Why aren't there VCR like components for recording HDTV OTA ? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 104 Old 07-26-2007, 11:18 AM - Thread Starter
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I see people asking this questions on forums every so often, and I too have wondered why there is such a lack of products for the consumer who wants this. It seems like a no brainer. Put a decent sized Harddrive in a box. Give it simple VCR like timer support and then sell it. What's keeping companies from offering anything like this for OTA HDTV recording ?

Is it piracy concerns ? Is it because the market just isn't there when Cable companies and satellite people have their DVRs ?

I have a SA8300 HD recorder and most of the time it does a good job for me. But there are those moments when Time Warner is havin technical problems or cable is out, andit would be nice to have OTA recording as a backup. But because of the lack of products out there I can't. I know you can go the PC route and make your own PVR, but why wouldn't a consumer have a fairly cheap box that did one thing ? Record HDTV OTA ?

The only thing I can think of, is that if blueray or HDDVD take off we'll see recorders eventually. But in the meantime there doesn't seem to be a simple way of getting this OTA content recorded. Not without fee's of some kind. Why isn't some company addressing this simple idea ? You should be able to get this box to market for less than $300.
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post #2 of 104 Old 07-26-2007, 12:39 PM
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There is such a box. It's called the TivoHD and the cost is $299, or about $270 after a BB or CC coupon.

http://www.tivo.com/

It's basically sold at cost and they make money on the $8+/mo subscription. Why Tivo doesn't offer a $200 option for a lifetime subscription to a "lite" VCR-like service, or a $400 lifetime subscription to the full service...is unknown.

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Originally Posted by tuna-head View Post

What's keeping companies from offering anything like this for OTA HDTV recording ?

Is it piracy concerns ? Is it because the market just isn't there when Cable companies and satellite people have their DVRs ?

The problem is that OTA is a very small niche. LG produced such a box but they discontinued it due to low demand and high support costs. No one has yet been able to mass produce a HD DVR without a monthly fee...and make money on it.

As soon as a manufacturer introduces CableCard support to provide more mass market appeal, the costs go up significantly. Once you hit the $300-$500 range, consumers expect and demand a reliable guide service, and that's not easy to provide. TVGoS isn't available everywhere, and doesn't support all services, and no manufacturer can afford to license and maintain their own guide service for free.
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post #3 of 104 Old 07-26-2007, 12:56 PM
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Quote:


I see people asking this questions on forums every so often, and I too have wondered why there is such a lack of products for the consumer who wants this. It seems like a no brainer. Put a decent sized Harddrive in a box. Give it simple VCR like timer support and then sell it. What's keeping companies from offering anything like this for OTA HDTV recording ?

They have. LG & Sony. They didn't sell well so they got discontinued.

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Is it because the market just isn't there when Cable companies and satellite people have their DVRs ?

This is why. Most HDTV owners have cable/sat. Few are OTA HD only. Not enough to make producing OTA DVR worthwhile. For cable/sat people it's far cheaper to just rent DVR from the provider. And these are mostly more powerful than the LG/Sony models, with better programming options, and no limitations like no view while recording (LG), or no dual tuner (Sony). Only Tivo made a box that in my mind was better than the cable/sat companies, and until the new Tivo HD box was released 2 days ago, it was far too expensive for me to even consider.

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Why isn't some company addressing this simple idea ? You should be able to get this box to market for less than $300.

I don't think there's any profit to be made at $300. Which is why Tivo has to charge their fee to try & make money, their box probably only breaks even on the hardware. If there was profit to be made at that point surely a company would have done so by now.
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post #4 of 104 Old 07-26-2007, 01:06 PM - Thread Starter
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What I don't get is why we don't have an option that doesn't require any service beyond the price of the box ? We had this in the analog world with VCRs. They certainly didn't require a subscription or fee's. They simply could be used with a timer. Is the market just not there for such a device ? This device would not be expensive to make at all. I'd say it could be done for $200.

