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HUMAX DVD-R/RW Recorder/TiVo Series2 DVR Combo DRT800

HUMAX DVD-R/RW Recorder/TiVo Series2 DVR Combo DRT800

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Rating: 4 stars
Summary: it's fine
Review: I was reluctant to switch to this from my beloved Tivo-only unit after reading the reviews saying it has poor image quality and is quite noisy. I bought it anyway and I'm very glad I did. It is SLIGHTLY louder than my original Tivo, but it isn't obtrusive and I sleep in the same room. After the first few hours I ceased to notice the difference. As for image quality, it's absolutely fine. I have a nine year old television with a 32 inch screen and all the reviews led me to believe that I'd be sacrificing image quality to upgrade. It's as good or better than my original Tivo. No problems at all. The only reason I gave it four stars instead of five is because the case had dark fingerprints on it and the plastic on the front was a little scratched--as if it isn't new, though it supposedly is. But, it works perfectly and since I don't spend time looking at it... Anyway, if you're worried about noise or image quality after reading some of the other (way too long) reviews, don't be, it's fine. Oh, and recording onto disk is easy. And no, it doesn't take as long to record as it does to watch the show! (People have the pettiest complaints.) I recorded West Wing on it last night, best quality, and it was done in twenty-five minutes, all while I watched something else.

Rating: 3 stars
Summary: Nice, But Regular Picture Quality Could Be Better
Review: I've had this unit for a couple of weeks now, and it works as advertised. TiVo service is great, the interface is great, and the DVD burning of stored shows is great, too.

My biggest disappointment is the picture quality of the live programming. I'm using cable (granted - not the cleanest source) and the picture is dark and grainy. The same cable run through my JVC SVHS VCR or eight-year-old JVC 32" TV is noticeably better. It's as if the tuner in this TiVo isn't as good. Either that, or the conversion of an analog signal over to digital causes your picture to deteriorate. However, another TiVo Series 2 box that this unit replaced produced a better picture than this HUMAX.

Overall, this is a great concept, and has allowed me to turn three components (DVD player, TiVo box, and DVD recorder) into one unit - saving me space. However, considering the price, you'd hope that a regular TV picture, something this unit spends most of its time presenting, would be better.

Rating: 4 stars
Summary: I love it! but depends on what you're looking for...
Review: I've owned an 80hr Series2 Tivo for years and just picked up the DRT800 shortly after it got released this past fall. I've never heard of Humax prior to owning this unit, but so far I've been quite happy with it.

Overall, when considering this unit, I think it depends on what you're looking for primarily: a Tivo or a DVD-recorder.

If you're primarily looking for a Tivo and would like the "added bonus" and convenience of a built-in DVD-recorder, the DRT800 is fantastic! It's everything everyone loves about Tivo, plus it makes it easy and convenient to dump your programs to DVD.

However, if your first priority is getting a DVD-recorder, and Tivo features are secondary, you might want to look at some stand-alone DVD-recorders. Or at the very least, weigh your decision a bit more carefully. The DRT800 (and the same probably goes for any Tivo with an integrated DVD-recorder) lacks some basic editing features for your programs, which might make a stand-alone a more suitable option for you.

Differences from a Series2 Tivo:
- external display
The DRT800 features an external display. When playing a DVD, it displays the typical chapter and time information. When burning a DVD, it displays the percentage completed. Otherwise, it displays a clock. You can choose to make the display, dim, bright, or just turn it off.

- DVD control buttons
Below the display are chapter skip, stop, play, etc buttons found on typical stand-alone DVD Players. These only control the DVD functions and do not control the Tivo software. Which brings me to the next cool addition...

- front-mounted joystick
This is probably one of the neatest additions! Although, granted, I don't use this a whole lot, it's always irked me that normal Tivos don't have any buttons of any sort on the actual unit. This basically means that your ability to control the Tivo is entirely dependent on the remote control. But woe be the day that you misplace it, lose it, or break it (although you can always order a new one). The joystick is the equivalent of the directional control on the Tivo remote, and pressing the joystick inward acts as the Select button, giving you full control of the Tivo from the units front panel.

