Tag Archives: dvr

How to Upgrade Your Comcast DVR

I’m a relatively-happy Comcast customer. When the service works, it works well enough. It’s not amazing, and I certainly would define “comcastic” differently than they do.

I have a couple of their DVRs in my home, and I use them regularly enough. I would certainly use them more if the interface wasn’t so god-dammned awful, mind you – but at least I can get to Premium and HD content in a few clicks.

When I first heard that they had released an Xfinity remote control app for iOS devices (iPad, iPhone, iPod touch), I was beside myself with elation. Finally, I could use an elegant UI to navigate and control my programming options! Kinda.

Away you go!

Turns out, I needed to upgrade my DVRs to experience this new level of comcasticness. While I would never expect them to offer replacement boxes up front, I (seriously) expected to log into my account via the app and be offered to upgrade from there.

Did that happen? HARDLY.

No, instead, I had to re-confirm that I didn’t have the right DVRs from their Web site. “MyTV DVR Manager is available in your area. However, we are unable to detect a compatible DVR in your household. Please refer to the FAQ or contact us at 1-800-COMCAST for assistance.” They didn’t offer to upgrade me there, either – and I wasn’t about to jump into a freakin’ phone call.

I jump around every page on their site looking for a way to upgrade my DVR – only, that page doesn’t exist. If it does, they don’t throw it in your face when, say, you’re confirming that you don’t have the DVR that you are obviously trying to use!

Finally (don’t ask me how), I found my way into an online chat session – after filling out the exact same information they already had on record from my logged-in account. This was starting to get overly tedious.

I was greeted with a rather comcastic Java chat app – who the *hell* still uses Java for this kind of thing? JavaScript, yo – check it out. Anyway, at least I could see that there were 7 people ahead of me in the queue. That was nice.

I jump to another page, then back to the chat page – only to find it completely wiped out (and an error message in the status bar). I had to start the chat session all over again, after filling out the redundant form (once more). Then, after waiting a few minutes and finally getting connected to a rep, I accidentally clicked over to a new tab and… wiped out the session again.

Third time’s the charm? Yeah, despite being on a pretty good computer, I forced myself from multitasking until the chat was finished. I was a bit miffed by then, but at least the representative was armed with knowledge and quite kind in his / her demeanor. Which brings me to my point(s):

The reason why these large companies have customer service issues isn’t necessarily because their CSRs are bad, but their software and customer experience IS. I should NEVER have interfaced with a rep to get this done; Comcast had several opportunities to provide a targeted upgrade opportunity, whether on the iOS devices or through the “DVR Manager” page.

Long story short: if you want to upgrade your Comcast DVR, you’re better off just connecting directly with someone in online chat (if it works for you). Don’t expect Comcast to deliver a new DVR to you unless you ask for it, specifically. It shouldn’t cost you anything to do, since you’re renting the DVR equipment from them in the first place. They actually should offer to either: (a) send the replacement to you, with a return kit for the old boxes; or (b) point you to a local office to facilitate the exchange in-person.

Will TV Ever Die? No!

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I never thought I’d see the day when a USB device worked on both OS X and Windows to allow me to record video signals, including digital cable video signals! I can also schedule recordings, even remotely from my iPhone! There’s also the ability to chat with others, and see what other people are watching.

I’m talking about the TubeStick. With TubeStick you can stream live TV directly from your computer to your iPhone and remotely schedule recordings, ready to watch them later on your computer – or even on the go. The TubeStick works out of the box. Everything you need is there: a TV receiver, the matching white mini-antenna, an adaptor for external antennas and a USB extension cable.

Do you know what the best thing is about the TubeStick? You can win this one in my hand for yourself!! Simply log into Twitter, and tweet the following link: http://go.tagjag.com/tubestick. Add anything else you’d like to the tweet, as long as that link is in there. One of you will be a winner!

I’d be interested in seeing what shows all of you watch, so I’m looking forward to seeing you get signed up. It’ll be fun to see if I’m watching the hottest shows out there, or the lamest!

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Apple TV vs Every Other DVR

When Apple first announced their Apple TV product, I was interested but not excited. Years later, that interest has completely warn off – largely because of the lack of updates and killer features. Admittedly, I do already have a TiVo (and a few Comcast DVRs to boot).

Still, why has Apple seemingly abandoned the Apple TV? There’s a new report suggesting that Apple is working on a connected television. I’m not so sure that’s even interesting to me. Who knows? Maybe they’ll knock that one out of the park.

