group in 2001, and the interface promptly dumbed down further for U.S. comsumption. Cheaper faulty chipsets were inserted, circa 1988, a remote left over from a Dawoo TV that never made it to market, and viola – our Comcast TIVO box with the ultra-modern “Twin” tuners.

    Comcast hired 18,713 new help desk people to ramp up for the inevedible storm of complaints, then they headed off to their newly purchased yachts isolated and undisturbed.

    Tivo came to the rescue with their $1400 units and $50/mo monthly fees.

  123. Ss says:

    You probably have a defective unit. I have had this for over a year and not lost any programming.

  124. Barry Willis says:

    Hi John,

    That’s a funny curmudgeonly rant. I’m no cheerleader for Comcast, but I think the company-branded DVR is well designed and easy to use. I had the Tivo Series 1 box for review and thought it was so horrible I sent it back without comment. Later generation Tivos got better but were still nightmares to set up.

    The Comcast box isn’t made by and for computer geeks, whose greatest joy in life is drilling deep into a menu, but for normal people who want to watch their favorite shows on their own schedule. It doesn’t require a PhD in computer science.

    There’s no explanation why anything recorded on a hard drive should get erased when the power goes out. It’s as if you’re suggesting that a five-minute power outage somehow reformatted the hard drive. Even if that were possible, if you have any complaints about the box, Comcast will swap it out at no charge. Comcast isn’t the world’s most customer-friendly company, but its DVRs work fine.

    Barry Willis
    (Marin County resident and technology journalist)

  125. SorenG says:

    Alex, that is bizarre. You may consider John as a guest ranter. I have been watching this site for years, and have never seen this kind of response. Maybe people just like that his blood boils . . . still, this could prove to help you in some way :).

  126. AdriftAtSea says:

    I’ve used the Comcast and the Tivo, and have to say that the engineering and UI on the Comcast box is pretty pathetic. In defense of the Tivo team, they are trying to re-engineer their code for foreign hardware, that is most likely very different from the custom linux configuration that they have in the Tivo units.

    As for the anti-Mac comments above. I’d like to point out that at the recent “Black Hat” hacker conferences, over 60% of the laptops present were either PowerBooks, iBooks, MacBook Pros or MacBooks. There is a reason serious computing experts use a Mac. First, they have a very usable UNIX-based OS, that allows them to use the mainstream software, like MS Office, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, etc. Second, they have full access to the command line and to all of the Linux-based opensource hacking tools, many of which do not really have a good affordable analog in the Windows-based world.

    Many Mac users are very technically astute people and have chosen the Mac for technical reasons. I have been using them since the Fat Mac days, and stopped for a brief period, while they were trying to replace OS 9, and came back to using them with the advent of OS X. I prefer to work on my work, and not spend a day a week or so working on keeping my machine running, doing anti-virus scans, spyware scans, system patches, and such.

    The fact is very simple… the hardware is elegant and the OS simply works—this seems to be something that Windows fanatics can’t understand. One other point… the OS has been getting faster as it has been upgraded, rather than slower. Tiger is more usable on my older Powerbooks, than was the older versions of Jaguar and Panther. This is not the case with Windows, where the older hardware simply cannot handle the excessive bloat of the newer versions of Windows.

    While Windows Media Center may be a good solution for some, the price of it and the “incurred expense” of maintaining it and keeping it running is something that many are not capable of doing or unwilling to do.

    A DVR should be an appliance, that is simple to use and does what you want it to easily and quickly. The Tivo fits this description. It is much like a microwave oven most times… just set it up, and you’re off and running… no constant futzing with it… The Comcast DVR and the Windows Media Edition PCs do not fit this description at all. Most users don’t care how the technology works, and the more invisible the technology is, the better.

  127. AdriftAtSea says:

    BTW, John—

    The Torino station wagon was a very good product for what it was…a vehicle to move mothers and families around before the advent of the minivan. Comparing the Comcast DVR to it is unfair and insulting to the Torino station wagon—the Torino did what it was supposed to quite well, which can not be said of the Comcast DVR.

  128. David says:

    Hint: Junk the DVR, Tivo, and all the other crap. Read a book.

  129. Aldaron says:

    From May to early Oct, I went through 4 Comcast DVRs. When the 4th one failed to record the final episode of Rescue Me, I junked it and went back to my series 2 Tivo Box. The software is horrible and sometimes when I was fast-fowarding in a program, it would simply hang-up and I couldn’t stop it from FF for maybe a minute. Big time delay in anything it does. I agree … a complete piece of $h%t.

    The techs from Comcast keep telling me that they are going to get boxes with th Tivo software on them, but I will believe it when I see it. In any event, if it’s in the same Motorola box, I have no confidence that it will work any better.

  130. joel lurie says:

    John:

    I too agree with everything you said. I also live in Marin and was told by the installers of my new HD TV that the new Comcast HD box with DVR had no way of adding TIVO. That is, the box doesn’t allow connection of a TIVO unit. So if I want to see HD at all, I need their box which has no TIVO possibility. Do you know if this is true? Thanks.

  131. MJ says:

    Reading this post reminds me why I’m so glad to no longer be working for Comcast. Against all feedback/testing/etc re: the quality of the product we still were committed to launching it, marketing it, and trying to put our technicians and call center folks in the line of fire to support this product. Motorola was painfully slow about repairing and providing patch updates for it in a timely manner. The most pushback we were able to muster was sending back the even *worse* single tuner DVRs that are in other markets.

    Last I heard the Tivo UI and the Microsoft UI were being tested in multiple Comcast markets.

  132. Rob says:

    Anyone with a little bit of intelligence should question this whole blog post. You cannot take the opinion of someone who actually thought the DVR ran from RAM seriously. Obviously he doesn’t know as much on the subject as he thinks he does. How do we know the problems are not with the person and not just his single piece of hardware?

  133. Silver says:

    Rob, if you’d ever read Battelle’s book, or indeed, had been reading this blog ongoing, you’d know that he is intelligent. Not having information about the internal functioning of the recording device is nowhere close to being evidence of unintelligence.

    Your comment smacks of a stereotypical, myopically-focussed engineer, since you apparently missed the validity of the basic issue in John’s posting: why does the device lose recorded programs when it so clearly and simply should not?

    Even suggesting that this question should be ignored on the basis that it “must be just user error” is also insensitive, because bad usability which can cause key failures is also the responsibility of the product manufacturer.

  134. Tony says:

    Why is comcast downloading from my DVR Box to their servers?

    This is the second time I’ve noticed it at around 3am. Whatever I’m watching (I’m up late) blanks out, and the cable box displays the letters “dl” with alternating LEDs that indicated activity (like a HD light, but going in a circle).

    We had called our local service branch once before, and they said something like “yeah we routinely download from your box, it happens all of the time”. No they don’t, I’m up latenight, and have only seen this twice.

    Well, I had pretty much forgotten about it until it just happened now. Now I’m paranoid.

    Anyone else know why they would be downloading from my box? Or maybe where I can raise a stink about it?

  135. Sherman says:

    OK, I’ve got a DVR that I believe is the same as mentioned here. It is the Motorola DCT 6412 through Insight (not Comcast). I haven’t had TiVo so I can’t really compare my experience there. But, I too have had a few frustrations with my DVR.

    The first has to do with series recording. When I set it to record a series, it does not allow me to specify a time and also records re-runs. Therefore, if I were to set it to record The Daily Show, it would record the show every time it airs unless it specifically has “repeat” in the description. That means I will get up to three recordings a day of the same show. This isn’t that difficult to deal with. Once a week I go in and cancel the recording of the shows other that the first run shows at the time I’d like to record. Still quite frustrating.

    The bigger problem (one I’ve actually called Insight AND Motorola to address) is unexpectedly getting a message on my screen that my DVR is 100% full when there is no way in hell that it is. In fact, 5 minutes before my favorite show is about to be recorded, I’ll look to make sure there is enough room to record. Hmm…45% full…good to go. WRONG! 5 minutes later the message will pop up saying it’s 100% full. I called up Insight. They said this is a known issue with many of our customers. They told me there are two solutions, both of which are not ideal AT ALL. The first suggestion from them is to reboot the box by physically unplugging it, waiting 30 seconds and then plugging it back in. Then, you have to wait upwards of 20 minutes – at least – for the program information to come back on-line to be able to record the show, which is now half over. What happens when you’re away from home!?!?! Their second solution is to delete something that you have recorded. Well, what if I haven’t watched any of the programs I have recorded? Again, what do you do if you are away from home!?!?! I called up Insight again to see if there were any fixes in the works. They said that the firmware is where this glitch is and there are no plans to upgrade the firmware to fix this issue because Motorola is coming out with a new box and they (Motorola) weren’t putting any resources into upgrading the firmware – WHAT!?!?! What kind of customer service is that? Send out a dysfunctional piece of equipment and not offer to fix a problem that is caused by the manufacturer? So, I called Motorola to try to get to the bottom of this and see if Insight’s claim was true – man, you thought dealing with a cable company is bad!!! What they told me, after getting bounced through 3 people because they weren’t aware that they had a product called the Motorola DCT6412 DVR, was that the firmware that they provide in the DVR to Insight is not serviced/troubleshooted by them and I would have to go through Insight to resolve my issue. They did say that they are constantly upgrading their firmware and providing it to the cable companies, but the service/troubleshooting aspect of it was with the cable companies. So, I guess Insight either doesn’t know what their talking about, or they are getting ready to dump the Motorola DVR and came up with this lame excuse as to why they can’t fix the problem. I did have Motorola file the problem in their database so they’re at least aware of it. I’ve also seen it addressed here (http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/How_to_use_a_Motorola_DVR) under Firmware/Software.