- Composite Video Outputs & SPDIF Digital Audio Output
My previous Series2 Tivo didn't come with these and I don't know if regular Tivos come with them now, but these are clearly a must for any DVD Player. If your TV and/or receiver doesn't support these, you still have the standard A/V outputs at your disposal.

- A/V, S-Video, & Firewire inputs
Hidden behind a drop-down panel are a set of front-mounted A/V, S-Video, and Firewire inputs with a second set of A/V & S-Video inputs located on the rear panel. These allow you to record from external devices (such as a Camcorder or VCR) onto your Tivo, which can then be burnt to DVD. This makes it perfect for digitizing old tapes and home movies or any other type of unprotected media. The Tivo allows you to assign a Title to the incoming recording. However, you cannot add a program description, which would have been nice.

- DVD functions
This is probably the section you have the most questions on.

DVD interface:
A new "DVD" menu item now appears underneath the "Watch Live TV" option in the main menu. The on-screen display of this menu item changes, depending on what (if any) media is inserted into the disc tray. When you insert any disc into the tray, it is immediately scanned by the Tivo and the display is changed to DVD, DVD-R, DVD-RW, VCD, Audio CD or whatever appropriate format. Within the DVD menu selection, you will find appropriate play/record options.

Playing Disc Media:
The DRT800 supports DVD, VCD, CD, Photo CD, and MP3 CD. So far, I've played DVDs, VCDs, and standard redbook audio CDs with no issues. I haven't had the chance to try out any other formats yet. Playing DVDs and VCDs will look and feel exactly like watching any Tivo recorded program, with all the same playback features. My only main issue I have with playing Audio CDs is that, even if your Tivo is hooked up to your broadband connection, there is no attempt made to do a CDDB lookup to get track and artist information for the CD you're playing. Therefore, when you play an Audio CD, each the tracks will appear as "Track1", "Track2", etc and no information for artist or album title. This is a rather big disappointment.

Recording to DVD:
The only type of recordable media the DRT800 supports is DVD-R and DVD-RW.

A "Save to DVD or VCR" option conveniently appears in the information view of every recorded program on your Tivo, but you can also access recording features via the DVD option in the main menu. Prior to burning the DVD, you can select and order your programs and also add a title for your DVD. When you finally burn your DVD, the software will add a menu interface which looks almost identical to the regular Tivo interface.

Burn speed is pretty slow at 1x, but the upside is that while it's writing your DVD, you can continue using your Tivo for watching other pre-recorded programs. However, you cannot watch the program that is currently being recorded.

DVD capacity depends on the recording quality used for the original Tivo recording:
1 hr - Best Quality
2 hr - High Quality
4 hr - Medium Quality
6 hr - Basic Quality

This is basically the territory where you might not be too happy if you're looking for a good DVD recorder.

- No program editing!
You can only burn the Tivo programs AS-IS. That means that you can't edit out commercials or any unwanted footage.

- No resampling or re-encoding of program quality
I pretty much record everything at "High Quality". What that means, however, is that if I record a program on my Tivo that happens to be 2.5 hours, I would not be able to burn it onto DVD, because at that quality setting, the max capacity is 2 hours. It would be nice if the option were available to downsample a program to make it fit onto a DVD, albeit at a lower quality. Coupled with the inability to edit out unwanted footage like commercials (which might have made a 2.5hr program fit into 2hrs), this severely limits the DVD burning feature.

and for people with Home Media Option:
- Can't burn programs recorded on another Tivo
Home Media Option (available at an additional cost) allows you to transfer programs from one Tivo to another. However, the DRT800 cannot burn programs created on another Tivo. This is apparently an encoding issue.

Other than that, the Tivo offers pretty much the same great features as all other Series2 Tivos. The peanut-shaped remote control layout is identical, but some of the buttons have been repurposed for DVD-related functions. If you connect your Tivo to your home network, you can look at pictures on your PC or stream MP3s from your PC.

Problem-wise, I did have one crash during the first week. While burning a DVD, the unit froze up and I had to unplug its power to start it back up again. But I haven't had any other problems during the months after.

If you do get this (or any other Tivo) and you have a broadband internet connection at home, I highly suggest getting a USB network adapter for your Tivo. I use a Linksys USB200M. Tivos are pretty finicky about which adapters they work with so make sure you check the tivo site if you decide to get a different brand. By default, Tivo uses a dial-up modem connection, but if you have a broadband connection, you may as well take advantage of it.

