For TiVo and Replay, New Reach "Remember, furthermore, that DVR feature wars are like a never-ending game of leapfrog. TiVo has made the most recent jump, but ReplayTV's designers say they intend to catch up.
In the meantime, each box has virtues that have nothing to do with home networks. Only the TiVo, for example, offers "wish lists" that can record certain shows, or movies with a certain star, whenever they come on, even months or years later.
But only the ReplayTV can automatically skip over blocks of commercials during playback, an irresistible feature even if it works only about 80 percent of the time. The Replay also lets you send shows to friends across a somewhat larger network - the Internet - if they're patient. It takes 12 hours to transmit a one-hour recording (with a broadband connection).
The costs of the TiVo and ReplayTV boxes are about the same: about $250 for a DVR that holds 40 hours of recordings (at lowest quality), plus a one-time $250 for the TV-guide service. (Instead of that $250, you can also pay $13 per month forever - in June, Replay's rate goes up from $10 - but that's a sucker's game.)
In return, you get a life-changing machine that shatters the traditional broadcast schedule to suit your own, lets you zip past ads and endless reality-show recaps, and relegates "There's nothing good on" to the phrase bin of history. And now that they hook up to your home computer, DVR's give "network TV" a whole new meaning."