Consider all your options
Currently, I've got a dual tuner DirecTV DVR and a Tivo. There are various reasons for this, however, for ease of use, you should consider the Tivo. We've tried several DVR's, from sattelite to cable, and for ease of use, frustration with features and plain reliable operation, there really is no substitute for a Tivo.
DirecTV's DVR, while workable, isn't as intuitive as it could - or should - be. Finding the options you want in the menu system doesn't make sense to me - or my wife. Let's face it: The reason for recording shows is to watch them when YOU want to watch them, not when the broadcaster wants you to watch them, go back and "watch that again" AND (very important) to skip over the garbage (read: Commercials) that you don't want to see. Controlling the playback on the DirecTV DVR is difficult and it doesn't do what I want it to do when I hit the buttons. Someone out there will probably tell me my batteries may be going, or I shouldn't expect it to work like other DVR's, but everything's fine and I want it to work exactly as advertised, which it doesn't - or at least doesn't do it well.
Controlling playback on the Tivo seems to work much better. You can watch what you're skipping over and hit play when you want. The DVR will rewind a bit and start playing where you hit the button.
Movies: Tivo is the only DVR (I'm pretty sure) you can use to order movies on-line. Tivo has a function called "Amazon Unboxed" in which you can order any movie on Amazon's site for download right to the DVR. Granted, you have to wait for it to download, but once you have it, you have up to 30 days to watch it. Those movies cost (mostly) $1.99 - or - $.99. You can also buy them direct which means you own the right to watch it when you want. Like the Ipod, once you buy it, you can re-download it whenever you want.
Music and pictures: Tivo is also the only DVR (that I know of) you can use to stream music from your computer to your TV. If you're like many folks, everything is connected, so you can have music from the TV piped to your stereo. You can also watch slideshows of your digital pictures on your TV (great for parties). You can also watch your MPEG encoded movies stored on your computer on your TV...through your Tivo. Finally, you can also pull TV shows from the Tivo to your computer. These functions are available to anyone with Tivo, a home network, and a bit of playing around.
I've also seen a few DVR's made by a couple different cable companies. I give them credit for having the service, and I see their DVR's operating much the same way DirecTV's does.
Personally, I hate the Tivo subscription. I had the opportunity to purchase a lifetime subscription years ago and didn't. That was a mistake. However, the features available still make it worth while. Comparing, the difference between the Tivo subscription (which still requires some other signal source) and another DVR (Most are now on some sort of subscription basis), the cost difference isn't as great as one might think.
Good luck on your decision, and I hope this information helps you in your quest.
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