Alternative to TIVO and Cable DVR - AVS Forum
Digital Recorders (PVRs) General > Alternative to TIVO and Cable DVR
gingus's Avatar gingus 04:45 PM 10-23-2007
I was wondering if there are any alternatives to the Cable and TIVO recorders that have the Hard drive to record TV shows. I currently have analog cable and not too keen on paying a monthly subscription for the box.

I don't watch much TV, but would like to record shows without having too many video tapes lying around.

Any help would be appreciated.

bicker1's Avatar bicker1 05:51 PM 10-23-2007
That record cable? There aren't any in current production that are available for sale in the United States. Just not enough profit to be had.

There are a couple of discontinued units, which you might be able to pick up on eBay, but nothing that is still in production
wajo's Avatar wajo 07:48 PM 10-23-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by gingus View Post

I was wondering if there are any alternatives to the Cable and TIVO recorders that have the Hard drive to record TV shows. I currently have analog cable and not too keen on paying a monthly subscription for the box.

I don't watch much TV, but would like to record shows without having too many video tapes lying around.

Any help would be appreciated.

There are currently two units with hard disk drives (HDD) that are great for recording analog and digital cable. Both have digital tuners.

The Philips DVDR3575 here. $289 at Circuit City online. 160GB HDD. Long thread, might want to skip to later pages.

The Magnavox H2080MW8 here. $198 at Wal-Mart (new item, hard to find). 80GB HDD, little brother to the Philips 3575 above.


Both are mfg by Funai, as are 50% of all players and recorders sold in North America. (Also 10% of the world's players/recorders.)
PaulModz's Avatar PaulModz 10:47 PM 10-23-2007
If you're fairly technical and willing to put in the time, there's lots of stuff you can play with. If you're not willing to make your HD DVR a new hobby, Tivo is your only option.

I've been running the same install of SageTV (www.sage.tv) for 4 years, and even though my version is 2 years old, it has features Tivo may never get. I have plug-ins for commercial detection and skipping, background re-compression of archived shows (@ 10 to 1 reduction), Weather and Forecasts, Context-sensitive IMDB search, CD/DVD rippers, torrent-streamed vids, etc; all with no monthly fee.

Without PC-Compatible CableCard readers, HTPC's are limited to over-the-air HD content, though. If that's not a deal-breaker for you, check out SageTV. If you're a Linux person, Myth is also very good, but hardware support (drivers) can be a problem.

This time I'm taking the easy way out, Tivo HD. The biggest downside to using Tivo with CableCards is that On-Demand and PPV won't work. RCN is upgrading my cable box to a an HD DVR AND renting me 2 CableCards for what I currently pay, so I'm planning to run the RCN box into a different HDMI port for On-Demand.
bicker1's Avatar bicker1 05:07 AM 10-24-2007
The specifications for the two boxes mentioned do not indicate QAM tuners, nor CableCards, both essential for digital cable these days. Do you have more information on either of those aspects?
PaulModz's Avatar PaulModz 06:14 AM 10-24-2007
You can get a Tivo HD for less than $250. I don't know what kind of software the Phillips/Magnavox DVD Burner/DVRs have but you can be sure it sucks compared to Tivo, and why bother with physical media?

The drive on the Tivo is a little small (20 hours of HD, 180 of SD), but you can increase capacity by either upgrading the internal drive, plugging in a 500GB eSata Extender ($199), or both.

The monthly fee still sucks, but you get a lot of extras like remote programming over the web, multi-room support, PC Viewing, OnDemand and PPV delivered via the internet, etc...

Aside from the monthly fee, is there some reason you're looking for an alternative to Tivo?
CA_Guy's Avatar CA_Guy 11:58 AM 10-24-2007
Here is another current thread on this same topic:
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...=919356&page=2

Personally I do not like TiVo. It is not just the monthly fee. I don't like the fact that "broadcast interests" are controlling my recorder and play back capabilities. Plus more.
bfdtv's Avatar bfdtv 12:22 PM 10-24-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by CA_Guy View Post

Here is another current thread on this same topic:
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...=919356&page=2

Personally I do not like TiVo. It is not just the monthly fee. I don't like the fact that "broadcast interests" are controlling my recorder and play back capabilities. Plus more.

If you are referring to the lack of automated commercial skip, ReplayTV got sued into oblivion for supporting that feature with a commercial product. Tivo is still one of the few commercial DVR products with a 30sec skip feature; even DirecTV eliminated that.

Tivo lets you download recorded files -- including pristine high-definition recordings -- directly from their DVRs to a PC using any web browser. I would hardly call that catering to "broadcast interests."


gingus's Avatar gingus 01:13 PM 10-24-2007
The main reason I am looking for an alternative is 1) for the monthly feees and 2) I mainly want to use it to set up a timer and record a few TV shows, burn a few to DVD, etd. I don't think I would use it to download shows to the computer though.
PaulModz's Avatar PaulModz 09:04 PM 10-24-2007
CA Guy, I'm feelin' ya. That's the main reason I went with Sage years ago instead of Tivo or Windows Media Center. I just don't have the time to invest anymore, and my geeky principals won't improve the picture quality of my aging 36 CRT. What do you use?

bfdtv, the new version of the Tivo HD software blows me away, and was the straw that broke the camel's back. My new Tivo will be here tomorrow, and RCN is coming Saturday morning to install my CableCards.

Gingus, it doesn't sound like you'll be using the DVR enough to justify the time and money needed to setup an HTPC, but you don't want to pay the monthly fee for the Tivo. I would suggest you just get a set-top DVR from your cable company, but then you wouldn't be able to burn CDs or DVDs. I hate to break it to you, but something's got to give

How much are you looking to spend, and how computer savvy are you?
CA_Guy's Avatar CA_Guy 03:42 PM 10-26-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulModz View Post

CA Guy, I'm feelin' ya. That's the main reason I went with Sage years ago instead of Tivo or Windows Media Center. I just don't have the time to invest anymore, and my geeky principals won't improve the picture quality of my aging 36 CRT. What do you use?

Right now any recordings are typically done with a Sony RDR-HX715. It also has the Commercial Advance technology (although not specifically named). I'm not a TV junkie and it fills my basic needs. I record from an external ATSC tuner. No cable. No satellite. No TiVo. No monthly fees. My pictures look better than what people pay for. As a backup, I've got plenty of Commercial Advance VCRs if needed.

Unfortunately the best choice I see out there right now for people recording HD is a so-equipped PC. It has a higher up front cost but avoids all the fees, provides the features (guide/etc), and many people are also using the automatic commercial skipping technology.

The situation with ReplayTV is not solely about the lawsuit because ReplayTV included Commercial Advance. The company is still around but currently only caters to PC users. There is a huge cost associated with selling hardware and supporting a guide service. TiVo knows that as they've only lost money doing the same thing. But they are into lots of other things now .. one of which is a "commercial rating service" which reports on a minute by minute basis which commercials are being watched/skipped.
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