    Any of you with Comcast have this issue?

    Sorry for such a long post!

  136. Bobby Kinstle says:

    My fourth DVR sinve August just died. Every one of them has died for a different reason.

    Every unit I’ve had, ran for a short time, then stopped working with a different failure symptom. Even when they work, they only work badly.

    The first DVR had a bad SPDIF output. The second unit ran for a couple days and then wouldn’t turn on. The third unit actually ran for a few months, then would stop responding to any commands, even the power button on the front panel. It would still decode the channel it was watching, but it wouldn’t record. A hard power cycle would restore operation for a few hours, then it would fail again. My fourth box switched the display from the time to the channel this morning. It won’t go into the DVR or the menu screens, and when I try to change channels, the first time I press the button, it skips two channels (this happens for both up and down) and then goes one channel at a time. This one also would spontaniously Mute itself. It would display Mute on the screen and there would be no sound. No compbination of buttons on the remote could get sound back except turning it off and back on, which of course would interrupt any recordings you were doing. It also would claim it was recording things when it actually wasn’t and complain bitterly if you tried to turn it off.

    When they work, they still work badly. I get video jitters, frame skips, and some channels have no audio at all until I change to a different channel and then come back. Oh, every time I change a channel, it shuts downt he SPDIF output and reinitializes it which causes my receiver no ends of grief. Mine has never lost my saved programming though, even after a total power loss.

    If I had a view of the southern sky, I’d switch to Dish is a heartbeat.

  137. dAudioGuy says:

    I Google’d here searching for current status of Comcast DVR users. I am a Replay user (still, I have two settop boxes, one for Replay and the Motorola dual tuner DVR with MSFT software).
    First, I just got a 50 plasma HDTV and when fed by the HDMI output of the Comcast the results are gorgeous.
    Second, I routinely record two HD streams and watch a third skipping commercials. I was impressed the first time I tried it. Two tuners are great having worked around scheduling inaccuracies of Comedy Central with Replay 5000.
    So far so good.
    The problem which I see others are having is: the box spontaneously reboots about once a day. If this happens the box recovers with a 2-3 minute gap in the program it was recording. There is no pattern to it. Sometime I have just pressed FF yet I have seen the box reset when no one was watching a stream and it was not capturing anything.
    My question for anybody with something constructive to add is this:
    Does Comcast upgrade system software over the wire (like Replay) or will I have to carry the box in someday and switch it with a box with updated bits?
    Anybody?

  138. Sharon says:

    Hi John. I am 62 years old..I know nothing about tvo but I have been trying to get a message to to the comcast system staff. the problem is its 4:07 here in Bayport Mn. I want to set up a series recording for the O’reilly Factor. They have 3 viewing times Mon-Fri. The times are 7-8pm, 10-11pm. and 3-4 am again Mon-thru Fri. I go to the guide and find his show at 3-4 am and now I set up a series recording. I am sitting on the time slot I want set the series for New and Repeats and that I want the series saved until I delete. I press the red dot to record the series and it now say the series has been recorded.

    I now go back to the show and look up the time slots for the show and as (ALWAYS) it picked up the (FIRST)time slot of 7-8pm. There is no way to set my recording on their DVR even manually to set it for what I want unless I sit up till 11:01 and set it then. Again it picks up the first time available and guess what!!!!!!!!I finally got my 3-4am series. I have called customer service 53 times and know one their knows what I am talking about or has the ability to contact any one or let along for gods sake to have a TV available to go thru the process with me when I explain it. If you set up a manual recording for 3-4 am it has no featury to set it to MON-FRI only separate days of the week. I’m tired John. Help me get this information to them.!!!!!!!

  139. Bart says:

    I could use this group’s help making a decision. I live in Arlington, VA and am a very happy Directv customer with two Directv/Tivo combo boxes that I love and are completely reliable.

    I just ordered a 42 inch plasma and can’t decide what to do about HDTV. Should I (a) switch to Comcast and get their HD-DVR; (b) switch to Comcast and get a Tivo S3; (c) stick with Directv and get their HD-DVR; or (d) do nothing and wait for a while to see what new stuff comes out?

    For a little while I’ll be content to just use my HDTV to play Xbox 360 and PS3 and watch HD-Movies from Netflix . But soon enough I have to make a decision. And it seems like most of my choices are bad.

    Advice?

  140. Greg says:

    Bart, I would say go with Comcast and get their HD DVR however don’t get to attached to it since it sucks. They are going to have the Tivo option during the first quarter of 07. Direct TV HD selection is not nearly as robust as Comcast although it is getting better but Comcast continues to get better and use the HDMI connection to your box as that helps!

  141. Brian says:

    My email to Tivo sent today.

    It is with much regret that I must tell you that I will not be purchasing the new series 3 box. I waited for two years for the box to come out but then when I saw the price and did the math, the purchase made no sense. It is not like I cannot afford it – I do pretty well.

    But consider this – I have a series 2 with a lifetime subscription (I was a fairly early adopter). I know I can transfer the subscription for a 1-time charge. But I would still be spending $1000.00 for the added ability of being able to record HD shows. Plus I would need to pay a monthly fee for 2 cable cards. I went to Comcast last weekend and swapped my existing set top cable box for their DVR made by Scientific-Atlanta. The user interface is not nearly as sleek or intuitive as a Tivo and the box certainly does not have all of the cool features that Tivo has. But it has dual HD tuners and I can relatively easily schedule a season pass. And it is only costing me an additional $2.65 a month. At that price it would take over 31 years before I spent $1000.00. Plus I still have a series 2 for the rest of its life – which would otherwise be gathering dust 1 year after I bought the series 3.

    So I am sad because I think you have a great product but will eventually go out business because not enough people are going to be willing to spend that much money for an HD box and the non HD boxes really have no future. Technically your company is outstanding but from a market strategy perspective your company is doomed to failure.

  142. Andrew says:

    Bart,

    I also live in Arlington and am with Comcast and I’d be pretty wary of switching to them now to get the DVR. My DVR has had spotty recording ever since we signed on a few months ago; it will break a recorded program into bits and pieces rather than one long recording. Comcast knows and says it’s a problem in the area, but has no idea when it will get fixed. If I’d known this I probably wouldn’t have gone with COmcast at all — it’s been a huge frustration.

  143. Patricia S. says:

    Power went out, all my recorded listings went puff, gone, nada, zero. My provider is Comcast.
    Comcast keep telling me to reset the whatever the thing is (machine/box/crap) and wait for 20 mins and everything like magic will appear. I’m tired to play this game…. till I started reading all your responses. I’m giving up.
    Is this normal? Or is something with my box and need it to be replaced? I think I know the answer, but I want some hope.

  144. Wingnutt says:

    I have worked for Comcast now for 8 years now. I have had the same DVR from the get go and have had 0 problems with it. From what I understand the software interface is determined by what market you live in. My market is Seattle and of course we have the “flawless” Microsoft version. My cousin in Portland has the TV guide version which is what we use to have. I have heard the San Fran Market has a tivo version that everyone wants! Sucks that all of you have had bad experiences with Comcast. I wish we could weed out our bad service reps… Oh well what can you do. Comcast has a ton of stuff coming down the pipe in the near future! Like integrating all lines of businss like caller ID on your TV, or linking all boxes to your DVR in the house, so you can access your content from your DVR on any tv, and also linking local phone to cell service and VOD on your cell. I have that now and its awesome!!! This will require a more supurb product to begin with so trust me when I say it will be a ton better!

  145. Dean says:

    “The point is, Tivo delights us and Comcast kicks sand in your face. Tivo has to compete like hell and Comcast counts the money rolling in.” – Randy Stewart

    Randy absolutely nailed the central issue here. Those of you who complain about Comcast yet continue to pay them for their DVR are continuing to compound the problem. Vote with your dollars and your feet, and go to Tivo. You bought an HD set, and now you’re complaining about the price of Tivo? That’s a little like buying a yacht and complaining about slip fees.

