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  1. Member
    Join Date: Oct 2009
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    Guys,
    My LG DVDR packed it in and I need a replacement. I got a cheap Sony DVD Recorder by I can't record my TV shows due to the over-the-air copy protection by my cable company. Any ideas on what I should buy that will ignore the cable protection flag?
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  2. Member hech54's Avatar
    Join Date: Jul 2001
    Location: Yank in Europe
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    Wow. Your first post and you are asking for people to help you partake
    in possibly illegal activities......Hmmm.
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  3. Member orsetto's Avatar
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    Recorders like your LG made prior to 2007 are more accurate at detecting "real" versus "fake" or "accidental" record lockout signals. After 2006, almost every new recorder became way too trigger-happy, with Sony being the absolute worst offender. At this point, Sony recorders are nothing more than overpriced players: there's that many complaints about them being totally crippled.

    Arguably you are not supposed to be able to record any cable show that is authentically "protected", but this has become an impossibly grey area in the wake of constant cableco technical screwups during the analog-digital transition. ATSC/QAM is infested with all manner of glitches that cause unintended recording lockouts. In this current mess, the best bet in a new recorder is to buy one that has a hard drive built in. At the very least, even if such machines block you making a DVD you can still time-shift a protected show by recording it to the hard drive for later viewing. DVD/HDD recorders have pretty much vanished in the USA except for the Magnavox H2160, available at Wal*Mart and Target online for $229-279. Recording quality is excellent, it has a good ATSC/QAM tuner, and the internal HDD can hold 60 hours at the SP speed. If you keep an eye on the J&R Electronics website, once a month they blow out "refurbished" H2160s for the outrageous bargain price of $159 ("refurbished" just means a clueless consumer couldn't figure out the instruction manual and returned the recorder to Magnavox: the "refurbs" are good as new for $100 discount).

    While it has its faults (kinda klutzy to operate), its about the only game in town for a new recorder in the US. If your budget can go higher, to $400-450, you might consider the Pioneer 660 or Panasonic EH-68 "multi-region" import models available from J&R, B&H, and World Import. These machines are much more refined in operation than the Magnavox, but their tuners won't receive the new ATSC/QAM broadcasts in the US. You'd need to connect your cable or satellite decoder box, or an external ATSC tuner for off-air reception. If you do a lot of editing and making DVDs for your library, the pricier Pioneer or Panasonic will pay for themselves quickly in ease of use. If you primarily timeshift, watch, and erase the Magnavox is the steal of the century and the best price/performance recorder ever sold in the USA. A refurb Magnavox at $159 blows any other solution out of the water: "black box protection filters" cost at least as much, are a hassle to use, and overkill if all you wanna due with your cable is timeshift.
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  4. Member Seeker47's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by orsetto
    Sony recorders are nothing more than overpriced players: there's that many complaints about them being totally crippled.
    I see these still on the shelves at Costco, and wonder why -- given what has happened with all of the other, much better DVDRs. (A good part of that 'Why' extends to Sony, and whatever it is that they are doing here, if this market is indeed kaput.) I guess the word on them has not filtered down to the general public.

    Originally Posted by orsetto
    At the very least, even if such machines block you making a DVD you can still time-shift a protected show by recording it to the hard drive for later viewing.
    . . . "black box protection filters" cost at least as much, are a hassle to use, and overkill if all you wanna due with your cable is timeshift.
    But if that's all one wanted to do -- and one happened to be a cable (or possibly satellite) subscriber -- their dedicated PVR (optional model of their box that one has anyway) is generally much easier to operate and a relatively inexpensive rental. The difference with the Magnavox is being able to record over the air signals as well, or if a sat provider makes you buy the equipment rather than rent it. (Dish or DirecTV may not do that anymore . . . ?)
    When in Las Vegas, don't miss the Pinball Hall of Fame Museum http://www.pinballmuseum.org/ -- over 150 tables from 6+ decades of this gradually disappearing American art form.
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  5. Member orsetto's Avatar
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    Recent regressive software changes on some cable systems make renting the cable company PVR less of a "no-brainer" than it used to be. If you're on Time Warner Cable, and have endured their gruesome forced migration from reliable third-party Passport software to their new, utterly dysfunctional in-house Mystro software, you'll know what I mean. PVRs running the Mystro interface are unreliable, recording the wrong show or no show at all. The program guide freezes and reboots the box if you try to look ahead more than six hours on a Monday during an odd-numbered month. All but unusable. In these cases you may find an independent DVD/HDD recorder with its own manual timer to be preferable, if a bit more complicated to use.

