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  1. I'm interested in buying a DVR where I can schedule up programming on different channels and record them.

    However, I have a few questions.

    Is there a DVR where you don't need a monthly subscription? What exactly do you pay for after you purchase the DVR? What's the best DVR out there that I don't need to pay a monthly subscription (do they exist)?
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  2. Err, you didn't specify whether you're talking about OTA or a particular cable/satellite service, or even which country you're in.
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  3. Member classfour's Avatar
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    I'm running a TIVO with lifetime subscription.

    Not free.

    Lifetime was $300, plus you have to pay the monthly fee for the first year.

    You could build a media center PC to record from your cable.
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  4. Originally Posted by vaporeon800 View Post
    Err, you didn't specify whether you're talking about OTA or a particular cable/satellite service, or even which country you're in.
    Durr obviously. My bad.

    I'm in the U.S. and my cable provider is Verizon Fios.
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    Originally Posted by GEOLINK View Post
    Originally Posted by vaporeon800 View Post
    Err, you didn't specify whether you're talking about OTA or a particular cable/satellite service, or even which country you're in.
    Durr obviously. My bad.

    I'm in the U.S. and my cable provider is Verizon Fios.
    Your only option with no monthly fees is a Windows 7-based HTPC with a CableCARD tuner, assuming that you won't keep any of your existing FIOS cableboxes or FIOS DVRs. If you have an existing FIOS cablebox that you want to keep using, you may have to pay a small monthly fee to Verizon for the CableCARD. However, this option is probably not really much (if any) less expensive than a TiVo with a lifetime subscription unless you already have a PC that you can dedicate to the task. Note that using a TiVo also requires a CableCARD from your provider, which can incur fees depending on the provider's CableCARD policy. An HTPC or TiVo won't provice access to interactive FIOS services like free on-demand offerings and movie rentals.

    Sorry, but there are really no penny-pincher-friendly solutions to this problem because cable companies encrypt all digital channels to discourage theft of service, and the only way to decrypt them is to use some equipment obtained from the cable provider, which they can sometimes require you to pay extra for.
    Last edited by usually_quiet; 21st Jul 2014 at 20:28. Reason: clarity
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  6. Member budwzr's Avatar
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    If it was OTA, ChannelMaster has one for $250, and that includes lifetime program guide. I have one myself, and it's one of my best investments.

    Cable is only going to get more expensive as time goes on due to less subscribers. I'm willing to pay for good content, but much of it is crap that you never watch.

    Or the worst part is paying all kind of extra fees to time shift it. You already paid for it, but you can't watch it when you want unless you pay extra. That's like a giant slap in the face to consumers.
    Last edited by budwzr; 21st Jul 2014 at 20:55.
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    I decided to do a search to find out if Verizon was typically encrypting local OTA broadcast channels carried in their system. The answer appears to be no, those are still being provided unencrypted (AKA as "clear QAM"), although Verizon is legally allowed to encrypt those channels any time they want to. Clear QAM cable channels can be tuned without a CableCARD. If a FIOS subscriber has basic cable service (local OTA channels and a handful of others), then it would be possible to use an iView 3500STBII Multi-Function Digital Converter Box with the subscriber's own external hard drive as a basic DVR (no program guide) to record them. Of course an HTPC or TiVo would be better as they can provide a program guide.

