Help picking the correct dvd recorder for me? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 29 Old 12-02-2008, 12:10 PM - Thread Starter
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I have cable tv, no cable box, just a cable from the wall. The cable company tells me after the digital transition, I will still be able to get their service this way. I need a dvd recorder that has an RF input that will be able to receive that signal and record it on dvd's. It would be great if this was a vcr as well so I'd have a choice which media I'd like to record on. I'd of course need it to change the channel at the given time. I've been looking at the Panasonic DMR-EZ28K, but I hear quality issue with that one. Any help would be appreciated!! Thanks much!
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post #2 of 29 Old 12-02-2008, 12:18 PM
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Click #1 in my signature for lots of organized info on two HDD models with 36 timer rec slots, NTSC/ATSC/QAM tuners for all signal types, 1080p HDMI upcomvert, etc. No VCR but does good job copying tapes from separate VCR.
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post #3 of 29 Old 12-02-2008, 12:44 PM - Thread Starter
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Full disclosure, this is for my mother. ALL she does is record shows from cable. She needs NO bells or whistles. In fact, the more bells and whistles, the more confused she may get. Based on that info, can you give my an opinion on either a hard drive based system or dvd based system that would work with her cable from the wall with no set top box. Coax output would be fine.
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post #4 of 29 Old 12-02-2008, 12:55 PM
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Since both of those units have hard drives, I'd think they would be best for her... she doesn't have to fool with any media, make sure the media has enough space to record, change out media, set proper rec mode for media, etc., etc.

With those units, teach her how to set a timer program for her shows or set them for her... 6 easy to set blocks (time, day,etc. like a VCR).. Once recorded, press title button to see full-motion index pics w/audio, press arrow button(s) to select what show she wants to play, press PLAY.

Come to think of it, she doesn't even have to know it has a HDD and all the explaining THAT might take, just tell her its a "magic box"... it records while she's watching something else or while she's away (for a month, if desired), and she can press one button to see her rec titles, pick one and play!
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post #5 of 29 Old 12-02-2008, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by thehunters View Post

I've been looking at the Panasonic DMR-EZ28K, but I hear quality issue with that one. Any help would be appreciated!! Thanks much!

I own a 2008 DMR-EZ28 model that happens to be recording at the moment. This is a satisfactory, but overpriced product priced around $230. There are workarounds for some of the bugs. The DMR-EZ28 is certainly a better product than the 2007 Panasonic EZ models. One of my 2007 DMR-EZ17 models also happens to be recording at the moment. These 2007 and 2008 Panasonics are well known for their bugs and design flaws. Some owners learn the workarounds and tolerate the problems. Other give up on the EZ models. Those models may be found on eBay.

Once one may record on DVDs there will be little reason to record with expensive, bulky videotape. Like Volkswagon's Automatic Stick Shift (circa. 1968) it's time to take "a giant leap into the present" and dispense with obsolete technology. If you have videotapes that you want to preserve just connect your present VCR to a DVD recorder input to copy them to DVD.

Much better value for money may be found with the best current (USA) HDD/DVD recorders, the Philips 3576 and Magnavox H2160. The Magnavox H2160 may be found online at WalMart for less than $240, see Wajo's sticky thread for a wealth of information. My Philips 3575 and Magnavox H2160 also happen to be recording at the moment.

My new H2160 arrived last Wednesday and was set up last evening for today's TCM Anita Page Memorial Tribute, a 13.5 hour recording session from 3:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. These eight "Pre-Codes" were scheduled in seven blocks for later high speed dubbing to seven DVDs. I may or may not edit out unrelated promotional material before dubbing. The first block is three hours in duration at the LP speed. The other six blocks vary between 1.5 and 2.0 hours in duration at the SP speed.

Once one may record to HDD and later preserve material with a high speed dub to DVD, it's a wonder that we ever got along without a Hard Drive/DVD recorder.

