The Joys of Using a Comcast DVR

Album Cover: Into the Wild

"I knew all the rules, but the rules did not know me...guaranteed."
Eddie Vedder / Guaranteed

Posted on March 08, 2008 2:44 PM in Television
Warning: This blog entry was written two or more years ago. Therefore, it may contain broken links, out-dated or misleading content, or information that is just plain wrong. Please read on with caution.

A submission on Digg this past week pointed to an article from NewTeeVee titled Dear Comcast, Why Is My DVR So Dumb? The main point of the article was to complain about the fact that Comcast's DVR software appears to not be able to discern new television episodes from repeats.

What the article fails to cover, though, is the myriad of excruciatingly annoying issues from which the DVR and its software suffer (or more importantly, from which the user suffers). So here's a list of issues I've seen, after having used the Comcast DVR for over a year:

  1. Recording the same episode over and over again
    This is the issue covered in the article mentioned above, but Comcast's explanation is that they are at the mercy of their EPG data provider. Maybe so, but nothing stops them from implementing checks in their actual DVR software to see if an episode has been recorded previously. Funnily (or sadly?) enough, I've seen the same exact issue covered in the article, where episodes of Project Runway are recorded over and over again, whether they are new or not, and whether or not they've previously been recorded, watched and subsequently deleted. I smell some scapegoating going on here.

  2. Blowing away custom recording preferences
    Sometimes, when I want to make sure the DVR is going to record the right shows at the right priority level for the coming week, I spend a good ten minutes or so going through and telling the software not to record certain shows so that others will record instead. If I see shows that I know are repeats (see previous issue), I'll tell it not to record those as well. However, I've noticed that the DVR software, seemingly on a whim (or perhaps more realistically whenever it updates its guide data) loses those custom preferences and goes back to recording all the crap it decided it should record based on the default settings (and its bizarre quirks). This is really annoying when it happens, because it's basically time lost on my part.

  3. Fast-forwarding and rewinding woes
    It only takes about a couple days of using the Comcast DVR to realize that of the five fast-forward and rewind levels supported, the first level doesn't work worth a darn, ever. It will fast-forward or rewind for a second or so, and then it just gets stuck. So basically there are four supported levels, meaning an extra button click on the remote every single time you want to fast-forward or rewind.

  4. General unresponsiveness
    This ranks right up there with the most annoying problems with the DVR and its software. Often times, when you hit the "OK" button on the remote control, the DVR will take its time processing whatever it is you asked it to do, but it gives no visual indication whatsoever that it is doing anything at all! Because of this, I often find myself hitting the up or down arrows in an attempt to find out if the DVR is actually doing work, or if it simply didn't get my remote control command at all and is sitting idle. There is no excuse for this in software, and hourglasses and rotating thingy-mo-bobbers are a dime-a-dozen in the UI world -- get with the program!

  5. Crashes and resets
    The DVR and its software crashes and resets randomly. In general, I would say this is totally unacceptable in a production device, but I suppose I could allow for one crash a year, maybe. Unfortunately, in the past year I've had my DVR crash and/or reset more times than I can count on one hand (and no, this isn't isolated to a single DVR). Hey Comcast, ever heard of QA?

  6. Certain channels take several minutes to load
    When I sit down to watch television, I don't load a disc into a tray before doing so, so I don't expect my DVR to make me wait for channels to load as if I was playing Final Fantasy or something. Comcast, if your infrastructure can't handle all the channels you offer, how about offering me a choice of channels I care about and discounting me the price of all the channels of which I opt-out?

  7. Recordings go off the reservation, never to be seen or heard from again
    I've covered this issue before, but numerous times I've had recordings that either go black halfway through, that force me to delete them halfway through, or even that ask me if I want to delete them as soon as I start watching them. This is unacceptable. If a show fails to record completely, at least show some decency and make it disappear altogether, rather than teasing me with bits and pieces of it.

  8. On Demand, much like a broken clock, is only right about twice a day
    I can honestly say that a majority of the time I've spent using the On Demand feature of my Comcast DVR has ended with some sort of error message either indicating that the service was not available at the time, or even providing me with some obscure error code that I'm recommended to share with my friendly, local Comcast support representative. On Demand is great in concept; it's just a shame Comcast has implemented it so poorly.

  9. Remote control command queuing
    This one could almost fit in the "general unresponsiveness" category, but it's so frustrating that I felt it deserves a category of its own. Whenever the Comcast DVR goes out to lunch (which, again, it does more than a couple of spoiled BFFs), it continues to queue up any remote control commands you send its way. At first, this usually consists of normal commands you were planning to send. Shortly thereafter, it usually consists of angry and random button presses to vent frustration that the DVR is no longer paying attention to your commands. It then ends in a blaze of random, unpredictable glory as every single button stroke plays out before you and you realize you are now set up to record all episodes of The Golden Girls and your latest Breaking Bad episode is no more.

To see if I've missed anything important, I'd have to go over and actually use my DVR. As you might have guessed, I'm not really in the mood to do so at the moment. If you've had similar issues or know of others, please share them here. After all, misery loves company.

Oh, and if you're a "Comcast executive" and you decide that, again, you would like to help me with my problems, please don't bother. That $50 reimbursement you gave last time was way more than enough to cover the endless pain I've endured as a Comcast DVR user.

Oh, and you won't have to worry about hearing too many more complaints from me about Comcast's DVR or television service, because I'll be parting ways with both in the very near future.


govikes on March 25, 2008 at 6:35 PM:

Dont forget about how it loses it's guide data constantly. It takes mine 3 days to fully load and then withing 1 day it starts erasing everything over a week out and it all to be announced. I have had 5 different dvrs from them now and thye claim no one else has this problem.


Bernie Zimmermann on March 26, 2008 at 6:30 AM:

"No one else has this problem" and "It must be your DVR" both sound very familiar ;)

I've seen the same issue, albeit very rarely. It seems to have happened only recently, as I recall seeing lots of TBDs in my scheduled recordings. I don't remember ever seeing that beyond about a month or so ago.

Sorry to hear you're having issues, too.


