OTA HD DVRs? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 67 Old 12-01-2008, 08:53 AM - Thread Starter
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ok, newbie here - be kind!

I have been pulling SD signals OTA for years and have been using a Pioneer stand-alone DVR/DVD-Recorder that I have become thoroughly accustomed to. No monthly fees, no subscriptions, just pure digital recording goodness.

Along came Black Friday, and like many Americans, I stimulated the economy through the purchase of an HDTV. Plugged in my OTA antenna and got seven to eight channels of 46" HD goodness - enough to keep my family happy. Yet, my DVR remains stuck in SD/NTSC.

So, to my question: I'm looking for an HD/ASTC DVR stand alone unit, so that I can continue to record TV sans subscription service. It seems such units are in short supply these days. I understand there are some older units floating around, and I'm looking for any recommendations.

Thanks.
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post #2 of 67 Old 12-01-2008, 09:31 AM
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Dish DTVPal DVR

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=972197

Rocky
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post #3 of 67 Old 12-01-2008, 09:32 AM
 
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And for completeness...

TiVo HD

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=879469

Those are the only two mass-market options currently in production for sale to the general public in the United States.
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post #4 of 67 Old 12-01-2008, 09:54 AM
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In addition to the options above, you could find the discontinued Sony DHG-HDD250 (or HDD500) or the LG-3410A from eBay or Craigslist.

Both units can record ATSC signals and have 8-day guides via TVGOS (TV Guide On Screen). The limitation is that they are only single-tuner devices and there are concerns as to how well they'll work after 2/09.

But if you're somewhat tech-savvy and willing to fiddle, these devices could be an option.

Also, if you expand your scope outside of a stand-alone unit, you could always build a HTPC. If you shop wisely, you could probably build one for less than $500.
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post #5 of 67 Old 12-01-2008, 10:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bicker1 View Post

And for completeness...

TiVo HD

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=879469

Those are the only two mass-market options currently in production for sale to the general public in the United States.

I didn't mention the TivoHD (which I have) simply because the OP mentioned no subcription fees. IMO, the $12.95 monthly fee is acceptable, considering everything the Tivo can do (we enjoy surfing YouTube, for example). But I would also second ftaok's recommendations. I also have the Sony DHG-HDD250 and it has done a great job for me for 2 & 1/2 years now.

Rocky
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post #6 of 67 Old 12-01-2008, 10:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jkershaw View Post

So, to my question: I'm looking for an HD/ASTC DVR stand alone unit, so that I can continue to record TV sans subscription service.

If you want something provenly reliable, at this point in time, the TiVoHD with lifetime service would be your best choice.
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post #7 of 67 Old 12-01-2008, 11:26 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RockyF View Post

I didn't mention the TivoHD (which I have) simply because the OP mentioned no subcription fees.

With the lifetime service option, the TiVo HD has no monthly subscription fees. That may or may not match what the OP is looking for.
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post #8 of 67 Old 12-01-2008, 11:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bicker1 View Post

With the lifetime service option, the TiVo HD has no monthly subscription fees. That may or may not match what the OP is looking for.

True, but that also makes it about $700, as opposed to $250 for the DTVPal DVR.

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post #9 of 67 Old 12-01-2008, 11:44 AM
 
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It will be interesting to see if it is worth the extra $450. It isn't clear, yet, that it is not.
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post #10 of 67 Old 12-01-2008, 12:06 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ftaok View Post


Both units can record ATSC signals and have 8-day guides via TVGOS (TV Guide On Screen). The limitation is that they are only single-tuner devices and there are concerns as to how well they'll work after 2/09.

Thanks for all the responses! The Sony seems like a good fit (we're used to a single-tuner DVR, but I'm curious about the concerns mentioned above. Could you elaborate?

I'm tech-savvy enough to hack something together, but it the interest of my better-half, I need to find a simple solution. In my dream world, Apple with integrate an ASTV tuner into AppleTV. Does Steve Jobs read these forums??
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post #11 of 67 Old 12-01-2008, 12:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jkershaw View Post

Thanks for all the responses! The Sony seems like a good fit (we're used to a single-tuner DVR, but I'm curious about the concerns mentioned above. Could you elaborate?

I'm tech-savvy enough to hack something together, but it the interest of my better-half, I need to find a simple solution. In my dream world, Apple with integrate an ASTV tuner into AppleTV. Does Steve Jobs read these forums??

