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  1. I want to replace a failed DVR unit (Phillips DVDR 3576H), but am having trouble finding a good replacement.

    The Phillips unit had mediocre user Interface and no EPG (Program guide), but had a hard disk and DVD drive build in, and would record all channels on my local cable (not encrypted).

    I tried a Channel Master DVR+, which is very nice, but has only ATSC tuners, and is explicit that it only supports OTA signals (no QAM tuner). Since the Phillips also only advertised ATSC tuner, I thought that might indicate that my local cable is in fact of that encoding, but the CM would not recognize any channels. The Phillips dpecs. say:
    Chanel Coverage (ATSC/NTSC)
    Terestial .
    CATV
    Does this indicate that the CATV is different than ATSC? Why can my Phillips see my local cable channels, but not the CMaster?

    I am looking then at a Magnavox unit (MDR867H), which does have a built-in DVD drive, but it also says only OTA, although several answers on Amazon indicate that people are using it for recording over cable.

    So, what I am looking for in order of priority is; cable channel recording, epg, DVD drive.

    Any suggestions?
    How can I tell if the Magnavox unit will record my channels, the discussions and forum answers are all pretty vague and non-detailed.
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  2. Digital cable TV uses QAM, encrypted or not. USA digital over-the-air TV uses ATSC. They are not the same. Some cable companies still broadcast standard definition analog video which old analog OTA/cable tuners can receive (not the same as QAM or ATSC).

    You're Philips DVR has an ATSC tuner and an analog tuner. I believe the Channelmaster DVR+ only has an ATSC tuner.

    Cable companies are quickly phasing out analog NTSC to make room for more digital channels. If you get a DVR with an analog NTSC tuner don't be surprised if it stops working in a year or two.

    To watch/record digital cable you'll need a device with a QAM tuner. But beware, cable companies are quickly eliminating unencrypted QAM. So such a device may not work much longer. Many HDTV's include a QAM tuner -- if yours has one plug the cable directly into the TV and see what it can tune.

    To watch/record encrypted QAM you'll need a Cablecard device and you'll need to rent a Cablecard from your cable company -- cable companies are notorious for making this difficult. And cable companies are also looking to get rid of QAM in order to prevent you from using Cablecard devices. They want to force you to rent their equipment. It's a big source of profits for them. But this probably won't happen for several years, they're still haggling with the FCC over the issue.
    Last edited by jagabo; 23rd Jul 2016 at 20:02.
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  3. My local cable provider removed all analog channels last year, everything is digital now (un-encrypted, no cable-card needed). That is why I am surprised that the Phillips receives them given its spec. of ATSC/NYSC (only) tuner. It's description does however also say "Cable channels", which seems to blur that line to me.
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  4. Thanks. I suppose the simple version of my question is - how did the previous DVR (with analog & ATSC only, no QAM) get the cable channels, and what does that say about their encoding?

    Forum results for the newer Magnavox units indicate that lots of people use them with cable boxes and cable TV channels, although they do just declare that they have ATSC tuners. All of my channels now are digital.

    The newer versions of the current Magnavox units (MDR877H, TB560HP, TB560HS) have all the features I want; EPG, network, DVD writer - I only have to figure out if they will tune my cable channels (when they come out - announced for 4q16). If others report that they get cable channels with these, I'll probably try it.

    I wish there was a way to determine the encoding of the cable channels...
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    Originally Posted by guthrie View Post
    Thanks. I suppose the simple version of my question is - how did the previous DVR (with analog & ATSC only, no QAM) get the cable channels, and what does that say about their encoding?

    Forum results for the newer Magnavox units indicate that lots of people use them with cable boxes and cable TV channels, although they do just declare that they have ATSC tuners. All of my channels now are digital.

    The newer versions of the current Magnavox units (MDR877H, TB560HP, TB560HS) have all the features I want; EPG, network, DVD writer - I only have to figure out if they will tune my cable channels (when they come out - announced for 4q16). If others report that they get cable channels with these, I'll probably try it.

    I wish there was a way to determine the encoding of the cable channels...
    The Philips 3576H has an ATSC/QAM/NTSC tuner, although its ability to tune unencrypted QAM channels is an undocumented feature. The Channel Master DVR's tuners are ATSC only. Most HD TVs have an ATSC/QAM digital tuner. If you can tune any digital cable channels with your HD TV, those are the unencrypted/clear QAM channels. ...but as jagabo said, many cable providers have no analog and no clear QAM channels left.

    The AVS Forum thread for the Magnavox MDR867H say it has two ATSC/QAM tuners (no analog), a 1TB HDD, a DVD burner, and wired and wireless networking. There is no EPG for cable.

    The only options that would provide an EPG are a cable DVR, a TiVo + TiVo guide service, or a PC + PC TV tuner (either CableCARD or ATSC/QAM for unencrypted QAM channels) + PVR Software (+$25/year guide service from Schedules Direct if not using Windows Media Center).
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  6. Very good - thanks - I had not yet seen this undocumented QAM tuner ability in the Magnavox - that is just what I need. (Yes, it is not in their manuals or specifications!). I can only now hope that they maintain that on the newer models, which add the (free) EPG feature. If so, it is all that I need/want!
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    Originally Posted by guthrie View Post
    Very good - thanks - I had not yet seen this undocumented QAM tuner ability in the Magnavox - that is just what I need. (Yes, it is not in their manuals or specifications!). I can only now hope that they maintain that on the newer models, which add the (free) EPG feature. If so, it is all that I need/want!
    Those new models aren't supposed to be out yet. Press releases indicated they were not due to be released until the end of the year. My guess is that free EPG for these new models is only for OTA since the target market is cord-cutters.
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  8. Originally Posted by usually_quiet View Post
    My guess is that free EPG for these new models is only for OTA since the target market is cord-cutters.
    I agree. It's way too expensive for them to keep track of what channels are available and what's showing on all the different cable systems around the country. The cable companies certainly aren't going to give them access to their guide data.
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