Are there any standalone DVR Boxes to record on you can buy WITHOUT a monthly charge? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 39 Old 10-07-2007, 01:41 AM - Thread Starter
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Perhaps someone here can help me

Are there any DVR (Digital Video Recorder) Boxes to record on you can buy WITHOUT a monthly (or yearly) charge? (or at least a very cheap monthly charge, like a couple of dollars a month)

In other words, a box (**New OR Used**) that would have audio / video inputs (only need SD TV, NOT HD TV) and outputs and let you record shows/movies on a Hard drive / other memory inside the box and play any of it back at will on a TV (NOT a PC -
but uses no video tapes or discs ).

And, of course it would only be a *one-time* purchase; you would just buy the box and that is it, ***NO monthly service charge***. (or a very cheap one)



I already have digital cable with a program guide, so I just need something to record on , kind of like a digital VCR. (just bare bones recording - does not need a lot of frilly options

My cable company does offer a DVR Box (which would do what I want) but it costs an extra $25 a month and I definitely do NOT want any kind of box with an additional monthly charge over what I'm paying now :-( (unless like I said, the monthly charge is very cheap like a few dollars a month)



Does anything like what I want exist? (set top box that lets you record / no tapes or discs / no or *very* cheap *monthly* charges)

If so, what exactly is it called (brand and product name) and if you have any clue what it costs (new or if possible, used), that would be nice too Any other info / product page links on it you could provide would also be appreciated.



If they do sell DVR Boxes completely separately (no services or DVD Burner parts , what are they called technically? Just "DVR Box"?

For example, if I were to go to Best Buy's homepage and use the Search blank, what terms would I enter to find one of these DVR Boxes.

.
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post #2 of 39 Old 10-07-2007, 12:03 PM
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This is about the only thing out there right now - it's available through Circuit City, Walmart, & Fry's and costs around $300.00, give or take a few dollars:

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=830253.

It's a hard drive model that also includes a DVD burner (just in case you ever want to transfer anything - but you don't HAVE to use it. It is nice to have, anyways - you can edit out the commercials on the hard drive recordings before transferring to DVD).

The only catch is, your cable box needs to have the ability to set timers on it's end, and change the channels to the programs you want to record. Then, on the recorder's end, you will set timers manually to coincide with it.

If you don't have the ability to set timers on your cable box, then you'll have to settle for a DVD recorder (or a DVD/VCR) that uses an "IR blaster" to change the channels on it. And you have to hope you can find a recorder which contains the code to control your box.
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post #3 of 39 Old 10-07-2007, 03:30 PM
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DVD recorders are pretty much the only VCR-like no monthly charge recording boxes now. But they could only record the unencrypted cable channels or with a direct video connection from a digital cable tuner box. However if you pay the monthly rental fee for a digital cable box, it isn't much more to rent the HD-DVR from them instead, thats the most versatile and you have no big upfront cost to buy a recorder unit and can upgrade the DVR at no cost from the cable company whenever there is a problem or newer model available.
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post #4 of 39 Old 10-08-2007, 03:00 PM
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Sadly, the manufacturers have decided that America has too much of a "WalMart mentality" so they are currently not marketing their DVRs here. Good quality DVRs such as you describe would sell for $500+ and they do not believe Americans are willing to pay that kind of money. You'll see that there are some awesome DVRs being sold in places like Japan; very pricey.

I am using a SONY RDR-HX715 DVR. I bought it new from Amazon for $600 a few years ago. It does everything you want and has some very unique features. It does have a DVD recorder built-in, but that lacks abilities of other brands (minor to me).

One CHEAP DVR recently placed on the market is manufacturered in China for Philips. It is also sold under other name brands such as Polaroid. It is advertised to do what you want, but I think would be frustrating for many people to use. They're about the same as what you get from the cable company. Last time I checked some WalMarts had them for about $229. You get what you pay for.

My suggestion is to search online. Perhaps an online store like Amazon (which also sells used merchandise) or an auction site like eBay.
Good luck!

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post #5 of 39 Old 10-08-2007, 10:35 PM
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The newest Polaroid and Philips units (both sold at Walmart) are two different, separate models. The Polaroid doesn't get very good reviews in the "DVD Recorders" forum here, but the Philips is supposed to be pretty decent. It goes for around $289.99 - $299.00.
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post #6 of 39 Old 10-09-2007, 10:59 AM
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There are multiple models of each box. The early model (Polaroid DRM-2001G) did not have an ATSC tuner and is made by Philips. The later model (Polaroid DRA-01601A) has the ATSC tuner and is also made by Philips. One element that may separate these units is their software. Perhaps the Philips software is better. There's a ton of room for improvement over the Polaroid.

