6319mori wrote:Beware of Tivo - You will need to purchase a subscription (either monthly or lifetime). Unfortunately, the lifetime subscription is not for your lifetime, but rather the lifetime of the unit. So when the hard drive wears out after a couple of years (as most computer hard drives do) or some other malfunction occurs, you are stuck with a broken unit - Tivo will not let you buy another unit and transfer your subscription.
That's true, usually...they had an offer for owners of older Series 1 players with LifeTime service some years, where buying a Series 2 permitted a transfer of the Lifetime service to the (then) new unit at no charge. But they've done this very seldom, and I don't know if they've done it at all recently. If I had to guess at a reason, I think they would do that when maintaining compatibility for the old boxes on the network crosses some sort of pain threshold.
As for breakdowns, 6139mori and other posters are right, replacing the Hard Drive is probably the most common problem, but it's something some medium-savvy people can do themselves (plenty of online step-by-step guides for that), and for not much money, you can pay somebody else to do it (sometimes in your own city without suffering shipping charges).
I've had this Series 2 for 5 or 6 years...getting LifeTime service for it was a really good investment for me. It just requires a big chunk of available money up front, which of course not everybody has.
Monthly service is about $15, or with some "pay the year up front," sometimes less. The breakdown:
monthly 1 year 2 year 3 year
13 156 312 468
15 180 360 540
Even if you have to pay full price($399) for Lifetime Service, if you use your Tivo (and it lasts without breaking) for less than 3 years, you win). Even paying a hypothetical 10 bucks a month, you still win at 3 years 3 months.
I've had mine for 5 years, so it's saved me a lot of money.
Does the cable company offer their own DVRs? Yes, but they're much more irritating to use than the Tivo I use now. Some people are evidently willing to bend over backward duct-taping together customer Tivo equivalent systems using Linux and web services...I admire them, but it's not for me.
RCN does business in my area and they offer a Tivo Premiere (but not the XL version with the big drive, or the good THX audio) at $19.99 per box per month. Over three years, that's a whopping $719.64. If you even use them as your provider.
Some people think you can get everything you need from the 'net (via Netflix, Hulu, whatever). I'm not convinced. Yet. So I estimate I'll still be watching cable three years from now. If that's true, buying an XL unit with lifetime service saves me money.