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Might be looking for a good OTA DVR
Old 02-08-2012, 11:57 PM   #1
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Might be looking for a good OTA DVR

I might be looking for a good Over-the-air DVR recorder soon.

The one I got now (a DTVPal DVR) is starting to get on the fritz. I love the features, but that model is know problematic. Recently, it's been recording programs with no sound. This doesn't happen all the time, but sometimes.

So what are some good OTA DVRs out there?

I read up on one that does have many of the features I want:

Magnavox MDR-513H/F7 320GB DVR and DVD Recorder ? Walmart.com

Features: OTA signal, ability to pause live TV. Plus, the built-in ability to burn from HD to DVD is a bonus that I currently don't have in one unit.

I'm not going to buy right now, but if my DVR gets on the fritz more, I may be sooner than later.
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Old 02-09-2012, 12:11 AM   #2
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I've been tinkering with homebuilt DVRs for a few years. At first I was using the Linux-based MythTV / Mythbuntu, but I later tried Windows 7 Media Center (included with Win7 Pro or Win7 Ultimate, but not Win7 Home Premium in the U.S. editions). It required no tinkering, and most of the time it keeps going without maintenance. (If I don't reboot it every few months it might stop recording.)

Since I am comfortable with building PCs, installing big hard drives, installing Windows and adding tuner cards, those parts were no issue for me. There are probably prebuilt Win7 MC machines available these days, too.
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Old 02-09-2012, 08:44 AM   #3
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This was announced at CES, 'coming Spring 2012':

https://www.simple.tv/getting-started

Though it says $5/month fee, I've read that a basic programming guide is provided for free.

Last time I looked into OTA DVRs, DW was not really interested - she said she can find most of her shows on the internet.

I'd really like to be able to pause/rewind live TV though (I don't watch much TV, but when I do I hate missing stuff). We already have Roku boxes on two TVs, so this might work for us.

-ERD50
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Old 02-09-2012, 10:42 PM   #4
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I don't know how the sports TV world got along before DVRs. It would drive me absolutely bonkers now to watch live TV without the ability to pause or self-instant-replay.

One disadvantage is you can't easily sync radio and TV while pausing/replaying if you prefer your radio broadcast team. Another possible disadvantage is missing out on live social networking during the game (live tweeting, live blogging, hosted game chats, etc.) or having the live "X"ing spoil the timeshifted viewing.

On the other hand, football games take way, way less time to watch with a 30-second skip button and waiting to start viewing until halftime or later in live time. Unless they're playing "no huddle" you skip forward 30 seconds at the end of each play, and of course skip commercials.

By the way, Summer Olympics are coming up. For much of the big money major league sports, the cover the replays well enough, but the Olympics have so much going on, sometimes if you miss it, you miss it...unless you're watching on DVR.

Since I've built my own media center PCs I haven't much to say about retail DVRs, except that going homebuilt a few years ago let me use a much larger hard drive and cheaper or free TV listings service. However my Mom's series 3 TiVo now lets her attach a USB hard drive, so she has more storage than I do now with the slightly slicker interface, and she is on a lifetime listings plan. So retail options may be better out there these days.
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Old 08-19-2012, 10:34 AM   #5
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Looks like I'm back to considering an OTA DVR again. I still got my DTVpal DVR and when it works, I love it. The DVR works other 95% of the time. But the times the DVR gets on the fritz (times a show would get recorded with no volume, other times in Spanish) and I'm not able to watch a recorded show is frustrating.
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Old 08-19-2012, 10:26 PM   #6
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I went ahead and bought a new OTA DVR.

I'll miss the old DTVPal DVR (very simple interface) and easy to use remote.

But a new season of "Dancing With The Stars" is starting soon and I don't want to take the chance of it coming up in Spanish or no sound .
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Old 08-19-2012, 11:05 PM   #7
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I bought a Panasonic a few years back, before the conversion to digital.... it did have both analog and digital tuner and worked great...

My only negative comment was it did not have a TV guide.... I had to program actual recording times like the old VCR... well, I lied... another negative was it only recorded one program at a time (IIRC).... I have so many dual recordings now I do not know what I would do if I could only record one.... it is not like I watch a lot of shows, just that the channels seem to put my shows at the same time...
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Old 08-20-2012, 05:46 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Texas Proud View Post
I bought a Panasonic a few years back, before the conversion to digital.... it did have both analog and digital tuner and worked great...

My only negative comment was it did not have a TV guide.... I had to program actual recording times like the old VCR... well, I lied... another negative was it only recorded one program at a time (IIRC).... I have so many dual recordings now I do not know what I would do if I could only record one.... it is not like I watch a lot of shows, just that the channels seem to put my shows at the same time...
Here's the one that I ordered:

ePVision.com - One-Stop place for Full HD 1080p HDMI A/V Switcher Digital HDTV Tuner Receiver Media Box, HD Media Player, HDTV Tuner Set top Box, HDTV PVR Box and more...


I know what you mean about being able to record with two tuners. This one records to an external HD as opposed to ones that have an internal. I think that's a plus more than a con.

It may be a little over powered for my needs as I don't have a modern big screen TV and will be only using the OTA antenna (with splitter for both tuners) on a TV with the composite video connections on the back.

I will miss the DTVPal (haven't decided if I'll keep it as a backup, or sell it on ebay) as if it didn't have to occasional buggy behavior, that unit is all I really need.
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The Grass is Not Always Greener On The Other Side
Old 08-30-2012, 01:48 PM   #9
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The Grass is Not Always Greener On The Other Side

Well, I set up the DVR that I bought, tried it out but ended up returning it and using my DTVPal (bugs and all) instead.

