Comcast DVR — I hate it!

I think it was only about a year ago when if you did a worldwide query of what people were blogging about the phrase "Comcast sucks!" was at the top of the list of things.  I myself have blogged about problems I have had with them and HD programming or issues with the Microsoft guide on the cable box.  About a month ago now Comcast replaced Microsoft software with their own on the cable box.  I was hoping that things would get better but right away I knew they had gotten worse.  I have waited a bit before I blogged however and now I am ready to share all of the things that I have found that I consider wrong.  In no order of annoyance…
  • Fast forward is much worse.  With Microsoft as soon as you saw a show come back from commercial you could stop and you would actually roll back to the end of the commercial.  Now fast forward stops when you stop it.  While this might be actually correct, I find myself either using rewind or pushing the back arrow circle button to get back to a show coming out of a commercial.
  • Two digit channels have to be preference with a zero.  With the Microsoft interface I could just punch in "66" to change the channel to "66" but now I have to enter "066".  I could understand doing this on an old VCR or something but I should just be able to parse my entry.  I actually thought this things were broken when "66" did not work.  My brother told me how to do it later admitting he was puzzled for awhile before thinking to try entering zero first.
  • When adding new programs via the guide for DVR recording you cannot specify the HD channel.  Being the start of the fall seasons I want to go and add a fair number of programs and I want to add them by name as I am not really sure when they are going to be on.  You can add by name but I realized after adding and recording a show last week on NBC that it recorded it on channel 5.  I thought I had made a mistake so I went to add it again but there is not an option by name to add a program to record on the high def channel, in this case 105.  This means I need to find each show on the night they playing and add them in that fashion.  Microsoft’s version gave you the option to pick from a list of channels so you could always pick the HD version.
  • Adding programs by name is a much worse experience than the Microsoft interface.  Microsoft had a full keyboard UI.  Comcast gives you one character where you can scroll up or down to pick a letter/number and then you can move to the next character and scroll up and down again.  It takes much longer to do it in this way.
  • You cannot go beyond one level of fast forward when watching programs that are on demand (streaming).  To be fair I do not remember if I could do this on the Microsoft version but it drives me crazy that I cannot fast forward at 4x or 8x on downloading content even if it was already on the hard drive.
  • The recording guide wants to be smarter than I am.  The nine & ten pm hour on Thursday has a lot of shows that I would like to watch and/or record.  I decided to go in and pick the two shows that I wanted to record in each hour but the second I set one to not record it would turn on another show to record.  I would go and turn that show off and then the show I had just turned off previously and it would be set to record again.  It turns out that the software is trying to be smarter than me and is using my series preferences and ordering to keep shows recording.  To fix this I needed to actually go and set series order in the way I wanted the shows to record this week in order to get the right set to record.  Of course this model is really broken.  What if next week I want things differently?  I have to go change the series order again instead of just letting me turn things on or off in one place.
  • The series priority is broken.  I do not understand but some programs I cannot move beyond a specific priority location.  Around slot #30 some programs refuse to go any lower.  This seems to be the sweat spot as there are some programs that I cannot take any higher than that.  The other confusing thing is that many programs appear twice on the list.  These are not shows that air on multiple channels like South Park which plays new shows on Comedy Central and then syndicated on a local channel.  It makes no sense to see show listed twice and you do not know what to do with the series priority order for these shows.
  • When changing channels via the favorites button the on screen UI takes up too much room and draws twice.  If you change channels with the favorites button you see some extra UI on top of the standard channel and program information.  This extra UI takes up more of the screen and it also draws after the rest of the UI so not only do you see less of the screen you also see a minor annoying flash as it draws the extra UI.
  • DVR recordings are by date with no option of by program.  For example if I had multiple recordings of a TV show I have to scroll up or down on the list and find the date the show was recorded instead of just picking the TV show name and then finding the show date.
  • When watching on demand programming you really cannot use any of the rest of the UI.  With Microsoft’s you could still go to the guide or other things.
  • The UI as a whole is not great.  I wish I could list all of the problems but it very frustrating and as much as I use it it does not feel natural.  Everything seems to take more clicks.
  • DVR recording is very literal.  I think there is an option to start recording a minute early or late but by default a it records exactly based on time.  The very end of shows seems to get cut off with Comcast.  I never had this problem with the Microsoft version which also had the ability to pad time on the front or back end of recording.
  • I hate the fact that I am prompted to delete or not delete a program after watching a recorded program.  This is a good idea but there should be a way to turn this off. You have to deal with the UI and you have a 50% chance of answering incorrectly. 

Also some of the things I thought were problems with Microsoft’s software still happen with Comcast so it could very well be a hardware issue.  For example, many times a day the UI just seems to not respond to buttons pushed on the remote.  The next thing you know it processes all of the button pushes and you end up someplace you really did not want to be.


About Aaron Bregel

Just trying to get by
This entry was posted in Entertainment. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Comcast DVR — I hate it!

  1. Unknown says:

    Thanks for this! I called Comcast directly to complain and ask what happened to their plans to integrate with TiVo and he had the gall to ask why would they do that when their system was so much better? Sheesh! I told him he was delusional if he thought that and he accused me of calling him names so I gave up. I am ready to bail on Comcast completely. (I have Internet and phone service with them too.) What a mess! I don\’t think I\’ve ever seen a product devolve so dramatically. Death by committee I guess.

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