Back in the 1800s, before the widespread use of electricity, the folks watched TV by candlelight.

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post #6 of 29 Old 12-02-2008, 01:29 PM
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I agree a HDD based system may sound more complicated but really it's not. In fact when you consider all the hassles with DVDs, finalizing, formatting, is there enough room on the disc etc. they're really not more complicated.
AFA the Panny EZ-28 it doesn't have a VHS section, the EZ-48 would have that, but truthfully once she gets used to recording on DVD or HDD she probably won't want to go back to VHS. If she wanted to play back a collection of VHS tapes I suppose a combo would be nice but you could always just have a separate VCR. Most all have analog cable ready tuners if she did want to record from analog cable. To playback the VHS she could do that through the DVDR or if her TV had enough inputs it could be hooked directly to that.
The units Wajo mentioned and the EZ Pannys include a digital cable tuner which should be able to pick up your local digital channels and maybe more.

Does her TV have at least a composite video input? If not with any unit other than a combo unit like the EZ-48, you'd need a separate RF modulator. They run about $20 at Radio Shack or similar stores.
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post #7 of 29 Old 12-02-2008, 10:11 PM
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A DVD recorder with hard drive is a wonderful thing which can perform miracles *if* you actually need to make use of the features and are "tech" oriented enough to master the learning curve, which is way steeper than any of us here likes to admit. For that matter, even a "simple" DVD-only recorder like the Panasonic EZ-28 is no picnic to operate for the non-tech-inclined.

This business of shopping a DVD recorder for a parent usually winds up being a tremendous waste of time and very frustrating for the parent on the receiving end. If you are very young, and your mother is say 50 years old and uses a PC heavily in her work or at home, you might possibly switch her over to a DVD recorder with minimal fuss. If she is any older than that, and still uses a vhs VCR, forget it. You are far, and I mean F-A-R, better off taking the $200 minimal cost of a decent DVD recorder and putting that money into a two year subscription to the cable company decoder box that has a built-in hard drive recorder with "point to the show listing and click" one-touch timeshifting. There is a reason why this device has wiped out sales of DVD recorders in the USA: it is the ideal solution for our parents.

I'm not suggesting our parents or any older person is incapable of using or enjoying a DVD recorder, but per the wider population in all age groups they will more likely hate it if they are used to a VHS vcr and are not very comfortable with computer-like electronics. I know a couple in their 80s who totally "get" DVD technology and have used it to create a library of TCM movies. I also know many, many others from 40 on up who would not be caught dead with a DVD recorder in their house and have in fact returned several to the stores and opted for the recording cable box. If you don't need a permanent DVD copy of anything, using a DVD recorder is a drag, and DVD recorders are not known for durability. Get a cable DVR for $10/month and let the cable company choke on it when it breaks or upgrade it to hi def when you need it.

DVD recorders are fantastic if you are motivated and need the features, but a complete pain if all you want to do is timeshift "30 Rock" or "The Shield". My own 72 y/o mother is hooked on all the F/X dramas, but makes me copy them from DVD recorder to VHS before she'll watch them (she won't even use a DVD *player*: Queen of the Luddites). Be sure you know your parent very well before helping them choose a recording option: it saves grief later on.
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post #8 of 29 Old 12-02-2008, 10:56 PM
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I don't really disagree with anything you said Citibear, but I would point out that most of the "tech savvy" is only necessary if you are actually going to burn DVDs. I don't see learning to program HDD recording as being any more difficult than using a VCR. BTW, I'm 60, and my computer skills are minimal.
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post #9 of 29 Old 12-03-2008, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by CitiBear View Post

I know a couple in their 80s who totally "get" DVD technology and have used it to create a library of TCM movies.