Until satellite offers locals in HD on a widespread basis, aren't people in the OTA HD arena here ? you'd think these people would be looking for such a device.

I know I am.
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post #5 of 104 Old 07-26-2007, 01:24 PM
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I am right there with you Tuna-head. I don't use cable or satellite, but I enjoy my OTA HD signals very much. I resent the idea of having to pay a monthly fee for a myriad of channels that I will never even look at. If cable/satellite would let me pick and choose which channels to subscribe to it would be a different situation.

I also agree that there is no reason what-so-ever that there are not HDTV-VCRs beginning to show up. Yes, there were a few that were shown early on, but they were very expensive and there were not that many people who even had HDTV yet. Now that the field is changing, I am hoping that will change. I refuse to pay a monthly fee for a vcr. I am quite capable of setting a timer on my own thank-you-very-much.

For now, I have 2 my-hd cards which I use for this purpose. Of course, that takes up two PCs in the house. I have one that is a dedicated record machine and one that is my "watching" machine. That way I can record one channel while watching another. I just happened to have the two machines handy as I had upgraded about the time I got ready for HD, otherwise, I certinly would not have purchsed two computers just for this purpose.

So, I come here from time to time to check and see if anyone has released anything yet. Our society is quickly becoming one of renting/leasing whatever you want and never owning anything. I don't like that. I want to own what I want. So, what happens if tivo goes out of business (i know that is a streatch). There is no guarentee that anyone else will pick up that service. But if sony goes out of business, my 1980's betamax will still record whatever I tell it to.

Here's hoping they will come to their senses and get that HD-VCR on the market sometime soon.

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post #6 of 104 Old 07-26-2007, 02:18 PM
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CE manufacturers will sell any product that will net them their required return.

There is a reason why no CE manufacturers offer OTA HD DVRs without a monthly fee. Demand is low and most consumers won't pay what CE manufacturers would have to charge to realize an acceptable return after accounting for software R&D, hardware R&D, support / warrantee costs, and distribution / retail margins.

Limited demand for a product translates into fewer units manufactured and sold, hence fewer units over which to amortize R&D and fixed manufacturing costs. Smaller production runs also translate into higher component pricing.

If a company like Sony sold the TivoHD hardware with their own software, they would probably have to charge $600+ to realize any kind of acceptable return. Tivo Series3 owners already paid for most of the initial TivoHD software R&D, and at $299, Tivo expects to lose money on retail sales and break even overall, after accounting for direct (Tivo.com) sales. The profit will be generated from the monthly fee, but not all of it; according to Tivo's balance sheet, almost 60% of the monthly fee is spent on guide data delivery, ongoing service and support costs, and software updates, and the rest goes to the bottom line.

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Originally Posted by tuna-head View Post

I'd say it could be done for $200.

The individual components might cost $150 or $200 when purchased in quantity. But you could say the same thing for many $1500-$2000 TVs. The bill of materials is only a small fraction of the price of most retail CE products.
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post #7 of 104 Old 07-26-2007, 02:39 PM - Thread Starter
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I guess I have a difficult time believing the market for a simple HD recorder isn't there. Even if OTA is a limited market, a simple VCR type machine could still be used for cable and satellite, much like VCRs of the past.

Perhaps it's because the HD market is only now getting it's shot of adrenaline with satellite boosting it's capacity. But as HD takes off and captures the hearts of everyone, there is gonna be a need for such a device. Or at least I hope consumers demand one.

As more and more people understand that the best HD signal possible is still OTA, and that compression rears it's ugly face on cable and sattelite HD, maybe we'll see more and more demand for a simple device that records OTA.

Back in the day VCRs ruled the roost, and maybe cause it was our only choice at the time, but these component manufacturers made their profits on the units themselves. not on fee's and subscriptions. I would think the right product in the HD world could do the same.

