I've learned the hard way that when the other company is Tivo, you're in for a great deal of frustration and disappointment.
I decided to give Tivo a try back in October of 2010. It is now April of 2011 and the system still does not work correctly or reliably.
Tivo has some of the worst customer service I've ever encountered. They have yet to solve any problems for me. The main issues have been:
Channel lineup is wrong. I actually must setup my Tivo by selecting the channel lineup for a location other than my own to get access to some key HD channels. But this means that other channels are wrong.
Tivo search engine is broken. The results are random. You can enter and search term, view the results and then two seconds later, enter the same search terms and you will get different results.
Glitchy video. I archive a great deal of video using an h.264 encoder. Each time the video has a glitch, this creates a minimum of a 7 second gap in the captured video while the encoder restarts. There are times when I get a major glitch every 5 to 10 minutes. This is, of course, unusable video. Meanwhile, the same program was recorded at the same time on the cable company's DVR (in the same room even I might add) and that program had zero glitches. The cable company says the signal quality to the Tivo is very good.
It took about 3 months just to get reliable access to most of my channels. (Granted, Time Warner is just as much at fault on this one.)
The Tivo frequently freezes up requiring a 20-30 minute reboot.
If you don't do the setup just right, the unit freezes.
Because you must use a Tuning Adapter, you sometimes get denied access to channels you subscribe to.
Online scheduling often takes 2 to 3 hours to have an effect and actually schedule the recording (when it works at all.)
The latest one is a whopper: A few weeks ago, I noticed the Tivo recording when I knew I did not have anything scheduled to record. I stopped the recording and noted what was being recorded. I checked that I didn't accidentally schedule this recording and that any Tivo features that would have automatically recorded anything were still turned off. There was no explanation for the recording. This happened several more times. Always the same program; an infomercial. I started to suspect Tivo was selling involuntary access to my DVR as a form of advertising. I contacted Tivo. We went back and forth a few times and then they finally admitted this was true:
"The recording that you are seeing is part of an advertising partnership program with that infomercial." . . . "Since these recordings are part of our advertising partnerships and are covered under the Service Agreement, we will not be able to stop them from taking place."
That is what I suspected. Even if tivo slipped it into the fine print, it is still disgusting and unethical.