    Satellite PVRs and non-TWC cable PVRs remain good alternatives for timeshifters who don't want to make DVDs and don't want to be stymied by recording restrictions.
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  6. Our cable supplied digital, high def, DVR is costing us about $20 a month. $10 for the rental and another $10 for the "service".
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  7. Member
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    orsetto
    You are a gentlemen and a scholar. My DVR from my cable company only has 1Gb of memory which isn't too much since I have several TV shows I want to store since I go to school at night and might not watch them until the weekend. For my karate and cartoon shows since they are on very late at night, easiest to burn to dvd and watch it when I get to it. However last night's disk only burned about 15 minutes before the copy protect kicked in and i burned the error message for the rest of the 48 minutes. From the discussion on the boards probably a false positive lockout signal from my cable company.

    Now I'll never know if the student was able to avenge his master (or maybe it was his grandfather and sister).
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  8. Originally Posted by rlockh
    My DVR from my cable company only has 1Gb of memory
    That's tiny! It must record in h.264. The one good thing about our overpriced DVR is that it supports an external eSATA drive in addition to it's internal 40 GB drive. We have a 500 GB drive attached.
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  9. Member
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    Originally Posted by jagabo
    The one good thing about our overpriced DVR is that it supports an external eSATA drive in addition to it's internal 40 GB drive. We have a 500 GB drive attached.
    Can you tell me what is your cable provider? I have Time Warner and the PVR's hard drive is constantly filling up. They said the Firewire and SATA ports are not "active." I do not have anything to test them but if am sure, I will definitely buy a bigger hard drive. It's easy to fill them up with high def programs. Thanks.
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  10. Member
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    Location: Minneapolis MN
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    Since you don't need the tuner you could also look for a Panasonic EA-18, it works nicely for offloading a DVR and has FR where you can specify the exact amount of time to fill up a DVD. IOW if your program is 2hrs 45 min you can set FR for 2:45 and the disc will be full with one title of that length. Most other DVDRs have canned speeds.
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  11. Video Restorer lordsmurf's Avatar
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    Orsetto, I don't think time has much to do with it. I have devices from 2000 that are just as touchy as devices from 2009. The problem is simply that anti-copy is an artificial error, and real errors trip up the stupid system.
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  12. Member
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    If the anti-copy warnings are triggered during regular OTA or cable network programming, it's a mistake, but there's a good chance it's real for pay-per-view, on-demand, and premium cable channels. Check the website for the cable network to find out what is copy protected. That's how I verified that HBO really does copy-protect its offerings.
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  13. Member Seeker47's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by usually_quiet
    If the anti-copy warnings are triggered during regular OTA or cable network programming, it's a mistake, but there's a good chance it's real for pay-per-view, on-demand, and premium cable channels. Check the website for the cable network to find out what is copy protected. That's how I verified that HBO really does copy-protect its offerings.
    Yes, but implementation seems to be up to the provider, and varies tremendously between providers and service territories. Just about the only good thing that I have to say about TWC (which took over from Adelphia here, a couple years back), is that they have done nothing to inhibit my ability to record whatever I wished . . . up to and including VOD. (I've never ordered a PPV event or movie, so can't speak to that.) The make and model of your DVDR is another unknown variable, with some of them being ridiculously twitchy, as has been noted here.
    When in Las Vegas, don't miss the Pinball Hall of Fame Museum http://www.pinballmuseum.org/ -- over 150 tables from 6+ decades of this gradually disappearing American art form.
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  14. Member orsetto's Avatar
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    rlockh, you didn't mention in your original post that you were trying to transfer recordings from an existing cable PVR to a second recorder. That can change the whole scenario dramatically: the recommendations I gave were for someone needing a "one and only" new recorder. Cable-supplied PVRs vary tremendously service to service: some protect everything on their hard drives to prevent external copying, others use selective protection or no protection. In your case, either the cableco recently "threw a switch" and protected everything coincidental to you getting a new recorder, or more likely as I said you backed a wrong horse when you picked a hyper-sensitive Sony (Sonys are notorious for refusing to record anything, even Oprah reruns at 2 am).

