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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Now that we've made the switch to digital cable, we have a bit of an issue with our TV in the basement.


Until now, each TV set in our house has been hooked up to its own VCR so that we can watch one channel while taping another wherever we happen to be in the house. With the addition of the set-top boxes, it gets more complicated to do this. I'll post a question on that issue later.



As I was looking into the various ways to connect the STB, VCR, and TV together, I realized that the TV (a Mitsubishi model from 1993) has one single set of composite video inputs. Trouble is, the STB that Comcast sent us (a Motorola DCT2000) has composite output only (plus the coaxial), and the VCR (a stand-alone unit, not a combo VCR/DVD player) also has only composite output to send signals to the TV (plus the coax).


FWIW, the TV does have an S-Video input, but the VCR doesn't, and the spot labeled S-Video on the Comcast STB is empty.


But I want to focus on the composite video connection. The above has been mainly for background. My question is -- is there any adapter or other device that will enable me to connect both sets of composite video wires (from the the STB and the VCR) to the TV's single set of composite inputs? Or is that a ridiculous idea?.


I know, I know -- the sensible solution is to replace all these museum pieces and get modern equipment, but I'm approaching this as a puzzle to solve.


My apologies if I got any of the terminology wrong. Hopefully it was clear enough -- I'm learning as I go along here. Thanks in advance for your suggestions.


--JorgeA
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by JorgeA /forum/post/17005861


My question is -- is there any adapter or other device that will enable me to connect both sets of composite video wires (from the the STB and the VCR) to the TV's single set of composite inputs?

--JorgeA

I use the Philips SWV2030/17 3-Input Video Switcher "AV-Select" priced around $10 at our local Fred Meyer (Kroger) Store.
 

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A switcher can work, although it will not provide the capability for "unattended" recording of digital cable channels on the VCR while watching a different channel on the TV.


The only solution is to:

1) rent two digital cable boxes. one for the VCR and one for the TV.

2) using a "switcher" or two digital cable boxes, note that the VCR's cable box has to be set to the proper channel prior to recording.

3) rent a dual tuner DVR from the cable provider and get rid of the VCR for recording purposes.


IN other words... out with the old, in with the new.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by DigaDo /forum/post/17005932


I use the Philips SWV2030/17 3-Input Video Switcher "AV-Select" priced around $10 at our local Fred Meyer (Kroger) Store.

Cool! Not only does this device exist, but it sounds like it should be easy to find. I was afraid it might be some kind of special-order item, if it was even available.


Thanks very much, I'll look into this one.


--JorgeA
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·

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Originally Posted by Ratman /forum/post/17006166


A switcher can work, although it will not provide the capability for "unattended" recording of digital cable channels on the VCR while watching a different channel on the TV.


The only solution is to:

1) rent two digital cable boxes. one for the VCR and one for the TV.

2) using a "switcher" or two digital cable boxes, note that the VCR's cable box has to be set to the proper channel prior to recording.

3) rent a dual tuner DVR from the cable provider and get rid of the VCR for recording purposes.


IN other words... out with the old, in with the new.

Ratman,


Thank you for pointing out the problem about not being able to do unattended VCR recording of encrypted digital cable channels. What do you think: would DigaDo's approach work for digital cable channels that are not encrypted? We don't subscribe to HBO or other premium channels anyway.


--JorgeA
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·

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Originally Posted by Joxer /forum/post/17007437


I'd suggest renting a DVR box instead of the plain digital tuner box then you won't even need the VCR.

You solution, of course, is the sensible one. But I'm looking for ways to save my ability to tape, on the VCR, a different channel than the one I'm watching.


Also, by now it's become a bit of a challenge to figure out if I can do this, and how.


--JorgeA
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by JorgeA /forum/post/17013630


You solution, of course, is the sensible one. But I'm looking for ways to save my ability to tape, on the VCR, a different channel than the one I'm


And that's exactly what a DVR can do... except you don't have to buy VCR tapes anymore. And! No more rewinding!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratman /forum/post/17014083


And that's exactly what a DVR can do... except you don't have to buy VCR tapes anymore. And! No more rewinding!

