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post #1 of 9 Old 06-13-2008, 04:19 PM - Thread Starter
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My TV signal is OTA with the Digital Stream converter box. Do DVRs have their own tuners, or would I have to hook a DVR up to the digital converter box? I was thinking of getting the Panasonic PV-HS3000 ShowStopper Digital Video Recorder from Amazon.com.

Would this DVR require a monthly subscription to ReplayTV, or would it just work with my OTA signal?

Thank you.

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post #2 of 9 Old 06-14-2008, 12:20 AM
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Your DVR does have a tuner, but I doubt it is ATSC (that is the type needed to receive OTA signals in the USA). You can connect a converter or an external ATSC tuner to it. I have a DVR which does not require a monthly subscription to anyone, but they are difficult to find.

Another thing to consider is whether or not you are satisfied with Standard Definition. If you want HD, you'll need an HD DVR with an ATSC tuner (hopefully built in) and an HD display. Note that converters only output SD.

If you stay with everything in SD, then at the very minimum you'll want a separate converter for the DVR so you can watch and record two separate programs simultaneously. Also, ATSC comes with its own on-screen guide, although it is not as robust as Replay/TiVo with most converter boxes.

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post #3 of 9 Old 06-14-2008, 08:23 AM - Thread Starter
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So if I were to connect the DVR I mentioned to my OTA converter box, that would be enough? The Digital Stream box down-converts HDTV signals to standard digital. At this point, I've no interest in cable or satellite, as they are costly. Is the one I mentioned stand-alone, or does it require TiVo?

Thank you.

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post #4 of 9 Old 06-19-2008, 09:36 AM
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I am interested in buying a DVR with a built-in ATSC tuner, to be used exclusvely for OTA material (no cable or satellite use). I am only interested in Hi Def material. Does TiVo, or anyone else make such a DVR, ideally one that can be used without requiring a subscription?

Later on, I would like to be able to archive HD material from the DVR to a stand-alone Blu-ray recorder, if, and when these become available, but this may be asking too much!
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post #5 of 9 Old 06-19-2008, 10:06 AM
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On the used (i.e. e-bay) market there is the Sony DHG-HDD DVRs which can handle OTA (ATSC) or Cable (clear QAM) HiDef inputs as well as analog antenna and cable signals. (It also supports cable cards.)

Otherwise there is Tivo HD which supports these signals, but requires a monthly subscription - or at least a lifetime subscription which I think can be found via the used market.

And, there are PC-based solutions such as SageTV. These require a bit more computer savvyness and somewhat higher start up costs. Also, a PC-based solution would likely give you the best chance of meeting your archiving plans. And, at least in the case of SageTV with their HD media extender, you can have multiple rooms hanging off the same server.

Hope this helps,


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post #6 of 9 Old 06-19-2008, 10:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OmegaWolf747 View Post

So if I were to connect the DVR I mentioned to my OTA converter box, that would be enough?

It's best to provide a separate converter for your DVR, that way you can watch and record 2 separate programs. But that is enough to record in SD.

Quote:


The Digital Stream box down-converts HDTV signals to standard digital. At this point, I've no interest in cable or satellite, as they are costly. Is the one I mentioned stand-alone, or does it require TiVo?

OTA HD looks better than cable or satellite anyway. Cable/DSS provide quantity, OTA provides quality. ATSC reception is a new animal. As long as you've got a good signal and good receiver, it can't be beat.

TiVo is a separate question. What TiVo provides is their unique interface and on-screen program guide. You're monthly payments go to providing the guide service, but also augment their income from the hardware. No one "needs" TiVo, but ironically for some it might be the least expensive choice. If you go HD, the choices are more limited; TiVoHD, Media Center or rented from your TV service provider (which people who receive OTA don't have).

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post #7 of 9 Old 06-19-2008, 10:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarrisonS View Post

I am interested in buying a DVR with a built-in ATSC tuner, to be used exclusvely for OTA material (no cable or satellite use). I am only interested in Hi Def material. Does TiVo, or anyone else make such a DVR, ideally one that can be used without requiring a subscription?

In a word NO. TiVo requires a subscription. Since you're talking OTA, you don't have a TV service provider to rent from. That pretty much puts you into a Media Center type setup.

Quote:


Later on, I would like to be able to archive HD material from the DVR to a stand-alone Blu-ray recorder, if, and when these become available, but this may be asking too much!

Then certainly a Media Center (PC) type setup is what you need. You get what you pay for.

