FAQ: DVD Recorders and the Analog to Digital Transition - Page 3 - AVS Forum
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post #61 of 220 Old 04-01-2008, 11:35 AM
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Unless your TV has the digital tuner you will need to get a separate converter box for each device you have. That or say record a digital channel while watching a analog on your TV.
Since your Zenith box does not have passthru capability I would use a RF splitter before your Zenith. Then have one output go to the Zenith and the other go to your TV. Don't bother with the output of the Zenith since it will only be CH3 or CH4. This is assuming.....that your TV has AV inputs.
I really wish more boxes had passthru and the ability to turn OFF the RF modulator. So far very few do. I've read that the next gen of most of the boxes will.
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post #62 of 220 Old 04-01-2008, 12:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjeff View Post

I really wish more boxes had passthru and the ability to turn OFF the RF modulator. So far very few do. I've read that the next gen of most of the boxes will.

Do you really think there will be a second gen? The market will saturate soon after 2/09 and fall off dramatically. Of the list of approved CECB's I got with my vouchers, only 6 were listed as supporting passthrough and none of them are out yet. If the early birds get most of the worms, the late-comers may never release a product. That 90 day expiration date is a big factor.

Kind of a chicken/egg thing here. People don't really need a converter box until they turn off analog -/- once they turn off analog, why would anyone need passthrough.

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post #63 of 220 Old 04-01-2008, 12:58 PM
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I think you can get the Philco box, which is supposed to have pass-thru, at Meijer's. At least one person I know of found it there.

The Walmart Magnavox, which was supposed to have it, apparently really doesn't.

You'll still need an NTSC tuner to watch some low-powered stations after 02/'09. Those aren't included in the mandate. Many of those will have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the digital age.
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post #64 of 220 Old 04-01-2008, 01:14 PM
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I think exempting low-power NTSC stations will ultimately prove to be a meaningless concession.

- kelson h

The bitterness of poor quality lasts long after the sweetness of the low price is forgotten . . . life is too short to drink bad wine

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post #65 of 220 Old 04-01-2008, 01:35 PM
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I sure hope there are more with passthru. I'll need several for my DVDR's and it would be so much more convenient to just daisy chain them together instead of having to have a splitter which would mean more loss.
I guess I'm not so much looking for "analog" passthru as much as passthru in general. I haven't used RF modulators since getting a TV with video inputs years ago. Without the RF modulator it's easy to daisy chain things together. With a RF mod. it's impossible.
I suppose there are people with RF only TV's, but I would trade the RF modulator for a S-video output in a heart beat.
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post #66 of 220 Old 04-01-2008, 06:02 PM
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What good is passthru after 2/09? What is passthru in general? I have OTA signal, so guess I am stuck getting a separate tuner for vcr and dvd recorder---what a mess of remotes that will be! Any other suggestions? Thanks
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post #67 of 220 Old 04-01-2008, 07:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nosrevis View Post

I have OTA signal, so guess I am stuck getting a separate tuner for vcr and dvd recorder---

I think you will be very unsatisfied with that arrangement. None of the available converter boxes, from what I see, can be programmed. So you will have to set the CECB channel, leave it on and program the recorder accordingly. You will essentially have a 1-event timer.

I've written off the notion of putting a converter box on my E-85. I record 10-15 events a week. I'll buy a new DVR with digital tuner (TR-50) when the time comes. If you record a lot, you'll feel the same very quickly.

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post #68 of 220 Old 04-01-2008, 10:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nosrevis View Post

What good is passthru after 2/09? What is passthru in general?

The "pass-through" being discussed with respect to these converter boxes refers to the ability of the box to receive both analog OTA and digital OTA, convert the digital to analog, then pass both the received analog signals and the converted (from digital) analog on to the analog TV.

Some people see this as a problem now. They want to use their analog TV to get the digital stations that are available right now (pre-Feb09), but if the converter box does not have the pass-through feature, they will be blocked from getting any analog stations.

But what about post-Feb09? Who cares about analog pass-through then?

