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DVR to use like a VCR, no Tivo like subscription?

by Jefferis Peterson / March 24, 2007 9:41 AM PDT

Hi all, We were trying out a DVR recorder from Armstrong Cable, our provider, for 3 months. We loved the record options and the playback, but the controller was a beast, both the hand set and the on screen interface. Plus the thing made a constant humming sound even when turned off. Tech support said theirs was like that. It was $10 extra a month, and the HD stations we would watch weren't worth it.

My wife and I thought it would be worth it to get just a DVR recorder to use like a VCR, programming in the shows we want to record either by using their code numbers from the TV guide or doing it manually if necessary. However, we are confused about what capabilities DVR recorders have outside of the cable company's digital service. Can they be used more like a VCR, or are they incapable of working without a digital subscription of some sort? Our cable service now is just basic now, no HD. Our only HD is over the air stations we can pick up from Pittsburgh.

Thanks for the instruction!

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If you can...
by hyghwayman / March 24, 2007 3:26 PM PDT

If you can wait a few months there will be some new devices coming out in May and June.

Panasonic's DVD recorders, and the addition of an ATSC tuner sweetens the deal.
Samsung's DVD recorder gets an ATSC tuner and ups the ante with a much-coveted HDMI 1.3 connection.
JVC announced two new DVD/VCR recorders that offer quick, easy VHS-to-DVD dubbing, including one with a built-in ATSC tuner for recording digital television broadcasts.


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ATSC addition
by Jefferis Peterson / March 25, 2007 12:27 AM PDT
In reply to: If you can...

Hi, Thank you hyghwayman .

Does the ATSC tuner just ad the ability to pick up broadcast HD? How would that help with interpreting, tracking, programming and recording regular cable?

I don't mind waiting at all, but if none of the units work with regular cable, and cannot interpret the signals, I don't know if any of them will do me any good....

That is my main question about the functionality of these devices without a subscription service and/or without digital cable.

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by stewart norrie / March 25, 2007 2:52 AM PDT

First off why a d.v.r. you dont need it unless you want to record soaps all your premium hi-def channels repeat there programs. Just contact Dish network and get there new 211 system order there hi-def package and VOOM awsome programming well worth the small fee then connect your outside antenna do a digital scann and all your local hi-def channels will go into the main menue You will find dish costs less and and picture and sound quality just cant be beat. yopu will have so much hi-def to choise from that you wont need a d.v.r. steweee

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Stewart, drop that Voom
by HTHMAN / March 25, 2007 3:11 AM PDT

I am getting about 30 HD stations from the Dish HD package and paying the same as you are by adding Voom to your regular programming. While you are at it, upgrade to the 622 and you can pause and record while you lose your money at poker. They are offering an upgrade deal now for a lot less than I paid.

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by stewart norrie / March 25, 2007 7:53 AM PDT

I do have a question for you. I dont care about a d.v.r. So I was thinking about trading in my old 811 system to the new 211 do you have any information about it? will mpg3 give a better picture? Rite now I have basic, hi-def, VOOM, and H.B.O + an extra standard box for my roomate and the cost $72.00 per month total well time to lose at another poker game steweeeee

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I think it is mpeg-4
by HTHMAN / March 25, 2007 9:49 AM PDT

What the new receivere give you is a new compression and more channels. The picture is just as stunning as with my old 811 receiver, but a lot more of them. They will also give you a new sat dish that has more line feeds. At least upgrade to the 211. Same tecnology as the 622.

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Have you considered
by HTHMAN / March 25, 2007 3:01 AM PDT

dropping cable and going to Dish or Direct TV?

I have Dish and have 3 DVRs (PVR as they call them) hooked up. My older 508 and 510 models have no monthly fee, but my HD 622 receiver does(and so do all of the current PVRs they offer). The 622 is much more sophisticated as you can set it to record only new episodes and it finds the show even if the time changes or it is a 2 hour episode. The 508, and 510s are more VCR like as they record the same time slot every week. You just have to make sure that nothing is changing or you may miss a show. Those may be available on e-bay as an option to you. If you own it, you will pay no lease fee. If you pick the minimum programming, it probably will not cost more than about 30 dollars a month. I have a friend with a Direct DVR and it seems to function about the same.

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by HTHMAN / March 25, 2007 3:29 AM PDT
In reply to: Have you considered

My models may be 501 and 508 on those PVRs. They are the 30 and 60 hour models.

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? Dish vs. DVR?
by Jefferis Peterson / March 25, 2007 3:45 AM PDT
In reply to: Have you considered

Okay, guys, you are confusing me a bit. I'm paying about $45 a month for cable, with a discount for hi-speed internet for another $40, cheaper than the local DSL for that amount. All TVS have independent channel control without extra boxes.

I cannot figure the DISH/Direct TV actual costs after the teaser rates. They never make any sense to me, since we'd have to get 2 extra boxes for the TV in the bedroom and the basement, plus pay for the local stations, and to get the stations we really like CNBC History and others, the base package isn't the one we'd want.
Now you say there is a no local station option, and some don't pay for extra set boxes, but you guys rattled off so much info I'm not sure what goes here and what goes there. And you pay extra for the PVR too, no? I think the Dish advertisements are purposely confusing so you don't know what you'd actually pay to use their services after the 3 month trial...

If you 'splain it to me slowly, I might actually understand what you are talking about. Remember, I've not used Satellite in 10 years and at that time it was more expensive than local cable.

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Best bet
by HTHMAN / March 25, 2007 9:51 AM PDT
In reply to: ? Dish vs. DVR?

is to pick up the phone and talk to a rep.

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Pioneer DVR 640 H-S
by wilsonca / March 25, 2007 7:22 AM PDT

I recently bought a Pioneer DVR and am totally pleased with this product. It is a combo DVR and DVD recorder with a 160 GB hard drive. I have about 10 movies stored so far and have tons of space left on the hard drive in the SP storage mode. Once I figured out which recordable DVDs were compatible with my other DVD players (DVD-Rs) I able to archive what I've recorded. The DVD playback is excellent, albeit not HD or blu-ray. It does upconvert nicely to component (again not HDMI). I found it for around $300 from one of the vendors that CNET honors. Great buy, excellent product, finally replaced my old VCR standby. For more info go to,,2076_310069745_303089277,00.html

It was less expensive than the panasonic version (which has HDMI upconvert technology). I'm kind of suprised that this model and others like it haven't taken off.

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