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Alternatives to TiVo

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
I just switched from Comcast to RCN. I currently have the internet, phone, cable package. I would like to record cartoon programs for my daughter that mostly appear during the day while she is in school.

I can't justify renting a TiVo box and pay a monthly subscription fee. I am new to digital video recorder boxes. What are my options and how would I integrate it into my set-up?

My current setup is a Panasonic Plasma Viera, Motorola DCX700 and Arris's Touchstone Telephony Modem TM502G.
post #2 of 23
You might want to look at a Magnavox MDR513 or 515, which is a HDD/DVD recorder, std def only, but I don't think your daughter will notice.

Find lots more info and ask questions in the Mag thread by clicking #1 in my signature.
post #3 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by wajo View Post

You might want to look at a Magnavox MDR513 or 515, which is a HDD/DVD recorder, std def only, but I don't think your daughter will notice.

I'm 100% agree with wajo. Anyway, just for your info maybe there's another option:


Heres's the Recorder with HDMI Inputs? Yes it exists! thread.


post #4 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by PixelDot View Post

I just switched from Comcast to RCN. I currently have the internet, phone, cable package. I would like to record cartoon programs for my daughter that mostly appear during the day while she is in school.

I can't justify renting a TiVo box and pay a monthly subscription fee. I am new to digital video recorder boxes. What are my options and how would I integrate it into my set-up?

My current setup is a Panasonic Plasma Viera, Motorola DCX700 and Arris's Touchstone Telephony Modem TM502G.

If an analog SD copy is OK, just use the composite video (yellow) and audio (red and white) RCA type connections on the back of the DCX700, and record the programs on a VCR. {Remember those?}
post #5 of 23
Thread Starter 
Some good suggestions. wajo. I was trying to do some research on Magnavox's DVRs mentioned but I could not find it on Magnavox's Web site. I do seem them on Target and Amazon. Did Magnavox discontinue their DVR line?

domino92024. The VCR approach is certainly the least expensive but I alway had problems getting the Sony DVD/VCR to record correctly. Plus, I prefer not to start collecting or keep track of recorded DVDs.

I was also looking at the Motorola DCT series. Has anyone tried them yet? The internal hard drive is small. I am not sure if I could swap it out for a larger drive without voiding the warranty. But I do notice there is a SATA port to hook up an external drive. I am wondering if this was done intentional instead of just putting a larger internal hard drive.

profhat, I couldn't see the other option. The JPG did not appear.
post #6 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by PixelDot View Post

Some good suggestions. wajo. I was trying to do some research on Magnavox's DVRs mentioned but I could not find it on Magnavox's Web site. I do seem them on Target and Amazon. Did Magnavox discontinue their DVR line?

Here's the Magnavox page on the 515.

Here's an entire thread on the Mag line with lots more info.
post #7 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by PixelDot View Post

Some good suggestions. wajo. I was trying to do some research on Magnavox's DVRs mentioned but I could not find it on Magnavox's Web site. I do seem them on Target and Amazon. Did Magnavox discontinue their DVR line?

domino92024. The VCR approach is certainly the least expensive but I alway had problems getting the Sony DVD/VCR to record correctly. Plus, I prefer not to start collecting or keep track of recorded DVDs.

I was also looking at the Motorola DCT series. Has anyone tried them yet? The internal hard drive is small. I am not sure if I could swap it out for a larger drive without voiding the warranty. But I do notice there is a SATA port to hook up an external drive. I am wondering if this was done intentional instead of just putting a larger internal hard drive.

profhat, I couldn't see the other option. The JPG did not appear.

You won't be able to buy the Motorola anywhere, you would have to rent it from your cable provider. Therefore you won't be able to swap out the drive. Also not all cable providers allow the use of the external hard drive over the e-Sata port. They disable the port somehow in the software. Also if they do allow it, just a warning in case it works like the Tivo expander drive. You can't disconnect the the drive and use it on a PC, for example, or connect to another box. The Tivo expander turns on like a Raid-0 (?) drive so the data is distributed across both drives.
post #8 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by PixelDot View Post

I just switched from Comcast to RCN . . . I would like to record cartoon programs for my daughter that mostly appear during the day while she is in school.