The concerns with the Sony is two fold.

1. The Sony DHG-HDD250/500 were designed to get the TVGOS data from an analog TV station. Typically, it's a local PBS station that sends the signal. After 2/09, there's no analog signal, so the fear is/was that these units won't work. Without a guide, they're very limited. Without an accurate clock, they're just about useless. These units get both the guide and the clock from analog.

2. These units typically are very reliable, except when they're not. Seriously, take a look at the very big thread for these units. There's a whole lot of people with guide problems, including me.

For the most part, #1 has been solved. There are many AVSers that have had success in getting the Sony to download the guide via a digital channel (typically a CBS station), however, neither Sony or Macrovision will acknowledge that this is possible. Go figure.

If you can score one of these for less than $250 (the pre-order price of the Echostar TR-50), then it might be worth a shot.

Keep in mind, that just like any DVR, the HDD is the key component. If it fails, you're screwed and need to ship it off to Sony for repairs. No one has been successful in dropping in a new HDD and have it work. Sony puts some sort of magic on the HDD to allow it to work.

ft

EDIT - as far as it being easy, it's very easy. Once YOU set it up, the operation is pretty much a no brainer. As long as the clock and guide are OK, anyone that can read English can pretty much operate it.

As far as the Apple comments, don't hold your breath, but that's just my opinion. I've given up on an aTV with a tuner.
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post #12 of 67 Old 12-01-2008, 01:13 PM - Thread Starter
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Our current DVR has the same TVGOS, so I can relate to the ease of use yet lack of reliability from time to time. Too many missed episodes of The Simpsons. Familiarity with the TVGOS is a big plus towards the Sony.

Sounds like I might take a wait-and-see approach. Wait to see if the Sony works post-2/09; wait to see how people feel about the EchoStar (what an ugly product, btw); wait to see January's MacWorld with crossed fingers.

thanks again!
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post #13 of 67 Old 12-01-2008, 05:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RockyF View Post

I didn't mention the TivoHD (which I have) simply because the OP mentioned no subcription fees. IMO, the $12.95 monthly fee is acceptable, considering everything the Tivo can do (we enjoy surfing YouTube, for example). But I would also second ftaok's recommendations. I also have the Sony DHG-HDD250 and it has done a great job for me for 2 & 1/2 years now.

Note TiVo now sells their HD boxes without fees. They do cost more. Edit: Only existing subscribers can place gift orders using this link. New subscribers must buy the box for $200-$250, and then add a lifetime subscription for $399 to avoid all future fees.

At the moment, the TivoHD doesn't really have any competition in the market, but the DTVPal DVR for OTA should be among the first alternatives when it ships in a few weeks.

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post #14 of 67 Old 12-02-2008, 08:41 AM
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Hello,

Does anyone know if the ATSC tuner in the Tivo HD or series 3 is good and sensitive ?

Also what generation is the tuner ?

I asking this because I would have to plug my CM4228 with CM7777 to the Tivo instead of my Samsung plamsa 42a450 and would need a good tuner.

I would plug the 4221 for local channels (NTSC) in the Samsung tuner.

Can I also use a splitter between the TV and Tivo instead ? or I will loose some signal because of the splitter lost ?


Thanks,

Intravino
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post #15 of 67 Old 12-02-2008, 11:30 AM
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Some lesser-known older models:

Mitsubishi HD-6000 (120GB)
Contemporary Research IP-HDVR (120GB)
Zenith HDR230 (80GB)
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post #16 of 67 Old 12-02-2008, 07:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik Garci View Post

Some lesser-known older models:

Mitsubishi HD-6000 (120GB)
Contemporary Research IP-HDVR (120GB)
Zenith HDR230 (80GB)

I've been using the Zenith HDR230 since May 2003 -- it was the first HD DVR to be available in the US, and I bought one of the first ones sold here. It was only on the market for a brief time (less than one year), and was quickly replaced by the LG 3410 (same company, under a different brand name).

Unlike the LG and Sony models, the Zenith does not use TVGOS -- it can be programmed using PSIP data or manually programmed by selecting date/channel/time like you would on a DVD recorder or VCR. The clock can be set using either PSIP data (if it is accurate in your market) or manually.