Jeff on April 21, 2008 at 12:28 PM:

Well, at least it helps to know I'm not alone. I appreciate your comments here.

My first Comcast DVR was wiped clean one day, and I had it replaced. The same thing then eventually happened to the second unit, but I figured this was to be expected now, so I kept that one, despite the disappointment. Last night, it failed again. This time, I can see my recordings listed, but they will not play--none of them. I get a black screen and see the progress bar, but nothing I do gets the recordings to start. The recording times for 30-minute shows also show 31 minutes now for some reason. I'm guessing fried hard drive, but who knows?

With the amount of money I pay Comcast for their service, this is such a frustrating thing to deal with. As usual, nobody at Comcast has any answers for these problems, either. I feel sorry for the poor people who are trying to make a living answering for this mess. How long does it take for a new technology to settle in and get reliable, anyway?


BigZ on May 12, 2008 at 11:52 AM:

I've had problems with all but a few of those issues you mention. By far (for me) the most annoying is #1 - Recording the same episode over and over again. I'll come back after a week or so and see 15 episodes of South Park filling the DVR ... I said "New Episodes ONLY!!!"

Not only will I have episodes from 1998, but I'll also have maybe 4 or 5 copies of the single "new" episode that I wanted in the first place! >:-@

Add this (high-priced) BS from Comcast ON TOP of their BitTorrent seed-busting BS ... and it becomes no wonder why Comcast's customers are leaving in DROVES for stuff like FiOS and DirecTV.


ew on July 17, 2008 at 11:08 AM:

I've had all of the above problems--the box has locked up several times, but for the first time last night it completely wiped out all recordings and everything that was set for future recordings. I've also done the swap the box thing, and of course, it doesn't matter. The product is crappy, but I don't have time to sit on hold for 30 minutes so I can tell some lackey help line guy about it. Not happy. Not happy at all.


scott on August 10, 2008 at 10:17 PM:

yeah my box is really pissing me off i havent been able to play any recordings 4 over 2 months!


scott on August 10, 2008 at 10:18 PM:

does anyone kno how to fix the problem where you cant watch any of your recordings???


Kim on August 18, 2008 at 12:02 PM:

My DVR just erased all of my recordings (even my Olympics recordings - so sad) and when I called Comcast that acted like it was an isolated incident and couldn't offer me any help. Then I found your blog and these comments. Obviously they know about this problem and all of the others. I was I was amazed to read all of the other comments because I've had all of the same problems also. At least now when I call back I'll know that my issues are not isolated. Thanks.


Kim on August 18, 2008 at 1:36 PM:

My DVR just erased all of my recordings (even my Olympics recordings - so sad) and when I called Comcast that acted like it was an isolated incident and couldn't offer me any help. Then I found your blog and these comments. Obviously they know about this problem and all of the others. I was I was amazed to read all of the other comments because I've had all of the same problems also. At least now when I call back I'll know that my issues are not isolated. Thanks.


Jon on August 23, 2008 at 12:30 AM:

3,4 and 9 are my biggest problems. Does anyone know if there's supposed to be a fix to this? I keep hearing rumors of a Tivo offering from Comcast but it is eternally 6 months in the future. I want to throw my remote out the window every time I have to wait for a button press to do what I told it to, and then inevitably deal with the deluge of queued button presses that backed up while I was waiting. Somebody save me!!!


mmm on August 23, 2008 at 5:38 PM:

This is rather sad for me; I just ordered a Comcast DVR because I am moving and I have to give up my Dish Network. I have had this for nearly 3 years and have had no problems except for losing the signal for a few moments during a severe thunderstorm. I'm not happy....


Aaron on August 25, 2008 at 6:11 PM:

Bernie, at least you get to enjoy actually watching a television show if you aren't attempting to record anything. I have no such luck with my DVR, which leads me to believe that my issue is a signal issue. I Can't Watch TV At All without it ending in a pixilated mess! I'm beyond frustrated.

Those other issues: the unresponsive remote, the queuing of the commands, the apparent inability of certain channels to infiltrate my television set with any speed or regularity. . .these issues I'm numb to. I can deal with patiently waiting for my DVR to register that I hit the pause button. Hell, I can even deal with the DVR instantly fast-forwarding to the end of a show I recorded as I'm watching it. Perhaps I just expect mediocrity from my cable company. If only Comcast could meet those expectations I could suffer in peace. But this is ridiculous.


akblake on August 27, 2008 at 12:34 AM:

Stop and think for a moment. You press a button, then start mashing random buttons in a misbegotten hope that the more you push the faster the dvr will respond, and that it will ignore all your extraneous button pushing? It's a digital recorder, not a mind reader! Have three seconds of patience!

Also, if your recordings are missing, try *rebooting*. Pull the power cord, count to thirty, then plug it back in. Give it a few moments to power back up, then your recordings should be there.

A dvr is remarkably similar to a pc- it may take it a moment to process your request and queue to the right area of the hard drive to start playing, and it may need a reboot if you've done any deleting to refresh the recordings index. If it's been a while since your last reboot then it may be time for another- just like a pc they end up with artifacts and loose ends clogging the processes. A reboot clears those out and reloads the OS.


Bernie Zimmermann on August 27, 2008 at 9:49 AM:

We've got a Comcast fan on our hands. I didn't know they existed! ;)

akblake, I recommend giving Windows Media Center or TiVo a try. Once you've done that, you'll see that the "three seconds of patience" is something from which you're being forced to suffer, not something from which you need to suffer.


waryConsumer on August 30, 2008 at 3:05 PM:

My elderly father has expressed interest in getting Comcast's DVR service--so I'm trying to get ahead of the trainwreck!

Would it be possible for y'all to post which brand/model of hardware brought you so many problems (and which version of software--if that's identifyable) so those of us learning from your experiences would have a basis for determining if & when Comcast has actually updated (and, maybe, improved) their DVR service?

Thank you for turning your personal complaints into information that's useful nationwide!


WOV on September 02, 2008 at 10:39 AM:

Yeah, this thing is a ludicrous piece of trash. A TiVo made in East Germany ca. 1992. The level of unsophistication in the user interface is absolutely shocking, totally unacceptable ina modern piece of consumer electronics.

