Digital Video Recorders

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Nostradamus
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Digital Video Recorders

Post by Nostradamus » Aug 31st 2004, 7:31 am

Adding another topic to our various consumer product discussions: DVRs

I've been following the tech news on these ever since TiVo and ReplayTV came out, but I haven't tried one first-hand yet. The local cable company may be offering DVR service here soon, so whatever you can share about prices, setup, brands, performance, and so on would be helpful...

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Sascha (sab)
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Post by Sascha (sab) » Aug 31st 2004, 10:23 am

This won't probably help you much, but I built my DVR myself. It's basically a cheap PC with a few huge hard disks (almost 1 TB) and two digital satellite receiver PCI cards. I'm using a free Linux software called "VDR" which offers functions like automatic timers, electronic program guide (EPG) in several layouts, recording management, timeshifting, divx/mp3/quicktime/DVD player, DVD burning and of course a nice On-Screen Display. There are also similar software products available for Windows. I like this self-built solution, because I can adapt it to my personal requirements (bigger hard drive, divx5+ compatibility, video streaming via LAN and WirelessLAN etc). This system is quite popular here in Europe, but AFAIK not very common in the US, probably because it works best with digital satellite reception.

Anyway - DVRs are amazing. I recorded an entire season of Angel automatically over months without having to worry about delays or schedule changes. And then I watched all episodes in a few days, jumping with fast-forward over every commerical break in seconds. And I don't buy any "oldfashioned" TV guides on paper anymore - I just take a look at my EPG which gets its data directly from the tv broadcaster. I love the digital age! ;-)

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Post by fnordboy » Aug 31st 2004, 11:09 am

For the longest time I was going to go Sascha's route. Eventually I just decided to go with Tivo since I have DirecTV satellite and they offer the Tivo service really cheap ($5 a month as opposed to the $12 Tivo asks on it's standalones, also the unit was only $90).

To me a Tivo is no good to you unless you have the ability to transfer it easily to DVD, instead of going the PC route I decided to buy a Pioneer DVD Recorder that Costco had a great sale running on (about $400). The DVD Recorder is both a recorder and it has a built in 80 gig harddrive so I can use it as a DVR too if my Tivo runs out of space.

The only sucky part is transferring the recordings to my DVD Recorder. I have to play them from the Tivo in real time and record them to the HD on the DVDrecorder. Generally I just let these things record at night and edit out any excess that gets recorded.

From what I hear Replay is a lot easier to transfer to your PC for burning on to disc. And I think the new Tivo Series 2 units are as well. If you aren't going to have the possibility to easily transfer programs off of your recorder than you need to get the biggest HD available for the service you choose.

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