    Yes, Tivo is more expensive. There are a lot of reasons, including the fact that Tivo can’t take money out of your pocket some other way. Think about it; if turning out quality products were that cheap, wouldn’t they already be profitable? It’s not mismanagement so much as the fact that cable and sat customers are captive. So captive that some of you will go through 6(!) boxes without going postal (or at least choosing another option)!

    Comcast is simply squeezing money out of you, so they don’t care about forcing you to use a shoddy product. If you want HD and a quality DVR, the only answer is Tivo right now. Sorry, but that’s the reality. I don’t care for HD until the set prices come down even more, but when they do, I’m going to buy an HD Tivo at the same time, because I can live without HD, but not without Tivo. My wife and kids would wonder what I’m trying to do to them. As I learned as a child, “Quality is like buying oats. If you want good, clean oats, you must pay a fair price. However, if you are satisfied with oats that have already been through a horse, well, they are a little cheaper.”

  146. ssjohnson says:

    What surprises me about this blog is that you say alot of nothing. How can you cuss and mention God in the same sentence? Its almost like you dont understand the concept of human error. Anything that is made by man has flaws and I get sick and tired of people getting on the web on their soapboxes ranting and raving about a bunch of nothing. Lets remeber people that cable, dish, direct whatever it is that you choose is a want not a need. People have been known to survive without these services. To get on here and just plainly be rude to companies that are just trying to make a living like most if not all of you is just not called for. Honestly, its there more important things going on in your world then rather or not a tivo or dvr is not working. Try being normal and get off your but and go read a book, spend time with the family, thank god that you have a home and roof over your head. Those are the things that are truely important.

  147. I feel the same way. I used a Tivo forever, then I switched for the HD.

    You didn’t even hit on my biggest complaints. This is the third Comcast HDDVR I’ve had in my bedroom, they end up replacing them every 3 months like an oil change because of how glitchy, buggy, and poorly made they are.

    The DVR does record what you are watching, so you can rewind live TV, but if you’re halfway into a program and decide to record it, it doesn’t go back and pick up what is in the buffer.

    We’ll often lose sound on it and have to reboot it.

    You cannot skip fastforward, there are no tick marks to skip to, it seems to randomly assume you’ve finished a program and if you still have 10 minutes left and it is an hour long you have about 10 minutes of fast forwarding to do to get to where you left off.

    The capacity of course sucks.

    It frequently messes up when setting season passes. Almost all of our season passes are for New shows only, and we always get reruns recorded too, this is something Tivo never messed up about. Whoever is doing comcast’s guide is slacking.

    There are no keyword wishlists.

    There are no folders for storing recorded programs organized by title (but with 60 hours… I guess you won’t have much recorded to need this).

    Some PPV channels cannot be recorded (ya, seriously, the DVR will not record some channels).

    When searching for a program by title it takes three times as long as a Tivo to type in the title, thanks to the crappy interface.

    However… the one, the only, good thing about it is the On Demand feature, especially if you subscribe to premium channels like we do. We just watched the entire first season of Rome on HBO On Demand to prep ourselves for the season 2 premier on Jan 14th. It is a very nice feature, and likely to get better as comcast adds capacity.

    Tivo is not an angel though, they really dropped the ball on HD. They seemed to forget that their key demographic was first movers and other technophiles whom typically upgrade to HD sooner than most. So the fact that they waited so long to release an HD DVR product alienated their best customers.

    Really, if I have to choose between HD programming, and Tivo, I choose the programming. It is just too pretty. However I would much rather have both. I am still considering a Series3 for the downstairs TV, but upstairs I think we’ll keep comcast for the On Demand. However, I still pray every day for the ComcasTivo that is supposed to be released this year.

  148. Mac4TBH says:

    I have only had a Moxi HD from comcast for about a month and it has a few problems.
    #1 they did not tell me that I am a Beta tester and that all the user ports are dead.
    #2 it locks up and I have to turn off the power to reset it.
    #3 it studders.
    #4 it has pixelation attacks and some so bad you can only give up watching.
    #5 when a program is recorded the show starts one minute to soon and stops one minute to soon.
    #6 Hard drive says it is full when it is not???

    Does anyone know how much they are paying me to do this testing and were do I send the reports?

    Thank you
    Mac – Mac4TBH@hotmail.com

  149. Shane says:

    Does anyone have a list of DVR’s that are compatible with Comcast’s digital cable service? I asked Comcast and they said others would work but (conveniently) did not have a list they could give me. I am tired of the stupid thing saying it’s 100% full when it hits 60% and refusing to record further. Delete a 15 minute program and it’s back down under 60%. Argh!

  150. Mac4TBH says:

    UPDATE:
    They exchanged the Moxi box for another and two days later I called them. I requested a 6414 or a 6416 and to make this short I now have a working 6416III and after one week it is working just fine. Rummer has it that they are “soon” to make a change…

    now back to my easy to see and use menus and HD TV shows.
    Mac4TBH@hotmail.com

    BTW I have used the internet to FIX problems that I have had under my HMO therefore posting what others do to me gets results.

  151. Mitch says:

    Just turned on my tv to find that my entire DVR (all shows and schedules) lost again. This is now the third time in as many months. Actually to the day. With thins information I screamed at COMCAST, to find they have a known problem. Every fourth Thursday, they resent the boxes nationwide. Some boxes (both old and new) are getting zapped and losing everything. As this is my third box, would seem this to be a serious problem. They have no solution, nor offered much suggestion. They did give me 100 dollar credit for my continued problems… however, they said to expect a complete malfunction again in four weeks. I intend to unplug all wires the Wednesday before. Comcast F**king S**ks!

  152. paul fisher says:

    Yep, we have Tivo and comcast dvr, comcast is crap, slow everything John mentioned. And yes, we too have had the power outage / loose all your programming issue. even though it has a HD, it still poops on itself. given the option of having a comcast box or not, i would say don’t get one. its not worth the $4 a month dvr rental.

  153. Don Burnett says:

    I am not suprised by all these comments, I am on my forth comcast dvr which has died the first two overheated and could have caused a fire. I have two windows media center pc’s but to get the high def stations I need their silly box. Seems to me they are avoiding competition with a proprietary solution. We need to lobby our franchising officials to get comcast to open this up to other solutions (Tivo, Media Center, etc.)

  154. David D. Lewis says:

    I too made a switch from Tivo to Comcast DVR when we finally bought an HDTV, and have been horrified ever since. One travesty that I didn’t see mentioned above is its notion of “New Episodes”. I’ve tried to set it to record The News Hour with Jim Lehrer each day, and when told to record new episodes it apparently records the first episode of each day: yesterday’s news which shows as a repeat at 630am!

  155. Elk says:

    Wow, what a bunch of lame asses…I soon as I read that the his DVR “did not have a hard drive”…I just laughed…
    I bet you have “trouble” with almost all technology!!! Probably a typical MAC user/Dem/liberal hypocrite.

  156. Dave says:

    I got my Motorola in January 2007 and while the interface is slow to respond, I think Comcast did a good job integrating DVR functionality into their channel listing menus. It is obvious they seriously cripple the HD box, but frankly, I expected as much.
    What I didnt expect was that I also experienced my shows disappearing from time to time. It’s happened 2x to me in the past 2 months and I’m not sure what sparks it. Both times, my system utilization was at or under 10%. Not a huge deal, but I was sad to lose a few Discovery channel shows I hadn’t watched yet.

  157. Mark says:

    Returned from 2 week vacation yesterday. All recordings on comcast HD Dual tuner DVR are gone. Called Comcast and the rep said she never had heard of this happening before. She said she would send a signal to reset box but nothing happened. Should I call back and try again or are all recordings really lost? DVR says it is empty.

  158. Dan says:

    I see i’m not the only one who regularly gets tech-rage frustrated over this immense piece of crap they call a DVR. I’ve been a tivo user for 6 years. I think i lost a show once in all that time. So far , the two comcrap DVR’s I have, i had to replace each one once so far due to permanent lockups (unplugging didnt help). Just last night one of them randomly lost all my recorded shows and schedule!

    On top of that, trying to re-do the schedule is a PITA. Why the hell does this turd of a box only hold 2 days of future programming? So now I have to wait a day or sooner before the show is on to set the series recording.

    I called comcast and asked for a month free service for my DVR due to the frustration. The best they said they can do is 2 days. LOL. Complete friggin idiots. I really wish there was a better alternative, but the HD Tivo price and cablecard annoyances are prohibiting me from sticking with that solution…. for now

  159. John – while googling this b*tch of a box Time Warner gave me, I ran across your rant. Well said. These boxes are from another reality, and not in a good way. :(

  160. Rich says:

    Hi John,

    I’ll chime in too. We’re on our third Comcast POS (stands for “Piece of S**t”) DT HD DVR now and woo-hoo…it’s just as irritating as the first two. It displays all of the above issues and then some. Right now it needs it’s own A.C. and it’s not even summer!