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post #7 of 39 Old 10-11-2007, 12:06 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rammitinski View Post

This is about the only thing out there right now - it's available through Circuit City, Walmart, & Fry's and costs around $300.00, give or take a few dollars:

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=830253.

It's a hard drive model that also includes a DVD burner (just in case you ever want to transfer anything - but you don't HAVE to use it. It is nice to have, anyways - you can edit out the commercials on the hard drive recordings before transferring to DVD).

The only catch is, your cable box needs to have the ability to set timers on it's end, and change the channels to the programs you want to record. Then, on the recorder's end, you will set timers manually to coincide with it.

If you don't have the ability to set timers on your cable box, then you'll have to settle for a DVD recorder (or a DVD/VCR) that uses an "IR blaster" to change the channels on it. And you have to hope you can find a recorder which contains the code to control your box.



Well yeah, my Cable box can do the "set timers/channel changing" thing

Also, what exactly is a IR Blaster?

Finally I've heard that the DVD Recorder /DVR combos are being phased out / will stop being made in the near future. Is this true?


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post #8 of 39 Old 10-11-2007, 12:12 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joxer View Post

DVD recorders are pretty much the only VCR-like no monthly charge recording boxes now. But they could only record the unencrypted cable channels or with a direct video connection from a digital cable tuner box. However if you pay the monthly rental fee for a digital cable box, it isn't much more to rent the HD-DVR from them instead, thats the most versatile and you have no big upfront cost to buy a recorder unit and can upgrade the DVR at no cost from the cable company whenever there is a problem or newer model available.




Well, I have a digital cable service, but I really don't want to pay a HIGHER monthly fee for the DVR service.

Oh and I only need the simple basic ability to record programs according to timer settings I create manually (like a VCR) , so I was thinking maybe I could just go get a new / used DVR Box off EBay and use that to record programs from my digital cable box (with no monthly service).

Btw I already have a program guide from my cable service.

Manually setting up recordings doesn't scare me (if a service lesss DVR box can do that)

.
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post #9 of 39 Old 10-11-2007, 12:16 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CA_Guy View Post

Sadly, the manufacturers have decided that America has too much of a "WalMart mentality" so they are currently not marketing their DVRs here. Good quality DVRs such as you describe would sell for $500+ and they do not believe Americans are willing to pay that kind of money. You'll see that there are some awesome DVRs being sold in places like Japan; very pricey.

I am using a SONY RDR-HX715 DVR. I bought it new from Amazon for $600 a few years ago. It does everything you want and has some very unique features. It does have a DVD recorder built-in, but that lacks abilities of other brands (minor to me).

One CHEAP DVR recently placed on the market is manufacturered in China for Philips. It is also sold under other name brands such as Polaroid. It is advertised to do what you want, but I think would be frustrating for many people to use. They're about the same as what you get from the cable company. Last time I checked some WalMarts had them for about $229. You get what you pay for.

My suggestion is to search online. Perhaps an online store like Amazon (which also sells used merchandise) or an auction site like eBay.
Good luck!




Out of curiosity what is the model number of the "cheap Philips DVR"? Thta sounds interesting. If you could link to its walmart.com page, that would be great

Btw, why do you think it would be frustrating to use?

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post #10 of 39 Old 10-11-2007, 12:51 AM
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The Philips model is the DVDR-3575H. It's also on Circuit City's website.

The only models still being made are not by the "bigger name" manufacturers. But Polaroid and Philips each have one, and it looks like a Magnavox model with an 80BG HDD is just now showing up in Walmart stores. I believe it only costs $198.99. That sounds like it would be perfect for you. You don't need a huge hard drive. And if you record at the 2nd slowest speed (which is usually just as good as the 1st), you'll have plenty of space. Sometimes the next speed down is even OK.

An IR blaster is just a wired "eye" that goes from the recorder to in front of the IR sensor on your cable box and changes the channels (for recording). But it sounds like you don't need that feature, anyway.

Actually, I think he meant to say that the Polaroid would be frustrating, because that's the one that costs $229.00. The Philips is around $300.00. The Polaroid supposedly has a lot of issues. You can find plenty of info on these and other HDD/DVD recorders over in the "DVD Recorders" area.
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post #11 of 39 Old 10-13-2007, 10:11 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rammitinski View Post

The Philips model is the DVDR-3575H. It's also on Circuit City's website.