    The DVD/HDD models I recommended still apply for your PVR-to-DVD tasks. They are more likley to succeed at copying from a cable PVR than current DVD-only or DVD/VHS combo models. And I would add the Panasonic EA-18 as a fourth option, jjeff was right about it being a good cable/satellite PVR accessory. Still, it depends on the price: the Magnavox refurb with 160GB HDD and full editing features remains far and away a better value than the Panasonic EA-18 at the same or higher price. Dubbing to any recorder from a cable PVR presents risk of failure due to real or accidental protection, however: you will probably need to purchase a filter after all, and wire it between your PVR line outs and the recorder line ins. Since you already threw money away on the Sony recorder, your cheapest option is to add a filter to your system so you can at least get some recording use out of the Sony. Later on, if you can afford and they're still available to buy, you could look into upgrading your recorder with one of the recommended units.

    Filters are a giant pain to shop for, new or used prices are all over the place and none are exactly cheap. Figure on $100-200 for an effective, reliable filter. Search online for units like the "Grex", the "Video Filter", the "Sima CT-200", "CMX-5000" or "CMX-7000". If you come across a used "DataVideo TBC-1000" for under $200, thats another good option (its not a simple filter, its a full-fledged TBC which can auto-correct many kinds of signal issue, and it has four A/V line outputs).

    LordSmurf, the real-world results fall somewhere in the middle: all recorders of any vintage will respond to a "true" protection signal, but newer models are far more sensitive and prone to false-positives than older models. A quick spin thru online complaints re current Sony, JVC and Toshiba models will turn up loads more disappointed "won't record anything" reports than you'll find for those same mfrs older units.
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  15. Member
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    Sorry to put my....... three cents in, however, my 2003 vintage Sony RDR-HX7 will record anything.....from my TWCable box..... using the S-Video connection. Granted, I don't have HBO or other premium stations, but this recorder has never failed me...... not once. Ditto for my 2005 Sony RDR-HX715..... both these machines have analog tuners. On the other hand, I had an interesting development with my Panny EZ48VK DVD/VHS machine.
    It was initially hooked up to my Samsung HDTV using plain video out cables, and video out from the cable box.
    One day I hooked up an HDMI cable from the Panny to the Samsung, all of a sudden, certain timers weren't working,
    due to the copy protection nonsense. Biggest offenders seemed to be A & E, USA & TNT stations.
    Unplugged the HDMI cable, and...... the Panny went back to recording normally ! Figure that one out.....
    Also had the same copy protection problems with another unit, Panasonic 27K. It will record anything using the
    built in QAM tuner, which receives all DTV HD stations, but those same stations from the cable box with a simple video in connection, the copy protection rears it's ugly head. None of it makes any logical sense......
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  16. Member orsetto's Avatar
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    Sony RDR-HX7. 2003. Will record anything. Sony RDR-HX715. 2005. Will record anything. Both premium DVD/HDD models. Both made before late 2006. I rest my case.

