DVR box with built-in ATSC tuner for DTV, non-HD, off-air reception - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 25 Old 01-11-2008, 05:46 PM - Thread Starter
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I am trying to provide my mother with DVR capability. Considering that she refuses to subscribe and pay for TV programming and that the off-air programming will soon be strictly digital, I am looking for a DVR box with built-in ATSC tuner for DTV off-air reception. I don't think that she would need HD capability at this time or in the near future so I'd like to find a cheaper, not HD enabled box. Could anyone suggest a unit? Thanks!
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post #2 of 25 Old 01-11-2008, 09:15 PM
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Philips DVDR3575H/37,

Magnavox H2080MW8,

Polaroid DRA-01601A.

If you want to wait a couple of months, there is supposed to be a new Polaroid model coming out which has a digital-based guide (TV Guide on Screen) that you can set the recordings through with just a couple of simple button presses.

Otherwise, she'll have to set the timers manually (like with a VCR) with the 3 models above.
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post #3 of 25 Old 01-11-2008, 10:58 PM
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post #4 of 25 Old 01-13-2008, 05:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Nice. Thank you both for great info.
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post #5 of 25 Old 01-31-2008, 08:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by okocha66 View Post

I am trying to provide my mother with DVR capability. Considering that she refuses to subscribe and pay for TV programming and that the off-air programming will soon be strictly digital, I am looking for a DVR box with built-in ATSC tuner for DTV off-air reception. I don't think that she would need HD capability at this time or in the near future so I'd like to find a cheaper, not HD enabled box. Could anyone suggest a unit? Thanks!


My question also. Seems there are more and more of us.
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...3#post11482023

Is it some type of copyright/patent/legal issue why these aren't readily available?

Kelly
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post #6 of 25 Old 01-31-2008, 09:00 AM
 
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No, not really. It is strictly a matter that there isn't a price-point at which both CE manufacturers and consumers are satisfied.
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post #7 of 25 Old 01-31-2008, 09:06 AM
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post #8 of 25 Old 02-01-2008, 08:02 AM
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thanks, wajo. I'll check into it.

(The old Sony VCR has been a good one....but, the colors are getting pale, and the detail is getting soft. So, I know the hi-freq response is pretty well gone. It's time to let go, and move into this century!

Kelly
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post #9 of 25 Old 02-01-2008, 12:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KBoswell View Post

Is it some type of copyright/patent/legal issue why these aren't readily available?

I'm a product design engineer that has worked with VCR and DVR manufacturers since the mid 1990s. More than one company has told me in face to face discussions that they cannot make enough money from sales of DVRs in America. People here all have a "WalMart mentality" they've told me. Go ahead and read the 100s of threads here on this topic and you see it time and time again; people are looking for a DVR, with an on-screen guide, with NO monthly fee and they'd like to get it for $200, $300 max. It is quite clear to me that people have NO CLUE as to the true value/cost of a real DVR.

My thinking has been that we shouldn't target the cheapskates; and that if we actually built a full functioned DVR and could sell it in the $500-$999 price range, that we'd find enough buyers to make it worth our efforts. But such a device would have to be "full featured". Clearly the 1st feature is an on-screen guide to program recordings via a GUI. If you look at recorders out there, there are 3 sources for such a guide: your cable/DSS company, TiVo or TV Guide/Gemstar. In order to provide a recorder with no monthly fees that narrows it down to Gemstar, which costs the manufacturer licensing fees and increases the product cost.

Figures show that 85% of the USA gets their TV from cable or satellite. Would people really be happy only recording channels from the lowest tier? Doubful. We therefore have to add CableCard or equivalent. That requires significant upfront costs and licensing fees. With over-the-air analog (standard definition) TV ending in about 1 year, it would be stupid for us to market a non-HD recorder. If we have any tuner, an ATSC tuner must be included, even if the user never receives HD off-the-air. More expenses.

Oh so you say you'll just use your cable box or DSS receiver .. well this little thing called DRM gets in the way. And we need some changes in restrictions to make the recorders work as we have come to expect. But the copyright holders out there don't want consumers with the ability to make digital recordings from digital sources.