All "full power" stations must turn off analog transmission and go to digital. BUT...this FCC requirement is not binding on low-power and class-A stations (there are 2,600 of them), nor is it binding on translator stations (there are 4,300 of them!). If you watch either of these types, the typical converter box will block such stations even after Feb09 since most of them will continue to broadcast OTA in analog. There is currently no FCC requirement for them to ever change to digital.

In fact the trade group for the low-power stations is on the war path against the non-pass-through boxes, which they call "illegal" converter boxes. In late Mar08 they filed suit in a DC circuit appeals court to order the FCC to prevent the marketing and distribution of non-pass-through boxes. I wish them much luck with that.

Actually, they may have a pretty good case. They site a 1962 law that requires such boxes to be "capable of adequately receiving all frequencies allocated by the FCC to television broadcasting." Hmmm...good one! I'm guessing they will lose, but it will be interesting to see how the FCC will squirm out of this.

Read more from the AP report on Yahoo and from the low-power trade group.

Aside: These guys are transmitting on the same frequencies as the high-power stations, no? And soon the FCC is going to sell those frequencies to the phone companies so we can all get more cell phones, no? (Lord knows we all need many, many more cell phones.) So how is that going to work? Is the tv power level so low it will not interfere?
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post #69 of 220 Old 04-02-2008, 12:23 AM
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You got me. We've at least one, pretty popular CA channel here that gets out well beyond the city limits that appears to have no plans to go digital until actually forced to, so I don't know what's going to happen there.

It has been speculated that the "lawsuit" is ultimately an attempt to get money out of the government to help fund their changeovers.
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post #70 of 220 Old 04-02-2008, 06:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kulsnubbe View Post

The "pass-through" being discussed with respect to these converter boxes refers to the ability of the box to receive both analog OTA and digital OTA, convert the digital to analog, then pass both the received analog signals and the converted (from digital) analog on to the analog TV.

Maybe I have passthru all wrong, but what I mean by passthru would be the ability to turn OFF the RF modulator so that the passthru signal just goes from the RF in to the RF out. Like DVDR's currently do, and use just line outputs.
Without passthru I would think?? the CH3 or CH4 RF modulator in the CECB would override not only the analog passthru signals but also the digital ones, for example to another CECB next in the RF line.
It is also my understanding that to watch the analogs(via passthru) that I would need to physically turn OFF the RF modulator in the CECB. After all how can the box output via CH3 or CH4, while also passing thru analog channels?
Think of your VCR or DVDR(if your's has a RF modulator), it not only modulates CH3 or 4 but also basically blocks(or greatly attenuates) all other passthru signals, both analog and digital.
Is my thinking right about passthru?
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post #71 of 220 Old 04-02-2008, 08:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjeff View Post

Maybe I have passthru all wrong, but what I mean by passthru would be the ability to turn OFF the RF modulator so that the passthru signal just goes from the RF in to the RF out. Like DVDR's currently do, and use just line outputs.
Without passthru I would think?? the CH3 or CH4 RF modulator in the CECB would override not only the analog passthru signals but also the digital ones, for example to another CECB next in the RF line.
It is also my understanding that to watch the analogs(via passthru) that I would need to physically turn OFF the RF modulator in the CECB. After all how can the box output via CH3 or CH4, while also passing thru analog channels?
Think of your VCR or DVDR(if your's has a RF modulator), it not only modulates CH3 or 4 but also basically blocks(or greatly attenuates) all other passthru signals, both analog and digital.
Is my thinking right about passthru?

That's pretty much how I interpret passthrough. I envisioned it like my VCRs. I have a pair of Sony VCRs that have a TV/Video button on the remote to turn on/off the RF modulator. That's how I figured the CECB should work. You hit a button on the remote to turn off the RF modulator and that passes the antenna signal through the box to the TV tuner. You tune to channel 3/4 hit the remote button to turn on the modulator and now you are watching the output of the CECB. So like the VCR scenario I view it as an either/or choice between 2 independent tuners, one just happens to be digital.

Given that, I don't see what's the big deal about including that feature, it doesn't seem all that complicated. But it appears from the list I saw only 6 out of 63 approved boxes claim to have passthrough. The boxes available so far are truely minimalist (RF and composite output, period) and are selling for $10-20 more than the voucher -- ripoff. Choices are slim, 2-3 of the boxes (Zenith @CC, Insignia @BB, and possibly Radio Shack) appear to be the same unit made by LG. Ticks me off all the more that my vouchers expire 6/18.