    Late model Sony DVD-only or DVD/VHS combos are not nearly as successful at recording. The current Canada-only RDR-HX780 with hard drive (similar to joecass' older machines) swims against the Sony tide and does better, although still no match for the HX7 or 715.
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  17. Member
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    orsetto
    Thank you for your additional post. Yes I have a DVR from my cable company but seems to have a teeny-tiny hard drive. For the last year or so I've been able to burn my shows to DVD using an LG DVD Recorder but it packed in and I needed a replacement. The Sony was dirt cheap ($118.00) and since all I did was set the recorder on my DVR and DVD Recorder and check my DVD when I got up in the morning to see if everything was fine. Since blank DVD's are a quarter each this seemed to work fine and if I watch my shows once or twice I am well pleased. I'll look for a refur Magnavox since they all seem to have 160Gb hard drives so hopefully I can let my shows stack up on the hard drive instead of burning DVDs. I am offended since I pick up my favorite shows when they come out on DVD but so much seems to disappear (Love Monkey, Close to Home and all of the soaps). Way of the world I suppose.
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  18. Member
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    You may want to check into getting a Magnavox at Walmart, currently they're showing the 160GB hard drive recorder for
    $227, on line..... not sure if they're available at retail Walmart locations

    http://www.walmart.com/Magnavox-160GB-DVD-Recorder-Tuner/ip/10104532?povid=cat62055-en...e203229-rLink1

    Reading some of the customer reviews, seems like there are a few anomalies when it comes to timer recordings, I would
    check on line reviews thoroughly before buying one
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  19. Member Seeker47's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by orsetto
    Recent regressive software changes on some cable systems make renting the cable company PVR less of a "no-brainer" than it used to be. If you're on Time Warner Cable, and have endured their gruesome forced migration from reliable third-party Passport software to their new, utterly dysfunctional in-house Mystro software, you'll know what I mean. PVRs running the Mystro interface are unreliable, recording the wrong show or no show at all. The program guide freezes and reboots the box if you try to look ahead more than six hours on a Monday during an odd-numbered month. All but unusable. In these cases you may find an independent DVD/HDD recorder with its own manual timer to be preferable, if a bit more complicated to use.

    Satellite PVRs and non-TWC cable PVRs remain good alternatives for timeshifters who don't want to make DVDs and don't want to be stymied by recording restrictions.
    I'm very glad you mentioned that, Orsetto, because I was unaware of those changes. (Still using somewhat older, non-PVR Motorola boxes from TWC -- at least until I move.) I hope there will be no such changes with the Sat providers. In other threads, I had raised several questions about U-Verse service (which I realize is not-satellite) and about DISH. Maybe another memory test for me here, but ISTR someone saying you could hook up an auxiliary HDD to certain of the DISH boxes and offload content to it ? If so, that would be a unique feature. Someone else said that U-Verse PVR-equipped boxes could not record separate channels in separate rooms, yet their recent commercials mention being able to record 4 programs simultaneously, including premium ones. (On the downside, I have to think that if you are using their internet service at the same time there could be glitches and there would be a drop off in overall bandwidth, which would not be too good for the video.) I would like to know all the 'gotchas', before I sign a 1 or 2 year service agreement with one of these companies. No matter what other gear may be in the mix, I also fully intend to keep recording with the Pioneer DVDRs, so anything precluding that would be a dealbreaker.
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  20. Member orsetto's Avatar
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    The Magnavox was made in two batches. The first run has no timer glitch. When those stocks ran out, the mfr fully intended to leave the US market due to slow sales of "premium" DVD recorders here. But at the last minute, Target tried to steal this "exclusive" model out from under Wal*Marts nose by putting an order in before production ceased. Wal*Mart got miffed and put in their own unplanned reorder, and suddenly the factory was swamped. The H2160 was rushed back into production to satisfy these huge retailers, but some internal changes were made. The drive connections went from outdated IDE to modern SATA, and tuner firmware was upgraded. Somewhere in this, a glitch sneaked thru that prevents finalizing a DVD if there are any timer recordings scheduled. The workaround people used for many months was to clear their timers and then finalize discs in batches, but this gets very inconvenient if you record heavily. A few weeks ago, a much better workaround was discovered: all you have to do is switch inputs from "tuner" to "DV Camera", and you can then finalize without having to clear your timer schedule! If you know that trick, the machine is as bug-free as any other brand, and less buggy than most. Its editing system is clumsy compared to more expensive, discontinued recorders from other mfrs, but the features are there and they do work. The HDD makes high-capacity recording and editing before burning possible, features missing from every other current USA recorder.
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  21. Member
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    Ive got a fairly old Liteon dvd recorder that records everything--even pay per view movies ive rented off my cable company. Are you not supposed to be able to do that? maybe my cable company doesnt scramble the signal????

