Why Does My DVR Suck?

I remember a time – not long ago in the grand scheme of things – when I had to record my favorite television shows with a VCR. I'd pop in a new tape, set what time I wanted the recording to begin, and barring a power outage, it'd record my show without any trouble. It wasn't exactly a perfect solution for show recording, but it worked. And at that time, I was happy.Soon, DVRs entered the marketplace and everything changed. My cable company provided me with a DVR, allowing me to record a show at a given time. Best of all, it was recorded on a hard drive, so I didn't need to worry about using my tapes. The transition was incredible, and it was something that I thought could never get better.[Image credit: Steve Garfield]

But then things got better. Each year, it seemed better software kept coming to my cable company's DVR, and with a few upgrades here and there, the device seemed to work better. I even bought a TiVo and realized just how well that product worked.

But now things are different. Perhaps it's because I'm spoiled or because I'm asking too much, but my DVR today sucks. And what's worse, just about every DVR I've used is downright awful.

For a few days last week, my Motorola DVR has not recorded a single show, despite the fact that I have set it to record several series. Then suddenly, just yesterday, it started recording my shows as if nothing happened. It was a hiccup, my cable company said, and something that was worked out.

As happy as I am to see the fix, I know I've been in this position before. The DVR works well for a while and then suddenly, stops. In some cases, that means my hard drive gets filled up extremely quickly, despite the fact that I have only five shows saved. And when that happens, it doesn't take long before shows I recorded have been deleted.

When my hard drive is functioning properly, I find that my series recordings get screwed up. And if I want to record too many shows at once, the DVR software doesn't seem to follow the rules I've placed for hierarchy of importance.

[aquote]Even TiVo has its issues[/aquote]

I'll freely admit that my TiVo, which is in another room, works much better than my cable company's DVR. But even that product has its issues. Sometimes, for no apparent reason, the tuning adapter I need to have connected to the device stops working and my TiVo doesn't record anything. I've also had TiVo delete shows I haven't watched for, well, some reason.

I've come to the unhappy conclusion that DVRs, in far too many cases, are simply disappointing. And over the last few years, I haven't seen the kind of improvements that would make me believe that the companies are trying to improve things.

Worst of all, I know I'm not alone. Just Google "DVR problems" and you'll find millions of people suffering from the same woes as me. And each one of them has discovered that, as many complaint calls as they make, nothing changes.

So, I think it's time for something new. The DVR is far from perfect and perhaps moving away from even satisfactory. DVRs suck. And unfortunately, I'm forced to live with them. That sucks, too.