Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Being home for a few weeks means it's time to repair and refurbish the RV. I checked one item off the list yesterday. On the first day out on our last trip, the Directv decoder box died. I did have my home-brew Mac Mini DVR with a few hundred GB of saved TV and movies, so we weren't totally without flickering entertainment, but I just took this as a sign that I'd need to get a Directv/Tivo box just like we had in the living room. So yesterday I went to Circuit City and bought the standard offering.

It was disturbing. First, it was no longer a Tivo. Directv had shifted gears and decided to brew up their own DVR solution. This was a R15 Directv+Plus. At first glance it looked the same. But once glance at the remote and I knew I had signed up for another learning curve.

I ripped out the old Sony Directv box that had failed with some kind of power supply issue and put the new box in the cubby-hole over the driver's seat. It's going to take some juggling to mount it permanently where the IR remote sensor is visible. I have it propped up on the ledge in the photo. I'll also need to watch how hot it gets. There is no air circulation up there -- which may be why the Sony died after two years.

When I got everything plugged in and fired up. the box seemed to work just fine. I called Directv for activation and after a couple of false starts, I made contact with a live person who made the necessary database changes and real programming began to play. It was a mixed feeling. She gave me a little more information that the Circuit City sales person had neglected to mention.

I didn't buy the box. I leased it. Theoretically, I might need to ship it back to them in the future. Not only that, but I seemed to have signed up for a 24 month contract. While I might have agreed to these terms up front, it was disconcerting to discover them after I'd brought the box home and installed it. Water under the bridge.

Now comes the learning curve. I've been spoiled by Tivo. Having walked through all the screens and having actually recorded a few things, the R15 looks very bare. If I didn't have Tivo to compare with, I might be overjoyed. I can record movies from the schedule, and set up TV shows to record on a repeating basis. I can even auto record by actors names. But that's about it. Still it'll be easier than what I was doing with my home-brew lash-up, setting the EyeTV to blind record by time slot and then getting the TV to make sure an actual show was playing at the same time. Getting one gadget to do the work is better than two that don't talk to each other. After a few months, I'll tell you how this new R15 works out.


MegaZone said...

You can still get the R10 TiVo-based DirecTV DVR from vendors such as WeaKnees.com. So you could return that R15 and get an R10 to have the same TiVo features.

Henry Melton said...

After the fact, I have read some of the gripe threads on the R15 and I'm more aware of what I've gotten into. That said, it appears that there has been software upgrades in the past and more planned in the future.

TV isn't a huge part of my life, and the appeal of tinkering with a new and mutable gadget, with the strongest Directv support, out weighs the desire to get an officially obsolete, but familiar, product.

Endlessly hopeful -- that's me.