Recently, my day was over and I wanted to relax, so I took to the couch, picked up the remote, and turned on the television. Based on what time it was, I thought I’d catch the end of one of the shows I watch each week and then get to another program after that. I thought it would be a slow, relaxing night.
And then the fun began.
[Image credit: Steve Garfield]
As I turned on my DVR, it took about 15 seconds to start. When I tried changing the channels, it took about 10 seconds to perform the action. And in the moments when I hit a few buttons, like the channel up and channel down keys to test response time, it locked up for about a minute or so. When it came back, it performed all those actions in about a second.
At that point, I had enough. I knew the drill from talking to my cable company’s customer service agents in the past that the best idea in that situation is to unplug the DVR, wait 30 seconds, and plug it back in. So I did.
And then, as I stared at the black display on my television for, oh, about 5 minutes, I realized something. DVRs today are arguably the worst set-top boxes in any person’s entertainment center. And yet, many of us have them, so we can watch our favorite programming and record shows we want to see.
That is precisely why I can’t wait to get rid of my DVR. I long for the day when a single set-top box (or even a few) will be able to deliver me all the content I care about, so I can finally call the cable company and tell them that their DVR services are no longer required.
The best part is, I think I’m getting close to that point. I have Netflix streaming for old programming, the prospect of using Hulu Plus on my Roku set-top box at some point in the near future for the new stuff, and the possibility of seeing all kinds of content with Google TV once the search giant can find a way to coax studios into seeing its potential as the next big thing in home entertainment.
But alas, I’m not there yet. I watch too many cable shows for me to just ditch Time Warner Cable. And the content I’m currently accessing on other set-top boxes, like that on the Apple TV, can in no way match what I’m getting from my cable provider. At this point, I need to take the abuse my DVR doles out so I can be entertained.
But my patience is wearing thin. I have had countless DVRs over the years, and none of them have worked up to a standard that I even find adequate. There is no attention to detail put into the design of the boxes. They are simply poorly designed pieces of equipment that have no place in the home.
Now, I’m sure some might say I should get a TiVo. I should note that I have one in the bedroom. I replaced it in my living room with my DVR due to the issues I was having with my cable provider’s switched digital video adapter that accompanied the TiVo in order to access several channels. It was a major issue for me.
So, as I sit here contemplating what I will do tonight, I’m afraid I’ll have to go back to the DVR. It’s not that I want to — that’s certainly not the case — but at this point, I simply have no other choice.
What sort of DVR replacements do you think would solve this problem?
Don Reisinger is a technology and video game columnist. You can see what he's up to each day on Twitter by following him @donreisinger.
The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of SlashGear