All of the workarounds that people have proposed - totally unnecessary with a TiVO or other real DVR. I shouldn't *have* to work around my DVR any more than I have to work around an ill-deisgned toaster.


Molly on September 02, 2008 at 10:57 AM:

I've suffered all of these issues, save the complete and total wipe of all recorded programs. Then again, I've only had it two months. I'd like to add a fun additional problem: my particular unit's fan emits a high whine at all times. I would call Comcast and ask for a replacement unit, but my HD TiVo is already on the way.


Bernie Zimmermann on September 02, 2008 at 11:56 AM:

HD TiVo, huh Molly? As that knight in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade said, "you have chosen...wisely." :)


Mike Fischer on September 03, 2008 at 4:29 PM:

forgive me if this has all been covered before, but I've just started using this DVR. (why the heck don't they give you a Users Guide!?)

do you mean to tell me that while I'm recording a show I can't watch something else??


Madeline Stafford on October 13, 2008 at 6:28 AM:

Wow, Now I feel lucky after reading about all the others' problems. The major problem I have with our Comcast DVR is that it self-deletes schedule recording entries on the to-do list. This means that when I look for a recording I was expecting to see, not only is the recorded program not there, but the schedule-recording list is devoid of that entry to have recorded that program or any future such programs. For instance I record Rachael Ray daily. One day, the recording is not there and the to-do list is forever missing the requested to record Rachael Ray. I still have space remaining in the hard drive. I just changed one of the settings to auto-erase oldest recordings to make room for new recordings. I'll see if that works.
We do have an older Tivo, not HD, and love, love, loved it. But I understand that the new HD Tivo does not allow for On-Demand use?
Gonna call Comcast and find out the story about HD Tivo.


Libra on October 16, 2008 at 5:13 PM:

Let me add to the list. I recently took back a moto DVR box that had an obvious hard drive program. It started saying it was 100% full and blacking out recorded programs. Unplugging and rebooting would temporarily fix the 100% issue but not the black out of a recorded program. In exchange, I was given the "pace" model. What a joke. A week into it and I can't get my HBO or Showtime On demand programming. It is slow and doesn't respond to the remote. It shows that it takes 2 to 4 times the space as my moto unit. I exchanged it today, was given another Pace DVR. UGH. All the same issues. Any suggestions?


Alex on October 29, 2008 at 6:22 PM:

My DVR as we as we speak had an error turning on and is sitting rolling the words boot, HAL2 something else and that goes -u n-


gwsyzygy on October 31, 2008 at 8:03 AM:

I have expirenced *EVERY PROBLEM YOU DESCRIBE* and then some. The latest "joy" -- I can no longer watch VOD if a recording is happening/about to happen, 'cuz the damn thing will only record blackness. This is a recent change .. meaning they updated the software and broke something.....

FYI, at least in my area, Comcast tends to send a "forced reboot" command between 2 and 3:30 AM at least once a week, even if the DVR is actively recording something. GRRRRR...

And what about those damn Amber Alerts and other "emergency" boradcasts? I get that me, as the human viewer, is forced to watch the alert. But can't the DVR continue recording the actual broadcast in the background so I don't miss the brand new episode of "Heroes" I'm tring to enjoy??? Apparently not. The recording is "shattered" with holes left in it.

And don't get me started on why the hell it feels the need to SWAP TUNERS between back-to-back recordings on the SAME FREAKING CHANNEL! Just keep the damn tuner where it is. And if *I* were writing the software, I would "overlap" back-to-back recording from the same channel, just to make sure nothing is missed. Currently I have to occupy 2 tuners and manually extend the recording times to achieve the same thing one tuner and less-brain-dead software could do.


Vlad the Impaler on November 10, 2008 at 1:06 PM:

In addition to all the hated 'features' listed above, how about some actual improvements that DVR's should allow you to do -
1. You record a long show or sports event, watch most of it 'live', then have to leave before it's over. All you want to do is watch that last 15 minutes you missed. Now you have to FF through 2 1/2 hours of the DVR recording to see the end. Why not have a way to move the little slide bar to instantly access any part of a recorded show??
2. When recording live shows, ie ballgames, awards shows, etc, the DVR should be able to know exactly when the show is over based on the signal sent by the broadcaster. I shouldn't have to guess that this playoff game is going to last exactly 30 minutes over it's allotted time. Just record the show until it's ACTUALLY over, rather than making me guess.
3. OK so all I watch is sports.... WHY OH WHY can't I set up to record all SF Giants games as a series recording? I don't want all MLB Baseball games, just Giants games.


Lance on November 26, 2008 at 9:52 PM:

I have had all these problems. Comcast really needs to get a new DVR not made by Motorola as all Motorola DCT and DCH series boxes seem to have unstable software.


lulu on November 27, 2008 at 12:00 AM:

What is the newest andor latest DVR model from comcast? I understand it has a larger drive, original drive is 80gb and the new one is 120gb?
Which moded is the best - I dvr alot.
By the way, I'm anti- comcast. Can't stand them but currently they are my best option.
Please someone advise me! before I go after Comcast!!!


Tim on December 08, 2008 at 9:14 PM:

I also have had nearly all of the problems mentioned.
One that, thankfully, has not happened to me yet (in the couple years I've had it) is losing recorded programs.
My biggest frustration is missing the last 30 seconds to a minute of programs. It is a very frequent problem. It's as if the network's clock and Comcast's clock are slightly out of sync.
I have tried extending the time for the scheduled recording so that it keeps recording for an extra few minutes after the show is supposed to end. However, if the scheduled recording is set to record "all first runs on this channel" it does not keep my setting to extend the time! I cannot seem to get it to do it! I hate missing the end of the show, as the last 30 seconds is usually the all-important cliff hanger! Why, oh why can't I just tell it to record an extra couple minutes! Or better yet, why can't the networks clock be in sync with Comcasts?


Jeff on December 16, 2008 at 5:48 PM:

I have two more to add:

10 - It often cuts the ends off of recorded shows. I missed the last couple minutes of Heroes to this last week. I'm forced to record the show AFTER the one I want to make sure I get the whole episode.

