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Philips DSR6000 (DirecTV and TiVo) review: Philips DSR6000 (DirecTV and TiVo)

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The Good Great picture and sound; easy to use.

The Bad Can't record off cable or antenna.

The Bottom Line A real boon for DirecTV subscribers.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

8.0 Overall

Review Sections

(Updated 11/01/01)
By integrating a state-of-the-art TiVo digital video recorder (DVR) with a DirecTV receiver, the Philips DSR6000 digital satellite receiver/recorder gives us the best of both worlds: the full spectrum of DirecTV programming, with enough channels to put most cable systems to shame, and the ability to watch those programs whenever you want with the original, near-broadcast-quality picture and sound of a live DirecTV broadcast. This DVR, which, aside from its cosmetics and the layout of its remote control, is virtually identical in features and quality to the Sony SAT-T60 integrated DirecTV/TiVo DVR, is an absolute joy to use--with one significant caveat. (Updated 11/01/01)
By integrating a state-of-the-art TiVo digital video recorder (DVR) with a DirecTV receiver, the Philips DSR6000 digital satellite receiver/recorder gives us the best of both worlds: the full spectrum of DirecTV programming, with enough channels to put most cable systems to shame, and the ability to watch those programs whenever you want with the original, near-broadcast-quality picture and sound of a live DirecTV broadcast. This DVR, which, aside from its cosmetics and the layout of its remote control, is virtually identical in features and quality to the Sony SAT-T60 integrated DirecTV/TiVo DVR, is an absolute joy to use--with one significant caveat.

We're converted
Standalone TiVo recorders have a built-in MPEG II encoding device, which converts regular analog TV into compressed digital video. But because DirecTV uses the same MPEG II compression for its digital video satellite transmission, Philips (and Sony) left out the internal MPEG II encoder. This is both an advantage and a disadvantage.

On the plus side, the digital DirecTV bit stream gets recorded directly off the satellite instead of being first converted to analog, then recompressed into digital form. As result, you get the full 35 hours' worth of recording time with the picture and sound coming out just as good as it does on a live broadcast. This machine even records the 5.1-channel Dolby Digital surround sound found on many pay-per-view channels and one of the Starz premium movie channels. We found the picture and sound quality, whether live or recorded, to be on a par with the standard-definition picture from our high-end reference DirecTV receiver, an RCA DTC-100. Because the DSR6000 supports Dolby Digital surround sound while the standalone TiVo does not, we rate the picture and sound to be as good or better than the best-quality recording level of a TiVo box on its own.

On the downside, with no built-in MPEG II encoder, you can't record programs off cable or antenna with the DSR6000, though you can still view them. Since DirecTV offers local stations in many cities, which in most cases consist of the local ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC affiliates, plus the national PBS feed, this may not be an issue for you. But if, for example, you just gotta have your regular Star Trek fix and DirecTV doesn't offer the local UPN affiliate, you might be better off using a standalone TiVo recorder instead of the integrated version.

Fine-tuning
The DSR6000's dual DirecTV receivers is a really slick feature, enabling you to either record two programs simultaneously or watch one live broadcast while recording another. Since Philips lacks a dedicated button on the remote for this purpose, you need to hit the Display button, then use the Navigation and Select buttons to toggle between channels. It sounds more complex than it actually is, but having a dedicated button on the remote would obviously be a lot easier. Another feature that could help turn the tide against UltimateTV, picture-in-picture, isn't available. So, despite its slightly inconvenient implementation, the dual receivers are a great feature, especially during November sweeps.

Other than its inability to record programs off cable or antenna, the Philips DSR6000 integrated DirecTV receiver/TiVo recorder is a pure joy to use. Its $399 list price is right on target when you consider the price of separate receivers and recorders. But don't forget that you'll need to pay for both the DirecTV and the TiVo services each month. Also, be sure to take a look at the nearly identical Sony SAT-T60 to figure out which device is better for you.

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