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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'd appreciate recommendations for a senior-citizen user-friendly ATSC DVD recorder to replace an NTSC VCR. They already have an ATSC SDTV.


Thanks
 

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A lot depends on just how "senior" they are and how "techno-phobic" they might be. My own parents are both 74, reasonably intelligent, and not particularly afraid of technology. Yet I couldn't pry their VCR out of their hands with a crowbar: they find DVDs horribly confusing, and they can't stand having to navigate to the program they want to watch. Tape may be less flexible but the concept is dead simple and anyone up to 100 years old "gets" linear tape.


A hard drive recorder like the Phillips 3576 is a great machine, but even here could drive some older people up the wall. I tried one on my parents and besides the headache of understanding the basic idea they hated trying to figure out what was stored on it and how to make it play. These machines don't auto-title every recording, and even when they do its often wrong. Having to sit thru the little preview windows or god forbid enter manual titles set their teeth on edge.


For older folks who mainly want to timeshift, I think the kindest gift is a cable subscription and a cable-provided integrated DVR with one-click timer setting and automatic accurate titling of all recordings. Thats about as complex as you can get them to handle without a fight.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by CitiBear /forum/post/14187999


For older folks who mainly want to timeshift, I think the kindest gift is a cable subscription and a cable-provided integrated DVR with one-click timer setting and automatic accurate titling of all recordings. Thats about as complex as you can get them to handle without a fight.

Hi CitiBear,


Thanks for the all the insights - great info!


My in-laws are strictly OTA - roof-top Winegard. They aren't interested in a monthly cable bill.
 

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Then I would also have to agree with Wajo. If they get the 3576 I would think most of their time shifting would be to its HDD and they would have the option of offloading something they really wanted to its DVD burner.

A big advantage to the 3576s HDD vs. DVDs is the feature that if you stop playing a title on its HDD it remembers where you left off and allows you to resume and with the 3576 you can have several titles in various states of being played. I'm not sure how many DVDRs w/HDDs have this feature but I can't find that option on my Panasonic EH-55. If I start playing another title it erases the resume feature on the last title. Drives me nuts


I would think your folks would really appreciate this resume feature if they're used to VHS tape, I know I would
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hi wajo, HDMI Guy, & jjeff,


Wow, a consensus of opinion - very good!

Since Philips is not a Japaneses manufacturer, in what country is the 3576 manufactured? How reliable is this model?


Thanks!
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ota.dt.man /forum/post/14204567


Hi wajo, HDMI Guy, & jjeff,


Wow, a consensus of opinion - very good!

Since Philips is not a Japaneses manufacturer, in what country is the 3576 manufactured? How reliable is this model?


Thanks!

It's made by Funai, a large Japanese conglomerate, in China. They make more than 50% of all DVD players/recorders sold in North America.


So far, it's been VERY reliable, with its identical predecessor, the 3575, in use over a year! I've got three units, and one I've used for hundreds of tests and a year's worth of daily recordings, so it's been "stressed" to the max.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ota.dt.man /forum/post/14187439


I'd appreciate recommendations for a senior-citizen user-friendly ATSC DVD recorder to replace an NTSC VCR. They already have an ATSC SDTV.


Thanks

The honest answer - there isn't one. Take a look at one of the instruction manuals for either the Phillips or Panny.


DVD + /- R RW RAM 4:3 16:9 Anamorphic flags. Get real. There is nothing friendly about this. PERIOD.


DVD recording has been made hopelessly complex compared to the VCR for the uninitiated. Its why we have TIVO today. And none of the DVD recorders can touch that.


They may be fine for A/V enthusiasts willing to accept the limitations of today's recorders. But to thrust that upon some senior citizen. Elder Abuse.
 

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I agree. I don't think any DVD recorder is "elder-friendly". Heck, I can barely even understand how to work one. And I've got 3 of them (all HDD models).


Personally, I don't even think TiVo is much more "senior user-friendly".


