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Until someone comes up with a simple, reliable, nonfiddly way to get Hulu on our television, we’re still addicted to traditional TV. That said, without TiVo, we’d give up on TV in a heartbeat. Back in the day, piling on to the couch for Must See TV on Thursday nights from 8 to 10 was a given. But now, the ability to time- and place-shift television is a crucial feature. The only problem is that our TiVo box is frequently overflowing with content, and it really sucks to lose crucial episodes of your favorite show because there’s a marathon of The Real Housewives of Atlanta on Bravo--not that we’d ever watch anything like that.
Western Digital’s My DVR Expander is an external hard drive for expanding the capacity of your DVR. The eSATA version we tested works with Series3 and HD TiVo units, in addition to selected DVRs from Scientific Atlanta. Setup of the My DVR couldn’t be simpler. We powered down our TiVo, attached the drive with the included cable, plugged in the AC adapter, and rebooted the TiVo. It recognized the external drive on the first try and incorporated our new storage space without any trouble. With an absolute minimum of effort, we added capacity for 120 additional hours of HD content or up to 600 hours of additional standard-def programming.
The always-on light can be irritating, and we wish it was possible to back up our TiVo's internal drive or move shows around via My DVR. But being able to record every show we have even the slightest interest in without worrying about running out of space, makes our TiVo an entertatinment powerhouse. Thanks, My DVR.
Save nearly every episode of everything.
The front panel of the My DVR sports a low-intensity orange LED, in order to be less distracting than standard LEDs while plugged in near your TV screen. But since you don’t really interact with the drive like you would a standard hard drive, the light is useless—it’s just on all the time, so it’s not really an indication of anything. If you like space-age lights for their own sake, perhaps it’s cool, but frankly we’re bigger fans of not being distracted by random lights in our field of vision while watching an episode of True Blood. In fact, after a few days with the My DVR Expander, we covered the light with black electrical tape—inelegant, but highly effective. And, thankfully, the drive is fanless, so it doesn’t add any noise to your viewing experience, while rubber fins on the casing help dampen vibrations from the rotation of its hard drive.
When you add the drive to your DVR, it’s “married” to your DVR’s internal drive, which means that you can’t simply disconnect the drive to move shows to another DVR. If you ever decide to stop using My DVR, you have to unmarry the drive, and you’ll lose your recordings. WD says you “may lose all your recordings,” but doesn’t actually say that shows recorded entirely on the internal drive are safe--and there’s no way to move shows or force them to record solely on the internal drive, anyway. In theory, that also means that your TiVo device is now twice as prone to failure, since it relies on two separate drive mechanisms instead of one, but that’s a small quibble vastly outweighed by the radness of being able to save entire seasons of your favorite shows without having to delete anything. Still, we’d like even some rudimentary management so that we could use the drive to move shows or remove the drive without losing everything. If you rely on TiVo’s Suggestions feature, it’s nice to constantly have a ton of viewing options at your fingertips--we currently have more than 250 shows listed in our Suggestions, in addition to all the recordings we actually scheduled ourselves.