Can DVD recorder record cable channels? - AVS Forum

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DVD Recorders (Standard Def)

WestRace's Avatar WestRace
09:56 PM Liked: 10
post #1 of 42
10-08-2009 | Posts: 23
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I am planning to purchase a DVD recorder to record cable channels. The one I have in mind is the Panasonic DMR-EZ28K which comes with a digital tuner. thanks in advance.
Westly-C's Avatar Westly-C
10:06 PM Liked: 74
post #2 of 42
10-08-2009 | Posts: 3,075
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The EZ28 has an analog/digital tuner which means....



It cooks pizza!

Erm, maybe not. But it can record analog channels sent by analog cable, and pick up any in the clear QAM channels-such as the digital versions of the local tv stations, the cable company provides.
bfdtv's Avatar bfdtv
10:33 PM Liked: 10
post #3 of 42
10-08-2009 | Posts: 13,484
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If your cable provider still offers analog channels, most recorders mentioned on this forum will work. If your cable provider recently made the move to all digital for its cable channels (as many cable systems will do over the next 18 months), then is is likely that no DVD recorder will work. When that happens, you'll need to either rent the cable company box or buy a DVR that accepts a CableCard.
jtbell's Avatar jtbell
06:28 AM Liked: 12
post #4 of 42
10-09-2009 | Posts: 3,826
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bfdtv View Post

If your cable provider recently made the move to all digital for its cable channels (as many cable systems will do over the next 18 months), then is is likely that no DVD recorder will work.

I think the local broadcast stations in the "limited basic" or "lifeline" tier have to remain unencrypted, in general, so a DVD recorder will work for those, although not for most cable-only channels.

Even here I know of one pending possible exception: Cablevision has applied to the FCC for a waiver allowing it to encrypt all digital channels in parts of New York City.
DigaDo's Avatar DigaDo
08:53 AM Liked: 23
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10-09-2009 | Posts: 4,680
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bfdtv View Post

If your cable provider still offers analog channels, most recorders mentioned on this forum will work. If your cable provider recently made the move to all digital for its cable channels (as many cable systems will do over the next 18 months), then is is likely that no DVD recorder will work. When that happens, you'll need to either rent the cable company box or buy a DVR that accepts a CableCard.

The linked post has information provided to Comcast employees concerning changes to local Comcast service affecting the Albany Oregon area. Albany is located about seventy miles south of Portland Oregon.

These changes are typical throughout the Comcast system, only the implementation dates may differ:

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...5#post17317685
mdavej's Avatar mdavej
09:25 AM Liked: 428
post #6 of 42
10-09-2009 | Posts: 10,206
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Rule of thumb: If your tv's analog/digital tuner can tune the cable channels in question when connected directly to the cable from the wall, then a DVD recorder with an analog/digital tuner can too. You can, of course, record anything from your cable box's analog outputs, so long as it's not copy protected.
RCbridge's Avatar RCbridge
10:22 AM Liked: 14
post #7 of 42
10-09-2009 | Posts: 1,903
Joined: Jul 2002
Basically which ever channels your DVD recorders tuner will demodulate you can record.
Analog and any in the clear QAM channels.

If it is not in the clear you won't be able to record or watch it!!
artwire's Avatar artwire
10:33 AM Liked: 10
post #8 of 42
10-09-2009 | Posts: 1,208
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Yeah, they didnt say if they had a STB-- since they already are paying for cable they may even be eligbile for a free one . It probably would offer more program options than just QAM)
Rammitinski's Avatar Rammitinski
10:47 AM Liked: 20
post #9 of 42
10-09-2009 | Posts: 17,437
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Another thing to remember is that, if you only have the option of recording from an external tuner with your provider, make sure the tuner they give you has some kind of event timer or 'reminder' feature, so the box can change channels on it's own.

Unfortunately, the *free* DTA's the cable companies are giving out don't have a feature like that - they are very, very basic (only have RF out, also) - so you'll have to get a better model from them that has it (and you may or may not have to pay a rental fee for it).

Of course, if all you ever care to do is just record from one channel unattended, the DTA's will do just fine.

