Digital Replacements for Fried TVs and VCR

Page 1 of 3  
So, lightning struck a friend's house recently and fried most of the electronics inside including two TV sets, their digital converter boxes, a telephone answering machine, VCR and a clock radio. One of the TVs is fixed; the other was replaced with a flat screen type and we tossed the VCR. It's time to convert to digital.
The question is how should we set up the system so my friend can record TV shows when he wants. He likes to record shows late at night and when he's not around and then play them back when he has time. The VCR worked great; but it doesn't make sense to use tape any more. What black box should he get to connect to the TV to do the recording that can be programmed to just record and play back -- no cable, no subscriptions or extra monthly services although I might convince him to get DSL internet service (he still uses dial up).
TV recording/playback is the essential thing though.
Tomsic
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Tivo is the most expensive, but probably the simplest option. Tivo really wants you to pay them a monthly fee, purportedly for the use of the online guide, but it's really just a revenue stream. You can pay a "lifetime" fee up front in lieu of the monthly fee, but that's for the life of the recorder, not the user, and the breakeven point is out around 3 years.
There are DVRs annouced, although I'm not sure they are available. Definitely not as many as there used to be when analog was used. One example: <http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-20103986-1/new-channel-master-dvr-records-ota-streams-vudu-but-not-netflix/
I use a Dell Zino HD 410 media computer. It's about the size of a tissue box, has a OTA TV card and hardrive for recording, and a DVD burner for saving shows. Unfortunately Dell no longer makes this, although there's nothing to prevent you from building something similar.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

There was a time when people had to pay every month to rent their telephone too. They rely on STUPID PEOPLE to pay their bills. Either buy a DVR, or just get another VCR. Personally, I just use my VCR for the little bit of time shifting I do, or to save some program.
Then again, to me a tv is something connected to an antenna to watch the news and/or football game. Otherwise its used to play a dvd or vhs tape movie.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I would say not only is it the most expensive, but it's the best. I've had a Tivo since the original ones came out. Currently have the newest HD one and it works great. The features it has make it far superior to the crappy one that you can get from Cablevision. I love the season pass option where I just tell it to record show XYZ and it does it even if the show gets shifted to a new time slot or has an episode that runs twice as long, etc. I also have it loaded with wishlists based on actors names, subject, etc. Anytime a show with one of those actors is on or a show with a keyword I choose in the show description is on it will record it. The user interface is fanatastic.
But, as you say, it's not cheap. It's about $600 now with a lifetime service subscription. As you say, you can break even in about 3 or 4 yearrs, but that is if you're paying the rental fee for a cable DVR recorder box. Here, I'm saving $14 a month. Another good thing is that if the box ever blows up they will swap it out for a flat repair fee. I don't know what it is now, but when my Series 1 box got hit by lightning, I got a replacement for just $100. Tivos are sold on Ebay too.
For someone who just uses an antenna, it's harder to justify the price though.
.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Mon, 16 Jan 2012 05:35:41 -0800 (PST), " snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net"

But if you buy one on ebay, can you use it without a subscription? That's where I get confused. Why pay a subscription if you're not even using it? How do they know you're using it? Or do you just pay a flat fee whether you use it or not? Then again, why not just buy a dvr? Sure if it blows up, you have to fix or replace it yourself, but isn't that true of all electronics such as the tv, computer, phone, etc.
I still recall when my parents were paying around $8 a month to rent their old black rotaty phone, and when I told them they could buy a push button phone for $30, (that was in the late 1960s) they said "but what if it breaks". I explained that they were paying around $100 a year for rental. They could buy about 3 phones a year and still break even. But like that generation, this was a big decision for them..... So, for Christmas I bought them a phone. They were really pleased when they began to use it, and did not have to use the rotary dial. That's when my father told the phone company to pick up the old phone. They gave him the option to buy it for about $15, which he did. It became the basement phone in the workshop, which he could use, and my mom used when she did laundry. Saved a lot of running up and down steps.
The funny thing is that I inherited that old black rotary phone and still have it. I'm sure it would still work. Those things were built like an army tank. I always think how many hundreds of dollars they spent on renting it, as the phone company laughed all the way to the bank.....
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Jan 16, 2:49pm, snipped-for-privacy@myplace.com wrote:

They are being sold on Ebay with or without a lifetime subscription. With they are around $550 - 600 last time I looked.

Because a DVR is dumb and does not have a constantly'updated schedule. Tivo does. And the Tivo uses the schedule for all the neat features, like recording all the De Niro movies, or all the programs with "snowboard" in the description.

