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Discussion Starter #1
So my comcast promo period ended, and I went from $75 to $150 for internet + HD cable w/HBO. In checking out Direct TV, I like what they offer, but I've heard they use higher compression, and thus the image quality of HD channels is lower compared to cable.


Basically, I want the flexibility to swap back and forth between providers if needed, without worrying about losing my recorded shows, and hopefully not having to pay/rent a cable/sat reciever box/DVR.


I consider myself relatively tech saavy, but I need some help figuring out what exactly is out there, so I'll list my wants;


#1. If possible, I'd like a HD capable DVR that will work for both Direct TV, and Comcast, and prevent me from having to rent/buy a reciever/DVR from the company.


#2. Do these DVRs have SATA/USB ports that accept external hard drives for extra storage?


#3. If the answer to #2. is no, how difficult is it to 'upgrade' the included hard drive to a bigger one? Do DVRs tend to all use the same HDs, ie. SATA vs. IDE, and regular profile vs. low profile?


#4. How large of an internal HD can I upgrade to?


#5. If I upgrade to a larger internal HD, how complicated is it? I assume I'd need to re-install software and such, right?


These are the main questions I have.


Again #1 is whether or not a DVR can replace a sat/cable box/reciever, and if so, whether or not it can be universal, and work for either Direct TV or Comcast.


So throw some models out there for me to look at. If I can upgrade storage with an external HD, obviously I don't want to pay a bunch for a DVR with a bigger HD. Likewise if I can't hook up an external HD, and am going to swap out the internal one, I might as well get the smallest available.


Thanks for all your help in advance!
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikelz85 /forum/post/12867706


#1. If possible, I'd like a HD capable DVR that will work for both Direct TV, and Comcast, and prevent me from having to rent/buy a reciever/DVR from the company.

HDTV DVRs are available for satellite or cable, but not both; they are not compatible. You can't buy a HDTV DVR that will work with both services.


With DirecTV, the only choices you have are the HR20 and HR21; the HR21 is a cost-reduced version of the HR20 without internal OTA tuners. With cable, you have a few more options besides the cable company DVR -- a $200-$250 TivoHD or a $1200-$1500 Vista CableCard PC.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mikelz85 /forum/post/12867706


Basically, I want the flexibility to swap back and forth between providers if needed, without worrying about losing my recorded shows, and hopefully not having to pay/rent a cable/sat reciever box/DVR.

With DirecTV HDTV DVRs, you pay $199 for the right to lease the DVR (DirecTV still owns it), plus a $5.99/mo DVR fee.


With Comcast HDTV DVRs, you pay the cost of digital cable, plus $12-13/mo to lease the DVR. The TiVo is the only alternative you have for a standalone, dual-tuner HDTV DVR for cable -- the TivoHD costs $200-$250 to own, plus $12.99/mo or $129/yr ($10.75/mo) for the service. With a Vista CableCard DVR, you pay $1200-$1500 upfront for a PC with support for CableCards, but there are no monthly fees; a single Vista CableCard PC can serve many different HDTVs in your home using $250 HD extenders.


There are no other dual-tuner HDTV DVR options for DirecTV or cable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mikelz85 /forum/post/12867706


#2. Do these DVRs have SATA/USB ports that accept external hard drives for extra storage?

DirecTV's DVRs ($199 + $5.99/mo) have a built-in 300-320GB hard drive and an eSATA port. When you connect an external drive via eSATA, it disables the internal drive and uses whatever external drive you connect.


Comcast's Motorola DVRs (digital cable + $12-$13/mo) have a non-upgradeable 160GB hard drive and do not support any form of external storage. If your Comcast uses Motorola equipment, you've got to buy a TiVo or a Vista CableCard PC if you want more internal storage and/or support for external storage. [And no, you cannot add CableCard support to your existing PC.]


If your Comcast system is one of the minority that uses Scientific Atlanta equipment, then they have a DVR that will support eSATA drive expansion. Unfortunately, the UI and DVR functionality on the Comcast SA8300 w/ SARA is inferior.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mikelz85 /forum/post/12867706


#3. If the answer to #2. is no, how difficult is it to 'upgrade' the included hard drive to a bigger one? Do DVRs tend to all use the same HDs, ie. SATA vs. IDE, and regular profile vs. low profile?


#5. If I upgrade to a larger internal HD, how complicated is it? I assume I'd need to re-install software and such, right?

You can't upgrade the hard drives in Comcast's Motorola DVRs, as they are 'hardcoded' for 160GB (20 hours HD) maximum.


The TiVoHD for cable supports internal drive upgrades, as well as external eSATA drive expansion (it adds to the internal drive). It takes about 20 minutes to replace the hard drive in a TiVo. Mine has a 1TB drive for 144+ HD hours; at one time, I also had another 750Gb external drive for 240+ HD hours. TiVo uses standard 3.5" hard drives, although you'll probably want to choose a drive carefully so your DVR doesn't sound like a 747.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Is the HR20/21 a reciever AND DVR, meaning if I get my own HR21 on ebay, I do not have to pay the flat fee nor the monthly fee?


If so, it seems like they are only $200 or so on ebay.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
also I see "access card" questions being asked in the auctions, and if the card is new, or if there is a balance due. Can someone explain these cards, and how they work?
 

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Nice post BFDTV, thanks!

Good to have all this info on one post. Now I'll just have to remember where it is, if someone asks
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikelz85 /forum/post/12870360


Is the HR20/21 a reciever AND DVR, meaning if I get my own HR21 on ebay, I do not have to pay the flat fee nor the monthly fee?

You cannot "own" something that DirecTV does not sell.


