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?: Satellite/Dig Cable - which PVR - advice

253 Views 9 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Ace987
After almost four years with my 2 Panasonic SSs, Comcast has removed HBO from my analog cable and insists that I need to add digital cable boxes to get it.

If I have to add cable boxes and slaves my replays to the boxes, I think I may go with satellite so I can get the 2-tuner PVR and preserve my "watch and record separately" setup..

I searched the forums and have read various posts and sites. I would love feedback from the smart people in here who may have recent experience with the various options.

1) Add dig cable boxes and slave Replays - yuck. Could add extra boxes for each replay but gets pricey.

2) FInd out if COmcast offers dig cable PVR in this area (think not) but reviews so far have been bad - SA8000.

3) Dish boxes and >=1 of their PVRs. Not Tivo based but 721 gets a good writeup. Older model seems OK too. 30 second skip is available.

4) DirecTV and DirecTivo - Samsung 100 hour now available $449 or go with 35 hour and upgrtade drive myself.

In all cases, I figured I l slave my Replays in rooms where I usually watch recorded stuff not live TV - I really only need one dual tuner satellite PVR in LR.

Dish and DTV seem within afew $ of each other monthly including PVR fees. Leaning towards DTV option as at least I know the Tivo has a good interface.


My older Pana SS's may have issues controlling the sat / dig cable boxes which concerns me as well as there are no updates to these old but good boxes:)
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Um, 'slave Replays' to what? The DTivo? Or do you mean 'record stuff and watch it later' (I wouldn't call that 'slaving'). I use RTVs with D* with no problems.

As for D* vs E* (DirecTV vs Dish), that's a whole 'nother thing, with all the new toys due out 'real soon now' from Dish. See the DBS forum for tons of talk on that!

I don't know if the SS's can control new(er) sat boxes. Note that most recent boxes will need to be controlled by IR, if that matters. (But I've never had any IR problems at all with 5000 boxes.)
You best bet is to probably just get a single digital cable box and hook it up to one of your Showstoppers (the one that you want to record HBO). You can still use both Showstoppers with Analog cable using splitters and creative setups.

This is probably easiest and cheapest, although I'd be pissed if my cable company suddenly wanted to charge $5 more and use a box just for 1 channel.

You'll find that Dish and DTV charge about the same for basic, but then add $5 for each room. You can get it installed for almost nothing, but then you'll need to use whatever receiver they have on the shelf at the time unless you go with the built in PVR type receivers (which you already mentioned). So now your either stuck controlling a receiver via IR, buying serial-compatible receivers that work with SS or paying the bucks for a integrated DTV/Dish PVR. If you go with the DirecTivo and switch back to cable in the future that box will be worthless as it only works with DTV.

My experience:

- Had a SS with DTV using a IR. (Worked OK, missed a few shows a week).

- Went to a serial-compatible receiver. (Never missed a show, great reception).

- Added a 4080 and DTV, same as above.

- Had to go to cable with cable boxes (Reception OK, IR sucks, miss DTV).

- Added a 5060 using internal tuner (Reception OK, still miss DTV).

Personally, I'd rather go with Satellite for reception, but in your case you may want to just stick with cable. They may also give you several more HBOs in the price.

BTW I have used a 721 (or maybe it was a PVR501). They work ok, but they're slower than the SS and have very few features.
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You can usually get 2 and sometimes 3 receivers free when you activate a DBS service (Dish or DirecTV) for the first time. I have also seen a 1 regular receiver, 1 DirecTiVo deal being offered. These "free" equipment offers usually include a contract for 1-2 years of service, so consider that as well.

As for your PVR options, I can think of the following:

1) Buy new digital cable boxes through your Cable TV provider and hook -em up the Showstoppers

2) Dump cable and go with satellite. If you are willing to sign a contract, you can get the free receivers and hook these up to your Showstoppers.

3) Go with DishPVR. Getting it free may require a contract. I've played with a friend's DishPVR and I was not impressed. It is much like a digital VCR. No Zones, no theme records, no keyword searches.

4) Go with DirecTiVo. This might be your best option in terms of usability and functionality. However, I believe the DirecTiVo service will cost you and extra $5 per month.
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Thx much guys - great info.

Lee - I meant making the replay only able to record via the box which means the tv can only watch what the replay is watching or recording. My kids are oftne watching cartoons while the SS records stuff for us.

Ace987 - how come u had to leave DTV?

I spoke with Comcast and reached the same conclusion you did - your thoughts on this:

A) Get one dig cable box (included in price) and feed from it to replay then to one of the TV inputs. Split cable before dig cable box and feed to regular Ccoax input on TV - so we can watch analog cable indepdndetly of Replay and dig cable. Replay records HBO or other stations as desired using full channel spectrum.

Other TVs continue to use analog cable. If my other replay needs a dig feed I get another box for 4.99.

B) I was leaning to DirecTV over DIsh - 3 room system instaled free then I add a 199-249 DirecTivo and hack to 100+ :) About $8 more per month (72 versus 64) BUT all 4 rooms have full spectrum channels - all sat. DirecTivo lets me watch and record indepedntlym record two blah blah blah. And I use my 2 SSs in other room fed from the and controlling the sat receiver.

I found my old SS manuals - did not know it had serial control - that seems so much easier than IR - now I need to find out if dig cable box has serial control and same for DTV receivers they are offering now.
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To the best of our collective knowledge there is NO digital box sporting serial control (yet). And for DirecTV receivers, some do, some don't.
It's a long story, but basically I can't get DTV to install the dish where the apartment manager wants it.

Also, to add/correct BaysideBas a bit, there are a few digital cable boxes that have serial control. Most are just meant to control other devices (just like other RTV controls some Satellite receivers). There are a few receivers that can be controlled, but to date RTV doesn't support that functionality.
He meant in respect to RTVs, I do believe...
The comment about RTV not supporting - SS supports control of sat and perhaps dig cable boxes from the SS to the box via serial right?

I really hate the idea of the IR crap....but one dig cable box could make this easier to loive with than a complete change over...

I guess I need to see what they have for a box and try it - if it sucks then satellite here we come :)

And if go that route it looks like DIrecTivo but at least I can still use my SSs in other rooms with serial control :)
The Bottom Line:

No model RTV serially controls a cable box....period

Some DTV receivers can be controlled via serial ports. Look in the FAQ to see the models supported by RTV.
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