Newbie FAQ's?

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by Mark__T, Sep 25, 2004.

  1. Mark__T

    Mark__T Agent

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2001
    Messages:
    47
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi

    I just won a grand at Foxwoods Casino and trying to figure out what to do with it. I thought I would look into DVD recorders or DVR's or Tivo or whatever they are referred to. I'm looking for a good FAQ section somewhere that may be able to help me answer some questions.

    Also I have a HDTV Motorola DCT5001 cable box. I'm not that concerned with the ability to record in HD, but I am concerned that I can still watch in HD if connections need to go through the DVD recorder.

    So besides the FAQ, I would also love some suggestions for what are some of the units I may be able to get with my new found wealth.

    Thanks
    Mark
     
  2. Mark__T

    Mark__T Agent

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2001
    Messages:
    47
    Likes Received:
    0
    Is there nobody out there who can help? I can't seem to find a real good source of info. ANY input would be greatly appreciated.

    Mark
     
  3. Stephen Tu

    Stephen Tu Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 1999
    Messages:
    1,573
    Likes Received:
    0
    You'll have to specify how much of your grand you are willing to spend, & whether or not you are willing to consider switching to satellite + OTA.

    The main options are:
    - SD satellite PVR, D*Tivo @ ~$0-50 after rebate + $5/month, records up to 2 shows simultaneously in SD from satellite only. Cheapest option, but you'd have to do something else for HD, probably not the best choice.
    - standalone PVR, ~$400 total after rebate, including service fee charges, records only one show at once, some degradation involved due to reencoding, no HD capability.
    - standalone PVR / DVD player or standalone PVR / DVD recorder combos. The Toshiba player model can be found fairly cheap these days & can be a good deal if you could use a DVD player. I usually don't recommend the PVR/DVD-R combo models since they tend to be lacking on one side or the other.

    The above options I personally don't recommend to people with HDTVs. The ones I like are the following:
    - HD DirecTV Tivo, $900-1000 + $5/month, records up to 2 HD shows at once from satellite or OTA. Not compatible with cable. Best software + HD, but expensive.
    - DVR supplied by cable company, Motorola 6208/6412 or Scientific Atlanta 8000HD. HD capability, sometimes dual recording, usually fairly cheap at ~$10/month with no upfront fee. Disadvantages: not available yet in many areas, software far less powerful than Tivo, cable company may be lagging in channel availability (D* vs. cable varies considerably from area to area)
     
  4. Mark__T

    Mark__T Agent

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2001
    Messages:
    47
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks Stephen

    I am currently stuck with Comcast Cable. I live in a condo with no access to the Southern Sky. I actually like Comcast and have no problem with it. Their DVR is not available in my area yet, it should be soon. Comcast doesn't offer a lot of description or specs of their DVR.

    I was reading up on Pioneer DVR-810H-S. There seems to be a lot of mixed reviews.

    I don't mind spending up to the entire $1000, but would prefer not to have any recurring monthly charges after making my purchase.

    Most descriptions state that the use of these recorders are fairly simple. I take that with a grain of salt.

    Again thanks for your help.

    Mark
     
  5. Stephen Tu

    Stephen Tu Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 1999
    Messages:
    1,573
    Likes Received:
    0
    OK, satellite not being an option makes your decisions easier. I would probably wait for Comcast DVR in your situation, to get HD recording capability.

    Otherwise, your options are the standalone models, which run $99 after rebate, plus a one time $299 unit lifetime service fee, no recurring monthly charges. Comcast DVR has monthly charges, but nothing upfront. I don't think one should be automatically adverse to monthly charges since automatic payment can be set up; one should just consider the total cost over the estimated lifetime of the unit.

    I don't like the Pioneer combo DVD-R/PVR model since the DVD-R lacks editing features. It's rather expensive for what you are getting. It makes it easy to save shows to DVD-R, but these days with most worthwhile TV shows coming out on DVD for purchase, it doesn't make much sense to make low quality archives w/ commercials & station bugs.
     
  6. Mark__T

    Mark__T Agent

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2001
    Messages:
    47
    Likes Received:
    0
    Does the Comcast DVR compare to Tivo?
     
  7. Mark__T

    Mark__T Agent

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2001
    Messages:
    47
    Likes Received:
    0
    So it looks like the Comcast DVR and Pioneer DVR810HS are not recomended. So should I just go with TiVo Series2 DVR? Is there something other than the Pioneer that people endorse?

