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Apologies if this is too basic for most people here, but in the almost 10 years I've had an HT, I've never dealt with cable set top boxes, or DVRs.

I've never used any form of broadcast TV in my system- the only sources have been pre-recorded DVDs.

Due to the slowdown in studio releases, I've begun to wonder if it wouldn't be advantageous to buy some kind of HD DVR and put it in a relatives system (who has cable), fill it up with content, and then pull it out of that system and put it into mine as basically just a hard drive full of movies.

I would assume this would be a simple solution, but after some investigation, it looks more complicated than I expected.


Here is what I know

Cable Provider is TWC and the relative already has a DVR supplied by them (SA 3800)

Any other box I buy will need a cable card and the tuner adapter



Here's what I am unclear on

If I buy a used SA 3800 elsewhere, will it work as seemlessly as the current one that is already in their system?

Would I be better served getting something else - Tivo/Moxie/etc? Why? Just for capacity benefit?

The potential problem with any other brand is there is no available phone line or wi-fi to access a cable guide (which I assume is neccessary for those other units to function as recorders). Does this make the SA 3800 mandatory? I think I can live with a smaller capacity + extensions, or even multiple units, if getting the content locked in is as streamlined and painless as possible (I'm a Mac guy, never used a PC, so HTPC are way beyond what I want to deal with right now).


Any other things I should be aware of to accomplish what I want?

_____________________________


Update: well, I just found out from TWC tech support that the SA 8300 is the one box I absolutely do not want to buy because unless they issue it, it won't be authorized to work.

That puts me back at square one looking at something like a moxie or Tivo and having to deal with cable cards, tuner adapters, and installing another phone line.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paulidan /forum/post/18306595


Here's what I am unclear on

If I buy a used SA 3800 elsewhere, will it work as seemlessly as the current one that is already in their system?

No, it will not.


The Scientific Atlanta, Pace, Motorola, and Cisco boxes are non-functional unless activated by the cable company. They don't include any software; they must be activated to download the requisite software. Cable companies will not activate any of these boxes unless they provide it for a monthly fee.


The only boxes you can use without paying STB and DVR fees to the cable company are TiVo and Moxi.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paulidan /forum/post/18306595


The potential problem with any other brand is there is no available phone line or wi-fi to access a cable guide (which I assume is neccessary for those other units to function as recorders).

You don't have broadband Internet? If so, you could add a wireless router for $30-$50. The wireless adapter and wireless client bridges for TiVo and Moxi support WPA2-AES (i.e. essentially unbreakable) encryption.


If no broadband, what about a phone line? TiVo doesn't require constant access to a phone line. It uses the phone line only once each day -- typically between 11pm and 3am -- to connect to a local ISP with a 56k dialup modem, from which it downloads guide information to the hard drive.
 
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