DirecTV Screws Fast Forward

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DirecTV Screws Fast Forward

DirecTV Plus DVR receiverDirecTV, my satellite TV provider, recently changed the firmware on my two DirecTV Plus DVR boxes and totally hosed the ability to fast forward easily. I noticed this on my upstairs receiver about 2 weeks ago. Basically, with the DirecTV Plus DVD receiver you can press the Fast Forward button up to 3 times to fast forward (2x, 3x, 4x). The problem is the damn Fast Forward Correction. If I have it on high-speed fast forward 4x, and then click Play where I want it to stop, the Fast Forward Correction rewinds the video to where it "thinks" I wanted to stop. It winds up rewinding so far back, sometimes it even rewinds to a point in the video that is BEFORE where I initiated the fast forward. What the heck?

I try again, the same thing happens, and I wind up going BACKWARDS in time, not forward. I thought my receiver was on the fritz so I rebooted it, but no nice. A few days later I went downstairs to watch TV and the wacky fast forward bug was happening on that receiver as well. I pretty much have to use 2x or 3x fast-forward now since 4x is useless. I suppose I could use the 4x FFW, but I'd have to overshoot whatever TV program I am watching, which goes against every fiber of my fast forward finger. My finger - make that thumb - has years of training in the old method.

DirecTV "espouses" this feature on their website when they write, "Fast-forwarded too far? Fast Forward Correction takes you to where you really wanted to stop". Yeah, right. Can I sue for false advertising? Losing the ability to FFW is really starting to tick me off.

Now in theory, the Fast Forward Correction is a great idea. After all, with the video fast forwarding so fast, it is impossible to stop exactly at the point where you see a scene where you want to stop. However, since I've used DirecTV for awhile, so I'm pretty nimble at pressing the Play button at the right time. I might overshoot the video a little, but then I just press the Back button (left arrow) which rewinds a few seconds (8s I believe) at a time. Yes, I know I can press the Skip button (right arrow) which will FFW 30s at a time. But it doesn't instantly "skip" or jump 30s - it actually fasts forwards through the video at about 2x speed. So using the skip button isn't an option to quickly FFW through several commercials. Fast forwarding at high speed is the best option on DirecTV receivers.

Further, I'm pretty good at guessing exactly when I want to stop even before seeing the scene on the TV. For instance, say I'm watching The Biggest Loser and it cuts to commercial. I press the Fast Forward button quickly 3 times to reach warp 4x fast forward speed, I wait about 5.5s and hit Play and I'm usually right where the commercials end. If I undershoot I press the Skip button (30s forward) and if I overshoot, I press Back (8s rewind).

There was always a slight rewind auto-correction but DirecTV must have really cranked up the dial on the latest firmware download. Last time I checked, TiVo PVRs allow users to manually select the exact number of seconds for autocorrection, but unfortunately, DirecTV and TiVo parted ways in 2005 and DirecTV developed their own PVR. Alas, DirecTV has "locked" most of the customizable features, such as autocorrection in their DVR boxes.

There is a glimmer of hope however, with Ars Technica reporting that Liberty Media, the new owners of DirecTV, are big fans of TiVo and have been collaborating with TiVo. Maybe I'll be able to trade in my current DVR/PVR sometime in 2008 for a TiVo model. Then it will truly be a Happy New Year!

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