Ratman,


We'll probably end up there before we know it. Originally I started to look into all these complicated solutions so that my wife could go on doing what she's always done -- and now she's falling in love with the DVR.



But I'm not complaining, as I've learned a lot in the meantime, and found a forum full of knowledgeable and helpful folks.



Then again, there's the matter of being able to record on only one TV with the DVR, where before we could do it with a VCR on any of three sets. We're just waiting for FiOS to come to our neighborhood -- my father has it, and he's delighted with the feature where he can set to record a show on the DVR in the family room, and then watch it in the bedroom.


Comcast doesn't offer that feature, they suggest that you rent a DVR for every TV where you want to see recorded programs. One of their reps actually proposed that, if I don't want to pay for extra DVRs, we could unhook the one we got from its TV and take it to the other TV where we want to see the recorded program!?! Amazing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rammitinski /forum/post/17014551


How about this for a DVR?:

http://www.jr.com/category/video-tv/...s/n/4294562852


You can pick up the clear QAM and analog channels going directly into it's tuner.

Thanks very much for the link, I looked it up and it looks interesting.


One question, though -- Does that machine qualify as a "DVR," or is it more like a DVD recorder? If there are "real" DVRs out there that people can buy instead of paying mucho dollars each year to the cable company, I'm surprised that there isn't more of a market for these!?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·

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Originally Posted by Rammitinski /forum/post/17021453


Both, really.

Hmm, interesting. Does this mean that one could buy that machine and do (most of) what the cable company's DVR will do -- and not have to pay them $16 a month to accomplish the same thing?


I don't mind paying each month for cable TV service, but I really would prefer to get away from paying each month to rent a device that I could buy for myself.
 

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You'd have to set all timers manually (it has no program guide).


You'd only get the locals in digital, along with whatever analogs they're still sending you, if you used the recorder's internal tuner.


If you're using their tuner you'd just run it into a line input on the recorder, but then you'd have to make sure the tuner you had could change channels on it's own (if you want to do unattended timer recording from more than one channel). It would need to have an event timer, or at least some kind of basic "reminder" feature built-in.


As far as the DVD recorder part, you can edit your recordings on the hard drive (like delete the commercials, or whatever) and archive the recordings to DVD if you want.


I should mention (in case you aren't aware) that the Magnavox recorder only records in 480i (SD). But I mentioned it because it sounded like you were talking about SD (or at least were used to recording in it, with the VCR - a digital recorder will still give you a better picture than that, anyway).


There are threads on the Magnavox and "sister" Philips recorders in the DVD Recorders forum here.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rammitinski /forum/post/17023130


You'd have to set all timers manually (it has no program guide).


You'd only get the locals in digital, along with whatever analogs they're still sending you, if you used the recorder's internal tuner.


If you're using their tuner you'd just run it into a line input on the recorder, but then you'd have to make sure the tuner you had could change channels on it's own (if you want to do unattended timer recording from more than one channel). It would need to have an event timer, or at least some kind of basic "reminder" feature built-in.


As far as the DVD recorder part, you can edit your recordings on the hard drive (like delete the commercials, or whatever) and archive the recordings to DVD if you want.


I should mention (in case you aren't aware) that the Magnavox recorder only records in 480i (SD). But I mentioned it because it sounded like you were talking about SD (or at least were used to recording in it, with the VCR - a digital recorder will still give you a better picture than that, anyway).


There are threads on the Magnavox and "sister" Philips recorders in the DVD Recorders forum here.

Very good, thanks! I'll look for the threads on those machines.


The idea would be to subscribe to a low tier of digital cable service, and then rely on the device's internal tuner to do the heavy lifting. As few cable company tuners as we can get away with, and still do these neat tricks.