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post #72 of 220 Old 04-02-2008, 08:43 AM
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If I buy a tv with atsc tuner, will I be able to use my old vcr and dvd recorder?
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post #73 of 220 Old 04-02-2008, 08:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nosrevis View Post

If I buy a tv with atsc tuner, will I be able to use my old vcr and dvd recorder?

Read the first post of this thread.

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post #74 of 220 Old 04-02-2008, 09:27 AM
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I read it several times before asking the question. Is it stand-alone atsc receiver, or device with atsc (such as a tv) receiver, or both?
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post #75 of 220 Old 04-02-2008, 10:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nosrevis View Post

I read it several times before asking the question. Is it stand-alone atsc receiver, or device with atsc (such as a tv) receiver, or both?

OK. Each device has to have a tuner to operate independently. If your old VCR/DVDR are legacy equipment with only analog NTSC tuners then they will cease to be able to receive OTA transmissions 2/09 when analog is shut off. If you wish to continue using them you will have to buy a digital converter box for each -- which is nothing more than an external digital tuner. However, using an external tuner for recording will be arduous. None of the available tuners can be programmed to change channel so you will have to set the schedule on your recorder and manually change the channel on the converter box for each recording. Not very convenient or practical. It is probably time to consider buying something new.

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post #76 of 220 Old 04-02-2008, 11:11 AM
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Thanks, Kelson--any recommendations? We currently record vhs and dvd at same time although not too often. Use dvd recorder almost every day--would you stay away from combo unit? Tv is 4 yrs old and not over abundance of inputs. Thanks much.
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post #77 of 220 Old 04-02-2008, 11:27 AM
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Unless you regularly record many events from different channels the converter box may just work for you. Since you have a VCR and DVDR you could have one for each(with coupons it would only be $20 or so for both). If you were away from home and wanted to record 2 different events on different channels you could have the VCR record one and the DVDR record the other. Not ideal but possible.
In your case I would look for one with passthru. That way you could just hook up both CECB's and TV in series with your antenna. TV being last in line.
Other than that new DVDR's w/digital tuners start ~$200 and combo's would probably set you back ~$300. Note the Panasonic recorders will not record digital events to the VHS section so in that respect I'd just stick with your old VHS with a CECB and get just a DVDR with digital tuner, if that's the route you want to go.
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post #78 of 220 Old 04-02-2008, 05:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nosrevis View Post

Thanks, Kelson--any recommendations? We currently record vhs and dvd at same time although not too often. Use dvd recorder almost every day--would you stay away from combo unit? Tv is 4 yrs old and not over abundance of inputs. Thanks much.

Well, is your new TV going to be HD?
Do you mostly time-shift, and if so do you want to record/watch in HD.

If you answer yes to both those questions, I recommend waiting until the Echostar TR-50 comes out this summer. It is a dual tuner HD-DVR for OTA users with EPG and no monthly fees. Dual tuner means you can record 2 channels at the same time. It has no burner built in but you can attach your current DVDR (or VCR if you really want to) and transfer programs off the DVR to DVD (but of course only in SD). This is what I am going to buy when I get an HD plasma this summer, and attach my E-85 to it.

If you don't care about HD recording and /or want something digial now, take a look at the Philips 3575 available now (3576 coming out soon which just changes the color to black). It has digital ATSC/QAM tuners and analog tuners. This unit is the best of the 3 models remaining that have a HDD. It has tons of problems with the QAM tuner and cable that causes people to return their units multiple times hoping to get one that works. However, it doesn't seem like anyone has any problems using it OTA and for OTA it looks like a good buy. All the returns from the cable users feeds the stock of their "refurb" website so you can pick one up cheap for $200 direct from Philips. Again, for an OTA user this Philips is also a better choice than a converter box for an analog TV that still has lots of life left after 2/09.

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post #79 of 220 Old 04-04-2008, 09:01 PM
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I've been asked by others to re-post my following story to this thread:
____________________________________

I thought I'd briefly share my [edit: mostly - see bottom] successful experience integrating a Zenith DTT900 ATSC converter box with this DVR so that I can record digital TV off an antenna. Bye bye cable!

