We bought a new DVD player (and recorder, not that I really care) last month, with a built-in hard drive. Noteworthy aspects:

  • In Spanish, it’s called a “Grabador de DVD con disco duro”. This amuses me, for no particular reason.
  • It is nice having a DVR, though we watch little enough TV that we’re not getting so much benefit yet out of the “pause live TV” aspects. We’ll probably get more use out of it next baseball season.
  • It doesn’t have all the fancy Tivo stuff, but it also doesn’t require a monthly subscription. Which is definitely a good tradeoff, as far as I’m concerned – I’m morally opposed to having to pay a subscription fee to use my electronics. It does grab a program guide off the cable signal; it doesn’t do as much with it as I think it should, but it’s still pretty useful.
  • One of the reasons why the program guide is particularly useful for us is that the only stuff we normally record is Food Network programs (Iron Chef, Good Eats; speaking of which, Gear for Your Kitchen is pretty good); we can’t tell it to record all episodes of those shows, but we can tell it to record at certain times if those shows are being broadcast but not otherwise, and it’s easy to browse all food-related programs.
  • Having a large hard drive (ours is 120GB) is surprisingly useful.
  • It’s kind of ironic that it can’t record digital TV, given that it has an MPEG decoder (and encoder) built in. You’d think that somebody would make a DVR that can also decode HD broadcast signals, given the plethora of HD monitors.
  • It crashes occasionally. Which isn’t something that I want in my consumer electronics. But it hasn’t caused any real problems yet.
  • The DVD player remembers where we were last watching basically every DVD that we’ve ever put into it. Which was a little freaky at first, but is pretty useful once we’re used to it – e.g. we can switch between Miranda’s and our DVD’s.
  • It has a slow response time to button presses, and a really slow response time to being turned on or off.

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