It's a single tuner model, does not support playing one program while another is recording, and while the 80 GB hard drive can be easily replaced with a larger one (because the operating software/system is not on the hard drive), it's file formatting limits the amount of useable hard drive space to 127 GB -- roughly 13 hours of HD programming.

In short, it is a relatively crude and unsophisticated product -- but it is a product that works, is reliable, robust, easy to repair, and not dependent on *any* program guide services for its continued operation. If the hard drive dies, it can be easily swapped out without any hassles.

If you can find one for cheap, and can live with the limitations, I would have no hesitation in recommending the Zenith HDR-230. Despite it's limitations, I've been happy with mine, and am still using it. Needless to say, mine isn't for sale...
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post #17 of 67 Old 12-04-2008, 09:24 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Thomas Desmond View Post

I've been using the Zenith HDR230 since May 2003 -- it was the first HD DVR to be available in the US, and I bought one of the first ones sold here. It was only on the market for a brief time (less than one year), and was quickly replaced by the LG 3410 (same company, under a different brand name).

Unlike the LG and Sony models, the Zenith does not use TVGOS -- it can be programmed using PSIP data or manually programmed by selecting date/channel/time like you would on a DVD recorder or VCR. The clock can be set using either PSIP data (if it is accurate in your market) or manually.

It's a single tuner model, does not support playing one program while another is recording, and while the 80 GB hard drive can be easily replaced with a larger one (because the operating software/system is not on the hard drive), it's file formatting limits the amount of useable hard drive space to 127 GB -- roughly 13 hours of HD programming.

In short, it is a relatively crude and unsophisticated product -- but it is a product that works, is reliable, robust, easy to repair, and not dependent on *any* program guide services for its continued operation. If the hard drive dies, it can be easily swapped out without any hassles.

If you can find one for cheap, and can live with the limitations, I would have no hesitation in recommending the Zenith HDR-230. Despite it's limitations, I've been happy with mine, and am still using it. Needless to say, mine isn't for sale...

Thomas - thank you for the additional info. What type of HDD does it use? If 127 GB is the max, then I suppose any size above 120 GB is not worth it.

This thread has been very, very helpful. It seems like there is a market for OTA HD DVR's, so I was completely caught off guard when I discovered there are no current offerings. Thanks again for all the options.
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post #18 of 67 Old 12-04-2008, 06:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jkershaw View Post

Thomas - thank you for the additional info. What type of HDD does it use? If 127 GB is the max, then I suppose any size above 120 GB is not worth it.

This thread has been very, very helpful. It seems like there is a market for OTA HD DVR's, so I was completely caught off guard when I discovered there are no current offerings. Thanks again for all the options.

I've never opened it up to look for myself, but from what I read at the time, it uses a 7200 rpm "consumer electronics" (that means it is quieter operating) drive.
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post #19 of 67 Old 12-20-2008, 09:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas Desmond View Post

I've never opened it up to look for myself, but from what I read at the time, it uses a 7200 rpm "consumer electronics" (that means it is quieter operating) drive.

Maybe my pics will help you out.

I have the same unit. The limited HDD space is really bugging me lately. I want to swap out the HDD for something larger, but I'm very annoyed at the 127GB limit.

I've had it since it was first released. I had the very first one from J&R. Cost me $1,000 but it's been worth it. I still have the original software and don't know if a newer version was ever available or how I could update it. If anybody knows, I'd appreciate the help.
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post #20 of 67 Old 12-21-2008, 07:29 PM
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Maybe my pics will help you out.

I have the same unit. The limited HDD space is really bugging me lately. I want to swap out the HDD for something larger, but I'm very annoyed at the 127GB limit.

I've had it since it was first released. I had the very first one from J&R. Cost me $1,000 but it's been worth it. I still have the original software and don't know if a newer version was ever available or how I could update it. If anybody knows, I'd appreciate the help.

You're in about the same position that I am -- I figure that the one that I got was probably in the first 100 brought into the US. So, like yours, I'm sure it is original software. I doubt that there were many (if any) updates, since the Zenith was replaced by the LG model within six months -- and, really, the software in the Zenith seems to be pretty bullet proof.

