TiVo owners who constantly find themselves running out of space and having their programs deleted as a result will find the My DVR Expander gives them plenty of breathing room once a lengthy install process is completed.
The MyDVR Expander sits in the same enclosure you’ll find other Western Digital MyBook drives in. It’s pretty large and doesn’t particularly fit in with the style of the Tivo itself – or most living room AV equipment for that matter. It’s a minor problem, but one that’s also made a little worse due to the cable provided with the drive, which is quite short. You can’t exactly hide the drive round the back of your AV cabinet if it won’t reach that far.
The prime feature of the Expander drive is that it adds a significant quantity of storage to a Tivo media device. While the units that shipped in Australia all featured SATA ports on the rear, to date it’s not been possible to utilise the port for anything without significant (and warranty voiding) hacking. The 1TB on offer supplements the existing 160GB drive within the unit, allowing users a lot more recording time, as well as time for Tivo to record its own program suggestions based on the profile it builds up of your viewing preferences. The 1TB addition to the existing drive claims to accommodate up to 200 hours of high defintion recording and 400 hours of standard definition.
Just because it’s an external drive, however, doesn’t mean the data within is portable in any sense. Tivo stores programs across its own internal drive and the MyDVR, so if you do unplug the drive, the programs are ‘lost’ to TiVo. Likewise, the drive itself is PC-compatible in a technical sense, but the data isn’t, so you can’t shuffle data off it easily – for that you’ll need the $199 Tivo Home Networking Package.
Installing the MyDVR is an interesting balance of challenges. On the one hand, all you really have to do is plug it in, reboot your Tivo a couple of times and you’re done. The downside here is that this takes ages. In our tests each reboot ate up 10 minutes alone, during which time the Tivo’s not recording programs for you. Once it was done, though, we had plenty of recording space to play with.
There are two benefits to this. Obviously, you can choose to record many more programs, and they’ll stay resident on your Tivo for longer, as it won’t need to delete old content quite as rapidly. The other benefit is in the program suggestions list, as Tivo uses the extra space to record programs it thinks you might like. On our test system, we went from having half a dozen program suggestions pre-recorded to well over 200.
At a $299 asking price, the MyDVR Expander drive is a costly drive, and there’s really no escaping that. It does work, and for utter couch potatoes it’s both easy and appealing to have even more of the boob tube on easy recall.