Consumer Report – COMCAST DVR

Do you have Comcast as your cable provider? Probably right? I mean who really has another cable provider in this area, especially if you want to watch the Flyers, Phils or Sixers. Most of you that have Comcast probably have digital cable through Comcast because they have made it just about impossible to use their Analog service anymore. So those of you with 400 channels might be thinking with all this programming to watch how can I watch it all, well Comcast claims they have the answer for you in their DVR (Digital Video Recorder) package.

For me I get my HDTV Digital Cable box with a built in DVR, basically just a computer hard drive that has been formatted to record and playback video. I get the option of watching a program while recording another, or I can set it up to record while I am at work. Or maybe I want to record all the episodes of say American Idol over the course of a week, well it can do that to. Or so claims Comcast.

Instead what I got is a box that didn’t work upon initial installation. Comcast then told me I installed it wrong and they would have to send a tech out to fix it. OK, maybe I did (I doubt it because I am kind of an AV nut) so I go without Cable for 36+ hours. Cable guy comes out, fiddles with it some and eventually gets it to work. Now I am happier than a pig in shit right?

Wrong. OK well maybe at first I was. I go through and set up my recording schedule. The Amazing Race, Prison Break, 24, Two and a Half Men, CSI Miami, American Idol, House, South Park, Bones, and TNA Impact. The first real test is Monday night when I have four shows over the course of three hours to record and one of the shows has a time crossover with another of my shows (Two and a Half Men / 24). The next morning I check out a sampling of the recordings (particularly Two and a Half Men because I didn’t see it). It’s there and it plays. So I go to work. I come home expecting to be able to watch my recorded Two and Half Men and find out that it isn’t there. Comcast has reset the box. Not only that but I don’t have sound now either.

I call Comcast, slightly annoyed because I really wanted to see Two and a Half Men and tell them my problem. They apologize for resettign the box and then tell me they have to do it again because all their trouble shooting for the volume isn’t working. Unplug box, plug box back in poof I now have sound. I am annoyed so I don’t set up any recording for Tuesday and it is only two hours of Idol which I am going to watch anyway.

I next try out the DVR with My Name is Earl and The Office while I plan to watch American Idol. When it is time for My Name is Earl I get a message on my screen telling me I can either switch over to My Name is Earl or cancel the recording. Why would I want to cancel the recording? The reason I set up the recording was so I could watch American Idol while My Name Is Earl is on. The stupid book tells me I can do this. Evidently the book is wrong as I lose the ability to record My Name is Earl and The Office while watching another channel. Pissed again I call Comcast again, oh it is a glitch they say, I need to reset my box again. Unplug, replug. Poof it’s working again.

Then came the straw that has broken my back. I was out last night recording Total BS so I set up the box to record American Idol and House. I get home and everything looks fine. I begin to watch American Idol and get through 41 minutes of the show and poof it’s over. There were still three contestants left to sing. Now I am ticked. I calm myself down and put on the recording of House, which lasts exactly one second despite claiming to be 60 minutes long. So not only do I not get to see all of Idol but I get to see none of House (except for the one second of black screen). So Friday the box is going back and I am going to get a standalone DVR.

While you might say this could just be a one off case, please be advised that I have talked to numerous people who have had similar experiences with Comcast DVR. Comcast is on my S list now and that’s not a good place to be. For anyone interested in DVR my recommendation is to stay away from the Comcast product. Go with Tivo or another standalone recorder, don’t waste your time with a broken product.

4 Comments so far

  1. jen (unregistered) on March 7th, 2007 @ 2:10 pm

    you mean comCRAP. i’ve been having non-stop problems with my insanely expensive internet. they keep trying to say it’s the modem. it’s not the modem. check out these stories as well:

  2. Loker (unregistered) on March 7th, 2007 @ 6:55 pm

    reading over your article it seems to be a case of user error…

    1. the no sound is caused by shutting off the box and then turning it on while it is in the middle of a recording…the box mute’s itself as a service to users with surround sound systems they do not turn off that way it does not blare what it is recording in the middle of the night.

    2. you can watch one program and record another…just say yes you want to record that program still and if it changes the channel (which it usually wont) there is a small button on the bottom of the remote called “swap” that will let you jump between both tuners.

    3. I am betting the american idol and house ordeal was caused by the signal being lost…this could either be Comcast’s fault or your local broadcasters.

    4. The recordings disappearing was a glitch with the system a few days back that was resolved in about a day or two’s time….if you had gone to your main menu then to DVR instead of just pushing the my dvr button during that 2 day span your recordings would have still been there.

  3. Chris (unregistered) on March 7th, 2007 @ 7:56 pm

    Loker interesting info unfortunately these problems were not caused by myself.

    1. The box was not scheduled to be recording anything when it was shut off infact it was never shut off by anyone in the house (unless my dogs have decided they are going to watch television in the middle of the night and then manage to climb to the top of the television and play with the remote.) In addition to that why then would the tech support at Comcast not know this as they ran me through every possible test to get it to work and then finally decided, oh well let’s reset the box. Instead I am asked questions like is you TV on? How about the volume? Can you turn the volume all the way up? Oh it is? Can you hear anything? Because you should be. Oh, maybe it’s your TV, did you check with the manufacturer?

    2. When I had My Name is Earl scheduled to record I followed the instructions in the book directly. The box switched over to My Name is Earl anyway. I then hit swap as the book also says and I was told my recording had been cancelled.

    3. My wife was at home last night and watched both programs in their entirity with no interuption or message stating that the recordings had stopped or been interupted. Instead I get 41 minutes of Idol and 1 second of House. Glad I bought into their system.

    4. Ahh…. see the thing with this was that is how I do get to my recordings anyway and alas my recordings were not there.

    In regards to system glitches, Comcast may want to notify their customers using their message feature (that hardly anyone uses) that is equipped in the box of potential problems when they come across these issues as opposed to just letting us hang out to dry.

  4. Dan (unregistered) on March 16th, 2007 @ 10:18 am

    I had the missing programs glitch yesterday. I got home from vacation a few days ago, very late like 2am. Both of my comcrap dvr boxes had a ‘D1’ display with a spinning 0. They wouldnt turn on or anything. So i let them alone and went to bed.

    Next day, i find out the dvr in my bedroom lost all its recordings and schedule. The one downstairs is fine.

    Pissed i called comcrap. they say they dont know what happend. Asking for a month refund was futile.

    Now I have to wait until all my programs update in the guide for next week to reset the schedule. So annoying.

    Being a tivo user for 6 years and only having maybe ONE time i lost a program, this is just amazing. Its amazing comcrap/motorola would put out such a huge lump of steaming crap and call it a DVR. Only reason i have it is because of HD, and the Tivo HD is too expen$ive.

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