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  1. They sell it at Walmart.

    Are there any dual turner recorders available that does not require a subscription?
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  2. Member
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    The Magnavox MDR-513H/F7 is a good product by most accounts.

    I know of three dual ATSC tuner non-subscription HDD recorders with no DVD drive. Unlike a DVD recorder, they record HD programming in HD. These are strictly for digital TV using an antenna, and don't work for cable. They create their program guide from PSIP data like a coupon-eligible converter box.

    http://www.channelmasterstore.com/HD_DVR_receiver_for_antenna_p/cm-7000pal.htm

    http://www.kmart.com/shc/s/p_10151_10104_105V0FREESTARDVRP?vName=Gifts&cName=Her&sName...V0FREESTARDVRP

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16815135007&cm_re=DVICO-_-15-135-007-_-Product
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    As far as I know, if you are willing to program your recording device with the correct channel and time, you don't need a subscription. It won't be able to do things like search out related programs for you, but I've never heard of a DVD recorder that required you to have a subscription to work. I have heard rumors that some newer Tivo models may require subscriptions to work, but I cannot confirm that.
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    I forgot about another non-subscription PVR, Moxi. http://moxi.com/us/home.html The service is bundled with the product, resulting in a rather large purchase price, but no subsciption fees. It works only for recording digital cable. Recording analog cable service requires purchase of a Hauppauge 1950 external PC tuner to use with it. A Moxi needs an Internet connection and a rented CableCARD from the service provider to work as intended. Cable providers generally don't want customers to install CableCARDs themselves, so it is likely a service call will be needed as well.

    Originally Posted by jman98 View Post
    As far as I know, if you are willing to program your recording device with the correct channel and time, you don't need a subscription. It won't be able to do things like search out related programs for you, but I've never heard of a DVD recorder that required you to have a subscription to work. I have heard rumors that some newer Tivo models may require subscriptions to work, but I cannot confirm that.
    Spending a few minutes TiVo's website will confirm that recent US TiVos are pretty useless without a subscription.

    http://support.tivo.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/18

    http://www.tivo.com/abouttivo/policies/tivobasicandtivoplusserviceagreement.html
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  5. Magnavox records HD but it converts to SD for display, right?

    YOu can build your own, at byopvr.com
    Last edited by handyguy; 19th Aug 2010 at 11:54.
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    Originally Posted by handyguy View Post
    Magnavox records HD but it converts to SD for display, right?

    YOu can build your own, at byopvr.com
    From what I understood, the Magnavox both records and displays HDTV channels in 720x480 resolution. If I recall, when it tunes the HD channel, it can record it in either 16:9 anamorphic widescreen or letterboxed 4:3 depending on the options chosen during set-up. If it is used to record from an STB, people are stuck whatever the STB sends. Unfortunately most STBs don't provide the option of sending 16:9 anamorphic widescreen over their composite and S-video connections.

    How did I know handyguy would suggest building a home theater PC? This is an option for some people. ...but not everyone wants a PC sitting next to their entertainment center and not everyone wants to bother setting up a PVR program, and PC TV tuner(s). While Windows 7's Media Center is fairly easy to set up for what it is, this does not mean it is as easy to set up as a DVD recorder or PVR. I have tried other PVR software, particularly free PVR software, that is less easy to work with.

    It cost only $110 to add a cheap TV tuner card with no remote and a second HDD to a PC running Windows 7 Home Premium that I built in 2009 with that goal in mind. ...but that's pretty much a minimum amount. I could have easily spent much more to add a better tuner with a remote or more tuners.
    Last edited by usually_quiet; 19th Aug 2010 at 19:53. Reason: grammar
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  7. Wow, I didn't know the Channel Master CM-7000PAL DVRwas dual tuner!
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  8. The Magnavox is an excellent deal for what it is: a box that lets you record off-air DTV in the highest-possible standard-def quality, manually timeshift and chase-play, edit out commercials, and make DVDs for a personal library. Its also good for making DVD copies of old VHS and camcorder tapes. For these purposes the Magnavox is the culmination of a four year old design that has had most of the bugs shaken out, with really decent recording quality.

