Lazy Programmers are Bad

The Comcast DVR (the Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8000) sucks so much more than a Tivo that it beggars belief, showing that lazy programmers can be bad:

1. When three shows conflict, it complains and gives you the option of canceling one. No, not the one episode that conflicts, the ENTIRE RECORDING, forever into the future. I lost a number of shows to this before I realized what was going on. Laziness extraordinaire.

2. When you are watching a show that is being recorded, and the recording finishes, the DVR does what's easy for it, not the viewer, stops the recording, and dumps you out to watch the channel that was being recorded. Since Jeopardy is on right before the awful Wheel of Fortune, this is especially unfortunate. When I had the Tivo, as I recall, it would sometimes pause for just a bit while it finalized the recording and then continue: the right behavior, not the lazy one.

3. I thought the Tivo interface where you use the video game style alphabet square to input two or three letters to look up a show to record was clunky until I started scrolling through 80 pages of "S" entries because the DVR is too stupid to let you narrow it down more than that. Oh, and you can only look at one day of "S" entries at a time.

4. This seems like a good time to mention that the remote is even slower than the somewhat sluggish Tivo remote.

5. The on-demand is buggy. If you switch to the on-demand channel and dare to change the channel while it's trying to connect, about 85% of the time, the DVR reboots, apparently just because the channel number and what's being displayed no longer sync. Talk about lazy!

6. When unattended, the DVR starts to act up like a bratty child seeking attention. It un-pauses shows way too quickly, and changes itself to "random" channels which all seem to be pay-per-view. Even more bizarrely, when it does un-pause a show, it goes into infinite loop mode and plays the same show over and over and over. Is that supposed to be an anti-theft deterrent?

6. The box only has one week of program schedule data. Now, given the problem with schedules changing, you might think that was a good thing, but it downloads a new schedule every night, so that shouldn't be an issue. The real problem is that if you encounter a new show you like, you have no way of knowing if it's a one-time special or on every week.

Here's the one positive thing about the Comcast DVR :

6. It has a dual tuner that records shows straight onto the hard drive.

Here's hoping the Tivo Comcast works much better. Here's hoping it actually materializes—if not, I'm switching back to the Tivo, dual tuner or not.

Posted by Chad Lundgren on Monday, February 6, 2006 (Link)