As a basic roundup:

1) It's a Tivo!
Everyone says it and everyone's right: You gotta get a Tivo.
Once you get it, you'll never be able to live without it. :)
2) Convenient DVD-burning/playing
3) Easy recording from external sources
Easily record home movies onto your Tivo or DVD
4) Front-mounted control

1) Hard Drive is LOUD!
This is definitely my biggest shocker. I don't know if it's just my unit, but this thing grinds like no other. My other Series2 was never this loud.
2) Limited DVD-recording features
I'm gonna guess it's by design, but the DRT800's greatest feature (DVD recording) is also its greatest weakness. The inability to edit out commercials (or at the very least resample your programs to make them fit onto disc) probably will ward off a lot of potential buyers.
3) Only comes in 80hr version
You can never have enough space and I wish this unit came with a bigger drive option.

Basically, it comes down to my earlier comment regarding what your first priority is. The DRT800's DVD-recording features aren't the greatest by far, but it's the a great extension to the already-awesome features of Tivo.

Personally, the DRT800 suits my needs perfectly. I don't record a lot of DVDs, but when I do, I appreciate the convenience. If the unit had a multi-disc changer, I would let it replace my current DVD player at the drop of a hat. Overall, I'm completely satisfied and don't regret buying it for a second.

Rating: 2 stars
Summary: Humax vs Two separates
Review: Interesting reading the reviews so far on this "potential" all in one device. I will say that I don't own the new Humax and here's why. I currently have a Panasonic DMR E100H 160 PVR/DVR and TIVO. The Panasonic works great for the recording of programs/home video etc. onto DVDs. The main reason I would not buy the Humax all in one unit is that it does not do any type of program editing which is very flexible on the Panasonic unit.

If you really want to burn a DVD program it is great to edit it before hand to eliminate commercials and start and finish positions to end up with a clean program for future viewing.

So I think I will wait until this segement of the market figures this out with the next generation of products. Until then, it's a separate TIVO and DVR burner for me.

Rating: 4 stars
Summary: simplifies your life, in some ways
Review: Other people have detailed all the technical issues: loud fan and format issues. so I will take on a different angle.

It's a good upgrade because it's a all-in-one. You will need just one machine for all those dvr and burning you do.

it's a good value because it can hold so many shows and that means less fight with your family over who keeps what.

Overall I would say that the good outweighs the bad. Kinda disappointed at amazon here, the price is not that good. So I recommend you to check out all the places before you buy.

p.s. maybe you can replace the fans, I will check it out when I have time. Like how you would change a computer fan.

Rating: 1 stars
Summary: Don't rely on customer service!!
Review: RUN AWAY FROM THIS COMPANY AS FAST AS YOU CAN - As you can read below the problems we had with this unit. We had to put a $225 deposit down on to get a new unit shipped which was supposed to be refunded as soon as the defective unit was received by them. Since it only took them 24 hours to take the $225 out of my account to begin with, they should be able to refund it quickly too, right??? It's been over a week since they received the defective unit and I still haven't been refunded my money. Customer service is absolutely USELESS!! The supervisor who intially took care of the problem and charged my card now REFUSES to talk to me and Humax has NO RECORD of my $225 deposit. I guess I'll wind up having to dispute the charge with my credit card company to get my money back. BUYER SERIOUSLY BEWARE!

We purchased this item on 11/1/04. On 11/26/04 we began experiencing difficulties burning DVD's. We kept getting errors. So we contacted Humax on 11/29. They told us our hard drive was corrupt. They told us that for a $225 deposit they would ship a new unit and when they received the defective unit, they would refund our deposit.

We agreed. 10 days later, we still hadn't received the new unit. When we called, they told us that the credit card came back "invalid number." Apparently they transposed the numbers when taking them. However, we never received a phone call from Humax that there was a problem with the credit card numbers.

So we asked for them to run it again so we could get this matter cleared up. Now the deposit had gone to $499. That's right, more than we paid for the defective unit. We asked them how many people they knew that had an extra $500 laying around during Christmas season. They didn't care. After all, it would be refunded upon return of the defective unit. What a joke!!! So it would take about 2-3 weeks to get our refund if everything worked out right!! No way!!!