I am hopeful that we see HDDVD or Blu ray recorders sometime soon. But they'll probably try and control things for those as well. As much as I like some of the issues with digital and HDTV broadcasts, I certainly don't want to see controls forced on me. Especially when all I want is to timeshift a few HD programs OTA.
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post #8 of 104 Old 07-26-2007, 04:57 PM
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Aren't you curious to talk about D-VHS?
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post #9 of 104 Old 07-26-2007, 06:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tuna-head View Post

What I don't get is why we don't have an option that doesn't require any service beyond the price of the box ? We had this in the analog world with VCRs. They certainly didn't require a subscription or fee's. They simply could be used with a timer. Is the market just not there for such a device ? This device would not be expensive to make at all. I'd say it could be done for $200.

Part of the problem is the competition from the leased boxes available through cable and satellite companies.

Human nature being what it is, most consumers don't really add up the cost of all those monthly fees to obtain a "true cost of ownership". This makes it hard for any product that is paid for upfront (without the support of ongoing monthly fees) to compete in the marketplace.

The other issue is the expectation that such a product could be sold (at a profit) for $200. Frankly, it seems more than slightly implausible that such a product could be profitably sold at that low of a price at this point in the development cycle for HD DVRs. I think we've had some folks post here in the past with the wholesale price that cable companies pay for their HD DVRs -- and I recall numbers that were greater than $200. Add in the retail markup, and you're probably looking at a price tag closer to $400.

Personally, I would be more than willing to pay in the $400 to $500 price range for an HD DVR that had a decent sized hard drive and Firewire output. I'd be willing to pay even more if the DVR offered the functionality to convert the HD files into DIVX or WMV format and burn those files to red laser DVD (after letting me edit out the commercials first, of course).
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post #10 of 104 Old 07-27-2007, 09:05 AM
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I have a DVHS HD recorder along with a firewire OTA STB. Works great for recording HD OTA. Cost 3 years ago was $629 ($299 + $330).

Wal Mart sells OTA digital receivers with DVD burners in them. At least one model also has a hard disk. They have disabled HD output of these units for some reason. They of course can not record HD on a DVD but they also down scale HD received shows for live viewing. I have such a DVD burner. I use it to off load HD shows from my satellite DVR.

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post #11 of 104 Old 07-27-2007, 02:52 PM
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tuna,

For $200, you're looking at devices like the newer Digital-DVD Recorders.

This is close to what you're looking for, but the main downside is that they don't record in HD, nor do they pass through HD.

Maybe after the analog cut-off, we'll see bare-bones HD recorders. But I won't hold my breath.

ft
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post #12 of 104 Old 07-27-2007, 03:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tuna-head View Post

What I don't get is why we don't have an option that doesn't require any service beyond the price of the box ? We had this in the analog world with VCRs. They certainly didn't require a subscription or fee's. They simply could be used with a timer. Is the market just not there for such a device ? This device would not be expensive to make at all. I'd say it could be done for $200.

Until satellite offers locals in HD on a widespread basis, aren't people in the OTA HD arena here ? you'd think these people would be looking for such a device.

I know I am.

Most of the OTA-only people here who just wanted a simple HD time-shifting device have been using the LG and Sony units mentioned above.

You're just a little too late to the party - if you'd have been around here a year or so back, you'd have been aware of being able to get the 500GB Sony DVR for only $249.99 on closeout from Tweeter.
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post #13 of 104 Old 07-27-2007, 04:31 PM
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A D-VHS VCR with a built in HD tuner would be a nice start. If someone made one I'd go out and buy it tomorrow even if it cost as much as a DVHS and STB combined.

DVRs are nice, but there are times when I like to be able to take a recording to another room (or another house), or I might want to save a recording. Also, every DVR I've ever used (including Tivo) is plagued with problems like a slow user interface, and/or frequent crashing.
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post #14 of 104 Old 07-27-2007, 05:19 PM
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JVC did make at least one model (that I'm aware of) of D-VHS VCR with a built in ATSC tuner a couple of years back. I don't believe it had clear-QAM though.

