A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Cablevision DVR Is Out the Door on Saturday

I can't stand my Cablevision DVR. It is surprisingly useless. If you have one and it is your first DVR, check into Tivo. The difference is huge. I had Tivo for a number of years, first with Direct TV satellite tv with a dish in my front yard, then with cable. I even sent a Tivo with my daughter to college and set one up in Erie, Pennsylvania while I was on sabbatical. But when Verizon came and told me This Is Huge, I gave them a try and regrettably gave up Tivo for their pitiable recording device. After a few months, Cablevision stepped in to free me from Verizon FIOS hell but in the process delivered their own even crappier DVR. I'm happy with the Cablevision service overall, especially the better picture and Internet speed, but the DVR is amazingly awful.

So the other day I called Cablevision and scheduled an appointment for them to come Saturday morning to remove their deficient piece of equipment and install a new Tivo device, which I bought last night at Best Buy. Cablevision has to do it because they have to install a card in the Tivo that allows it to recognize the cable signal. There is also a tuner adapter that will allow me to receive pay per views and special channels.

I look forward to having Tivo again on the tv I watch. Off the top of my head, the Cablevision DVR has the following glaring problems:
  • Cablevision has no equivalent to Tivo's Season Pass, a basic list of all shows I typically watch and record. It only has a To Do List, a list of shows that will record in the next week or so. So I have Monk set to record but I can't see Monk or Psych on a list anywhere in the Cablevision machine because their seasons are over and no episodes are scheduled to record for months. If I wanted to confirm that Monk is in the system, or change my recording options, I can't.
  • Cablevision has an abysmal search feature. It searches within a particular day, so if you don't know what day your show is on you can't find it. It uses clumsy alphabetical lists of shows that can be maddening to navigate. I finally resorted to using the channel guide and scrolling through favorite channels to locate shows I wanted to record. If you're struggling along with a Cablevision or Verizon DVR and have never used a Tivo, you don't know what you're missing.
  • Cablevision has an awful remote. The Tivo remote is much better. The buttons on the Cablevision remote are little devils ready to wreak havoc on your viewing pleasure.
It will be nice to be back in familiar territory. Cablevision, buy a clue and improve your DVR software.


  1. Pat, I am so jealous. I also had TiVo with DiercTV, an it was awesome. I didn't know you could do that. If you don't mind me asking, how much did a Tivo run you at Best Buy? Is it HD? And does Cablevision charge you more for third party DVRs?

  2. We spent $149 for the Tivo device. They had an HD version for $299 and a super duper HD for $599. I think it had lots of additional memory, something you need to keep in mind if you have an HD system -- HD uses lots of memory. Tivo service is a separate deal -- $12.95/mo.

    I've had another issue with the Cablevision DVR. When I watch part of a show that I plan to watch the rest of later, the Cablevision DVR loves to resurrect the show and play it to the end no matter what I do. Last night, I exited a tv show that I intended to watch the rest of this morning. I went to the Channel Guide and picked a random show from the list, in the vain hope that the DVR would store my location in the show. Then I turned off the stereo tuner and tv and went to bed. This morning, the DVR had played the show through to the end and the DVR was in some sort of power saver mode. This morning, I had to find my place in the show again so I could finish watching my show. Maybe the Cablevision DVR needs to be turned off when not in use? That seems unlikely. Tivo stays on all the time. I'm just glad I'm getting rid of it.

  3. Yeah, it's not enough to pause or stop a recorded show. You need to watch something else or turn it off.

    Eons ago, I had ReplayTV, with the commercial skip feature. That was Nirvana. I can't stand the Cablevision DVR but I'm too cheap to buy another unit and pay the higher monthly rental. Plus, if something ever goes wrong with the service, you run the risk of everybody telling you it's the other guy's fault. Also, Cablevision is quicker to replace the unit if it's defective at any time in the future.

  4. Once you start using a DVR, you stop knowing when your shows are on. I rarely watch live television anymore: I always draw from my collection of recorded shows. I couldn't begin to tell you when Without A Trace is on anymore, or any of the other shows I routinely watch.

    I don't expect to have technical problems with my Tivo. We had a lightning hit on our DirecTV unit a long time ago. Its brains were scrambled and we couldn't find anybody to fix it. We had to just suck it up and buy a new one. The telephone answering machine was playing when we got home; it sounded like the Devil himself. That machine also was toast and had to be replaced. That was the good ole days when we had a telephone modem; that, too, received a jolt from the clouds. All in all, a costly affair.