Digeo Moxi HD DVR Page 2

If you’ve used Sony’s now renowned Xross Media Bar interface, it will be especially simple to understand the basic architecture of the interface. The menu lays out horizontally across the screen and expands vertically as you highlight different functions and filters. The power this wields in organizing your content and accessing your content is extraordinary.

The Moxi includes easy-to-find filters for Channels and Recorded TV (programs you’ve recorded). But when you drill down further, there are filters that show only Music, Kids, News, Sports, and Movie Channels. For insufferables like myself, there’s an HDTV filter that excludes all standard-def unworthiness. Plus, it has a smart, dynamic Favorites filter that automatically populates with the 15 most-watched channels. The menu is extraordinarily clean and uncluttered. As a result, it’s fast. It takes just a few quick keystrokes to locate and use the Find and Record search function. It’s a snap to find shows and set up series recordings. You can base searches on Title, Keyword, or Category, and the Keyword searching is surprisingly shrewd. For instance, when I typed in “Eastwood,” Moxi not only found me a bunch of Clint’s flicks, it sifted metadata info and found an episode of The Late Show with David Letterman featuring an interview with Clint. My Comcast box doesn’t even offer a keyword search. The following is an example of the issues you can have when you search only by title. When I typed “David Letterman” into a title search on the Comcast box, it returned nothing. Zip. Nada. When I typed the same into Moxi’s keyword search, it found every scheduled episode of The Late Show with David Letterman.

Also impressive to me is the way Moxi displays Recorded TV. It groups series recordings together very logically, and you can even access them from the other filters. For example, all of my episodes of 30 Rock and Battlestar Galactica are sorted into folders that bear the shows’ titles, not simply by recording date. So it’s really easy to catch up on several episodes of one show, and you don’t have to bounce back out to a menu and peck through your recorded shows by date to find the next episode.

There are several other smallish refinements that sum and add to the grander Moxi experience. The Change Time Slot, which is accessible from any of the channel filters, lets you quickly look at what’s on, say, your HDTV channels or your Favorites three days from now at 3:00 a.m. The commercial-killing 30-second skip might be banished from some DVRs, but it’s alive and well here. When you press the OK key or any of the direction keys, the Flip Bar comes up and shows you current channel information and the next three upcoming programs on that channel. If you highlight the channel, you can scroll up or down and show the current and next three upcoming programs on other channels.

Navigating with the Moxi’s remote is fastest and cleanest in the shallower depths of the menus when the nav/direction keys and enter buttons suffice. Deeper in the menus and when other buttons are required, it’s a little clumsy to find the right one at times. The Live TV button is one I use a lot, and it was marooned up at the top right, away from easy thumb reach. By feel, the recorded TV playback commands are so similar to the nav/direction keys that I sometimes confused them. None of this was enough to mar the overall experience by a long shot, but the remote could still be improved.

Of Web and Widgets
Moxi’s Website lets you access your cable system’s program guide and schedule recordings from any PC with a browser. Real-time conflict management means you can see right away if any of your new recordings conflict with older ones. It kind of puts a hammer in your hand. No one at home knows that you’re scheduling new recordings, so you can sucker-punch your significant other’s favorite show (at your peril, of course).

The Super Ticker is accessible by one button push on the remote. Once the image scales to show the ticker on the bottom of the screen, you can scroll through sports scores, watch your stocks plummet, or catch the weather and all kinds of other breaking news. The cool thing is that it’s interactive. If you want the NBA, you can navigate directly to its scores—there’s no loop to wait for if you just missed your team’s score. What’s more, if your team’s game is in progress, you can lock the ticker on that game and stay updated, which I found very cool (and also crushing when I saw my Golden State Warriors tank games night after night). Moxi Net aggregates more Internet news content, like a larger-scale version of the Super Ticker. Digeo doesn’t supply the interface and graphics here, and it shows. It’s clunky compared with the homegrown features.

The Jukebox lets you store and access your music on the Moxi, and it also accesses finetune Internet radio. The Photos feature lets you access your Flickr photos and any photo albums you are permitted to view. In a nice touch of consolidation, Moxi will manage your finetune and Flickr account info through its Website, a model that Digeo tells me will continue. As content sources expand, users won’t need to manage Moxi-related accounts all over the Web. By the time you read this, the Moxi will be updated to DLNA compatibility, which will enhance its ability to access music and photos over a home network.

I know what you’re thinking. Decent widgets, but what about a killer app for accessing movies and TV shows from the Net? TiVo’s got Netflix HD streaming and Amazon Unbox, so what’s the Moxi got? Right now, zip, and Digeo knows it. While nothing is finalized as of this writing, this is at the top of Digeo’s to-do list. And since it has a huge hard drive to work with, the Moxi won’t be limited to streaming. It can obviously store downloads, which are higher quality more often than not. But for now, it’s a black eye for the box in black.

Wish List
While the Moxi is loaded by any sane standard, I did jot down a few more to-dos for the home team. The first is Wi-Fi. Ethernet is required, so an optional accessory that eliminates the need for a hard-wired connection would probably be welcome. While another useful tool in this Swiss Army knife of a DVR is the Storage Info settings, it would be nicer if you could see how much recording space is left from the Recorded TV filter. Also, the smart Favorites filter is good, but why not get a little smarter and avoid displaying channels that you don’t subscribe to? How about iTunes compatibility? Now that the iTunes Store’s music is DRM free, there are 100 million iPod users who might like to access their iTunes library. Also, I’d like to see a traffic widget hit the Super Ticker or Moxi Net. My iPhone has that, so why can’t a guy dream? I can’t bring myself to say that I wish I could order Domino’s pizza over the Moxi, but it’s too damned funny to not note for those who care that TiVo offers the ability to order really crappy pizza through its box.

It’s frustrating to know that I probably haven’t done the feature set here justice. I focused on the areas in which the Moxi differs from the DVR I use and on the features I gravitated to most in a relatively short review period. While the Moxi can’t access On-Demand or PPV content, virtually everything else about it is superior, including its already massive and scalable storage and a user interface that’s light-years beyond. As premium as the Moxi’s feature set is now, I have no doubt that it will continue to evolve. If it sounds like I’m enthusiastic about the Moxi, I am. This was like being on vacation from the cable company DVR I use daily. Highly recommended.

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