    I'm not sure if I mentioned my desired need for this DVR or whatever it's called. I basically want to use it as we used to use the VCR. I'm not concerned about saving anything for eternity. I realize that this new technology is so much better that the old VCR. And lastly just to reiterate, if I can't record in HD, I still want to be able to watch my HD channels in HD.

    Thanks
    Mark
     
  8. Stephen Tu

    Stephen Tu Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 1999
    Messages:
    1,573
    Likes Received:
    0
    (Disclaimer: I do not have experience with the various Comcast DVRs, and am going on 2nd hand information from posters in other forums whose opinions I respect. Also various new versions of software may close the gap).

    Not well, in terms of software, although this varies considerably depending on which software they are running in your area. TVGuide software used in most areas is reportedly fairly terrible, Pioneer Passport is better, & Microsoft software pretty decent, reportedly not too far behind Tivo, same league at least. Vs. TvGuide, Tivo has a lot of things that make recording easier, chief among them:
    - name based recording, shows are recorded by name & episode information rather than time slot. So if networks shuffle the lineup around, run special long episodes, extra episodes, etc. things still record properly, as long as accurate data is available & it's not a last day change (takes a couple days for info to get from networks to listing company then downloaded to the Tivo). This also lets Tivo skip reruns / weeks the show isn't on and record other things instead (by priority on its "season pass manager" list). You can also easily cancel / change options on an individual episode of a series without changing the entire series (like you might if there was a sports event preceding & the show time is likely to run past the scheduled time).
    - "wishlists", automatically recording of shows that match keywords in title, show description, category, actor, director, etc.
    - GUI just a lot slicker in general, less space wasted to advertisements, accomplish tasks faster e.g. search for show by name.

    Tivo also can stream MP3 music & JPEG photos from a PC (add-on USB wired/wireless network adapter required), if that matters to you, and later this year will be able to transfer video for DVD burning on PC. These are minor things for me since I am chiefly interested in video recording/playback, but you might find them useful.

    OTOH, the Comcast DVR does record in HD, which is huge, and in areas that get the SA 8000HD or Motorola 6412 (not 6208), it will record 2 shows at once, which a standalone Tivo can't. The dual recording also makes the UI deficiencies less glaring since there are fewer conflicts to resolve. But there have been reliability issues with this for the Motorola boxes; the software is still being developed.

    So it is basically cost, HD, & dual recording capability, vs. ease of operation & reliability. You can get everything you want recorded on the Comcast DVR, just with much more human intervention required. The Tivo is more set-and-forget, just double-check the To-Do list every 1.5 weeks or so, after you have the priorities of your season passes/wishlists tweaked, plus whatever searching you do for individual shows/movies.
     
  9. Stephen Tu

    Stephen Tu Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 1999
    Messages:
    1,573
    Likes Received:
    0

    You make think so now, but I don't think you will after you've had one for a few weeks. DVRs tend to transform viewing habits. With a VCR, one tends to just set it up for special recordings when you know you won't be at home, and you try to make it home for shows you want to watch live. This is since you would always be in the position of having to wait for the recording to finish so that you can start watching from the beginning. If you don't have a 2nd VCR you are also prevented from watching previous recordings while a new one is in progress. Also there are issues of having to manage tape space, finding shows on a particular tape, etc.

    A DVR doesn't have these limitations. So instead of just recording a few things, you program them to record everything you might feel like watching. Then you never worry about missing the start of a show, you can always just pause & deal immediately with any interruption from phone, kids, etc., and you can skip commercials/uninteresting segments with impunity. You watch the show you feel like watching at the moment, rather than because it happens to be airing at the time. It basically is a personal near video-on-demand system, not a VCR replacement.
     
  10. mark alan

    mark alan Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2002
    Messages:
    620
    Likes Received:
    0
    Stephen is right that it will change your tv habits. Being able to not watch commercials is beyond belief. I never even turn my tv on during prime time. I haven't watched a commercial in 2 years. I am so hooked on mine that I refuse to watch high definition because I can't skip commercials and I will skip a show entirely if I can't watch it on my DVR (and skip the commercials). Heck, I even start watching football games 1.5-2 hours after they start so I can skip all the commercials and delays, and still finish at the same time the game finish.

