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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am planning to buy an HDTV and D-VHS recorder. Currently with NTSC, I time-shift most everything.


If I set the D-VHS recorder to record a program on a channel, will it guarantee to record it correctly? I'm not sure how HDTV channel selection works. How do HDTV tuners differentiate between ATSC channels (OTA antenna) and NTSC channels (cable input). Do you have to manually select the source? Say I want to record a show on an HD channel 35 (CBS). Will programming 35 on the recorder automatically select the ATSC channel 35 on the HD tuner and not the NTSC 35 from cable? If that works, do the digital broadcasters broadcast an upconverted NTSC signal in an ATSC format if it is not an HD production? Say I want to record "Survivor" which isn't produced in HD. If an ATSC broadcast is not available, will the recorder controlled tuner automatically select the corresponding NTSC channel 4 as the source to upconvert and record? And is there a way to have it know to select the NTSC cable source channel 4 instead of the NTSC antenna channel 4?


Basically, can I program the recorder like I do now with VHS & NTSC? Can I simply program it to record a channel at specified time, and it will record the program regardless if it is broadcast in ATSC or not?


Furthermore, can I watch an NTSC upconverted program from my cable source while recording an ATSC program? Without 2 HD tuners, I know you can't watch one HD program while recording another, but I wonder if I can watch an NTSC program while recording ATSC. I think I saw somewhere that said the JVC HM-DH30000 D-VHS recorder had an NTSC tuner built in. If not, can HD tuners send an ATSC signal to the recorder and simultaneously either upconvert and send an NTSC signal to the monitor or just send an NTSC signal to the monitor. For example, if "Survivor" were to become HD production broadcast, could I record it while watching NTSC Friends, Scrubs, ER (since NBC doesn't yet broadcast HD here)?
 

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ATSC channels are send in a digital form called MPEG2. It is this form that is recorded onto tape. You do not program the VCR but the STB to record a show. The STB will control the VCR for recording purposes. Everything else that you're talking about is STB dependent. Check the features of the STBs that you're interested to acquire. There are very few on the market that support DVHS today though.
 

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HDTimeShifter,


In the U.S., there are no currently shipping (or announced) consumer HDTV D-VHS products that incorporate a ATSC tuner for OTA or cable. That means you need more than simply a D-VHS HDTV VCR to record HDTV. The current and announced D-VHS products require that you have a MPEG-2 HDTV signal via Firewire to record. Thus, to record HDTV from over-the-airwaves, you would need a separate OTA ATSC tuner box with Firewire---these are available. Likewise, to record true HDTV from cable, you would need a cable set-top box with Firewire.


Unfortunately, afaik, there are no cable companies currently deploying HDTV set-top boxes with functional Firewire output. Until they do, you can't record true HDTV from cable. The proposed cable DTV "plug and play" agreement does stipulate that all cable customers have access to such Firewire boxes by December 31, 2004.


The recording situation for satellite is a bit more optimistic. Dish Network has announced two satellite receivers (one of which is also a PVR) with Firewire output for recording to a D-VHS or future blu-ray DVD recorder. These are expected in September, as reported on this forum. There are no announced DirecTV HDTV receivers with Firewire--with only rumors of such a product to come. That said, 169time.com does currently sell satellite receivers that have been modified with a Firewire output (also requires a separate box they sell), but these modified units are quite expensive.

Quote:
I'm not sure how HDTV channel selection works. How do HDTV tuners differentiate between ATSC channels (OTA antenna) and NTSC channels (cable input). Do you have to manually select the source?
ATSC and NTSC channels are separate. For example, NTSC CBS might be channel 9, whereas ATSC CBS might be channel 34. On the ATSC channel, programs are shown in HDTV if available; if a program is not available in HD, it is upconverted on that channel. On cable, standard HBO and HBO HDTV are two entirely separate channels; both show them same programs, but one shows them in HDTV whereas the other does not.


With set-top box like the upcoming Dish Network 921 HDTV PVR (for satellite service, but also supports ATSC over the air waves), you would use the arrow keys on the remote to select the program that you want to record from the program guide -- click link for pic. You click the program showing in the future, and you are presented with a screen much like that below (I hope Scott doesn't mind):

http://www.gemnets.com/review/dish020.jpg


[Alternatively, you can set a manual timer, as seen with this image ]


If you select the PVR option on the 921 receiver, the HDTV program with Dolby Digital sound would be recorded to the built-in hard disk for playback (with DVD-like functions of pause, rewind, fast forward, slow motion, plus instant replay and 30-sec commercial skip) at your convenience. Up to 40 hours of HDTV can be stored for play back on this particular upcoming model. It has two satellite tuners and one over-the-air tuner, and is spec'd to permit recording of any two channels simultaneously while watching a third, be they HDTV or SD, from satellite or local.