Do you have an Apple TV, or do you feel like you’re missing out because you don’t have one? I asked my Twitter followers, and some of them responded:

Vividlydrawn: what&#39s an AppleTV?

about 47 minutes ago

jmccullough108: I agree. I am perfectly fine without one.

about 46 minutes ago

Condawg: I feel the same way. Hooking up my iMac to my TV gives me basically the same thing… It just seems worthless, IMO.

about 46 minutes ago

Schlomo: AppleTV is not nearly as interesting as my xbox!

about 46 minutes ago

robertrosenfeld: I agree. I like Apple, but I don&#39t need them handing my entire media experience.

about 46 minutes ago

ericpratum: Agreed. Honestly, I don&#39t sit in front of the TV enough to make it worth it. If I did, I don&#39t know that I&#39d choose AppleTV

about 46 minutes ago

MikeMathia: I don&#39t own one, and I don&#39t wish that I had one. It&#39s a good idea, just not for me.

about 46 minutes ago

dVoka: AppleTV rocks! You can connect a Terrabyte drive to it where your backed up DVDs reside, run Boxee (hulu), and much more.

about 45 minutes ago

unclespeedo: i don&#39t believe you&#39re in the target audience for apple tv….. you shouldn&#39t feel like you&#39re missing anything, you&#39re not

about 45 minutes ago

gregskidmore: Yes I do too. I keep wanting to get an AppleTV. I don&#39t know why I haven&#39t bought one yet. Maybe it&#39s lacking something?

about 45 minutes ago

roehmholdt: iTMS + 30in Cinema Display > AppleTV… now to go get that Cinema display…

about 44 minutes ago

Outsanity: It&#39s just more Apple crap that&#39s more likely not worth the money unless you&#39re that into Apple swag

about 44 minutes ago

xKevinx: I&#39m with you on that

about 44 minutes ago

maddogdom: you said that about the iPhone and you loved that!

about 44 minutes ago

andrewmundy: you&#39re totally not the only one. I promise

about 44 minutes ago

AppleNerd: I don&#39t see anything in the AppleTV. Seems boring…

about 44 minutes ago

JessePB: Considering you can accomplish the same thing by buying directly in iTunes and streaming with any number of other devices, no.

about 44 minutes ago

yenra: AppleTV is excellent at displaying photos on a big HDTV – smooth & great quality; also Flickr, Podcasts, YouTube.

about 44 minutes ago

shedtroll: I don&#39t feel I&#39m missing out. Boxee is a better alternative.

about 44 minutes ago

cpedraza: I&#39m an Apple fan but in the world of DVRs AppleTV doesn&#39t make sense for me.

about 43 minutes ago

findingnewo: Yeah, I don&#39t get the appeal. I think WinMCE extenders are much more worth it.

about 43 minutes ago

jbone66: My ATV was humdrum until XBMC/Boxee was available for it. It&#39s our main method to accessing video content now…

about 43 minutes ago

VxJasonxV: It&#39s very interesting. It&#39s just that the most of us have computers to do everything the AppleTV does, and more.

about 43 minutes ago

biss13: if you don&#39t own an AppleTV how do you know what is it you are missing? 😉

about 43 minutes ago

robpickering: And that statement shows everyone you don&#39t have one. Hulu on my TV – &#39nuff said

about 42 minutes ago

EricCAnderson: Agree: it&#39s basically just another iPod for your TV (even with boxiee on it)…

about 42 minutes ago

Knunez: yeah I dont need one.. no point in having one anyways

about 42 minutes ago

wolrah: i agree they&#39re not that interesting out of the box, but patchstick them and they&#39re great. XBMC and Boxee ftw

about 42 minutes ago

Christyxcore: i agree. I thought it was cool when I saw it at my friends house but now that I think about it, it&#39s also overpriced 4 watitis

about 42 minutes ago

tjohansen: AppleTV alone isn&#39t great, but AppleTV + @boxee is great!

about 42 minutes ago

johnbarta: just buy it chris! Even if you dont use it it could be a fancy drink holder

about 42 minutes ago

iGeekW: AppleTV is not worth the money 😛

about 42 minutes ago

jefflundberg: A DELL Studio PC w/ Blu-ray and Windows Media Center Edition is much more interesting.

about 41 minutes ago

benhigham: I guess that depends on your current setup. I think it appeals to a different audience.

about 41 minutes ago

easy_way: there a waste of money i got one and its kinda useless

about 41 minutes ago

LisaBarger: Yes, Chris. Yes you are.

about 41 minutes ago

yesitsmedoug: I once walked into Apple and asked them Why I would want one. They didn&#39t sell me on the idea so I also don&#39t have or want one

about 40 minutes ago

chrisutley: #AppleTV with @boxee is great. I rent a lot of movies from #Apple, and watch TV shows over Hulu.