    As you can tell, I really like the skipping commercial aspect of it.[​IMG]
     
  11. Mark__T

    Mark__T Agent

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2001
    Messages:
    47
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks Stephen & Mark Alan(which happens to be my first and middle name-same spelling)for your help.

    Does anybody recommend just a stand alone Tivo? I know I started this thread asking about FAQ's, but now I am thinking about simplicity. If you haven't noticed yet, I am a very indecisive person.

    This is such a wide open and ever growing field. There are so many opinions. I did not realize there would be so many options. So I am now more confused as to what to do than when I started this post.

    But please keep your advice and opinions coming.

    Thanks
    Mark
     
  12. Stephen Tu

    Stephen Tu Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 1999
    Messages:
    1,573
    Likes Received:
    0
    Standalone Tivos are great. I have two of them. Have had one for over 5 years. But - last year I got an HDTV. This changes things. On the one hand, I really like watching in HD, since the picture & sound is just so much better. But on the other hand, like Mark Alan I find PVR-less viewing painful, having to be home in time & not being able to skip commercials, not being able to pause at will. So I find myself very frustrated either way, losing HD or losing PVR. HD-PVR would obviously solve this dilemma for me, but Comcast is many months late in deployment (I think best case Nov. for me), and HD-Tivo's high initial price + cost/hassle of OTA antenna installation has kept me from pulling the trigger.

    So - if you think Comcast DVR is coming soon in your neck of the woods, I personally would wait for it. You don't think you are too concerned about being able to record in HD, but I think you will after you get indoctrinated into PVR viewing. I think I would put up with inferior software for HD-PVR & 2 tuners. If the software is really frustrating you could go buy Tivo then. But hopefully the newer revisions will bring them closer to Tivo's usability.
     
  13. Dave Gorman

    Dave Gorman Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 1999
    Messages:
    538
    Likes Received:
    0
    I found this thread searching for the Motorola 6412 DVR -- I just got the HD-DVR service from Cox, and was looking for any tips/tricks/info that's not included in the rather sparse documentation provided with it.



    Am I understanding this correctly that one can begin watching a show that is still being recorded, before it is done recording?!
     
  14. Allen Hirsch

    Allen Hirsch Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 1999
    Messages:
    532
    Likes Received:
    0


    Absolutely - this is one of the biggest advantages of a DVR over a VCR.

    Also - there's a 30-sec. skip button only on certain Motorola remotes. But, if you use a Harmony universal, you can add the 30-sec. skip form the online programming even if your remote didn't allow it. (The 30-sec. skip is PERFECT for football games - unless there's a no-huddle offense, the 30 secs. takes you from play to play without missing a thing)

    You can also pause or rewind live TV (b/c the DVR is actually recording simultaneously what you're watching), so you can control even live TV - pause to take a phonecall, answer the door, etc - come back and pick up right where you left off.

    And the 6412 Hd-DVR will record both HD and SD, so it's a leg up on the last-generation Tivos I looked at last winter.
     
  15. Dave Gorman

    Dave Gorman Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 1999
    Messages:
    538
    Likes Received:
    0
    Nope, MX-500. And it doesn't have codes for the Motorola DVR -- but maybe that's for the best. I'll do a complete custom job of placing everything on the keys I want it on.
     
  16. Kevin_Spradley

    Kevin_Spradley Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2000
    Messages:
    171
    Likes Received:
    0
    The 30-sec skip button is not labeled. You have to pick a button you don't use and program your remote to use the button as the 30-sec skip. There is also a 15-sec rewind feature you can program. If using a universal remote, people have programmed in 6 30-sec skips into one button so you can 3 minutes of commercial with one button press.
     
  17. Dave Gorman

    Dave Gorman Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 1999
    Messages:
    538
    Likes Received:
    0
    That sounds nifty. If I can figure out how to program the 30-second skip on my DVR remote, I could set this up on my MX-500.
     
  18. Stephen Tu

    Stephen Tu Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 1999
    Messages:
    1,573
    Likes Received:
    0
    There are several different software platforms out there running on top of the Motorola 6412 hardware (TV Guide iGuide, Microsoft FE, Pioneer Passport, maybe others) . The 30 second skip procedure mentioned in your link refers to iGuide software running on Comcast systems, using a remote made by UEI. If you are running different software or a different remote, skip will either be totally unsupported or you will have to use some other trick.

    Other forums may have threads specific to your version of software, try searching there.
     

Share This Page