After more than seven years with DirecTV, the International House of Johnson will switch to cable television next week. Why? The bundle. Time-Warner is offering us some fairly significant savings if we bundle our phone, Internet and television services, which we currently get through MCI, Time-Warner and DirecTV, respectively.
I’m a little trepidatious about the switch, especially because I really have no major complaints about DirecTV service and I’ve got a slew of movies on the DVR that I haven’t gotten around to watching yet:
- Live Free or Die Hard
- Meet the Robinsons
- The Invasion
- Beneath Loch Ness
- Raging Sharks
Speaking of the DVR, I neglected to ask the customer service representative what the capacity of the Time-Warner DVR is; I’ve gotten used to having 100 hours to play with and I’ll be a little disappointed if that drops to 35 hours, which was the capacity of our original DirecTiVo.
On the other hand, I’m looking forward to On-Demand programming, which wasn’t an option on DirecTV unless we significantly upgraded our service and equipment. If there are enough On-Demand titles too keep a certain young apprentice happy, I may never have to record an episode of LazyTown again.
The other thing I’m a little nervous about is giving up our POTS. The Time-Warner bundle includes their branded VOIP service, and as with any Internet phone service if you don’t gots Internets, you don’t gots a phone. Thankfully, I can think of only two times in the past year when our cable Internet service was out, and one of them was for less than 30 minutes.
We’ll make the dish-to-cable transition on Monday (provided all goes well) and the POTS-to-VOIP transition in early January. The latter is delayed because MCI requires notification thirteen business days in advance of switching service provideds, which I think is just ludicrous.
Okay, so my DirecTiVo could only store 35 hours worth of programming and my new DirecTV DVR will hold about 100 hours. You know what? It was still a better DVR.
Oh, I’ll tell you.
- I could skip to the end of a recorded program with the press of a button, and to the beginning with another button press. This may not seem like a big deal, but when you’ve got a handful of episodes of your kid’s favorite shows, it would be nice not to have to fast-forward or rewind 10 or 20 minutes to start watching them from the beginning the next time. It’s a DVR, not a VCR; I shouldn’t have to rewind to get to the beginning, regardless of where I stopped watching. Oh, and if I accidentally fast-forward too far at the end of Top Gear and miss that last little bit of the show, I’ve got to start over at the beginning and fast-forward through 58 minutes I’ve already watched just to catch the last two minutes. Once the “Do you want to delete this program?” message appears on-screen, I can’t rewind anymore, and that’s just plain frustrating.
- The DirecTiVo was more responsive in general. The delay between when I push a button on the remote and when I see the desired result on the DirecTV DVR is sometimes measurable in seconds. Ridiculous.
- Speaking of the remote, the one that came with the DirecTiVo was a thing of beauty. It properly handled my television (including switching inputs) and surround sound system, all without having to switch back and forth between “DirecTV”, “AV1”, “AV2” and “TV” modes. Yes, I can control my DVD player in AV2 mode, something I couldn’t do with the old remote, but it’s a feature I’d gladly sacrifice for the ability to turn off the television and the surround sound with a single button.
- Still speaking of the remote, Laura hates the new one. Period. I can see why: the layout just isn’t as simple as the old one, even the DVR controls are counter-intuitive.
- Anytime I was dealing with a list of channels on the DirecTiVo, I could always jump to the channel I wanted by simply entering it on the number pad. Not so on the DirecTV DVR. When I’m setting up a manual recording and the list of channels pops up, if I press 2-4-9 for Comedy Central, I first get channel 25, then channel 43, then channel 9 thousand-something. Ludicrous! And speaking of manual recording…
- Daylight Saving Time. I’ve got a one-hour manual record set up for The Daily Show and The Colbert Report Monday through Thursday at 11:00pm. The fact that I have to do this if I don’t want the DVR to record both shows three times in a single day is a testament to the crappiness of the online guide for Comedy Central, but the fact that the DVR decided to start recording at 12:00am instead of 11:00pm after the time change on Sunday (despite the fact that the clock on the damn thing changed and the manual recording entries still show an 11:00pm start time) is just plain stupid. I just had to delete and recreate all four manual entries and I’m still not confident that it’s going to work properly.
Extra recording space be damned. I miss my DirecTiVo.
Check out my official Overlord Badge for The Secret Lair! It’s another fantastic creation from Natalie Metzger, Secretary of Artistic Propaganda. There’s more (and not just from Natalie), but I don’t want to unveil it all at once. You may not be able to make out the details, but that writing implement in my shirt pocket is an official Dungeons & Dragons 30th Anniversary mechanical pencil. Yeah, that’s how I roll.
In other news, my beloved DirecTiVo died over the weekend; one of the tuners decided that its alignment was Chaotic Good and channels above the 200 mark were made of Evil. When we attempted to watch one of these channels on Tuner 2, the response would be anything from a lost signal to a warm reboot.
DirecTV gave me a couple of options: lease one of their branded DVRs or get another DirecTiVo receiver. The former required a two-year commitment to the DirecTV service and a $20 shipping charge, while the latter would cost me $350.00 out of pocket. I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of giving up my TiVo service, but every man has his price and mine happens to be right around $350.00.
When I got home from work today, the new receiver was waiting for me. One not-so-quick call to DirecTV customer service and I was up and running. The new DVR has about three times the capacity the old one did, but I’m already disappointed in the “universal” remote that came with it. Funny how we take little things like the ability to turn off both the television and the audio receiver with a single press of a button for granted.
Now my young apprentice and I are watching Max and Ruby on Noggin and (in theory) Scrubs is recording on the other tuner. Ruby is trying to get yet another damn Bunny Scout merit badge while Dr. Dorian and the rest of the gang at Sacred Heart are undoubtedly involved in some wacky shenaniganery that is (again, in theory) being preserved in all its digital glory for my enjoyment at a later time. Max wants a popsicle, but Ruby is too busy putting splints on dolls to pay attention to her younger brother; I swear, if there’s a Bunny Scout merit badge for being a good elder sibling, Ruby doesn’t have it.