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Old 07-04-2014, 05:00 PM   #41
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This looks interesting. For $37 I'm very tempted, since I could re-purpose an old hard drive for it to test it out.

Amazon.com: Mediasonic HW-150PVR HomeWorx ATSC Digital TV Converter Box with Media Player and Recording PVR Function/HDMI Out (Black): Electronics

Homeworx HW-150PVR, Support and Discussion - AVS Forum

A basic unit, just one tuner (all you can expect at this price) - but it sounds like it does a decent job with 'pause in Live TV' mode. I really want that feature, the one thing I hate about live OTA TV is missing something when I have to take attention away from the TV (like when cooking, or any other multi-tasking, plus the inevitable bathroom break).

No subscription, but that also limits you to the OTA guide. Not as flexible, but I don't plan on recording all that much.

Reviews look pretty good overall.

I also like the concept of the Simple.TV - you run your antenna cable to it, plug in your own hard drive, and an ethernet cable to your router, and then you pick it up on any TV in the house with a ROKU box. But it sounds like it is still very quirky, higher % of 1 star reviews, and more $ @ $120.

Amazon.com: Simple.tv Network Tuner DVR with Lifetime Premier Subscription: Electronics


Any feedback on these items?

-ERD50
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Old 07-05-2014, 10:36 AM   #42
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Once you use the pause live tv it's easy to get hooked. I'm surprised that I haven't used the pause as much than I think. Probably that's because I end up sitting in front of my computer and just record the whole program to watch later.

Is there a skip forward button on the Homeworx? The OTA DVR I have now as that feature, (press once, skip a preset amount..like 1 min or I can set that to 30 secs for football season to skip the huddle and just watch the plays). That feature spoils me.
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Old 07-05-2014, 11:26 AM   #43
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Once you use the pause live tv it's easy to get hooked. I'm surprised that I haven't used the pause as much than I think. Probably that's because I end up sitting in front of my computer and just record the whole program to watch later.

Is there a skip forward button on the Homeworx? The OTA DVR I have now as that feature, (press once, skip a preset amount..like 1 min or I can set that to 30 secs for football season to skip the huddle and just watch the plays). That feature spoils me.
From the reviews, it appears you can only FF through commercials, no dedicated 'skip 30S, 1Min' type controls.

Maybe with a learning remote, one could create something close (like if FF is 8x, set a key to FF for ~ 3.5 Sec, then back to 'play'? I assume learning remotes have delay capability?), or just fiddle with the FF to come close? Plus, they do seem to be responding to some customer input, so maybe this feature will be added in the future, but it seems pretty basic to the whole concept of PVR/DVR.

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Old 07-05-2014, 12:31 PM   #44
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From the reviews, it appears you can only FF through commercials, no dedicated 'skip 30S, 1Min' type controls.

Maybe with a learning remote, one could create something close (like if FF is 8x, set a key to FF for ~ 3.5 Sec, then back to 'play'? I assume learning remotes have delay capability?), or just fiddle with the FF to come close? Plus, they do seem to be responding to some customer input, so maybe this feature will be added in the future, but it seems pretty basic to the whole concept of PVR/DVR.

-ERD50
I had a previous DVR without the dedicated skips settings but did use a learning remote to do the best to simulated a FF by trial and error. That that wasn't exact and not as instant, the settings actually worked pretty well. I didn't get rid of that DVR because of the no dedicated skipping.
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Old 07-05-2014, 02:31 PM   #45
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Well, I did a bit more research and I just ordered it, so I'll report back when I've spent some time with it.

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This looks interesting. For $37 I'm very tempted, since I could re-purpose an old hard drive for it to test it out.

Amazon.com: Mediasonic HW-150PVR HomeWorx ATSC Digital TV Converter Box with Media Player and Recording PVR Function/HDMI Out (Black): Electronics ...
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Might be looking for a good OTA DVR
Old 07-05-2014, 05:36 PM   #46
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Might be looking for a good OTA DVR

Thanks ERD, I think many of us will be waiting for your thought on this device.

I almost bought a Channel Master DVR+ but the $250 price just was too much especially in light of the fact that one still has to have a hard drive to be able to record more than a few hours of programs.
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Old 07-05-2014, 05:57 PM   #47
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Thanks ERD, I think many of us will be waiting for your thought so this device.

I almost bought a Channel Master DVR+ but the $250 price just was too much especially in light of the fact that one still has to a a hard drive to be able to record more than a few hours of programs.
Yes, for the $37 versus $250, I figured it's worth a try. I also considered the whole Myth-TV route and a Tuner like Silicon Dust, but I'm just not that into TV to get too excited about the complexity of setting that up, though the challenge should appeal to me. But it just doesn't for some reason.

