Looking for a TIVO Receiver? Are You REALLY?

[prices and features described in this article are based upon our personal experience. Please check with DirecTV for current pricing and promotions available in your area]

Are you REALLY looking for a “TIVO receiver,” or are you just looking for a DVR service with a hard drive that will, among other things, pause live TV?

TIVO is one of those well-branded names, (like KLEENEX, for another example), that has been used so often that it has become synonymous with its generic meaning. But there are alternatives to the so-called “TIVO receiver,” and DirecTV (or Direct TV – the name used by one-third of all Internet searchers – and therefore the spelling I will use one-third of the time in this article!) has an excellent alternative.

For years, DirecTV and TIVO were a team, and when you asked for a “TIVO receiver” from DirecTV, that’s what you got!!! But that marriage ended in late 2005, when Direct TV launched their own version of the DVR service. So, if it’s an option for you, you might want to check out their new TIVO receiver, otherwise known as the DirecTV PlusÃ?® Receiver.

My husband had been checking out TIVO, TIVO receivers, and other generic “TIVO receiver” options for sometime, and he recently came home one weekend afternoon with the DirecTV receiver and satellite, having purchased it at a DirecTV dealer in our area. That was perhaps not the easiest way to obtain the Direct TV DVR, we were to learn later. It took a little bit of persistence on my husband’s part to find an installer, although the salesman who sold him the receiver assured him that all he had to do was call the toll-free DirecTV number listed on the invoice.

Once we found an installer, he told us that it would have been simpler, and might have even saved us a little money, if we had just called DirecTV and asked for the DVR service, instead of buying the equipment from a dealer and then trying to arrange installation through Direct TV. As it turned out, it cost us $99 for the receiver and satellite, and $300 for the installation. But in our mind, the real savings came in the monthly charge, which was only $5.99 per month, compared to the $12.95 per month that seems to be the typical charge for a TiVo receiver.

The DirecTV PlusÃ?® Receiver has many of the same features as the actual TiVO receiver – “pausing” live TV, high speed rewind and fast forward. But it also has some features not found on a TIVO receiver, or on most other hard drive DVRs. For example, instead of the 30 minute “live buffer” found on the TIVO receiver, which allows you to back up live TV if you haven’t changed the channel, Direct TV’s DVR has a 90 minute live buffer feature.

Getting ready to watch a replay of a controversial call against your favorite sports team? The DirecTV DVR has a “frame-by-frame” feature that can be accessed by hitting “Pause” and then Fast Forward.

Other features include the ability to “bookmark” certain places in a program, and easily return to them later, as well as one of my favorite features – online Caller ID! When the phone rings, the caller ID pops up at the bottom of the screen. No more taking your attention off a TV program to see who’s calling.

If you connect both inputs on your receiver, you can record two programs at the same time. We chose to go with only one set of the inputs, but that still allows us to record one program and “Pause” a second program, so that we can start watching it about 20 minutes after it has started and be able to fast forward through the commercials. And you can watch the shows you have recorded even while you are recording another show!

The DirecTV Plus Receiver has a 100 hour hard drive. Choosing a program to record is as simple as hitting the “Record” button when you have the program highlighted on the Program Guide. Pressing Record once records that episode. Pressing it twice records ALL EPISODES of that program!

The only “down side” I have found so far, (and most people will probably consider this to be a “personal problem”!) … is that the Program Guide which you see when you have the Direct TV DVR service is not the same Program Guide that you have gotten used to with regular DirecTV satellite service. This new Program Guide does not tell you the “air date” of the program … in other words, you usually can’t tell if a show is a new show or a rerun. It only gives you the year (i.e. 2006). So, if the information screen does not tell you that it is a repeat, you must either watch the first few minutes of a show to see if you’ve seen it before, or (if you have a second TV hooked up to satellite, but not to the DVR service, like we do), you can go check out the date on that Program Guide.

All things considered, if you are contemplating the purchase of a TIVO receiver, but you do not necessarily have your heart set on buying an ACTUAL TIVO receiver, it is worth your time to check out one of the “other TIVO receivers,” such as the DirecTV Plus Receiver, and do some comparison shopping before you make your final decision. And pass me a KLEENEX, please âÂ?¦ I have to sneeze! Oh, ok, I guess a generic tissue will do.

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