02 March 2008

Why I hate my Time-Warner Cable DVR

After being happy DirecTV and TiVo customers for over seven years, we are now Time-Warner Cable subscribers again and I hate it. Why would we switch when we were happy? The short version is that ABM got aggravated with a bad customer service rep at DirecTV and immediately switched us over to Time-Warner. Now we are stuck with a service that I hate for at least a year.

Before I go any further, let me say that we've been using TW for our internet and phone service for at least two years. I've been happy with the service. Never once have we had problems with the phone, and cable internet is much better than the DSL we had before. However, the TV is another story.

My main frustration is with the DVR. We have the Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8300HDC unit. The installer said that it was one of the newer units that they offer. I think they need to go back to the drawing board with it. Why do I hate this DVR? Let me count the ways:

--The interface is clunky. There is little differentiation between the guide for shows that are airing now and the list of on-demand and recorded shows.

--The guide only goes six days ahead, compared to two weeks with TiVo. I finished watching a show on Friday night and wanted to set the DVR to record the next episode (which was airing the next Friday night according to the previews), but the guide only had listings up to Thursday!

--The season pass function is hit-or-miss. Even if you set up a season pass for a show, it doesn't always record the show. I find that we have to double-check every week whether our shows are set to record.

--The TW DVR doesn't warn you when the season pass you are about to set will conflict with other season passes. It warns you if you are setting individual episodes but not season passes.

--There is a delay every time you hit Play, Rewind, or Fast-Forward. ABM is an impatient man; he triple-clicks the mouse if the computer doesn't respond quickly enough. So you know he is a button-masher with this remote. Unfortunately, if you press too many times, it just freezes up.

--I've already had to reboot the DVR four times in the two months since we've had it. The only time the TiVo rebooted was when we had a power outage and then it rebooted itself. The TW DVR just sat there; I didn't even know what was wrong with it and rebooted it out of frustration.

--The last straw is that yesterday we noticed we are starting to get messed-up recordings. A show that we watched live while it was recording looked perfectly fine. When ABM tried to watch the recorded version a few hours' later, the last five minutes was lost. It was all pixelated and the audio was skipping. The same thing happened to me this morning.

All in all, I would not recommend this DVR to anyone. I'm not the only person who feels that way. At the end of episode 133 of TWiT, Jonathan Coulton rants about this DVR, as well. Since we have a one-year contract, I will be doing research this week to see if we can use a TiVo DVR with Time-Warner's service.
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