about 40 minutes ago

themacinjosh: no you&#39re not, I don&#39t feel like I&#39m missing much. All of the media is available whether you own an apple tv or not.

about 40 minutes ago

TarasI: I don&#39t think so. One of my friends has one and it&#39s really not that useful, especially if you have Media Center Extensions.

about 39 minutes ago

idarknight: you might be – between the hacks and the core functions, it is a device whose tipping point may have come

about 37 minutes ago

anansie: Its cheaper than a mac mini and has boxee going for it , Also it&#39s the only game in town for renting movies in hd on iTunes

about 35 minutes ago

amarvin: i didn&#39t feel that i was missing out on Apple TV until Boxee popped up. now i want to roll my own Atom-based version w/ boxee.

about 35 minutes ago

kevinbriody: I bought an early model AppleTV. I&#39d call it “neat” but definitely not compelling. Cool to show family vids, some DL&#39d TV.

about 35 minutes ago

jay1one: we might be the only two, but you are definitely not the only one.

about 34 minutes ago

ahaslach: Functionality of AppleTV can be replicated/exceeded w/ a laptop and video cable. Not a compelling product.

about 34 minutes ago

ipodtouch15: I agree!:)

about 33 minutes ago

wmchamberlain: Why would I buy a AppleTV when I can do more with a mac mini? Even the Cult of Mac would have a hard time explaining.

about 32 minutes ago

calebh: nope I feel the same way

about 32 minutes ago

schmenzer: Chris, I was a lot more interested before I started using Boxee.

about 31 minutes ago

seanwolter: The true media hoarder has a mac mini and a drobo hooked up to his big screen

about 30 minutes ago

mikekochansky: I agree. As much as I love Apple, I have little to no desire/need for AppleTV

about 29 minutes ago

ricorick: Boxee has made mine more interesting and better.

about 28 minutes ago

Zanoryt: Running Boxee on Apple TV is a compelling replacement for a cable connection. It&#39s not 100% ideal, but Boxee is really awesome

about 27 minutes ago

adamkmiec: I love mine – it&#39s a fixture of our house

about 25 minutes ago

MicrosoftWin7: RT: ByronSmartMicrosoftWin7 Yeah my hacked Xbox1 W Media Center(720p) is far more intresting then Apple TV, + the 360

about 24 minutes ago

blogbloke: I&#39m with you Chris

about 24 minutes ago

JessLoebig: Well maybe it is because you have a TiVo 😉

about 23 minutes ago

cogwisewill: Well, if you get the atv flash and are able to put hulu on the appletv along with a other things… http://bit.ly/LDL8

about 23 minutes ago

RobinBoyWonders: I like it a lot

about 22 minutes ago

color_me_pink: You&#39re not the only one. Until there is DVRcapability, I won&#39t even consider it.

about 21 minutes ago

gurubrandon: Yes.. but Boxee makes that genre of devices very interesting. ( http://boxee.tv )

about 21 minutes ago

PassTheBoll: seeing as you can accomplish the same thing using less money, I won&#39t get one. Just take a computer and connect it to the tv.

about 21 minutes ago

webdrifter: This frugal tech guy is all ATO man! No AppleTV, no DirecTV and no cable TV. Just a cheap Techno who has seen and likes HULU

about 20 minutes ago

gailelaine: I don&#39t own an Apple TV because I just don&#39t see the need. I own a Mac and I&#39ve looked at the Apple TV.

about 19 minutes ago

LoganPayne: I don&#39t feel that like I&#39m missing out. But I do want one….to stop buying DVDs and discs…

about 16 minutes ago

Sebbbb: how isn&#39t it intresting? it comes in a shiny apple box 😛

about 15 minutes ago

sideswipe70: I feel the same way. It just seems like a glorified media server.

about 9 minutes ago

swichi293: I own everything apple, but I refuse to own the apple tv. It really is quite pointless

about 8 minutes ago

aaron_bennett: It&#39s just not exciting enough for the price OR the inevitable inoperability with my other devices.. You are not alone.

about 7 minutes ago

What are your thoughts on Apple TV and the general state of DVRs?

What About the ARCHOS 5 Internet Media Tablet?

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Great deals on the ARCHOS 5 & ARCHOS 7:


It’s not easy watching television when you’re on the go. You can’t exactly take the TV with you, nor a DVR. There are many solutions for this conundrum, of course. One of the most impressive ones is the ARCHOS 5. ARCHOS introduces a new concept: the Internet Media Tablet.
The ARCHOS 5 is the flagship of the new range, bringing the customer a new way to enjoy Internet, Media and TV…in a handheld device.

