I’ve been using a DVR for at least 8 years. I started off with a Replay 2020 and have since used other Replays, TiVos and cable company DVRs. Now my primary DVR is the whole home DVR that comes with AT&T’s u-Verse service.
DVRs have transformed the way I and many others watch TV. Besides breaking news and sports, I rarely watch live television.
But less than a decade after their inception (and before they’ve reached 50% penetration) they’re headed the way of the dodo, vinyl and cassette tape. The DVR’s kissing cousin — placeshifter Slingbox — will have an even shorter life.
The reason: Hulu. Here are 10 reasons why Hulu is better than a DVR:
- It’s free. DVRs typically cost $10-$15 a month for service. For a TiVo, add $150-$600 in hardware costs. Many people can use hulu to ditch their cable TV subscription altogether and save $60-$75 a month.
- You don’t have to program it. Sure, programming a DVR is a lot easier than programming a VCR. But it still takes work. And with 300+ channels, a lot of scrolling. Most DVR UIs are atrocious. While Web interfaces can make things easier, AT&T’s interface (powered by Yahoo! and recently redesigned) feels like Web 2004.
- You don’t have to manage it. A lot of the UI on a DVR is devoted to managing conflicts among recordings, managing recording space, etc. Many a user forum has been devoted to identifying the logic behind what gets recorded and deleted on DVRs. I just know that on my AT&T DVR, things don’t work the way I’d expect. (e.g. deleting programs I’ve watched before deleting programs I haven’t watched.)
- It’s infinite. You have access to thousands of TV shows and movies, way more than a DVR can hold. That’s only going to expand as programmers recognize the power of hulu and television on the Internet.
- You don’t have to know what you want to watch beforehand. If you hear about a program you’re interested in, you can go to Hulu and watch it.
- It has fewer ads. For many people, skipping ads is a big part of the appeal of a DVR. But it’s still a hassle. You have to pick up the remote at the right time and you usually end up watching 7-10 seconds of ads anyway because things don’t line up right. I’d rather sit through one 30 second ad. This isn’t bad for advertisers or TV networks either. (More on that later.)
- It helps you discover. Hulu recommends shows you might be interested in. Most DVRs don’t. (TiVo is a notable exception.)
- It’s social. You can share programs that you like with your friends on social networks.
- Your shows won’t be screwed up due to cable system outages, storms, power outages or a football game that goes long.
- It’s searchable. As a search geek, I’ve been impressed with the quality of Hulu’s search interface. They’ve made it easy to find content you want.