Yes, but what other electronics can you swap it out for a low reasonable fee. Was $100 to swap out my blown Tivo that cost $350
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@myplace.com wrote:

The subscription used to allow access to the guide data. No subscription, no guide data, no recording by program name. You could still use it as a dumb recorder. Whether they block that now as well I don't know.
The fee is not a lease fee and doesn't allow for free repairs after the warranty period.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

<http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-20103986-1/new-channel-master-dvr-records-ota-streams-vudu-but-not-netflix/
The Linux equivalent is called MythTV Google that for how to build one from an old PC
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Another option would be to look into a Linux-based DIY solution if you are handy, MythTV comes to mind
http://www.mythtv.org /
nate
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 1/17/2012 8:27 AM, N8N wrote:

I like that choice and have built a number of them. I think the OP may have put too restrictive requirements on the replacement. They might have been totally happy with a VCR because it is what it is. But DVRs are so much more powerful.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Wait until after 2012: http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2006/10mar_stormwarning/
-CC
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 1/15/2012 3:38 PM, Tomsic wrote:

just buy a hard drive digital video recorder. (DVR)
--
Steve Barker
remove the "not" from my address to email
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 1/15/2012 3:38 PM, Tomsic wrote:

(Amazon.com product link shortened)
--
Steve Barker
remove the "not" from my address to email
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Sun, 15 Jan 2012 16:40:48 -0600, Steve Barker

I misstated my model number in my long post. This is what I have. They don't make them anymore so this must be used or refurbished. Oh, they have two usd, at 270 and 280,counting shipping. The price must be this high because of people like me, whose first one broke*** and they don't want to learn a new remote. (The buttons are in different places) Because for 200 one can buy a brand new magnavox. (Walmart has free ship to store, and actually last I looked only charges 0.97 cents to ship most things to your home, etc. Or 150 for a used one.
***I thought mine had broken because the remote didn't work, even when I was one foot from the IR window. It turned out the Powermid was transmitting for no good reason** and overloading the IR. There is a red light on both the powermid transimitter and receiver, but in this one case, the light in the receiver wasn't working either, so I didn't think of that as the problem. Eventually I had to unplug the powermid from the extension cable to the IR window, and then everything was good again.
**On sci.electronics.repair, they helpfully told me about stray IR from CFL's or maybe it was incandescent, but I sometimes woke in the middle of the night to see the light blinking red, every half second, on more t han off, when there were no lights on, it was pitch black out. It also happened at other times when lights were on. Maybe the trnasmitter was broken. I have another one I have to try.
BTW, both the Philips and the Magnavox also have an analog tuner (not just a digital one), whcih might still work with some aspects of cable, but I don't know because I don't have cable. And fewer and fewer channels on cable are analog from what I read.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Used? WTF
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

