The Good TiVo pauses live TV; controls cable and satellite boxes; ergonomic remote; excellent user interface and searchable program guide; supports networked audio, photos, and programming options.
The Bad TiVo requires additional monthly or lifetime charges; needs non-VoIP landline for initial setup; no HDTV support.
The Bottom Line The best interface on the planet and cool network options make TiVo the standalone DVR of choice.
TiVo DVR Series2
Note: TiVo has rereleased its Series2 DVR with a silver and white case in place of the original black. Aside from the cosmetic change, the two units are identical.
TiVo is a victim of its own success: people use the word to refer to any digital video recorder (DVR), whether or not it's actually made by the company. While this TiVo lacks the cosmetic update (silver and white instead of black) of the newer Series2, it still is the best, most versatile standalone DVR you can buy. Its superior interface and network-friendly features far surpass competing DVRs offered by cable companies. In fact, the only real competition--not including TiVo-powered DVD recorders and satellite receivers from other manufacturers--remains ReplayTV's, which offers automatic commercial skipping, real-time program sharing between multiple units, and progressive-scan output not found on the TiVo. The catch? Like Replay, TiVo requires a monthly fee of $13 or a onetime payment of $300 above and beyond its $299 price tag. Compared to an extra $8 or so on the monthly cable bill--typical of what you'll pay your cable company for its DVR--that's still way too expensive for most people.
Editor's note: We have changed the rating in this review to reflect recent changes in our rating scale. Click here to find out more.