11 - Last night I had the box paused for about 15 mins when it inexplicably un-paused and jumped to the live broadcast. Then it wouldn't let me rewind it. I paused it again to finish what I was doing and it did the same damn thing about 5 minutes later. So I lost 20 minutes of my show to this infernal contraption.

And don't get me started on #3. The rewind & FF feature on the remote is next to useless. I end up spending more time going back and forth at different speeds than I would if I had just watched all the damn commercials.


Totals on January 02, 2009 at 5:30 PM:

Some of the problems listed here I've never had with my Comcast DVR (I believe the brand is Scientific). Others I experience CONSTANTLY. The screwed up clock is the worst--almost every show I watch goes right up to the end of the hour, and the last 30 seconds or so is always cut off. This is particularly irritating on shows that use that last minute for closure (e.g. Intervention, The First 48). Anything that's scheduled to "record all" (whether record all new or record all in this time slot) automatically sets to the guide time and I have to remember to go in, every week, and manually change all the recording times for an extra minute.

The other absolute worst is the frequency with which the DVR gets a bug and totally reformats itself, erasing everything recorded and scheduled. This has happened at least three times in the last year. Can you imagine if your computer reformatted the hard-drive every few months? Or your cell phone erased your stored numbers at whim? Consumers would be outraged, the provider would be reported to BBB, the product would be recalled, the business would have a terrible reputation and go bankrupt. It's totally unacceptable to charge the kind of fees Comcast charges for equipment that is so flawed.

I've also experienced the rotten On Demand service. For months I couldn't get a single On Demand program to play (always got the "service unavailable" message). Lately, programs will start but at least once during viewing it will randomly freeze up and go to the error screen, so that I have to exit, go back into my "in progress" list, and hope that it remembers where it was when it froze up.

For several weeks the DVR would freeze up every time I tried to play back anything recorded. When I hit "play," it would go to a gray screen, freeze there (unable to use any of controls) and after a few minutes the box would automatically reboot. And as I'm sure you've all noticed, rebooting takes anywhere from 4-10 minutes. An inconvenience any time, but particularly irritating if the DVR happens to be recording something at that time, because it (obviously) cuts out those 4-10 minutes of the program recording while it's busy slooooowly rebooting. This problem eventually reconciled itself after things finally came to a head and the DVR box went completely nuts, screen frozen and the display (where it shows the time or channel) counting down from 400 - 000, then displaying a bunch of random letters, then starting the countdown from 400 again, over and over. After watching this take place for over 30 minutes, I yanked out the power cord. When I plugged it back in, it rebooted just fine, except it wiped the hard drive.

And finally, I don't think this is a DVR problem but rather a Comcast problem--for the last couple of months, the cable signal seems to just cut out for roughly 10 seconds once or twice an hour. While I'm watching tv live, I get a gray screen for 10 seconds. Recorded programs don't show the gray screen but just jumps ahead the 10 seconds. The reason I think it's the Comcast signal and not the box is that it effects my cable internet at the same time.

It's mind-boggling that this is acceptable to the cable company. I'm no anti-trust expert, but it's pretty clear providers like Comcast, Time Warner, etc. have monopolies in the areas they service and thus do not give the slightest crap how awful their service is. I live in one of the five largest cities in America, and my options are Comcast or satellite, and in an apartment, satellite is not very practical (no where to mount the dish). AT&T Uverse is available in some areas in my city, and I hear pretty good things about it, but it's not available where I live for unknown reasons. With basically no competition, these cable providers get away with charging ridiculous prices for completely unacceptable service.

Oh, and I'm beyond impressed that you even got a $50 credit from Comcast. I've repeatedly been told "tough sh*t" by Comcast when I complain about paying for services that don't actually work. Because what am I going to do, tape rabbit ears to my flat screen tv?


John on January 03, 2009 at 10:38 AM:

I am on my third Comcast DVR having had all the above problems. I now realize that having Comcast come to my house to replace my defective unit with a new one, does not do any good. When I call, I am also treated like they have no idea what I am talking about that everyone else in the world is not having any trouble. The last time I told the rep to do a Google seach of Comcast DVR trouble and they would see what I am talking about. The box doesn't function as it is advertised and with all the problems I have had, not once have I been given any kind of discount or rebate. I wish I was smarter in the legal area as this seems like a perfect example of a Class Action Lawsuit.


Victor on January 05, 2009 at 8:27 PM:

I know this is an old post, but I just wanted to add that I find this article hilarious because I have experienced every single one of the above issues with my Comcast DVR. The software is terrible, particularly if you come from having an actual TiVO unit like I did with DTV for 2 years prior to my switch to cable in 2006. Why on Earth they don't repair the flaws in this software is beyond me. It's not like they just appeared; I've noticed them for over 2 years now. The second AT&T's U-Verse is available in my area (which it is about to me), I plan on taking a crap on my Comcast DVR and mailing it back to them.


Marsha on January 19, 2009 at 7:29 PM:

I only got the box yesterday and already I am having lots of issues. I can't believe for what I pay Comcast I get. First I got a box which seems to be refurbished. It was filthy. The tech who came to install the box saw that there was a problem but he told me I had to let it "set in for 4-6 hours". Turns out is is over 24 hours and still crap. I am not able to scroll up & down through the channels without the dvr being recorded. Very annoying. The phone techs are just as clueless and extremely rude. I was really told "you have to take what you get because that is all there is" In other words, because I have no competition - only Comcast I have to put up with crap.

I can't wait for Fios to come to my area so I dont' have to put up with this substandard crapy service!


LWT on January 22, 2009 at 6:00 AM:

We switched to Comcast from Dish and I'm starting to regret it. The DVR has a lot less options than Dish's as it doesn't have a skip 30 sec ahead button or a skip back 10 sec button which Dish does. Also it doesn't automatically have a minute or two before the program or a couple minutes after the program is supposed to end. So, you get the clipped program as it determines that the show will go on for exactly 30 minutes.

On top of that, the technician who installed the box didn't wait around until the box was completely activated as he was on hold with the service activation people. I refused to sign the paperwork until the box was completely activated and he "wanted to go home" so he just left.