I'm 61 and have a large home-recorded time-shifted DVD library from TCM (and dubbed recordings from The Nostalgia Channel in the 1980s and AMC in the 1990s). So, perhaps, I still have a ways to go. My mother had Alzheimers so she couldn't press a single programmed and labeled "big button" on her phone when she wanted to call me or my sister. If or when I get like that I would hope that someone would put me in front of a TV and play my favorite early "talkies" and "film noir" movies. Once again those movies will seem new to me.

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post #10 of 29 Old 12-03-2008, 11:20 AM
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I don't really disagree with anything you said Citibear, but I would point out that most of the "tech savvy" is only necessary if you are actually going to burn DVDs. I don't see learning to program HDD recording as being any more difficult than using a VCR. BTW, I'm 60, and my computer skills are minimal.

It isn't so much being "tech-savvy" as it is being "tech-receptive" vs "tech-antagonistic": I find most people who aren't gadget fans build up a severe resistance to what we here might view as simple changes. For example, my mother is no idiot: she's one of the brightest people I know. But she absolutely *loathes* the now-common menu-centric operation of nearly all technology: she cannot stand the sight of a menu. She wants to just put in a VHS, press play or stop or record, and not have to deal with any sort of on-screen prompt. She won't even look at the cable box schedule, so even the cable DVR is off the table as an option. I will be making VHS dupes for her indefinitely.

Of course, she is an extreme case. What I see in most people is a more akin to menu overload: they just cannot deal with yet another set of prompts to do anything. They own cell phones, they use computers extensively, they have iPods, but for whatever reason they draw a line at the DVD recorder, even if they would only use the HDD part which is simpler than DVD recording. If they *don't* have cable or satellite, I have sometimes managed to wean them from VCR to DVR. But I find if they are long-term cable/satellite users, I shouldn't bother. As far as they're concerned, the decoder box schedule is the maximum amount of text display they'll cope with. This is why integrated cable/sat DVRs are so successful: the display is already familiar, and the recordings are totally automated. A non-integrated recorder from a retail store seems unfamiliar, and even if they limit their use to the easier hard drive portion its still much more work. Most of our beloved recorders do not auto-title their recordings correctly, requiring tedious manual re-texting, and they never choose good thumbnails on their own. The TiVOs and proprietary PVRs dominate because their timer and cataloging automation is superior and easier.

That said, it really does surprise me that all USA interest in library recording evaporated overnight once these proprietary DVRs became available for rental. You would think out of 300 million people, at least a few million would remain heavy-duty hobbyists, but apparently not. Waking up one day to find you've been shoved out of a comfortable mass market and into a "niche-geek" market with little-to-no mfr support is really depressing.
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post #11 of 29 Old 12-04-2008, 10:12 AM
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Originally Posted by CitiBear View Post

That said, it really does surprise me that all USA interest in library recording evaporated overnight once these proprietary DVRs became available for rental. You would think out of 300 million people, at least a few million would remain heavy-duty hobbyists, but apparently not. Waking up one day to find you've been shoved out of a comfortable mass market and into a "niche-geek" market with little-to-no mfr support is really depressing.

I'm just guessing but my library of home-recorded time-shifted DVDs currently has between 26,000 and 30,000 hours of material. That's more than any "stinkin' DVR" may provide!

"A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME WILL SMELL AS SWEET. BUT IT DOES NOT FOLLOW THAT WHATEVER WE CHOOSE TO CALL A ROSE WILL POSSESS THE ROSE'S FRAGRANCE."

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post #12 of 29 Old 12-04-2008, 11:03 AM
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Diga~ You are the Recordmeister!! Just wondering: How much vid do you have time to sit down and *watch* each week?
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post #13 of 29 Old 12-04-2008, 11:13 AM
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How much vid do you have time to sit down and *watch* each week?

