DirecTV has a lot of work to do.
A couple night ago, I bought a DirecTV Plus receiver. What is DirecTV Plus? It's DirecTV's version of the Tivo. In other words, it's there home-brewed DVR. You can use it to record TV shows and watch them later. It's sort of a VCR that records to a hard drive instead of tapes. The Tivo is a fantastic device. I've been using it for 5 years now and loving every minute of it. Unfortunately, with the collapse of the deal between DirecTV and Tivo, there won't be any more DirecTV Tivos being made, unfortunately. One of my Tivos died and I needed a replacement, so I ended up getting this, since it was all that was available. I thought I'd write in and give my thoughts on how the Plus compares to the Tivo.
DirecTV Plus Advantages.
- Records 90 minutes of live TV, versus only 30 minutes on Tivo.
- TV picture and sound are always visible. Even when you are in full screen menus, the TV picture shrinks down and moves to the upper right hand corner. The TV sound continues to play, so you don't miss your show while you are in the menus.
- Larger recording capacity. The Plus records up to 100 hours of programming versus about 40 hours on the Tivo. I believe this is due to the Plus having a 100GB HD versus a 40GB HD on the Tivo.
- Free space display. The Plus shows a percentage free bar whenever you view the list of recorded shows. The Tivo does not.
- Remembers searches. The Plus shows you a list of the last several terms you searched for when searching for a show. This is handy because it prevents you from having to retype everything. The Tivo doesn't do this.
- All software and program guide updates are done over the satellite. The Tivo has to download everything by dialing out with a built in modem. The satellite way is faster and eliminates the tying up of the phone. Granted the Tivo usually dials out in the middle of the night so this is not a major concern, but still I like this better. I expect that downloading off the satellite is also faster.
DirecTV Plus Disadvantages
- Very confusing interface. The Plus' interface is very confusing. Things seem to be very disorganized and very user hostile. The menu structure is far from obvious. The list of recorded shows is called the "VOD list". What the hell does VOD stand for? I'm assuming it stands for Video On Demand, but this is far from obvious. I'm still learning how the hell this thing works. With the Tivo you can pretty much sit down and just use it. You don't need to know how to use it. I would almost equate the Tivo to the 'Mac of DVRs' (easy, fast, beautiful and a joy to use) versus the Plus as the 'PC of DVRs' (functional, but sluggish and unnecessarily complex).
- Very sluggish search. Whenever you are searching, you select the letters of the word you are searching for, one by one on the screen. The problem is that there is a noticeable pause of a second or two everytime you choose a letter. This is no doubt due to the fact that it is re-searching the list of shows based on the new word you've typed so far. The Tivo has no noticable pause when searching.
- The annoying blue circle! The front of the box has this bright blue lit up circle light. This light is always on, 24 hours a day. Unfortunately this light is VERY bright at night. It is so bright that if you have it in your bedroom it rapidly becomes distracting because it lights up the whole room! There's got to be a way of turning this damn thing off. It's in my living room right now so it's no big deal, but the first night it was in my bedroom and it was very annoying.
I really wish I could get another Tivo instead of this thing. Frankly I can't stand it, but I'm stuck with it. I need a DVR and this is the only thing available right now. DirecTV better get to work on doing some major cleaning up of this thing!