Now I'm missing HD channels and have talked to Comcast over and over again about it.


Rachel on January 27, 2009 at 7:23 AM:

My Comcast dvr completed deleted everything on it last night. recorded, scheduled and series information. called comcast and they informed me they had never heard of that and sugested that I buy a dvd burner and backup my shows once a week so "if this happens again" i won't lose everything....ugh!


Brian C on February 06, 2009 at 1:51 PM:

I am a former Dish TV user and only switched to Comcast because my fiance already has it installed in the home we now share. After selling her on the idea and convienence of DVR, she finally agreed to have this added expense put on to the cable bill. Needless to say, she likes the idea, but is not convinced that DVR is a wonderful device as problem after problem occurs (locking up, multiple records, tiny HD....everything people have said over and over in these posts)
We have had the Pace DVR installed for about a month and I have to say what peice of crap. I used my Dish DVR for 3 years and never had an issue, not one! This Comcast/Pace device sucks in more ways a vaccuum company.
I can't wait to buy a new home and get my Dish Network back.


Herb Griffin on March 01, 2009 at 5:07 PM:

I'm, a newbie to Comcast DVR and trying to learn how to use it. The tech who installed it gave me a quick summary on the use of the remote but failed to tell me how to erase
a program after I had viewed it. I would appreciate receiving information addressing this procedure.


Noble on March 22, 2009 at 12:22 PM:

I have a guy coming out in a few hours to bring me my FOURTH dvr, and this time, I'm not ......g around. The last 2 I had constantly reset themselves, and believe me, there's more to it than that. So many problems I had to make a list! (my dvr just reset as I write this!) I STRONGLY suspect they are just dumping another defective one on me...they're not checking them "at the shop", they're just dumping them onto other unsuspecting customers and hoping they work. The one I have that was switched out 2 days ago had "dancing with the stars " on it and some other kiddie stuff. I'm at THE END of my patience with Comcast and their Motorola dvr's. I'm paying TOO MUCH to be treated like a fool. Someone (at Comcast) told me to try and plug it into it's own socket, (not a strip/surge/conditioner type) directly, which I did, and same problem. I knew it would be. I'm sick and tired of paying this much money and not getting what I'm paying for, and being treated like an idiot, like I know nothing...If I could, I'd dump Comcast and their equipment in a heartbeat. (dvr just reset AGAIN!) Those Motorola dvr's's not me, it's their equipment!


Noble on March 23, 2009 at 2:57 PM:

Mr've probably figured it out by now but just press the X button to delete a program..


Noble on March 24, 2009 at 5:40 PM:

After 5..yes 5 dvr's I finally got one that works correctly, no "tiling/pixelating", no re-starting etc. I got the latest model, fresh out of the plastic wrap, and so far-so good.
The "cable guy" to his credit, was very sympathetic, and went out of his way to solve the problem, so I have to give Comcast, or at least HIM, some credit. Hard to believe I'm saying this, but this "ordeal" was actually worth it in the long run...I got better equipment...even 3 months free Cinemax (whoopee huh?) though a credit on my bill would have been a better compensation. Oh well, so far (knocking wood) It looks like this freakin' nightmare is over...GOOD LUCK to all out there with similar problems..


Noble on March 24, 2009 at 5:47 PM:

CORRECTION! Woops! Mr Griffin..again I'm sure by now you've figured out how to delete a program, but my advice was wrong! (sorry!) Find the X, select it/highlight it, then press the "ok/select" button in the middle of the remote...


BenChuck on March 24, 2009 at 9:49 PM:

Well, I am here to at least confirm the "random reboots" of the Comcast DVR. I have had the same DVR going on 3 years now and not experienced any sort of troubles until January 2009. Since then, the DVR reboots itself probably 15-20 times a day to which it loses it's guide and takes about 20 minutes to return, although only takes about 20 seconds before the program you were watching is restored. If this was a power supply issue (Motorolas Explanation), how does it remember which channel you were watching? When your computer crashes, it doesn't remember who was logged in...

I am guessing the reboots are due to the lack of bandwidth to support the NEW HD channels (Pushed out January 2009). Comcast

also doubled their broadband customer's speed, leaving even less bandwidth for the HD Channels or for cable in general. So,

for those users in high-traffic areas like Chicago (Me), they will probably be victims of limited bandwidth more so (more reboots) than those out in small towns with good connections. Comcast is clearly at fault here...

Also, if you watch the display on your DVR when it reboots, you will see a letter and a number appear on the display for just an instant (less than a second). It is hard to make out what the middle character is, but my box says "D_1". In the past, when I first hooked up my Cmcast service, it took them three boxes to get me a working one (current box). In trying to get the lemons to work, Comcast told me that I would see "D_1" on the screen when it is performing downloads (Firmware upgrades, UI upgrades, etc.). So, another part of me thinks that comcast is controlling this reboot and just denying it so they don't lose customers. They are an evil empire, this is for sure...


Noble on March 25, 2009 at 2:06 PM:

They tried that bogus "power supply" thing on me, and I KNEW that wasn't the case because I have a few dollars worth of gear and took power supply issues into serious consideration...that seems to be their way of doing the "brush off" when they don't know what else to say. My "comcast guy" told me he's seen some of the boxes FILLED with dust and covered with grime, and that he's actually been able to blow CLOUDS of dust around on the inside of some of them. As it turns out, my FOUR previous dvr's had been around for a LONG time and acummulated so much "filth" internally that the hard drive was useless. (at least thats what we're thinking) And, after getting a NEW, out of the plastic wrap dvr, everything is working fine..FINALLY. Seems they do ZERO maintenence/inspection/cleaning of them before they're passed on to the next sucker..I mean customer.. The NEW box did the trick. I sincerely hope that this helps someone with similar probems as I had...those boxes get moved around A DEMAND A NEW ONE. (it'll probably be a better model too...mine was)


GLFr on April 19, 2009 at 4:38 PM:

My new DVR issue (in addition to EVERY single one that you all mention above) is random reminders popping up for shows/movies that I did not set and that have absolutely ZERO interest in watching. Are they trying to make recommendations on shows that could be of interest to me? If yes, they got that all wrong too! Of course, they know nothing about this "problem" (I could actually hear the CS person do the finger quotes when he dismissed my "problem"). Arghhh!!!!


