TVs & Home Theaters forum


Is there a DVR replacement for a VCR?

by Rowley9 / December 18, 2011 2:48 AM PST

Is there a DVR on the market that can directly replace a VCR? I don't want a subscription service such as TiVo. We have cable service and I want to record shows to play them later. The VCR is a bit clunky but works fine for this purpose. The ChannelMaster DVR cannot be used like a VCR, according to their response to my question. I don't care whether I have to brute force the program start/stop time on my own, since I am already doing that with the VCR. Thanks for any suggestions.

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All Answers

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by Dan Filice / December 18, 2011 6:51 AM PST

I'm not familiar with a Channel Master brand of DVR, but I'm having a tough time understanding how a cable service can supply their DVR that record and function like a VHS. That's the whole point of a DVR, plus you can easily set it to record programs in advance. What exactly are you asking your cable company that they say can't be done?

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Further explanation to Is there a DVR replacement for a VCR
by Rowley9 / December 18, 2011 9:08 PM PST
In reply to: DVR

I apologize for not being clearer. We do not currently have a DVR and I do not want to rent one from the cable provider, or get into a subscription service. I want to look into replacing the VCR with a DVR, partly because VCR's won't be around forever. We do not watch much TV programming, so I am trying to keep it simple.

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vcr death
by tedtks / December 23, 2011 6:04 AM PST

LOL.. they will be around until they break down.
we just went thru a change from cable to Dish net.
if it wasnt for the 2 year contract - I would go back. we dont watch tv like most
people so the setup has so far cost me almost $600 in buying 2 more receivers
and a dpp44 switch.
seems the networks all like to have their shows on the same day and time LOL
so we have 3 vhs/dvd players to record tv programs/movies etc while watching
something else. this has worked well for years. we have about 40 tapes that just
keep getting re-used - and yes, a couple need retirement hahahha
so... dish... one receiver - two tuners - two tvs. The dvr when recording - now only one tv has
the ability to watch something diff and the other is stuck with the same show or watch
whats being recorded - or watch a vhs/dvd -
this is not even close to what we want - just didnt understand this during install explanations etc.
so now.. we are back in our usual rut - too bad there isnt anything on worth watching this month hahaha

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Is there a DVR replacement for a VCR
by jaxon52 / December 23, 2011 7:01 AM PST


500GB DVR and DVD Recorder MDR515Hd is the best thing going. it has an analog and digital tuner,. Only drawback is that is has no slot for a "cable card." So you either can use this in conjunction with your cable box watching what you are recording or be limited to recording only what is in the clear and not scrambled. An A/B switch could be used to choose.

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RE: Further explanation to Is there a DVR replacement for a
by goodole1 / June 16, 2015 7:01 AM PDT

NO there isn't' a replacement. The ones being sold are OTA and they require a digital antenna

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DVR replacement
by goodole1 / April 25, 2016 10:58 AM PDT

Thank you, so it all boils down to what we used to get free now is another debt. so beside vets having no home and red tape to deal with health issue the fox is watching the hen house on all other goings on.

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My post from 2011. My DVR is still working great.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / April 25, 2016 11:08 AM PDT
In reply to: DVR replacement
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That Magnavox looks good
by Dan Filice / December 18, 2011 12:51 PM PST

But how does it work when you have cable service? If the OP has basic cable without using a cable box, the DVR should work perfectly like a TV tuner would, and be able to record channels 2 thru 125.

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Here's my VCR replacement.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / December 19, 2011 2:04 AM PST
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Is there a DVR replacement for a VCR
by jaxon52 / December 23, 2011 6:54 AM PST


500GB DVR and DVD Recorder MDR515H.

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Interesting New Verizon Box
by Flatworm / December 23, 2011 8:58 PM PST

I just got a new set-top box for my Verizon FiOS with a 500GB hard drive in it, but the most fascinating new feature is it includes an eSATA connection that permits the installation of additional external storage. This additional storage of course could could be used as removable media, analogous to a REALLY BIG VHS tape. These drives cost maybe $90 and up for about 1TB, but that would hold one heck of a lot of programming. The price for two hours, even of HD programming (and the miracle of lossless recording), would be less than VHS tapes cost.

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Get a used TiVo with lifetime service or a Windows 7 PC
by geognerd / December 24, 2011 5:45 AM PST

I too use a VCR to record shows. I actually bought a spare VCR off eBay just in case mine fails. I don't want to pay my cable company $15/mo to do something I can currently do for free with my VCR. Though I admit a DVR would make it easier to record multiple shows.

A while back, I bought a TiVo off eBay that had lifetime service for about $120. That means the original owner spent $300-something for lifetime TiVo service, and there is no monthly fee. It seemed like a good solution, but the TiVo I got was an older model with a very noisy hard drive. I also had to phone TiVo to figure out how to find my local cable system to set up the thing. Lastly, I didn't know TiVos ran continuously, which is inefficient. I have no use for pausing live TV. My VCR is off when I'm not using it, saving electricity. I ended up selling the TiVo on Craigslist. So the TiVo with lifetime service didn't work out for me, but it may work out for you.

Another solution is getting a Windows 7 PC. They have WIndows Media Center built in, which includes DVR functionality. Rick Broida, author of the CNET Cheapskate blog, is a fan of this solution.

I haven't done this myself, so maybe some other folks can chime in about how well Windows 7 would work for recording TV. Here's a bit of info about that solution from Microsoft:

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Is there a replacement for the VCR
by goodole1 / June 16, 2015 6:58 AM PDT

NO! Unless you buy a digital antenna and a OTA DVR. You are stuck with the VCR. Sucks!

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Is there a replacement for the VCR
by dchody / April 24, 2016 6:06 PM PDT

Yes. I've been using a PC with a tuner card running Microsoft Media Center on Windows 7. It's only for OTA signals but it's fully programmable and if you have an xbox you can watch the recordings in another room from the PC.

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