The only models still being made are not by the "bigger name" manufacturers. But Polaroid and Philips each have one, and it looks like a Magnavox model with an 80BG HDD is just now showing up in Walmart stores. I believe it only costs $198.99. That sounds like it would be perfect for you. You don't need a huge hard drive. And if you record at the 2nd slowest speed (which is usually just as good as the 1st), you'll have plenty of space. Sometimes the next speed down is even OK.

An IR blaster is just a wired "eye" that goes from the recorder to in front of the IR sensor on your cable box and changes the channels (for recording). But it sounds like you don't need that feature, anyway.

Actually, I think he meant to say that the Polaroid would be frustrating, because that's the one that costs $229.00. The Philips is around $300.00. The Polaroid supposedly has a lot of issues. You can find plenty of info on these and other HDD/DVD recorders over in the "DVD Recorders" area.



Ok just to be clear, the Philips, Magnavox and the Polaroid we are talking about here: Are they all DVD Recorder / DVR combos or all DVRs only?

BTW what is the model number for the Magnavox? (it does sound pretty good



Actually my cable box has a limited number of timers for changing channels so the IR Blaster might be useful. Do you buy it separately or does it come with a DVR that supports use of it?
How does that work exactly? (that is, getting ahold of one and what kind pf units can you use it with)

.
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post #13 of 39 Old 10-14-2007, 01:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dhowerter View Post

Ok just to be clear, the Philips, Magnavox and the Polaroid we are talking about here: Are they all DVD Recorder / DVR combos or all DVRs only?

BTW what is the model number for the Magnavox? (it does sound pretty good



Actually my cable box has a limited number of timers for changing channels so the IR Blaster might be useful. Do you buy it separately or does it come with a DVR that supports use of it?
How does that work exactly? (that is, getting ahold of one and what kind pf units can you use it with)

.

Re-read the final sentence of my last post.

(They are all standard definition HDD/DVD recorders with clear-QAM/ATSC digital and NTSC analog tuners. The only fee-less DVR's that you might still be able to find used are the Sony DHG-HDD500, the Sony DHG-HDD250, or the LG 3410a. Only the LG has an IR blaster - but it's such an old model now that it may not even contain a code to work your cable box - unless it's an older box. You'll have to ask the people who own it. You can find all the information you need to know on the LG and the Sony's in their respective, dedicated threads over in the "HDTV Recorders" forum here. I know there are one or two people currently selling their LG's there, because they finally broke down and bought a TiVo.)
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post #14 of 39 Old 10-14-2007, 07:40 AM
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You can look at the sony HDD-250 or HDD-500. The former is a 250GB model the later is a 500GB model. Niether requires any service fee at all. Of course some caveats...

1) There is no current solution to allow you to drop a second drive in the 250 to increase capacity.
2) Sometimes the TV guide that is "downloaded" is not correct. More often than I like but I put up with it for no cost per month.

with the bad aside the good is...

1) Also allows QAM tuning of unencrypted cable.
2) Has a cable card slot to also get the encrypted. (works quite nicely)
3) OTA works great since I do a fair share of OTA vs cable so that I get an uncompressed stream instead of cables compressed stream.

Al
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post #15 of 39 Old 10-14-2007, 07:48 AM
 
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Also, those two devices are discontinued. You'll have to buy them second-party.
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post #16 of 39 Old 10-16-2007, 08:56 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by afogleson View Post

You can look at the sony HDD-250 or HDD-500. The former is a 250GB model the later is a 500GB model. Niether requires any service fee at all. Of course some caveats...

1) There is no current solution to allow you to drop a second drive in the 250 to increase capacity.
2) Sometimes the TV guide that is "downloaded" is not correct. More often than I like but I put up with it for no cost per month.

with the bad aside the good is...

1) Also allows QAM tuning of unencrypted cable.
2) Has a cable card slot to also get the encrypted. (works quite nicely)
3) OTA works great since I do a fair share of OTA vs cable so that I get an uncompressed stream instead of cables compressed stream.

Al




afogleson / ALL -

AHhh.. that sounds intereting.


Some questions tho:

1. About the downloaded tv guide, assuming I wanted to use one of those units with a digital cable box (Standard definition btw), do I NEED to dl the program guide (since my cable already has one and I'm OK with manually setting start /stop times like on a VCR)

2. Also where do you dl it from? a phone jack? something over the air?


3. Also, to clarify, these units can pick up Over the air programs?
DO you need some kind of antenna (rabbit ears) for that?
How is the video quality tho of the over the air channels?
(not the quality of the recordings of them but just the quality of the OTA channels themselves.)

