Tivo kept me from upgrading my equipment. See, I couldn't live without my Tivo and they didn't offer a way to record HD content. When the Series3 arrived last fall, my interest was piqued. Unfortunately, as a loyal customer of DirecTV, I wouldn't be able to use the new box. Since the Series3 requires CableCards, a technology the FCC does not require the satellite companies to offer, I was S.O.L. In the end, it came down to my love of Tivo vs. my love of the NFL Sunday Ticket (DirecTV has an exclusive arrangement with the NFL).* DirecTV has an HD DVR, but I'd heard very mixed reviews. At the end of September, when a deal on the Series3 was scheduled to end, I took the plunge and moved to Time Warner and a new Tivo box. I'm not sure it was the right choice.

Don't get me wrong, the machine is a fantastic piece of technology. It can tape two HD programs at once while you watch a previoiusly recorded show and the audio and video is fantastic. It also has the best interface of any set top box I've used. When it comes to watching and recording tv, it does an amazing job. Unfortunately, there are two major problems that have made me consider selling the box and starting over.

First, their TivoToGo software, which lets you move files to and from your computer, is still not available for the Series3. It's six months since I bought the box and nearly a year since it was announced. For me, this is rough because I download a lot of video and the only screen in the bedroom is my 20" LCD Monitor. I'm not sure what the hold up is, but it's frustrating.

The bigger frustration is their decision to use CableCards. This is a very new technology and Time Warner, one of the biggest cable providers, can't seem to figure it out. The box takes two of these to decrypt encoded signals and I am about to replace a card for the fourth time. I'm not sure if it's the box or the card, but I sure as hell wish I knew. Either way, it was risky of Tivo to go this route and I think it was a mistake. I would rather have paid more for two cable boxes, which isn't even an option, than go through this headache. While I don't know anyone with a case as severe as mine and both Time Warner and Tivo have tried to help, I know I am not alone. Sure, we're early adopters, but this is unacceptable.

It's too bad really, because this is a slick machine. Is it worth the extra money over the new Tivo HD? If having the best quality audio and video is important to you: yes. But really all you lose is the OLED screen and the THX certification. If I had to choose, I'd go with the Tivo HD. Right now, I'd just settle for a box that works.

Learn about the Series3 at Tivo.com
Buy the Series3 at Amazon

* Don't think I'm living without my beloved Bears. I'm most likely purchasing a Slingbox Pro and setting it up at my parent's place in Chicago.