Suellen Zimet on April 23, 2009 at 5:58 PM:

I'm not sure what happened to me yesterday with Comcast. I had a DVR hd box which had developed a few glitches over time. When I would fast forward during commercials, sometimes I went too far and had to reverse to see what I had missed. Well the box started to take me back to the beginning of the program, not to the place I wanted to go. I then had to fast forward and try to find the place I had last been. Well, naturally this became very annoying and since DVR service is not free, I called to request a new box. This was a mistake of catastrophic proportion and brought to light, the unimaginable crappiness of Comcast's DVR box. So, now they bring in 3 boxes over 2 days, change all the batteries in the remotes and can not get the remote to work in conjunction with any of the boxes. After another tech came out (I was beginning to think it was the original tech, who didn't know what he was doing) We are now in day 2 about 3 hours in - the 2nd tech determines that my new Panasonic TV is at fault and just won't work with the new Motorola DVR piece of crap. The original box had been an older model. So, to end this tirade, they are going to look for an older model hanging around the warehouse and bring it over to see if they can get my TV to hook up to it. They disabled the one I had wanted to replace so we couldn't use that one again. I don't accept any of this - I am dumbfounded and aghast - as a very avid DVR user, I am extremely angry. I had to move TV sets, and everything around at the end of 2 wasted days and still don't have things right. Why is there no competitor? I can't use Direct TV where I live. Oh how I regret that original phone call................


BP on May 13, 2009 at 8:52 PM:

Comcast DVR makes me hate watching TV. Tonight on the Lost finale.....lets just say the second hour....the bit we were waiting LOST. Oh it is recorded, it just won't let us watch it. These boxes are worth their weight in crap. I left DirecTV for the Broadband and decided to go for the whole package. Like most others I am now regretting even letting my Tivo go. Comcast knows they have most users by the balls. It seems they are either unwilling to monkey see monkey do off of Tivo (the successful people) or in extra slow mode about fixing it. I love the broadband but will never recommend the DVR service to anyone.


Frustrated on May 15, 2009 at 8:39 AM:

I have been having the "reboot" problems for the past couple of months as well. However, I have a Scientific Atlanta 8300 box, rather than a Motorola. Has anyone else had problems with this box?
Another silly question: when returning a box, is there any way to transfer what has been recorded from one box to another. Knowing Comcast, I am sure I know the answer, but figured I'd ask...


BC on May 21, 2009 at 2:53 PM:

We've been pretty lucky with our Comcast Motorola DVR.

I've learned to live with the slow response to commands and occasionally I have to reboot it (by unplugging).

I've also seen #2 (setting specific episodes not to record and having it wiped out). I've also seen #1 (recording over and over). I just keep on top of it and try and purge out the repeats daily.

There were some problems with recording HGTV (the programs were always pixelated), so I thought about returning the box for a new one (suspecting a bad hard drive). For now I've just switched to recording the HD channel and I haven't seen any more problems.

I'm waiting until they come out with a box with a larger hard drive. We often get close to running out of room now that there are so many HD channels.


Lonely Guy on June 08, 2009 at 10:11 AM:

I don't have Comcast but I do have a Verizon Fios and a Directv DVR. yes I have both services at my house, dont ask me why i just do. And for both of them, when I first got the DVR's they were perfect. Superfast responce, great guides, forwarding and rewinding was perfect and very responsive. It's been almost 1 year since I've had them and both Directv and Fios are not acting right. Very slow menus, when I fast forward or reqind each repond slowly and often dont stop where i want them to. Shaky menus and they reset themselves a lot. Very annoying when Its in the middle of recording a show and I lose it comepletely. I know this is for Cocast but Maybe we should blame the manufacturers of the DVR's instead of the companies who buy them. Looks like this is an area where a lot of improvement and research is required. FYI Fios uses a Motorola receiver/DVR and Directv uses a Samsung.


Opus on June 20, 2009 at 9:35 AM:

1.) The DVR boxes are manufactured by Motorola, hence, Comcast really has nothing to do with the DVR's other than installing them, and attempting to support them.

2.)If you are getting an error message with your ondemand, it means that at some point from the tap at the pole outside to the back of your box, there is a bad wire or fitting that needs to be replaced. I know you seem to think OnDemand doesn't work, but i can assure you that in a home with quality, up to date hardware, the OnDemand feature works just fine. Millions of people have OnDemand and have zero issues with it. So my suggestion is have an in-house technician come out to your house and inspect your cable and fittings.

It's worth noting here that ALL of your complaints, besides OnDemand, revolve around the DVR, which is not manufactured by Comcast.

Let's all just take a minute here to take a deep breath and realize that this is all NEW technology. New technology notoriously has glitches that are worked out over time.

I doubt the first Ford Model-T's ran like a charm straight out of the gate. But see, back then, people were not so spoiled as to think that EVERYTHING should be perfect and work perfectly all the time. We have grown accustomed to a world of gadgets and things that make life better and easier. Look at cars now. For the most part, they run perfectly for years...most of them anyway.

My advice is to stop being so whiney and self entitled. If you are having DVR issues, then you need a new box. If you are having issues with Comcast service, then request a technician to come out to your house and inspect all of your wiring and fittings.

Comcast spends billions of dollars to transmit a quality signal, and 95% of the time, issues that exist do so because of hardware inside the customers home.

It's people such as yourself that give Comcast a bad name. Comcast does the best it can given the circumstances. It seems like you just expect the company to bend over backwards to placate you and your troubles. I have no doubt that Comcast attempted to resolve your issue, yet you still come on your website complaining about the company, when in fact the true issue lies in the Motorola DVR. The fact that you didn't make this important distinction from the beginning of your post makes this whole thing dubious anyway.


Bernie Zimmermann on June 20, 2009 at 11:04 AM:

Opus, I'm more than willing to admit that Comcast uses a Motorola DVR. Are you willing to admit that you work for Comcast? Doesn't seem like it, but I can't say I blame you.