I can go on and on regarding this topic as I've been living it daily. For all the people out there renting a DVR from your TV service provider, how would you feel if the fast forward button stopped working during commercials? There's a lot of noise/articles out there about just that happening. TiVo has stopped just short of doing that. After they charge you nearly $20 a month, they sell data about how many people use those buttons and when (remember the Janet Jacket breast fiasco?), and/or provide "extended/enhanced" commercials. There are constantly articles in the news talking about a new deal between TiVo and some broadcast entity. I really do not believe they are in this for the consumer. And with their recent win against EchoStar, they are holding quite a few cards (if not all of them).

ReplayTV who got sued because of 2 controversial features (automatic commercial skipping via Commercial Advance and program sharing) was recently purchased by DirecTV. If you think that is in the best interest of the consumer, you're not thinking.

CA GUY
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post #10 of 25 Old 02-01-2008, 02:56 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CA_Guy View Post

If you look at recorders out there, there are 3 sources for such a guide: your cable/DSS company, TiVo or TV Guide/Gemstar.

Uh, okay, that's a bit confusing. You're talking about this from the standpoint of possible product offerings, so the two sources for program guide data are Tribune and Gemstar. Your cable/DSS company and TiVo are consumers of program guide data from one of those two sources, as would any possible product offering.

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Originally Posted by CA_Guy View Post

In order to provide a recorder with no monthly fees that narrows it down to Gemstar, which costs the manufacturer licensing fees and increases the product cost.

Why Gemstar and not Tribune?
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post #11 of 25 Old 02-02-2008, 08:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bicker1 View Post

Uh, okay, that's a bit confusing. You're talking about this from the standpoint of possible product offerings, so the two sources for program guide data are Tribune and Gemstar. Your cable/DSS company and TiVo are consumers of program guide data from one of those two sources, as would any possible product offering.

Why Gemstar and not Tribune?

Gemstar offers [commercial] guide data over the airwaves using ATSC datacast. Tribune does not.

To deliver guide data from Tribune, a consumer electronics manufacturer would need to setup and maintain Internet servers. That is exactly what TiVo did, but that approach may necessitate a higher price and/or monthly fees.
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post #12 of 25 Old 02-02-2008, 02:28 PM
 
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Ah, okay, I see the distinction.

Any idea how much longer Gemstar will continue to offer TVGOS? Seems to me that February 2009 will bring the service to an end. Is there anything Gemstar, specifically, is replacing it with, on the digital side?

EDITED:

Never mind -- I see the info now. They launched a new digital service in 2006. (Of course, older devices won't work anymore after February 2009. That's interesting fodder for another thread....)
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post #13 of 25 Old 02-12-2008, 01:35 PM
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HI Danceman325 here, I hope I'm in the correct area ,if not, my apologies, and please send me to someone that can answer my question. I have had MAJOR trouble trying to get my Dish signal. This is primarly due to our moving and our newer homes location-down in the hollows and having a back yard with hundreds of exteremly tall , tightly spaced, trees that blocked the dish signal. While I have been trying to put togeather the money and people to help get the dish high enough to get the Dish signal , 3 years has gone by and now I find that the MPEG 2, Dish equiptment I purchasd -(2) 811 HD recievers and (1) JVC 921 HD reciever/ recorder Superdish and its LNB's ,a Dish 500and its lnb's, are essentially obsolete because Dish is now set up for MPEG 4. So's here's my main question, does someone on this website know if my Mpeg 2 can be correctly changed to the newer MPEG 4 standards and if the answer's , yes, who's the person to do the job. The work would be done on the JVC 921 only (its mine I bought it from a Audiogon member, and paid good money for it and I want to keep it), and I would rent or buy the other standard HD units from Dish. I want someone to tell me this can be done , BUT, if it can't , please be honest and say so.
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post #14 of 25 Old 02-17-2008, 08:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bfdtv View Post

I would suggest you see this thread:

Echostar TR-50 HDTV DVR: Official Thread

This is what I a waiting for!
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post #15 of 25 Old 07-05-2008, 04:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rammitinski View Post

Philips DVDR3575H/37,

Magnavox H2080MW8,

Polaroid DRA-01601A.

If you want to wait a couple of months, there is supposed to be a new Polaroid model coming out which has a digital-based guide (TV Guide on Screen) that you can set the recordings through with just a couple of simple button presses.

Otherwise, she'll have to set the timers manually (like with a VCR) with the 3 models above.


Any more news on availablity of DVR w/ HDD and TV Guide OnScreen?
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post #16 of 25 Old 11-13-2008, 09:57 AM
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Call this another potential customer who wants to buy such a PVR / DVR . The standard Channel Master converter box I have is fine, but it really complicates timer recording to have the converter and the video recorder as separate boxes.