(Also, it should be noted that no HDD/DVD recorder with an IR blaster has ever been found to be able to control a DTA - so don't expect to be able to depend on that.)
CitiBear's Avatar CitiBear
11:10 AM Liked: 51
post #10 of 42
10-09-2009 | Posts: 3,057
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Cable is rapidly moving to kill off the "boxless" cable option. There are those here on AVS who will not accept that fact until the cable guy breaks down their door and smacks them in the jaw with a decoder box, but you can't turn the tide. Under those circumstances, I don't recommend anyone knock themselves out looking for a "DVD recorder that can tune cable channels". Even before this most recent digital cable transition, many users had problems getting the recorders to "lock" onto their cable signals, or the station frequencies would change at the whim of the cable company and screw with your settings. It really just isn't worth bothering with anymore- too much effort involved, recorder tuners have become increasingly unstable, and as bfdtv noted you're going to get forced onto a box within a year or so anyway.

Current "boxless" customers in many systems are being force-migrated to disgusting "free" digital cable converter pods, which function essentially as "economy" decoder boxes. They are junk and usually their performance with recorders is quite poor compared to the "normal" full-feature decoder box that they charge you a monthly rental for. If you have any sustained interest in recording, the best course now is to get ahead of the coming changes and ask for a "real" decoder box right away. If you want to make permanent DVDs for your library, get the standard decoder box and a DVD recorder. A Panasonic EZ-28 is needlessly complex and overkill when used with cable: instead of blowing $249 on an EZ-28 with its unnecessary tuner, opt for the tunerless EA-18 available online at Vanns for $180 or less. Its the perfect cable companion and very reliable. If you don't want to record DVDs to keep, don't waste time and money on a DVD recorder- again, not worth it. Upgrade your cable to DVR service, with an automated hard drive recorder built into the cable decoder box. Its less clutter, makes it much easier to set timer recordings, and you never have to worry about it breaking since you don't own it.

Yeah, yeah, I can already hear the chorus: "but we don't wanna pay for decoder box rentals, we don't wanna rent the cable PVR, its our divine right as American citizens to have rock-bottom boxless cable service and a cheap recorder we own outright, w-a-a-h-h-h..." Well, forget it: that applied in the analog VCR days, and those days are gone. The DTV transition has had more obnoxious hidden ramifications than anyone ever dreamed, one of the most important being you can kiss boxless cable and cheap recorders goodbye. Either budget for a more midrange cable tier, or invest in an antenna for free off-air TV and get a good ATSC-capable recorder like the Panasonic EZ-28 or Magnavox H2160. Bargain-basement, recorder-tuned cable is on life support, with Nurse Ratched pulling hard on the plug.
DigaDo's Avatar DigaDo
11:52 AM Liked: 23
post #11 of 42
10-09-2009 | Posts: 4,680
Joined: Dec 2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by CitiBear View Post

Bargain-basement, recorder-tuned cable is on life support, with Nurse Ratched pulling hard on the plug.

Even that notorious hospital has bitten the dust:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25691931/
Yakuman's Avatar Yakuman
04:29 PM Liked: 11
post #12 of 42
10-09-2009 | Posts: 179
Joined: Jul 2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by CitiBear View Post

"but we don't wanna pay for decoder box rentals, we don't wanna rent the cable PVR, its our divine right as American citizens to have rock-bottom boxless cable service and a cheap recorder we own outright, w-a-a-h-h-h...".

The problem isn't the box. The problem is that the digital tuners won't cooperate with any other device, except for the flaky IR blasters.

Also, boxless cable isn't going away. It will just be locals, plus public, educational and government (PEG) Channels, Expanded basic won't be there.
CitiBear's Avatar CitiBear
04:42 PM Liked: 51
post #13 of 42
10-09-2009 | Posts: 3,057
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Nope, sorry, its going going... gone. Its one of those fishy modern-day double-talk "gotcha" problems, where some company or the feds tell you just because a half-assed revision of something exists, its the same as getting full benefit from that thing. Well, it ain't. Getting a barest-bones channel lineup is hardly worth the trouble, and you'll be pitifully disappointed if you actually try to use that. Cable companies have not the slightest inclination or incentive to maintain that bare-minimum "clear" digital channel lineup in a form usable with consumer recorder tuners. There are gremlins involved with "clear" cable dtv that did not happen with the old analog clear channels. Unless you're using an antenna for free broadcast TV, put any notions of clear digital channel availability out of your head: dtv cable is a different beast altogether. Don't be deceived by the endless stream of boohockey spewing from the FCC and cable companies re the alleged consumer benefits and guarantees of clear QAM: there aren't any, its a lie, we're all screwed. The loophole they use to get around "clear service requirements" is the cheezy free DTA box- a free shoddy box is still a box, its not the same as fixed analog channel lineup transmitted via cable and tunable by your recorder.
Steve203's Avatar Steve203
05:19 PM Liked: 10
post #14 of 42
10-09-2009 | Posts: 16
Joined: Sep 2009
>>there aren't any, its a lie, we're all screwed.<<

