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I suspect that the units you saw at Circuit City had a bad satellite feed. I've never had an Ultimate TV DVR, but I own several SD DirecTivos, and HR10-250 HD DirecTivo, and the new HR20 non-Tivo DirecTV DVR. All of them produce equivalent SD video quality. The HR20 produces a very slightly better HiDef video than my HR10-250.

Since the DirecTivo's are no longer manufactured, it's unlikely that DirecTV can offer you those anymore. Most likely you would be offered the current R15 SD DVR, or perhaps the new HR20 HD DVR.

As far as 30-sec skip goes, the DirecTivo's have a "backdoor" command that changes the skip button to an instantaneous 30-sec skip button. The DirecTV non-Tivo DVRs have a standard "30-sec slip" feature that quickly FF's ahead 30-seconds, but it's not instantaneous.
 
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