    If you are not the least bit interested in those things, and are primarily looking for a cheap TiVO knockoff, the Magnavox is not for you. It does not have any sort of automated "point and click" program guide, it cannot record in true HDTV quality, and it only has a single tuner. If you want TiVO-like features, look into the other options mentioned. Bear in mind, however, that this is one stubborn case of "you get what you pay for": the cheap non-subscription TiVO knockoffs rely on the PSIP data signal in DTV broadcasts to create their program guide/timer system. That data signal is beyond flakey, often unstable/inaccurate, and often misunderstood by the DVR itself. Read reviews and research those "subscription-free" DVRs carefully before putting your money down: many people love 'em, and as many are sorry they ever heard of them. There's a reason why the most popular DVRs require a subscription: good stable program guides cost money to create and maintain. Only you can decide how much convenience and reliability are worth to you, vs a cheaper design that trades economy for some degree of annoyance.
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  9. Panasonics have a nice free GemStar TV guide, but they seemed to have been bought by Macrovision & that restricts where you can get this guide now.
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    Based on user comments I have read, it is true the CM-7000PAL simply doesn't have as much built-in inteligence as a TiVo, Moxi, or Windows Media Center when it comes to scheduling programs from a program guide, and may still have some bugs awaiting correction. That being said the functionality it does provide is still somewhat better than using manual timers alone. Plus, having an onscreen guide and program information available is a convenience in itself.

    One correction to my earlier post: the CM-7000PAL will use the digital TV Guide service provided by many CBS stations if it is available. Otherwise, it uses PSIP data. I think TV Guide's service provides information for a week. The number of days/hours PSIP data covers varies, but is likely to be far less than that, perhaps one to three days, depending on the channel.

    If a program starts late for some reason or there is a last-minute change in the schedule, the TV Guide and PSIP data probably won't reflect the change, but Microsoft's guide and my cable provider's guide generally don't either. I can't say how well TiVo does.

    I have a couple of coupon-eligible converter boxes with program guides that are built from PSIP data. The accuracy of PSIP data depends on the channel. For me, the channels affiliated with major networks are usually very good, while indendent stations as well as my local PBS affiliate (during pledge drives) are often guilty of providing no useful information.

    There is good information about the DTVPal DVR's and the CM-700PAL's known problems and limitations here http://72.9.159.100/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1099071#A6
    Last edited by usually_quiet; 20th Aug 2010 at 11:48. Reason: spelling
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    Originally Posted by handyguy View Post
    Panasonics have a nice free GemStar TV guide, but they seemed to have been bought by Macrovision & that restricts where you can get this guide now.
    The Panasonic recorders I know of that have this feature are discontinued models with analog-only tuners. I don't think there are any current Panasonic models that have it.

    The main problems for people who have those older models seems to be that not all markets have a station providing the service (usually a CBS affiliate) and over-the-air DTV doesn't provide the analog guide data needed. They have to have an Antec or DTVPal DTA converter box to change the digital TV Guide data to a form their recorder can use.
    Last edited by usually_quiet; 20th Aug 2010 at 11:46. Reason: grammar
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  12. Panasonic, Toshiba and Pioneer all made DVD/HDD recorders with the GemStar TV Guide On Screen (TVGOS) timer scheduling system, which is about as close as anyone ever got to making a truly decent "subscription-free" TiVO knockoff. Unfortunately all of these are long discontinued, and as usually_quiet notes they depend on a now nearly-extinct analog data signal that is disappearing from city after city in the USA. The current corporate parent of the TVGOS system shows no apparent interest in developing or promoting it for the DTV age, so you are subject to the whims of individual broadcast stations and cable systems in your area on whether they offer the signal in a form usable by these "obsolete" analog recorders.

    If you do decide to bother with one of these, perhaps because the TVGOS signal is still available in your city, stick with the Panasonic- preferably the DMR-EH55 model which had the most developed version of TVGOS. The Toshiba XS models were highly temperamental units, beloved by video fanatics but not really usable now by the average consumer. The three Pioneers with TVGOS, DVR-531, 533 and 633, were the only really rotten machines ever made by Pioneer and are by far the worst possible used recorder you can buy- avoid them like the plague.