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Old 07-09-2014, 10:27 AM   #48
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Well, I did a bit more research and I just ordered it, so I'll report back when I've spent some time with it.
-ERD50
Quick Product Review: I bought the Amazon.com: Mediasonic HW-150PVR HomeWorx ATSC Digital TV Converter Box with Media Player and Recording PVR Function/HDMI Out (Black): Electronics ...and give it a thumbs-up.

It's cheap ($40 on Amazon with tax); works with my old 150G USB drive and 16GB USB flash drive; and finds all my OTA (HD and SD) channels. I pass-through the antenna signal, and use the HDMI output to drive my television. Also seems to pause live TV pretty well. Only one tuner.

But--the manual is very poor, and it took be 2 hours to explore and test its features. Seems to need about 1 GB for each 10 minutes of HD. Much less for SD.

This is best described as a 'modern' VCR recorder--you essentially pick a channel and time to record, and it does it. One time saving feature is that the 12 hr look ahead schedule allows you to select one of those scheduled programs, and schedule a once, daily, weekly recording. Just like the old VCRs.

Good luck, but don't ask me for help recording programs!
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Old 07-12-2014, 11:58 AM   #49
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Well, I did a bit more research and I just ordered it, so I'll report back when I've spent some time with it.



-ERD50
How did it go with the device?

I was looking at video review on Amazon by a guy about a similar product
and he seemed pleased with that.

http://www.amazon.com/Viewtv-Convert...owViewpoints=1
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Old 07-12-2014, 01:30 PM   #50
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How did it go with the device?

I was looking at video review on Amazon by a guy about a similar product
and he seemed pleased with that.

Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Viewtv At-163 ATSC Digital TV Converter Box and Media Player w/ Recording PVR Function / HDMI Out / Coaxial Out / Composite Out / USB Input
I'll let you know - this was one of the rare, slow-to-ship orders from Amazon, should be here Monday.



edit - small update to my update: It actually was sitting on the front porch this afternoon (Saturday). But we have a house full of guests tomorrow, and I still haven't freed up and formatted a hard drive to use with it, so it probably will be next week before I get a chance to do much anyhow.


But that's OK, my other 'toy', the Acer Tablet from Rakuten came in just one day (shipped from a nearby Chicago warehouse). So that's kept me busy. I plan on a fuller review of that later also - short story, for $130 ($123 and free shipping, but collected ~ $7 in IL sales tax), better than the $300-$400 iPad in many ways (HDMI out, SDCARD, USB micro charging, GPS, plus I prefer Android to IOS), but the screen and camera are not as good as iPad. Screen is fine for me, camera fine for casual use, but marginal for using as a scanner or magnifier, where I was super impressed with the clarity from the iPad. So from the screen and camera, 'you get what you pay for', but I'm very impressed with everything else.

8" 16GB Android 4.2 Grey - Rakuten.com Shopping

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Old 07-13-2014, 08:59 AM   #51
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How did it go with the device?

I was looking at video review on Amazon by a guy about a similar product
and he seemed pleased with that.

Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Viewtv At-163 ATSC Digital TV Converter Box and Media Player w/ Recording PVR Function / HDMI Out / Coaxial Out / Composite Out / USB Input
Another small update: I did manage to get ~ 2 hours to play with this yesterday. Connected it, and it scanned and seems to have picked up all the channels our other TVs have. Picture looked as good to me through this box > HDMI of the TV as it did TV direct.

Next step was to connect some USB storage. I didn't have time to move data from one of my drives and reformat it to NTFS, I did try just reformatting the existing partition #1 to NTFS, but that was partitioned as GUID, and it didn't see it.

So I tried an 8GB thumb drive for a quick test. I was hesitant, as from what I've read, the thumb drive needs fast R/W specs to keep up with these data rates, and I buy cheap thumb drives. But it worked fine! 8GB only gives ~ 1 3/4 hours of recording at 1080i, so just a small test.

Live recording with pause, FF/RW worked fine. No skips or dropouts. I set up one timed recording from the EPG, and that started, but I inadvertently stopped it as I was doing other stuff with the remote just as the recording started (error on my part). So I just hit 'Rec' (like the 'instant record' on old VCRs), let it go for the hour, and then played it back. Played back perfectly.

The manual just gives the most basic info, but it really isn't that hard to figure out how to do things, the screen guides become pretty clear once you work through them.

I saw lots of complaints that the remote was such a narrow beam that it was hard to use (some suggested a piece of Scotch tape over the end to 'smear' the beam wider), but it seemed fine to me.