    The FIOS channels that subscribers can tune with their HDTV alone are clear QAM. Additional channels in a subscriber's package that an HDTV cannot tune on its own would require a CableCARD to tune.
    Last edited by usually_quiet; 21st Jul 2014 at 22:46.
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    Originally Posted by budwzr View Post
    Or the worst part is paying all kind of extra fees to time shift it. You already paid for it, but you can't watch it when you want unless you pay extra. That's like a giant slap in the face to consumers.
    I'm sorry, but what exactly are you talking about here? I've never heard of this before, but I don't have HBO and all kinds of weird things happen with HBO so maybe your post has something to do with that. If I record something on my AT&T provided DVR, I can watch it whenever I want. Now there are some restrictions on free on demand stuff and CBS is notorious for not making some shows available to on demand, but I am baffled at this idea of having to pay extra for time shifting.
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    Originally Posted by jman98 View Post
    Originally Posted by budwzr View Post
    Or the worst part is paying all kind of extra fees to time shift it. You already paid for it, but you can't watch it when you want unless you pay extra. That's like a giant slap in the face to consumers.
    I'm sorry, but what exactly are you talking about here? I've never heard of this before, but I don't have HBO and all kinds of weird things happen with HBO so maybe your post has something to do with that. If I record something on my AT&T provided DVR, I can watch it whenever I want. Now there are some restrictions on free on demand stuff and CBS is notorious for not making some shows available to on demand, but I am baffled at this idea of having to pay extra for time shifting.
    Referring maybe to the cable outfits that no longer let you shift channels programmatically using the cable box ? ? Many providers set it up now so that you can shift channels automatically only with the rented DVR. If you want to record something on channel 173 at 1 A.M. and then channel 37 at 4 A.M., you have to use the DVR to change channels when you're not around to do it yourself. Many people don't use rented DVR's to record, many people record by other means and transfer what they record to permanent media. On demand ain't available for everything or forever. That might be what he's talking about.
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    Originally Posted by jman98 View Post
    Originally Posted by budwzr View Post
    Or the worst part is paying all kind of extra fees to time shift it. You already paid for it, but you can't watch it when you want unless you pay extra. That's like a giant slap in the face to consumers.
    I'm sorry, but what exactly are you talking about here? I've never heard of this before, but I don't have HBO and all kinds of weird things happen with HBO so maybe your post has something to do with that. If I record something on my AT&T provided DVR, I can watch it whenever I want. Now there are some restrictions on free on demand stuff and CBS is notorious for not making some shows available to on demand, but I am baffled at this idea of having to pay extra for time shifting.
    You are both right to some degree.

    Some cable companies provide free on-demand offerings that do allow for time-shifting some shows for a limited period of time without paying extra, if the subscriber's plan includes a standard cable box as a part of his service. Although, as you pointed out, not everything is available on-demand. For example, sports, daytime television and reruns of classic TV shows tend not to be available on demand. A DVR is necessary for time-shifting those.

    ...and basic cable subscribers may be issued a simpler box that doesn't allow access to interactive services or on-demand, or no cable box at all if those channels are provided in the clear. They may have to pay extra for a cable box that allows access to interactive services like on-demand.
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    I get it now. Thanks. It's just a badly worded post. Nobody is paying to "time shift". They are paying for various other services and the ability to "time shift" via on demand in a fringe benefit of that level of service, not that someone paid a "time shifting fee" which is what that post seemed to be saying, at least to me.
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  12. Member budwzr's Avatar
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    I'm just saying that Time Shifting requires a monthly fee for the DVR. The "FREE" DVR needs a monthly fee. Every little thing is extra, that's what sucks about cable. Whether that fee is separate or built in, it still adds to the overall cost, and is a recurring expense.

    The ideal situation is everything to be ala carte. The current offering is you have to buy the whole buffet. This encourages content providers to load up on anything and everything, even if it sucks, to make their offering list to appear huge.

    And they spread the better programming across the tiers, so you have to get the premium package or else no access. It's a giant clusterfukk scam.
    Last edited by budwzr; 22nd Jul 2014 at 12:12.
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  13. Member budwzr's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by usually_quiet View Post
    I decided to do a search to find out if Verizon was typically encrypting local OTA broadcast channels carried in their system.
    But they're "re-compressing" it so you lose quality.

    Rebroadcasting local channels for "free" is another scam. There's no finer TV picture than DTV coming off the antenna. They don't want you to notice how crappy their stuff is compared to FREE DTV, so they recompress it to match. They probably charge the broadcaster to carry them, or have some other way to get a slice of the commercial moolah, no wonder it's "free".

    The whole HD Antenna concept is a giant scam too. You can get HDTV with any old antenna, rabbit ears, or even coathanger. There's no such thing as an "HD" antenna. Just marketing.

    If you think $100+ a month, and you STILL have to sit through commercials, is a good deal, you're in the minority. If you compare Cable to something like Google Play Music, you can see there's a tremendous price difference. For $10 a month you can get practically ANY song ever recorded, and that includes new releases too. No more 1.29 songs, that model is out.
    Last edited by budwzr; 22nd Jul 2014 at 12:47.
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    Originally Posted by budwzr View Post
    Originally Posted by usually_quiet View Post
    I decided to do a search to find out if Verizon was typically encrypting local OTA broadcast channels carried in their system.
    But they're "re-compressing" it so you lose quality.

    Rebroadcasting local channels for "free" is another scam. There's no finer TV picture than DTV coming off the antenna. They don't want you to notice how crappy their stuff is compared to FREE DTV, so they recompress it to match. They probably charge the broadcaster to carry them, or have some other way to get a slice of the commercial moolah, no wonder it's "free".

