Philips HDR612 TV Receivers and DVRs

HDR612

Philips Personal TVâ„¢, the personal video recorder with programming service from TiVo. Hard drive can record up to 60 hours of material.

User Reviews (4)

Showing 1-4 of 4  
Paul   Audio Enthusiast [Jan 03, 2001]
Strength:

large recording capacity, excellent user interface, convenient timeshifting, quiet operation

Weakness:

can't record two shows simultaneously, no automatic commercial skipping, subscription fee

When I tell people that the HDR612 can record 60 hours of TV, their natural reaction is: "That's more TV than I'd ever have time to watch!" Of course this is true, but what most people don't realize is that this is 60 hours at the worst recording level. If you want to use the best recording level (as I do), the amount that you can record is about 1/3 of this (this is true for all TiVos and ReplayTVs), or just under 18 hours for this model.

If 18 hours still seems like a lot, you should also consider that you probably won't watch everything that your TiVo records. First, there are re-runs that you may not want to see again. Second, TiVo automatically records shows that it thinks you'll like -- it's pretty good at this, but not every choice is going to be a winner.

Anyway, my point is that having a large capacity TiVo gives you a better quality viewing experience. By using the best recording level, the picture/sound is virtually indistinguishable from live TV. I can't tell the difference and, by the way, HDR612's tuner is a lot better than the tuner in my JVC VCR that I had been using. By having a relatively large capacity (even at the best record quality), you have a lot of choices about what you choose to watch.

This model works pretty much like the other TiVo models. The TiVo user interface is extremely well designed. I think that practically anyone could learn to use a TiVo in a matter of minutes. The whole concept of integrating up-to-date TV listings, recording to a hard drive, etc. makes this a highly convenient time saver that you will soon not be able to live without.

I have heard others say that the Sony TiVo models are faster than the Philips TiVos. This might be true of earlier models, but the Philips HDR612 seems fast enough to me. There is about a 0.5 sec delay in changing channels, but I think all Philips/Sony models have at least this. Occasionally, it might take a couple of seconds to confirm a record command, but I don't think this is a big deal.

One negative thing: all TiVos are only capable of recording one show at a time (I assume that this is true of ReplayTV as well). This means that (of course) you cannot record two shows that are on at the same time, and that you cannot record one show and watch another live show at the same time (unless you split the incoming signal and watch directly from your TV or VCR). Maybe this isn't an issue for most people. However, you can watch a TiVo recording while it is recording something else.

Another negative thing: there is no automatic commercial advance like several VCR models have had for years (I have one of these). This is something that I really miss, and could work even better on TiVo (i.e., since it uses a random access hard drive, it could jump right over the commercials without even fast forwarding).

In summary, I think TiVo is the greatest thing since sliced bread and the HDR612 gives a quality viewing experience.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
Kevin Jones   Audiophile [Feb 07, 2001]
Strength:

Ease of use; recording time

Weakness:

No Commercial Skip; occational video glitches

I think this TiVo system has made more difference to the way I watch "video" than any other product I can think of. The sheer convenience of being able to simply record all showings of a specified program, start to watch it from the begining even if you come in 5 minutes late is very worthwhile. It serves a very different purpose to a high end DVD source but one that I find very worthwhile.

The ease of set up and ease of use are also outstanding. My partner, who's a "confirmed button hater", uses this machine and she loves it.

The video quality at the highest setting is as good as the cable source I use and, except for the very occational digital artifact showing up on some recordings, is very acceptable. ~18 hrs of recording time seems sufficient for most TV recording, although I do admit that for many of the uses I make of this machine, the lowest quality is acceptable and that gives 60 hrs, often filled by programs recorded speculatively by the TiVo.

I would not give up this machine but you can have any of my VCRs now.

Similar Products Used: Many, many VCRs
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
Kevin   Audiophile [Jun 07, 2001]
Strength:

- Sounds corny, but it will chnage how you watch TV
- Great flexibilty, automation & ease of use
- Fun, simple remote
- No comparison to using a VCR (like comparing skateboard & Ferrari)
- Wealth of DIY & 3rd party upgrade options
- New 2.01 Software really helps

Weakness:

- Cannot record 2 shows at once (but there are workarounds)
- Overall video, sound quality
- Recording time limits in stock units

This is one of the most useful entertainment products ever, if you enjoy varied TV programming like I do. It has completely changed how my wife and I watch TV. Yeah, that sounds like the ads – but in ourcase, it’s true.

We (rather, I) bought it initially because I could not stand having to manage & wade through stacks of VCR tapes to watch the shows I wanted. My wife and I have very busy schedules, and we travel a lot, so catching our favorite shows meant using the VCR a lot. We were constantly confusing tapes, losing shows, forgetting to set the VCR... all the usual crap. So, I thought that a Tivo box would at least clean up the area around the TV and provide a little more sanity. I thought those other features they were hyping (pause live TV, rewind, find the shows you like) were just gimmicks that I’d never actually use.

Boy, was I wrong.