And this is one of the main reasons why the big names aren't even selling the hard drive models here anymore. Anyone remember the return sections at Best Buy a couple or so years back? And many of those models had TVGOS, which made it even easier to use than something like the 3576H.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Option #1 - (monthly bill):
Quote:
Originally Posted by CitiBear /forum/post/14187999


For older folks who mainly want to timeshift, I think the kindest gift is a cable subscription and a cable-provided integrated DVR with one-click timer setting and automatic accurate titling of all recordings. Thats about as complex as you can get them to handle without a fight.

Option #2 - (monthly bill)
Quote:
Originally Posted by highheater /forum/post/14206803


DD recording has been made hopelessly complex compared to the VCR for the uninitiated. Its why we have TIVO today. And none of the DVD recorders can touch that.


They may be fine for A/V enthusiasts willing to accept the limitations of today's recorders. But to thrust that upon some senior citizen. Elder Abuse.

Option #3 Continue to use their familiar NTSC VCR with a DTVPal. With this option do you have two program 2 timers? - one in the VCR & one in the DTVPal - correct?
 

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Now that I think about it, I suppose that if they can program a VCR to record in the first place, then they can probably be taught to handle something like the 3576H. At least some of them, anyway.


Just depends on the person.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ota.dt.man /forum/post/14187439


I'd appreciate recommendations for a senior-citizen user-friendly ATSC DVD recorder to replace an NTSC VCR. They already have an ATSC SDTV.


Thanks

Agree with the 3575/6. I would also throw in a harmony remote for them and program it so it handles their setup. Then they can push the button to "watch TV", "Watch vcr "(since they probably have lots of tapes), and "watch DVD".


I suggest the 550, since it is about $50, or, better, the 880 which is about $100 when on sale. Amazon has both.


Or you can write up a set of directions "how to schedule", How to watch..." and forget the harmony.


BTW, I am 70 with 2 dvdrs, home theater, 42" lcd, vcr, and splitter all in the same chain and set up by me, so they can learn new things. Truth is, a challenge is good to stir up the neurons.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Way to go beekeeper! Yes, I understand that challenging one's neurons is highly recommended. My mother-in-law, the avid video taper, is 84 and has had no trouble programming her VCR all by herself. However, she needs a little help when the power fails & the VCR clock needs to be reset as she doesn't have as much practice with that operation. Do you think Phillips 3576 is advisable?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ota.dt.man /forum/post/14207526


Option #3 Continue to use their familiar NTSC VCR with a DTVPal. With this option do you have two program 2 timers? - one in the VCR & one in the DTVPal - correct?

The DTVpal and other ATSC accessory tuners do not have their own timers the way some cable boxes do, so your parents would lose the ability to timer-record multiple events: they'd be limited to one unattended program at a time. For multiple events, one would have to be home to change channels on the DTVpal manually. Their VCR of course could still be programmed for multiple shows in advance. This is the cheapest solution if they are OK with manning the DTVpal at all times. But this is kind of a "beat the dead horse question", since no one really knows what the deal is with your parents but you. The fact that they actually are comfortable setting a VCR program timer puts them leagues ahead of most 40 year olds I know, never mind my own parents, so maybe they COULD handle a Phillips 3576. You won't really know unless you pick one up at Wal*Mart (under their liberal 30 day return policy) and have your parents try it out. The program timer works much like a VCRs does, the only thing that might confuse them is navigating and erasing shows on the hard drive, because the machine can store as much as a couple dozen tapes worth of shows. The 3576 often does not correctly tag the titles accurately, so they'd have to figure out some mental shorthand to track what they have in the machine, perhaps aided by the preview thumbnails. If they erase most programs after viewing, it will cut down on clutter.


I did not mean to imply earlier that elders were "unable to learn new things"- far from it. But a significant number of them are simply NOT INTERESTED in learning new entertainment technologies, its hard to explain but its as if the mere existence of more complicated units that displaced the VCR pisses them off: they'd rather apply themselves to learning something they find more interesting than a DVD/HDD recorder. Rammitinski and Highheater are absolutely spot-on when they point out the DVD/HDD recorder is "the emperor with no clothes": c'mon everyone, admit the friggin things are a joyless pain in the ass to use! For those of us hooked on collecting videos we record ourselves, they're a necessary evil so we're *motivated* to put up with their ridiculous computer-derived interfaces.


