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Motorola 6400-Series DVR with Cox Digital Cable

HD recorder takes on Tivo in home theater market By Dave Nagel
Summary: The Cox HD service with the Motorola 6400-series HD DVR is targeted toward home theater enthusiasts looking for a higher-quality alternative to Tivo. It features component video  and optical (Toslink) audio out and provides 60 hours of standard-definition recording, or 10 hours of HD recording. The quality and features of this service should make Tivo worry and at least rethink their strategy for the high-end home theater market.
Recommendation: 4.5 out of 5
Users: Home theater enthusiasts
Platform: Not relevant
Price: $13.95 per month for the HD DVR rental and service
More information:

I've been a fan of Tivo from Day 1. I bought a first-generation box and picked up a lifetime subscription to the Tivo service before I'd ever even seen it in action ... just because it sounded so cool. And it was. But a lot has changed in the intervening years. Tivo has gone from obscurity to a household word--actually two words, as it's now both a noun and a verb. But the digital home theater market has been changing as well, and Tivo, while making advancements in some directions, hasn't really been keeping up.

Specifically, Tivo is lacking in two critical areas: digital audio and component (or digital) video outputs. These features, of course, are available on the DirecTV version of the Tivo box, but not for cable TV viewers. So, when my cable company--Cox Communications--began offering its own DVR with Tivo-like features, I was willing to give it a try. After all, the box itself--the Motorola 6400-series HD DVR--has no upfront cost aside from installation, and the service runs just $4 per month, on top of the monthly equipment rental charge of $9.95. So, at a total monthly cost of $13.95, it's right in line with Tivo's monthly fee. Plus, I thought, if I decide to cancel it, I'm not out the price of the box itself. I can just end the service, and that's it.

Long story short: I won't be canceling the service anytime soon.

The Motorola 6400-series HD DVR

Ease of use: 5 out of 5
Setup and use of the HD DVR is far more simple than I'd expected. Basic installation is, of course, handled by a cable technician, who sets up the connections to a television, ensures the box is operating properly and authorizes the box with the MSO. Beyond that, you'll be on your own in terms of working it into your home theater environment. Cox supplies the component video cables, a composite video cable and RCA stereo audio cables. I had to supply my own digital audio cable, but, fortunately, I have a few spares, having done quite a bit of experimentation with my home theater over the years.

I also had to make my own manual adjustment to the output format for my standard-definition channels because my HDTV won't display a 480i picture through the component inputs. But sure enough, the first place I looked, I was able to change the output to display 1080i for HD content and several varieties of 480p for the standard-def content.

But what about the DVR service itself? I was worried that no cable service would really be a match for the Tivo service I'd grown to love over the years. But I was pleasantly surprised. The Guide function provides a standard programming grid with basic information on each show you highlight, while pressing the "Info" button on the remote calls up more detailed information, such as year (in some cases), a detailed summary, cast information and recommendation.

To record a show I've selected, as with the Tivo service, I simply select it, and a number of recording options are provided to me. I can also search for shows using keywords or title (just like Tivo) and set up entire series for recording, a la Tivo's "Season Pass Manager."

The DVR provides me with a list of shows I've recorded, along with the approximate time each show will remain on the hard drive. And it provides me with a list of scheduled recordings--along with options for changing them (a la Tivo's "To Do List" feature--and several options for managing my series recording schedule, including things like recording early or late for shows that typically don't start on time.

The "Saved Shows" list

The "Scheduled Recordings" list

The "Series Manager"


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Related Keywords:tivo, dvr, cox cable, hd cable, hd dvr, motorola 6400, passport echo, record high definition


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