Are there any commercially available machines like these that (a) have dual digital (QAM) tuners, and (b) can also record HD programming? Of these, (a) would be more important than (b). The goal would be to be able to receive and record the clear QAM channels, in combination with the flexibility that the hard disk drive offers in terms of recording and erasing. We also like the feature where you can be watching a program live and recording it, answer the phone -- and then go back to viewing without missing anything. Very cool.


Of course, if and when the cable company clamps down on the unencrypted channels, we'll have a hard choice to make.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by JorgeA /forum/post/17023929


Are there any commercially available machines like these that (a) have dual digital (QAM) tuners, and (b) can also record HD programming?

There's TiVo - which you can pay an upfront lifetime fee for, if you don't want any monthly charges.


You'd have to at least have a CableCARD for it, though - for the channels to map correctly, so you can get the full usage from it (unless you have one of those rare cable companies that maps them to their correct channel numbers). Without it I don't believe there's a way to set timer recordings for the QAM channels. You can only press the record button and record things "live".


I just bought a TiVo HD with lifetime a couple of months back, and it cost me $550.00 (I only use it with OTA, though).


There's also a Moxi DVR which costs a bit more (info on both in the HDTV Recorders forum).
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by JorgeA /forum/post/17023929


Of course, if and when the cable company clamps down on the unencrypted channels, we'll have a hard choice to make.

Yeah, if your cable company isn't encrypting the QAM channels beyond the locals yet, the Maggie's should pick those up, too.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by JorgeA /forum/post/17023929


Very good, thanks! I'll look for the threads on those machines.


The idea would be to subscribe to a low tier of digital cable service, and then rely on the device's internal tuner to do the heavy lifting. As few cable company tuners as we can get away with, and still do these neat tricks . . .


Of course, if and when the cable company clamps down on the unencrypted channels, we'll have a hard choice to make.

I have or had several “late-model” Funai-built Magnavox, Philips and Sylvania recorders with digital tuners. Some have performed well with clear QAM reception. One has been enslaved to a Comcast converter box and one derives its signal from a RF pass through so these machine’s QAM tuner performance remains unknown. Two recorders have or had weak clear QAM performance or entirely lost clear QAM reception and were set up for OTA (ATSC) reception.


I have a Philips 3575 HDD/DVD recorder (of August 2007 manufacture) enslaved to a Comcast converter box and a Magnavox 2160 HDD/DVD recorder (of August 2008 manufacture) receiving a RF pass through signal from the 3575. Neither has been connected directly to the raw Comcast coax feed so I don't know what kind of clear QAM performance they might provide.


For a time I had a little-used Sylvania ZV450SL8 combo recorder (of April 2007 manufacture). That Sylvania’s clear QAM performance seemed normal but then all manner of tuning difficulties surfaced. Repeated channel scans could not restore clear QAM reception. Finally, the Sylvania was set up for OTA reception where it performed well. After a time this Sylvania was given to a daughter who finds it satisfactory for her use.


I had similar experience with a Philips 3576 HDD/DVD recorder (of February 2008 manufacture). At first the 3576 performed well with clear QAM reception, initially receiving more than 100 clear QAM sub-channels. Then it lost all but around 20 clear QAM sub-channels and these could only be tuned by direct channel entry. After repeated channel scans I pulled the 3576 off cable and set it up for antenna reception. Its ATSC tuner works well for OTA use.


I have several other Magnavox digital tuner recorders, a 2080 HDD/DVD recorder (of July 2007 manufacture), a ZV450MW8A combo recorder (of August 2008 manufacture) and two other 2160 HDD/DVD recorders (of May and December 2008 manufacture) connected directly to the raw Comcast coax feed. All these recorders give good clear QAM performance, currently receiving around 115 sub-channels.


Your results may vary.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
DigaDo,


Thanks a bunch for the details. I'll print out this thread and use it when I go shopping for a DVR.


Just last night I recorded my first program from a "26.7" channel on my new Toshiba DVR670 (not a DVR despite the model number, it's a combo VCR/DVD recorder). Very cool. I'll enjoy the capability while it lasts!



--JorgeA
 
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