It's not logically perfect, but the only DVDR with HD on the market is the Magnavox MDR-513H/F7 320GB DVR and DVD Recorder .
You definitely want a hard drive. Otherwise you have to keep putting DVD's in the DVD slot, and making sure you have space on it for the next recording. (IIRC, the one above will record to the harddrive if the dvd fills up, but I would rather just record to the HD and copy it to the DVD if I want to keep it. There is high-speed dubbing (copying) available, and I used it once. I have to read the manual again. . )
My HDD will hold 160 hours of tv, keeping your current viewing position in every one of them. and the magnavox that is sold now has an even bigger hd. maybe 300 hours (at the least fidelity, but it seems fine to me. For greater fidelity for a really big tv screen, it will hold less time) . The HD's are replaceable when they eventually faili (I've recorcdd with mine about 30 hours a week for 3.5 years with no trouble.) but the instructions are not in the owners manual. There is a weblist devoted to this model at the most popular av discussion website. I can find it for you if you want. There are 100's of posts and backgorund info, including a couple secret codes that you can enter with the remote, to get info about the set.
They are 200 dollars at walmart, a store I dont' like much but at the time I bought mine, which was then called a Philips 7576H iirc, it was the only place that sold them. Certainly there box store Sams was the only place that had them in stock to take home.
My ex-gf is very careful and thrify and she spent a lot of time online looking for something else. There may be something at 500 or more (check solidsignal.com which has the best list) but below that with a HD theire is only this, or if there seems to be something, there's something big wrong with it, like it doesn't have a digital tuner or it has no tuner at all. No kidding. You have to read the description very closely. Anyhow, even she was convinced that it was the best she could do.
She ended up paying 150, but probably got a reconditioned one without noticing. Amazon was where she bought it.
These are its flaws: Despite all its flaws, both she and I like the thing. I hope this won't discourage you from buying this, but still I want to warn you. (Really they are the flaws of the philips but the magnavox is made by the same people, even the manual looks about the same (though the remotes are very different and not interchangeable.) It's conceivable that they've fixed one or two flaws, but she has complained to me about most of the ones I didn't like.
It has no program guide. I use zap2it.com or titantv.com, both of which have over the air listings for every zipcode, though I had to choose a zipcode in btween Balt. and DC to get both sets of programs. .
It will display the description of the show while you are watching it, but not while you are recording it, and more importantly, when you record it it doesn't save the descripion. So after a few weeks it can be really hard to remembe what I recorded. It doesn't display the all the same things digital converter boxes do. It doesn't have the time it starts or finishes, only text. .
It doesnt' keep time well. Neither does hers. Even the auto setting is confused. I start many recordgins a minute before they start and end a minute after they end to make up for the clock being wrong*** (though the clock alwarys runs slow (or fast) and if I could remember which it is, I would only have to extend the time at one end. . ***(though this is not possible when one show is right after the other on a different channel) I used to start 2 minutes before the show started, but I got myself a little "atomic clock" and I set the time to the second when I notice a show I record daily isn't starting at the time it used. One could use wrist watch with a second indicator, after he set that agianst the computer, after he made sure the computer time was right. Setting the time manually can, if you're not careful make a correction of 2 minutes when you are aiming for one minute. Say the time on the dvdr is 1:02: and you don't know how many seconds (but it's 58 seconds), And you want to set the clock back one minute. You set the time to 1:01 and press enter and now it's 1:01:00 instead of 1:02:58 seconds. You've set the clock back 2 minutes instead of one. So you have to be watching a clock or watch with accurate seconds and push enter then, so that the time and the DVDR both have seconds at 00 or 01. For some reaosn, with authomatic on, it jumpted 15 seconds ahead one night. I have had automatic on for most of the 4 years and believe me, it doeesn't work. Maybe you'll be lucky and yours will. I only have to reset the clock once a month or so.
When it gets to the end of timer or impromptu recording time, it turns the machine off. I don't like that, although all I have to do is turn it back on. (I have Powermd pyramids on each floor my house and in my office and the bathroom so I can use the remote from all these locations. Two of them gave me a lot of trouble with intermittent extraneous IR that overloaded them and wouldn't allow the remote to work, but I put switches in them and turn off the trnasmitters in the bathroom and one bedroom when I leave the room.
More good things. It records and playsback DVDs and to some extent, maybe music only, it will play from a flash drive. It has input jacks on the front. It also has auxiliary inputs on the back and I connected them to my computer output. If your distance is under 50 feet, you can just use wires, but for 100 feet, I needed baluns at each end. (I found them cheap, 10 or 15 a pair) but I don't remember where) . Then you can use network cable (lke Cat 5, what you use to connect the router, etc.) for the long run and short cables from the baluns to hte computer and the DVDR. Fidelity was not great, but I didnt' investigate that. You might be better off with a tv ith wireliess wifi, which will work like a monitor and you can browse to your video from the tv itself. I can't do that because those tvs have no output and I output my dvdr to 6 tv's scattered around the house.
A good things I don't use. It has extensive editing capablilty, removing part of it here, splicing there, but I have no interest in that.
It will keep your position when watching the dvd if you don't turn the dvdr off, or if you make sure it's in DVD mode when you turn it off. Otherwise you can index forward to where you left off. If the DVD doesn't have indexes , or if you didn't make them for an HDD recording, it defaults to 10 minutes. I can't remember if this is changeable.
It has skip forward and back. 3 settings for each. I skp 30 seconds forward and 15 seconds back. I'd like to skip 10 seconds back but it doesn't have that. It also has 3 forward speeds and 3 backwards speeds, and 3 more of each when you are in pause. That is 3 slow-motion speeds in each direction.
There are more good things and a couple more less bad bad things. I can't remmeber now.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

BTW, Walmart also sells this, whch it calls a DVR, for 400 dollars. But I can't figure out what it is.
http://www.walmart.com/ip/AVerMedia-NEH1004HN/16419392
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 1/15/2012 7:01 PM, micky wrote:

That's a security camera recorder.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Sun, 15 Jan 2012 20:55:17 -0500, Congoleum Breckenridge

Ah, thanks.
I'm glad I didn't buy it to record Dancinig with the Stars.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
tivo is a definete leader for DVR recordings.
it just works day in day out.
channel master had / has a DVR with hard drive that worked pretty well
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.