I chose the Zenith tuner box because I heard that it could be controlled using IR codes for an LG satellite receiver, which the DMR-EH55 knows how to control via an IR blaster. This worked! I configured the DVR setup for Antenna and DirecTV and connected the Zenith as if it were the satellite reciever, on IN3. I connected my antenna to the DVR and connected the RF antenna passthrough from the output of the DVR into the antenna input of the Zenith tuner.

I autoprogrammed the Zenith to find my local channels and went into the settings to disable auto-off. I stuck the IR blaster below its IR port.

The hardest part was configuring the channel numbering scheme. I found that the only workable scheme to make the DVR automatically change channels on the Zenith was to configure the DVR to always use three digits for the channel, and disable four-digit values. I selected 028 when the setup screen asked how the box wants channel numbers like 28 entered. This causes the zenith to treat the third digit as a subchannel number.

Note that the Panasonic sends the channel number out the IR blaster TWICE when it gets ready to record. This caused problems with the Zenith if I didn't use a numbering scheme that included the subchannel; otherwise, the Zenith would switch to the second subchannel number on the second time. For instance sending '4' would go to 4.1 and sending '4' again would go to 4.2; but 041 always went to 4.1 no matter how many times it is sent to the Zenith [edit -see bottom of post].

I spent a lot of time editing the Panasonic's TVGOS channel listings to show just the channels in my area, and selecting IN3 as the source connection. I then programmed the digital channels as follows:

For 4.1, use channel number 41
For 4.2, use channel number 42
For 17.1, use channel number 171
and so forth.

Since I have a wide screen TV, I set up the CECB to output anamorphic wide screen mode for the 16:9 HD stations. This plays back from the DVR as 16:9 full screen on my TV. It's only 480 lines, but it looks good, better than analog cable and way better than an analog antenna.

Edit/Update: I have been having problems with IR blaster control of the Zenith due to the way my Panasonic DMR-EH55 sends the channel command twice. Sometimes it sends the second command so soon after the first that instead of 171 tuning to 17.1 and then 171 tuning again to17.1, the Zenith sees 171171 and interprets this as 17.11 followed by 7.1 !

It looks like the commands are spaced apart better if the DVR is OFF when the recording is scheduled. Most of my shows have been recorded properly while the DVR was off and I wasn't watching, but when a recording started while I was watching another program the tuner control problem surfaced. I cannot find any way to turn off the double-channel-set behavior in the DVR settings, and none of the other numbering schemes I've tried work either. So, the way a DVR attempts to set the channel number remains a challenge for my own integration with a CECB and could certainly affect other people.

UPDATE:
I have verified that the DVR has problems setting the channel when recording a second program immediately after the first due to the double-channel-set problem I described above. I can reliably record one program from any channel, in isolation, when the DVR is off. Multiple programs can be automatically recorded if there is an inactive period behind them, again with the DVR off. It is when the DVR has already tuned to one channel and attempts to change to another to record from it that the problem surfaces.

I wish I could program the DVR to send three digits followed by enter rather than just three digits; this would fix the problem, as would not sending the channel number twice when starting a recording. But I see no way to accomplish either with this model of DVR. Another DVR and another CECB would probably have different interaction characteristics.
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post #80 of 220 Old 04-07-2008, 05:29 PM
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Hey s,

Well, you gave me hope, for a little while at least, that it was possible. I have a Panny E80 and E75 and like them both. But with the DTV transition coming up, I'm afraid I'll be stuck with two single-event recorders in a death-grip with the D/A converter box, and that just won't serve the purpose.

Interestingly, I called Panasonic to ask if either DVR had any way of getting around this problem. I asked if, from OTA to the D/A converter, I could connect it to one of the DVRs, set that DVR to record channel 2 at 7:00pm, then channel 5 at 8:00pm WITHOUT MY HAVING TO BE HOME/LIFT A FINGER.