    We started with a TiVo S1 years ago…still have it in the closet for sentimental resaons I guess…and now we have two TiVo’s; an S2 and a DT S2 and love them to bits. But we wanted to wait and see if the TiVo S3’s would come down in price or what the Comcast/TiVo box will be like if that ever comes to pass so we opted for the Comcast POS DVR to record HD programming. (We still use TiVo for all of the other heavy lifting.)

    I’ve seen articles saying that TiVo is building boxes for Comcast (and Cox) and I’ve seen others that say they will just download TiVo programming for existing POS Motorola boxes. (If it’s the later, we’ll buy a new TiVo!)

    What a shame the largest cable company in the U.S. has opted to use a Yugo to deliver the latest technology.

    We may end up with an S3 and just tell Comcast/Motorola to keep their POS!

    Thanks for ranting and for everyone else’s posts…misery loves company!

    Cheerz!

  161. Kyle Smith says:

    Hi John,

    I realize it’s been 8 months since your original rant about comcast’s HD-DVR. I just got my HD-DVR service set up and so far it’s not terrible. Now I must admit a little over a year ago when I was living with my mother, who worked at Comcast, we had a free DVR. That earlier model was terrible, changing channels was obnoxious.. program recording was unreliable. I’ve never experienced a power outage on the older models, or on today’s models, but I would imagine it’s to protect the program data from people connecting that beautiful 160GB hard drive to their PC and ripping it.

    How’s the S3 TiVO? :)

  162. Dock says:

    When first got my Comcast DVR, I thought it was great to have 2 tuners and be able to record 2 programs while watching a third I had recorded earlier. Unfortunately, I’ve had constant problems with my Comcast DVR. Comcast even replaced my cable box, and I still have problems with it. After working for about two months my DVR is not working YET AGAIN. None of the DVR functions(pause, rewind record) work, it’s as if my cable box “forgot” that it is a DVR! I am about to call the cable company now and see whats up. Comcast’s Internet service & cable is pretty decent, but their DVR feature’s reliability is DREADFUL.

    UPDATE:

    Never mind the DVR, my cable TV’s been completely out for three days. Oh, and what I said about their Internet service being decent? You can scratch that – my Internet access has been out or extremely slow for about the same length of time, even thouh it seems to be OK right at this moment, knock on wood.

    Thank God, they are sending a technician out Friday. I just hope he knows what the hell he’s doing.

  163. Crystal says:

    Well, I’m pissed to the max that Tivo finally woke up and REQUIRED you to buy tivo service with their S3 HD boxes.I’ve been on Tivo basic with my Toshiba DVR and loving NOT having to pay monthly fees. Now, if you want HD, it’s either Tivo with $17/month service, or comcast (I don’t think I really want to go there after reading the above).

    The other dissapoinment is that Tivo is not making boxes with DVD players or recorders in them anymore. It was SO convenient to burn a recorded show onto DVD to keep or watch elsewhere. Does anyone know if Toshiba or Motorola or Panasonic are coming out with a DVR box with recording capabilities?

    And has anyone seen a comcast box with tivo guide and software yet??

  164. Dan Raihill says:

    I have no idea what any of you are talking about. I’ve had the Time Warner/Comcast DVR for over a year – on two sets – and I’ve never encountered any of the issues I’m reading about here. I guess I’ve just been lucky. All of these malfunctions here should immediately indicate a replacement DVR that is in good working order. The power has gone out many times here, and I’m recalling stored programs from the hard drive I recorded 4 months ago. I think most of the issues here are “pilot error”.

  165. Scott says:

    Ahhh…Dan, I know for sure that the loss of my recorded programs is definitely not pilot error. I didn’t do anything, everything was simply gone. I had no power outage, nothing. All recordings and my series recording info was lost. It was as if someone pushed a button and reset my box. I have a Motorola DCT 3416 I. It’s actually my second box. I had the Moto mentioned earlier first. It was replaced for this one for the same reasons. I too had Tivo with DirecTV prior to this. I never lost a single program from it. It’s almost as if the data base in which the information was stored became corrupt. When I called my cable company (Armstrong Cable) to try and get an idea as to why this was happening, they couldn’t tell me or offer any suggestions on how to prevent it. They could send a tech…not sure what that would do. Hoping for something different soon.

  166. darkurthe says:

    Talking from a point of expertise and doing so wrongly is not exactly a good rant. I have had my Comcast DVR for about a year, without issue. Like anything else YMMV. Is it as good as Tivo… nope, but it is cheaper and I can live with that.

  167. Anna says:

    hear hear!!! we switched from tivo when the new comcast (now time warner) boxen arrived… and man do i miss that tivo. we still make the noises ourselves when ffwding etc. just because we miss them so.

  168. Cable Hater says:

    Join the rant at http://www.cablerant.com

  169. Anthony says:

    I have the comcast DVR now for about 3 months and so far my recorded shows have been wiped out twice. This last time I came home from work and tried to watch my recorded shows and noticed the time was stuck on 2:25 (it was 7:30 PM) and the DVR was copmpletely locked. I unplugged it and plugged it back in and my guide slowly downloaded but there were no more recorded shows and all my future recordings were gone. The funny thing is that just the day before my mother had to have hers replaced for the exact same reason. I called Comcast and the woman there told me that it was normal to lose all recorded shows after the DVR resets. I was outraged. I really don’t believe that a device could be designed that way. How can a hard drive lose it’s data after a simple reset? And by the way in this short 3 month period we have experienced almost every symptom that was described here such as the 0% remaining when there is only 1 or 2 shows recorded etc…

    If you can’t depend on your DVR to retain the shows that you record for you to view what use is the device? Sure a dual tuner HD DVR at this price is great but it is useless if it doesn’t work.

    Apparently in almost a years time nothing has been fixed by Comcast.

  170. DM says:

    well, what else is there to add?
    Our POS Comcast box simply stopped doing series recordings without any explanation. One day, it just gave up, and no amount of resetting or rebooting the damn thing ever convinced it to come back to life. It records individual programs just fine, but I defy anyone to get this damn thing to record a series.
    Oh, and I *LOVE* the responsiveness of the menu interface! It’s AWESOME how I press a button and nothing happens… then I press another button and nothing happens… and again and again and again, and after about 15 seconds, all keypresses are executed in rapid succession. It’s a fun game, really.
    Ah, and the remote! Another spectacular piece of engineering. They were thoughtful enough to give us a big “ALL ON” button, but for some inexplicable reason, no corresponding “ALL OFF” button (or hell, just have the same button do 2 functions). No… instead, I hit one button to turn everything on, 4 buttons to turn everything off (select CABLE -> OFF -> select TV -> OFF)

  171. Scott says:

    I find it unusual you’d compare a HD DVR of any kind with a Tivo Series 1.

    Tivo has a great OS installed, sure. It’s easy to use and responsive. But the fact is, the video quality has always been downright awful compared to any old-style SD cable box.

    What you’re really complaining about is software. I would agree if we were talking about a computer OS, or even an iPod OS, which beckons continuous input from the user. Your DVR shouldn’t – if you’re fiddling with the DVR, you’re not watching TV!

    I’ve used a S1 Tivo, multiple Moto boxes and a few other DVR type devices. I prefer the crisp picture from the Moto DVR to all the others.

  172. wes says:

    Technical people

    I have a Motorola Star Choice HD satellite receiver/recorder model DVR 530.

    I recorded a Star Choice music only channel 905. The length of the recorded music is 4 hours. I have since tried with out success to delete this recording. Please advise how to delete such.
    Please have the tech department actually record as I did and then have them delete their own recorded music program. It will be important that the techs actually duplicate exactly what I have done.
    In that way the fix given back to me will be tried and proven. I suspect this type of recording was not anticipated on the initial design.

    You can Email me
    wgspear@telus.net

  173. Bruce says:

    First off, I have the Comcast Motorola DVR w/ the remote and I just have to say that after using Tivo I also find this a bit clunky and counter-intuitive.

    That being said, what is up with the guy who hasn’t figured out that the “All On” button is ALSO an “All Off” button? I have to wonder if some of the complaining isn’t because the Tivo is basically made for people like my techno-clueless father, while the Comcast Motorola DVR seems to have fallen into the the “Tecnho-Geek” category (albeit by sheer ineptness of design). Which means to use a Tivo you just have to be able to turn it on and be able to read. To use the Comcast DVR you have to be able to figure things out, do a few web searches, and basically be adaptable to new technology.