With its built-in capabilities, your Internet Media Tablet becomes the ultimate way to surf the web. The amazingly sharp and high-resolution screen lets you navigate effortlessly through the web just like you would on a PC.

Browsing becomes almost seamless with the ARM® Cortex™ processor and the Adobe Flash™ 9 video support. Surfing on a handheld device has never been so fast and smooth.

The ARCHOS 5 features a very high capacity internal hard drive from 60 GB to 250 GB, in slim and sleek enclosures.

You can thus download a vast number of songs and videos from the unique selection of renowned movie and music partners assembled in the Media Club.

Out of the box, it is a good first initial product. I was able to be browsing almost instantly, and only had to step through basic registration before use. There are so many different things you can do, and the ARCHOS 5 will not disappoint.

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Do Television Shows Need TV?

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Yes, I was watching television on my computer, and not on a TV. I was using a website to watch my shows. Does that make it any less of a TV? Do I really need a “TV” to watch my favorite television shows? TV on the Web? Really? Ohhh yeah, really. How convenient is that?

TidalTV looks much like you would expect a full-on DVR experience to look on a “real” television. The channels available are relatively mainstream. There are more channels available than what you would possibly expect on a service like this. You can search and browse through the different major channels, or even check out their listing of “on demand” shows.

Kat got distracted while researching this site for the blog post. She found out that the Food Network channel is on here, and Paula Deen just happened to be showing at that time. We may have lost her for awhile, y’all. She’s quite addicted to the lovely Paula. Oh no… she just found the Wedding network. Since her daughter is getting married at the end of September, we may not see Kat surface again until after that. Apparently, that particular channel has everything and anything you can think of that has to do with weddings.

See what I mean? You can sit right at your computer and watch all your favorite television shows. It’s completely free, and there’s nothing to sign up for. How much better could it possibly get?


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What Software do You use with TiVo?

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After I blogged recently about wanting to try TiVo, I was sent a unit to review for a few weeks. I’ve been wanting to try it out, so this was a great opportunity. With certain software, you can take programs you record on TiVo and transcode them on your computer. You can then turn them into videos you can watch on pretty much any device. All the DVRs I’ve had are boxes unto themselves, they couldn’t be networked in any way. By networking my TiVo, I can then do as I described, to create videos I can play on my computer, iPhone or any other device I wanted to use. Here are a couple of programs you can use to accomplish this.

TiVo Butler is an application that can track programs from multiple TiVo devices that you have on your home network. It’s free, and allows you to browse the recordings you’ve made on your TiVo. You can download them, encode them and much more. TiVo Butler is only available for Mac OS X.


TiVo Playlist is the Windows equivalent. Everything that you could hope to do with your TiVo, you’ll be able to do with ease using TiVo Playlist.

  1. Retrieve TiVo Now Playing lists over an ethernet connection and calculate total recording time and disk space used
  2. Support for multiple TiVo units
  3. Estimate free space remaining given the capacity of the TiVo hard drive(s)
  4. Display either full List View or Folder View
  5. Mouseover Title shows description of recorded show along with Year Released/Air Date, Actors, Director, etc.
  6. View graphical representation of disk free space and space used by either recording status or recording quality
  7. Export of Now Playing lists to CSV files for use in other programs such as Microsoft Excel
  8. Batch downloading of recordings to PC (even from multiple machines)
  9. Tested to run under Windows 2000 and XP Pro and reported to run under Windows 98/ME, XP Home and Vista
  10. Works best at screen sizes 800×600 or larger if running 96dpi, or 1024×768 or larger if running 120dpi
  11. Downloads to FAT32 partitions support up to 4Gb filesizes, NTFS partitions support files > 4Gb (Windows 2000/XP/Vista only)
  12. Access via HTTP/HTTPS and requires TiVo software version 7.1 or newer

You know how to email me, if you have other DVR or TiVo software or tips to pass along to me! I’ll be glad to check them out and share them with the community.


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I Think I Want a TiVo?

