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recommendation for a good DVR?
Old 03-18-2014, 05:03 PM   #1
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recommendation for a good DVR?

Contemplating on dropping my cable along with the cable company provided DVR, and get FTA antenna and a DVR. Something simple to use, and not too costly...

Thanks!
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Old 03-18-2014, 05:15 PM   #2
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I'm a big fan of Tivo - but it's costly.

They work fine with OTA antennas, plus over the top content. They can do PPV Amazon, plus Hulu and Netflix through the same interface. They only thing they aren't integrated with is Amazon Prime content... and that seems to be an issue on Amazon's side.
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Old 03-18-2014, 05:35 PM   #3
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I used to have a Tivo before TV went digital, and although I liked it (although it sometimes didn't change the channel correctly), I thought the channel subscription fee was ridiculously expensive. I have PS3 and I am thinking of getting Hulu Plus (I can get to Amazon from PS3) so I might just forget about getting the DVR all together, but if the price is not too high, I think I would like to have one (to record PBS, etc)
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Old 03-18-2014, 05:42 PM   #4
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Here is a recent thread on over-the-air (OTA) DVR's: I Need a New OTA DVR (again)
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Old 03-18-2014, 05:52 PM   #5
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I'm still a TiVo fan. We've used them for over a decade. By far the best UI.

Our upstairs TV is connected to a TiVo that grabs it's content OTA. Works quite well. And I don't have to rent one more CableCard.

I avoid the monthly fee by just paying the one time "lifetime" fee. It's steep, but the TiVo's last long enough that it's cheaper in the long run and there is no annoying monthly fee.

Here's a link to their OTA page:

Antenna Compatible DVR | TiVo
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Old 03-18-2014, 06:57 PM   #6
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Another Tivo fan here. I've had them for a decade as well. And I always buy lifetime service. In fact, they have let me transfer the service several times now as I upgraded DVRs, so my total cost for service for two DVRs for more than ten years of use has been $500. That's pretty cheap considering my cable company wants me to pay $12.00/month for programming data, plus another $10.00 per month for a very basic DVR that doesn't do half of what Tivo can do.

I'm a big fan of the Tivo stream feature as well. I can watch any show I want on my Tivo using my iPad as the display device. It gives me an instant TV in any room without requiring any wires, power, or fees.
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Old 03-18-2014, 07:07 PM   #7
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I'm a big fan of the Tivo stream feature as well. I can watch any show I want on my Tivo using my iPad as the display device. It gives me an instant TV in any room without requiring any wires, power, or fees.
I tried this feature out last week when we were on a trip.

It works well WHEN THE HOTEL INTERNET IS GOOD. One night we watched a recorded show streaming from our TiVo back home and it worked great! The next night, not so great - I guess the other guests were using up the bandwidth to the hotel.

Also note that the ability to stream from your home TiVo is dependent on your bandwidth from your house to the internet. Usually all we care about is the bandwidth from the internet to the house.

We have 50/5, so 50 Mbps to the house and 5 Mbps from the house. That's enough to make this TiVo streaming work well. If you have something slower, like my pervious internet service which was 10 Mbps / 768 Kbps. It won't really work.
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Old 03-18-2014, 09:41 PM   #8
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I tried this feature out last week when we were on a trip.

It works well WHEN THE HOTEL INTERNET IS GOOD. One night we watched a recorded show streaming from our TiVo back home and it worked great! The next night, not so great - I guess the other guests were using up the bandwidth to the hotel.

Also note that the ability to stream from your home TiVo is dependent on your bandwidth from your house to the internet. Usually all we care about is the bandwidth from the internet to the house.

We have 50/5, so 50 Mbps to the house and 5 Mbps from the house. That's enough to make this TiVo streaming work well. If you have something slower, like my pervious internet service which was 10 Mbps / 768 Kbps. It won't really work.
I wonder if we are talking about the same device. My Tivo Stream only works when my iPad is on the same physical network as the Tivo. There is no provision for connecting to the Tivo over the internet. In fact, they don't even support the use of a wireless adapter on the Tivo because it is too slow, so I had to upgrade to MOCA devices to get a hardwired connection between my Tivo and my internet router.

