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Checking out DVRs and/or DVD recorders

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Checking out DVRs and/or DVD recorders

Postby chainsawcurtis » Tue Mar 15, 2011 6:03 pm

I've been using vhs tape to record TV for decades. It's easy and cheap. I'm interested in hard drive DVRs and/or DVD recorders so I can tape over the air shows (broadcast - not satellite or cable) and transfer some of my old vhs tapes to discs.

Can some tech savvy person out there give me a general rundown on these units. Do they have digital tuners with timers like VHS decks? I went to eBay and got confused right off the bat by a Magnavox unit that said it has both a hard drive and a disc recorder. Is that so you can save a specific show to a disk? Can you plug in a vcr to play back and record old tapes...etc? I also got confused by TIVO. Is it a pay service?
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Re: Checking out DVRs and/or DVD recorders

Postby green union terrace chair » Tue Mar 15, 2011 6:06 pm

I have used a PC with Windows Media Center. The PC had a video card with a coax input for cable. The software would pull the TV schedule from the internet, then you could tell it what shows to record. You could also do things like "record every episode of Family Guy that ever airs" and it'll find instances on FOX, Cartoon Network, etc."

I think TiVO is still a monthly pay service, but I've never used it.
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Re: Checking out DVRs and/or DVD recorders

Postby Huckleby » Wed Mar 16, 2011 12:26 am

chainsawcurtis wrote: I'm interested in hard drive DVRs and/or DVD recorders so I can tape over the air shows (broadcast - not satellite or cable) and transfer some of my old vhs tapes to discs.


I have an inexpensive, panasonic combination dvd recorder/vhs player. It really does an easy and excellent job of dubbing vhs tapes to dvd. I also use it to permanently save occasional movies recorded on DVR to DVD. (I've used both both Charter and AT&T's sytems, AT&T uverse is better.) The DVD recorder can't take digitial inputs, copyright issues, but the results I get using SuperVideo analog input are outstanding. (Don't worry if this doesn't make sense.)

As to your desire to replace a monthly service like TIVO with a generic, free-range DVR that saves programs to a hard disk, forget it. If such a device were available, not so many people would shell-out for TIVO-like services. Here's the deal: TIVO pays a licensing fee to the networks for the privelege of being able to record programs and skip commercials. AFAIK, It is illegal for a stand-alone recorder to DIGITALLY copy programs off satelite/cable. (About five years ago, there were some standalone digital recorders with hard disks, they still pop-up used on Amazon now and then.)

You could get a DVD recorder like mine and collect TV programs via analog inputs, very similar to how a VHS recorder works. I think you will find it to be a pain in the butt, and quickly tire of setting-up the programming and swapping new DVD-R discs in.

Bottom line: shovel some walks in your spare time and use the money to pay for a DVR service just like your neighbors do. You can't fight it, take it from me. Submit to the corporate overlords at Charter, or better yet, AT&T. Once you've tried DVR, you will be hooked.
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Re: Checking out DVRs and/or DVD recorders

Postby Some Guy » Wed Mar 16, 2011 2:47 am

I put a TV card in my computer. I can plug in an anttena, or cable, or the VCR. The software lets me record manually, or with a timer. I could plug a cassette deck into it to, to transfer all of that to digital. I've got a DVD Burner too. Less than $100 for the whole shebang.
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Re: Checking out DVRs and/or DVD recorders

Postby boston_jeff » Wed Mar 16, 2011 4:19 am

Hi tech group here!
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Re: Checking out DVRs and/or DVD recorders

Postby MadMind75 » Thu Mar 17, 2011 12:13 am

I'm still in the same camp as chainsaw. I posed a plethora of queries in the thread DVD-R Players.
I was surprised to find that the Magnavox MDR513H-F7 is much more exception than it is the rule. I would still like to find a Blu-Ray equilvalent (with a hard drive and an analog input to record standard-def TV), as I want a Blu-Ray player, but am either coming up short or the jump in price from a standard Blu-Ray player to one with a hard drive is unreasonably high.

