Revisiting ReplayTV

Two weeks ago, I wrote about digital video recorders and how I found them "so hopelessly complex that I have yet to find a salesperson who can work one."

Let's just say I've had a change of heart. It's more than a week now that I've been using one, and my findings - a sample of one and well within a zero percent margin of error - are: Wow!

First, I have to report I found someone better than your everyday salesperson to explain the ins and outs of ReplayTV. Three representatives from ReplayTV came to the Monitor's offices, digital video recorder in hand, and enlightened a group of us. More importantly, they walked us through what they think these little black boxes portend for the way we watch TV. They said, and I agree, that if you change the way Americans watch television, you significantly change American culture.

Setting one up is still not for the faint of heart. Understand, I'm comfortable hooking up a new VCR, a PC or Apple computer - been there, done that. But the point I want to make is how digital recording has instantaneously changed the way I watch TV. By my lights, this hi-tech gadget is barely at the "Mr. Watson, come here, I need you" stage,

Punch in key words, like "Crocodile Hunter," or "Iron Chef," and the recorder will find and capture them. Now, when I turn on the TV that's what I'll watch.

It has a 30 hour storage capacity, deletes the oldest shows first unless instructed to save them and tells me when I've created a scheduling conflict by trying to record two overlapping shows.

When it comes to commercials, the skip button has a sweeter feel than a spoon holding a double scoop of chocolate ice cream. And it does so much more.

Stay tuned - we will continue to monitor digital video recorders.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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