I do have the ability to download a TV show directly to the iPad, in which case I can watch it anywhere - no network connection required. It works great when going on long airplane flights.
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Old 03-18-2014, 10:25 PM   #9
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The newer Tivo Roamios have support for out of the home streaming though some content can't be streamed at all.
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Old 03-18-2014, 10:33 PM   #10
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The newer Tivo Roamios have support for out of the home streaming though some content can't be streamed at all.
Got it. I have the original Tivo Stream, which is a separate box on my network. It sounds like the later Tivo models have become more advanced in their streaming capabilities.
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Old 03-19-2014, 12:56 AM   #11
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Thank you very much for all your posts. I guess Tivo is still going strong. It looks like it will be about $400 with life time service. Or get a Magnavox... or get nothing and just rely on Hulu Plus...
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Hulu Plus?
Old 03-19-2014, 01:00 AM   #12
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Hulu Plus?

Does anybody subscribe to it? I have a PS3 and I would need to buy that instead of getting the free Hulu, which is OK since it is not expensive.

If I want to watch say The Good Wife, how many days later does a show pop up on Hulu Plus?

I am thinking of getting rid of cable and I am trying to see what options I have. I have already changed one of my TV to OTA (the reception isn't great on some of the days - I bought a plastic indoor antenna that cost like $60..... which I have attached to a wall instead of a window currently... Just a side note.)

Thank you!
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Old 03-19-2014, 05:24 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by tmm99 View Post
Thank you very much for all your posts. I guess Tivo is still going strong. It looks like it will be about $400 with life time service.
Uh, lifetime service, itself, is $500. The cost of the device is over and above that. (Current TiVo owners get a $100 break on the cost of lifetime service on a second TiVo on the same account.)

https://tivo.com/shop/configure/tivo...o#/tivo-roamio

So figure as a new customer, buying a TiVo Roamio, you'll pay $700 to start, barring any unique discounts you may qualify for. Despite the high price, it is worth it. It is one of the few devices I know of out there that does exactly what I want it to do, reliably, year-in and year-out. We have been TiVo customers for about 15 years and couldn't be happier.

I suppose you could buy a used TiVo Series 3 or Premiere. You might find one with lifetime service in that $400 range. I'm not sure I would sell my TiVo Series 3 with lifetime for only $400.

Keep in mind that the two "better" Roamio boxes do not support OTA. Only the basic Roamio does that.
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Old 03-19-2014, 06:04 AM   #14
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From my perspective, paying for a TIVO and lifetime service to record OTA programs doesn't make financial sense.

I went down this same path last year and found the most cost-effective approach was to use my PC as my DVR by using Windows Media Center along with a tuner to receive OTA programs. I purchased a HDHomerRun dual tuner (~$100) which allows me to record two OTA programs simultaneously. The tuner/Windows Media program combination functions exactly like a DVR, recording the programs I schedule to my hard drive (I record to a back-up drive for more capacity). We watch the recorded programs on our TV, which I have set up as a second monitor. The system even has a remote control: Amazon.com : Windows Remote Control

The only potential drawback to the system is that the audio isn't transmitted to the TV, only video - audio is through your computer speakers. (I'm sure there is a way to send audio as well, but I haven't pursued it.) That's not a problem for us as I have a decent set of speakers for my desktop, and they (and the computer) are located on my roll-top desk, adjacent to our TV.

Inexpensive and it works great. What's not to like?
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Old 03-19-2014, 07:31 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by REWahoo View Post
From my perspective, paying for a TIVO and lifetime service to record OTA programs doesn't make financial sense. I went down this same path last year and found the most cost-effective approach was to use my PC as my DVR by using Windows Media Center along with a tuner to receive OTA programs.
There are several alternatives to TiVo, both OTA and cable. However, the financial sense you're talking about requires placing less value on convenience and less value on your own skills and experience than I was place on those things.

The HDHomeRun path requires a level of technological self-sufficiency that is beyond what most people have. Having a friend set you up, or following arcane instructions that you don't really understand, leaves your setup effectively dependent on that for which you have no reasonable expectation of support. I'm a really smart guy, with regard to this stuff. I used to be a Bell Labs engineer, and worked on some of the early voice/video/data projects. So I understand the discipline. I could probably set up HDHomeRun and keep it working for me pretty reliably. I don't. It's not "worth" the bother or effort, to me.

So again, the financial sense you're talking about requires placing no value on convenience and no value on your own skills and experience - and to be clear, there is nothing wrong with that - nothing at all - but also nothing wrong with making the opposite decision, choosing to go with the approach that is more of a consumer market solution and less of a do-it-yourself solution.