I'd probably still pick up that Magnavox unit just to bypass the need for TIVO etc., problem is with VHS you can easily take a tape to another VCR with no real issues.
Record on a stand-alone hard drive and you're stuck watching it on said television/monitor.
Taping onto a DVD-R leads to another conundrum. If you finalize a DVD-R/DVD-RW, which is necessary to make the disc compatible with other players, you cannot record onto that disc again.
You could record onto the DVD-R and choose not to finalize the disc, but then you'd have to have the same DVD player model (or perhaps brand) in the other planned viewing location in order to view the unfinalized disc.
I really wish DVD-R didn't have soo many restrictions.
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Re: Checking out DVRs and/or DVD recorders

Postby MadMind75 » Thu Mar 17, 2011 12:36 am

One more thing, if you're looking to transfer old VHS tapes onto DVD, I would recommend against purchasing a VCR/DVD-R combo unit. I bought one and discovered the wonderful world of copy protection recording errors, on nearly half of my old tapes. I considered purchasing a digital stabilizer (macrovision remover), but for those to work you need a separate VCR - they cannot be used on combo units.

Not to mention I found out that my combo DVD-R unit didn't have a coaxial input (which many DVD-R players do not), so even if I wanted to I was unable to record standard-def television. Don't get me wrong, the VCR and DVD player work just fine, just not so much for dubbing or recording via DVD-R. For some reason I thought picking out a unit to replace the time-tested VCR would've been much easier, unfortunately, I found otherwise and if I had to do it again I wouldn't of purchased this particular unit and would've done a bit more studying up beforehand. Now I'll be looking to sell it as there's not much more that I can do with it.
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Re: Checking out DVRs and/or DVD recorders

Postby chainsawcurtis » Thu Mar 17, 2011 9:03 am

Based on madmind's links to the Magnavox unit I came up with this http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showpost.php?p=19423540&postcount=11724

Magnavox that looks like in might be what I'm looking for.

The hard drive on these things start recording as soon as you turn the unit on (I think) and keep recording what ever channel you have on. Apparently have OTA digital tuners for cheap folks like me that don't have satellite or cable and I think I'm just savvy enough to be able to program it manually even though the unit seems to have some kind of built in show-specific timer. At $250 it looks like it might be the way to go.

Thanks for the the input.
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Re: Checking out DVRs and/or DVD recorders

Postby Athena » Thu Mar 17, 2011 4:04 pm

I've got a TiVo and I love it. I've only got an antenna so I've got a limited number of channels, but the TiVo lets me record anything on those channels just by telling it that I want every episode of Jeopardy or Amazing Race or every Packer game. Then I don't need to know what time anything is actually on and I can record in HD and skip commercials. The TiVo has a running recording going on two channels at once so you can pause and rewind live TV which is darn useful when you have a dog who needs to protect your house constantly. I can download anything from Amazon's Video on Demand onto it which is how I'm watching Top Chef. You can also watch Netflix streaming on it, but I've had trouble with it and now I do that through the Bluray player instead.

The TiVo unit can be bought directly from the company refurbished which is a lot cheaper than retail. There is a monthly fee, but it's only about $10 a month and I think it is worth it.
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Re: Checking out DVRs and/or DVD recorders

Postby MadMind75 » Thu Mar 17, 2011 5:02 pm

chainsawcurtis wrote:Based on madmind's links to the Magnavox unit I came up with this http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showpost.php?p=19423540&postcount=11724
Magnavox that looks like in might be what I'm looking for.

Hmm, I can't seem to find that new model listed on either Walmart.com or anywhere else for that matter.

If I was smart I would've picked up one of those Magnavox units over my Toshiba DVR610.

Athena wrote:There is a monthly fee, but it's only about $10 a month and I think it is worth it.

I guess paying to record things is just stupid to me. It's a transition I'm not willing to make, because, like chainsaw, we've been recording things off of television with a VCR for decades with no fee attached.
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Re: Checking out DVRs and/or DVD recorders

Postby chainsawcurtis » Thu Mar 17, 2011 6:08 pm

Madmind seems like a nice person so I hate to do this but it was at the top of the first page when I googled it!

http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?dest=9999999997&product_id=15080509&sourceid=14430182313794951896&wmlspartner=Q1FHRDakJ6Q

It's all good. When I get an extra $250...etc.

Thanks all.
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