    The whole HD Antenna concept is a giant scam too. You can get HDTV with any old antenna, rabbit ears, or even coathanger. There's no such thing as an "HD" antenna. Just marketing.

    If you think $100+ a month, and you STILL have to sit through commercials, is a good deal, you're in the minority. If you compare Cable to something like Google Play Music, you can see there's a tremendous price difference. For $10 a month you can get practically ANY song ever recorded, and that includes new releases too. No more 1.29 songs, that model is out.
    Quality of OTA channels on cable depends on the provider. I watch OTA TV as well as cable on the same TV. My local Comcast franchise doesn't seem to degrade the broadcasts from my locals much if at all. If I can't make the Hauppauge Colossus card I bought work as well as I would like for time-shifting cable-only channels, I'll probably try a CableCARD next and compare the bitrate with recordings from my TV tuner cards. I don't expect that I would find a huge difference.

    Paid TV service isn't necessarily a scam for those who want to watch TV but don't have decent OTA reception. My sister's family is in that situation. According to tvfool.com, even if they got a roof antenna, they would probably still not get reliable reception for the majority of their locals, the nearest of which 70 miles away.

    ...and finally, who provides most of the high-speed Internet service in the US? Cable companies with total or near monopolies in most areas, so cord cutters will end up paying more and more for Internet service as cable subscriptions decline. LOL
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  15. Member budwzr's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by usually_quiet View Post
    ... so cord cutters will end up paying more and more for Internet service as cable subscriptions decline. LOL
    I wouldn't be surprised if a class action lawsuit is taken up against the major ISP's. I'm paying for 7M internet speed, but Verizon throttles NetFlix down to 1 or 2M. to stifle competition against their own media offerings.

    The phone companies are using public trust common carrier powers to monopolize and lock out competitors. We're back to the old JP Morgan railroad tycoon days and the GOV can't even figure out what agency has regulatory control.

    Yeah, it's a mess.
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  16. Originally Posted by usually_quiet View Post
    Originally Posted by GEOLINK View Post
    Originally Posted by vaporeon800 View Post
    Err, you didn't specify whether you're talking about OTA or a particular cable/satellite service, or even which country you're in.
    Durr obviously. My bad.

    I'm in the U.S. and my cable provider is Verizon Fios.
    Your only option with no monthly fees is a Windows 7-based HTPC with a CableCARD tuner, assuming that you won't keep any of your existing FIOS cableboxes or FIOS DVRs. If you have an existing FIOS cablebox that you want to keep using, you may have to pay a small monthly fee to Verizon for the CableCARD. However, this option is probably not really much (if any) less expensive than a TiVo with a lifetime subscription unless you already have a PC that you can dedicate to the task. Note that using a TiVo also requires a CableCARD from your provider, which can incur fees depending on the provider's CableCARD policy. An HTPC or TiVo won't provice access to interactive FIOS services like free on-demand offerings and movie rentals.

    Sorry, but there are really no penny-pincher-friendly solutions to this problem because cable companies encrypt all digital channels to discourage theft of service, and the only way to decrypt them is to use some equipment obtained from the cable provider, which they can sometimes require you to pay extra for.


    I was actually in a thread about this recently, getting something off of a DVR is major task, which will be expensive and difficult. When my parents signed up for ATT U-Verse and HD, AT&T provided us with DVRs for each TV.
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    Originally Posted by hanshotfirst1138 View Post
    I was actually in a thread about this recently, getting something off of a DVR is major task, which will be expensive and difficult. When my parents signed up for ATT U-Verse and HD, AT&T provided us with DVRs for each TV.
    The expensive part can be true, whether building an HTPC-based DVR or transferring programming from the provider's DVR.

    The cost for a consumer HD capture device is usually somewhere between $90 and $200. (The list of possible choices is determined by the device interfaces one can use and whether software encoding is an option.) If someone wants to record from the provider's DVR's HDMI out, then a $25 to $45 HDMI splitter that removes HDCP as a side effect is needed. It may be necessary to buy some A/V or HDMI cables too. Capture software is often limited to that included free with the capture device, although for some capture devices there may be a few free, or inexpensive paid third-party programs available.

    Capture newbies may find setting up the capture device and capture software and learning how to use it difficult. Those with enough experience may merely find setup and capture to be time-consuming. Capture has to be done in real time, so if one has 100 hours of programming to transfer from a DVR, recording it will not take less time than that.
    Last edited by usually_quiet; 24th Jul 2014 at 13:46. Reason: clarity
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