Category Archives: Television

TiVo vs. Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8300HD

Some of you might already be thinking, “This is a no-brainer.” Of course, you might have different answers. I was pretty die hard TiVo before I switched, so I thought I’d give a rundown of the pros and cons of each.

My setup:
+ TiVo Series 1 (but I’ll comment on DIRECTV HD TiVo)
+ Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8300HD
+ Toshiba 57″ HDTV (thanks to Agent Assassin)
+ Time Warner Digital Cable
+ Automator remote by Universal Remote Control

The first issue was cable vs. satellite. Without going into that whole personal battle, it came to this:

+ HD TiVo, but it costs $500
+ No local channels without an antenna; I rent a house, so no aerial, and indoors mostly suck
+ Need DSL for broadband internet, already have cable modem
+ Can get crappy reception when it rains
+ Cost for HD DVR + service + HBO: $500 + $54/mo. (with contract)

TimeWarner Cable:
+ Charging me for an extra tuner, and a we’re-renting-you-an-extra-tuner fee! (Yeah, they’re jerks.)
+ Cable modem is a better deal than DSL, and no changes
+ Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8300HD for $10/mo. So it’ll be over 4 years before I spend on it what the HD TiVo would have cost me (and it was $1,000 when I made my decision).
+ Get local channels, except for UPN and the WB. It’s TimeWARNER, and they don’t carry WARNER Brothers on HD? What’s the conspiracy, man?
+ Cost for HD DVR + service + HBO: $68/mo.

Ok, here’s the comparison:

Series 1 TiVo:
+ Way friendlier interface, but you knew that
+ TV listing data for a week or so out; the 8300HD prefetches only 2-3 days, makes you manually scroll out for more data, and caps at about a week.
+ Can select a TV show (Season Pass) and see all the upcoming showings, on all channels
+ Shows you what it’s not recording due to repeats
+ Better search feature, more options (by actor, director, just show movies, etc.)
+ If you’re willing to hack the box, or pay someone to, you can add more/bigger hard drives for more recording time. Do that to your rental unit, and they will literally kill you.

DIRECTV HD TiVo Advantages:
+ Can record TWO shows simultaneously, in HD
+ 30 hours of HD storage (vs. 20 for the Explorer)
+ Records digital audio
+ HDMI interface

Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8300HD Advantages:
+ Can record TWO shows simultaneously, in HD (which HD TiVo will do, Series)
+ Records digital audio
+ HDMI interface
+ Interface responds much faster than TiVo (at least Series 1, maybe 2 is a lot faster. It better be.)
+ Compared to standard TiVos with cable, doesn’t need an extra tuner for HD viewing (where a standard definition (SD) tuner goes to the TiVo, and an HD one goes directly to the TV and surround system).

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with the 8300HD, as I had heard awful things about the previous cable co. DVRs. The interface/features still leave me wanting, but it has more TiVo functionality than I was expecting. That said, now that the HD TiVo is only $500, it’s a tougher decision for those making it now. I’d probably be more displeased if I was switching from a Series 2, which allows you to manage you TiVo from the web.

Demand On Demand

I’ve begun to accept the fact that working in Television doesn’t actually allow you much time to enjoy watching television. And arguably, TiVo is probably the greatest invention to hit The TV Business since, well, the TV. And I know this because everyone that owns one tells me. And sometimes they let me watch stuff they’ve TiVo’d. It’s like someone giving you a ride in their porsche, then dropping you back off to your Camry. One day, I tell myself, it will be mine.

Till Then, Adelphia and On Demand, you’re my new best friend. I’m sure I’m behind the times on this new found wonder but this thing is the shit for the TiVo-deprived. I go to Menu. I hit “On Demand”. I choose my premium channels, which in my case is the HBO pack. And there they are. All the episodes of Curb your Enthusiasm. Extras. Rome. Sopranos. Six Feet Under. All the One Night Stands. They even have Sex and the city for all you closet-homosexual-Sarah-Jessica-Parker Fans. I mean, Matthew Broderick is cool and all but that chick is Fugly. Regardless, every show is there. All free. All at my fingertips. When I ever I say, with the touch of a button. Well, several touches of various buttons but you get what I mean.

You wanna learn the guitar, take the twelve lessons in the new ‘Mag Rack’. It’s part of a free program selection, chock full of Instructional videos and Excercise Routines. There’s a half a dozen video courses on Photography. Seven videos on Wedding Planning. (Single men, take note: This program can be password protected using your remote without your girlfriend knowing)

Ever wanted to take a Nutrition class, now you can. Always wished you’d had a drum lesson, well saddle up partner, fantasizing about attending that weekly Pilates class, well you’re probably gay. Afterwards you can rent a XXX version Adult Video just to prove to yourself that you’re not. You can do it all.

I still only have so much time to watch TV in a week but now it can be something I’ve been looking forward to instead of settling for another syndicated comedy. If I have to watch one more episode of Just Shoot Me, Just take a gun, point it at me and pull the trigger.

If you don’t know this by now…

If you’re a fan of possibly the best comedy to come out of Britain since Monty Python’s Flying Circus, then Check out the BBC AMERICA for the Christmas Special of “The OFFICE” which provides a much appreciated resolve to the critically acclaimed and widely embraced cast of characters.

The Two season series ended somewhat sadly with what most knew was realistically inevitable: Brent becomes redundant. Tragic – as it seems to end the show prematurely– though undoubtedly leaving everyone wanting more from the clearly overly-competent Ricky Gervais. Probably a smart career move for the writer/director/actor not to get stuck in a role that could potentially have gone on for years.

The Xmas special brings us up to date on what everyone’s been up to since the cameras stopped rolling on Wernham Hogg and shortly after the BBC has aired it’s ‘documentary’. We find it’s left Brent as a Z-List Celebrity though still making ends meet in Sales. One of the biggest highlights of the special is the sneak peak at Brent’s failed attempt at a Pop Career with his privately funded (the money from his redundancy package) music video, a version of “If you don’t know me by now” The video is rumored to be released as an actual single though Gervais denies this.

The 80 Minute Special delivers the same endearing punch of the series; keeping you writhing in Brent’s embarrassment and arrogance, hoping for Tim to finally win over the beautiful Dawn, and watching Garreth’s attempts at militaristic-Managerial-leadership be repeatedly undermined. The program provides just the ending a show of this comedic distinction deserved. Look for it on BBC America.

Till you see the special you might enjoy a remix of the Theme coupled with quotes from the show and memorable Brent-isms. It’s kind of ‘the streets meets the Office’. Check it out at Scroll down to the Office.