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Looking to buy a DVR

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by pressboxer, Jul 12, 2008.

  1. pressboxer

    pressboxer Active Member

    Having finally completed the move to new digs and almost figured out the local cable lineup, I'm thinking of getting a digital video recorder to keep up with a few shows I've watched only haphazardly in the past.

    In addition to TiVo, what else is out there? I'm not looking for anything real fancy, just something I can use to record a handful of 30-minute and one-hour shows each week (some of them air at the same time, which means picking one or flipping back and forth).

    The apartment complex I'm in provides free basic cable, which is more than I usually have time for any way. Also, I haven't bothered getting phone service yet, which I understand is needed for TiVo.

    Any suggestions on makes/models/accessories is greatly appreciated.
  2. Dickens Cider

    Dickens Cider New Member

    If you already have cable, the company itself likely provides an adequate DVR service.
  3. Same with Directv. We got one for free when we signed up and then another when we agreed for two more years of service, so now we have one in the living room and one in our bedroom. It's wonderful.
  4. MU_was_not_so_hard

    MU_was_not_so_hard Active Member

    I've got Time Warner, and it's comes "free" with our cable package. It almost always does the trick, barring a show starting a couple minutes late because of a game or something.
  5. three_bags_full

    three_bags_full Well-Known Member

    Here's what Consumer Reports says:

    Digital video recorders
    Recording TV shows on a hard-drive-based machine has advantages

    Digital video recorders (DVRs) don't have a slot for removable discs or tapes. They record only on a hard drive much like the one in a computer and can't play prerecorded media. Some combination units pair a DVR with a DVD player/recorder so you can play (and copy to) removable media.

    Many DVRs have space for 100 hours or more of standard-definition programming at high quality. Some let you record at lower quality, which raises capacity to 300 hours or more. HD-capable recorders usually hold about 30 hours of HD content.

    You can get a stand-alone DVR or one that's integrated into a digital-cable box, satellite-TV receiver, or DVD player/recorder. Depending on the type you choose, you might pay for the service as well as the equipment--either a one-time charge or a monthly fee on top of your cable or satellite-TV bill.

    Because they can record and play at the same time, DVRs allow you to pause (then rewind or fast-forward) the current show you're watching, then pick up where you left off. If you pause a one-hour show for 15 minutes at the beginning, you can skip the commercials and catch up to the "live" broadcast by the end of the show. Dual-tuner models can record one show as you watch another or record two programs as you're watching a third previously recorded program.

    Many digital video recorders offer recording capability with the convenience of a TV program guide customized for the broadcast channels in your area or the cable or satellite service you have.

    A DVR does not replace your usual programming source. You must still get programming through cable, satellite service, or antenna.


    If you get your DVR functionality in a digital-cable box leased from your cable company, you're typically limited to the cable operator's choice of hardware. For hard-drive recording in a satellite receiver, you might be able to buy or lease the hardware from the Dish Network or DirecTV, or buy it from a retailer. With either cable or satellite, you can opt for a standard-def or high-def recorder.

    For stand-alone DVRs, TiVo is the main service provider. Hardware prices depend mostly on whether it's an HD or SD unit and how many hours of programming you can store. Service charges vary.

    You can buy TiVo equipment directly from TiVo or from electronics retailers. TiVo functionality was incorporated into DVRs from Sony, Toshiba, Pioneer, and Humax. Basic TiVo service was included with some of those products at no additional charge but TiVo's regular subscription rates applied for full functionality. Price: about $50 to more than $500 for a player that also incorporates a DVD player and VCR. Some TiVo units are free when you sign up for service at $13 per month; longer terms might be available.

    Most combination DVD recorder/DVR models lack an onscreen program guide. But a few manufacturers, including Panasonic, Pioneer, and Toshiba, offer some combination DVD recorder/DVR models that use a free program guide service, such as TV Guide On Screen, that works with broadcast TV and many cable services.


    Ultimately, a DVR's picture quality, like a VCR's, depends on the quality of the signal coming in, whether that's from your cable or satellite provider or from an off-air antenna.

    Decide whether you need a tuner. If your TV does not have a built-in digital tuner (ATSC) and it is connected only to an antenna, buy a recorder that contains a digital tuner. That will enable you to continue receiving broadcast TV when analog broadcasts end in February 2009.

    Do you want the most programming features? The services from TiVo might have more features and functionality than some of the offerings of cable and satellite companies. But you might have to buy another box, deal with another remote, and possibly pay another monthly fee.

    Would you prefer to have fewer boxes and service providers to contend with? Inquire whether a cable box equipped with DVR functionality is available. If satellite service is an option, consider getting a receiver that includes a DVR.

    Keep in mind that you might have to pay a separate fee for the DVR service. And some satellite and cable DVRs work only with the service provider's programming and won't record from other sources, such as an antenna.

    Do you want to edit recordings or store camcorder video? Then you need a DVD recorder or DVD recorder/hard-drive combo.

    Do you want to record HD content? Your options right now are an HD-capable DVR that's incorporated into your cable box or satellite receiver, or a TiVo HD DVR.
  6. WazzuGrad00

    WazzuGrad00 Guest

    TiVo HD won't work with DirecTV's high-def offerings. DirecTV uses a different compression standard on most of its channels.
  7. a_rosenthal

    a_rosenthal Guest

    Assuming you have cable, just get it through Comcast or whatever package you have. Much cheaper, I'm guessing.
  8. Smash Williams

    Smash Williams Well-Known Member

    Check with your apartment provider to find out which cable company serves your complex (if you don't already).

    Then call said cable company and ask about upgrading the service for your apartment only. If it's like mine, they'll allow you to pay only for the upgraded services while the apartment still carries the basic/extended cable.

    For me, I pay about $30 a month for digital cable, HDTV with an HD-DVR and a couple digital packages.
  9. ArnoldBabar

    ArnoldBabar Active Member

    If you plan on using it a lot, it's worth buying a Tivo for the superior functionality. The user-friendly, quick-reacting software (in addition to the backdoor 30-second skip you can program in and never see another commercial) is the reason it's survived even while cable companies are giving their versions away.
  10. mike311gd

    mike311gd Active Member

    My cable company gave me one, and I really didn't have a choice in that matter. That's just what they give out.

    I love it. I rarely miss my favorite shows, and I'm no longer restricted by the rigorous TV schedule. I can just pause, wash myself and get back to watching -- sans commercial breaks.
  11. dixiehack

    dixiehack Well-Known Member

  12. I'm a little depressed, as it seems that the DVR we received five years ago is completely fucked. It 'warmed up' for about 12 hours and never turned on.

    The one DTV gave us two years ago is newer but it's not nearly as user friendly. I'm afraid that if we get another one through DTV, not only will it not be user friendly but they'll make us re-up for another year or two. Bastards.

    Hopefully having the insurance will actually mean something.
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