I'd love to buy a standalone DVR / PVR with:
  • Quality ATSC off-air tuner.
  • Electronic Program Guide (EPG) for easy setup of recording (e.g. point at something in the guide, and then say "record this at the same time each week").
  • Standard definition outputs and recording.
  • S-Video / S-VHS output to a television or monitor (it's OK if recording quality is a bit lower than live TV quality).
  • Ability to "pause live TV" (without compromising the picture when not in use).
  • An option to watch live TV with the "pause" feature off (for quiet operation without the hard drive).
  • A timer that gives priority to record events, switching away from live TV if needed.
  • USB hookup for a keyboard, for typing program names (if applicable).
  • Emphasis on reliability and quality -- quality before features! Too many of the standalone DVR/PVR units have been real junk.

I have an older Phillips analog DVR, but it's poorly made, way too cheap, and degrades the live TV picture terribly (presumably it downsamples first for recording, but you're forced to watch recording quality signal on live TV).

Solid state memory is getting cheap enough these days... perhaps someone will at least come up with a ATSC converter box that can "pause live TV" if only for short intervals...

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post #17 of 25 Old 11-19-2008, 07:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brycenesbitt View Post

[*]Standard definition outputs and recording.

Any DVR that records ATSC is going to record the bitstream being sent over the air, not decoding, rescaling and reencoding on the fly. So, HD shows will be recorded at HD bitrates, and require HD capacity. Besides the fact that such a reencode step would involve extra dedicated components, and extra cost. It would quickly exit the realm of affordability.

Quote:
Originally Posted by brycenesbitt View Post

[*]Ability to "pause live TV" (without compromising the picture when not in use).

ATSC video is always MPEG-2, so there's no reencoding step - whether you're watching it live or delayed, the quality will be fundamentally the same.

Quote:
Originally Posted by brycenesbitt View Post

[*]An option to watch live TV with the "pause" feature off (for quiet operation without the hard drive).

No DVR I'm aware of does this - they would have to have two entirely different processing paths in hardware. The way DVRs do it is to dump the live stream on the current channel to a "live buffer" on disk and play back from that. More processing paths means more complexity and more cost. Don't think this is going to happen.

Quote:
Originally Posted by brycenesbitt View Post

[*]USB hookup for a keyboard, for typing program names (if applicable).

None I'm aware of have this - many have USB ports, but not HID input device support.

Quote:
Originally Posted by brycenesbitt View Post

[*]Emphasis on reliability and quality -- quality before features! Too many of the standalone DVR/PVR units have been real junk.

I've been very happy with my Series3 TiVo (of course that involves a monthly fee, but I'm just saying). I've had it for 2 years now, and it's still happily cranking along, recording everything I tell it (and I have a *lot* of Season Passes).

Quote:
Originally Posted by brycenesbitt View Post

Solid state memory is getting cheap enough these days... perhaps someone will at least come up with a ATSC converter box that can "pause live TV" if only for short intervals...

The storage space that would be required would still cost enough to significantly up the cost of the unit - it's not as simple as "jam this piece of hardware inside box and call it a day". Software has to be modified to use it, and testing has to be done. Also, flash-based storage has a limited lifetime, and this would mean a lot of writes. Like it or not, magnetic disk is still the best medium for this sort of thing.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but most of the things you're asking for involve significant extra complexity, and therefore, significant extra money. It'd end up priced far, far out of the range you'd be willing to pay.
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post #18 of 25 Old 12-17-2008, 08:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brycenesbitt View Post

Call this another potential customer who wants to buy such a PVR / DVR . The standard Channel Master converter box I have is fine, but it really complicates timer recording to have the converter and the video recorder as separate boxes.

I'd love to buy a standalone DVR / PVR with:
  • Quality ATSC off-air tuner.
  • Electronic Program Guide (EPG) for easy setup of recording (e.g. point at something in the guide, and then say "record this at the same time each week").
  • Standard definition outputs and recording.
  • S-Video / S-VHS output to a television or monitor (it's OK if recording quality is a bit lower than live TV quality).
  • Ability to "pause live TV" (without compromising the picture when not in use).
  • An option to watch live TV with the "pause" feature off (for quiet operation without the hard drive).
  • A timer that gives priority to record events, switching away from live TV if needed.
  • USB hookup for a keyboard, for typing program names (if applicable).
  • Emphasis on reliability and quality -- quality before features! Too many of the standalone DVR/PVR units have been real junk.

