Once you own a DVR, a digital video recorder, sometimes thought of as a TIVO, you’ll understand what a magnificent device it is for television lovers. The functionality is so useful you’ll want one on every TV set you own. However, that doesn’t mean DVRs can’t be improved.
Within a very short time you’ll want more hard disk space, especially if you’re recording shows in high definition. We can save 10-20 shows depending on length and quality. Our Scientific Atlanta 8300HD allows for an external SATA drive to be attached to the unit to expand storage capacity, but I’ve already got enough electronic boxes sitting on my television stand and too many plugs plugged into my surge protector. I would say a 320 gigabyte hard drive, about double our current capacity, would be about right. You want to keep a nice selection of shows for the family to watch when the mood strikes them, but you don’t want to create a junk hole like the drawer in the kitchen that collects everything but where you can’t find anything.
Now that brings up my first idea. It would be great to save shows to folders, so each family member could have their own selection of shows to control and protect. Space allocation should be assignable to each folder.
Next up is bookmarks. I’d like to be able to bookmark where I left off – and each show should have it’s own bookmarks. An even spiffier feature would be named bookmarks, so each family member can have their own. When a show is highlighted in the DVR directory, it should display how many bookmarks are placed on the show, that way people won’t erase any show someone is still watching.
One way to handle bookmarks would be to offer the option: delete up to this point. That would save a viewer’s place and add space back to the drive for more recording. These are computer hard drives, so adding such features should not be hard. It’s just computer programming.
The biggest feature I’d love in my next DVR is a built-in DVD player. I hate switching video sources and juggling two remotes. Why have a whole other box needing a second HDMI cable and HDMI port when it’s very logical to just combine the DVD and DVR players into one box. It would save power, remotes, and further simplify the use of televison. Better yet, make that built-in drive a Blu-Ray or HD-DVD recorder. Then if the hard drive gets too full I could off-load shows to disk.
Now this might be a total fantasy of a desire, but why not add a 5.1 sound amplifier into the box so I could jettison my AV receiver too? It would help if a new standard emerged for speaker cable connections or even wireless connections, so that the back side of this box wasn’t as big as my current receiver. I don’t expect high-end audiophile quality either. All I want is more simplicity in my setup.
Finally, and I know this is showing just how much of a TV whore I am, but I’d love another tuner. Susan and I can currently record two shows and watch a third from the recorded list, but quite often we wish we could record three shows at once.
If Comcast and Scientific Atlanta ever came out with this dream DVR we’d be loyal subscribers for life. By the way, I do feel the perfect DVR has to be part of the set-top box. I’ve messed with computer PVRs and they just don’t cut the cake. And standalone DVRs like TIVO just add complexity to my television viewing. My basic belief is a cable TV or satellite TV provider is only as good as their set-top and DVR combo box. It’s no longer how many channels they provide, but how easy they make the television viewing experience. Susan and I would hate to go back to the pre-DVR television days. The enjoyment of television watching has been improved by DVRs as much as when TV broadcasting added color.