Tivo vs SA8300(non HD) - i have no idea which to pick! - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 11-06-2007, 09:17 AM - Thread Starter
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Im looking to buy my first DVR; and i just have normal digital cable, sadly no HDTV. I cant decide between the SA8300 and Tivo DT Series 2.

I have cox cable and they will provide the SA8300 for $10 a month. If i buy the Tivo duel tuner i would have to buy one with a lifetime subscription off ebay which costs $600. So im trying to figure out if the Tivo is worth the $600 vs the $10 a month for the SA8300.

The things i would like to know are:

1. If i can network the SA8300 and get the TV shows off the SA8300 like i would be able to with Tivo.
2. How responsive is the tivo remote vs SA8300 remote? (is there any lag/delay)
3. How easy is it to search for shows and have them record every episode of something that airs? (tivo vs SA8300)
4. Can i attach an external harddrive to the tivo or the SA8300?
5. I can record 2 programs at once with both the tivo DT series 2 and the SA8300, correct?

Please tell me anything you like/dislike about ether the Tivo DT series 2 or the SA8300 that isnt HD. (is there even a difference between the SA8300 and the SA8300HD besides one can record HD?)

Ive never owned a DVR so if im forgetting anything i should be asking about please tell me

edit: also how well can both machines skip commercials? is there a way to auto skip them? or is there a 30 second button to skip over them?
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post #2 of 9 Old 11-06-2007, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by superdank View Post

1. If i can network the SA8300 and get the TV shows off the SA8300 like i would be able to with Tivo.

No. You might be able to use IEEE1394 connectivity (assuming they get the model with IEEE1394 ports, and enable that functionality), but it's not an easy proposition. TiVoToGo will be much easier.

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3. How easy is it to search for shows and have them record every episode of something that airs? (tivo vs SA8300)

That will depend on the software they're using, though I've not heard good things, especially about the SARA software. The TiVo's interface is (IMO) quite easy.

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4. Can i attach an external harddrive to the tivo or the SA8300?

The Series2 DT doesn't have external expansion capability, but it's fairly easy to either upgrade to a larger internal drive, or buy a larger one preloaded with the TiVo software. With the 8300, it depends on the software, and if your provider enables that functionality.

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5. I can record 2 programs at once with both the tivo DT series 2 and the SA8300, correct?

The SA8300 can record any two programs at the same time; if you get digital cable, you'll have to connect video cables from a digital cable box to the TiVo, as well as either a serial interface cable or an IR blaster, and you can only record one digital cable channel at a time (though you can then record a basic cable channel at the same time, or two basic cable channels). If recording two digital cable channels is a requirement, you could get a TiVo HD - you don't have to hook an HDTV to it, it'll work fine with a standard-def set. Of course, it'll run you $250-$300 for the unit itself. However, it does future-proof you a bit, for if/when you eventually do get an HDTV. (You'd have to get CableCARDs from your cable provider though - and that's a whole other situation...)

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edit: also how well can both machines skip commercials? is there a way to auto skip them? or is there a 30 second button to skip over them?

Dunno on the 8300, but with the TiVos, you can enable 30-second skip pretty easily (Select -> Play -> Select -> 3 -> 0 -> Select). Neither does automatic commercial skipping though.
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post #3 of 9 Old 11-06-2007, 10:25 AM - Thread Starter
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man this is still such a close call! They both seem to have about the same features. Yet tivo does everything easier, is it worth $600? Im very torn. Im guessing if i had to ask you demonfoo you would say go with the tivo?

also i dont get what you mean about being able to only record one digital cable show at a time? So i couldnt record comedy central and spike tv at the same time?

thanks so much for helping me out, im very new to DVRs

PS: they dont make a good DVR that doesnt have a monthly fee do they?
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post #4 of 9 Old 11-06-2007, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by superdank View Post

man this is still such a close call! They both seem to have about the same features. Yet tivo does everything easier, is it worth $600? Im very torn. Im guessing if i had to ask you demonfoo you would say go with the tivo?

also i dont get what you mean about being able to only record one digital cable show at a time? So i couldnt record comedy central and spike tv at the same time?

thanks so much for helping me out, im very new to DVRs

PS: they dont make a good DVR that doesnt have a monthly fee do they?