Alternatively, if you select the VCR option, the 921 would send the appropriate transport signals over Firewire to your D-VHS VCR to initiate recording of that HDTV program with Dolby Digital sound. At the end of the program, the 921 would send another transport command over Firewire to stop the recording. For recording to standard VCRs, these boxes send a remote IR command (using a built-in IR transmitter) telling the VCR to begin and end recording at the appropriate times. This is a fairly standard method now used by non-HDTV digital cable and satellite receivers. Both methods are reliable. The receiver knows what transport signals to send because you have specified the VCR you have through a receiver setup menu.

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Basically, can I program the recorder like I do now with VHS & NTSC? Can I simply program it to record a channel at specified time, and it will record the program regardless if it is broadcast in ATSC or not?
In order to record HDTV from a local network channel right now, you would need a set-top box with Firewire output. There are set-top boxes now on the market with Firewire output for over-the-air (from antenna) channels. You would then manually schedule a timer for the program using the set-top box (rather than the VCR). The set-top box would either send the appropriate D-VHS transport control signals over Firewire, or it would send a remote IR code to the VCR to initiate and then end the recording as per the timer you set.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Why can't the D-VHS recorder control the STB much like conventional VCRs record NTSC?, rather than the reverse? I would think the D-VHS simply needs to turn on the STB and select the channel. The only OTA STB w/Firewire I am aware of is the Samsung SIRT165, which I just discovered in a thread here, doesn't have a clock, which basically makes it useless for time-shifting.


Do you know the estimated introduction date for the Dish PVR and expected pricing? Will it have MPEG2 capability or be lower quality than HD compression? Will it be OTA view and record operational for non-satellite-subscribers?


(Apologies if these have been discussed, but when I did my initial HDTV research last fall, I wasn't aware of any discussion groups like here, and delayed my HD purchases since the recording aspect was still very sketchy with only 1 known D-VHS recorder. However, my almost 13 year old 20" TV will die any day now since the color went very bad last Thursday, and I need to leave the dark ages with a purchase of a replacement TV ASAP this week. I am trying to research everything I can in just a few nights. I primarily watch network broadcasts, so OTA is my main concern, with possible satellite subscription in the future.)
 

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Quote:
Why can't the D-VHS recorder control the STB much like conventional VCRs record NTSC?,
Most VCRs have a built-in NTSC tuner, which means they can tune the analog channels themselves, without any help from the STB. Older analog cable boxes did feature coax outputs, which you could then connect to a VCR, but the VCR still used its own built-in NTSC tuner to record channels from this cable (and this does not work for digital cable); the VCR didn't control the STB. If the HDTV VCRs had built-in ATSC tuners for HDTV, they could do that too--but they don't.
Quote:
Will it have MPEG2 capability or be lower quality than HD compression?
The ATSC signals, as well as the signals from satellite, are digital. The 921 just saves these MPEG-2 digital signals to the hard disk (or outputs them through Firewire). So recordings to the hard drive, as well as to a D-VHS, would be 100% identical to the original source, be it from over-the-air or satellite.
Quote:
Do you know the estimated introduction date for the Dish PVR and expected pricing? Will it have MPEG2 capability or be lower quality than HD compression? Will it be OTA view and record operational for non-satellite-subscribers?
Unofficial reports on this forum have indicated September at $799. Hopefully, we'll get "official" information on pricing and availability at either the May "Team Summit" or the technical chat in a few weeks.


Dish hasn't said whether it will be fully functional for OTA without a satellite dish. The OTA tuner in their current 6000 receiver works without a satellite subscription, but it requires that a dish be pointed at their satellite. In comparison, DirecTV HDTV satellite recievers with OTA do not have this requirement. Of course, news will be posted on this forum.

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I primarily watch network broadcasts, so OTA is my main concern, with possible satellite subscription in the future.)
If OTA is your main concern, then you should make sure the networks in your market are broadcasting HDTV. This isn't an issue in most major markets, but some smaller markets are still not on the air with HD. Be sure to check the Local HDTV Info and Reception forum on this site.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Are there currently any other HD PVRs?


I suppose if the PVR doesn't have any HD tuners built-in, it could receive Firewire input from either ATSC STB or satellite STB? Of course, having built in tuners would allow one to watch one program from an STB while recording another from the PVR tuner.
 

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HDTimeshift,


The only shipping HDTV PVR is the Zenith which does OTA-only with one ATSC tuner and only 10-15 hours of HDTV recording capacity. It does not have Firewire. Being the first and only such box now the market, it also commands a significant premium at $999. Personally, I would pass.


