Comcast Upgrades Motorola HD-DVRs, Adds Better Organization and New Features

I noticed this morning that my Comcast DCT-3416 Dual Tuner HD-DVR wasn't
displaying its clock, something I rely on when playing with my daughter
in the living room before starting work. Upon further investigation I
discovered that none of the advanced functions of the DVR were available
- no guide, no DVR menu, not even the menu. I got a picture and could
change channels, but that was about it.

I ultimately thought the internal hard drive failed (even though I could
hear it spinning), which would explain some of the behavior I was
seeing. I unplugged it a few times, let it reboot, and nothing. "Time to
call Comcast," I thought... though that's certainly not something I
ever look forward to. 

About 20 minutes later I was getting ready to pick up the phone, and
then noticed the clock had returned. To my surprise, all of the features
had re-appeared: the DVR, the Guide, and everything else, but with new
features and enhancements. 

I've seen Comcast upgrade their cable boxes before, though usually the changes are very minor. The worst was the "improvement" that added an
advertisement at the bottom of my guide (I still hate that). This time,
however, the differences are significant... and useful!

For starters, the DVR menu has changed. Along with My Recordings and
Scheduled Recordings tab, they've added some options to make finding
shows and setting recordings. The "Manage DVR" section grabbed my
attention, which is now where the Series Priority section lives, but
also includes a full DVR history and a new "Clean Up" mode.


Clean Up mode allows you to select and delete multiple things at the
same time, and inevitably solves a problem that has always driven me
crazy about their DVRs.   

In fact, one of the more significant changes is how the DVR area
presents shows. Rather than toss out every episode recorded as its own
line, the DVR now combines shows with like titles into folders, which
really makes finding things easier. This list is still sortable by
title, date, and channel.  A wonderful improvement, although now it does
add an extra click to start up a show when there is more than one

The guide looks the same, although since the upgrade I have not seen any
advertisements at the bottom of the screen. Even before they didn't
always show up, but I'm crossing my fingers that they're gone for good. 

I'm not sure if this is new or something I didn't notice before (I
haven't taken a trip into the setup menu for some time), but I now see
the option to set up a favorites list.  I'd prefer the option to only
see the channels I subscribe to in the guide rather than "everything,"
but if I can accomplish the same feat using a favorites list, I'll still
be happy.

I can't say if this upgrade is only for Comcast, or if it already
exists on other provider's hardware. Either way, I'm pretty stoked that it's
gotten a little bit nicer. True, it's still no where near as nice as a TiVo or
Windows Media Center DVR (something I'll be building in the near future
to replace this Motorola DVR), but I can honestly say that this upgrade
has moved how I grade the Comcast DVR from F to D-. I'd now call it "below
average," but at least that's better than "complete failure." 


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