So, I've not been a DirecTV guy for about 3 and 1/2 years. I was very active back in the day, and while I switched to Verizon FiOS in that time, I only ever used one of their DVRs (and only for a month)--I mostly used TiVos. I like TiVos. When I became a DirecTV customer the first time, I had a TiVo (the old HR10-250), and as DirecTV phased those out and began introducing their own HD DVRs, I was one of the early adopters who grew along with the line, until leaving DirecTV meant I would actually MISS the HR series as I thought it was actually BETTER than TiVo in many ways.
My 3 year turn with only the TiVo was fine. But it wasn't the DirecTV HDDVR experience I'd become accustomed to, and though I've only had 24 hours to play with the HR34 (GENIE) and the C31 clients... I am VERY glad to be home.
One of my biggest concerns when the HR20 HD DVRs came out was closed captioning. My brother is deaf and captioning has to be just right. The HD TiVo was awesome on captioning. DirecTV took special care to work with me and others on their HR2x captioning and when I left DirecTV 3 years ago, their captioning was pretty awesome.
A bit nervously, I turned on captions yesterday, and found... a very pleasant surprise. The smooth fonts of the HD captioning on the GENIE are awesome. The TiVo and TiVo Premier have nice captioning fonts. The Verizon FiOS DVR has sucky captioning fonts. The GENIE has the most clean captioning fonts I've seen on a DVR outside of a Blu-Ray disk, with which they're on par. BRAVO!
Things I forgot about that I missed without remembering I missed them:
* 30 second slip (rather than skip). I like the slip rather than the skip. I like to see if I want to maybe go back and see the ad I just missed.
* The QuickTune menu (up arrow on the remote) which gives you 9 QuickTune channels in any configuration you desire. Especially nice for me since I don't remember all the D* channels yet.
* Removal of SD duplicates from the guide. Oh, how I needed this on my TiVo and unless I wanted to do it manually, which I was too lazy to do, it just wasn't an option.
* OnDemand. I didn't have this with my TiVo. It's just not an option, other than Netflix or Amazon, and they're nothing near a TV provider's OnDemand list.
New Things that I think rock:
* Picture in Picture. Not something I'll often use, but seems nice.
* Integration of the C31 clients. Well done. They seem smooth and while I've had two small glitches on the bedroom one (I had to wait a bit while changing the channel a couple times, and had to change it and change it back), I realize it takes a bit for a new software update (as the HR34 and C31's got when hooked up) to settle in. But the combined playlist and series links are wonderful. And I didn't need a LAN cable in the bedroom or dining room (or in my case Wireless N TiVo bridges which died after 18 months).
* Five tuners. Nice. Last night 4 shows were recording at once rather than doing two and pulling two others at a later time during a rerun.
* iPhone/iPad apps for setting up series links. Well done. Made it easy. TiVo has this but it's a bit more clunky and certainly not as fast.
Things that didn't work for me:
* Dolby Digital. I tried it, it worked, but quickly went out of sync. I'm back to PCM. Which is fine, really--it did the same thing on the TiVo and so that could just be my system. It's nothing I care about. The amp does the decoding so PCM is preferred to me anyway.
Yeah, that's all I can think of. Like I say, I had one issue, twice, on the C31 with a channel changing giving me a black screen for a while. But eventually I changed the channel down and back up and it was fine. *shrug* Sometimes things glitch, especially in the first few hours after a new software update, while new guide data is getting acquired and so on.
Overall, I'm very pleased with the move back to DirecTV. I'm going to keep looking at captioning since I see that the GENIE only has DTVCC and not classic CC as well, but so far it hasn't made a difference. For all I know, the system defaults to CC if DTVCC isn't available.