The one I returned had a very unfriendly interface. Plus, a few things that I found really annoying were 1) pausing live TV took several steps, 2) no skip forward or backward 20 seconds during commercials and worst of all 3) when in the middle of a program, if I stop it, there is no resume option. Instead the program starts again from the very beginning .

Maybe next time, I'll consider building my own DVR from a PC.
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Old 08-30-2012, 02:52 PM   #10
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Another vote for a homebuilt DVR. I put mine together about 1 year ago. I use Windows Media Center for recording.

The big bonus is that we have a powerful PC in our living room. So we can also go to hulu or other streaming sites, and watch a lot of shows that way as well by just pulling out the wireless keyboard and mouse out from under the coffee table.

We also pull up Google Earth an awful lot. Flying around the map and checking things out on a 50" screen is pretty fun.

And when friends come over we're always pulling up photos to show, or funny stuff we've found on the internet. No huddling over a laptop with everyone, we can all recline on the couch.

It's nice always having the internet available in the living room for multiple reasons. We can see the TV from our kitchen too, so we'll sometimes pull up a recipe, blow it up with nice big font (ctrl+) and check back to it as we cook. If we have friends over and we're all conversing in the living room and something comes up we're not sure about we can look it up in ten seconds, rather than debating whether or not its worthwhile breaking up the party, to go upstairs to the office or to find the laptop.

It can be a nice way to plan a trip together too, comparing prices and hotel reviews with our feet up, looking at the same screen, polishing off the wine from dinner.

We also have retro, as well as modern, video games available on it that get pulled out once in a while.

There's netflix too, but we don't bother with that since we have enough to watch already.

Basically, having a media PC changed the way we use our living room. It's made it a much more stimulating experience when we retire to the couch near the end of the day.
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Old 08-30-2012, 09:04 PM   #11
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How about Tivo? I've had one for a few years and it works great.
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Old 09-06-2012, 06:24 PM   #12
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Got the refund issued on the OTA DVR that I purchased but wasn't satisfied with. No harm, no foul.

So far, since just sticking with my DTVPal DVR, no hiccups yet. My fingers are crossed. I know the hiccups will happen again as it's just a matter of time.
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Old 09-07-2012, 12:26 PM   #13
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I've thought about this more lately as I consider whether or not to eventually go cheap and "ditch the dish". I figure between streaming video, Netflix, Hulu and other things, it may a bit less painful (and an easier sell to the missus) at some point in the future. I'm leaning toward building a PC media server with an OTA tuner (preferably two). It may be hard getting DW to give up BBC America, though.
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Old 09-07-2012, 06:11 PM   #14
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...It may be hard getting DW to give up BBC America, though.
Hulu has BBC America.
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Old 09-08-2012, 08:47 PM   #15
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I vote for putting together your own using a PC and Windows 7, with a 2T hard drive. I purchased dual tuner (Home Run) from Amazon. It has performed flawlessly. Between the few programs I enjoy that I record, Netflix, and now joined Acorn, I have all the TV I need.

You can buy one put together already in a smaller footprint, but you pay dearly for someone else putting it together, whereas you can do it yourself for around $450. A older unused PC or laptop with Windodws 7 installed might do you just fine. Just add the HOME RUN dual tuner and an external 2 terabit hard drive, and your set.
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Old 09-10-2012, 01:06 AM   #16
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If you're going to build a Windows Media Center DVR soon you might want to get Windows 7 before Windows 8 comes out. From what I have heard they have not updated Media Center for Win8, and they are actually pulling the DVD read capability because of the licensing cost.

My Win7 DVR has required no tinkering, just an occasional reboot. The only small annoyance is that it seems to forget what resolution it is when the TV is off a while, but if I hit the windows key on my wireless keyboard and then alt-tab back I'm back at my TV's 1080p resolution.
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Old 09-11-2012, 04:47 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigMoneyJim View Post
If you're going to build a Windows Media Center DVR soon you might want to get Windows 7 before Windows 8 comes out. From what I have heard they have not updated Media Center for Win8, and they are actually pulling the DVD read capability because of the licensing cost.

My Win7 DVR has required no tinkering, just an occasional reboot. The only small annoyance is that it seems to forget what resolution it is when the TV is off a while, but if I hit the windows key on my wireless keyboard and then alt-tab back I'm back at my TV's 1080p resolution.
Well, last night my DTVPal DVR was recording a program in Spanish again.

At least, I was watching the program at the time so stopped the recording and viewed the program live in English.

So once again, it got me thinking of a possible replacement.

I'm curious, are remote controls available with a homebuilt DVR run off Windows Media Center?

Perhaps I'm just old fashioned, but while watching TV, I'd much rather grab a remote control than a keyboard to do my navigating.
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Old 09-11-2012, 05:18 AM   #18
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Yup. The capture card I ordered came with one, plus a little IR sensor.

Quote:
are remote controls available with a homebuilt DVR run off Windows Media Center?
I will say setting up the homebuilt DVR did take a little tinkering. Particularly setting up the channel guide was a tiny bit tricky, and if you're a computer novice or get really frustrated with having to tinker with things a little bit, you may be better off with one of the other commercial systems.

But it's not too bad and there are plenty of guides online that answer any questions that come up.
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Old 09-11-2012, 06:04 AM   #19
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Is there anyplace I can research ota tv? this is new to me as I have dishnetwork. how many channels do you get or do you just record preset times and programs? just curious to know if I am missing something worthwhile.
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Old 09-11-2012, 06:54 AM   #20
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Just noticed this thread.
I have EyeTV hooked up to my Mac, and it works wonderfully well. Highly recommended if you use a Mac computer.
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