You can still find them used.
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post #15 of 104 Old 07-27-2007, 08:26 PM
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Since the original poster is looking for an HD OTA recorder the JVC model you mentioned would be perfect. That model number is HM-DT100.
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post #16 of 104 Old 07-28-2007, 10:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bfdtv View Post

There is such a box. It's called the TivoHD and the cost is $299, or about $270 after a BB or CC coupon.

http://www.tivo.com/

It's basically sold at cost and they make money on the $8+/mo subscription. Why Tivo doesn't offer a $200 option for a lifetime subscription to a "lite" VCR-like service, or a $400 lifetime subscription to the full service...is unknown.

As soon as a manufacturer introduces CableCard support to provide more mass market appeal, the costs go up significantly. Once you hit the $300-$500 range, consumers expect and demand a reliable guide service, and that's not easy to provide. TVGoS isn't available everywhere, and doesn't support all services, and no manufacturer can afford to license and maintain their own guide service for free.

I've been asking the same thing about an HD recorder since I replaced my analog TV which died in 2003 with an HDTV monitor. I time-shift almost everything with my VCR, and don't believe in paying monthly charges for Tivo for idiots or Starsight just to be able to program it. Since my TV does not have an OTA tuner, I've been watching and recording low-definition cable (only because my reception was crap with rabbit ears and my HOA wouldn't let me install a roof antenna, which I now know I can after reading the FCC fact here) in even lower-resolution SVHS. Buying an OTA tuner (which is impossible to find at a local store, probably for same reasons as a lack of an OTA HD recorder) or subscribing to cable HD was kind of pointless when I am rarely around to watch HD live. Last month I just subscribed to Comcast's HD package and their DVR since they were offering a special for $25/month for digital cable for 3 months, however it's actually more since they require upgrade to "Digital Classic" and $12/month HD-PVR fee. Months ago, I found out that my options were either spend about $1000/year on Comcast to get their HD package and HD-PVR or buy an $800 Tivo + $100/year in subscription fees, I decided that I was going to build an HTPC for under $1000 with tuners for OTA & cable. I now know that Comcast's HD is unsatisfactory as they only broadcast HD channels in letterbox (on all 4 sides) format rather than using my full widescreen and their DVR doesn't have commercial skip or the simple 30-second fast-forward feature that I use on my VCR to skip commercials and they only offer a nation PBS HD channel rather than my 2 local PBS stations in HD. So I'm going to cancel my Comcast HD and HD-PVR after the 3 month special. I just found out about the new $300 Tivo + $100 yearly subscription fee which seems attractive as it's ROI under 5 years ($800) is about equivalent to an HTPC or the Tivo 3 or Comcast HD + HD-PVR. However, how much more is it if I want to be able to record cable content? Are we talking another $100/year for cable card?
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post #17 of 104 Old 07-28-2007, 10:48 AM
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Over at TivoCommunityForum I've seen prices as low as $1.50 per card per month to $25 per month. It varies even within the same company.
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post #18 of 104 Old 07-28-2007, 01:05 PM
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For the last 4 years, I had been using my Mitsubishi (HS-HD2000U) D-VCR for OTA-HD recording via a firewire connection to my Hitachi (65XWX20B) HDTV. Over the years, I've collected dozens of free programs that I recorded OTA-HD. Unfortunately for me, I picked up a Comcast HD-DVR box to test out for a month or so and became hooked I plan to retire my D-VCR to EBAY, although, for 4 years it served it's purpose well

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post #19 of 104 Old 07-31-2007, 09:16 AM
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Both Cable and Satellite companies lobby very aggressive in Washington with lots of $$$$$. Their number one goal is to kill off OTA.

Cab/Sat will do all that they can, with any means necessary to prevent you from recording, even if it is OTA only.

