Rant: The Comcast HD DVR Is Simply, Terribly Awful

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…


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.


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.

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

  1. 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…

  2. 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. 😉

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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

  10. 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.

  11. 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!

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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 :).

  15. 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!

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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)

  19. 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.

  20. 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)

  21. 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 :).

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. 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?

  28. 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.

  29. 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?

  30. 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!

  31. 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.

  32. 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?

  33. 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.!!!!!!!

  34. 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.


  35. 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!

  36. 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.

  37. 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.

  38. 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.

  39. 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!

  40. “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.”

  41. 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.

  42. 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.

  43. 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

  44. 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!

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