    Mind you, it doesnt work if i use the cable itself to copy the movie--eg if i use the "copy to dvd" option from my cable menu. It only works if i set my dvr to the right channel, then play the movie/show and hit record on my dvr....it works exactly like a VCR.

    is it really illegal to do that? I mean, i can leave a pay per view movie in my cable box memory for as long as i like and watch it as many times as i like... why can't i put it on a dvd to make space ony cable box memory?
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  22. Member orsetto's Avatar
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    seeker47, the Time Warner "Mystro" mess affects every digital decoder box: standard def, high def, with or without HDD recording. The extent of the dysfunction varies with your local region and neighborhood, and in some cases the specific box (recording hi def boxes have the most variables to contend with). The rollout began in 2006, if you live in one of the earlier-adopting regions many bugs may have already been worked out, although there are still many many complaints. My location in Brooklyn New York was apparently the last to get this grotesque "upgrade", it was force-loaded last month. If you want to check which software your box is running, unplug the AC power cord for 30 seconds, then plug it back in. Watch your TV screen while it reboots: if the logo reads "PassPort", you're on the older, stable third-party software (enjoy it while you can). If the box boots to simple navy blue screen with the "Mystro" logo and some white squares, you're on the newer, lamer in-house TWC software. Why the hell TWC didn't simply pay the PassPort developers to add "tru2way" capabilities remains a mystery, it can't possibly have been as expensive or disruptive as creating their own pathetic software.
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  23. Member orsetto's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by elkitten
    is it really illegal to do that? I mean, i can leave a pay per view movie in my cable box memory for as long as i like and watch it as many times as i like... why can't i put it on a dvd to make space ony cable box memory?
    Yes, its illegal. "Pay Per View" means exactly what it says: you are paying to view that particular program once. You are not paying for the right to an indefinite copy: that defeats the whole point. As a courtesy, if you have a non-recording decoder box, the cableco gives you a 24 hour window to access the title you paid for, then you get locked out. The recording decoder boxes on most systems will hold the PPV title on the HDD for 7 to 30 days, then auto-delete. If you figure out how to back it up off the box to VHS or DVD, thats certainly your own personal business, but technically it is in fact "illegal". This is one of the very few instances where I actually do concur with Hollywoods reasoning, because the bargain we agree to is right there in the name: PAY PER VIEW. There is no credible argument for making a permanent copy after you push the "buy" button and agree to such obvious terms.