There's always plan B: AT&T U-Verse, if Comcast does the dirty to me.
bfdtv's Avatar bfdtv
05:23 PM Liked: 10
post #15 of 42
10-09-2009 | Posts: 13,484
Joined: Nov 2002
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve203 View Post

>>there aren't any, its a lie, we're all screwed.<<

There's always plan B: AT&T U-Verse, if Comcast does the dirty to me.

I'm not sure how that solves your problem. U-Verse offers even fewer choices, equipment-wise. They are a proprietary platform whose channels can't be tuned by any third-party boxes or recorders.
Tulpa's Avatar Tulpa
05:29 PM Liked: 59
post #16 of 42
10-09-2009 | Posts: 10,026
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Yeah, most if not all the alternatives to cable (save OTA and I guess the Internet) require proprietary equipment. Maybe the introductory rates are attractive, but those don't last forever, and you're right back to where you started.
Yakuman's Avatar Yakuman
07:05 PM Liked: 11
post #17 of 42
10-09-2009 | Posts: 179
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CitiBear View Post

Don't be deceived by the endless stream of boohockey spewing from the FCC and cable companies re the alleged consumer benefits and guarantees of clear QAM: there aren't any, its a lie, we're all screwed.

The cable companies rarely, if ever, acknowledge that clear QAM exists. The FCC doesn't say much about it, either.

Quote:
The loophole they use to get around "clear service requirements" is the cheezy free DTA box- a free shoddy box is still a box, its not the same as fixed analog channel lineup transmitted via cable and tunable by your recorder.

The Comcast customers with DTAs are still getting unencrypted locals. This just means that certain types of programming that used to be watched over cable now comes from another source. The movie channels moved off analog years ago.

Just as AM radio never died, digital cable will always be with us. But it is becoming a luxury, not a necessity.
Rammitinski's Avatar Rammitinski
02:28 AM Liked: 20
post #18 of 42
10-10-2009 | Posts: 17,437
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?

Pay television of any type has never been considered a necessity.
Yakuman's Avatar Yakuman
04:34 AM Liked: 11
post #19 of 42
10-10-2009 | Posts: 179
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rammitinski View Post

?

Pay television of any type has never been considered a necessity.

In many families, the cable bill was something you tried to keep current even in dire financial straits. You cancel magazine subscriptions and nights out, but Cable TV kept going. Now people give priority to their Internet connections.

Which is more important to you: cable TV or Internet? At my house, we've gone from Super Turbo Digital Extreme to Expanded Basic to lifeline. Yet we have the fastest Internet connection we can get.
bicker1's Avatar bicker1
06:08 AM Liked: 11
post #20 of 42
10-10-2009 | Posts: 8,289
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The only essential service provided by cable are the local over-the-air broadcast channels, as they are the providers of local emergency news and information.

Note that while this essential service is required to be provided in-the-clear (at least according to current regulations) it is not required to be provided via analog... a service provider can go "all-digital" and provide even these channels strictly through Clear QAM.

Regardless, beyond the local over-the-air broadcast channels, if you want to record digital cable, you better understand your obligations as per FCC regulations: Just as cable companies must deploy CableCARDs on request, you must ensure that your recording devices must have CableCARD slots if you want to expect them to work. That's the law. And there aren't any DVD Recorders I know of that comply with those requirements.
Steve203's Avatar Steve203
08:50 AM Liked: 10
post #21 of 42
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I'm not sure how that solves your problem. U-Verse offers even fewer choices, equipment-wise.

U-Verse advertises a DVR that can record up to 4 programs at once, and feed the recordings to any TV in the house. Independant tuning by QAM is the only compelling reason to stay with Comcast. If they kill that, the playing field is tilted to U-Verse as I already use AT&T for POTS and DSL and would get bundled pricing.