The good:

- Now, I actually find the shows I’d forgotten I liked – like PBS shows, documentaries, old reruns of classic shows, the odd movie – that I’d always find out about too late or not even know were on.
- The thing is so easy to use, that my wife was not only using it, but also swearing by it within a few days – "I *love* Tivo!", she kept saying. She was using even some of the advanced features very quickly, and it’s still the only piece of our home theater that doesn’t intimidate her.
- Instead of camping out in front of the TV like a log, we watch what we’re in the mood for, when we have the time, and stop and come back to it later if need be.
- I have no idea what the latest commercials look like. We rarely watch something that isn’t recorded, so we can zip right past the commercials. We even pause live shows on purpose sometimes and find something to do for ten minutes, so that we can zip through commercials. Heaven.
- Pause and rewind are features that you have no idea you’re missing until you have them. It adds a freedom to watching TV that I really miss when I’m not using Tivo – I don’t have to make watching TV the central activity. If I miss a line or a visual, I just hit rewind – or pause it until I can give it more attention. I just wish I had that ability elsewhere, like when my dog does something cute, or if I miss something my wife says ;-)
- My wife can Tivo her soaps and watch them when I’m not around (yay!), and I don’t have to bore her with documentaries on how to make a medieval catapult (true story...)
- The Season Pass feature is great, especially with the new software upgrade that was sent over the phone line a couple months ago. I’ve been catching up on shows I didn’t watch that much in first run, like NYPD Blue and Star Trek: TNG. This is good because a lot of these syndicated shows air at odd times or are repeated during the day – the software knows what was already recorded and manages it for us.

The Bad:

- It cannot record two shows at once, or even allow viewing one show live while another’s recording. (No surprise that this is the main feature Ultimate TV has been promoting.) This is a problem for me since I only have one DirecTV tuner, which is fed into the Tivo unit. Tivo will however allow me to watch a recorded show while another is recording, or I can just use the TV’s tuner to get an off-air show – but then I can’t use the pause or other features. Overall, it’s only been a major problem a few times, and it’s one I can live with. The workaround is to get a second Tivo and DSS tuner, which is what I’ll be doing soon (for reasons to do with the next two points…)
- Overall sound & picture quality could be better, even at Best Quality. It looks like Tivo adds a slight pixellation to the picture, almost like a cloth placed over the screen. The sound loses a bit of clarity & oopmph as well. This is a tradeoff scenario, however – it is after all providing a recorded, 2nd generation picture & sound, and given the choice, I’ll take the convenience that it offers. But the problem with Best Quality recording is…
- There’s not much room on a stock Tivo for anything above Medium Quality recording – on our 60-hour unit, it rates at 37 hours for Medium and 17 for Best Quality. Enough for us most of the time at Medium, but I prefer how Best looks, and there’s just not enough room for that.

- There are some other minor nits I have. The recorder sometimes doesn’t respond right away to a remote command, which can be aggravating when I’m zipping through commercials and have to rewind. Also, if you are watching a show and decide to record it halfway through, it only records the portion after you hit record – even if it was tuned to the whole show. Since the unit is always on, and keeps about a 30-minute buffer of whatever channel you’re watching, it seems that it would be able to take the portion in the buffer and add it to the rest to save the whole show. This last nit points out how addicting the Tivo way is – I get used to having it all, so why not give me every feature imaginable? I want it ALL!!!

The Conclusion:

I will be getting a second unit, this one a modified 20-hour that has been boosted (with aftermarket hard drives) to 100+ hours at Basic, 35+ hours at Best Quality. I’ll feed it with a new DSS tuner I was planning to get anyway to receive HDTV signals (those can’t be Tivo-ed, of course). Then I'll be able to record everything at Best quality with no fear on bad images, and be able to record two shows at once.


And to those who scoff at the $10/month service fee, all I can say is: I gladly pay it, to simplify my life and let me enjoy TV again. In fact, the second month I went ahead and got the lifetime subscription.

Overall, I have to say it’s one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. I give it 5 stars overall, especially with the s/w upgrade. I give it 4 for value as a stock item, since they really charge for the 60 hour unit, which is not upgradable to more storage (a refurb unit with added drives is a much better value, but you take a chance with the voiding warranty)

Related Equipment:
-----------------

Tivo recorder: Phillips HDR612 60-hour
Television: Proscan 31” (to be replaced by Sony XBR 36”)
DSS: RCA DRD480RE DirecTV
DVD: Marantz DV-18MkII (transport only)
Receiver: Integra DTR-7.1 (used as digital pre/pro & surround amp)
2-Channel Amp: Aragon 8008BB
Speakers: B&W Nautilus 804 mains
B&W HTM1 center
B&W CCM 65 (ceiling speaker) surrounds
Interconnects: Straightwire & Transparent (S-Video, TOSlink, Composite, analog audio, bi-wire speaker cable)

Similar Products Used: - Sony's Tivo, Phillips 30 hour
- VCRs: manual, w/guide software, w/DSS automation -- no comparison
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
Kevin Rickson   Audiophile [Jun 11, 2001]

Follow up to my earlier post --

I was in error about TiVo's inability to save programs already in progress. In the latest software rev (2.0.1, which is downloaded automatically), TiVo does combine whatever is in the buffer for a given show with the remainder of the show. The buffer is only 30 minutes long, so if you join a show at 35 minutes you'll miss the first 5, but so what? Try going back in time with a VCR... not! One caveat about the new feature -- since the buffer is always in "best" record mode, the rest of the show must be in "best" mode, or you lose the buffer. This is another argument for upgrading your TiVo with more hard disk space.

For more info on TiVo features, upgrades, hacks, etc., check out the AVS Forum: http://www.avsforum.com/, scroll down to the TiVo Community under Manufacturers Area. Best place to figure out which model to buy, how to hook up, what's coming next, etc.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-4 of 4  

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