So far they are succeeding in obtaining their goals.
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post #20 of 104 Old 07-31-2007, 09:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HDTimeShifter View Post

I now know that Comcast's HD is unsatisfactory as they only broadcast HD channels in letterbox (on all 4 sides) format rather than using my full widescreen and their DVR doesn't have commercial skip or the simple 30-second fast-forward feature that I use on my VCR to skip commercials and they only offer a nation PBS HD channel rather than my 2 local PBS stations in HD.

This is puzzling. You say that you have a new widescreen (presumably HDTV) television. And that you have the Comcast HD-DVR. Yet the HD channels are shown as a "postage stamp".

It really sounds like your DVR or TV is set-up incorrectly. I can say with experience that Comcast's HD-DVRs can output full 720p/1080i to TVs that accept it. HD programming will fully fill the TV.

As for your PBS dilemma ... in my area, they carry the local PBS-HD station (which is WHYY-HD). Are you sure that your local PBS stations have an HD channel? Also, I know that my local PBS station does not show the same programs on the SD and HD channels.

ft
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post #21 of 104 Old 07-31-2007, 07:49 PM
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Quote:


I have 2 my-hd cards which I use for this purpose.

Hey Mike,
what card do you use? I am interested in recording local sports events and other programs that won't be out on DVD.

I can do all things through Jesus Christ, who strengthens me......
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post #22 of 104 Old 07-31-2007, 08:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HoustonPerson View Post

Both Cable and Satellite companies lobby very aggressive in Washington with lots of $$$$$. Their number one goal is to kill off OTA.

They may but the networks are lobbying equally hard for OTA HD with local affiliates ramping up local content. My cousin is a senior engineer at the local ABC station and they finished their HD News center last year so all news broadcasts are in HD. He tells me their next big push is to have all field reporting shot with HD cameras that can be ported directly back to the mothership with no scaling or compression required.

Personally I think the cows are already out of the barn. The farmers are trying desperately to chop them into steaks.

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post #23 of 104 Old 07-31-2007, 08:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roadkyng View Post

Hey Mike,
what card do you use? I am interested in recording local sports events and other programs that won't be out on DVD.

That's what he uses, a "MYHD" card.
I believe the full model # is MyHD MDP-130
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post #24 of 104 Old 08-01-2007, 08:06 AM
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That's correct. I have two of the MYHD cards (the 100 version, had them a while) One in a PC next to my TV that I use mainly for watching and time shifting, and one on another PC used mainly for recording. I then watch the saved files over the network (1gb) on the machine next to the TV. Not a completely glamerous setup, but it impresses the wife! What more could you ask for.

My biggest thing is that OTA is all I'm interested in at this point. With cable/fios/satellite there are just too many channels that I care nothing about that I would have to pay for in order to get the local HD channels I can get for free with my antenna. I would gladly pay $500 for a settop box that had 2 atsc tuners, a hard drive (or I could supply my own) that would act like a tivo without having to pay for a subscription. I'm just tired of everyone wanting "Just $19.95 a month" from me. All those $19.95s add up.

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post #25 of 104 Old 08-01-2007, 05:04 PM
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Or - you could just do like myself and others here, and split the antenna/cable to our Sony DVR's and the TV's ATSC/QAM/NTSC tuner.

Then you could at least record one thing while watching another without any monthly fees involved.
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post #26 of 104 Old 08-02-2007, 08:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ftaok View Post

This is puzzling. You say that you have a new widescreen (presumably HDTV) television. And that you have the Comcast HD-DVR. Yet the HD channels are shown as a "postage stamp".

It really sounds like your DVR or TV is set-up incorrectly. I can say with experience that Comcast's HD-DVRs can output full 720p/1080i to TVs that accept it. HD programming will fully fill the TV.

As for your PBS dilemma ... in my area, they carry the local PBS-HD station (which is WHYY-HD). Are you sure that your local PBS stations have an HD channel? Also, I know that my local PBS station does not show the same programs on the SD and HD channels.