I can't justify renting a TiVo box and pay a monthly subscription fee . . . What are my options and how would I integrate it into my set-up?

What did you used to do to accomplish this task when you were with Comcast.
post #9 of 23
Thread Starter 
1. I was originally using a Sony DVD/VCR box to record stuff. So the DVR arena is a new thing for me.

2. Can't buy Motorola DVR? Funny, I can see a shopping cart when I view the product on Motorola's Web site but nothing to click on to put it into the cart. So how come there are people selling the Motorola DVR boxes on eBay?

3. I notice my Panasonic TV has Viera Connect. When I access it, it lists these services MLB, NHL, NBA, NFL (Fox), one game, Hulu plus, YouTube, Amazon Video, NetFlix and CinemaNow. I can't figure out if these are services provided by Panasonic or RCN.
post #10 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by PixelDot View Post

2. Can't buy Motorola DVR? Funny, I can see a shopping cart when I view the product on Motorola's Web site but nothing to click on to put it into the cart. So how come there are people selling the Motorola DVR boxes on eBay?

Buying one may be possible, but getting a cable company to authorize one is a different story (if you live in the U.S.)
post #11 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by PixelDot View Post

3. I notice my Panasonic TV has Viera Connect. When I access it, it lists these services MLB, NHL, NBA, NFL (Fox), one game, Hulu plus, YouTube, Amazon Video, NetFlix and CinemaNow. I can't figure out if these are services provided by Panasonic or RCN.

Neither. They're services that can be streamed from the internet.

(What - no Pandora?)
post #12 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by PixelDot View Post

Can't buy Motorola DVR? Funny, I can see a shopping cart when I view the product on Motorola's Web site but nothing to click on to put it into the cart. So how come there are people selling the Motorola DVR boxes on eBay?

Depending on where you live, you could be able to have your cable company activate a Motorola cable box or DVR that you've purchased. This is not done anywhere in the USA, but is done in Canada and areas in South America (and probably other places as well). All of the cable companies in the USA will refuse to activate any cable box or DVR except for ones that they lease out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PixelDot View Post

I notice my Panasonic TV has Viera Connect. When I access it, it lists these services MLB, NHL, NBA, NFL (Fox), one game, Hulu plus, YouTube, Amazon Video, NetFlix and CinemaNow. I can't figure out if these are services provided by Panasonic or RCN.

They are provided by Panasonic. All TV's now come with numerous internet entertainment channels. Many Blu-ray players also offer the exact same content.
post #13 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by TNO821 View Post

They are provided by Panasonic. All TV's now come with numerous internet entertainment channels. Many Blu-ray players also offer the exact same content.

That statement could be misleading to this OP.

OP: Panasonic and other manufacturers do not provide the services. Those services are independent entities on the Internet you could subscribe to and access on your PC with your web browser. Some subscriptions are free (YouTube) but most others require payment (NetFlix, VOD movies and sports). Panasonic has provided an interface to give you access to a selection of Internet services with it's equipment so you wouldn't have to buy a separate media box (i.e. Roku). From time to time, Panasonic may provide an update to their equipment to expand the number of services that could be accessed, but that doesn't happen very often and is less and less likely as soon as the new models come out. IOW, take it for what it is now and don't expect more.
post #14 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by PixelDot View Post

1. I was originally using a Sony DVD/VCR box to record stuff. So the DVR arena is a new thing for me.

Assuming you are in the US you have two basic choices.

1. Acquire an integrated cable DVR that will take the place of your current STB and provide you with multiple tuners (record one channel while watching another) and 1-click recording from an integrated channel guide that will appear on your screen. A DVR is a hi-def recording option. You will have direct access to all the cable channels you are paying for and your recording capacity will be a function of the size of the HDD in the unit. Here you have three choices: TiVo, Moxi or the DVR your cable co will rent you. TiVo and Moxi are units you would purchase and own -- but you would still have to rent a "cable card" from RCN to integrate the device with their cable network. The payback period of owning vs. rental could be 4-5 years.

