Toshiba SD-H400 (80-hour TiVo)

Toshiba SD-H400 (80-hour TiVo)

John Falcone
John Falcone Executive Editor
John P. Falcone is the Senior Director of Commerce Content at CNET, where he coordinates coverage of the site's buying recommendations alongside the CNET Advice team (where he previously headed the consumer electronics reviews section). He's been a CNET editor since 2003.
Expertise Over 20 years experience in electronics and gadget reviews and analysis, and consumer shopping advice Credentials Self-taught tinkerer, informal IT and gadget consultant to friends and family (with several self-built gaming PCs under his belt)
Toshiba's SD-H400 combines an 80GB TiVo digital video recorder and a standard DVD player in one space-saving box. It can save up to 80 hours of TV programming on its internal hard disk, as well as play--but not record--DVDs. The device is listed at $550, but you can find it online for as little as $400.

Upside: Unlike a standalone TiVo, which requires a monthly or lifetime fee, the SD-H400 comes with free TiVo Basic service. You get limited programming guides and recording functions, including cable and satellite control, right out of the box. And since its progressive-scan component outputs work with both DVDs and TiVo-recorded programming, the combo unit offers improved video quality unavailable on a regular TiVo.

Downside: The full panoply of TiVo conveniences, such as 14-day programming guides, Season Pass recording options, and the cool Home Media Option is available only if you upgrade to TiVo Plus service, which costs either $13 per month or $300 for the lifetime of the unit.

Outlook: A DVD player and a TiVo DVR in one console is a great idea, but you might want to hold out for the a model that combines TiVo technology with a DVD recorder. Unlike the SD-H400, Pioneer's DVR-810H and Toshiba's own RS-TX20 can archive your hard-drive recordings on DVD.

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