But for the non-collecting, timeshift-only crowd, they're largely an aggravating waste of time and energy and money. I mean, we do realize there's a REASON why the cable/satellite DVRs and OTA TiVO boxes have killed off all other recording options in the USA, right? The reason is any idiot with zero tech aptitude can click a "guide" button, look for the name of the show they want to record or view, click on it, and get on with their lives. Even the TVGOS-equipped DVD/HDD machines were not that easy, so TVGOS did nothing to stem the sales slump among the mass market for DVD/HDD units. The $300 upfront cost of a "complicated" Phillips 3576 vs $150 for an "easy" TiVO box plus small monthly fee usually results in consumers opting for the TiVO.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by CitiBear /forum/post/14213736


The DTVpal and other ATSC accessory tuners do not have their own timers the way some cable boxes do, so your parents would lose the ability to timer-record multiple events: they'd be limited to one unattended program at a time. For multiple events, one would have to be home to change channels on the DTVpal manually. Their VCR of course could still be programmed for multiple shows in advance. This is the cheapest solution if they are OK with manning the DTVpal at all times.
Per DTVPal :
Quote:
Event timer:

Set a timer to turn your DTVPal on and tuned to the desired channel before your favorite show starts playing
Question: If DTVPal is used with a VCR, can it control the VCR with an IR blaster for unattended recording / time shifting? Or, do you have to program both the DTVPal and the VCR for each event to be recorded?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CitiBear /forum/post/14213736


The fact that they actually are comfortable setting a VCR program timer puts them leagues ahead of most 40 year olds I know, never mind my own parents, so maybe they COULD handle a Phillips 3576. You won't really know unless you pick one up at Wal*Mart (under their liberal 30 day return policy) and have your parents try it out.
Excellent idea!

Quote:
Originally Posted by CitiBear /forum/post/14213736


The $300 upfront cost of a "complicated" Phillips 3576 vs $150 for an "easy" TiVO box plus small monthly fee usually results in consumers opting for the TiVO.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rammitinski /forum/post/14207458


Personally, I don't even think TiVo is much more "senior user-friendly".

I was going to suggest a Tivo (with a lifetime subscription.. depending upon how senior they are.. ba dum psh!).


I don't think you can get much easier than a Tivo. Especially since the S3/TivoHD replace a cable box (with cablecards in the Tivo, or just recording OTA).


Heck, if they can click on links on a web page or use an existing TV remote, they can use a Tivo.
 

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Hmmm... initial data on the DTVpal gave no indication of it having a multi-event timer, so I mentally filed it with all the other simple ATSC boxes. Good to know- I've been waiting patiently for that feature to turn up- now I can use my coupons!



Prices for the Phillips recorder are all over the map and change day to day, you can be sure you will not see a fire sale price on the exact day your parents decide to try one. The average retail selling price during the last few months has been steady at about $300, give or take. For adventurous types or hobbyists with experience using DVD/HDD recorders, an internet refurb bargain is a good risk, but I would NOT under any circumstances buy it online as a try-out for the parents. Get it at Wal*Mart or Best Buy or whatever retailer in your area sells it, so if it doesn't work out you have an easy return with a good long testing period. Again, because its for the parents, avoid any sales on last years 3575: it was a good machine, but there are firmware enhancements and updates to the ATSC tuner in the newer 3576. With ATSC, always buy newer if you can.


I still firmly believe those who only want to time shift would be happier with a TiVO. After its initial setup, the automatic titling and searching screens for both recording and viewing alone are light years easier than any DVD recorder. The almost universal antipathy on this board for monthly service fees baffles me: if the money buys you peace of mind and a technical experience that totally suits you, what's the beef? Sure, at all economic levels we're all cheapskates in some way, but c'mon: I pay a bloody fortune for cable, 8x what monthly TiVO would cost. I can't really afford it but I depend on some cable-only channels and need boxes in two rooms, so I skip lunch one day a week and pony up.
 

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I agree that Tivo is the way to go. And if monthly fees is an issue, you can now get lifetime subscriptions again as pointed out earlier. Get an HD tivo with dual ATSC tuners and the seniors will be all set when the OTA digital switch hits them next year. This from someone who owns a DVD recorder in every room where I have a TV.
 
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