Admittedly, I did have to explain the same thing over and over several times (I'm sure she just read answers from a database). She finally said she understood the question, emailed level two support and came back with a "yes." I asked her to rephrase the question exactly as she had emailed it, and she did; it was correct. I asked if the answer was definitive, if she and/or the L2 support person were POSITIVE these DVRs could be made to continue working that way after 2/09. She said "positive," just get any D/A converter and presto, record OTA pretty much the same as before. She even said that's why these units were selling for more than the original price, because they would continue to be just as functional, and Panny hasn't made a USA HDD model since 06. Rare commodity. Indeed. So are black and white TVs.

So much for magic.

Why can't they just make a box that will convert the digital signal to analog, then the DVR/VCR can tune in the station it's set to record just like the good old days?
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post #81 of 220 Old 04-07-2008, 09:32 PM
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Quote:
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Hey s,

Well, you gave me hope, for a little while at least, that it was possible. I have a Panny E80 and E75 and like them both. But with the DTV transition coming up, I'm afraid I'll be stuck with two single-event recorders in a death-grip with the D/A converter box, and that just won't serve the purpose.

Interestingly, I called Panasonic to ask if either DVR had any way of getting around this problem. I asked if, from OTA to the D/A converter, I could connect it to one of the DVRs, set that DVR to record channel 2 at 7:00pm, then channel 5 at 8:00pm WITHOUT MY HAVING TO BE HOME/LIFT A FINGER.

Admittedly, I did have to explain the same thing over and over several times (I'm sure she just read answers from a database). She finally said she understood the question, emailed level two support and came back with a "yes." I asked her to rephrase the question exactly as she had emailed it, and she did; it was correct. I asked if the answer was definitive, if she and/or the L2 support person were POSITIVE these DVRs could be made to continue working that way after 2/09. She said "positive," just get any D/A converter and presto, record OTA pretty much the same as before.

I think it's entirely possible that a different model of Panasonic DVR from mine might either (1) not send the channel number twice in rapid succession, which would avoid the run-on numbering error, or (2) allow a scheme where enter is sent after a three digit value, also avoiding this problem.

Alternatively, it's possible that (3) another CECB is controllable by legacy set top IR codes but does not change subchannels when the main channel number is entered for the same channel that us currently tuned. But I prefer the scenarios (1) and (2) because the three digit solution allows selection of any specific subchannel up to .9

-Steve
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post #82 of 220 Old 04-08-2008, 01:51 AM
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My Sony RDR-HX900 might work. I never had any problem with it when using it with 3-digit channel #'s when I had it set up to control my Dish tuner. I'll have to check and see if it has any LG satellite box codes - although it's a lot older model than the EH55V/75V.

But I won't be able to get guide data for the TVGOS, which means I'll either have to use the empty blocks in the grid to program, or just use manual timers (which would be better).

Unfortunately, I haven't got my CECB coupons yet (ordered them 1/2/09), and I'm certainly not going to pay full price for the Zenith with the intention of keeping it as long as it has that known audio issue. If the coupons haven't been lost or stolen, and I'm still going to get them (it says they're "in the mail"), and they're dated later, I'd rather wait to see if the TR-40 will be out by then, for it's "VCR Timer" feature (and pass-thru).

Maybe if I get up the gumption I'll go buy the Zenith from CC for the full price with the intention of returning it.
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post #83 of 220 Old 04-08-2008, 07:17 AM
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Why won't you get TVGOS data?

I got my CECB coupons last weekend; I applied the same day you did. I think their entry into the postal system is being staggered over time.

I am mostly recording children's shows that are not affected by the Zenith audio bug. I have not noticed the bug so far on the prime time shows but if it bothers me I will probably just switch to mono. So far my family is happy with being able to record most of the shows we want; it's just a couple of situations where two consecutive shows are desired that present a limitation for us. We'll just have to record Monk and watch Psych live, or vice-versa. Perhaps there's a way to force a manual two-hour block recording without using TVGOS for just a few programs, but I haven't tried hard enough to figure it out.
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post #84 of 220 Old 04-08-2008, 04:21 PM
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Well, I could get it OTA, as long as the tuner's hooked up to a line input, but then you can't use 3-digit channel numners - only 2-digit.