    There were a couple of ingenious Pioneers made in 2003 with full cooperation of TiVO, the models DVR-810 and Elite 57. These were DVD recorders grafted onto an actual TiVO, so they had the full TiVO interface. They came with a built-in "lifetime" free subscription to TiVO basic, which is basically just the timer grid with a single tuner, but thats more than enough for many users. For awhile they were a hot item in the used marketplace, prized by those who wanted a "real" TiVO on the cheap. I believe they can still be made to work with no subscription fees, but there have been significant changes in the TiVO system that may finally have obsoleted these models. Its worth looking into them, as they now frequently sell for well under $200 on eBay. Do some research on the various TiVO forums beforehand to be sure they still retain enough functionality to be a practical alternative. There may be some catch like needing to pay a one-time "update fee" to make the built-in "free" subscription compatible with today's TiVO system.
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  13. LiquidTV is about $50 on Ebay. Comes with a USB HD tuner, remote, & a year of TIVO. That comes to about $4 a month but you have to use a computer.
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    Originally Posted by handyguy View Post
    LiquidTV is about $50 on Ebay. Comes with a USB HD tuner, remote, & a year of TIVO. That comes to about $4 a month but you have to use a computer.
    LiquidTV is a discontinued product since December 2009, so Nero could choose to eliminate updates for it in a few years. ...and what happens after that 1 year free subscription is up?

    Many people would still need to add a second HDD to store recordings, and the OP would need to add a second tuner, which would increase the cost.
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  15. Is there a fairly inexpensive DVR with a dual tuner that will work with my cable box that doesn't require a computer??
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    Originally Posted by dvorasnell View Post
    Is there a fairly inexpensive DVR with a dual tuner that will work with my cable box that doesn't require a computer??
    There are no DVRs with only a hard drive that can record the analog output from a cable box or from a source other than an antenna. ...and there are no DVD recorders with a hard drive that have more than one tuner, or which can record from an analog line in and a tuner at the same time. However, US model DVD recorders with a tuner that were made after 2009 can tune both digital and analog channels. Also, there are no DVD recorders made at present that change the channel on the cable box either. You have to do that manually.

    If a DVD recorder with a hard drive is still a workable option, Walmart still sells some made by Magnavox. Their digital tuner is more reliable for tuning over-the-air broadcasts than clear QAM (unencrypted) digital cable channels, but many do have success using it to record unencrypted digital cable.

    http://www.walmart.com/ip/Magnavox-HDD-DVR-and-DVD-Recorder-with-Digital-Tuner-320GB/20710260
    http://www.walmart.com/ip/Magnavox-HDD-DVR-and-DVD-Recorder-with-Digital-Tuner-500GB/20710258
    http://www.walmart.com/ip/Magnavox-HDD-DVR-and-DVD-Recorder-with-Digital-Tuner-1TB/20710259
    Last edited by usually_quiet; 5th Aug 2013 at 10:49.
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  17. Magnavox HDD DVR and DVD Recorder with Digital Tuner, 500GB with Bonus Ematic HDMI 1080p Cable, 6'Magnavox HDD DVR and DVD Recorder with Digital Tuner, 500GB with Bonus Ematic HDMI 1080p Magnavox HDD DVR and DVD Recorder with Digital Tuner, 500GB with Bonus Ematic HDMI 1080p Magnavox HDD DVR and DVD Recorder with Digital Tuner, 500GB with Bonus Ematic HDMI 1080p

    Can I hook this up to my "cable box" and hiave it work as the "cable card" I've read about?
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  18. For the sake of heading off repetitive posts I'm going to spell everything out to be sure we're all on the same page, dvorasnell.

    CableCard should be considered as a miniature cable decoder box that installs inside certain DVRs like TiVO and a handful of PC based DVR systems. Once installed and activated by your cable service, it allows the TiVO or PC to directly tune most of the channels you subscribe to. This permits the device to change channels as required for timer recording, allows multiple tuners to record opposing channels at the same time, and makes full HDTV quality recordings. CableCard was "intended" to spur development of a variety of consumer recording accessories, but the cable companies hate it because it competes with their own integrated decoder box/DVR offerings. Cableco hostility stifled development of new-age recorders, leaving CableCard primarily to TiVO. The number of people using CableCard in a PC PVR is so small as to be insignificant to the cable companies, such users have little influence on the industry. TiVO is huge because it threatened to sue the cablecos for ripping off the TiVO concept unless they fully supported CableCard for TiVO.