2. Acquire a "VCR equivalent" and continue to do what you have been doing. The Magnavox DVD recorder (it's not a DVR) that was noted above is such an option. A DVD recorder is a standard-def recording option. You would attach it to an output of your current STB as you did for your VCR and manually program it to record like a VCR (date/time/duration). Unlike a VCR, a DVD recorder records to an internal HDD so there are no tapes to deal with. Your recordings are displayed as a list of titles on the screen for you to pick from. When done watching you simply delete it from the list and "record over it". If you decide to keep a recording you have the option of burning it onto disk -- as long as it was not a copy-protected cable show.

At ~$200, a DVD recorder is a cheaper option than an integrated DVR. Of course the functionality is much, much less, but if you don't need all that functionality (or can't justify paying for it) a DVD recorder is a fine option. If you want to go rock-bottom cheap to record cartoons, go onto Craig's list and purchase a good used VCR for $20-50 and continue on as you have been. Personally, I think the DVD recorder would be the best option for you based on what you have written.
post #15 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by wajo View Post

Here's the Magnavox page on the 515.

Hard to tell, but this device appears to be SD only. No HD?
post #16 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by domino92024 View Post

Hard to tell, but this device appears to be SD only. No HD?

Yes, SD only, as I told the OP in Post #2.
post #17 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelson View Post

That statement could be misleading to this OP.

OP: Panasonic and other manufacturers do not provide the services. Those services are independent entities on the Internet you could subscribe to and access on your PC with your web browser. Some subscriptions are free (YouTube) but most others require payment (NetFlix, VOD movies and sports). Panasonic has provided an interface to give you access to a selection of Internet services with it's equipment so you wouldn't have to buy a separate media box (i.e. Roku). From time to time, Panasonic may provide an update to their equipment to expand the number of services that could be accessed, but that doesn't happen very often and is less and less likely as soon as the new models come out. IOW, take it for what it is now and don't expect more.

True, but I took his question to be "Are these channels coming from the TV or from my cable company?" And the simplest answer is the TV. I don't really think anyone was under the impression that the television manufacturer was producing all the content.
post #18 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelson View Post

2. Acquire a "VCR equivalent" and continue to do what you have been doing. The Magnavox DVD recorder (it's not a DVR) that was noted above is such an option.

I'm curious, why the 515 isn't a DVR? Thanks.
post #19 of 23
The term DVR(at least around here) is generally reserved for a device that just records to a HDD, since the 515 can also record to DVD it's generally called a DVDR.
I guess you could call a 515 a DVR but it could lead to confusion around here
post #20 of 23
Thread Starter 
I finally talked with an RCN rep. It turns out that their system will only recognize the DVRs they rent out. In this case only TiVo. They use to offer other DVR boxes but they are phasing them out in favor of TiVo. So my only option now is TiVo. Thanks for everyone's input. Looks like I have to start a new thread about renting or buying a TiVo.
post #21 of 23
You can still use their STB to tune the channel and record the signal to a DVDR like the Magnavox(or any device that records from a line output). Make sure the STB has at least a composite output(S-video would be better) because the cheap DTA converters only have a RF channel 3 output(which would also work with the Magnavox but the quality won't be so good).
post #22 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by jjeff View Post

The term DVR(at least around here) is generally reserved for a device that just records to a HDD, since the 515 can also record to DVD it's generally called a DVDR.
I guess you could call a 515 a DVR but it could lead to confusion around here

Thank you very much, now is clear. I guess a 515-like device lead to confusion anywhere

And to Pixeldot good look with the TiVo (don't forget to ask for a discount!)
post #23 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thanks profhat! Discount? You can request a discount from TiVo? I know there are on-line coupons codes from third party web sites. Is that what you are referring to?
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