Stand-alone Tivo w/ cable HD?

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by Allen Hirsch, Dec 8, 2004.

  1. Allen Hirsch

    Allen Hirsch Supporting Actor

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    I'm finally taking the Tivo plunge (I've held off, planning to go satellite and get the combo DVR/sat receiver for all our viewing rooms, but my wife finally wants Tivo for Christmas; we still have cable, our internet hookup is cable, and Comcast finally has Extra Innings, so there's no compelling reason to switch tp satellite).

    However, I read somewhere that the standalone Tivo units don't work with cable HD. Is that true, and if so, why? Haven't found an explanation anywhere.

    I was planning to upgrade the digital cable in the family room to HD for the upcoming bowl season (we already have a Sony HDTV). But now I'm concerned that the Tivo unit will be "wasted", or I won't be able to upgrade to HD to keep the Tivo working, if what I read is right.
     
  2. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    Existing standalone TiVo units "don't work" with HD only in the sense that they are NTSC-only and cannot record HD content. They work just fine with the NTSC output of HD cable boxes, which means they work fine with most channels. Unless everything you watch is broadcast in HD, TiVo will still be useful.

    The only catch is that you'll have to run separate connections from the cable box for HD content and for TiVo.

    M.
     
  3. Allen Hirsch

    Allen Hirsch Supporting Actor

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    Thanks, Michael.

    Is it a big deal to "run separate connections from the cable box"? Where can I get instructions to do that, or will the cable installer know what to do when I upgrade to a HD cable receiver?
     
  4. Robert_J

    Robert_J Lead Actor

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    Probably not.

    Like Michael said, you will only be able to Tivo standard def programs. There are reports of Tivos doing a good job recording downcoverted HD but you are still losing a lot of resolution. You can check with your cable company and see if they have an HD DVR. Most don't have the Tivo features like searching, Wish Lists and Season Passes but they will record HD in full resolution. Your other option is an HD satellite DVR like the HD DirecTivo. That will cost you about $800. You will get all of the Tivo features plus the ability to record two HD programs while watching a previously recorded HD program.

    -Robert
     
  5. Allen Hirsch

    Allen Hirsch Supporting Actor

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    My cable company has no DVR option, at least in my area, never mind a HD DVR.

    Hmmm. I'm almost back to thinking the better deal is a combo satellite/Tivo receiver. Then I can record and watch HD at the same time. But then I'd be "switching out" from cable (except for my internet access). Is satellite HD worth it?
     
  6. Stephen Tu

    Stephen Tu Screenwriter

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    That's not a good wording; better is "you will be able to Tivo any program, but only standard def or after conversion to standard def". I Tivo the HD programs all the time when I'm not around to watch them live, it's still better than the standard channel, plus it's widescreen.

    Allen, the DVR option is supposed to come out this month for the SF Bay area; it was actually scheduled for end of last month but the schedule has been slipping. There are a bunch of us on the SF local HD thread over at avsforum chomping at the bit for this.

    The satellite/Tivo HD DVR is great. You can record TWO HD shows at once while watching a third previously recorded program. But it's $900-1000, plus you have to put up an OTA antenna. I've been torn about getting it, costs a lot but at least you get the best software & all the local HD stations. (Comcast is still missing HD Fox/WB/UPN for us).
     
  7. Allen Hirsch

    Allen Hirsch Supporting Actor

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    Stephen-
    the DirecTv installer I've spoken to says I don't need the OTA antenna (presumably because I have line of sight to all the SF transmitters?).

    IF I knew the DVR option through Comcast were coming, I'd probably stick with them, though they've behaved often enough like the monopoly utility they are to just about drive me away multiple times.

    Still the $10-20/month "bump" in the cable bill beats the heck out of $1000 per pop for the HD-satellite/Tivo unit. Awfully hard to judge what value you'll get for your money when you don't have EITHER option currently (still no DVR option from Comcast; never have had satellite or HD - yet).

    This may be off-topic, but I couldn't find a sub-forum for the cable vs. satellite decision. What's the consensus out there: is HD "better" one way or the other? Does Tivo make a difference (vs. the "generic DVR" all cable companies use)?
     
  8. Robert_J

    Robert_J Lead Actor

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    That's because it's VERY subjective. Also cable in my area probably has a completely different line-up and quality. I HATE Time Warner in this area. I've read postings on this and other forums about TW in other areas and they have nothing but praise. It's also about personal priorities. I'm a Tivo user and I like the dual tuner DVRs. My only choice then is DirecTV. I like their line-up and their quality is acceptable so I stick with them. If my local cable company offered a dual tuner Tivo (not a "Tivo like DVR") then I would seriously consider them.

    -Robert
     
  9. Allen Hirsch

    Allen Hirsch Supporting Actor

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    Stephen:

    The Mercury News apparently announced today that the Motorola dual tuner DVR is now available in the Bay Area. It's supposed to record 60 hours of standard TV, 15 hours of HDTV.

    That makes my decision MUCH tougher about HD Tivo/DirecTV, stand-alone Tivo and digital cable (the TV service I have now), or HD cable with their DVR - for just $10-15/mo. more.
     
  10. Stephen Tu

    Stephen Tu Screenwriter

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    And you believed him without him giving you a rational explanation? You can't get OTA without some sort of antenna. Whether you can get by with an indoor one I don't know. Probably not in Piedmont. Basically if you can pull in analog UHF decently without too much ghosting on an antenna, it should work fine with digital. You don't need an antenna if you are willing to get satellite HD only. You can get CBS & NBC LA feeds vs. sat, since the SF affiliates are network owned & operated & will grant a waiver. All of the other local networks require antenna. Late next year it's possible that they will get HD local-in-local service up for us, after they get new satellites up, then you also would not need antenna.

    As a general rule, information taken from random installers & electronics salesmen should be considered random & not necessarily be true. Internet information is also somewhat unreliable, but it is better because if someone posts blatantly false information someone who knows better will usually come along to refute it.

    I am going with the Comcast DVR for awhile. I'll give them a little time to add Fox/WB/UPN. I'm also unlucky in that I am in one of the 550 Mhz bandwidth areas, so I don't get the other channels they offer like Fox sports net, INHD, DSCV. It's very annoying hearing those Comcast radio ads talking about their supposed superiority over satellite because of local HD channels & local HD sports, when it's all a massive distortion. One gets many more local HD channels with a sat/OTA receiver if you put up an antenna, at least currently.

    If DirecTV can drop the price a few hundred (which I think is inevitable considering the cable competition) & get local-in-local going (so I can save the $250 or so to hire an antenna installer, I'm not good with those things), I'll probably switch so I can get all the locals.
     
  11. Allen Hirsch

    Allen Hirsch Supporting Actor

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    I've ordered HD cable w/ the new HD DVR. They're supposed to install next Wed. - we'll see how that DVR interface is, and the picture quality and number of HD channels Comcast provides, before I plunk down big bucks for the HD Tivo/DirecTV.
     

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