While searching for a replacement for my dead series 1 TiVo a month ago, I came across the LG LRM-519 digital video recorder.
The $599 digital video recorder features a 160GB harddrive, progressive-scan DVD-R/RW player and burner, built-in ethernet networking port and a free Microsoft Program Guide subscription for the life of the unit. The software that runs the unit is based off of Microsoft’s Windows XP Media Center Edition in a similar way that the TiVo is based off the Linux operating system.
After having used the device for several weeks now, I feel comfortable pointing out a few of the strengths and weaknesses of the unit. Probably the biggest thing that I miss as a former TiVo owner is the wonderful user-interface that TiVo has perfected for their devices. However, the LRM-519’s Windows Media Center interface is still easy enough to use that my parents seem to have no problem navigating through the options.
I also miss the TiVo remote, which made getting to any particular feature easy enough to do by feel alone. The included remote often takes one or two more button pushes to get to a similar feature as the TiVo. The buttons are also smaller and easier to mix up when attempting to find something by touch alone.
On the other hand, finally having a DVD recorder to back-up recorded programs to disc is a definite improvement over my series 1 TiVo. The LRM-519 also features the ability to transfer video files across my network to a Windows XP PC using a Netgear wireless USB adapter I purchased separately, though I could have simply used the included ethernet cable as well. That same network connection allows the LRM-519 to play music and display photos stored on Windows XP machines using downloadable software from Microsoft.
Overall, the LRM-519’s features put it in good standing with the more expensive TiVo series 2 devices that feature DVD recorders. It also has the advantage of including the networking features and life-time program guide free, compared to the additional cost you’ll find yourself paying with the TiVo. At the same time, the TiVo features a superior user-interface and ease of use, which is definitely something the end-user will need to consider.