.
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post #17 of 39 Old 10-18-2007, 11:53 AM
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I bought one of these from Walmart in June. I use it all the time as a DVR. I've burned a few dozen DVDs but that's not the main reason I bought the device. I wish it had an EPG but I like it fine. I might move soon to a house that doesn't have cable (it has satellite) and if this happens I will use the digital tuner in the Philips to pick up nearby stations. Our televisions have no digital tuners and the satellite system doesn't get local channels.

I suppose a Tivo and cheap DVD recorder (with no hard drive) might not really be any more expensive than the DVDR3575 in the short run. If the Philips devices doesn't break any time soon it will eventually pay for itself. I just don't want to pay a monthly fee for a DVR. Maybe I'll get over that someday.

If Tivo built a bare-bones device, basically a DVR with an EPG and timer and none of the fancy options and sold it with no monthly fee, they would sell millions of them. I think.
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post #18 of 39 Old 10-18-2007, 01:23 PM
 
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Who? TiVo? They don't make profit at all. They've only been in the black one quarter in their entire history. People seriously underestimate how much it costs to provide a great DVR.
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post #19 of 39 Old 10-18-2007, 01:55 PM
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Hi,

How about pc with Vista media center. Vista Media Center is included with Home Premium and Ultimate.

J

Not afraid to break a few eggs....
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post #20 of 39 Old 10-18-2007, 04:11 PM
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I have a RCA Scenium
http://cgi.*********/DRS7000N-RCA-SC...QQcmdZViewItem

It works OK. It has a dvd player but you can't record on it, there's a area to put in a usb card to put a reader if you want to read photos on it...

The guide system is the TV Guide Gold ++. It took awhile to understand how exactly that works. You hook the cable into the cable tuner (basic cable nothing encrypted) and then the a/v cables to the tv.

If you want to record digital cable or an audio source just hook it up with av cables to the front or the back.

The guide sometimes resets although the information on it far surpasses what my cable co has on theirs...descriptions can run three or four sentences and you can go forward by subject and move faster to find information.

I use it for anything on basic cable and use the cable one for the digital and hd channels. The two things that stand out the most I'd say is that you can zoom in quite a bit and you can pause and go directly to a given point rather than jerk around forward and back to find a given scene.
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post #21 of 39 Old 10-19-2007, 06:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bicker1 View Post

Who? TiVo? They don't make profit at all. They've only been in the black one quarter in their entire history. People seriously underestimate how much it costs to provide a great DVR.

I guess I don't need a great DVR, I'd be happy with a pretty good one. If Philips can sell a DVDR3735H for $300 with a: 160G hard drive DVR, ATSC tuner, DVD recorder and no EPG, how much could they charge for one without the DVD recorder but with an EPG?

If Tivo (or Philips or whoever) could sell a similar HD-based DVR with no DVD recorder but with an EPG for say, $250 to $300 with no monthly service, presumably it would sell for a profit if the Philips DVDR3735H sells for a profit. People hate that monthly fee.

How about this, Tivo (or whoever) could create a DVR that works with no monthly fee but only offers the basic functions - recording (manual and timer) and EPG only. For say $5/month, it would have more functionality and for $10/month and it would have full functionality. Those fees are off the top of my head and are probably too low, not that it matters to me since I wouldn't be paying them.

If Tivo isn't making a profit, maybe they're going about it all wrong.
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post #22 of 39 Old 10-19-2007, 08:31 AM
 
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Or maybe there simply isn't a way to make a profit in this space, because of how little customers are willing to pay and how much it costs to provide what customers expect.
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post #23 of 39 Old 10-19-2007, 08:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swangdb View Post

If Tivo built a bare-bones device, basically a DVR with an EPG and timer and none of the fancy options and sold it with no monthly fee, they would sell millions of them. I think.

LOL, LOL, LOL!!! The "fanciest" option (cost wise) for a DVR is the guide. Take out the guide and the price drops significantly. But doing so puts everyone back in the "VCR days" where you had to set up timer recordings by entering time, date, channel, etc. What has made DVRs more friendly is the on-screen guide and ability to press a button to record a show. And since people are paying upwards of $20 a month for that feature, it supports this concept.

Quote:


I guess I don't need a great DVR, I'd be happy with a pretty good one. If Philips can sell a DVDR3735H for $300 with a: 160G hard drive DVR, ATSC tuner, DVD recorder and no EPG, how much could they charge for one without the DVD recorder but with an EPG?

Technically speaking, there is a huge difference between the hardware in a typical TiVo and that Philips model. But again the EPG is a significant cost. Don't forget that they have to pay royalties to Gemstar/TV Guide and play by their rules just to offer an EPG.

