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Options for Unattended Recording of Digital Cable (IR Blaster ?)

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Hi guys,
I currently subscribe to Rogers Cable (Canada) Standard (NTSC, not HD) Digital Cable service and rent their PVR for a $20 (+tax) monthly fee (PVR was free first 2 years with the trade in of my Bell ExpressView Satelite receiver).

I have been researching my options as far as 3rd party PVRs go, as I am not happy paying $240 (+tax) a year for Rogers' PVR (Scientific Atlanta). The unit is not at all worth the cost, the HardDrive only holds about 50 hours of programming, there is no external DVD recorder, there is no commercial skip feature, no Zoom feature, the channel/programming guide and Search feature absolutely suck, the unit is slow and is prone to crashes.

After researching what is available to me in Canada I was about to make the leap and purchase a Pionner PVR (either the DVR-550H-K or DVR-650H-K), when I realised that all of the product specs only mention the inclusion of an analog tuner capable of recording only the analog portion of my cable signal .

My dilemna is that I want to be able to record my Digital channels as well and be able to program/control those channels from the PVR. Rogers from what I've read does not support Cable cards for 3rd Party Digital Tuners .

From my research I believe my only option is to continue using a Rogers Standard NTSC Digital Cable box to tune the channels and then ouput the signal via the S-Video output to a 3rd party PVR for recording.

For unattended recording I believe I only have 2 options, I can either:
- Synch the programming timer on both the Digital Cable Box and the PVR.....this is not a desirable option.
- Purchase a PVR with an IR Blaster to control the Digital Cable Box.....this is the more desirable option.

The Pioneer PVR specs do not list IR Blasting as an option, so my questions (finally) are :
- Which PVR models are available for purchase within Canada (or US) wich include IR Blasters ??
- Other than IR Blasting, do I have any other options that I'm not aware of for the unattended recording of Digital Channels ??

Thanks !!!
post #2 of 6
I don't believe the Pioneers (or the Panasonics) have IR blasters like you say.

There are no '07 HDD models here (there are only 3) that include an IR blaster, either.

I know that the LG DVD-only recorders here do, but they have no HDD.

Unless you can find an HDD model there that does, and I don't know of any, you're stuck with programming each unit separately. Be glad you at least have that ability with your cable box. Some still don't.

Those Pioneer models you mention are very nice models. I've actually been thinking of getting one for myself (they are available here through certain outlets). I'm considering getting the 650H for it's "Jukebox" feature, to transfer a lot of my music collection to.

A couple of people on the DVD Recorders forum (which is where you'll really find the most information on SD HDD/DVD models) have the Panasonics, and have said they are excellent units, also. Both Pio and Panny have always had the reputation of being the best HDD/DVD recorders (at least in the U.S.).

If you want to ask around for more info, just head on over to the DVD Recorders forum here. Maybe you'll even find someone who's selling one of their older HDD recorders (assuming it will have a code for the IR blaster to work your cable box). You can check the "For Sale" subforum here, too. I know that someone was recently selling his Sony RDR-HX900, which is one of the best HDD/DVD/IR models ever. Don't know if it's been sold or not yet, though. (I'd still recommend the 650H over it - mainly because of it's comparatively massive hard drive.)
post #3 of 6
I have a Panasonic HDD/DVD PVR I bought a number of years ago that comes with an IR blaster. It works great with Shaw/Roger's cable box. I assumed that all Panasonics came with one, but I could be wrong.

The only thing I don't like about the Panasonic is that it downloads TV guide information from Shaw, and Shaw's data is not always reliable or complete.

I'm hoping that it won't take too long for the HD-capable recorders to come out.
post #4 of 6
Nope. None of the newest Panasonics have one. It stopped with last year's models, the EH55V and the EH75V (U.S. version model #'s). And the newest, multi-regional ones don't have them, either, unfortunately.

Although there may be some older, international models still available somewhere that have them - you'd have to search. The older and used major brand name HDD models here are really hard to come by, and they command a real premium. Just check ebay and Amazon to see what I mean. They're asking 2 grand for a Panny EH75V! That's mainly because they aren't selling them here anymore. All we have now are 3 inferior, stripped-down, cheapo, Chinese-made models. One of the biggest issues with them is that their digital QAM tuners keep dropping channels (they just disappear).

Even our DVD-only recorders are mostly crap now. They're almost all Chinese, and they have many problems and don't seem to last very long. A lot of them seem to "lockup" a lot.

Also, they are more sensitive to copyguard than the older models are, and people have all kinds of trouble recording things from their providers with them (true, they are inserting this more and more in the signals, but the older models don't have the "sensors" built in - you need to spend at least an extra $120.00 for a "video enhancer" or "filter" from an internet dealer to be able to break the copyguard. You used to be able to buy them in the stores under the "Sima" name, but they were sued, so they basically changed their name and went underground).
post #5 of 6
Thanks for the info. I've been hoping that mine would die so I could buy a new one, but it may be better for me to just wait.

Mine is a Panasonic DMR-E85H and prices on ebay seem to be OK right now.
post #6 of 6
I've got one of those, too, along with a Panny EH75V and a Sony RDR-HX900. I'm keeping them all until they're good and dead.

I don't know about Canadians, but we can get the Pannies repaired here for a flat fee of $130.00 at the Elgin, IL repair facility.

That's more than worth it for most of us owners over in the "DVD Recorders" forum.

As far as the TVGOS not downloading correctly, you can always just not set up that feature and/or bypass it.
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