We will have to see about longer term about drop outs and quirks. A lot of people report problems with scheduled recording just getting dropped. But others report it works fine. I suspect that marginal signal quality is a factor. We will see once I get a hard drive set up and test daily/weekly recording.

One thing I've noticed, but need to verify - it seems the signal from the antenna loop-though to the TV degrades the signal significantly while recording. When I was recording, and then switched the TV back to the ANT input, so I could watch one show live OTA while recording another with the box, I lost many of the weaker channels. But these are fine while not recording. I'll need to verify this when I have more time, but I suspect that the box just creates some noise while recording. I think that simply using a splitter or distribution amplifier to get the signal to both the box and the TV, w/o routing it through the box will fix this.

But so far, so good.

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Old 07-13-2014, 09:31 AM   #52
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Thanks for the update. Looks like a great device that you can't go wrong with for pausing Live TV for around $40.

I got a Magnavox DVR/DVD combo (like the following, but with a 1TB HD):

http://www.amazon.com/Magnavox-HDD-D...J0Y8AGQEB2XSBT

I love my DVR/DVD combo except one thing. The picture quality is upconverted to 1080 and thus, though acceptable, the picture quality is definitely not as good as the from TV alone
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Old 07-13-2014, 01:55 PM   #53
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ERD50, Are you using it to convert digital to analog for an old TV, or just to record digital OTA for later viewing on a modern digital TV?
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Old 07-13-2014, 08:43 PM   #54
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Next quick update: Saturday night I set it to record two programs for Sunday AM. This uses the station's program guide, and it recorded both shows just fine. No skips or pixelation (even using a cheap 8GB thumb drive to test) - recordings were as perfect as live, AFAICT. Being able to pause/FF/RW is a real treat for this TiVo-less household!

The unit records with no compression, so GB/Hour depends on the broadcast source, which can vary for each show and channel. I recorded one show broadcast at 720x480P, that was ~ 1.5GB/Hr; another was 1280x720i, that was ~ 3.6GB/Hr; and one just now at 1920x1080P, about 5.7GB/hour. You have no control over this, it is whatever the broadcaster sends.

And as reported, I was able to remove the drive, plug it into my computer, and watch the video with any basic video player. So that's nice if I decided to take my recordings portable.

I just set it up to record Austin City Limits tonight (weekly), and Jeopardy (daily). So we will see how that goes. I think I'll stick with this thumb drive for now, though I'll need to delete the daily Jeopardy shows to keep enough room. But that's OK while I test it out.

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Thanks for the update. Looks like a great device that you can't go wrong with for pausing Live TV for around $40. ....
Yes, even if it turns out recording is quirky, I think I can justify $37 and an old 8GB thumb drive even if I only use it for live pause/FF/RW TV.

Now that I'm somewhat familiar with this box, I'll read more of the Amazon and other reviews. I suspect that the people reporting problems fall into these categories:

A) Marginal signal strength/quality - I suspect a box like this could get flaky if the signal is dropping. I imagine it could lose sync and just not be able to recover?

B) Possible issues with some hard drives not spinning up fast enough when recording starts? I'll stick with the flash thumb drive for now to eliminate this possibility.

C) Faulty unit? Who knows about the quality control on a $37 box with a poorly translated manual?

But so far, mine seems to work just fine, and I am so far super impressed what this does for the money.

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ERD50, Are you using it to convert digital to analog for an old TV, or just to record digital OTA for later viewing on a modern digital TV?
So far I've only had it hooked up to our big screen digital TV with HDMI in, so I have not tested the conversion quality. We do have two other older TVs with converters hooked up, so I could test them on there as well, but that's low priority for me, we just don't use those much. But I guess I should, just to make sure those are working.

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Old 07-15-2014, 05:28 PM   #55
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All this OTA DVR discussion has me looking at my set up again. I just realized that I wasn't using a high speed HDMI cable like the instructions for my DVR suggests. So I figured what the heck, and got one at Amazon for about $5. Though the picture is still not HD, I do notice a slight improvement.
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Old 08-09-2014, 09:18 PM   #56
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Well, I did a bit more research and I just ordered it, so I'll report back when I've spent some time with it.

-ERD50
I made some quick updates a while back, but I've been using it pretty much daily for the past two weeks, so I'll give a fuller update:

Amazon.com: Mediasonic HW-150PVR HomeWorx ATSC Digital TV Converter Box with Media Player and Recording PVR Function/HDMI Out (Black): Electronics

For $38 - it works! Every show I've scheduled (~ 2-3 per day) has recorded just as it should. There is no compression, so the picture quality is identical to the broadcast quality. I formatted an old 500 GB drive as NTFS and that's what I've been using.

