Is there a subscription-free DVR available?--Ask the Editors
Subscription-free DVRs seem to be an extinct species. Are there any options for antenna viewers in the post-VCR world?
CNET reader Mathias notes:
Just a quick note/observation of mine: I can't find any DVR out there that works without a subscription and has a tuner built in for analog and digital over-the-air television signals. This strikes me as absolutely incredible. I am actually considering buying a VCR, assuming I can find one with a digital tuner. What's going on here?
To paraphrase here, it appears that Mathias gets his TV from an antenna (not cable, satellite, or fiber), and simply wants to be able to record his favorite shows with the convenience offered by a DVR with an electronic programming guide. He's also on track by searching for one with a digital tuner, since over-the-air analog TV is scheduled to shut down in February 2009.
Mathias--and plenty of others--doesn't want to pay a monthly subscription fee, so that rules out the otherwise excellent
How about DVD recorders with hard drives? Here again, the choices are slim. We noted that this category was all but extinct in
So, will Mathias have to make good on his threat to get a VCR? Maybe. Indeed, plenty of DVD recorders now have built-in digital tuners, so they'll work fine--but recording time will be limited to the capacity of one disc at a time (usually 6 to 8 hours maximum). Alternately, he could use his DTV tuner voucher to pick up a nearly free DTV box, and connect that to any VCR or DVD recorder. One would just need to make sure the recorder was equipped with a compatible IR blaster to change channels for timer recordings, however, that could be a tall order.
But there is hope on the horizon. This summer, EchoStar is scheduled to roll out the TR-50. As announced at the January Consumer Electronics Show, the
What do you think? Are you at all interested in a subscription-free DVR? Will the EchoStar TR-50 be worth the wait? Or should folks like Mathias just bite the bullet and get a TiVo? Let us know in the comments.