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post #8 of 9 Old 06-20-2008, 03:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OmegaWolf747 View Post

My TV signal is OTA with the Digital Stream converter box. Do DVRs have their own tuners, or would I have to hook a DVR up to the digital converter box? I was thinking of getting the Panasonic PV-HS3000 ShowStopper Digital Video Recorder from Amazon.com.

Would this DVR require a monthly subscription to ReplayTV, or would it just work with my OTA signal?

Thank you.

The Showstopper (Replay 3000) is a nice unit. I have one, as well as a more recent replay and a computer-based home-made PVR. (In fact, I mention them in a book I wrote on Digital TV http://www.y1d.com/DTVbook ). All Showstoppers have an automatic subscription to the guide service, but they use a dialup phone line to call in unless you play complicated games. They are SD only, but they are very solid, reliable, and have a nice user interface.

In addition, unlike many PVR's they store the data in an unencrypted form, so that you can extract it if you want to, although this involves physically removing the drive to insert it into a PC.
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post #9 of 9 Old 06-23-2008, 04:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OmegaWolf747 View Post

So if I were to connect the DVR I mentioned to my OTA converter box, that would be enough? The Digital Stream box down-converts HDTV signals to standard digital. At this point, I've no interest in cable or satellite, as they are costly.

Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm in the process of doing the same thing and there is something important to note with digital converter boxes.

From what I could find, your Digital Stream converter box will NOT simply convert the signal and pass it through. It does not pass the signal through like a VCR. This is very important because, that means you can't hook your DVR up to the converter box and simply expect your DVR to tune the channels. You would have to tune your converter box to the channel you want to record, leave it on, and set your DVR to channel 3 (or channel 4, however you configure it). Then you would have to set your DVR to record channel 3 for the times your shows are on, therefore, losing all the great DVR/EPG (electronic program guide) recording functionality. Your EPG will essentially become no more than a TV Guide.

You can't control/tune the converter box with the DVR which is unfortunate.

If you have a tv with vga input (many LCDs/flatscreens these days have them) I would recommend a PC based DVR. You could also do this if you have a PC that has a video card with S-Video out (or you could install one). There is a great article of how to build a DVR out of an old computer. It was written a while ago, so I would certainly recommend a different TV Tuner card, but all the info is still good and you can see that a PC based system can be a DVR, an internet terminal, DVD player, audio/digital media player and more!

The system requirements to build one are relatively low. There are several options out there, but I'm leaning toward a SAGETV bundle with a Hauppauge HVR-1600 ATSC (digital) tuner card to record OTA from the antenna. ($149)
The system requirements are:
  • Microsoft Windows 98SE, 2000 SP3 or higher, ME or XP (Any Version)
  • 128MB RAM, recommended 256MB RAM
  • Intel Pentium III 600 MHz or AMD Athlon 600 MHz with additional requirements including TV Tuner Card (futureboy's note: included in the bundle), Video Card and additional software.

I picked up a rebuilt computer with XP Pro, 1.8ghz P4 processor, 512 RAM for $75.
For this setup, the PC would need a network connection for the programming guide. If you already have a wireless network, wireless PCI cards/USB wireless is easy to install/setup and relatively cheap. If you don't have a wireless network, you could also go with a networking option that uses your home's existing power lines. Amazon has a Panasonic version with a pretty high user rating. If you choose this option, you would need to make sure your router has more than one ethernet (network) out connection (some do, but not all). If your router only has one ethernet out port, you can get a ethernet switch (1 line in from your router to the switch, 4 lines out from the switch to your devices - PC, powerline adapter, etc.). If necessary you can get a switch pretty cheap (approx $25).

Regardless of what you choose, there are many options and a PC based system would be easy and relatively cheap. My DVR/Internet/DVD/Netflix Streaming system, complete, will be approx $290. All that, and $9 cheaper than the "analog only-tv only" box on Amazon.

I know I sort-of digressed form your question, but only about a month ago, I was standing where you are now. I bought a digital converter and was surprised at the no-pass-through limitation, which is why I decided to build from an old PC.
A lot of this will depend on your current TV/Computer/Network setup, but I simply offer the above suggestions to let you know of the alternatives to a pre-made box. Research all brands as well. Several companies offer DVR software, and others offer powerline, or wireless networking solutions. I settled on the ones I mentioned above because of their low price and positive reviews.

Anyway, hope this has helped, and all the best!
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