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Discussion Starter #1
Hi folks,


Forgive the newbie questions, but I'm trying to make a really fast decision...my toddler is crawling all over me and I don't have the time to spend searching through old posts.


My decision is whether to replace my ailing VCR with a new VCR or get the PVR offered by my cable company (Rogers, in Toronto). Right now I have a "digital" cable box, on which the first 100 channels are still analog, the rest being digital.


I have a pretty good analog feed, such that my analog channels often enough look as sharp, or even sharper, than many of the compressed digital channels.


Now of course I know a PVR will record the material digitally and output a digital signal. But what I'm wondering is: will everything I watch through the PVR be a digitized signal? In other words, is it's A/D circuit in the chain all the time such that I'm watching what it has digitized? Or does it only begin digitizing an image once it's recording? Or is the A/D circuit bypassed when watching TV?


What I'm getting at is that I don't want my TV channels going through a digital converter so that my NTSC images look even more "digitized," with the extra conversion step added. I want a straight analog pass-through for my analog channels.


Can someone clear up my questions on this?


Further, I'm currently using a Hi-Def cable box and the PVR won't record Hi-Def. Do I assume correctly that in order to incorporate the PVR into my system and retain my HD cable box, I'll have to get a splitter to split the incoming cable feed to both boxes? (And if so, should I worry about signal loss?).


If it helps, here is the PVR offered by Rogers Cable:

http://www.shoprogers.com/store/cabl...italtv_pvr.asp


Thanks!
 

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Short answer: Yes.


I can't really speak for other PVRs on the market, but the ReplayTV will have digitized and undigitized everything you watch with it. I think I've read about people doing an RF pass-through when the unit is off, but I use S-video connections so I really can't say for sure. Honestly though, if you have good SNR on you analog channels, you're not going to see much degradation if you record at high or even medium quality levels. You are correct about the HD-capability. Replay cannot record HD format (although it does a great job with down-converted HD-programming!)


Another thing is that if you are just looking for a VCR replacement, your cable company's PVR will do you just fine. That dual tuner thing is pretty cool. Does it record the digital stream directly on your digital channels? That is also a feature that a stand-alone ReplayTV won't have.


OTOH, if you want in-house streaming, networking capabilities, great third-party software support (such as archiving shows on a computer), then Replay is a good choice for you.


Hope that helps.


-Robbie
 

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$599 plus another $1.99/month seems like a LOT of ca$h for what is being offered. There are alternative solutions that would cost significantly less and give you as much or more flexibility. Granted the exchange rate probably take this thing down to around $450 or so but sheesh that's mighty pricey especially in light of the fact that other cable providers are giving the units away.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by tarfin
$599 plus another $1.99/month seems like a LOT of ca$h for what is being offered. There are alternative solutions that would cost significantly less and give you as much or more flexibility. Granted the exchange rate probably take this thing down to around $450 or so but sheesh that's mighty pricey especially in light of the fact that other cable providers are giving the units away.
Not much more onerous than DISH and DirectTivo... In fact the $2.00 month is CHEAPER than either DISHpvr or DirectTivo...


John
 

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Thanks. So...I guess it's a fairly safe bet that I'll be watching a digitized image through the Rogers PVR. Hmmm....ok.
 

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Well, I don't know if that is necessarily true. It may be that the Rogers PVR has a pass-through mode that does not buffer any content. It's hard to say since they don't really give any technical specs on it (at least on their website).


If you're really that concerned about artifacts due to digital compression (of a PVR)... Well, I guess the safest route would be to split the feed and watch your analog channels on your TV tuner or something. (Just put in a good quality amplifier in before your (good quality) splitter if the signal drops to an unacceptable level.) If the Rogers PVR is capable of recording the digital bit stream directly (for your digital channels), then you won't see any additional compression artifacts on those.


If you want my opinion, I think you'd be surprised how much a PVR will change your television viewing habits. I've had a ReplayTV for less than a year, and I never watch live TV anymore, so a pass-through mode would be of no value for me. I time-shift everything. If a have a good quality channel as a source, I rarely notice any compression artifacts when I record at medium or high quality. As always, YMMV.


-Robbie
 

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Not only that, but absent the timebase errors of VCR playback, the PVR output looks so much better. You'll never get as good a viewing experience as from a direct analog feed, but it's damn good, considering all the other advantages.
 

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I have a Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8000, the same hardware shown on that page (though not necessarily the same software) and when you're watching live TV on an analog channel - not just behind in the live buffer, but actually caught up to live - it does pass through the analog signal undigitized. As soon as you do anything that requires it to switch to the buffer, or when you catch up to live after watching delayed from the buffer, you see a momentary black screen as it switches between live and the buffer. On analog channels, at least for my cable signal (which isn't that great) you can also easily spot a quality difference between the buffered and true live signal.


There are two different software versions used by MSOs in different areas. Mine uses the Scientific Atlanta developed SARA software which from what I've read/seen is less featureful (to put it charitably), but more stable than the Pioneer-developed "Passport" software. I don't know if the Passport software handles live TV differently. Both versions have all the features listed on that web page so I can't say which Rogers uses. If it's the SARA software I can say that there are much more important things to know about it than how it buffers or doesn't buffer live TV.


I have a review of the Sci-Atl box on my comparison page .
 
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