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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've done some reading and research, but I'm just not certain about a few things. I know what I want, but a lot of times the people at the stores don't know that much about their products and when trying to help myself, I can't tell from the limited info given about the product to know if it's going to have everything I want or need. Could someone help me out by suggesting some specific models that would fit the list below?


1) The thing that I am having the biggest problem with is finding a model I know I can set to record when I'm away that has the ability to record more than one channel through my cable box. I have a Motorola Digital Receiver cable box and right now I have to set the cable box to the channel I want to record and that's the only one I can record. From what I've read I need a recorder with an IR blaster, but what is that called commercially? One guy at Circuit City told me any recorder that says it has VCR+ will do that, but that's not right is it? Another said that the recorder has to say it has an Electronic Programming Guide and that any with that will do the above, is this true, is this what I look for on the box or ask the guy in the store for? I know that VCR+ is talking about the TV Guide EPG (for the person who asked me about that.) In other words, not every one that says they have VCR+ on the box will work this way, but all who say they have "EPG timer recording" will work this way? I'm just trying to figure out what they mean by what they say on the box. Some of the terminology can be misleading.


2) I want to record a bunch of VHS tapes to DVD and I've been told that will be much easier and less time consuming if I buy a DVD/VCR combo, is this true? I've been trying to find out what kind of accessories I would need and how simple or not it would be to record from my existing VCR, but can't find much detailed info. If the combo is much simpler and faster, I'd just as soon go with that I guess.


3) I'd like it to play multiple formats including SCVD, VCD, etc.


4) I may be buying a home theater setup at the same time or later so it will need optical or coaxial digital audio outputs right? Anything else? I'd also like it to have component video output, that's the best picture, right?


5) I would like to have simultaneous record and play. I know one company calls that TimeSlip.


6) My cable company was recently taken over by another and they say that in 3-6 months they will change about 60 channels from digital to analog, but I'm assuming any recorder will work with this, right?



Please feel free to correct me on anything I've made it clear that I do not understand very well by the post above, but please, please, please help me out by telling me some specific models that would do what I'm asking for above. The only one I've been told that will do all of the above is a Sony RDRVX500. Is that a good one for what I want?


Thanks for taking the time to read all of that even if you can't help me out. :)
 

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1. Whoever you spoke with that said that all you needed was VCR+ to allow the recorder to control the STB is a complete moron. IR blaster and VCR+ are two different things. As you already know, the IR blaster is what changes the channel on the STB, just like a remote control. VCR+ is a feature incorporated into almost all DVD recorders, and most recent-vintage VCR's, that allows you to program a timer recording by simply inputting a code from your TV listings. Just because a machine has VCR+ doesn't mean it has an IR blaster.


As far as the guy who mentioned the Electronic Program Guide, while technically not accurate either, it's close. Such machines usually use the TV Guide On Screen system for their EPG, and usually come with an IR blaster so that it can tune to the proper channel in order to download the EPG data.


You need to ask the salesperson if the recorder comes with an IR blaster. If you can, look on the back panel and look for a small jack (about the same size as a headphone jack for something like an iPod, not the one for your home stereo) that has the words "IR blaster" on it.


2. Combo VCR/DVDR units do make it easier to dub from VHS to DVD, but ONLY if the tapes don't have Macrovision or other copyright-protection schemes. If they do, you can't use the built-in dubbing feature. I don't recommend them because the DVDR portion often doesn't have as many features as its standalone counterparts.


3. This will vary from machine to machine, but most have this capability.


4. Most DVD recorders have at least one digital output, with many having two. There is a lot of debate as to how much better Component Video is vs. S-Video, but if you plan on playing back those DVD's in Progressive Scan mode, Component Video (if not DVI/HDMI) is a must.


5. It goes by various names (Time Slip, Chase Play, etc.) but most DVD recorders that utilize either an HDD, and/or DVD-RW(VR) or DVD-RAM allows this. Note that even if the recorder can record to other formats, this feature is limited to these discs only.


6. Are you sure it's not analog TO digital? That's the trend, as they can squeeze more channels into the same bandwidth. If that's the case, you'll need a recorder that has IR blaster capability, in order to change the channels on the STB. Alternatively, you can rent a DVR (digital video recorder, which saves your program to a hard drive like a TiVo) and simply transfer your desired programs to disc, rather than try to make your recorder work with the STB.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you very much RonDawg!


1) I especially appreciate knowing that I can look on the recorder myself to see if it has the IR blaster, everything I'd read made it sound like it was an entirely internal thing and mentioned nothing about a jack. The people I've talked to at a variety of stores seem to know nothing to very little about the recorders they sell.


2) If I bought a stand alone recorder and wanted to dub from my existing VCR, what would be involved? What sort of cables required, hook-up, process?


5) Didn't know that about the HDD, DVD-RW(VR), DVD-RAM limitations.


6) No, it's digital to analog. I know it sounds like they're going backwards, but they say it's so that people with older TVs and such can use their services. This new company only offers a very limited number of digital channels to their subscribers, my Mom uses them.


I agree with you that it would be better to rent a DVR, but my old cable company did not offer that service in my area and the new one says they may later on, but not until at least next spring.


Thanks again for taking the time to address my questions individually. Did you have any suggestions for models that I should take a look at?
 

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1. Unfortunately that's a fact of life at the big electronics retailers. Most hire kids who really don't know much about the products they're trying to sell.


2. You will need to hook it up using a combination video/audio cable. This consists of the composite (yellow jack) cable for the video, and stereo audio cable for left (black or white jack) and right (red jack). Your DVD recorder will usually come with at least one of these in the box; while I normally don't recommend using this cable to hook up the DVD recorder due to its cheapness in quality, for a VHS VCR it's adequate. Make sure you hook up your DVD recorder with at least s-video, Component Video if your TV has an available such jack.


Note that if you plan on copying copy-protected tapes, you will need to feed the signal through a box marketed as a "video stabilizer" that in reality defeats the Macrovision. Otherwise the DVD recorder will pick up the signal and cease recording the program.


As far as models, if you need an IR blaster that sort of limits your choices. The highly recommended but discontinued Pioneer x20 series doesn't have this; you'll need to go to the x33 series. Many Panasonic and Sony models also have it. I'm not sure about the Toshiba's or the JVC's.
 
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