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TiVo Vs DVR Down To The Wire Comparison Is TiVo Really The Best?

TiVo Vs DVR – Which Is The Best TV Recorder

In this write up we will compare TiVo and a standard DVR to help you make a more informed decision and get the option that suits you better if you are looking to get a DVR.

The truth is DVRs were already introduced to the world even before TiVo was known. But then it is Tivo that really brought the technology to the limelight and with time it became popular.

We live in a fast-moving world and many people have busy lifestyles. This means you may not always have the time to sit through the entire episode of a show.

Thankfully, someone invented a DVR and people can now record shows to be viewed in their own free time. Since DVRs have gained so much popularity, most cable companies provide free DVR or at a small monthly fee included in the subscription.

TiVo is both a set-top box and a service. To make the most of the features and benefits the service has to offer, you’ll need a subscription.

You will also have to incur an initial cost of buying the set-top box. This makes TiVo a bit more expensive than the typical DVR.

One of the biggest debates of all time has been the similarities and differences between TiVo and other DVRs like Tablo. At a glance, these two services appear similar.

They offer more or less the same thing. But then there are a couple of factors that differentiate them. On that note, let’s take an in-depth look at each of these services and compare them head to head.

What is TiVo?

Originally introduced to the market in 1999, TiVo is a type of DVR that has quickly become a household name. TiVo is actually among the very first companies to introduce DVR technology to the world.

With this, people have the ability to record shows on TV and watch them whenever they want. You no longer have to watch shows when they’re listed.

While the original concept was to allow users to record TV shows, TiVo has grown and advanced its technology to become much more than this.

At the moment, TiVo has more competitors than when it started but it remains a popular DVR for thousands of consumers.

TiVo isn’t the kind of company to sit around and do nothing. As you might have noticed, television options are progressing very fast and the competition is increasing by the day.

For that reason, TiVo has been striving to keep up with the latest technology. It has improved and advanced its DVR boxes over time by incorporating more options such as streaming and integration with some of the popular apps.

You will need a monthly subscription to make the most out of it but the price is competitive and many users believe it is the better deal. The good thing about TiVo is that it has many great features which viewers really need.

What is a DVR?

DVR or Digital Video Recorder is basically a device that works to record videos from a source for playback at a later time. There is usually a television programming guide to make it easy for you to locate all the shows you want.

The majority of the DVRs consist of large-capacity hard drives. But some can also come with flash memory cards for storage. That being said, storage capacity is a critical part of the DVR.

Different types are ranging from small storage with up to two tuners all the way to massive hard drive storage capabilities.

Among the great features of DVR is the ability to pause and rewind live TV. You can take advantage of these and create sports replays.

In addition, many of the DVRs allow users to watch a previously recorded program while recording at least two others at the same time. Others have a greater capacity.

You might still be wondering if the standard DVR that comes with your cable service is the better deal or you should go for TiVo.

Many people avoid the TiVo DVR because the upfront cost is quite high. You have to purchase a set-top box as well as pay a monthly subscription to fully enjoy the service.

However, TiVo offers more options compared to the traditional DVR. So let’s compare the two.


Most of the time, the DVR you get from your cable company is rented at a cost that ranges from $5 to $15 a month. Fortunately, there are usually lesser upfront costs too because the device is rented.

You don’t have to invest hundreds of dollars in getting a DVR device. Furthermore, several cable companies allow you to swap your rented device in case it malfunctions or fails.

Some devices are prone to crashing within a few days of use and thus, the free swaps are a huge convenience.

On the other hand, TiVo has a range of set-top boxes that you can purchase depending on your specific needs. The initial costs of the boxes range from $200 to $600 depending on the particular model.

There is also the subscription cost in addition to the unit price. The subscription cost is about $15 per month. This might seem like a high price to pay considering you’re also purchasing the set-top box.

But then the device is for you to keep and use whenever you want. The features that TiVo offers its consumers are far much more and superior to what you get with standard DVR.

Recording capacity

As a user, you want to know the recording capacity of your DVR. This is very important because it determines the number of shows you can record and keep to watch later.

TiVo might be a bit more expensive than the standard DVR but it’s capable of recording up to 150 hours of HD programming. This is more than enough for most people and will get the work done. On the other hand, the standard cable DVR provides up to 20 hours.

When you compare the two, TiVo has a bigger and better recording capacity. Therefore, if you have to fish out a little bit more money, it’s all for a good course.