    One thing that I have to wonder, is how many of the problems with the Comcast box is due to overheating. Many people “stack” DVD players, DVR’s and Home Theater equipment in one small enclosed spot without much thought to “where will all that heat go?”. Most electrics are NOT designed to be stacked even though they appear to be. The venting is thru the top and side which just feed to the next items and then hot air settles into the enclosure. Anyone who has ever had heat issues with a PC will know what kind of havoc it can wreak, so why not the Comcast DVR? I installed a 120mm fan in the back of my entertainment system (not just for the DVR but to protect the Amp and DVD player as well…) and have had NO issues at all. Sure it lags a bit and the recordings do get repeated sometimes (I just delete them… it’s not very hard) but in general it does what it’s supposed to and only costs me $12 a month extra. I’ll take that any day over BUYING a Tivo (that BTW YOU have to replace if it goes bad after the warranty is up – Comcast will bring you a new one TO YOUR HOUSE free of charge ANYTIME…).

    It has bugs (lot’s of them) and I make a point of calling and talking with techs and even submitting ideas via the Comcast website. I have even fielded a call from a local supervisor about how I installed the cooling fan and what I used. In case anyone is interested I used a “Scythe S-FLEX SFF21″ that is so quiet I can’t even hear it running which comes in three versions, an 800rpm, 8.7dBA, 33.5CFM, a 1200rpm, 20.1dBA, 49.0CFM and a 1600rpm, 28.0dBA, 63.7CFM version. It is 12V and requires an adapter (a 110v AC to 12v DC converter with a molex adapter on it). I used one 800rpm version and it works well. I am looking at putting a second one in just to be safe and move more air. There is an AC model available with a standard two prong plug but they are a bit louder (29dBA) and a bit more expensive ($50 as opposed to $17 a fan). The cost of the AC to DC converter is $14 and I will put a standard molex splitter in to accommodate the second fan. If anyone has any questions or wants info about where I purchased all this just email me and I’ll be happy to help out.

    Bruce
    tapthevein@yahoo.com

  174. Josh says:

    I couldn’t agree more. I have had the comcast guys at my house 2 times trying to figure out why it looses sound and pixelates constantly! The HD DVR unit is total sh*t, and the menus are, as you said, completely unintuitive. I HATE COMCAST!

  175. TiFaux Hater says:

    At our house we call the Comcast HD DVR the TiFaux and I can’t even tell you how many ways I hate it.

    Ridiculously obtuse user interface aside, the principal problem is that we have had to replace our unit three times in less than a year! None of the boxes have been able to record programs without digital tiling and audio dropout that is so bad it renders the shows completely unwatchable.

    The tech who came to our house most recently told me he has had to replace the same customers units 5-6 times. He also admitted the unit was garbage.

    What is the opposite of Comcastic? Craptastic?!

  176. Tony says:

    Comcast is definitely Craptastic. my Comcast HD-DVR has lost ALL programming twice now due to power outages. And last night’s was a 1/2 second loss of power, but enough to show 0% Full on the DVR screen. wonderful!!! especially since the 160GB drive was 90% full at the time of the power blip. as a software engineer, it is truly AMAZING to think that they don’t have a saved program index file saved on the hard drive. or a backup file. or ANYTHING to tell the machine what files are still on the hard drive, in the event of a power loss. yes, I’m sure that my box must be defective in some way, as not every customer loses all programming after a power outage, but this box was brand new about 6 months ago. amazingly bad technology, whether it is the hardware or software. and the customer support has no other clue other than ‘pull the plug and wait 10 seconds’. now that the HD Tivo is down to about $299, I think it’s time to leave this horrid land of ComCrap DVR’s. I supported Tivo from the get-go (Series I, DirecTV Tivo) but their lack of an affordable HD Tivo option 2 years ago sent me to Comcast w/o much of a choice. maybe it’s time to go back home to Tivo. only reason I’ve stayed this long was with that empty promise Comcast gave 2 YEARS AGO that Tivo was coming to their DVR’s. still waiting!!!

  177. DM says:

    To Bruce: The “ALL ON” button on my remote most definitely is *NOT* also an “ALL OFF” button.
    Maybe I have a defective remote, but I assure you, pressing it only turns the components on. Pressing it again has zero effect.

  178. Greg says:

    I have had the worst experience with the new DVR software. We’ve had shows that don’t record, others that do but weren’t supposed to, terrible performance, runaway fast forward, and on and on.

    Since many people, including myself, signed up for Comcast service having been sold on the Microsoft guide software, and Comcast downgraded the offering without customers’ consent or price adjustment, is this material for a class action suit? Perhaps the half-million or so Washington Comcast customers would like to get $50 or $100 back? That would put a nice dent in Comcast’s bottom line and make them think twice about screwing the very people who make their executives rich, don’t you think?

    If you don’t think suing them is a good option, at least call their customer support and demand a day of service back each time you have a problem, it’s worked for me so far, I’ve got about 4 days of service (about $8 each time) back from calling with issues.

  179. well, what else is there to add?
    Our POS Comcast box simply stopped doing series recordings without any explanation. One day, it just gave up, and no amount of resetting or rebooting the damn thing ever convinced it to come back to life. It records individual programs just fine, but I defy anyone to get this damn thing to record a series.
    Oh, and I *LOVE* the responsiveness of the menu interface! It’s AWESOME how I press a button and nothing happens… then I press another button and nothing happens… and again and again and again, and after about 15 seconds, all keypresses are executed in rapid succession. It’s a fun game, really.
    Ah, and the remote! Another spectacular piece of engineering. They were thoughtful enough to give us a big “ALL ON” button, but for some inexplicable reason, no corresponding “ALL OFF” button (or hell, just have the same button do 2 functions). No… instead, I hit one button to turn everything on, 4 buttons to turn everything off (select CABLE -> OFF -> select TV -> OFF)
    Bayanlara Ozel Ne Varsa…!

  180. youtube says:

    Talking from a point of expertise and doing so wrongly is not exactly a good rant. I have had my Comcast DVR for about a year, without issue. Like anything else YMMV. Is it as good as Tivo… nope, but it is cheaper and I can live with that.

  181. Rob P says:

    Altough I saw the word come up in a couple of comments, I shall speaketh it myself.

    Wouldn’t your gripe be with Motorola’s crappy design, and not Comcast? I, myself, am about to get into the game. In Rhode Island, we have Cox… which is Comcast under a different name. (Comcast recently acquired Cox.)

    I think that your shows are “saved” rather than recorded because you are renting the DVR, that when you are able to upgrade, you don’t lose what you have saved. It’s like Communism — beautiful in theory, horrible in practice.

    I think it’s pretty poop that you lost all your stuff in a minor power outage. If there was some way that Cox, excuse me, Comcast, could save what you had in like a list or something on their end… you could possibly retrieve what you’ve lost through their database of shows? I know it sounds like a longshot, and it may sound incredibly stupid coming from someone who has never owned a DVR (yet), but at least I’m trying.

    I’m sorry to hear about your experience. My sister and her husband have a Cox DVR, and have reported no problems. But, then again, they’re not as picky about their TV as you (and probably I) am. The speed and functionality I cannot report on — while I’ve used their’s, I’ve had no problems… because I’ve never USED a TiVo, nor have I seen one in action… but it didn’t bother me.

    w00t.

  182. nagendra says:

    Your link to the bad search experience at comcast is outdated.. it points to a bad URL.

  183. Randi says:

    This may be naive, but the Comcast box looks like it has a USB interface on the front. Is there any way to back up your DVR to an external hard drive? We had a power failure right before we went on vacation. It didn’t wipe out anything, but my husband tried to program it to record the first LOST episode before the “guide” had repaired itself. While we were on vacation, it recorded 82 short pieces of LOST, completely overwriting everything else that was on the disk. And, it never did record the LOST episode! It occurred to me that if I could periodically back up the hard drive in the machine, we would be protected against this kind of problem. Anyone know how?

  184. Joe says:

    Our Insight cable service was just bought out by Comcast. This thread is pretty frightening. We have a TIVO series 2 that we’re currently using with Comcast. We just purchased a HD LCD and were thinking of getting HD from Comcast.
    Does anyone know if you can use one of the new HD TIVO’s with Comcast’s HD service? I reeeeeeeeally do not want to get a Comcast HD DVR.

  185. Douglas says:

    What a great set of rants regarding the Comcast DVR. Here in San Francisco, you can now trade your old (6412) Motorola DVR for the new (3416) version. I just made the switch a week ago, and I am very pleased. Not only has lag been brought way down, but HD and SD video (especially video with fast motion) has been greatly improved.

    It’s no Tivo – don’t get me wrong – but my stress level has been greatly reduced with this device. Simply put… it finally works. Now if Comcast would just give me a refund for the last two years of dealing with that crappy first edition.

  186. John Galt says:

    I searched for COMCAST DVR SUCKS to find this page so I can voice my opinion.