I bought my HDTV monitor in '03. I just figured out the problem - the Comcast technician hooked it up via coax cable, and only my 2 component inputs are HD. I recabled the connection via components and I now get native full-screen HD without having to use the TV's Zoom feature.

I'd have to check my local HD reception thread, but I seem to recall that the local PBS stations both broadcast in HD as well as analog. I wasn't aware that they simply weren't rebroadcasting their analog content in HD and passing through a national PBS HD feed instead, but I'll have to inquire in my local HD reception thread.

Other than ESPN & ESPN HD to watch my out of region East Coast alma matter college football games in the fall, I see no reason to pay $50 more per month for cable HD and HD-PVR if I can get all the other content OTA (almost all of the stuff I watch is prime-time network shows and local news). The only other cable-only channel I really used to regularly watch on analog cable is SpeedTV for Formula 1 and other road-racing events, but that's not even available in HD. Even without an inexpensive HD-PVR available for purchase, I figure spending $900 on a dual ATSC/QAM/NTSC tuner HTPC with 1/2 GB or larger hard drive gets its ROI after a year and a half vs. $50/month cable and HD-PVR rental fees. My only problem is the bulkiness and noise of having a 1 box server/client HTPC in the living room, not to mention the trouble to spend time doing the research and buying/building it. Fan noise will be the main issue as I have room to set a PC box next to my A/V component TV stand.

I also hate paying monthly subscription fees just to be able to record TV. That's why I never got Tivo or believed in paying for Starsight service when I was intelligent enough to figure out how to record programs manually on my VCR.
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post #27 of 104 Old 08-02-2007, 10:57 AM
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Originally Posted by HDTimeShifter View Post

I also hate paying monthly subscription fees just to be able to record TV. That's why I never got Tivo or believed in paying for Starsight service when I was intelligent enough to figure out how to record programs manually on my VCR.

Amen!

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post #28 of 104 Old 08-03-2007, 03:42 PM
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I continue to wait for ATSC OTA time shifting that is more convenient than the NTSC OTA time shifting I currently enjoy.

The current procedure is:
1. Remotely select a show via TV Guide Plus Gold on my 8 year old TV which controls the 10 year old SVHS via IR blaster.
2. Remotely rewind, watch, rewind.

If the quality of the picture or sound is important, I use a less convenient method:
1. Remotely find show on TV.
2. Remotely tune 4 year old ATSC tuner.
3. Remotely program SVHS (timer/line-in).
4. Remotely rewind, watch, rewind.

I've pondered the following options over the years:
1. I passed on DVHS because they have no guide.
2. I passed on LG's first attempt (LST-3410) due to posts here.
3. I passed on Sony's first attempt (DHG-HDDxxx) because the production run was so short (I suspect due to a service call nightmare caused by cablecard).
4. I would buy the Tivo 3 today, with the service, if I knew it would work via timer should the service become unavailable.
5. The HTPCs are getting better.

My current setup looks and sounds good with a variety of sources. Time shifting is reliable and convenient. I choose to wait. I suspect many others have made the same choice.

Rick
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post #29 of 104 Old 08-03-2007, 05:37 PM
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Originally Posted by HDTimeShifter View Post

I also hate paying monthly subscription fees just to be able to record TV. That's why I never got Tivo or believed in paying for Starsight service when I was intelligent enough to figure out how to record programs manually on my VCR.

I'm smart enough to reconcile my bank statements with paper and pencil, but using Quicken on my computer is more convenient and much more reliable.
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post #30 of 104 Old 08-03-2007, 06:15 PM
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The original poster was wondering why they haven't produced a OTA recorder like the VCR. THEY HAVE!!

For the past 2.5 years I've been using the Sony HDD250. All I ever watch is prime time and news casts. I am able to watch all of this in high definition and record with Tivo like features without having to pay a monthly subscription or a cable or sat bill. I have never had any problems with the TVGOS system. Every month that I don't get a bill, I get a big smile on my face and feel like I'm sticking it to somebody. Don't know who, but free HD TV is a good thing.
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