I’ve never really had a TiVo, though I’ve been using DVRs for years. The new TiVo HD looks nice, though – and I should be able to grab shows / convert them after connecting the unit to my home network. Kevin does it all the time, and he also recommended that I get my TiVo through some place that does hard drive upgrades for me. Other friends have told me:

I like TiVo, but I'm not all about paying a monthly (or even a 1-time lifetime) subscription for it. Try the Comcast DVR. – Spinn
(I just realized the fail in my statement – chances are that Comcast now charges the DVR. Probably $5-10/month? If that's the case, go for a TiVo. The smooth menus and overall better interface is worth the money, if you're going to have to pay it anyway. – Spinn
TiVo is very nice to have but for the price, it may be worth it to stick with comcast's dvr – Grant
I have Comcast DVR but you can only record like 15 hrs of HD content at a time. Definitely interested in exploring options. – Brian Daniel Eisenberg
if comcast charges for its DVR then go ahead with the Tivo – Grant
Chris- I love my HD Tivo. It's also nice to get rid of the Comcast cable box. The dual tuner PCMCIA cards are nice. I bought the 3 year prepaid. – Ryan
we have Directv DVR in my home and what sucks is you can only record 2 shows in the same time frame but you can't change the channel. so if you're recording A&E and USA at the same time, you can only switch between them two. i was told TiVo is almost the same thing. – Outsanity
Just do it. Been a Tivo owner since '01 on DirectTV. Last year I moved house and switched to comcast. I suffered the comcast DVR box for 1 week before buying a Tivo Series 3. Spousal approval and my sanity returned… – Steve Lacey
If you get a TiVo watch this vid we made re upping storage http://video.gearlive.com/vide…Andru Edwards
TiVo is uncomparably better…but isn't TiVo supposed to built into Comcast boxes at some point? – George Lee
Luckily I got my HDR212 TiVo in 2000-2001 for $150-200 with a $249 lifetime subscription. $13/month x 7 yrs = would have been $1,170 by now! Awesome deal. Totally changed the way I watch TV. The fast-forwarding is much cleaner than with VCRs and scanning 1 hr in 1 min (60X) is very easy. Look into the after-market upgrading of HDs websites (Image your HD first!) and buying someone's used TiVo with a lifetime subscription. E-mail me if you want more details. – Mitchell Tsai
I have the HD DVR from Time Warner and hate it. Keep thinking about TiVo, but the price always gets me. Though at almost $15/month to "rent" the DVR from Time Warner, I might switch, I'm just not sure of the way it will interact with Time Warner. – Blake
I have the TiVo Series 3 HD and it's a great box. Never fails. You can stream audio/video from your Mac with the software you get with Toast, you can download shows to your Mac and burn them (if they're not flagged to not do it) and I've even burned Blu-Ray compatable DVDs with Toast 9. You can download podcasts and videos, but I found that entering in podcast RSS feeds doesn't always work. – Starman

My house is filled with Comcast DVRs – I like what they do, but I can’t stand how they do what they do. I won’t really miss VOD with a TiVo, either. Ponzi likes VOD, but I think she’d appreciate the networkability of a TiVo even more (though she’s using Windows Vista, and I’m primarily on OS X). There’s gotta be good desktop software for TiVo / TiVo data management, I’d only assume.

TiVo Vs. MythTV Vs. Windows Media Center


http://live.pirillo.com/ – DVRs and PVRs, which are basically the same thing, allow you to watch television shows whenever you want to, instead of when they’re broadcast; you simply record the program and play it back when you want to.

Corey in the chat room wanted to know what the best DVR is: TiVo, Windows Media Center, or MythTV?

Chris uses the Comcast-branded DVR, but that’s because it makes it easier for him to record his cable shows for playback. What’s best for you, however, depends on what you want to do with it.

If you’re a fan of open source, you’ll probably be happy with MythTV:

MythTV is a homebrew PVR project that I’ve been working on in my spare time. It’s been under heavy development for almost four years, and is now quite useable and featureful.

If you want to synchronize your video files with a portable device, you’ll be happier with TiVo, which allows you to port the TiVo-to-go files:

Your TiVo box, powered by the amazing TiVo service, automatically finds and digitally records all of your favorite shows, every time they’re on. Every episode of your favorite series. Every Coppola movie. Every home improvement program. Even Dora cartoons! Whatever you choose. All while you’re out living life. Plus, only TiVo lets you watch your favorite shows any time, anywhere.

Microsoft also offers Windows Media Center, which offers a familiar interface:

Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 powers the all-in-one PC and entertainment center for your entire home. Get all the advanced computing power of Windows XP and enjoy your favorite entertainment on your PC – watch DVDs, record TV, listen to music, share your digital photos, and more.

Snapstream makes BeyondTV, which gives you the full capabilities of a DVR system while running under Windows:

Record and watch TV with your PC. Gain control over your entertainment experience. With Beyond TV, you determine what you want to watch and when you want to watch it. With incredible features and extensive setting options, TV is under your control.

What DVR/PVR do you use?

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