Since we haven't had cable since the 80's, and never had a DVR, and VCRs aren't very practical with digital TV, this is fantastic for us. A couple shows that I just never watched due to timing, I now watch daily, and can pause or replay for things I missed or skip over segments that don't interest me. Now I catch every 'Jeopardy', the PBS 'Chicago Tonight' news/events show, and have a bunch of NOVA episodes on the schedule. Fantastic!

If you are used to a DVR, this is going to seem like going backwards in time - it won't track program changes or anything fancy. It's a step above the old VCR style channel and time method, as you can select from the station's program guide (or enter channel/time) - but that program guide only goes about 24 hours in advance.

It is far from perfect of course:

A) The remote is rather picky - you need to aim it fairly accurately (I have not tried the 'scotch tape to disperse the beam' trick I've read about). It also hasn't been that big a deal to motivate me to buy a learning remote (some users recommend this).

B) The user interface is clunky - but workable. It is somewhat frustrating because some things should so obviously be better, but OTOH, you can do everything you need, just not as obvious as it should be. It mostly becomes second nature after a short while.

C) Not sure why, but in a one hour show, I might typically get ~ 2~4 little garbled blips, maybe 1/2 second each. Could be my hard drive seeking and running out the buffer? Could be a signal drop-out or glitch (though we get a strong signal here). This also has not been bad enough for me to take any effort to try to track down, maybe someday.

D) Recorded programs have file names that are just station ID, date & time. It's a little tough to pick out the show you want in a list like that. You can rename them after-the-fact (each and every occurrence of a daily recorded show?), but simply allowing the user to add a short name as a prefix to the schedule (a one time thing for repeat recordings) would go a long way. But pretty minor.

And of course, for $38 you only get one tuner. But we don't watch that much TV for it to be an issue, and you could always buy two. But the other day, DW wanted me to record something while she was out, and it conflicted with one of my scheduled shows. No problem, record hers, and I'll just miss mine (actually, I just watched it live). But I had to delete my show to set hers, and then re-enter mine later - this goes to the clunky interface. It would be nice to just tell the new entry to take priority over the old one. The new one was a 'one time', so there would be no future conflicts.

And though I have not done this much, yes, you can unplug the drive, plug it into your computer and watch those shows (or edit them, or copy them) with any video player/editor software. No conversion needed. Handy.


Overall, this is one of the best buys I've made in a long time. Very happy to have spent this $38, and clear out an old portable drive to use for it. Maybe for Christmas, I'll get DW a new flat panel with HDMI for the bedroom - she watches that TV when she irons and sorts laundry - and I'll buy one of these for that TV so she can have a bunch of shows pre-recorded to watch.

They really ought to put some work into the interface, I think they could sell a lot of these for $50 if there weren't so many complaints about the UI.

They should also consider another model that would drop all the other outputs and the digital-analog converter (HDMI only), and maybe they could add a second tuner and keep the price about the same. New TVs come with HDMI, the other stuff is becoming superfluous.

Bottom line, if your usage profile is similar to mine (OTA, modest amount of TV recording needed, and you're a cheapskate who doesn't want to pay $$/month for a program guide), and you would like to have the option of recording and watching later, plus be able to do the 'live TV' pause/replay thing, I'd say $38 (and a hard drive) is a pretty modest investment to try this out and see what you think.

OK, I'm going to watch some NOVA now....

-ERD50
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Old 08-10-2014, 08:41 AM   #57
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As long as there aren't any major quirks (such as channels dropped, or setting for one channel but then the DVR records another), you really can't go wrong for $38 since you already have a spare HD. I think every DVR has it's own quirks.

If you are satisfied with it, that's the important thing. My current DVR doesn't record is the same picture quality as broadcast quality, but the picture is still adequate for football games (which is a deal breaker). I do have an option to skip a scheduled recording (I don't have to delete the schedule, then re-add) for the night if there is a time conflict to something else I want to record.
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Old 08-10-2014, 09:57 AM   #58
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As long as there aren't any major quirks (such as channels dropped, or setting for one channel but then the DVR records another), you really can't go wrong for $38 since you already have a spare HD. I think every DVR has it's own quirks. ....

Right, there seemed to be some complaints by some users about it dropping the schedule, but I am not aware of a single instance of that. And I have watched every episode of two M-F shows the past two weeks, so I would know of there was a glitch (some other recordings are just stacked up at this point - there could be problems, but I doubt it, based on what I do watch).

Maybe I got a good box, and those others got duds? I can't say on a sample of one. I suspect they have other issues though, such as weak/variable signals, or maybe power glitches (though it retains the schedule if you unplug it). All I can say is mine appears to be 100% reliable (based on a solid two weeks of use, and some more intermittent use for a few more weeks). I'm happy.