The second thought I have is that encription of digital channels is a throwback to the early 80s.

When cable TV first moved beyond channel 13, the two cable systems I was familiar with used technology that was imcompatible with "cable ready" tuners, so that you had to rent their box anyway. Cablevision converted their system to be compatible with cable ready tuners in the late 80s. Adelphia finally relented in the early 90s.

Whether is was customer outrage, or economics for the cable companies, something forced the operators to make their systems compatible. Will the same dynamic work when operators make their systems imcopatible with QAM?
Tulpa's Avatar Tulpa
09:13 AM Liked: 59
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve203 View Post

When cable TV first moved beyond channel 13, the two cable systems I was familiar with used technology that was imcompatible with "cable ready" tuners, so that you had to rent their box anyway. Cablevision converted their system to be compatible with cable ready tuners in the late 80s. Adelphia finally relented in the early 90s.

Whether is was customer outrage, or economics for the cable companies, something forced the operators to make their systems compatible. Will the same dynamic work when operators make their systems imcopatible with QAM?

Probably not. Clear QAM requires the consumer scan (often repeatedly) for channels and they have non-intuitive numbers and no real genre grouping of channels, whereas a cable box is a hook up and go device that keeps the channel lineup consistent and like channels, such as sports and movie channels, near each other.

Seriously, many people come here asking if they can get QAM tuners to display "proper channel numbers," meaning the numbers they were used to when they had cable boxes. Combined with the fact that cable boxes and DVRs which are all the rage only add a few dollars (maybe twenty at the most and that's rare) to a cable bill that often exceeds a c-note.

Slight semantics note: Cable systems aren't "incompatible" with QAM, as they're using QAM, even when encrypting channels. It's "clear QAM" that's the issue.
bfdtv's Avatar bfdtv
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post #23 of 42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve203 View Post

I'm not sure how that solves your problem. U-Verse offers even fewer choices, equipment-wise.

U-Verse advertises a DVR that can record up to 4 programs at once, and feed the recordings to any TV in the house. Independant tuning by QAM is the only compelling reason to stay with Comcast. If they kill that, the playing field is tilted to U-Verse as I already use AT&T for POTS and DSL and would get bundled pricing.

U-Verse allows you to record up to 4 SD programs at a time. However, you can only record one or two HD programs at a time, depending on your proximity to the local office. These limitations apply to your entire household, not to every TV.

U-Verse's MPEG-4 SD channels look pretty good, but they significantly degrade their HD. They recompress 12-19Mbps MPEG-2 HD channels into 4-5Mbps MPEG-4. MPEG-4 is more efficient, but not that efficient.

No DVD recorder or DVR can directly record channels from U-Verse. Only their own boxes work.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve203 View Post

Whether is was customer outrage, or economics for the cable companies, something forced the operators to make their systems compatible. Will the same dynamic work when operators make their systems imcopatible with QAM?

No. Regulations and market forces both serve to keep systems compatible. From a cost standpoint, it's not a good idea for a provider to rely on proprietary equipment built specifically for their system.

With cable, DVD recorders with QAM tuners will (in most cases) allow you to tune and record local channels. If you want to record more than local channels, then you rent the cable company box or buy a third-party CableCard product. Both display all cable SD and HD channels with the same numbers and eliminate the need to deal with complicated QAM assignments (88-2, 104-3, 115-4, etc).
bicker1's Avatar bicker1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve203 View Post

Whether is was customer outrage, or economics for the cable companies, something forced the operators to make their systems compatible. Will the same dynamic work when operators make their systems imcopatible with QAM?

They aren't making their system incompatible with QAM. They actually defined a standard whereby consumers, who really care about this, can purchase host devices that are fully operable with digital cable, effectively the analogue to analog cable's "cable-ready" for digital cable. It's called CableCARD. The problem is that consumers want and demand choice including the option to purchase cheaper products that don't support digital cable's separable security standards. So many consumers choose the cheap route that consumer electronics makers, such as Samsung and Sony, refuse to offer HDTVs with CableCARD slots anymore. So what are you going to do? Pass laws prohibiting consumers from being able to choose a cheaper choice? I suppose that's one approach, and I would very much support your efforts in that regard. However, I think you'll encounter some resistance to the idea from other consumers.
iq100's Avatar iq100
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post #25 of 42
10-10-2009 | Posts: 445
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WestRace View Post

I am planning to purchase a DVD recorder to record cable channels. The one I have in mind is the Panasonic DMR-EZ28K which comes with a digital tuner. thanks in advance.

