Need PVR Recommendations - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 12-07-2003, 06:50 AM - Thread Starter
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Hello all,

I am in the market for a hard drive based recorder to replace the VCR in our home theater setup and have a couple questions and need recommendations...

Our source is digital cable. Right now, the cable from the wall splits to the VCR and the digital cable box. Currently, I think all DVRs use NTSC cable-ready tuners (181 channel). Does anyone know of any planned DVRs in the relatively near future (3-4 months) that will incorporate a digital cable compatible tuner?

If there are no digital cable tuner DVRs on the horizon, is it possible to record from the cable box?

Are there any low priced stand alone TIVO units out or planned (TIVO basic)? Don't really need the DVD-R capability in the Pioneer TIVO Basic unit (and that's more than I want to spend anyway).

Now the $64,000 question...
Which DVR to get? I know that nearly everyone that gets TIVO says it's a life changing experience (at least for their TV watching life), but I guess something about paying for hardware, and then paying for the subscription bugs me (even though the total cost is about what the Panasonic E80 costs).

By the way, our display is a Panasonic 50" plasma, so if you have experience with a DVR on plasma, I'd be interested in hearing that too.

Sorry this is so long.

Thanks for any input,
Chris
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post #2 of 6 Old 01-05-2004, 06:59 AM
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Chris,
Check with your local cable company. I am fortunate to live in a zipcode that is serviced by Comcast in Arlington VA. They offer a DVR/digital-cable box combo for $9.95/month. I am a newbie so I am starting out with this solution; I like the ease of use and the integration with the cable box functions. Also at about $10/month, it will take me 2.5 years (30 months) to have spent the same $$ as today's $300 Tivo or ReplayTV upfront cost. By that time, I figure technology will have improved dramatically, then I can take the next step.
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post #3 of 6 Old 01-05-2004, 08:05 AM
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I agree ... a solution from your cable company can be a very good interim solution. My cable company offers the Scientific Atlanta 8000 which I use and like alot. HD PVRS are starting to be rolled out by the cable companies too ... Scientific Atlanta 8000HD and Motorola 6208. These should certainly look great on a plasma! Rent it ... and then when something comes out that meets your needs ... buy it and turn the cable company box back in.

However, to your specific questions:
The LG LST-3410A is a DVR that includes QAM (digital cable) capabilities. However, it only allows for tuning unscrambled channels. Exactly what digital/HD channels your cable company is sending in the clear is, unfortunately, a bit fuzzy right now.

Hopefully at CES (Jan. 8 - 11) we'll see some product announcements ... I expect a cable plug-and-play DVR (you get a CableCARD from your cable company ... plug it in ... get all the channels you subscribe to) to be out sometime in 2004. However, I'd expect it later in the year rather than earlier. Again, we should get some news out of CES.

The current stand alone DVRs can certainly record from the cable box via composite or SVideo ... however, with that plasma this may not be the best solution for you. It won't allow for HD recording and you may see some degradation on digital channels.

By later this year (June I think, but I'm not sure) your cable company is supposed to be able to offer you a box with functional Firewire ports. Firewire should allow you to record digital channels (including HD) w/o degradation. Hopefully we'll be getting a clearer picture / more products for recording from a cable box's Firewire ports. Again, I'm hoping to see some announcements out of CES.

Unfortunately, right now Tivo basic is only available on the integrated DVD units. There are no stand alone simple Tivo units with Tivo Basic (existing or announced). Again, perhaps we'll see some soon ... perhaps not.

Some of the early Series 1 units allow for some very basic recording functionality w/o a subscription. However, I'm unsure of the exact capabilities they offer. You may want to check http://www.tivocommunity.com for more information.

I know, not alot of great options right now. However, there are lots of people looking for the same thing you are and hopefully we'll start seeing some products (or at least product announcements) soon.
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post #4 of 6 Old 01-09-2004, 01:38 PM
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What about software PVRs? I have a HTPC with 240 gig of storage. I believe it is possible to have a software PVR, but what is the best solution? One problem that I see is that my digital cable box only feeds my HTPC with one channel at a time. Can a PVR record multiple channels, or let you watch one and record another?
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post #5 of 6 Old 01-12-2004, 12:42 PM
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You would need another cable box and another capture card or split the cable before the box and run the analog cable into a second card. This way you could watch one channel and record on another as long as they were not both digital channels. Either way, it would require two capture cards. Unless you ran an analog feed to the tv as another input and you could watch analog cable from the tv while recording digital on the htpc.
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post #6 of 6 Old 01-12-2004, 01:32 PM
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OT: Do you need a Digital Cable box to receive HDTV? Could I split and use an HDTV card and my KBK modded Zoltrix?
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