    A DVD/HDD recorder like the Magnavox is a whole different product. It records only in standard def (forget HDTV quality on your big screen). It has only one tuner, and that tuner gets more obsolete by the day as cable companies around the country scramble more and more channels. Scrambled channels require an internal CableCard to make a recorder tuner compatible with your cable service, but no DVD recorders accept CableCard. You get stuck having to connect your cable decoder box line outputs to the line inputs of the Magnavox. The Magnavox is neutered in this hookup, unable to change the channels on the cable box, so you lose the ability to timer record different shows on different channels unattended. You would need to be home to change the channels on the cable box manually, unless you're very lucky and have a timer option in your box interface (you would then set the box timer to match the Magnavox timer: tedious, but workable).

    The way your questions are worded indicates an interest in the "holy grail" recorder thousands of consumers want: a cheap, under $200, subscription-free PVR that they own outright, pay for just once, that can tune all of their cable channels and switch channels automatically, that can record several programs at once on different channels, and records in true HDTV quality. Unfortunately this product has been deemed an unprofitable sinkhole by mfrs and they flatly refuse to sell such a thing. Once the cable companies realized they could rent their own recorders and frustrate any competition except TiVO, they did just that, and every year the government relaxes regulations to make it even easier for the cablecos to stifle cheap generic PVRs. So the answer to your (apparent) question "is there a cheap recorder I can buy that will perform the functions of a TiVO or cable-supplied PVR" is a resounding "no, sorry."

    The only practical alternative for most people is to purchase a TiVO with the upfront lifetime subscription option for a total lump-sum cost of about $600. There are no fees after that (except the CableCard rental, about $3/mo), and the TiVO can network to your PC to save videos as files or burn DVDs or BluRays. If you don't want to save any videos, just watch once and erase, forget the TiVo and just negotiate the lowest package deal you can get from your cableco that includes their PVR option in the decoder box. The cable-supplied PVR would also have the least difficulty with premium and sports channels, the TiVO occasionally chokes on those in some cities. If you are very computer-literate you can assemble a PC-based PVR with CableCard for much less than the cost of a TiVO, but the timer software won't be as nice and you do need to handle all the various glitches that come up with anything running under Windows. A lot of members here use PC recorders, but its an acquired taste not suited to those who prefer a standalone dedicated recorder in their living room.

    The Magnavox is optimized for people with good antenna reception, because it can change off-air channels in timer mode and record them in near-HDTV quality. When used in most cable households, its tuner functionality is drastically reduced, and it becomes more of an accessory for occasional recording or for copying things you want to save onto a DVD. There are several Magnavox-specific user forums, all of them are filled with owners who continually bang their heads against a wall in vain attempts to make their unit fully usable with cable. But its impossible now that cable has received a green light from the feds to scramble everything. Unless you desperately want to make DVDs of your recordings, and are willing to endure a lot of inconvenience to get those DVDs, you will pull every last hair out of your head with a Magnavox + cable hookup.

    There is no "cheap nifty recorder" for cable or satellite. Period.
    Last edited by orsetto; 6th Aug 2013 at 11:33.
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  19. Orsetto, thank you so much for your answer. You are correct, I have been grossly confused and had no real idea of the questions, how to ask, and what is possible. Your answer explained so much to me!

    Thank you! I have been considering building my own pvr, I'm computer literate, but don't know if this is beyond my skills.

    What about the Hauppage? Is it the same condition as the magnavox? Only really good for antenna TV? No real functionality with my cable box?
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  20. Originally Posted by dvorasnell View Post
    What about the Hauppage? Is it the same condition as the magnavox? Only really good for antenna TV? No real functionality with my cable box?
    You would need a PC PVR accessory that accepts a CableCard (similar to how the TiVO accepts one). There are a few of these, I'm not sure about current brands/models however. Any PC recording accessory that does not specifically mention CableCard compatibility will eventually become outmoded like the Magnavox, being limited to line inputs from a separate decoder box. So if you want truly convenient recording similar to what your cable PVR or a TiVo would provide, the most important feature you want to look for in a PC PVR adapter is a CableCard slot. Otherwise you'll end up with a PC recorder no different than a Magnavox in functionality.
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