The announced HDTV PVRs from Dish and Tivo will have OTA tuners built-in. But you are right, in the future, someone could release a standalone HDTV PVR with Firewire input, such that it could be used to timeshift HDTV from a cable box with Firewire output. Cable companies will also begin rolling out their own HDTV PVRs starting this year; Comcast plans for trials this summer, and limited deployment this fall in some markets.


On current (non-HDTV) satellite receiver PVRs, two tuners are fairly common now, allowing you to record two programs simultaneously while playing back a third.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The Zenith PVR sounds just like what I need, except the capacity is just a bit too limited. I think I'd need at least 20 hours storage. As far as price, that is comparable to buying both an OTA STB w/Firewire (Samsung SIRT165 - $500) and D-VHS recorder (JVC 30000 - $550). Lack of Firewire connector would be a problem should I decide to add satellite or cable tuner in the future.


Good to hear some cable is actually going HD. Last I heard was that cable would take at least 10 years or never adopt HD. For that, they would loose my business to satellite.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by HDTimeShifter
The only OTA STB w/Firewire I am aware of is the Samsung SIRT165, which I just discovered in a thread here, doesn't have a clock, which basically makes it useless for time-shifting.
This is not correct. I have a Samsung 165 and timeshift to my heart's content. The 165 does have a clock but it cannot be set manually. Instead it acquires the time information from your local DTV stations' PSIP data.
 

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Also, timeshifter,


Since you only mention the digital over the air recording, the DTC-100 with 169time modification can be used for timer recording and flawlessly. I have been using for OTA HD timeshifting and have never had a failure using this setup with the JVC D-VHS deck. I am also in Denver and record from 35 often. The deck records either Survivor in Standard Def or CSI in High Def from the same channel. It just records the ATSC bitstream and 35 only sends out a 16 x 9 image in ATSC, so it doesn't matter if it's HD or not.


Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by vruiz
I have a Samsung 165 and timeshift to my heart's content. The 165 does have a clock but it cannot be set manually. Instead it acquires the time information from your local DTV stations' PSIP data.
I've only read about 1/4 way through the the SIRT165 thread, but it appears that the DTV stations time signals are mostly off, so it screws up the 165. Have they corrected the time signals in your area?
 

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Hey,

I'm in Mpls, MN and all but one of the stations here have wrong time signals some of the time. I sent emails to every station's technical manager, and only one replied. He said he would look into it and that was the last I heard over 3 months ago. I guess there just aren't enough people having problems for them to spend any time fixing it.
 

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I don't get it.

If all you care about is OTA ATSC/NTSC, why dont you go the HTPC route?.

All would need is a mid-range PC with the MyHD or HiPix card. The other alternative is either one of the Fusion HDTV cards - you would need a PIV 2.0 or better as your processor though.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by bfdtv
The only shipping HDTV PVR is the Zenith....
To my knowledge, it's not shipping yet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by jeffden
Since you only mention the digital over the air recording, the DTC-100 with 169time modification can be used for timer recording and flawlessly. I have been using for OTA HD timeshifting and have never had a failure using this setup with the JVC D-VHS deck. I am also in Denver and record from 35 often.
How much did you pay for the DTC100 and 169time mod combined? Their website has no pricing, and it's a toll call to find out (also they had a sale that just ended a few days ago). I haven't read through their website or done any thorough research into their product here, but not being a typical consumer product, I was a bit leary.


Did you try to get reception with an indoor antenna before you went to a roof antenna? I posted the question in the HD Local Reception thread, but no one has answered yet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by midi-guy
If all you care about is OTA ATSC/NTSC, why dont you go the HTPC route?.

All would need is a mid-range PC with the MyHD or HiPix card. The other alternative is either one of the Fusion HDTV cards - you would need a PIV 2.0 or better as your processor though.
I'm not familar with HTPC - have to do more research. A dedicated PC plus card seems like overkill and wouldn't it cost more than the other solutions? With HTPC, are you recording to hard disk?
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by HDTimeShifter
How much did you pay for the DTC100 and 169time mod combined? Their website has no pricing, and it's a toll call to find out (also they had a sale that just ended a few days ago).
The sale information is still posted on the 169time web site:

http://www.169time.com/orderform_vxdtc1.html


You may be able to talk them into giving you the unit at this price. In the past, they have been flexible with sale dates. Try emailing them if you are interested at the above price. I ordered during the sale, and delivered to my house it cost $1,520 (I also purchased the software update for 2 years).
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Ouch! :eek: Even on sale, that's a lot for just an STB. I could purchase both the Samsung SIRT165 STB and JVC D-VHS recorder for about $1000, not including shipping.
 

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The timer works fine, the station clocks don't.
 
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