I want to buy my parents a new DVD player with recording - live tv (or time programmable), possibly with a hard drive (or not). I want to keep the unit they have now, so they can watch their VHS movies. *The attachment shows the way they are set up currently to watch and record on their Sony DVD player/VHS recorder. The have a Samsung LED LCD UN40D6000. They also have Comcast cable, basic setup. Can the new DVD recorders record off of just the HDMI cable, or does it have to be hooked up with a cable line and HDMI?
The answer to your question about recording off of the HDMI, the short answer is no. You can thank the thugs at RIAA & Hollywood. Same with trying to record off of Component. Now of course, if you get them a TiVo series 3, or build a DVR out of a computer, and use Cablecards, you can then record programs that way.
Yes, they can record with a DVD recorder, like the Magnavox 513 w/HDD, by connecting the incoming cable coax (now on the VHS) to the ANT IN on the Mag, then coax out from the Mag to their TV. They also need a "line connection" to the TV, like HDMI, to see internal stuff from the Mag (menus, channels, titles, etc.).
If their TV doesn't have a tuner, they can use the Mag as the tuner and won't need the coax to the TV.
See Sketch 2 here and the many words that describe this connection scheme, how to incorp. the VHS for copying tapes, watching one channel with the TV's tuner while recording a diff. channel with the Mag's tuner, etc., etc.
Lots more info if you click the Help File Index button on the linked page.
Generally you can always regard HDMI output as 'non recordable' without special/expensive/non everyday and possibly illegal equiment. HDMI 'input' connections are generally only found on TV's and AV recievers and possibly on computers ( i dont know much about the latest PC's) No DVD recorders that i am aware of accept a HDMI 'in' to record from HDMI but many will have a HDMI 'out' to output whats playing/recieved on the tuner and display it on a TV/screen.
If you are looking for a DVD recorder to replace VHS, time is running out of you want a decent brand new one, you are even more limited if you need a US tuner in the DVD recorder.