It does not matter where you get your DirecTV HDTV DVR; you are still only paying for the right to lease. You can't activate any DirecTV HDTV DVR without paying the $5.99/mo DVR fee. DirecTV does not sell DVR "ownership" because they cost more to build than most customers are willing to pay; each HR20 HDTV DVR costs DirecTV ~$450 to build, so they "lease" them at $199-$299 and generate their profit through the DVR fee and programming fees.


TiVo is similar; they sell the box at a loss and recoup their investment (and hope to make a profit) with the monthly fee. TiVo has to charge a larger DVR fee because they can't spread the cost over a programming fee. Until a few weeks ago, TiVo did offer a subscription-free version of their DVR, but it cost $698 instead of $250.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mikelz85 /forum/post/12870391


also I see "access card" questions being asked in the auctions, and if the card is new, or if there is a balance due. Can someone explain these cards, and how they work?

Some people rack up all sorts of charges on their box and then "skip town" (as in, moving and putting the box on ebay) before they pay it. All those charges are recorded on their access card. If you call to activate a used box with charges on its card, you may be held liable.
 

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I am getting directv this week with 2 HD-DVR and 1 reg. for the kids room

and it`s going to cost me only 79.99 a mo.. + tax and for the first year i get $10 off a mo. and another $10 off from AT&T for bundling


ooh i had to pay up front $300 to lease them. 99 for the first 1 and 199 for the other one.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
for me, the main problem I've got with direct tv is the 2 year agreement. I'm all for the lease fees and price breakdowns over 12 mo, it's better than comcast in my area, but who knows what the 2nd year will bring for prices, and I don't want to be locked in to a terrible price.


I'm really thinking about going the Tivo route. What exactly does a monthly tivo fee get you? Just software? Or just the right to use the box?


Finally, I'm wondering, does anyone make a DVR box that sits in between your cable/sat reciever, and your TV? That way it could accept inputs and record whatever, and still output the TV signal, meaning you could use it universal style.


The more I think about it, the more TIVO sounds like a plan. So I can grab a TIVO, and it has all the tuner hardware to eliminate my cable box/DVR from comcast (in my case a motorolla).
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikelz85 /forum/post/12877463


for me, the main problem I've got with direct tv is the 2 year agreement. I'm all for the lease fees and price breakdowns over 12 mo, it's better than comcast in my area, but who knows what the 2nd year will bring for prices, and I don't want to be locked in to a terrible price.


I'm really thinking about going the Tivo route. What exactly does a monthly tivo fee get you? Just software? Or just the right to use the box?


Finally, I'm wondering, does anyone make a DVR box that sits in between your cable/sat reciever, and your TV? That way it could accept inputs and record whatever, and still output the TV signal, meaning you could use it universal style.


The more I think about it, the more TIVO sounds like a plan. So I can grab a TIVO, and it has all the tuner hardware to eliminate my cable box/DVR from comcast (in my case a motorolla).

TiVo would do all of the above. It just isn't as good as an integrated soution, such as a cable or satellite DVR. It's a little better for cable since, I believe, the new units have cable card slots on them. However, TiVo will have to control your D* box in order to be able to record shows.


Just remember, TiVo is going to cost you a good chunk of change by itself.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikelz85 /forum/post/12877463


I'm really thinking about going the Tivo route. What exactly does a monthly tivo fee get you? Just software? Or just the right to use the box?

As indicated above, the TiVo HD boxes are offered (sold) at a loss and they make their money over time on the fees. The subscription is needed to use the box for anything beyond live TV. It's $12.95/mo, $129/yr, $299/3yrs, or $399 for the life of the box. Most people just buy the box for $200-$250 and then pay $129/yr.


That monthly fee does get you several major software updates every year to add / improve the functionality and usability of the box. And you do own the hardware, so you can sell it whenever you want, no strings attached.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mikelz85 /forum/post/12877463


Finally, I'm wondering, does anyone make a DVR box that sits in between your cable/sat reciever, and your TV? That way it could accept inputs and record whatever, and still output the TV signal, meaning you could use it universal style.

The old SD Tivo does that, but you can't record HD that way. And when you record the output from another box, you limit yourself to a single tuner.


The new TivoHD has two built-in tuners and can be used with any cable company, Verizon FiOS, and/or OTA HD if you decide to drop cable. But it does not have any way to accept the signal from another box.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mikelz85 /forum/post/12877463


The more I think about it, the more TIVO sounds like a plan. So I can grab a TIVO, and it has all the tuner hardware to eliminate my cable box/DVR from comcast (in my case a motorolla).

I would look at the cost of digital cable vs. DirecTV before you make any further decisions.


Cable and satellite companies charge all sorts of fees. The DVR fee is just one of many. You really need to factor in the total cost of hardware and programming over two or three years, and not concern yourself too much with any one fee.


If you can get another promo from Comcast with digital cable plus Internet for $75 for a year, then I would take a serious look at the Tivo with an upgraded hard drive. If Comcast won't offer a one-year promo on digital cable, then I would probably cancel and just get the DirecTV HDTV DVR -- which was just reduced from $199 to $99 for the first box, and from $299 to $199 for each additional box.


DirecTV with HD and DVR service is $59.99/mo for the first year and $69.99/mo after that -- so long as sign up by 2/27. After 2/27, the price increases to $62.99/mo for the first year and $72.99 after that. There's also an extra $5/mo fee for the HD extra pack with Hdnet Movies, MGM HD, Universal HD, and Smithsonian HD.


If you sign up for DirecTV by 2/27, total cost for the first two years would be $99 for first DirecTV DVR + ($64.99*12) + ($74.99*12) = ~$1894 with WA sales tax. Each additional DirecTV HDTV DVR is $199 plus $5/mo. Of course, you'll still want Internet service from Comcast or someone else too.
 
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