CA GUY
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post #24 of 39 Old 10-19-2007, 08:43 AM
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Originally Posted by bicker1 View Post

Or maybe there simply isn't a way to make a profit in this space, because of how little customers are willing to pay and how much it costs to provide what customers expect.

AMEN! You are dead on. The major CE companies have stated they can not make a profit in the USA selling DVRs. "Everyone" here bases their purchases on what something costs. As long as that is true, they are happy selling in places like Japan & Europe.

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post #25 of 39 Old 10-19-2007, 08:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swangdb View Post

If Tivo isn't making a profit, maybe they're going about it all wrong.

This sounds like the topic for an entirely new thread. Do you have any idea how much it costs to put together a data center to collect "guide data" and the infrastructure to communicate with every (TiVo) DVR out there? If you think you can make a profit by charging $10 a month per person I say Go For It! While TiVo has other income, the monthly fee is their largest income and they still lose money.

The alternative is to charge something like $600 per DVR. There WERE some non-TiVo DVRs out there for that price (I have some of them), but they didn't sell very many. People don't understand why one DVR costs so much when the BROADCASTERS are "giving them away". Yes some of the investors/etc in TiVo are broadcasters. Once everyone is using a DVR supplied by cable, satellite or TiVo; they will do things like take away FF during commercials and/or charge more. I posted an article regarding this in another thread here. One cable company is going to try "renting" DVRs for FREE with no FF at all. So you can watch WHEN you want, but you'll have to sit through everything.

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post #26 of 39 Old 10-19-2007, 08:55 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CA_Guy View Post

LOL, LOL, LOL!!! The "fanciest" option (cost wise) for a DVR is the guide. Take out the guide and the price drops significantly.

Indeed.

Not only that, but the guide is an ongoing cost, i.e., a continuing liability. Without a continuous revenue stream, there isn't a viable business model that includes a continuing liability without a continuous revenue stream. Eventually the costs will eat away all the profits.

Even TiVo has done away with lifetime subscriptions. They're just not profitable.
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post #27 of 39 Old 10-19-2007, 09:00 AM
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Originally Posted by CA_Guy View Post

This sounds like the topic for an entirely new thread. Do you have any idea how much it costs to put together a data center to collect "guide data" and the infrastructure to communicate with every (TiVo) DVR out there?

I have to admit, I don't know how much this costs.

Quote:


If you think you can make a profit by charging $10 a month per person I say Go For It! While TiVo has other income, the monthly fee is their largest income and they still lose money.

Oh well, I thought they could make more money by selling more hardware. If that's not the case and they can't make money with their monthly fees, how do they stay in business?

Quote:


Once everyone is using a DVR supplied by cable, satellite or TiVo; they will do things like take away FF during commercials and/or charge more. I posted an article regarding this in another thread here. One cable company is going to try "renting" DVRs for FREE with no FF at all. So you can watch WHEN you want, but you'll have to sit through everything.

Ack!!!
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post #28 of 39 Old 10-19-2007, 09:27 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swangdb View Post

Oh well, I thought they could make more money by selling more hardware.

The more hardware they sell, the more money they LOSE.

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Originally Posted by swangdb View Post

If that's not the case and they can't make money with their monthly fees, how do they stay in business?

I wish I knew.
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post #29 of 39 Old 10-19-2007, 04:10 PM
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Heres what I found and it has 2 HD tuners its the Humax 9200 but unfortuneatly its only sold in the UK and elsewhere. Makes me so mad its exactly what I'm looking for but as one person said its not profitable because people dont realize the potential of these products heres the link for those interested and maybe its already been talked about b4.

http://www.humaxdigital.com/global/p.../pvr-9200t.asp

Made a mistake in life? Nothin' a little Valtrex can't take care of...
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post #30 of 39 Old 10-20-2007, 03:08 AM
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Originally Posted by swangdb View Post

How about this, Tivo (or whoever) could create a DVR that works with no monthly fee but only offers the basic functions - recording (manual and timer) and EPG only.

They actually had that a few years back. There were some Toshiba, Humax and Pioneer Elite HDD/DVD recorders that included a free, basic version of the TiVo service. If you wanted the more elaborate features, you paid the fee. Those were, of course, SD-only. For whatever reason, they stopped it.

There have been many HD and SD DVR's with free programming guides available in the U.S. up until the last year. There were the basic TiVo's, MANY SD and a few HD models with TV Guide on Screen, and even an SD LG that got it's Microsoft guide free over the net. Some of those models will still work if you can find one used.

As far as TVGOS goes, You'll probably be seeing that pop up again eventually in recorders in it's new, digital-based form. If Philips is still making HDD models by then, you may very likely see it in one of theirs.
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