As I mentioned yesterday, the cessation of TiVo multi-room viewing (MRV) and ongoing SDV tuning adapter resync annoyances has me playing the field. Over the years, I’ve known a few people running Scientific Atlanta’s 8300HD line of DVRs. I haven’t used one in a couple years, but the issues that bothered me then are still in play on the unit I’ve rented from Cox. (Something like $26/mo including an additional outlet fee).
In many ways, SA’s SARA software sort of feels like a pre-TiVo, pre-ReplayTV DVR. Except those were the first. And you’d think the DVR experience would have evolved in some way over the last ten years. Yet the pixelated graphics, aliased text, and an inability to pause/play without an interstitial black screen sure seems like an alternate history unit from the mid 90s. Also, maybe it’s an option I just couldn’t track down on AVS, but I found the 4:3 UI on a 16:9 screen somewhat jarring and wasteful – I’ve got the space, use it.
Having said that, the 8300HD (actually, it’s an 82*0) does what it should. It’s not as polished as most other DVR experiences, but the retro visuals belie some fairly sophisticated recording options. Perhaps more importantly, it opened our household to the world of OnDemand programming – which is inaccessible from retail one-way CableCARD devices like TiVo. Content may be king… and we enjoyed most of HBO’s True Blood, Season 2 over a few days without needing a Season Pass.
Stay tuned for additional coverage as my experimentation continues… I’ve got a drill and an RF remote. I’ve also got a Slingcatcher. And Ceton’s upcoming Windows Media Center M-Card tuner, coupled with extender hardware, looks promising.