The 127 GB limit, as I recall, is related to the operating system -- so any software updates would still be stuck with that limit. Fortunately, I've rarely had a problem even being limited to 80 GB, except when I've gone on vacation.
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post #21 of 67 Old 12-21-2008, 08:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas Desmond View Post

You're in about the same position that I am -- I figure that the one that I got was probably in the first 100 brought into the US. So, like yours, I'm sure it is original software. I doubt that there were many (if any) updates, since the Zenith was replaced by the LG model within six months -- and, really, the software in the Zenith seems to be pretty bullet proof.

The 127 GB limit, as I recall, is related to the operating system -- so any software updates would still be stuck with that limit. Fortunately, I've rarely had a problem even being limited to 80 GB, except when I've gone on vacation.

I record a lot of TV, and have a few great clips stored until I can transfer them to my PC (new PC build yet to take place). I often lose some shows when I go a few days without watching some shows, which I must do to make enough room for the new shows.

I went looking for this thread to see what other options there are for a new OTA HDD HD recorder, and it appears I have a the best one, considering what may happen with the Sony models.

True, my new PC will have OTA HD recording capabilities, but was hoping for something new for the time being, until my new PC is built. Guess I wont bother.

How reliable are PC OTA HD recorders? Seems like they wont be as reliable, IMO.
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post #22 of 67 Old 12-22-2008, 07:40 AM
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They're as reliable as you want them to be. Use good components, tweak it to your satisfaction, and don't touch it. I've got a Myth box with dual QAM cable tuners (which can also do OTA, but I don't) and it's been rock-solid for a year and a half now. Most likely because I only mess with it when Comcast remaps QAM channels here, and it's a dedicated HTPC, not a general-use box.

The nice thing about having an HTPC is that it can serve all your media to the TV and to other devices on your network (downloaded movies, audio, etc.) and act as an upscaling DVD player to boot.
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post #23 of 67 Old 01-16-2009, 10:08 AM
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Quote:
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New ATSC/QAM DVR from DVICO:

TVIX R3310 Tuner/Network Media Box

That DVICO looks really interesting Kei. Have you or anyone else given it a try?
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post #25 of 67 Old 01-18-2009, 01:33 AM
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I have one and so does my friend Terry. I've been using it with OTA as I'm a Dish customer, but Terry has been testing QAM with cable. It's a media player so it does file playback of MPEG-2 but not as full featured in that arena as the other TVIX models that can do H.264 and .MKV. It's a pretty good DVR with the hard drive installed and you can define buffer size. It's a simple way to record transport stream from ATSC/QAM without having to use an HTPC.
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post #26 of 67 Old 01-18-2009, 10:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kei Clark View Post

New ATSC/QAM DVR from DVICO:

TVIX R3310 Tuner/Network Media Box

Single tuner and no HD included for $329 (399 list)? Uh, no. You could build a dual-tuner Myth box and have much more capability for $400 or so.
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post #27 of 67 Old 01-18-2009, 11:19 AM
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Originally Posted by slowbiscuit View Post

Single tuner and no HD included for $329 (399 list)? Uh, no. You could build a dual-tuner Myth box and have much more capability for $400 or so.

You could do that....if you're so inclined.
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post #28 of 67 Old 01-18-2009, 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by slowbiscuit View Post

Single tuner and no HD included for $329 (399 list)? Uh, no. You could build a dual-tuner Myth box and have much more capability for $400 or so.

If you are confident in your own ability to do so AND value your time at $0/hr then your's is a better solution. But, many people do not meet this criteria so this device MAY be the best solution for them. Without adding caveats your comparison is not valid and is really apples to oranges.
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post #29 of 67 Old 01-19-2009, 08:04 AM
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The only caveat is to have a clue about PCs. Wouldn't have to be Myth, you could also do QAM channels with BeyondTV, Sage, Vista MC, etc. if you wanted the hand-holding of Windows.

But I agree, some people just want to buy an overpriced black box as seen in this example. No hard drive and single tuner for what they're asking? C'mon, the Dish DTVPal DVR is $250 with a 250GB hard drive and dual tuners. It's OTA only, but the price is much more realistic.
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post #30 of 67 Old 01-19-2009, 08:13 AM
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Dual Tuner Myth box? I build my own home PC's, thats no problem. I want a Blu Ray recorder HDD DVR all in one to sit horizontally on my TV stand in the living room and controlled by my Harmony remote. Myth TV, dual tuners, which video card, EPG... Good Lord! Where do I begin? Recomended components for HD recording and playback? The DVR I want can only be had if I build it myself. But where to start? Please help!
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