    I think they purposely make the remote act slowly so that customers do not use their DVRs. The remote button presses takes several seconds to react and the lag is unbearable.
    I simply cannot put up with this shit anymore.

    Comcast worthless innovation-stifling company that needs to be taken over by apple at 1$ a share and the designers fired.

  187. Kelly says:

    We are on our second Comcast DVR Box in a month and this one sucks too. We called to get TIVO installed and the technician that came to our house said the Comcast TIVO is awful. He said there is some problem with the software. Anway I try to tape programs while I am out or at work and the box freezes on me about 2 hours after I leave. He said he didn’t know what the problem was and we should experiment different ways to turn off our T.V. WHAT? So like a dummy I tried the two ways there are to turn off the T.V. and of course nothing worked. I am so sick of calling them since they are completely clueless. I’m so aggravated I’m thinking about just going back to my VCR except I want the HD picture. I am just praying that Verizon comes to my city soon!!

  188. OAJ says:

    My problem probably is that we never had Tivo to compare to Comcast’s DVR’s.

    We have four Comcast units in our house, all hi-def ones and they work fine. Sometimes they are a little slow or balky, but it’s never a serious problem. Once every few months one can get a little scrambled, and I simply un-plug it, wait about sixty seconds, re-boot it and it’s OK again. If it ever gets worse, we then un-plug the cable co-ax cable and repeat the aforementioned procedure and that always fixes it.

    We do have to sort of “aim” our remote a little more precisely at the DVR box to make sure it gets the commands.

    Never having seen the Tivo interface, we are completely happy working with the Comcast one.

    We love freezing shows, rewinding when we want to, recording new shows or whole series to our heart’s content. I usually do sporting events, and like being able to record 1-2 hours after a program has ended, just in case a game goes into overtime. We have no interest in saving shows like copying them to a DVD or keeping them on a hard drive.

    All of the anger and frustration expressed on this site is really misplaced given my experience with these units – we love them.

  189. Eric Balkan says:

    I like the Comcast/Motorola box, but then I’ve never used a TIVO. The one big problem I’ve run into — confirmed by a couple of Comcast techs — is you never want it to get more than 90% full. I don’t know if the problem is file fragmentation or software bugs, but the playback becomes very glitchy at that point. Worse, on my unit, after I deleted programs to bring it under 70% it only ran for a couple of weeks before I started noticing glitches again. (Like the sound dropping out.) Then, bringing it under 40% eliminated the glitches, but I’m afraid there may now be bad spots on the disk that can show up anytime…

    And trying to get Comcast to replace it can be a bitch, because the techs don’t all have the same understanding of what the replacement policy is. (One tech said he couldn’t replace it unless he saw the problem during the 5 minutes he was watching it. Btw, that same tech tried to tell me the box had a “hard drive” but not a “hard disk”. Wow, where do they get these guys?)

    Oh yeah, if you lose power, you lose access to your saved programs for some period of time. The disk is OK, but apparently the software to access the files has to get downloaded from Comcast. (?) Probably helpful to have an UPS for it if you live where power is iffy.

    Well, anyway, I still like it in spite of the above.

  190. Anthony says:

    Comcast DVR makes the Yugo look like a masterpiece of modern automotive engineering. Truly the most horrid piece of software I have ever seen. There is no comparison to Tivo, they aren’t even in the same league.

  191. Joe G says:

    How do I remove the recordered programs from my comcast dvr..say.onto a CD or onto my PC?

  192. Anthony Smith says:

    The only way to record video from your DVR to the PC is to use the HDPVR from Hauppague.

    The HDPVR takes component video (Yr,Yb,Cr) and optical audio in. It compresses the Video using H.264 and outputs it to your PC via a USB2.0 Interface.

  193. ALIED TECH... says:

    Just sit back and enjoy the damm thing. Unless you have 900.00 for a TIVO HD. Comcast Kicks ass I’ve enjoyed it for the last 5yrs. Thier on-demand is by far the best. Screw all the others…

    Just my opinion you bash this post and i’ll be looking…

  194. emily says:

    i dont know what all of you are talking about, i love time warner and i have never had a problem with my box.

    just kidding………………..

    just a few minutes ago i decided to pause “friends” so i could go get a drink. well apparently pausing my show is too much to ask because after i pressed pause, nothing happened so i thought “oh, i didnt press the right button” or something, so i pressed it again… still nothing. so i press it a few more times thinking that something is wrong with my remote, and still nothing. so i press some other random buttons to see if anything works…and no response.

    so a good 5 minutes later, all of the commands happen at once. oh how i LOVE time warner cable.

    i havent tried tivo yet, but i plan on throwing my twc box into the pool and watching it slowly drown. then i plan on getting tivo. if its anything like mac, i know i’ll love it.

    also, besides the fact that it takes 10 minutes to do anything, my box makes a loud buzzing noise. so loud actually that people can hear it when i talk on the phone. like i said… tomorrow it will be at the bottom of my pool.

    good luck everyone.

  195. Stv says:

    I completely agree that the Comcast DVR does indeed suck. Trying to fast forward or rewind a recording is a joke. But you don’t loose your recorded shows after a power outage. I have unplugged my DVR many many times and have never lost anything except the program guide etc. What does happen is that you can’t get to your recorded shows until after the box finishes communicating with comcast and restores its guide and features, then you can get to your shows again.

  196. Aaron says:

    Wow! Two years of ineptitude; it seems as though Comcast hasn’t changed a bit. I can’t imagine if Comcast were any other type of company. Would you drive a Comcast Cimaron? Fly in a Comcast 747? Would you dare get major surgery at St. Comcast Hospital?

    I can’t make it through The Closer on DVR without missing at least five minutes. The Beijing closing ceremony turned my big screen into an expensive kaleidoscope for minutes at a time. I’m currently attempting to watch the Detroit Tigers play the Indians, and I’m getting the same damn thing: a choppy, pixilated picture, disappearing-audio, and an all around horrendous experience.

    I had Brighthouse Networks before I moved. Now I’m in an apartment and stuck with the suckiness that is Comcast; I have no other viable choice. Perhaps a digital converter box for February 2008 (and trust me; that’s a distinct possibility right now). Brighthouse wasn’t perfect, but it was so far above and beyond what I’m dealing with now. The few issues with Brighthouse were often quickly resolved through an automatic update to software or something. I’ve had my Comcast for about a week now and I’m ready to give up television altogether and start reading again.

    Comcast blows, it should be illegal for a company to have a monopoly on cable service based on where you live, and I think I’ll go write my Senator on this.

  197. Danny says:

    Aaron, I had the same problem when I got my HD box. You just need a higher quality coaxial cable to protect the signal. I was getting a bunch of digital pixels, but once I put in the new wire, it works perfectly now.

    As for all the hating on Comcast, I understand that it’s not perfect, but I suppose it just depends on how you use it.

    Generally, I don’t fast-forward or rewind much, so I don’t have to worry about the non-responsiveness. I just save and watch. It’s not that difficult to hit ‘record’ and ‘play’. I suppose if you want to skim through alot of your recordings, the delay could be annoying.

    I will admit that the menus, at times, can be frustrating, but you just find your program and click and be done with it.

    Unlike most of you, I have no real problems with the Comcast one. Sure, the Tivo one runs much smoother, but you have to drop $300 on it? Are you kidding me? Comcast will just had you over one of those laggy boxes for free! It’s the same HD, it’s the same programming. If you want to pay $300 for a box that has faster menus and a slicker interface, then go for it. I’ll be sticking with my Comcast HD DVR box that records the same programs knowing that I saved $300 to wait 3 extra seconds navigating the menus. :)

  198. Tommy says:

    Here here! I have never been less satisfied with a product. The minute FIOS makes it to my neighborhood, Comcast is getting kicked to the curb.

    Worthless.

  199. Mike says:

    Good God … after years of bad comments about this DVR, I thought things would have improved some and these comments would be isolated incidents…

    Nope, this DVR sucks BIG TIME.

    I won’t get into the menu\feature differences of this DVR and Tivo. Just understand that when you press a key on this thing, it may or may not do what you want it to do … key presses get queued and processed whenever it feels like it … what on earth is this thing doing all the time? Who knows, the key buffering happens constantly! I shut it off, even unplug it and it’ll be fine for a few hours.

    Comcast, your DVR service is simply the worst experience I have ever had. No more. Back to satellite and my beloved Tivo.

  200. bobert says:

    I’m not sure who out there still has this ancient DVR. Comcast now gives out the Scientific Atlanta 8300HD, which is excellent. It’s fast, has an excellent interface (which I, and several of my friends, prefer over tivo’s), and has quite a bit of storage.

    That’s the whole point of renting equipment instead of buying it – if what you have doesn’t work (or even just if something newer and better comes out), you can take it to your comcast store and swap it out on the spot. My first 8300HD developed a bad drive about a year in (hardly comcast’s fault), so I took it in, swapped it out, and was done in less than 90 seconds.

