|Humax DRT-800 DVD Recorder/DVR|
|Home Theater Media Servers Satellite & Cable Receivers/PVRs/DVRs/TiVo|
|Written by Matthew Evert|
|Wednesday, 01 December 2004|
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My biggest peeve was that there was no built-in satellite or digital cable tuner. This lack of a built-in receiver like those of other TiVos on the market can add $50-$300 to the total cost of owning this unit if you use satellite or digital cable. It also makes getting digital sound from your recordings impossible. There is no digital audio input from a separate receiver, so the best you can hope for is Dolby Pro Logic on all of your recordings. Even worse, there are only composite video and S-video inputs to the DTR800. What is the point of having component video outputs from the TiVo if the inputs from the receiver are at best S-video? Additionally, there are no modern-day digital video connections, like HDMI or DVI. There is no built-in Ethernet networking for plugging into broadband, so instead of offering a 10 to 20-minute guided set-up, the user is forced to do the current nine-hour set-up using the phone lines (including downloading the programming). You will have to buy a $50 USB to a wired or wireless Ethernet adapter separately to get all the whiz-bang music/photo sharing, online scheduling and multi-TiVo viewing. TiVo does not have a setting to toggle the type of serial connection without redoing the whole set-up over again. They really need to fix that, since my DirecTV receiver manual does not say which type of serial cable setting it uses. Either that or make a helper application in set-up that will auto-detect which setting to use, as it does with the S-video and audio connections.
Parts warranty is one year parts but, shockingly, only three months for labor. This may not sound like a big deal until you find out how much labor is involved with fixing a hard drive or DVD player.
Recently, there has been lots of talk based on a story from the Los Angeles Times about TiVo reportedly planning to interject commercials into their system when a user hits his or her fast forward button. TiVo says that the Times got it wrong and what TiVo wants to do is to put their advertiser’s logo or a “billboard” on the screen while a TiVo user is fast forwarding through a commercial. With $299 paid for a lifetime subscription, TiVo is making a dangerous gamble with their value proposition as it relates to their subscriber base. The TiVo that users are bitterly loyal to allows you to easily skip commercials and this new technology now complicates that advantage.
If you love to watch TV and can’t manage to watch all the shows you enjoy, you need a TiVo unit. If HDTV is not a big deal to you and some small degradation in sound and video are not of concern to you, then the convenience of this unit will be a blessing. If you already have a digital cable or satellite receiver, then the price of this unit is very fair for all the functionality that you are getting. The DVD recorder and much-improved Series 2 TiVo are vital additions to any TV lover’s home theater. The 80-hour capacity is ample for most people, and when it fills up, you can always burn your favorites to DVD. If you want a bigger TiVo unit and do not need the DVD recorder, you can always try the Humax T-2500 for 300 hours of recording! Handy for the vacation that happens to land in the middle of sweeps week. The T-2500 currently has two rebates on it which go through the end of the year - a $100 Humax hardware rebate and $100 TiVo service activation rebate, which brings the price down from $699 to $499.
Overall, the product is easy to use and saves lots of clutter in your probably already cluttered home theater system. Some great home networking features allow for it to act as a media center for the whole household as well. For those of who have not tried TiVo and want a feature-packed DVR, you should give the DRT800 a try. It is downright cool.