I'm not willing to concede that Motorola is to blame, though. Only a fanboy employee could reach that conclusion. Remember, a DVR is made up of more than just hardware. In the case of Comcast's craptastic DVR, there's also firmware and software involved. Read the first two paragraphs of my original post and you'll see I made it very clear that software was the topic of discussion. Of the nine points I covered, point #5 is probably the only one for which the hardware might be to blame, but based on the other eight points, my bet's still on Comcast.

Oh, and you're absolutely right it's people like us who give Comcast a bad name. We're called customers. Or, for the most part, former customers. Customers who were paying boatloads of money each month to have one of the worst experiences available to anyone, hands down.

If you would have thoroughly read the original post and the comments, which are, for the most part, in the same vein, you would have realized that there are real reasons for the frustration shared by these people. If you had done any research at all elsewhere, you would know that we are not alone. But maybe when that Powerpoint presentation went around, you were asleep on the job.


Ian G. Clifton on June 22, 2009 at 9:24 AM:

Opus, that's exactly right. It's not Comcast's fault. After all, if I buy a new car, and it won't get into gear, it's so acceptable for the car company to say, "Well, we don't actually manufacture the transmissions, so I'm sure your shifting problem is entirely due to the tranny and not the shifter, linkage, etc. Besides, it's not our fault that we went with a transmission that sucks."



Tom on July 11, 2009 at 2:28 PM:

Let me add a fairly minor but nevertheless irritating little bug:

After setting extended time for a recording (30 minutes or what have you), the "CONFIRM" dialog appears like normal ... yet pressing "OK" returns you NOT to your place in the program guide, but all the way back to the main DVR menu ("schedule a recording," etc.).

Which means if you're setting up several sports recordings for later in the week, each with extended time, you've got to sit there and scroll, scroll, scroll through the program guide for each one.

(Meanwhile, I wonder how many people have lost their comments here because they don't realize "Check this box if you hate spam" translates to "This is a required captcha for posting." Your original post complained about "lost time" on your part caused by bizarre quirks in the DVR. You might want to think about that...)


Bernie Zimmermann on July 12, 2009 at 11:43 AM:

Thanks for the feedback, Tom. I should probably do something about that. In the meantime, you should consider giving Firefox a try. It'll keep lazy web developers like myself from ruining your day. ;)


codemonkey2k5 on July 13, 2009 at 11:44 PM:

I have the newest Motorola DVR and so far I havent had the rebooting or data problems, but the fact that the thing cant figure out what is a new show or a repeat is un-bearable!!! Over the years I have had just about every service. And what ever guide data that Comcast is using is by far the worst in existance!!!


Mark on July 14, 2009 at 4:29 PM:

Three I didn't see in the thread:
1) The disabled external SATA port. Seems it would be better to let me add a drive than to hear all the complaints about small record time (BTW, the box's software is so dumb, that if you DO add an external drive, the internal one is disabled - which may be why the port is disabled)
2) The menus don't wrap. When you right arrow to the end of a menu, you have to left arrow back instead of right arrowing to the first item in menu. Can't remember the last time I saw non-wrapping menus.
3) Exit doesn't move you up one menu level - it moves you completely out (which is what exit means). Doesn't seem to be a way to always return to the previous menu.

I still have a ReplayTV that I use for low def - low importance recordings. I watch it about three times per month, but even with the infrequent use it is many times more intutitive than the Motorola box. Doubt the S/W designers even looked at a ReplayTV.


Tom on July 15, 2009 at 6:42 AM:

"Thanks for the feedback, Tom. I should probably do something about that. In the meantime, you should consider giving Firefox a try. It'll keep lazy web developers like myself from ruining your day. ;)"

What -- Opera not alternative enough for ya?! (I can't stand IE, and I'm on an official Firefox boycott to protest all those years of frustrating memory leaks.)

At any rate, thanks for providing us all a place to vent.


go24go on July 16, 2009 at 8:48 PM:

I have had all of these problems for a couple of years now. I actually got a supervisor to back me up and say that they are known problems. I have been getting a $15 a month discount ever since, but I need to call in every 6 months to explain myself and tell the whole story over to keep getting it. Some of comcast's employees do know about this. I had a tech out here one day and he witnessed it resetting itself and loosing it's guide data 3 times within an hour. What really sucks is every tech on the phone says that the guide data refills completely within 20 minutes, It always takes 2 to 3 days, and they insist it's a problem and want to replace your box.
I am on #6. most of the phone techs that work there, well they work there because they are not smart enough for Burger king. If you get ahold of one that knows their stuff, get their extension because it is rare. -- I really needed to vent-- I really miss my TiVo.


Donnie on July 25, 2009 at 5:19 PM:

I came here to see if anyone else had my simple problem of the DVR recording ALL instances of a program instead of just the new ones as I set it to. Now I know what other horrors I have to look forward to :-( I recently moved from a FIOS area to a Comcast-only area, and let me tell you: I am NOT pleased for a number of reasons. But here's something interesting for everyone complaining about Motorola DVR's: My FIOS box was Motorola. The remote from the old box as well as the manually programmed universal remote I used on the old box works with the Comcast box! I'm even able to skip ahead 30 seconds which I can't do with the current remote. I have no idea what Comcast did to these boxes, but I NEVER had a problem with my FIOS Motorola DVR.


Paul on August 13, 2009 at 6:03 AM:

You're right Mark! ReplayTV rocked!! I can't belive the Comcast DVR is such a piece of crap.