And if it does turn out to be glitchy for scheduled recording, I have a fall back (as I stated in an earlier post):

Quote:
Yes, even if it turns out recording is quirky, I think I can justify $37 and an old 8GB thumb drive even if I only use it for live pause/FF/RW TV.
I'm very certain I'll be buying a second unit, and that would also solve the occasional schedule conflict, though not so elegantly - the recording might be on a different TV than where we want to watch it, but moving the drive and/or copying it is not a big hardship for a once-in-a-blue-moon (for us) event.

I need to get back on their forum and see if the users can push for the UI upgrades - they could really increase user satisfaction with a fairly small amount of programming.

-ERD50
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Old 08-10-2014, 10:04 AM   #59
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I made some quick updates a while back, but I've been using it pretty much daily for the past two weeks, so I'll give a fuller update:

Amazon.com: Mediasonic HW-150PVR HomeWorx ATSC Digital TV Converter Box with Media Player and Recording PVR Function/HDMI Out (Black): Electronics

For $38 - it works!
Thanks ERD50. You have done many of us a great service. May I ask you to briefly describe how you hooked this thing up. I am assuming the antenna goes into the device and a HDMI cable connects the device to the TV. I also assume that the hard drive is connected directly to the device by a USB cable. But, you know what they say about assumptions.
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Old 08-10-2014, 11:09 AM   #60
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Thanks ERD50. You have done many of us a great service. May I ask you to briefly describe how you hooked this thing up. I am assuming the antenna goes into the device and a HDMI cable connects the device to the TV. I also assume that the hard drive is connected directly to the device by a USB cable. But, you know what they say about assumptions.
You can download the manual here:

Mediasonic

page 8 of their manual shows connections - but that does look confusing, since they show every possible connection scheme. Here's what I did (very simple - and really just as you described, one added detail so you can record while watching another channel):

A) I ran one (cheap) HDMI cable from the HDMI output of the box to an HDMI input on my TV. The HDMI signal handles digital video and audio in one cable.

B) I plugged in a portable Hard Drive to the USB port on front - (I partitioned on my computer as MSDOS and formatted as NTFS - the box will do this too I guess, but I also wanted to create a separate partition for other uses, so I went the computer route - easy). I'm pretty sure a standard portable drive will be formatted this way out of the box.

C) Co-ax antenna cable - I ended up using a cheap splitter, and ran one input to the box, and one to my TV antenna in.

With this set-up, I can watch one program live (no pause/delay feature) directly on the TV using the TV tuner while the device is recording (exactly as I did before I got the box), I just use the TV remote to switch TV inputs settings from HDMI to ANTENNA and back again to watch recordings or live/delay/pause TV through the box.

The box does have a Co-Ax out that should do the same thing as my splitter set-up if you set it for 'loop thru' (or something like that, I forget their term) and run that to the TV antenna in. But it appeared that I got noise from the box into the signal of my TV when I did this. I would lose channels on the TV, but only when it was actively recording. When I tried the splitter, there was no real degradation at all in the signal quality meter on my Vizio menu (the numbers do bounce around by one or two counts, so hard to say precisely - but no problems at all this way). The lowest #'s I see on channels I watch are in the mid to high 20's, most others are in the 50's. IIRC, it was around 10 that I would start getting breakups. So I think I've got some signal head-room.

Anyhow, the splitter was so easy to connect, and I had one, so I never bothered to switch back to validate if that was the problem or not. Could have just been a loose cable/connection, but this works so I ain't fixin' it.

If you don't have HDMI inputs on your TV, this thing is a 'converter box' and has composite, component and digital co-ax outputs as well. The connections would be similar.

BTW, this company really needs a good marketing team. Their 'description' of this product does not even mention that it records TV! The really sell it as a converter box, but I got those for almost zero $ with a coupon when the conversion was going on, and people are giving them away now, as they buy newer TVs. Further down on their site, 'recording' is 8th on a list of 11 features:

Quote:
Converts Digital Broadcast to your Analog TV
Analog Pass Through
Favorite Channel List
Parental Control Function
Auto Tuning
Auto, 16:9 Pillar Box, 16:9 Pan G Scan, 4:3 Letter Box, 4:3 Pan G Scan, 4:3 Full, 16:9 Wide Screen
Closed Caption
Real-Time recording & Programmed Time Recording
HDMI 1080P Output / YPbPr output / Coaxial Output
Timing Start Up & Shut Down
USB Multimedia Player
But... it works! (for me).

-ERD50
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