You mean we have to watch everything we've recorded I think I've still got some VHS tapes I haven't "quite" got around to watching.
Last night I finally got around to watching some Fractured Flickers and old Perry Mason's that someone gave me Brought back some fond memories that's for sure.
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post #14 of 29 Old 12-04-2008, 11:15 AM
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13.7 YEARS to watch it all @ 6-hrs/day, 7-days/week!
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post #15 of 29 Old 12-04-2008, 12:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjeff View Post

You mean we have to watch everything we've recorded I think I've still got some VHS tapes I haven't "quite" got around to watching.
Last night I finally got around to watching some Fractured Flickers and old Perry Mason's that someone gave me Brought back some fond memories that's for sure.

Jeff,

Some months back Comcast's local CNW (Comcast North West) channel ran Fractured Flickers and Groucho Marx You Bet Your Life shows. I recorded all 26 FF episodes and a bunch of Groucho's shows. One 1958 Groucho show featured Groucho's twelve year old daughter Melinda and Candice Bergen (also twelve years old). Groucho and the girls sang together. Another 1958 Groucho show featured John Wayne's son and new daughter-in-law. Comcast has since discontinued their CNW channel.

One of our local channels has shown the CBS Perry Mason series continually since that show went into syndication. I have recorded all 271 episodes to DVD. I continue to record PM (every weekday at noon) because the digital signal is much cleaner than the analog signal that had regular or occasional ghosting as delivered by Comcast.

My daily TV viewing varies greatly, but usually just one to three hours per day.

In the last year I have watched, for the first time, some material originally shown on The Nostalgia Channel in the 1980s and AMC in the 1990s.

Occasionally I post to the TCM Message Board under the name "TalkieTime." In the last few days I had occasion to repeat some of my older advice from March 2008:

"Time-shifting devices such as your DVD recorder should continue to function in the same way as they do now. The situation might change if TCM or cable or satellite services implement copyright protection that may restrict or prevent home-recording. This is a very real concern. Due to future uncertainties my suggestion is to record now all that you may want to have in your personal archive." (emphasis added)

That advice is appropriate for the AVS Forum as well.

With my time-shifted "archive" I may watch whatever I please, whenever I please.

"A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME WILL SMELL AS SWEET. BUT IT DOES NOT FOLLOW THAT WHATEVER WE CHOOSE TO CALL A ROSE WILL POSSESS THE ROSE'S FRAGRANCE."

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post #16 of 29 Old 12-04-2008, 12:22 PM
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Originally Posted by DigaDo View Post

With my time-shifted "archive" I may watch whatever I please, whenever I please.

I started building my archive in 1974 (with a reel-to-reel video recorder!) and I won't even discuss the size of its current holdings. But the idea of watching what you want, when you want is the main part of the hobby. I never had any illusions that I'd actually get to watch everything I have...lol
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post #17 of 29 Old 12-04-2008, 02:59 PM
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Due to future uncertainties my suggestion is to record now all that you may want to have in your personal archive." (emphasis added)

That advice is appropriate for the AVS Forum as well.

Good point. At least, you've given me the justification for all the VHS stuff I still haven't watched! In the last 2+ years, I've picked up almost all of the "original" Dr Who series as syndicated on PBS. And piles of Lawrence Welk for my parents--i.e., stuff that's still now out on DVD.

The sad part is that a lot of the shows of the '50s and '60s weren't even saved by the networks that produced them. Video tape was very expensive in the early days, so if the show was taped for broadcast, the tapes were re-used! A lot of the shows weren't timeless art, but they are important cultural artifacts that could have told later generations a lot about the mid-20th century.

This week the local ABC station finally started broadcasting RTN on a sub-channel--old, classic shows from the 50s thru 80s..... My archive might grow even more.
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post #18 of 29 Old 12-04-2008, 03:59 PM
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DigaDo, I thought I was crazy to have 7,000+ hours worth of video archived! We all really must tip our hats to you: that is an *awesome* library you've amassed! Makes me wish I lived next door. I've been at it since 1981 nearly non-stop, even owned a video store for 15 years, and I still don't have a quarter as much! You are the master. Although it does beg the question, how on earth do you find the time to participate in forums?