Don't expect this company to stand behind their products! If you get a defective unit - expect to pay out the nose to get it replaced.

I wish we would have never purchased this product in the first place.

FOLLOW UP - After a nasty email to corporate, I finally got a phone call back from someone higher up the chain. They went back to the original $225 deposit for a new one, but told me that their policy has changed and it's $499 now if you need a new Humax. Of course the money is refunded when you return defective unit. But still $499 is steep to get a replacement unit for something that doesn't work in the first place. So I still say buyer beware!

Rating: 2 stars
Summary: DRT800 Dead after 2 months - Bad customer Service
Review: The DRT800 was a great machine. That is until it stopped working one day short of two months after I bought it. I had just completed copying movies from my video camera through the firewire interface to burn onto a DVD. When I came home from work the next day the Tivo was powered off. Well, I thought it was just a problem with my outlet or the circuit breaker tripped. To my dismay something had happened to the Tivo itself. For the record I do have it plugged into a good surge protector. The customer service rep said that more than likely the power supply malfunctioned.

Now I have the DRT800 and I have two options for replacement from Humax. I can send it to them at my expense and they'll send me a new or refurbished one. Keep in mind I just paid $400 for a new one two months ago. The second option is that I can give them my credit card, they'll charge $499 and send me a new one. When I return the broken one they'll refund the charge. This option works, but is a huge hassle for the consumer.

I asked if they could just repair the power supply? They said no.
I asked if there was any way to save the hard drive. They said no.
I asked if I could speak to someone sympathetic to my problem to make an exception. At first they said that they would have someone call me in 72 hours. When I waited over a week without a call I called back and they said there was no one else to talk to.

Bottom line is that Humax does not have good customer service. They are new to the US and they have a small operation here that has bad warranty policies.

My main concern was all my home movies on the hard drive. They said that there are very few of these units that go bad and if I replaced it the new one couldn't possibly malfunction again. Why not?

Mine broke after two months, how about yours?

Do you still want to buy one?

Rating: 5 stars
Summary: Other Experts Agree
Review: this is a great value.
I was already considering it and today, 12/15/2004, I read that "DVD ETC. Magazine for its outstanding value in combining an 80-hour digital video recorder (DVR) with the TiVo service, a DVD recorder, and a progressive scan DVD player, all for a price of $399".
So I don't need to sing its praise here, just check out their review yourself. I guess amazon's price is not so good on this one. TiVo.com offers it for $399. WhoSave.com can refer it for $349. So amazon, if you are listening, lower your prices please!

Rating: 1 stars
Summary: Do not purchase without a store warranty
Review: This is my 2nd Tivo and I DO NOT recommend buying the Humax Tivo DVR. This recorder is a piece of junk. I made a huge mistake purchasing this directly from TIVO. I should have purchased it from Best Buy and spent the extra money for the replacement plan.

The recorder pauses on its own several times a minute and is very annoying. It started doing this only after a couple of weeks.

The picture quality is not good at all. I have 34" Sony flat screen and have purchased the most expensive cables but this did not help.

Customer service is horrible. I am a huge TIVO fan but I do not recommend the Humax Tivo DVD recorder at all.

Rating: 2 stars
Summary: Buyer Beware: Humax lowers your picture quality
Review: What a wonderful idea this is - DVD recorder with TiVo. Unfortunately, there are a few things they don't tell you. If you have an older television, you may not have the necessary inputs/outputs to make the unit and/or all of the features work. My set was nine years old - I ended up buying a new one.
However, the most upsetting part of this experience was the terrible graininess that showed up in the picture (on my new set!). I thought I had hooked the cables up incorrectly. I purchased the recommeded component cables for the "best video picture" and it was still dreadful. After talking to several technicians, I spoke with a supervisor who confirmed that, if you do not have a cable box, the unit significantly decreases the quality of the picture. The bigger your set, the more noticeable this change in quality is. I have a 27" which they characterized as "big".
I returned the unit. Bless Sam's Club and their "satisfaction guaranteed" return policy!

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