Last June, when I was having problems keeping content on my 35hr DirecTivo for more than a couple days, I decided it was time to upgrade. At the time, I didn't have a PC at home (just a mac laptop — my PC was in the office), so I weighed my options. I'd need to spend about $100 for a 80Gb drive and try my luck at the how-to guides that were out there. The Hinsdale how-to is highly regarded as the most basic and user friendly of upgrade guides but I still couldn't see myself properly completing the steps on the first try, and I figured it'd take a weekend to get it right (if at all).
I noticed the guy offered a shortcut: prepared hard drives ready to bolt right in. The price was (and still is) about twice the price of a bare hard drive purchased from an online retailer, but I figured I was risking more in terms of damaging my own hardware and my time. I purchased an 80Gb upgrade drive (I paid $199 at the time) and had it overnighted. The package showed up as promised, featuring a single page, color printout instruction sheet, a CDR backup of the tivo operating system, and the bare hard drive [Photo of package contents]. Lucky for me, the series 1 DirecTivos were designed to handle two hard drives even though most shipped with one. It only took a few minutes to mount the new drive. I had to take the cover off, remove the drive tray, take two screws out for use in securing the new drive, then I connected the power cables and bolted the cover back on [photo of second drive mounted on drive tray, back inside the tivo]. After powering it back up, the TiVo's settings page showed the new increased capacity [photo of 108 hours].
Because my model was specifically designed for two drives, all told it was ten minutes work and I was very happy with the final product. I saved time and headaches, and got exactly what I needed: more space for recording shows. The guy was even quick on email when I sent questions before and after the purchase. If your PC building and unix skills are low, and you're looking for the easy way out and don't mind spending a few bucks extra to have someone else do the dirty work for you, the Hinsdale upgrade kits are great. Since I bought the upgrade, I noticed a few other outfits offering the same thing: Weaknees, PTV Upgrade, and TVRevo.
Next up, I'll review the process of doing it yourself (following the directions to prepare your own hard drive) and finally I'll wrap it up with a side-by-side comparision in terms of price and time to upgrade via both methods.