    But as far as I'm concerned, everything else on cable and satellite and off-air should be fair game for recording, temporary or permanent. There is no credible moral case for HBO or Showtime or Speed or Disney to be "protecting" their services: they aren't free, they cost most of us at least $10 each per month- more if we have multiple boxes. If I'm giving HBO and Showtime upwards of $400 a year in revenue, I'm damned well entitled to record "Entourage" or "Dexter" and make my own DVDs. They are not entitled to protect their material just because they want to "force" sales of additional overpriced series box sets each season: thats bull. HBO is way more guilty of this than Showtime: Showtime season sets debut at reasonable prices that drop to a very affordable cost within a couple months. HBO is friggin ridiculous: they still want $70 a season for Sopranos and $50 for Six Feet Under. The greed is misguided anyway: when a season set goes on sale at Best Buy for $30 or less, many of us often buy it even if we already made our own DVDs from cable. If we like a show enough to record it, we usually like it enough to buy the much-better-quality commercial release after it gets discounted ($19.95-24.95 for a 2006 season is reasonable, HBO with its $69.95 series sets from 2001 is a joke.)
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  24. Member
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    There are three levels of protection that can be applied to TV in the US: Copy never (can't be recorded), copy once (you can't copy your original recording) , and copy freely (make as many copies as you like).

    "Copy once" causes confusion. You can record programs with that level of copy protection using a cableco/satco DVR, but you can't make a copy using a DVD recorder, because then there would be 2 copies.

    Most of the time you can also use a DVD recorder and recordable DVD media for your original recording, but the recorder has to be able to copy protect the disc, and you must use a type of media that supports the required method of copy protection. Otherwise recording is prevented. The type/brand of media needed is generally specified in the user manual.

    A HDD DVD recorder can be used for the original recording of copy-once material as well. I remember reading that there are some HDD DVD recorders which will allow transfer of your original copy-once recordings to DVD media that supports the required method of copy protection because the copy on the HDD will be deleted automatically, so there is only one copy. I don't recall what recorders are supposed to work that way.

    If the ability to time-shift non-pay-per-view TV is provided by some means, that's all US law requires. That requirement can be met by providing programming on-demand, free to subscribers, and by making it copy-once. There's usually even a reasonable window of time given to watch PPV content that you've paid for, in the event you are interrupted. For that reason the FCC has granted some content providers, such as HBO, permission to copy protect their offerings.
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  25. Member
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    hmmmmmm well what you guys are saying makes a lot of sense, especially in the Pay Per View topic..of course its meant to be for one day, that makes plenty of sense.

    I have only ever recorded a "PPV" movie once.... and it was by "accident" as in, i did it without even thinking...was surprised it worked really... Basically, I was at my parents house who have the fancy cable and DVR--we were recording a lot of seperate shows and I had "on demand" bought a (very, very recent) 007 movie after having recorded and copied its prequal. We needed space on the DVR to record other things, someone else in my family was interested in seeing the move, so, I recorded it, without a problem (hit record on my DVR, hey presto, done).

    I do see your point though when it comes to PPV, and I also agree with..ah jeez, i hit reply and now i cant see your name... "guy above the last post before me" on TV shows. I copy to DVD dexter just so i have it, but once its out ill get a real copy of it because its better quality. (BTW check out FYE.com for used Soprano's DVD's.... i have the entire series and bought it for under $170 US total, used... and there wasnt nary a fingerprint on any of the DVD's or boxes... why? people buy it, copy it, return for another one....)

    Anyhoo, dunno if i have a special DVR or if i accidentally found a trick (honestly, i just followed the directions in the manual) and like others said, paying over $100 a month for cable should indeed entitle me to copy a movie or a TV show for my own purposes whe i intentd to buy a "real" copy eventually... i dont do it often, just for a favourite show... or a movie that is taking too much space which i could keep forever on the cable's dvr anyway!!!
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  26. Build Your Own PVR

    byopvr.com
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  27. Member Seeker47's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by handyguy
    Build Your Own PVR

    byopvr.com
    Yup, we've heard that before. But they won't turn themselves On and Off at designated times, like a standalone DVDR. (Or the HDD portion of the Sat / Cable box.) Also probably beyond the reach of all but dedicated hobbyists with a nice budget.
    When in Las Vegas, don't miss the Pinball Hall of Fame Museum http://www.pinballmuseum.org/ -- over 150 tables from 6+ decades of this gradually disappearing American art form.
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