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Hi, I tried searching, but can't find what I'm looking for. Are there any Set-top DVRs (PRRs) with internal HDD or provisions for external HDD (either is acceptable) that can record BOTH NTSC (SD) and ATSC (HD) OTA shows?

Let me explain. I have a motor home, and many places I travel only have NTSC (analog) signal, usually a repeater for a station in a major city too far to receive directly. I would like to be able to record network shows, whether they are on one of these low power NTSC analog channels or on a normal ATSC (HD-Digital) channel. I have not been able to find such a device. Many allow pass-through of NTSC but not recording of it. Some allow recording NTSC off cable (QAM) signals, but I don't think that will work for me. I've never had cable so not certain. I do have Dish Satellite in the coach, and have capability of recording Digital (ASTC only) channels if they are strong enough for the Dish box to see. The Dish Box seems to be far less sensitive than any of my tv tuners, so this is not always an option. I don't want to change my local Dish channels because I have 4 DRVs at home recording while I'm gone, and don't want to forfeit that functionality.

So, are there any such boxes out there? I do not want to go with a HTPC setup either. Too much space and trouble in a motor home. I would also prefer one that doesn't require subscription service or ongoing expenses after the original box purchase. I don't need sophisticated EPGs since I'll be moving around to different locations, and therefore different channel numbers and time zones for the shows, so things like auto recording of series is not necessary. I day to two guide with ability to program 24-48 hours ahead would be fine.
 

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Other than an older DVR that has both ATSC and an ability to record analog NTSC I don't believe you'll find anything new doing what you want.
A option you might want to keep an eye out for would be a DVDR with a digital tuner. Magnavox and Philips makes a HDD DVDR with digital and analog tuners with up to a 1TB drive(sounds like a way overkill for you). It also has a DVD burner and player so it would serve two functions in your motorhome. The downside is it only records in SD(it can tune the HD ATSC channels but downconverts them to 480i SD). Of course this wouldn't be a issue for the analog channels as they are they are only 480i SD in the first place and I guess you could use your Dish DVR to record if you wanted something to be in HD and the stations were strong enough to be tuned by the Dish tuner.
The issue with an older Tivo with lifetime is you'll be visiting different DMAs so the Tivo guide would be a hassle. You can also program a Tivo with start and stop times but IMO a Tivo in a motorhome isn't really a good fit. It constantly takes power and if you power it down it takes up to 15 minutes to start back up again. The DVDRs I mentioned only use start/stop times to program and start up within seconds of plugging in, on and when you turn them off they are off, only minimal power drawn for the clock, no constant HDD spinning. If you leave them on they have the option of pausing live TV but unlike the Tivo you can disable that feature if you want.
If your truly looking for a HD DVR then maybe someone else can come up with one that also records analog NTSC, again for a motorhome I wouldn't recommend a older Tivo, which would normally what I'd suggest for someone wanting to record both NTSC and HD ATSC.
 

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I think your initial suggestion of a DVD recorder is the most applicable for his NTSC/ATSC recording requirements. Also, the VCR-like simplicity of its operation would make it most suitable for a mobile environment. All he would have to do at each destination is do a channel scan to be up and running. As far as SD recording, how big of a TV are you going to have in a motor-home? SD is probably not an issue.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the responses. I removed a DVDR a couple years ago, and don't want to hassle with that again. I guess I'll look into ATSC only DVRs and forego the NTSC recording capability for now. I really wanted to see if I was missing an option or if indeed none of the recent popular DVRs record NTSC, even when they might have an internal NTSC tuner (for conversion to TVs that don't have such a tuner - I guess). I think a simple DVR such as the Iview 3500 STBII might be an economic choice. I was hoping to get more than one tuner, for those occasional times that there are two shows on at the same time, but it seems to increase the cost significantly for the potential benefit.
 

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NTSC tuners aren't really available anymore, since NTSC is all but gone OTA (and according to the FCC's rules, even low-power NTSC stations are going to have to switch to ATSC eventually). The main way to get NTSC is from outdated cable systems, and most cable companies are also going digital so they can deliver more channels to their customers. There simply isn't a reason to have NTSC tuners when you can't find NTSC content anymore in most markets. On the bright side, I think the FCC's OTA NTSC cutoff is in 2017 or something like that, so by 2018 you won't have this problem anymore, as there will be zero NTSC OTA stations across the entire US.
 

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In the United States, the cutoff for low-powered NTSC transmissions is September 1, 2015. [Edited to add link to FCC: DTV Transition and LPTV - Class A - Translator Stations.] As of this writing update, that is 147 146 days away. So that means the low-power translators/repeaters will have to either go digital (ATSC) or cease transmitting by that date.

So, at best, an NTSC tuner for over-the-air transmissions would be good for a bit less than 5 more months.

Full-powered television stations had already been required to drop NTSC (analog) by June 12, 2009 and transmit ATSC (digital). [Edited to add: http://www.fcc.gov/digital-television. I like links to authoritative sources so others can click through and check if I may be misinterpreting the information.]

My local PBS station has a number of repeaters and, when I checked tonight, all of them were digital. But a year ago a handful of repeaters were analog. (I checked a few other local channels but didn't see information on their web site whether they were analog or digital, and at the moment I don't have a great interest to go through their FCC filings to find out.) So, this is a single data point indicating that over-the-air NTSC transmissions are being phased out for translators, suggesting that you may find fewer NTSC signals this summer than you did last summer.
 

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Thanks for the responses. I removed a DVDR a couple years ago, and don't want to hassle with that again. I guess I'll look into ATSC only DVRs and forego the NTSC recording capability for now. . . .I think a simple DVR such as the Iview 3500 STBII might be an economic choice. I was hoping to get more than one tuner, for those occasional times that there are two shows on at the same time, but it seems to increase the cost significantly for the potential benefit.
Well, I would suggest to you the Channel Master DVR+ for motor home usage. It has 2 tuners, records only ATSC. The nice thing about it for your case is that if connected to the Internet it will download a 2 week guide for scheduling, however you can run it without connecting to the Internet in which case it will use the PSIP information provided by the stations themselves for guide information. Do a channel scan at your stop and you are set. Granted, the PSIP data is markedly inferior to the Internet-based guide, but it will work, especially in a touring motor-home situation where you won't be in any one place for more than a couple days or a week.

There was a user in another thread who reported using it for exactly this purpose -- in his motor home -- and was very happy. It will cost you $250 + $60 for the HDD, which is more than the iView at $40 + $60, but you get what you pay for. The iView is very limited. It's a low end digital VCR -- you program it to record a show and if it works it records and you have to wait until it is done before you can watch it. You may like it or you may throw it out the window en route to your next stop.
 

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I believe also in the CM+ thread someone ran their DVR directly off 12vdc, eliminating the need for an inverter, if thats an issue.
 
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