David Brusiee on August 13, 2009 at 12:00 PM:

I have been experiencing short delays in the audio for the last 2 years only when using the DVR. The program can be recorded or live which is being recorded as you watch it. I have tried 3 different DVRs and they all have the same problem. All of my friends that have Comcast experience the same problem. Every time I call Comcast they never express any knowledge of this problem. However one Engineer did write a big report on problems with Motorola DVRs which is what Comcast is using. Anyone else have the same problems.


go24go on August 30, 2009 at 12:20 AM:

God help me. Comcast dvr is getting worse by the day. It now takes up to 2 minutes for it to respond to the remote. It refused to record some programs no matter what I do. For some reason it will not record anything on Fridays between 9:30 and 11:00 no matter what I do. It just ignores the record button. I am ready to smash the POS with a hammer. My dvr still looses recordings on a regular basis. I have a call in the cust service for a call back for a few days to extend my discount but no call back yet. I am ready to go to dish, My TiVo and Replay TV never had any problems like this and they were alot cheaper. I HATE COMCAST DVRS!!!


ccast sucks on September 04, 2009 at 9:21 PM:

I was told tonight that they will not discount my service because anyone who uses a DVR as much as me cannot expect it to work all the time and I should get a TiVo to go to Direct TV. This is in MLPS MN. I cannot believe this asshole told me this. I had been getting a discount due to the fact that the dvr and service do not work properly. Now my bill is about to double and still doesn't work and this is what I am told. I told him that he is rude and condescending and I want to speak to a supervisor. I am awaiting a call. How are they going to advertise there service? " Our DVR is great as long as you never use it!!" He offered me a bundle price that is more than I pay now. Minnesota really needs some competition to keep these assholes from having all the control.


C. D. on September 05, 2009 at 11:30 PM:

I can't understand why people say they shouldn't blame Comcast, but instead blame Motorola because they made the box. If a restaurant buys rancid meat from a butcher and then continues to serve that rancid meat to it's customers after discovering that it's bad, they'd be charged with attempted murder.

Comcast is basically passing bad meat along to their customers; and when we get sick, what do they do? They say "sorry about that", take it away, and thing bring us a new helping of the same old meat. They're offing their customers one by one. It's just a matter of time before people stop eating their crap.


Rocketmaan on September 06, 2009 at 12:03 PM:

So what happened to being able to own your own DVR about 1 year ago??

I found it interesting that Comcast changed the behaviour of the skip buttons from 30 sec to 5 minutes one day. There are sites that will tell you how to program a button for 30 sec skip forward. My back seems to be 15 sec.

The repeat problem seems to happen with shows that are not marked as repeat. Comcast get a new data provider.

I have had old recorded episodes, marked only when I delete, that have dropped of the end of the list. I estimate about 6 months old. It seems to only effect show episodes and not movies. I get the feeling that it falls off a historical list somewhere, so it is no longer a valid listing on your DVR.


TomTom on September 11, 2009 at 2:33 PM:

i am SO glad I checked this site before ordering Comcast DVR. One would assume THEY check it also. Or not? Anyway, I'll keep checking it before ordering, and I won't order this service until I see the thread is changed to mostly positive.


Bernie Zimmermann on September 12, 2009 at 8:36 PM:

TomTom, I wouldn't hold your breath. ;)


ccast sucks on September 17, 2009 at 1:11 AM:

Anyone else have the problem lately of the HD channels dropping in and out of HD? Especially TNT. It seems like it is going in and out. But when In it just seems like it is zoomed normal. Anyone else ever notice how crappy the HD looks on most HD channels? Like they are compressed or something? My Tv's with Antennas look better than comcast hd cable. What are we paying for anyway? I have never seen a good show on syfy hd or usa hd. They just look like a zoomed normal def tv. Also in my area they keep advertising FXHD but we do not get that channel. I called to ask why but the customer service reps could only say that the ads were a mistake. Go to and it is on the front page.

Hello direct tv. FU comcast.


Joe on September 23, 2009 at 7:13 AM:

I am about to get the Comcast DVR installed on Friday but now I am getting scared after reading all of these negative posts. i still tape shows so i was getting it to help solve my problem. What should i do? is there any good things about this? what should i do??


teedup on October 08, 2009 at 9:30 AM:

Anyone have a solution to this problem?
My Comcast DVR will not allow me to record more than 2 separate shows of a series in a week. Immediately setting a 3rd hour of a show on a different day and/or hour, the damn DVR removes the scheduled recording of one of the other recordings. For example, I programmed the DVR to record Cold Case reruns 2 different times on 1 day then set it to record a 3rd Cold Case on the next day, and the DVR cancels my scheduled recording of the first Cold Case I scheduled. I have tried this with other programs and various combinations ('save all episodes', 'save 5 episodes', same days, all different days, etc) and nothing works. Any ideas other than go to Dish network?


Jarron on January 31, 2010 at 6:20 PM:

I was just notified that Comcast will be removing my extended basic channels and I will only be able to view *SOME* basic channels ( though I will still be paying for extended basic ).

This angered me as I am still upset over the fact that we did not automatically get the new digital channels and are required to buy a digital cable box to watch the channels I was assured I would receive simply because our TV was digital-ready ( My friend has another cable provider and they do not need to pay extra for a box to get their digital channels ).

Anyway.... as a result of the removal of my extended basic channels, the Tivos I currently own ( One duel tuner and two regular ) will not function without a digital cable box. I had decided to just throw in the towel and go Comcast all the way. I planned to buy a new HD TV and getting full digital service and a Comcast dvr. Now I have changed my mind!

I now plan to order a Tivo HD and have the cable cards installed, and use it in place of Comcast's. I have a question though. Does anyone use TIVO HD with Comcast's digital service? If so, what have been some of the problems?


Robbie on April 20, 2010 at 1:02 AM:


Just got the motorola dch3412 in the SF bay area. My fiance and I both wanted to bash it with a hammer by the end of the first week. They still give this box to customers? It has been over two years since this forum began.


Charles on October 11, 2010 at 7:16 PM:

Although you provide a notice informing readers that the blog is over 2 years old and MAY be outdated; I have to say that I'm surprised at how true it still is today...October 2010. I used to have a TiVo, which I absolutely love; but unfortunately it died and I haven't been able to save up the money to replace it, so I have been living in the hell called Comcast DVR. FML!


Steve on October 15, 2010 at 10:40 AM:

Just so you don't think your alone, I have Mediacom with Pace DVRs. 1.5 years and on the 5th dvr. Last 2 were 100% full issues, mediacom reset last 1 remotely and now its a brick. They are coming out sunday to check
everything. That was already done a month ago and they replaced all cables and splitters from the pole and every thing in the house because of slow internet issues. Dont no what to next dvrs are adicting once use to them. I have not seen a post like this for mediacom issues but I no there are plenty of issues.


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