There really isn't anyway that doesn't involve a lot of hassle making it not even worth it, that it can be done. Not that I've figured out so far, anyway. And I've experimented extensively.

It might have the LG box code, but if I set up for a satellite tuner, it won't get guide data. Only the Panasonic EH55 and EH75's TVGOS is fully set up to work with Direct (I have an EH75V, but it's being used with a Dish tuner. And I don't believe my Panny E85H can control any satellite boxes). All I can do with the Sony is set it up to control a satellite tuner, without getting any guide data.

As far as your TVGOS recording problem, you should be able to override the "grid system" of scheduling recordings and just set the manual timer for any amount of time you want.
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post #85 of 220 Old 04-08-2008, 05:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sggoodri View Post

Edit/Update: I have been having problems with IR blaster control of the Zenith due to the way my Panasonic DMR-EH55 sends the channel command twice. Sometimes it sends the second command so soon after the first that instead of 171 tuning to 17.1 and then 171 tuning again to17.1, the Zenith sees 171171 and interprets this as 17.11 followed by 7.1 !

My Panasonic DMR-EH75V does the same thing, when I schedule a recording by selecting a program from the EPG grid, and the unit is turned on when the recording starts. When the unit is turned off, the recording proceeds correctly, as you note.

When I schedule a recording manually by going to the TVGOS "Schedule" tab and entering the start and stop times manually, the recording proceeds correctly regardless of whether the unit is on or off. This is for single recordings. I haven't tried back-to-back recordings on different channels.
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post #86 of 220 Old 04-08-2008, 09:33 PM
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Originally Posted by jtbell View Post

My Panasonic DMR-EH75V does the same thing, when I schedule a recording by selecting a program from the EPG grid, and the unit is turned on when the recording starts. When the unit is turned off, the recording proceeds correctly, as you note.

When I schedule a recording manually by going to the TVGOS "Schedule" tab and entering the start and stop times manually, the recording proceeds correctly regardless of whether the unit is on or off. This is for single recordings. I haven't tried back-to-back recordings on different channels.

Thanks for the tip. I'll try some the manual entry of start and stop times.
As a stop-gap measure for recording shows like Monk and Psych back-to-back on the same channel, I've simply increased the stop recording time on the first show by an hour.
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post #87 of 220 Old 04-14-2008, 02:01 PM
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Looking for suggestions on what to do about connecting both a DirecTV box and a digital to analog converter box to a DVD-R. It seems to me that the DVD-R would need 2 sets of audio and video inputs. I would prefer to connect video via S-video, b/c my satellite receiver has S-video out. The Channel-master D/A I ordered has S-video out. I'd also like both sets of inputs for audio and video to be on the back side of the DVD-R.

Any model suggestions? Is this set-up going to be impossible?
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post #88 of 220 Old 04-14-2008, 05:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Tommy63 View Post

Looking for suggestions on what to do about connecting both a DirecTV box and a digital to analog converter box to a DVD-R. It seems to me that the DVD-R would need 2 sets of audio and video inputs. I would prefer to connect video via S-video, b/c my satellite receiver has S-video out. The Channel-master D/A I ordered has S-video out. I'd also like both sets of inputs for audio and video to be on the back side of the DVD-R.

Any model suggestions? Is this set-up going to be impossible?

I'm not sure about what you are connecting. I get the DirecTV box for the sat system, but what is this D/A converter? Do you mean for receiving digital OTA broadcasts? If that's the case all current new DVD recorders come with OTA digital tuners so you don't need a converter box. You're asking for model suggestions so I assume you want to buy a new DVDR. So, is that it? You want to hook up for OTA reception also?

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post #89 of 220 Old 04-14-2008, 05:05 PM
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Most DVDR's have 2 sets of inputs. A front set which sometimes doesn't include S-video, and a rear that does. Panasonic's have S-video on both front and rear.
I'm not aware of any current DVDR with both inputs on the rear, although I could be wrong.
If you don't need a tuner the Panasonic EA-18 would run you ~$180.
If you want the digital tuner the EZ-28 would be ~$239.
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post #90 of 220 Old 04-14-2008, 09:40 PM
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The tunerless Toshibas might be a bit cheaper, but I don't know what kind of inputs they have.
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