TiVo Digital Video Recorder with DVD Burner by Humax Review


When my DVD player died recently (a Toshiba SD-3750 — the motor on the DVD tray died), I decided to replace both the broken DVD player, and my 40 hour TiVo2 with a new Humax TiVo with DVD.

Humax as a TiVo

There is little difference between the Humax DVD TiVo and my previous TiVo when it comes to recording and watching television. Indeed, the software and the interface are exactly the same.

The hardware, has a few nice new features. The outputs have been much improved. Video can be component video. The audio has digital outputs. My last TiVo only had s-video and analog audio.

Progressive scan has has many problems. It seems to have a poor user interface. Progressive scan is a feature that has to be enabled through the menus. Progressive scan effectively disables s-video and composite output. It would be nicer if progressive were the default output through component video but s-video and composite always used non-progressive output. If progressive scan is enabled, you have to confirm that you really want to use it every time that you boot the TiVo. There are other problems with progressive scan (explained in the next section) that prompted me to disable the feature and use interlaced display.

TiVo has always been a pain when you can’t find the remote because there are no controls on the front of the TiVo itself. The Humax has controls on the front of the box! There are directional arrows, select, and TiVo buttons that all work just like the ones on the remote. Unfortunately, some of these front buttons apply only to the DVD. The play, pause stop, and fast forward buttons have no effect when watching recorded television.

My new Humax TiVo has 80 hours of recording space which is up from my old TiVo that had 40 hours. Some newer TiVos without DVD are coming with hundreds of hours, so you certainly lose some hard drive space to choose the DVD.

The remote control looks very similar to my old TiVo remote but it has some extra buttons for playing DVDs. There are now “Top Menu”, “Menu”, and “Stop” buttons. What was the “Picture in Picture” button is now “DVD” and what was “Guide” is now “Angle”. The remote lost the ability to control two different TiVos via a 1-2 switch (a feature I never used anyway).

Humax as a DVD Player

The DVD player is well integrated with the TiVo. It is very nice to be able to navigate TiVo menus to play a DVD. I no longer have to change inputs on my TV or receiver to switch from TiVo to DVD.

Many TiVo features apply to DVDs. While watching a movie, you get the TiVo progress bar when fast forwarding. This is a much nicer interface than on most DVD players that don’t show you where you are during fast forwarding. You can also skip to the next “tick” when fast forwarding. This is much nicer than the skip to next chapter that many DVDs have.

Thirty second skip does not work when playing a DVD. I have come to rely on 30 second skip for most of my fast forwarding. It is annoying that the 30 second skip button goes to the end of the DVD even when you have used the cheat code to enable 30 second skip.

TiVo does not send closed captioning signals to your TV when playing DVDs. Other DVD players can do closed captioning themselves but also send signals to the TV to allow the TV to do the closed captioning. TiVo never sends the closed captioning signals to the TV. (Although it is possible for this feature to work on my previous player, the CC had to be encoded into the video stream and I just haven’t tried to play such a DVD on my TiVo.)

Progressive scan causes the setting for turning closed captioning on by default to have no effect. There is setting on the TiVo in the DVD settings section that is supposed to enable closed captioning by default when playing DVDs. Even with this setting turned on I have to go into the DVD menus to turn on closed captioning when using progressive scan.

Progressive scan causes certain DVDs not to play well. “Best of Friends” DVD of the TV show Friends did not play well when progressive scan was enabled. There is severe distortion in the bottom 2 inches of the screen while this DVD is playing and progressive scan is enabled.

There is no way to resume the movie in the middle after going to the DVD’s menu. If you try to turn the closed captioning on and off through the DVD’s setup menus, you won’t be able to resume the movie from where you left off. Rather, you will have to restart the movie from the beginning. You can turn the CC on and off from the display menu of the TiVo as the movie is playing, so there is a work around.

Humax as a DVD Recorder

Saving many shows off the TiVo Humax to DVD is easy. Saving shows to DVD is much easier than saving shows to a VCR. With the VCR, you had to do one at a time. With the Humax, you can pick multiple shows.

Saving many shows off the TiVo Humax to DVD is quick. Saving shows to DVD takes much less time than saving to VCR because they get written as fast as the burner can go. When saving to VCR they could be saved only as quickly as they could be played.

You can do other things while saving shows to DVD. Saving to a VCR was a very manual process. You had to play each show and let your VCR record it. You couldn’t watch other things, and you often had to stick around to baby sit the VCR. When burning shows to DVD, it happens automatically in the background and you can even watch other shows while it happens.

Burned DVDs get the TiVo interface. The DVDs get a menu system that mimics the now playing list. You are shown a list of shows by name, can move up and down and select the one that you want to play. This menu even works when played in other DVD players.

There is no way to edit the shows before saving them to DVD. With save to VCR, I could skip the commercials as the show played and the VCR recorded. It would be nice to be able to remove the commercials before burning shows to DVD. This is especially the case because of the 30 second skip not working when playing back shows on DVD.

Closed captioning from TV shows does get saved to DVD. When playing back DVDs of shows that TiVo recorded from broadcast, the closed captioning goes along with them. Your TV can show them. It would be nicer if the TiVo would burn them to the DVD in DVD closed captioning format as well.

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