DVRs, Bose, Degradation

Skimpy DVR
The DVR provided by Cox only has an 8-hour capacity for storing HD broadcasts. The only alternative I've found is $1000 for an HD TiVo and renting cable cards. Any suggestions?

Jerry Moore

The TiVo HD DVR is great, far better than any DVR supplied by a cable company. I don't know where you're getting $1000 from—the TiVo HD is $300, and it has enough hard-disk space for 20 hours of HD.

Another option is the Moxi HD DVR from Digeo; see our review here. The Moxi also needs CableCard to work with digital cable. One advantage of the TiVo is that it will also receive over-the-air DTV, while the Moxi is limited to cable.

The only other option is to dump cable and get satellite, though I think the TiVo and Moxi user interfaces are far superior to any satellite DVR I've seen.

Marriage Counseling
My family will be moving into a new house at the end of the year. My wife wants a big HDTV and a Bose Lifestyle system because she likes the way it sounds. I am pretty sure that the size of the speakers plays a large part in her preference as well.

We have been to some electronic stores in the area to look at component-based systems, but my wife and I are turned off by the idea of "having to spend at least $10,000" (sales person quote) to get a decent system. That is WAY beyond our budget.

Are there systems that don't take over the whole room, sound good, and are easy for novices to set up and use?

Please help if you can—my family and marriage thank you!

James Sanderson

You don't need to spend $10,000 to get a good system. If you're looking at the Bose Lifestyle system, you want what we call a "home theater in a box" or HTIB, which includes speakers, receiver, and disc player in one easy-to-set-up package.

If your wife likes the sound of the Bose, go for it, but most of my colleagues and I don't really like its sound. For other ideas, see our HTIB buyer's guide. If your budget permits, I would get an HTIB with Blu-ray playback, unless you already have a PlayStation 3 or other Blu-ray player.

How Do I Know?
On The Tech Guy radio show, you mentioned that some receivers degrade the video signal that passes through them. I'm looking to upgrade my non-HDMI receiver to go with my new Sony BDP-S550 Blu-ray player, Mitsubishi 65-inch DLP TV, and Boston Acoustics speakers. The last thing I want is to degrade the video signal to the screen. How can I find out which receivers degrade or do not degrade the video signal that passes through them? The choice of receivers already has me confused enough.

Dave Brower

The best way to determine if a receiver degrades the video signal is to read the receiver reviews on We recently implemented a suite of video tests that reveal any problems with the receiver's video performance.

If you have a home-theater question, please send it to

Adam's picture

James Sanderson,Try this one for size. Go get yourself an Onkyo TX-SR607 receiver, and an Energy TakeClassic speaker package. The speakers are very nice looking, and they sound pretty good too. The receiver is great, 90 watts a channel, multiple HDMI connections, HD-Audio processing, Audyssey room EQ setup. You're well under 2000 for both (I think more like right around 1000 or 1100). Get all your wire from, including all speaker wire (you can buy them preterminated with Banana clips too!!). And please get yourself a good Power Center, Monster or Panamax will do just fine. I'd look at the Panamax 5100-PM model. It's a nice unit, pretty middle of the road for the company, but it will make your equipment much happier with clean power than the little $10 power strip you can find at Wal-Mart. Hope that helps somewhat. Good luck.

Scott Wilkinson's picture

Good advice, Adam! HT's review of the TX-SR607 will appear in the August issue of the magazine, and from what I've heard, it's a sweet piece. Unlike the previous generations of inexpensive Onkyos, this one doesn't clip above-white and below-black video, which is a big improvement. The Energy Take Classic speakers are excellent as well, and they are small, which meets James' criterion that they not take over the whole room.I recommended an HTIB because James said he wanted something easy for novices to set up and use. But your solution isn't that much more complex, so it should be fine.

Brendt Montgomery's picture

Nice system. I'd recommend pretty much in the same vein. I'm a Mirage fan, so something like this... can find a 5.1 Mirage system on eBay right now for an incredible value. I tried telling a good friend of mine to go with Mirage over Bose. He ended up going with the Bose because it was convenient. I think he regrets it and it didn't sound very good at all when I heard it.These are also an incredible value, but would take more convincing to the wife because of their plain, big appearance..., I like an APC H15 for the power protection. You can find them for about $150 online. They are also an incredible value. Oh an for all cables - just some HDMI and decent speaker cable.

Scott Wilkinson's picture

BTW, the Onkyo TX-SR607 review just got posted on HT's website

Mark Montgomery's picture

What is it that you don't like about the sound of the Bose Lifestyle 48, V30 or any Lifestyle system?

Scott Wilkinson's picture

All the Bose home-audio systems I've heard sound rather closed in and/or honky. The only exceptions in my experience so far have been the Wave radio, which sounds surprisingly good for a tabletop radio/CD player, and the Quiet Comfort noise-cancelling headphones, which I use on all airline flights.

Adam's picture

It's not that Bose sounds bad. A lot of people love Bose products, and they definitely make some great and very useful product. However their inability to offer newer and better connecting technology seems very backwards for an industry that is ALWAYS MOVING FORWARDS. Compare the capabilities of a $500 receiver from pretty much any manufacturer to say the main unit of the lifestyle 28. Forgetting the all important "weight" factor, you're losing HDMI capabilities, HD audio processing, room EQ setup, flexibility in adding multiple digitally connected devices (theres just not enough TosLink and SPDIF connections). And that's just scraping the iceberg of capabilities that a $500 unit is capable of. Of course there is definitely a market for Bose Lifestyle systems, and plenty of people who are looking for exactly what comes in the Bose HTIB. However if you're looking for a GREAT audio solution, ANY HTIB is not gonna cut it.

Mark's picture

Adam, the Lifestyle 28 has four digital Coax connections and one optical in. Also, there is an optional piece call a VS-2 that has two HDMI inputs and one out to the TV that up converts content to 1080p. The Lifestyle V20 and V30 have multiple optical connection as well as HDMI connections. The really cool thing that all Lifestyle systems have is called "Adapt IQ". This allows you to pic 5 locates that you sit at the most and the system over comes most of the acoustical challenges in the room. This is done from a headset that has two mic's(one above each ear). That is inside the systems.

Matt's picture

I have a bose lifestyle 25 series 2 that I purchased in May02. I have recently purchased a Samsung 52" LCD HDTV and a PS3(blueray). My bose dosen't have the HDMI inputs so my sound is not HD. Based on the comments above, I'm not sure If I should upgrade to a newer Bose system, or try to sell it and get a quality HTIB or other system to complement my set up. I live in a small condo so space is an issue. HELP!

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audio's picture

what no one is really saying, and I guess just out of politeness, that no one on here is telling the truth, and the truth is, that bose is basically just overpriced plastic junk. the mcdonalds of the audio world. lets start with the subwoofer, a sub is supposed to only provide lfe(low frequency extension) 80hz and down, but with the bose you can hear voices coming through it. which means that it is not truly doing its job as a sub. the speakers are made of plastic, and do not have cast iron frames, which means that they are not..... well whats the point in talkinga bout it. bose is shit. end of story.

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