I have an older Phillips analog DVR, but it's poorly made, way too cheap, and degrades the live TV picture terribly (presumably it downsamples first for recording, but you're forced to watch recording quality signal on live TV).

Solid state memory is getting cheap enough these days... perhaps someone will at least come up with a ATSC converter box that can "pause live TV" if only for short intervals...

Pinnacle PCTV HD Pro Stick Does it all.
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post #19 of 25 Old 12-18-2008, 05:59 AM
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You might want to look at the new TVIX 3300 PVR. It is HD, and the ATSC tuner (T410) is additional, but it may be worth a look.
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post #20 of 25 Old 02-16-2009, 10:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by demonfoo View Post

No DVR I'm aware of does this - they would have to have two entirely different processing paths in hardware. The way DVRs do it is to dump the live stream on the current channel to a "live buffer" on disk and play back from that. More processing paths means more complexity and more cost. Don't think this is going to happen.

Don't all the DVD recorders essentially do this? They have to reencode the signal to record to DVD.

Really what I'm looking for is a product aimed at occasional over the air viewers, who don't want to loose reasonable recording ability with the digital transition. No "high definition" required. But recording should be no harder than an existing VCR and preferably better with access to the EPG signals.

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post #21 of 25 Old 02-17-2009, 12:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brycenesbitt View Post

Don't all the DVD recorders essentially do this? They have to reencode the signal to record to DVD.

Modern DVD recorders that record HD content as SD -- with various quality settings -- typically use a low-cost CPU with a built-in encoder. This built-in encoder takes the place of the circuitry that is needed to record and output actual HD. No DVD recorders on the market can output actual HD; they don't have the "data path" to do that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by brycenesbitt View Post

Really what I'm looking for is a product aimed at occasional over the air viewers, who don't want to loose reasonable recording ability with the digital transition. No "high definition" required. But recording should be no harder than an existing VCR and preferably better with access to the EPG signals.

As far as I know, no DVD recorders exist with a [TVGuide] EPG that support ATSC. If you don't care about a guide or HD, then take a look at the Magnavox H2160 DVD recorder.

The simplest, easiest-to-use OTA DVR with a program guide is the TivoHD, but that costs about $600 if you include the lifetime subscription (no fees).

The only real alternative to the TivoHD is the DTVPal DVR at $250. To some extent, you get what you pay for, as this product sacrifices a lot of usability and functionality. However, if your relatives are coming from a VCR (rather than a satellite/cable DVR), then it should more than satisfy their needs. In terms of DVR functionality, this product is superior to the Magnavox H2160 in every way.

Before buying a DTVPal DVR for a relative, I would probably wait for the March update to see if that addresses the lockups/reboots that some users report.
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post #22 of 25 Old 02-18-2009, 02:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bfdtv View Post

As far as I know, no DVD recorders exist with a [TVGuide] EPG that support ATSC.

There was an HDD-less Samsung model a couple of years back that had a full PSIP guide (DVD-AVR650).

You might be able to find it used or refurbished.

I think the Panasonics that are out now give you some basic PSIP info for each channel, but they don't have a full guide.
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post #23 of 25 Old 08-23-2009, 11:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Danceman325 View Post

So's here's my main question, does someone on this website know if my Mpeg 2 can be correctly changed to the newer MPEG 4 standards and if the answer's , yes, who's the person to do the job. The work would be done on the JVC 921 only (its mine I bought it from a Audiogon member, and paid good money for it and I want to keep it), and I would rent or buy the other standard HD units from Dish. I want someone to tell me this can be done , BUT, if it can't , please be honest and say so.

The answer is no, mpeg4 requires completely different hardware to decode.
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post #24 of 25 Old 10-18-2009, 08:56 PM
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I'm updating this thread because I finally found the box I'm looking for (see the above question). Perfect for Grandma: the Echostar TR-50 was actually released under the somewhat clumsy name DTV Pal DVR (see here for the AVS forum on the unit). It meets most of the requirements stated above, except with a lack of S-Video output, and a lack of proper energy usage management (it uses 21 watts 24 hours a day). I find it works great: the menus are easy, straightforward. I purchased a TiVO first, but frankly prefer the DTVPal I got for Grandma...

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post #25 of 25 Old 10-19-2009, 01:36 AM
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Good luck.
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