Originally Posted by Eddie Richards
Uh-oh. And I just purchased one of these this past weekend.
Therefore, I'll have to look at the rest of the thread to see what happens.
If you bought your 515 from Wal*Mart, you're pretty much covered indefinitely by their incredibly generous return/exchange warranty: hold onto your receipt and treat it like gold. If you bought your Magnavox elsewhere, try to use it heavily within the first couple weeks so any defects manifest quickly enough for an exchange/return. The 515 works beautifully with digital ATSC off-air-antenna signals, or with a cable/satellite decoder attached to its line inputs
. But cable without a decoder box- not so much. If you want to buy a 515 to record from cable, and don't presently have a decoder box, talk to your cableco about getting some kind of free or low-cost box
. Hook the box to your 515 line inputs and you'll avoid 75% of the reported "defects and failures" of the Magnavox. You can use a splitter to continue feeding the cable wire direct to your TV tuner, retaining some viewing flexibility apart from the recorder.
Every DVD recorder of every brand has bugs: most are harmless, some are fatal and some are smack in the middle. The Magnavox has a couple "smack in the middle" bugs which are the source of most (if not all) "it died on me" complaints. The number one with a bullet cause of Magnavox "failure" is attempting to use its built-in tuner to bypass using a cable box: this nets you a 70/30 chance the unit will freeze, sputter or otherwise come unglued at the seams. Whether we like it or not, cable sucks, and we have to work around their little technical traps if we want to use our own recorders instead of their "official" PVRs. Cable service causes recorder problems when the signal coming down the wire is mixed-mode (analog and digital/QAM). Because of their particular tuner design (which has been refined and improved over millions of sets sold), most modern flatscreen televisions handle this mixed-mode direct cable wire signal reasonably well, and don't generally choke. So if you have very basic "boxless" cable it will usually work fine attached to a newish television.
DVD recorders have not sold worth crap since the digital broadcast conversion, so their tuners have not been updated from the initial spec to cope with ever-shifting cable service glitches or mixed-mode simultaneous signals. (Some recorders like Panasonic EZ series handle mixed-mode basic cable OK, but then bite you with a faulty timer system or other gotchas- none of these units is perfect.) The Magnavox DVD/HDD lineup in general, and the 515 in particular, *loathes* mixed-mode analog/digital cable. If you insist on maintaining your "boxless" service and refuse to use a decoder box, you roll the dice each time you turn on your 515. If you "lose" and your 515 hangs on a flakey analog cable channel, you're screwed: it really is that cut and dried.
Times have changed, and cable signal specs are very
different from the days of the VCR. In deference to our esteemed wajo, who hates it when I throw a wet blanket on the "Magnavox Cable Party": yes, some
cities and regions do still have "solid" boxless cable signals which don't confuse the Magnavox tuner. But not as many as we'd like to believe- if you make assumptions, plug your 515 directly into the cable wire, and it chokes, you'll wish you hadn't bothered. Its worth a try, but only if you're comfortable coming back here to research the hundred different voodoo schemes for resetting the unit if it backfires on your specific cable service. Want to avoid any chance of a headache? Use a decoder box with cable service.