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Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Des Plaines, IL
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You could take a chance on the H2080 refurb, but the one I had was pretty erratic, and I ended up returning it (a couple of years ago, when they first came out). For OTA using the ATSC tuner, it may be alright, though (most people in the DVD Recorders forum buying them right now seem happy enough with them). The H2160 refurbs would be even better, if you can find them (the newer, H2160A model available at Wal-Mart.com has a pretty big "finalization bug" with DVD's - you can't finalize them if you have any event timers set - you'd have to erase all timers first, then finalize, then reset them. Most people just choose a time to finalize a pile all at once. Otherwise, it should be fine for timer recording from the ATSC tuner).
You might want to consider the $250.00 DTV Pal DVR, which is a two-tunered, no-fee ATSC DVR with a guide to program through. There's a thread on it in the "HDTV Recorders" forum (it records in HD, but you can use it downscaled on an SD set - it should look even better than the SD Magnavox on their TV). The original firmware was really buggy (they're basically using the consumers for quality control), but subsequent firmware updates have progressively made it more stable (it can be upgraded through it's USB port). It also has a newer generation ATSC reception chip in it than the Maggie, which should be noticably more sensitive.
Definitely a hard drive model is best. Once they get used to it, they won't be able to live without it.
Anyway, refer to the "DVD Recorders" forum here for the SD recorders (with or without HDD's), and the "HDTV Recorder" one for HD recorders. You'll get all the information you need over there.