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Originally Posted by REWahoo View Post
The only potential drawback to the system is that the audio isn't transmitted to the TV, only video - audio is through your computer speakers. (I'm sure there is a way to send audio as well, but I haven't pursued it.) That's not a problem for us as I have a decent set of speakers for my desktop, and they (and the computer) are located on my roll-top desk, adjacent to our TV. Inexpensive and it works great. What's not to like?
Perhaps the compromises. We have a decent setup with which we can stream videos from various sources, but apparently either the service, equipment or connections we are using don't support DD5.1. I value DD5.1 more than HD.

YMMV.
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Old 03-19-2014, 08:14 AM   #16
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The HDHomeRun path requires a level of technological self-sufficiency that is beyond what most people have. Having a friend set you up, or following arcane instructions that you don't really understand, leaves your setup effectively dependent on that for which you have no reasonable expectation of support. I'm a really smart guy, with regard to this stuff. I used to be a Bell Labs engineer, and worked on some of the early voice/video/data projects. So I understand the discipline. I could probably set up HDHomeRun and keep it working for me pretty reliably. I don't. It's not "worth" the bother or effort, to me.
Have you actually set-up and used a HDHomeRun system? See the quick start guide below.

I'm no engineer and, unlike you, don't consider myself to be a "really smart guy" but even I can follow 'plug and play' instructions and follow on-screen prompts.

Once installed the HDHomeRun operates like a "normal" DVR using the Windows Media Center program included in Windows 7 or higher - no special effort needed to keep it running.
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File Type: jpg Quick start guide.JPG (61.4 KB, 4 views)
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Old 03-19-2014, 09:06 AM   #17
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I have the Magnavox DVR that I bought at Walmart. It works great with OTA tv. I also like that if I change channels and then rewind live tv, I can still see the previous channel recording. Couldn't do that on Comcast.
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Old 03-19-2014, 09:38 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by REWahoo View Post
From my perspective, paying for a TIVO and lifetime service to record OTA programs doesn't make financial sense.

I went down this same path last year and found the most cost-effective approach was to use my PC as my DVR by using Windows Media Center along with a tuner to receive OTA programs. I purchased a HDHomerRun dual tuner (~$100) which allows me to record two OTA programs simultaneously. The tuner/Windows Media program combination functions exactly like a DVR, recording the programs I schedule to my hard drive (I record to a back-up drive for more capacity). We watch the recorded programs on our TV, which I have set up as a second monitor. The system even has a remote control: Amazon.com : Windows Remote Control

The only potential drawback to the system is that the audio isn't transmitted to the TV, only video - audio is through your computer speakers. (I'm sure there is a way to send audio as well, but I haven't pursued it.) That's not a problem for us as I have a decent set of speakers for my desktop, and they (and the computer) are located on my roll-top desk, adjacent to our TV.

Inexpensive and it works great. What's not to like?
I think anyone with basic computer skills - to follow plug-n-play and configuration instructions can do this. PCs are pretty cheap (compared to Tivo) that you can dedicate one for this purpose. Use HDMI to make connections easier - video & audio on the same cable.

Besides, it helps us ER'd people keep our brains sharp.

ps: I use mythtv which is a little more involved to set up. If I was building one today, I'd use Windows media center.
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Old 03-19-2014, 09:59 AM   #19
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Have you actually set-up and used a HDHomeRun system? See the quick start guide below.

I'm no engineer and, unlike you, don't consider myself to be a "really smart guy" but even I can follow 'plug and play' instructions and follow on-screen prompts.

Once installed the HDHomeRun operates like a "normal" DVR using the Windows Media Center program included in Windows 7 or higher - no special effort needed to keep it running.
Since I have a Mac, I guess I'm precluded from using this setup. But even if I had a PC, it would be located in my office, while my TVs are in the family room and bedroom. So wouldn't this still preclude me from using HDHomeRun as my DVR? Is it common to have your PC in close proximity to your main TV?
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Old 03-19-2014, 10:41 AM   #20
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Got it. I have the original Tivo Stream, which is a separate box on my network. It sounds like the later Tivo models have become more advanced in their streaming capabilities.
While the new models support streaming directly (The Roamio models), I have a TiVo Stream stand alone box that does the streaming to my iPhone/iPad both locally and out over the internet. This was a software upgrade.

The TiVo Stream only streams content from our TiVo Premier. It doesn't stream content from our older TiVo HD.

I think the software that streams out over the internet arrived late last year.

I'm not certain if the Stream had different models. When I look my order history at TiVo.com, it just lists it as a "TiVo Stream" bought in October 2012.
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