At this point, I would not buy a Tivo Series2. That's really an obsolete box, in my opinion. It will not record two different digital channels at the same time, and everything it records is converted from analog to digital, which results in reduced picture quality. If you have a 20-25" TV, that may be fine, but it does not look good on larger screens.

The TivoHD and SA8000HD will both record the original digital signal so there is no loss in picture quality. Both of those boxes will also record any two SD or HD channels while you watch a third, previously recorded program. With these boxes, you can view and record HD channels on older non-HD TVs; the HD picture is downconverted to DVD quality via s-video and component.

My first choice would be the TivoHD @ $250 from Amazon.com. With a three-year prepaid subscription, the cost is $550. With a six-year prepaid subscription, the cost is $850. If you have an older Series1 or Series2 with lifetime, you can transfer that lifetime subscription to the TivoHD for $200. If you want lifetime service, you can (1) buy a TivoHD for $250, (2) buy an old Series1 or Series2 with a lifetime subscription on ebay for $200, and (3) transfer the lifetime subscription to the TivoHD for $199. The net cost of that is around $650-$700.

If bidding on ebay, make sure the Tivo with lifetime has a transferable lifetime subscription. Lifetime subscriptions can only be transferred to another box once, so if the user purchased lifetime on the original Series1 and transferred it to the Series2, it could not then be transferred to the TivoHD. The seller will usually indicate in their auction whether the subscription is transferable or not.

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PS: they dont make a good DVR that doesnt have a monthly fee do they?

Unfortunately, if you want a DVR that will record two channels simultaneously (or record one channel while you watch another), your options are very limited. If you don't mind being limited to a single tuner to watch or record one program at a time, then Sony used to make a DVR without monthly fees. It was discontinued more than a year ago, but it can still be found on Ebay for $600-$700.

HDTV Recorder Comparison Chart | DTVPal DVR FAQ | New! TiVo Premiere (Series4) FAQ |
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post #5 of 9 Old 11-06-2007, 11:56 AM
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I'd have to agree with bfdtv - the TiVo HD would definitely be a better option. It does fulfill the external storage requirement, and the ability to do direct digital recording is definitely nice (the SD digital cable streams are much better compressed than what comes out of the MPEG-2 encoder ASICs, and generally better quality). Also, the Sony box bfdtv mentions would work, but the way it gets guide data may go away around the time of the analog shutoff - leaving you with only the ability to do manual timed recordings. Also, people have broadly mixed results with them - you might take a look at the thread in the HDTV Recorders subforum about it (it's the Sony DHG-HDD250/500 thread).

I personally have a Series3 HD, and am quite happy with it, but by all accounts the TiVo HD is a perfectly good box. However, you could try one of the SA boxes for a month and see how you like it - the one nice thing about the arrangement with them is that you can just get one for a short period, try it, and take it back with a small money commitment. I highly recommend TiVo, but maybe the SA box will be enough for you - only you can determine that.
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post #6 of 9 Old 11-06-2007, 12:25 PM - Thread Starter
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im going to get the SA8300 and see how i like it over the next month. I just wish i could see a video of the SA8300 interface right next to the tivo interface. thanks for all the help
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post #7 of 9 Old 11-07-2007, 06:50 PM - Thread Starter
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ok i got the SA8300 and im really liking it. i was just wondering if i could buy an external harddrive and connect it to it. this is the model i have

http://www.cox.com/support/fairfax/d...SD/default.asp

also whats a good brand of harddrive to go with?
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post #8 of 9 Old 11-12-2007, 10:23 PM
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Read up on the 8300 external drive thread (currently on the same page as this one).

There seems to be 2 pre-built external drives on the market specifically for DVRs (maxtor and another company). They seem to work well.

DIY'ers have had mixed results with esata/usb enclosures with harddrives... Seems if you get one incompatible part your recordings with skip...

The thread on it has a database of enclosures and drives to help if you want to DIY...
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post #9 of 9 Old 11-21-2008, 03:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by superdank View Post

ok i got the SA8300 and im really liking it. i was just wondering if i could buy an external harddrive and connect it to it. this is the model i have

http://www.cox.com/support/fairfax/d...SD/default.asp

also whats a good brand of harddrive to go with?

Hitachi makes one especially for DVR recording - we got a 700GB one a while back and have had no hiccups with HD recording. They might have have a cheap 1TB one now.
All brands are definitely not all as good for this purpose - we got a WD before the Hitach and had skipping, etc...
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