Its a shame the nostalgia-type channels all went "pffft" before DVD recorders became available: DVD allows much better quality at much lower media cost and storage requirements than VHS. I would kill to bring my Pioneer 450 back to 1994 and run it continually on a TV Land, Nick at Nite, and syndicated station feed. BTW, great advice re "record it all now while you still can": I totally agree, darker days of CP may lie ahead. We're seeing more and more disappointing studio releases of classic TV these days, with all manner of important scenes missing (I just picked up the "Odd Couple" complete series- its cut to ribbons). So don't assume you can just go buy a boxed set and be happy: studios have become such misers they are cutting entire scenes out of episodes rather than license the four-second snippet of music tune a character whistles or hums. No matter how butchered, syndicated reruns are actually more intact now than some studio box sets: record these while you can. Little by little, I've noticed stations have begun broadcasting from the DVDs instead of their old tape libraries- when this takes hold, its "adios" to many favorite scenes in classic television.
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post #19 of 29 Old 12-04-2008, 08:51 PM
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Originally Posted by doswonk1 View Post

Good point. At least, you've given me the justification for all the VHS stuff I still haven't watched! In the last 2+ years, I've picked up almost all of the "original" Dr Who series as syndicated on PBS.

HEAVY SIGH....Would you believe I taped over the PBS run of Blake's 7 due to vhs tape overflow several years before dvds became hot?
Makes me want to pull out my hair, all the stuff I had to sacrifice to due tape storage limitations...

Dazed and confused over high tech.

Sigh...Concrap. The Internet Overlord Cometh
They're not com-tastic!
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post #20 of 29 Old 12-06-2008, 09:51 PM
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You mean we have to watch everything we've recorded I think I've still got some VHS tapes I haven't "quite" got around to watching.
Last night I finally got around to watching some Fractured Flickers and old Perry Mason's that someone gave me Brought back some fond memories that's for sure.

I know I still have at least two Laser Discs I haven't watched. One is the Criterion Collection's restoration of The Magnificent Ambersons. They used stills, and the shooting script, to replace what was destroyed by the studio from Welles' original cut. That isn't even available on DVD, so I guess I should watch it, and transfer it.

I'm a Perry Mason fan, from the original broadcasts. Sadly, it has always been heavily cut ever since, with TBS cutting out about 8 minutes in the 80s, and Hallmark cutting out 10 minutes more recently. Many of the best scenes, and oddest characters are eliminated. In some EPs, all scenes with the murderer are cut out, until Perry exposes them in court! Do yourself a favor, and watch them as they are being issued on DVD. I am borrowing the first season from the library where I work, to watch over the holidays.
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post #21 of 29 Old 12-06-2008, 10:43 PM
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I'm a Perry Mason fan, from the original broadcasts. Sadly, it has always been heavily cut ever since, with TBS cutting out about 8 minutes in the 80s, and Hallmark cutting out 10 minutes more recently. Many of the best scenes, and oddest characters are eliminated. In some EPs, all scenes with the murderer are cut out, until Perry exposes them in court! Do yourself a favor, and watch them as they are being issued on DVD. I am borrowing the first season from the library where I work, to watch over the holidays.

Currently Viacom (Paramount/CBS Syndication) splits up the Perry Mason episodes into two packages, the "Perry Mason" package of 195 episodes includes the entire 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962 seasons, sixteen episodes first airing in 1963, eight episodes first airing in 1965 and six episodes first airing in 1966; and the "New Perry Mason" package comprised of 76 episodes culled from the last four seasons of the regular series including twelve episodes first airing in 1963, all thirty-two episodes first airing in 1964, twenty-two episodes first airing in 1965 and ten episodes first airing in 1966. The "Perry Mason" package episodes have six two-minute breaks and an average program runtime of 46:20. Internal commercial load is 12 minutes (24 :30-second spots) plus the local end break. The "New Perry Mason" package episodes have six one-minute breaks. The program runtime varies from 50:00 to 51:30. Some episodes have a three second bumper, others do not. Internal commercial load ranges from 8 minutes 30 seconds to 10 minutes (17 to 20 :30-second spots.) These are the syndication packages distributed to TV stations. My local Fox station reassembles the split seasons and usually runs Perry Mason episodes in original air-date sequence. Once the series has run its course the whole series is repeated.

