Season Pass - Set in the TV Guide function, will record every episode of the said show
Genre Recording - Set to record everything with 'Basketball' in the title. Or 'Fish' - will record every fishing show
Expandable HDD - Unit comes with 320gb HDD (60 hours of high definition recording) Can get upto 1TB hard drive (180 hours of high definition recording) to accompnay existing storage. **Additional Cost**
PC Software - Can get software that allows you to move footage onto PC. **Additional Cost**
Ease of Use - Very simple to watch, record and playback. If you like a show, hit the 'Thumbs up' button once to get reminders when its on, do it twice to record, three times to season pass
Movies on Demand - Download movies on demand, from a huge selection of titles.
Intelligent HDD Recording - Set recorded programs to delete in order of preference. So if you record a program, but dont have any HDD space left, the unit will automatically delete the programs you have selected as 'delete first'. There is also a 'dont delete' function which ensures it exactly that.
Reliability - Very good. Sold hundreds upon hundreds of these units, and con only remember a few being returned, usually to do with not connecting to the purchased external HDD.
Twin Tuner - Record one show in HD whilst watching another, or record two at the same time while your out, or while you watch something you have previously recorded.
After Sales Support - Disgusting to say the least. Consumer level support must be done via email, and they are useless. Store level support just as bad. Best bet if you have an issue is be very friendly to your salesperson as they are the best chance to have to issue resolved.
Picture Quality - Even when connected with HDMI (best quality) the image is sub-par compared to most HD televisions and other units.
Limited PC - Whilst you can use some PC functions such as transfer of data, this unit is not designed to be 'advanced' for PC users.
Constant Internet Connection - Must always be connected via a broadband internet connection. Either wireless (purchase tivo dongle for $59) or via hard wired connection. TiVo gets its information from the internet, so without it, it will not work. **Anything less than broadband will not work, or very well**
Download Usage - For users with low download limits, they can be caught out downloading movies etc. TiVO operation day to day without movie is very limited, maybe 500mb.
No Antenna Out - Doesnt carry an antenna out connection. Which means that you must always watch TV through your TiVO, unless you split the antenna cable to the TV aswell, or other devices that use antennas. Not a big issue, however can be annoying. Record two programs at the same time, to watch a third you will need an extra antenna cable to your TV.
Warranty - Only one year. If it needs to be repaired it has to go interstate.
RRP $499 - Buy for $399
External HDD $249 - Buy for $199
PC Software $99 - Buy for $99
Total Cost - $697
Final Thought - Good reliable unit, that has its limitations. Easy to use, and the smart recording features, makes programming of favourite shows very easy. Some annoyances with connections, and image quality but shouldnt bother the every day user. Hope and pray your unit doesnt malfunction, otherwise you'll be saying F*** TiVO! (I would recommend purchasing extended warranty, even for those who are dead against it. If their is an issue after 12 months, it is then the job of your retailer to battle TiVO)
TOPFIELD TRF7170 1TB
Series Record: Very similar to the TiVO in the fact this unit has series recording.
Expandable HDD: Unit carrys a 1TB (180 hours of HD) recording, and can take upto another 1TB HDD. The unit will accept any HDD that uses a USB connection. 2 x USB ports plus an E-SATA HDD, makes life very simple.
PC Connection: Either connect via utilising a USB stock/drive to transfer files from PC to Topfield or Topfield to PC. Connection also via hard wired LAN or wireless LAN connection. PC can act as a media server, and wirelessly play files (movies, images, music) from PC directly to Topfield.
Software/Fireware: Topfield constantly release software and firmware that allows you to update your unit, and fix any 'bugs' that may happen. Go to topfield site, download fix onto USB, insert into unit to upgrade. Fantastic way to keep technology new.
Twin Tuner: 2 High definition tuners allows you to record two programs at once. What is unique with this unit is you can actually record 4 programs at the same time, as long as its only two different networks. i.e record 7MATE,and 7TWO, and record 9GEM, and 9GO.
After Sales Support: Fantastic help desk support by topfield. The guys know what they are talking about and are always happy to help. Combine this with the software upgrades and that should keep you happy.
Reliability: Sold many of these units, and did not have many issues. Just about every issue encountered was HDD related, as is the case with most PVR's.
Imag Quality: Impeccible. Via HDMI, the units use a high end HDMI upscaling chip, the provides flawless quality.
Sluggish: Most PVRs operate a bit sluggish, and whilst Topfield certainly isnt the worst, it is not a quick as the TiVO units.
Reliability: I have put this in both, as sometimes the Topfield units have had patches of unreliability. In terms of, a significant portion of a shipment gets returned for one reason of anohter. However most good retailers will send them back if they notice the trend, bad retailers wont. If you get one that works, you should be fine.
Ease of Use: Or lack there of. Like most new technology, it'll take some getting use to. The basic functions are not hard, but if you are a big technophobe, you may want the manual near by.
Menu Layout: Storing of programs and the entire menu layout is not great. Again once you work out what everything does it is not too difficult, but can be a pain in the backside if trying to do things quickly.
Noise Level: Due to the large HDD, and twin tuner, on hot days the cooling fan can become audible. Not a huge issue, however if you are recording at night in a bedroom and the cooling fan is whirling, it can be a bit annoying.
No Intelligent Recording: Apart from Season Record, the unit is very limited in the intelligent recording area. You will need to scroll the 7-day guide regularly to ensure that you dont miss you programs.
RRP: $799 - Buy for $650ish
WIRELESS USB DONGLE: $99 - Buy for $79
Final Thought: For myself I would buy the Topfield, as I find its annoyances are outwighed by its PC connections, and after sales support. I am a regular TV show downloader, and by being able to dump a TV Show onto a USB, and plug it into the Toppy to watch, is a very good feature. This is also probably the reason I would buy the Topfield too - because I download most of my TV shows, and only record things like the Basketball or what I cant download.
If your a PC user regulary - Buy to topfield
If you want ease of use and to just record - Buy the TiVO
*** I cannot stress enough to buy extended warranty. I know some people will blast me for recommending it with the 'statutory warranty' etc etc etc, however for less than $100 bucks get a 5 year warranty, because I could almost promise you that in that time, you will have a a malfunction ***