Thursday, February 28, 2008

i predict

When my old TV died I bought a new one that supported HDTV. That was mainly for the sake of gaming, since the new systems are designed for HDTV meaning the text on screen tends to be unreadable on anything else. But I figured I might as well also get a new DVR from Time Warner that supported HDTV. And shockingly that new box, which should represent the top technology, has inferior features to the non-HDTV DVR I had before.

So I emailed a complaint to Time Warner, reproduced below, and here is my prediction, based on past experiences with Time Warner:

They won't understand what I'm talking about. They will reply in a way that ignores every single point below, and give me detailed instructions on how to search for things even though it is obvious from my email that I have already familiarized myself with all the new features of my new DVR. They will not acknowledge that there are any real differences between the two DVRs and they will most definitely not assure me that they are working to upgrade the new DVR to contain the features of the older one (because, as I mentioned before, they won't even understand what I'm saying).

I let you know when I hear back whether I am right or whether my email miraculously gets to someone who is not a complete idiot.

Since I just bought an HDTV TV, I swapped my old DVR, the Explorer 8000, for the Explorer 8300HDC, and was shocked to discover that while I gained a few HDTV channels, I lost a number of important features.

Most notably it is no longer possible to auto-search for movies and actors. With the old DVR I could do a keyword search and choose to tell my DVR to record anything with that keyword. My new DVR will not let me search by keyword at all, only by title, and there is no way to tell it to automatically record all of anything (for example, I can't say, record everything directed by Alain Resnais nor can I say record any movie with "juno" in the title." Oddly, the search can turn up shows for which there are no upcoming episodes (perhaps it contains a list of all current TV shows) but it won't give you the option to tell it to record that show whenever it comes on even though it has the name of the show in its records!

The series record options are also more anemic. There are less options: you can no longer choose specific times & channels.

The way search is implemented is also inferior. With my old DVR, if I had the guide on a particular show and switched to the search interface it would show me all upcoming instances of that particular show, which was a very quick way to find a time to record a show that wouldn't interfere with anything else I was recording. Now it just starts the list at the top, and if you want to find that particular show you just had in the guide you have to use the text input.

The last thing I've noticed in the mere HOUR I've had this is more minor, but the remote is quite inferior in design to the old one, which was the best designed remote control I have seen anywhere. So that's a shame.

So I gave up all those good features on my old DVR just so I can watch a handful of channels in HD, like ONE of my HBO channels (but not HBO on demand). I find this hugely disappointing, and hope you are planning to raise what one would have expected to be your most advanced box, since it supports HDTV, up to the level of your most basic box.

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