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Thursday May 6, 2010 8:08 pm

Moxi 3-Tuner HD DVR review

Moxi HD DVR 3-tuner

Moxi DVRs have been around for almost a decade, but chances are good that you’ve likely not heard of them. Moxi was originally developed by a company called Digeo, founded in 1999 and bought the rights to Moxi Digital in 2002. The company put out some cable boxes that cable companies distributed to their customers, and those that lived in those limited areas that were lucky enough to have access to Moxi HD DVRs from their cable providers generally said that they were fantastic. In December of 2008, the Moxi HD DVR was released, and it was the companies first retail product, available to anyone who had the cash to buy one. In September 2009, Digeo was purchased by ARRIS Group, which took over development of the Moxi products, from both a software and hardware perspective, and five months later, they released the product that we are reviewing today, the Moxi 3-Tuner HD DVR.

In an era where rules the mass market DVR space years after ReplayTV fizzled away, Moxi is looking to claim a piece of that pie with a box that they feel offers an experience that you can’t get anywhere else, TiVo box, cable DVR, or otherwise. So, did they pull it off with the 3-Tuner HD DVR? Let’s find out.

The Moxi 3-Tuner HD DVR is has a few very important things going for it. First is ease of use. Setting up the unit is a snap, with the only potential challenge that we see being your cable company and their proficiency with CableCARDs. Just make sure you ask for a multistream card (or M-card) and you should be fine. Once paired up and activated, the Moxi DVR will go to work and start pulling in all your channels. The user interface will take just a bit of getting used to, but only because this is a new product that you haven’t used before. Things are all self-explanatory and intuitive. Oh, and it looks fantastic also.

Similar to TiVo, the Moxi HD DVR will allow you to specify which channels you do and don’t receive from within your cable lineup, which means you never have to tune into a channel that just shows up blank…but going one step further in the ease of use department, the DVR will also keep track of which channels and shows you happen to watch most often, that way, you don’t have to spend too much time in the interface trying to find the things you want to watch.

Since we are on the subject of making it easier to find things you want to watch, let’s get to what really sets this things apart from any cable DVR or TiVo out there - it has three tuners. In this day and age, we think that three tuners are more of a necessity than ever before. Why? Well, if you own a DVR and every have both tuners recording two shows back to back, you will likely have experienced the phenomenon where the end of a show gets cut off, because the tuner had to switch channels to start recording the next show. Nowadays, with major networks giving shows odd start and end times that go a minute or two past where they should, DVRs end up getting confused. Even if you are only ever recording two shows at once, having that third tuner in there means that when you have two shows that go until 9:01 pm, and you want to record another show that starts at 9:00 pm (one minute earlier,) that third tuner will take care of that recording, and all three shows are recorded in their entirety. This is something that no other consumer-level DVR or cable DVR can do, and the Moxi 3-Tuner HD DVR does quite well. Oh, and you can also just have it record a full on three shows at once as well, with the ability to watch a pre-recorded show while all that is going on.


You can also manage your DVR from the web by logging into your account on the Moxi website. You can set up new recordings, and they’ll show up on the DVR almost instantly, great when you remember that there’s something you wanted to see, but aren’t home to set up. Also, speaking of online services, if you are used to things like Amazon Video OnDemand or Netflix on the TiVo, you’ll notice that those features are missing here on the Moxi DVR…kind of. Rather than building these types of apps into the HD DVR, instead the Moxi DVR works with PlayOn, a software bundle that will let you access content from Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Pandora, Amazon, and more. If you set up PlayOn, you unlock a whole host of other viewing options on the Moxi HD DVR, and it will even give you content from more choices than even the latest Series 4. No, seriously - Hulu on your TV with ease!

This brings us to cost, because having Hulu access on a DVR like this means that you could, in theory, throttle down your cable TV package and save some money if you are willing to wait until the following day to watch some programming. In fact, if you look at the Moxi 3-tuner HD DVR as an investment, you start to see that this thing really can save you some money when compared to the other alternatives out there, despite its $599 price tag. For example, when we compare it to the TiVo Premiere, you are looking at $299. However, the thing is, Moxi doesn’t require any sort of subscription fee or lifetime activation fee, but TiVo does. So to get a TiVo Premiere with lifetime usability, you have to add on another $400, bringing the TiVo to $699 - a full $100 more than the Moxi box.

Even further, if you are into multi-room viewing, Moxi beats TiVo there as well. They have a product called the Moxi Mate. Now, we weren’t aboe to test a Moxi Mate, but we do know that it allows for multi-room sharing of both recorded content and live TV, and the box costs $299. With TiVo, you need to buy another TiVo unit, and pay a monthly or one-time subscription fee, in other to use it even as a multi-room viewing tool. That’s hundreds more than the solution that Moxi has with the Moxi Mate. Now, one other advantage of the Mate over how TiVo does their multi-room solution, is that the Moxi HD DVR streams the content to the Moxi Mate - so there is no need to wait for a large HD file to copy over from one device to the other. It just streams over the network, and it’s the way TiVo should be doing things by now—but they don’t.

Now all this isn’t to say that the Moxi 3-tuner HD DVR isn’t without its faults—the interface could be a little snappier, but it’s been vastly improved in this area since we saw it at CES a year ago. Also, we are sure that despite the potential savings, there are many who’d rather have the smaller up-front price tag with a small monthly subscription fee, like what TiVo offers. Setting up a Moxi HD DVR, plus a Moxi Mate or two is a significant investment. However, for what you get, we think it’s worth it if you’re a TV fanatic, especially if you want something that will integrate things like Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, and the like. We’ve used the Motorola boxes with Comcast software and Verizon FiOS software, TiVo Series 2, Series 3, and Series 4 Premiere, Windows Media Center, and a few other DVRs. That said, we have to say that the Moxi 3-Tuner HD DVR just may be our favorite. We recommend it.

You can pick up a Moxi 3-Tuner HD DVR on Amazon.

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