Interface and Performance

You’ve already heard the news that some TiVo streaming devices and DVRs have Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision capabilities. What does this mean and is it a new technology that you can get with other DVRs?

No, TiVo seeks to improve the quality of the videos and audio as a way to compete well with other DVRs. TiVo is a new device with more capabilities.

This is actually the main reason why this device is a top performer. The interface is easy to use and less cluttered. Comparing this with other DVRs, it’s one of the best on the list.

Monthly service

Taking for example Comcast DVR and TiVo, you will notice that the monthly service will cost differently. Most DVRs charge a monthly fee mainly because they need to keep you connected to the programs and schedules.

However, you will have to pay more to use TiVo DVR. Comcast DVR and most DVRs have a lower monthly fee. But you still have to know that the lower the prices, the more ads you are likely to get.

Rent or Own

Not all DVR manufacturers and service providers welcome a complete upfront cost. Most of them will give you a chance to choose between owning the DVR and renting it.

This is the main difference between TiVo and some DVRs such as the Comcast DVR. Comcast doesn’t allow you to own the DVR.

This means that when you are getting a device from them, you are automatically renting this device from them. Even though this device lies on the shelf in your home and is hooked to your TV, you don’t fully own it.

The company can easily monitor the DVR and ask for it whenever the need arises. Comcast can as well have the DVR functionality disabled remotely.

On the other hand, TiVo allows you to purchase the device in full and eventually own it. This means that you can control everything about the device and TiVo can never disable DVR functionality remotely. This is a subtle difference for now but many other DVR companies and services are adopting this operation.

DVR vs. TiVo: Upfront Costs

Upfront Costs might vary from one DVR manufacturer and service giver to the other. TiVo definitely has a higher Upfront cost mainly because you are going to own the device.

Other companies such as Comcast will only have to charge you an equipment rental fees which is mainly below $10. With TiVo, you might have to pay $149 to $450 depending on the model and many other factors.

This might be expensive for cord-cutters but still, the overall value is the same because, with TiVo, you will not have to pay for monthly rental fees.

Internet Content

You are definitely wondering whether you can access Hulu, Netflix, and other Internet content through the TiVo or other DVRs. The fact remains that not all DVRs allow you to access YouTube TV and these other streaming services.

TiVo boxes unlike most of the competitors are smart and they support Netflix and several other streaming Video services.

However, you must have stable internet connectivity and a paid account to access that. This is better than what you get with other DVRs such as Comcast Box.

Remember Netflix and Hulu are the main competitors to Comcast and there’s no way they can work on the Comcast Box.

The competitors want to make it as difficult as possible to access another streaming service through Comcast DVR.


I want to affirm to you that buying TiVo devices is the same as shopping for other electronics off the shelf. This means that you will spend time choosing between different models with different features and functionalities. Performance might equally vary from one model to the other.

This also gives you a chance to balance your budget and concerns about the features depending on your needs. Comcast Box and many other DVRs tend to give you the device they have at hand at the time.


The usability of different DVRs varies depending on the specs and the features. Before I jump into comparing TiVo and other DVRs in terms of usability, I have to confirm that the information might change with time.

The interface of most DVRs is confusing and frustrating. This is an indication that the recording ability of these devices can vary.

Comcast DVR for example records based on the time and the company’s scheduling. This is not the best functionality because it can inconvenience users. It’s also clear that with this instance, some programs such as live events and sporting events can run overdue.

Visible Differences between DVR and TiVo

Although we have shared a lot of information about DVR and TiVo, we must admit that these devices work the same and serve the same purpose.

However, there are some visible differences between TiVo and DVR. Besides the fact that DVRs are the oldest, they have been outshined by TiVo when it comes to technology and performance.

TiVo improved the TV Viewing experience by recording shows for a longer time and facilitating Simultaneous recording.

This property has been copied by its main competitors. To differentiate them further, here are some visible points that set the two apart.

TiVo has at least two Tuners

Unlike most DVRs that have less than one tuner, TiVo has at least two tuners. This means that the device can record at least two movies simultaneously.

Most traditional DVRs have only one tuner. This shows that most of them cannot record more than one movie and TV show.

TiVo can record what you are watching

With the TiVo device, you’ll always enjoy its ability to record current movies and TV shows for up to 30 Minutes. This is a unique feature with TiVo that you will not find with a couple of DVRs.

Its ability to prerecord the movie you are watching for 30 minutes is what brings the ability to pause, rewind and fast forward what you are watching as it’s the case with DVD players and Hard drive.

