Comcast AnyRoom DVR Service, Is It Worth It?

We recently moved into a new condo and were trying to figure out the best way to get digital cable/DVR into all of the rooms. In my old apartment I only had 1 DVR which was hooked up in the living room, the bedroom just pulled whatever channels I could get through the cable line as well as an AppleTV for Netflix and PLEX. Since moving to the new place we have a lot more space and a 2nd bedroom which is where I put my TV, DVR, Xbox, etc which then leads to not having a DVR in the main room or the bedroom. I’m not too worried about the bedroom because we didn’t even have a box in there in the old place, but I wanted to try and find a way that it would be possible, without spending a ton of money.

The first idea we had, which may happen in the future, was to put all of the components in the 2nd bedroom closet and run a matrix switch which would then run to all of the TVs we had. So essentially we would get some sort of universal remote control / iPad (iPod Touch, etc) which would allow full control over every TV in the condo from anywhere. The matrix switch would have 1 Digital Cable DVR hooked into it which would then give us the ability to watch anything that was recorded on any TV, but there were a couple problems with this. For one the matrix switch is pretty expensive when we’re talking about a component/Cat5 one. Secondly, with only 1 DVR we would only be able to watch 1 show at a time on 1 TV, which could be a problem, plus it would probably fill up pretty quickly if both of us (my fiance and I) are recording different shows on the same box. The solution to this would be to just get another DVR and do a “his and her” type setup which would then allow me to record all my shows onto one DVR and she could record hers onto another, which we could then pull up on any TV at anytime. And that’s the ultimate goal, but due to cost restraints at the moment it’s on hold.

My next thought was to see if Comcast’s AnyRoom DVR service was available in my area and how much it would cost. For those of you unfamiliar with the AnyRoom DVR service it’s basically like AT&T’s U-Verse where you have one central DVR box where you record all your shows on and then you have slave boxes in the other rooms and you can watch anything that was recorded on the main box, on the slave boxes. The slave boxes are restricted to only certain functions so you can’t setup things to record from them, you can’t delete things, etc… which is kind of lame. This seemed like a good solution if the price was right and it was available, so I gave Comcast a ring.

The service is definitely available in my area, but the price was not right, it almost doesn’t make sense if you ask me. I currently pay $8/mo $16 for a dual tuner DVR box. Yeah, I pay $8.95 for HD, but that’s just for the HD service so it’s not part of the DVR box itself and I’d have to pay that fee for the AnyTime DVR service also, so it’s a non-factor. So back to the actual price of the DVR’s. So the AnyTime DVR main box/service costs $19/mo and each slave box costs $7.95/mo. Now think about it, in order for me to get AnyRoom DVR into all 3 rooms in the house (2 bedrooms and living room) it would cost me $19+8+8, $35/mo. Now if I just went with 3 separate DVR’s it would be $8*3, $24. $15*3, $45.. I get that I won’t be able to watch any show in any room, but to save $10/mo I can setup a few shows to record on all the DVR’s. I don’t need to have access to every show I record in every room, my fiance doesn’t watch all the shows I watch so I can keep those to the bedrooms and just record shows we both watch on all 3. It would be a little annoying to program the DVRs the first time, but with the mobile apps and stuff I can take care of that whenever/wherever I have time.

So in my eyes the AnyRoom DVR is pointless unless you absolutely need to have every show accessible in every room and/or don’t have the space for a larger DVR box in each room. I don’t even understand why you have to pay a premium for the service when I assume it’s using your internal network to serve up the shows anyways so it’s not like it’s taxing your broadband internet (which you probably pay for anyways, so it shouldn’t even matter). You really should just have to pay for the boxes and not any sort of “service”. Plus I think the boxes should be a bit cheaper. The main box should be priced around $10 and the slave boxes should be no more than $5 since they are completely crippled in terms of features and basically just client boxes. So I’m just going to swing by my local Comcast service center today and pick up another DVR and be done with it. Maybe we’ll get a 3rd in the future, but hopefully we can get that matrix switch installed and not have to worry about it.

Update: Apparently I read my statement wrong and they charge you $8.95 for HD on EACH box, therefore making my whole argument against AnyRoom DVR pointless and I may actually go that route, but for now we’re sticking with 2 DVRs as a technician needs to come out to setup the AnyRoom DVR and I don’t have time to sit home and wait for one