Simple DVR with no subscription?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by Oats, Nov 24, 2009.

  1. Oats macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2003
    Location:
    New York
    #1
    I am looking for a simple DVR device, with no monthly subscription fees. Like a digital VCR, I don't want to watch shows on my computer, but on the TV. Just for taping the occasional TV show, I don't need 100 hours, 10 hours is plenty. Does such a device exist? I have standard cable.

    The only feature I would like beyond simple record and playback is to be able to watch a show on delay, while it is being recorded. I.e. begin watching my show 20 minutes after it starts, so I can skip all the commercials.

    Will an apple TV do this, if I get the right software installed? Thanks for any advice.
     
  2. dukebound85 macrumors P6

    dukebound85

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  3. mhdena macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2009
    #3
    Dish DTVPal DVR

    http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1099071



    The "DTVPal DVR" is now available exclusively from Sears.com for $300. This dual-tuner HDTV DVR has no subscriptions, no fees, and no advertisements. There are only two dual-tuner OTA DVRs, and the DTVPal DVR is the only feeless option under $500.

    The Dish Network DTVPal DVR is a dual-tuner HDTV DVR that supports SD and HD channels from an off-air antenna. Satellite and cable (QAM) are not supported. The DTVPal DVR allows you to watch one HD channel while you record another; it will also record two different channels while you watch a third, previously recorded show. You can use pause (up to 1hr), instant replay, and rewind on live programming. Recording capacity is 30 HD hours and 150 SD hours with a 250GB hard drive. The bundled IR remote includes buttons for 30 sec skip, 10 second replay, and supports four speeds of fast forward and reverse, slow motion, and frame-by-frame advance.

    The DTVPal DVR features an electronic program guide (EPG) with up to 8-days of program information when TVGuide On Screen (TVGOS) is available. TVGOS is distributed by many CBS affiliates across the country, but is not available in all markets. You can check here to determine whether TVGuide service is currently available in your area. If TVGuide service is not available, the DTVPal's EPG will display the more limited program information -- typically 8-24 hours worth -- offered by your local broadcasters via PSIP. If TVGuide service is available, but does not have information for a particular channel, then the PSIP information (i.e. 8-24 hours) from that broadcaster is shown instead.

    All recording on the DTVPal DVR is performed with VCR-like timers, created manually or set through a program guide selection. When you select a show in the program guide, you are given the option to (1) create a reminder, or (2) schedule a recording in that time slot: once, daily, weekly, or M-F. You have the same options when selecting a show with keyword search. A list of all existing timers is shown on the DVR -> Daily Schedule screen, where you can cancel, edit, or add a new timer for a single or repeating (daily, weekly, M-F) recording in a specific time slot.
     
  4. Oats thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2003
    Location:
    New York
    #4
    i thought eyetv only worked with a computer? i only have my one laptop, and i'm not going to keep this hooked up to the TV. anything with a stand-alone solution, just like a VCR? and i don't think it needs to cost over $200.
     
  5. bohbot16 macrumors 6502a

    bohbot16

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2009
    #5
    I recommend getting a TiVo. You can choose between a monthly fee or you can pre-purchase lifetime service. It's a standalone unit that is easy to use and is reliable.

    If you have a standard definition TV get a TiVo Series2. If you have an HDTV get a TiVo HD.
     
  6. ftaok macrumors 601

    ftaok

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2002
    Location:
    East Coast
    #6
    Unfortunately, there are really no perfect options for what you want. EyeTV works through a Mac, so that's out.

    AppleTV isn't opened up to allow for DVR functions ... but I admit that I haven't checked out "hacking" options for the aTV.

    The DTVPal DVR sort of fits the bill, but it's not really simple ... due to the fact that it's known as being very unreliable. I've read where users have to keep up with new firmware and such and even then, issues aren't fixed. It also depends on whether you have TVGOS in your area. Lastly, the killer for you is that it is OTA-only, meaning that it won't work with your cable.

    Really, your have a couple options. And they depend on how you're receiving your cable (is clearQAM an option) and whether you care about HD or not.

    1. By far, the simplest would be to buy a Tivo (or Moxi) and obtain a CableCard from your provider. Neither DVRs are cheap and the CableCard is another expense, but these DVRs are the best. They're also overkill for what you describe as your requirements.

    2. Buy a used, discontinued Sony DHG-HDD250 (or HDD500) from eBay and hope that it works for you. These DVRs are subscription-free, but you need a TVGOS source (which your cable provider may or may not provide) ... otherwise, you'll need to hook up an antenna to the second input and see if the local CBS (or PBS) station is sending a TVGOS signal. The upside is that when these DVRs work properly, they are great. However, most of the time, they are tempermental and require some level of "maintenance". If you're looking for simple, this might not be the one for you.

    3. Look for the older (perhaps replaced by a newer model) Philips 3575 DVD-Recorder/DVR. Magnavox made a version as well. There's no guide with this device and I'm not sure if it does trick play (start watching 20minutes late then skipping the ads....). It's also SD only, even though it will tune into HD channels. If your cable company is still passing analog signals, this device could be the one you want. If your cable company passes clearQAM as well, then this would be even more useful.

    ft
     
  7. ftaok macrumors 601

    ftaok

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2002
    Location:
    East Coast
    #7
    Oops. I forgot about the Tivo Series 2. It definately is an option for SD/analog cable.

    However, before plunking down for a TivoS2, the OP should check to see what his cable company's plans are for analog. Many (most?) cable companies are in the middle of transitioning from analog to digital. In my area (Comcast - SE Pa), most analog channels are being dropped and I need a small box (DTA) to continue to watch these channels. I believe that Comcast will continue to leave the Limited Basic tier in analog, but eventually, all of the other channels will require a digital tuner.

    There would be a way to use a TivoS2 with a DTA, but it would involve using an IR blaster and I'm not sure how Tivo handles that. Also, most DTAs only output through an RF connection ... I thought TivoS2's used the composite input for recording through a set-top box. If this part is true, then you'd need a full-featured STB (more $).
     
  8. jzuena macrumors 6502a

    jzuena

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2007
    Location:
    Lexington, MA, USA
    #8
    Do you have an old computer lying around? You could add an analog capture card and install Linux and MythTV or Freevo. You would hook the analog output from your cable box into the capture card to give you SD recording. You can populate the show information database with schedules direct for $15/year (US price) or use screen scrapers to pull the data from tvguide.com (at least with MythTV). Your entire cost would be the capture card and possibly a bigger hard drive.
     

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