    So take this whole article with a grain of salt. I’m not a huge comcast fan (no other options in my area), and I have no problem believing that their first model sucked, but the information here is certainly very outdated. Technology has improved, and so has the comcast HD DVR.

  201. Jim says:

    Comcast’s DVR is the biggest piece of crap since the Chev Vega. If I worked for that company, I’d tell my friends I was unemployed. If I owned stock in it, I’d sell it short. My wife won’t let me have a sharp object near me when I try to fast forward the damn thing.

  202. Roy says:

    I have had Comcast DVR for 3 1/2 months and have had the serviceman here 5 times to swap out the boxes because the sound disappears from my TV. When that happened the first time, I hooked up the DVD player and the sound came from the TV, so the problem wasn’t my TV. The repair guys say they have not seen this problem elsewhere. I guess I am just lucky. Has anyone else had the sound problem and what was the remedy short of replacing the box?

  203. michael says:

    I have a comcast HD DVR box…i have unplugged mine and moved it to another room and plugged it in and all my programs were still there. Now, i have though experienced power outages here where i live since i have had the box and whenever a power outage happens the box looses its programs….odd? yeah i think so…why when unplugged it doesnt loose anything and why when power goes out everything gone. messed up if you ask me…try doing this experiment and see what happens for u. maybe i just got lucky once or twice? or has to do with the amount of time the box is without power for?

  204. Mike says:

    When I first had Comcast come to my home to hook up DVR, I was dissappointed that a motorolla product was coming into my home. This DVR is truly a piece of garbage in every way. My prior home had Charter with a MOXI DVR, which was way better then this shiterolla garbage. I hope VIOS comes soon, as the minute it comes, I’ll be switching to FIOS and cleansing my home of any motorolla products. One of my coworkers used to work for motorolla and said the entire comany is a joke, with engineers that have less intelligence than high school janitors.

  205. Aaron says:

    The new Motorolla box is better than the older model. My problem is that Comcast’s program listing guide is often wrong. I don’t know how often I try to record a particular show but it ends up recording a different program entirely. This happens VERY frequently. I have also noticed that descriptions are often basic information about a series rather than specifics about the episode in question. Items such as basic plot, episode title, and the year aired are simply left out. Why would I record an episode of a program without knowing if I have seen it? They need to address this problem if they would like to keep customers.

  206. Karl says:

    I 100% agree with you about the crapcastic results of the comcast DVR I previously had a Dish DVR that thing was great after I figured out all the kinks like that my neighbor and I had the same remote signal after we reconfigured the signal I never once had to call them about another problem infact they even comped me for Showtime or HBO dont remember but one of the high demand channels to express thier condolences for the inconvenience that was really a minor problem compared to this and so far all Ive gotten from comcast is a cupon for a free movie from thier on demand which they charged me for and my wife through out the coupon whoohoo! thanks for the jester but no thanks. I would still have dish although I moved to an apartment where there is a tree blocking my view to get a signal with the Dish

  207. daudioguy says:

    End of the saga.
    So months after I posted here, Comcast in WA got rid of the Microsoft Enhanced front end for something else. The box became stable and it did not spontaneously reboot any more.
    About 3 months ago they got rid of the ridiculous search mech and put a grid of character with a nice save feature.
    OK.
    But yesterday, I got FIOSTV. The settop is a very similar Motorola box but the software is quite a bit better.
    The response is snappier. There is not only an advance and rewind, but you can select the number of seconds: I set my advance to 60 seconds and my rewind to 15.
    And the grid is much nicer, no space taken for advertising, they use all the SD screen. The box provides for FAV1, FAV2, and HD versions of the grid. Nice.
    The picture… sweet. More continuous in the shaded regions, no artifacts (visible on a 50 in plasma).

    And for a year all this with roughly the same channel line up and it is about half the price with internet/phone package.

    WIN,WIN,WIN

    So next week after we finish watching the accumulated shows, the box goes back, bye, bye Comcast.
    The settop box changes were improvements, but too little, too late.

    ddt

  208. Mel says:

    Maybe someone can help me. I have the Comcast DVR. After reading some of this blog I figure maybe I am not the only one with this problem. A month back I DVR’d an infomercial during the night when I was up. I watched it a week later and went to delete it and it won’t go away. I have tried everything and it just sits there. I have not had any problems deleting anything else. I record shows on a daily basis, watch them, sometimes weeks later, and delete them. It is only a 30 min. recording, so not really taking up too much space, it is just annoying. Anyone have any ideas on how to get rid of this without loosing the rest of the movies my kids have taped? I appreciate any input. Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving to all.

  209. Marty says:

    Just moved from Dish to Comcast because the bundled price with Internet was enticing but sure wish I had seen the comments posted here first. In summary, my experience:
    * Box is unresponsive – hit ff then stop and you never know when it will stop.
    * Sometime it doesn’t record (it will show the ‘record’ icon with slash) but you can’t tell why – (duplicate, old episode?). This was a nice feature on the Dish system.
    * Doesn’t show episode number on recorded episodes (or on Comcast guide). If you have recorded lots of episodes and want to watch them in the order they were initially broadcast there is no way to do that.
    * If you start to watch a program then stop and delete it – it takes you all the way out of the DVR menu rather than back where you were.
    * Not enough disk space/memory with HD.
    * Haven’t had the experience of losing power and recordings yet – guess if I keep this should have a backup power supply.
    All are features on the Dish network DVR. Interesting that the Comcast system appears to me to be the same one as described from the Nov 2006 comments. So what happened to the ‘new, improved’ DVR?

  210. 123456789 says:

    i dont know why you guys have so much problems mine has alwas worked fine and i have lost power like 100 times with it and have never lost my recordings or any sort of information

  211. Yemek Tarifi says:

    My prior home had Charter with a MOXI DVR, which was way better then this shiterolla garbage. What you have does not work or even just if something newer and better comes out, you can take it to your comcast store and swap it out on the spot. The Beijing closing ceremony turned my big screen into an expensive kaleidoscope for minutes at a time.

  212. Tre Giles says:

    “It’s the Macintosh of television.” When the guy said that I instantly knew I wasn’t reading from a credible source and bought said DVR.

    A year later and I couldn’t be any happier. Thanks for nothing ;)

  213. Bryan says:

    Personally, I cannot stand the Comcast Set top box interface either, HD or Non-HD. The interface is the worst I’ve seen, or used. Its slow and laggy, not user intuitive and ugly as sin. Comcast listens to no one and will probably never change the UI. Software bugs have remained for years. Another thing that really gets on my nerves are the so-called “blackouts” when TV and Internet signals just stop for a period of 10-30 seconds.

    Like many others, I solved my comcast user interface issues by building a vista media center PC and attaching two HD set top boxes to two ATI 650 Theater TV Tuner cards. I can’t stand MS either, but I love the Vista MCE interface. No comcast on demand though, but its a joke anyway. Picture quality for digital and analog is better through these two cards than the comcast Set top box. And I actually full screen non-HD standard def. channels, what a concept. HD signals, not so much…so i switch over to one of the Set top boxes, using my receiver to watch an HD channel.

    I HATE not having a choice.

    I’ve wanting comcast to do something right for 5+ years and I’m still stuck with this crap. Some pay a premium and are delivered poor service, horrible hardware and ugly & buggy interface and an extremely high bill.

    I live in downtown portland oregon. I want FIOS but can’t get it. I’m not sure if I want it. When i talk with the reps, 1 rep told me “it will be available soon.” 2nd rep told me “about two months” 3rd rep told me (same day) FIOS will NEVER be available in downtown portland oregon…hahah a sign of things to come…

  214. gRlf says:

    This month’s Comcast DVR issue (in addition to EVERY single one that you all mention above) is random reminders popping up for shows/movies that I did not set and that I have absolutely ZERO interest in watching. Are they trying to make recommendations on shows that could be of interest to me? If yes, they got that all wrong too! Of course, they know nothing about this “problem” (I could actually hear the CS person do the finger quotes when he dismissed me and my “problem”). Arghhh!!!!

    The “problem” really became an issue when I wanted to set a reminder and I got a msg saying I had too many reminders set up – please delete some. Ok, it would be great to have a screen I could go to and see all of these so called reminders – especially since I am maxed out b/c of the random reminders they are pushing out to my DVR! And what is the max?

    So WTF!?

    Also, my DVR telling me I am at 100% and nothing else records. I delete a 30 minute show not recorded in HD and it drops to 39%…

    Again, WTF!?

  215. Dan says:

    To add this Comcast DVR horror, try thier cablecards on a tivo HD. I have to call them at least daily to reset the cards so my channels will come in.

    You never know if your programs are recording or just recording a gray screen.