As others have mentioned here, the major issue is whether
1- you want to record HDTV quality
2- you want to "own" the recordings, in that they travel with you, if you move.

If you, like me, desire 1 and 2, above, then I suggest you look at:

Over-the-air HDTV
Firewire capable Cable Boxes.
A component input capable recorder.
Internet streaming HDTV services, like HULU.
Cable card capable PC tuners.

iq100
delete my ideas by posting some of your own.
Yakuman's Avatar Yakuman
05:39 PM Liked: 11
post #26 of 42
10-10-2009 | Posts: 179
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bicker1 View Post

So many consumers choose the cheap route that consumer electronics makers, such as Samsung and Sony, refuse to offer HDTVs with CableCARD slots anymore.

Boxless cable is supposed to be the cheap route.
bicker1's Avatar bicker1
05:44 PM Liked: 11
post #27 of 42
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It is. With boxless cable you can get local over-the-air broadcast channels, which is a very inexpensive level of service.
Desert Hawk's Avatar Desert Hawk
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When expanded basic first came out nobody had a cable ready tv. Everybody fully expected to need a box to tune cable channels above 13. Then cable ready tv sets appeared. On some systems, for a little while, buying a cable ready tv would get free expanded basic (and sometimes even free HBO etc.), which were not encrypted because originally just using channels 14 and up guaranteed that nobody could tune it without a box. This didn't last long. Once cable ready sets hit the stores cable companies started using other security measures. Some installed traps, some encrypted everything above limited basic, and some went to only one tier of basic (this was before the 1993 Cable Act that requires a limited basic tier be offered). Encryption did not affect the vast majority of subscribers who only owned tv sets with the VHF and UHF knobs/dials. As time went by, however, more and more people bought cable ready sets. Many were p***ed off when they realized that they would still need a box. I myself used to call then Warner Amex Cable and gripe about this a lot, even though I was only a teenager at the time (and had a box in my room). Finally most cable companies (1987 here in Bakersfield) relented and stopped encrypting expanded basic. The same scenario is repeating now. When digital cable debuted almost nobody had a tv with a QAM tuner. Everybody expected to need a box to tune any digital channels. QAM equipped tv sales were very slow at first, so the situation didn't change hardly at all for several years. Then in 2007 the vast majority of tv sets for sale had QAM tuners. The percentage of total sets in use with QAM tuners is still in the minority, but rapidly increasing. Complaints about not being able to use the QAM feature for anything other than limited basic will keep increasing. I predict that before the end of the next decade that most cable companies will give in to consumer demand and carry expanded basic in clear QAM. I just wish I still had the 24 hour "PBS HD Channel" to provide me my anytime HD fix until then.
Desert Hawk's Avatar Desert Hawk
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post #29 of 42
10-10-2009 | Posts: 982
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The oddball QAM channel numbers exist now because cable companies are still carrying analog channels. When analog service is discontinued they will probably move the local channels to RF 2-13 so the channel mapping will be "normal".

Bright House in Bakersfield recently made things easier for clear QAM users by mapping the local HD channels to the same as their analog channel number, but with a ".1" after it. For example KGET NBC is analog channel 3. The HD digital version now maps to 3.1, although it is still RF 79.1 . Box and cable card users have to enter 1003 .
Yakuman's Avatar Yakuman
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post #30 of 42
10-10-2009 | Posts: 179
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bicker1 View Post

It is. With boxless cable you can get local over-the-air broadcast channels, which is a very inexpensive level of service.

That's not the point. You keep saying that CableCard is the replacement for cable-ready TV when it doesn't serve the same function, namely being cheap and easy. Yet you raise the issue that consumer is too cheap to spend extra for what should be inexpensive in the first place.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bicker1 View Post

They aren't making their system incompatible with QAM.

Actually, the system is QAM. It is encrypted because the industry is paranoid about piracy, even though the effort does nothing to discourage file sharing. The industry is stuck trying to fight a 1980s battle.

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