There is a separate feature package called "Perry Mason Features." These movies of the week, made between 1985 and 1994, were not produced as part of the original series and are not included in the "Perry Mason" and "New Perry Mason" packages. My local Fox station has not run these movies. For a time these were being run on Court TV.

Turner Classic Movies runs the six Warner Brothers Warren William/Ricardo Cortez Perry Mason movies (1934-1937) from time to time.

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post #22 of 29 Old 12-07-2008, 01:41 AM
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Original running time of the first few seasons was 53 minutes. Not sure about into the 60s. I haven't been able to find that.
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post #23 of 29 Old 03-17-2009, 07:15 AM - Thread Starter
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Ok folks, sorry for the long delay but we never pulled the trigger on the Magnavox H2160MW9. We were all set to, and it's sold out online at Walmart and not sold in stores. Here's the thing, we still need a unit just like this one, but now it has to be sold at Walmart. We have gift cards we'd like to use there. Is there something comparable to that Magnavox one sold at Walmart? Thanks for your help.
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post #24 of 29 Old 03-17-2009, 07:30 AM
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Ok folks, sorry for the long delay but we never pulled the trigger on the Magnavox H2160MW9. We were all set to, and it's sold out online at Walmart and not sold in stores. Here's the thing, we still need a unit just like this one, but now it has to be sold at Walmart. We have gift cards we'd like to use there. Is there something comparable to that Magnavox one sold at Walmart? Thanks for your help.

The Mag 2160 was based on the Philips 3576 design. The 3576 can still be found in some Walmart stores, using their Find in Stores button.

If you use that WM feature, expand the search to a 100 mi. radius of your zip code. Some people have found 3576's that way, but even better is to ask a sales person to check actual stock in other stores nearby.

There's the predecessor to the Mag 2160, the Mag 2080 with 80GB HDD (which can be easily replaced or unpgraded), that can be ordered from Target online.

See this page , Section 8. Sellers and Support, for some links and other info.
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post #25 of 29 Old 03-17-2009, 07:54 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks Wajo!

So this Philips will take an analog cable feed from a coax jack (no cable box)? And will be able to record one thing to the hard drive or dvd while watching something else I'm recording. Also, can I watch something that I'm currently recording from the beginning while it's still recording?

Thanks
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post #26 of 29 Old 03-17-2009, 08:03 AM
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Thanks Wajo!

So this Philips will take an analog cable feed from a coax jack (no cable box)? And will be able to record one thing to the hard drive or dvd while watching something else I'm recording. Also, can I watch something that I'm currently recording from the beginning while it's still recording?

All SDTV DVDRs only have one tuner, so you can't record two programs at once on the same machine.

You can set up as shown in sketch 1a here and record one channel while watching another channel on your TV. You can also "Chase Play" anything you're recording from its beginning just by pressing PLAY while it's recording.

Click #1 in my sig. for lots more info.
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post #27 of 29 Old 03-17-2009, 08:39 AM - Thread Starter
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sorry I mis-typed. I meant couldn't I watch something I've already recorded while recording something else? Isn't it sketch 1b?
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post #28 of 29 Old 03-17-2009, 08:45 AM
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sorry I mis-typed. I meant couldn't I watch something I've already recorded while recording something else? Isn't it sketch 1b?

Sorry, sketch 1b is correct.

Yes, you can record one thing and watch either a DVD or a title already recorded on the HDD.
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post #29 of 29 Old 03-17-2009, 09:14 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks Wajo!
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