    God, we need competition in the cable industry bad….Why can;t TIVO buy Comcast and be done with it!

  216. Comcast Tech Support says:

    Let me just clarify something. to the immediate poster prior to me. You pay comcast money AND call in daily to have your cable card replaced? heres a real test in logical thought. If comcast can provide a product that doesn’t really work, and you are so dumb that you pay astronomical rates EVEN THOUGH it doesn’t work, why or what would entice comcast to fix it?

    same as the original poster. you’re both just full blown morons. most people who have cable are. you can download ANYTHING or stream for those of you afraid of big brother.

    if you weren’t bound to having tv to rot your brain, and could occupy your mind with your own personal creativity, comcast might actually have reason to provide good service, just a though.

  217. Chris says:

    After reading the original article, and all the comments, I have come to the realization that people don’t know that service is different in different areas.

    I’ve had Comcast digital cable here in Baltimore county MD since 2000. I’ve moved twice in that time, taking the cable with me, and once upgraded to HDTV. At no time has the cable service been a problem. When I moved from Owings Mills to Pikesville, and plugged the cable box in, it recognized my account and was instantly up and running.

    When I bought an HD TV and had the Comcast tech come out with the HD DVR box, it took up about 10 minuted to set it up and i was good to go. the Motorola box itself had a problem about 6 months later, and they replaced it quickly with no issues.

    I actually like the Comcast interface here. I visited my in-laws up in Connecticut, who are also with Comcast up there, and their interface is COMPLETELY different looking, and quite un-intuitive. Don’t know why Comcast would be different in different locations, but I’ve come to find out that another friend on Comcast in another state has a completely different interface yet.

    Yeah, occasionally it’s hard to predict the stopping point after fast forwarding. But there’s a little return arrow that backs it up a couple seconds if you’ve FFwd a tiny bit too far. Still takes vastly less time than watching the ads. ;) No different than the days of the VCR, really.

    I really think people simply love to complain.

  218. Monte says:

    Comcast HD-DVR … NO SOUND on CERTAIN channels????

    After several calls to tech support and power-off reboots, the problem went away following each reboot then re-occured within 5 minutes. I discovered the HDMI cable (or circuit) was bad. Quick switch to component cables fixed the problem. (I did not have another HDMI cable so I’m sure if problem was the cable or HDMI circuit of DVR unit.

  219. JT says:

    I wish I would have read this blog a few months ago. I got my first HD plasma TV and wanted HD service. I was with Dish Network but they wanted a 2-year commitment to get a HD DVR. I don’t like long-term contracts. I got Comcast installed with no contract. When the guy installed it, I discovered it didn’t even have a HDMI….only component. He said some units had it, some don’t. Dumb! Anyway, he left after a VERY basic explanation of the remote. I received no manual either. What a terrible remote…very unintuitive. And the response time is AWFUL! It takes so long to act after I press buttons. VERY frustrating! And you have to point it right at the box. I could use my Dish remote from another room. I’m switching back to Dish (or Direct) as soon as I possibly can.

  220. dreeme says:

    I’m on my third Comcast DVR. The first one seized up in it’s channel switching and switched channels like molasses.
    My second one had the sound keep crackling and going off. I’d switch channels and the sound would come back on. Now my third box is doing the same thing with losing it’s sound. What’s up with Motorola? Can’t they develop thier circuits right? What a P.I.T.A.!!!!

  221. FerrellEdna says:

    The mortgage loans suppose to be useful for guys, which want to ground their own career. By the way, that is not very hard to get a bank loan.

  222. Jonathan says:

    Yep, it blows. Chunks even.

    The search feature on our old Replay units were so easy to use to find a show. And still to this day, it is incredibly cumbersome to simply search for a show!!
    Come on guys! How about a decent software update!?

    My Music Tech Blog:
    http://jcazmusic.blogspot.com/

  223. Cray says:

    After the new software upgrade that added folders in the dvr list of recorded shows, my dvr have been acting funny. whenever i fast forward a program and then press play, it does not play the show at the specific point i pressed play. It jumps back 30/60 seconds (varies) and plays the show from there.

    Comcast says its a feature. A feature for people with slow hand-eye co-ordination. Are you !@#$ kidding me? If its a feature give us people who has nothing wrong with hand-eye co-ordination a feature to skip this feature.

    Reading through the forums I find that I can reprogram my remote to do a 30 sec skip. But since this ‘feature’ also affects the rewind function and the time it skips varies, its really annoying. If this is comcast’s idea of copying similar functionality from TiVO DVRs they really need to double check how TiVO does it (at best, it skips by 8 or so seconds not 30 and 60 at the highest FF speed)

  224. matt says:

    funny, I loved my tivo just like you and hate my comcast DVD box I have now, but I would call my tivo my windows and the comcast the apple…but hah thats just I guess we’ve had different expereinces with the two…..I’ve NEVER had issues with my PC and my g/f’s mac has been through 2 HD’s, 2 keyboards and 3 mice in 3 years……but yeah, never had a virus!! hah neither has my PC.

  225. Ryan says:

    Comcast recently unveiled the myDVR manager to program the Comcast DVR online. This really helps improve their DVR service.

  226. George says:

    Huh, funny… mine works just fine for the past year. Never had a problem. Even after power outages my box comes right back on. Comcast has treated me pretty good for just being another customer. I work for Verizon FiOS, and I think our boxes have more than any I’ve ever worked with. Than again, I may have just got lucky and got the golden box.

  227. Tracy says:

    Wow… I really dislike the comcast dvr. I have had comcast dvr service for about a year now. The program search functions are horrible and sometimes recorded programs crash (REALLY??) I used to have a Replay TV dvr and I’ll tell ya, It was dependable and had very good search features. WTF Comcast??? Do you really care about your customers?? If you did, we wouldn’t be bitchin’ about this, would we?

  228. looney says:

    and I thought it was just me! so glad for this post, it’s like a support group! :)
    I found it trying to Google “how to recover deleted programs on Comcast DVR”. Loved my TiVo to death, but when I upgraded to Comcast extended basic, only 1 tuner worked on Tivo!!! The other tuner is analog. I felt lost without my 2 tuners so I decided to try the Comcast DVR. Talk about an ADVERTISEMENT for Tivo!!! I may bite the bullet for the second series of Tivo, but I do like a couple of things about the Comcast DVR – it goes back about 2 hours instead of just 1/2 hour on Tivo and it had a “jump” ahead 5 minutes button. Many shows I watch have a 5 minutes of commercials, so that button is pretty cool. Everything else is a poor rendition of Tivo though.

  229. Danielle says:

    Unfortunately, I’d have to agree 100% with this posting. I was a long time Comcast customer and I was very loyal to their service until I got an HDTV and they made it incredibly hard to upgrade. I was somewhat confused why they didn’t appreciate me. Soon after, I began working at DISH Network and I decided to subscribe to their service. I can honestly tell you that I will probably never go back to cable, Comcast in particular. It was easy for me to use and even easier to get used too. I’ve had DISH for quite some time and I don’t intend on switching service now. I invite people to come and check out the endless possibilities and continuous value they will receive with DISH Network!

    *Danielle

  230. Such a situation although I never met before, but it should is a
    very depressing thing , especially the rare leisure time with his family
    watching television together , but encounter such a situation , it should be the
    most annoying thing .
     

  231. Guest says:

     I recently switched to Comcast and Im very dissapointed. Its bad in every way.  ATT Uverse DVR service runs circles around Comcast Infinity DVR service. Actually ATT UVerse is much better in many aspects, from ease of programming to the aesthetics of the menus and guides, to the fact that you can record up to 4 programs at one time. Unlike Comcast where you are limited to two programs recording at one time and then can only keep the tv on one of the channels you are recording. 

  232. Speedytech7 says:

    LOL, it certainly does not use RAM, a cute thought though, I wouldn’t expect hardware knowledge from a Mac user so I don’t hold you accountable for anything you have written, technical or not. It uses a form of volatile, NAND caching with a hard drive supplement, your box had a common error caused by corrupted data, the hard drive clears to avoid issues later on. Enjoy feeding the beast countless thousands.
    -Cheers

  233. Stephen J. Pulley says:

    It’s years later, and frankly, your analysis still rings true. Just switched from uverse to Comcast… I’m now longing for my old 1990’s VCR instead. Somehow, this garbage is unable to recognize sporting events as a series… Think NASCAR and its 30-plus races as all individual Manuel events… Where are my VCR tapes again? And worse, if u use the smart search recommended, you get the 30-plus races, plus the accompanying 30-plus time trials, the hot laps, the after race recap…. I end up with 60-plus events in one week.

  234. mark says:

    I hear you The Comcast boxes are pathetic. I so far have went through 5 cable box and all have the same shitty performance. Unfortunately Comcast has a monopoly in my area.