The ability to fast forward through advertisements

This one is rather important because few DVRs can do this. With the TiVo DVR, you can easily fast forward through the advertisements and even skip them altogether.

Most DVRs lack this feature meaning that you will only stick to recording movies and TV shows for watching later.

Excellent searching and recording Capabilities

Another major and unique feature of TiVo is the fact that it has excellent searching and recording capabilities. What this means is that you can always search for shows by cast members, the title, and many other keywords. You also have the ability to schedule the shows to record at your convenient time.

Users can as well set to record one show or an entire season. This simplifies the task and makes it easy for everyone to record as needed.

In case you choose to record movies and TV shows simultaneously, TiVo will decide which of the two shows will be recorded first to avoid any conflicts. Most DVRs out there lack this excellent flexibility.

Internet connectivity

I started by saying that TiVo has extended beyond its capacity to record TV video content. It can easily be connected to the internet which expands the usability of the device even further.

You will not only use TiVo to watch recorded shows but also search for videos online and watch it. Users can get access to YouTube content easily. Currently, TiVo also has tie-ins with Netflix, Jaman, and Amazon VOD.

You can move your recorded content to a computer

How many DVRs allow people to move all the shows and movies they have recorded to a computer? Very few indeed and TiVo is the leader in this category.

All the content you have recorded can be moved to a computer and eventually to other devices such as tablets, iPods, and other Media Devices. Many DVRs lack this provision.

DVR Buying Guide

With all the information I’ve shared above, you might wonder what the best considerations when buying a Digital Video Recording are. For that reason, we have listed the top best considerations that you have to digest right now.

Simultaneous recording

You might not be good at multitasking but DVRs are good at that. For this reason, you have to consider the DVR’s ability to record more than two movies or TV shows at the same time.

Depending on the number of tuners that the DVR has, it can record more than two shows simultaneously. In most instances, DVRs have at least four tuners.

This is an indication that it can record up to four shows simultaneously. Old DVRs have fewer tuners. Some have a single tuner which means they cannot multitask.

When buying, make sure you take enough time to check whether your DVR can record as needed.

The Storage

The DVR storage is equally important when buying. If you want to hang on to your shows longer, then you have to consider the space of your DVRs.

If the DVR has enough storage, it can keep hundreds of HD episodes on the DVRs. You have to be very careful because some old DVRs have limited space.

To avoid nightmares, go with the TiVo DVR or other latest versions that can record more than 150 hours of watching.

The TiVo DVR records more than 150 Hours of crisp HD Videos. You don’t have to delete your old movies and TV shows often. In this regard, there are some discrepancies when it comes to DVR storage.

Most people mistake the hours of storage with the Storage space. Most DVRs have the same Storage spaces but different hours of HD storage. The main reason for this is the specific Video Compression software.

The video compression software takes the videos you’ve saved in the DVR and encodes them to be smaller. In case you want to play the movies or TV shows, the software will decode the videos back to the original version.


Is TiVo better than other DVRs?

Yes, but it costs more. TiVo has the highest monthly service fees, the highest upfront costs but it’s the best in terms of user-friendliness, usability, flexibility, and performance.

If you don’t mind the cost, then TiVo DVRs are the best. You just have to choose the best model depending on your needs.

Is there a monthly fee for TiVo?

Just like other DVR service providers, TiVo offers three plans. The prices for these plans vary and also come with different advantages.

This is the same thing with Comcast DVR and other DVRs out there. However, the price of one DVR service is not the same as the other. TiVo has relatively higher monthly service fees.

Is TiVo worth it anymore?

Definitely, TiVo is one of the best DVR services especially when it comes to varieties, features, and performance. TiVo Inc. is currently facing stiff competition from other DVR providers such as Comcast. However, it remains very relevant.

Final verdict

TiVo costs more than most DVRs out there. Its monthly service fee is also slightly high and it also has the highest upfront costs.

However, when it comes to the feature set, usability, performance, and flexibility, TiVo DVR is the best bet. In terms of the overall value for your money, TiVo is head and shoulders above many DVRs.

However, if you have a lower budget and don’t care to pay monthly rental fees, you can consider Comcast DVR and several other DVRs out there.

Another selling point for TiVo is its recording and search Capabilities and user interface. This means that you will not have to move from one app to the other searching for your favorite information and content. It can as well record more than one movie and TV show at any time.


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