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Friday, June 25, 2010

MyTVOptions Gives You A Plethora Of Choices

Shopping around for good prices on the best television-viewing bundles is a periodic phenomenon in my household.  Cable television rates keep going up at well above the inflation rate, so it seems as if my entertainment bills become unaffordable as soon as I start enjoying the programming!  Moreover, the amount of programming has also gone up tremendously, with all the major networks setting up multiple channels to beam in programming.  Unfortunately, one can not multi-task by watching several TV programs at the same time, so you have to time-shift some of the programs you want to watch to other times just to be able to enjoy everything you want to.

Moreover, your tastes don't correspond to the tastes of everybody else in the family, so you need to compromise, and watch some things live, leaving other things to be recorded for later viewing.  Because of this, having a good system to record programs for later viewing is very important to my household.  Digital video recorders (DVR's) allow you to do this without messing with tapes (which invariably run out 10 minutes before your show is supposed to end).  During my recent round of price-checking I came across a good deal on MyTVOptions.  And the reason it was a good deal in my mind was the fact that when you signed up for any package, you can get an HD DVR and an HD receiver for free.  That is worth almost $300 if you have to buy them yourself, so my price-comparison antennae perked up immediately when I saw that!  MyTVOptions also offers you 50% off the first year's rates, so that also adds up to significant savings.

But what caught my attention was the impressive specifications on the DVR they were offering for free.  The DVR for DIRECTV is 15"x11"x3" in approximate dimensions and weighs only 8 lbs.  The DVR is programmed chock-full of features to make your recording and viewing as pain-free as possible.  You can pause and time-shift live TV by upto 90 minutes.  You can set the DVR up for recording your favorite shows by using a simple menu-driven interface that allows you to search for your favorite shows by title, person, channel or keyword.  You can also set up the DVR to record a whole season of your favorite shows automatically.  You can also watch recordings while recording other shows.  And when you are watching a recording, you can skip forward in 30-second intervals to get past commercials, speed up or slow down the playback, etc.  All in all, this is a very powerful, feature-packed DVR.  Most importantly, the DVR allows me to connect external hard drives to it for increased recording space.

Just for comparison, I also took a look at the DVR for Time Warner Cable.  This DVR comes at a cost of about $11 per month on top of your regular subscription fees.  The capabilities are quite similar, but the site is skimpy on details like dimensions and weight.  I also could not find what outputs are available on the DVR for audio and video.  Most importantly, there is no provision to attach external hard drives to this DVR to get additional program storage space.

I then took a look at the DVR for Dish Network also.  This DVR is also quite capable and comes built in with slingbox technology allowing you to watch the programs recorded on it on your computer and other devices.  It also comes with a large 1 TB hard drive and provision to attach external hard drives to increase the storage space even further if needed.  But, this DVR is a quite a bit bigger and heavier than the DirecTV DVR, being about 4"x16"x13", and weighing in at 11 lbs.

Good DVR's add to your enjoyment of TV immensely, so it is important to pick one that suits your needs.  Price and capabilities usually go hand in hand.  And usually, I find it better and cheaper to pay for something one time rather than paying for it on a monthly basis.  But I find it best when I can get something for free and not have to pay for it at all, either one-time or month after month.  The DVR offer at MyTVOptions is certainly very tempting in this regard.  Being able to get 50% off the first year is another big plus that just might end up clinching the deal!

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