Forums: Television Hardware: Are there any standalone DVR Boxes you can get WITHOUT a monthly charge?

 
  • Avatar of dhowerter

    dhowerter

    [1]Oct 7, 2007
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    Perhaps someone here can help me

    Are there any DVR (Digital Video Recorder) Boxes to record on you can buy WITHOUT a monthly (or yearly) charge? (or at least a very cheap monthly charge, like a couple of dollars a month)

    In other words, a box (**New OR Used**) that would have audio / video inputs and outputs and let you record shows/movies on a Hard drive / other memory inside the box and play any of it back at will on a TV (NOT a PC -
    but uses no video tapes or discs ).

    And, of course it would only be a *one-time* purchase; you would just buy the box and that is it, ***NO monthly service charge***. (or a very cheap one)



    I already have digital cable with a program guide, so I just need something to record on , kind of like a digital VCR. (just bare bones recording - does not need a lot of frilly options

    My cable company does offer a DVR Box (which would do what I want) but it costs an extra $25 a month and I definitely do NOT want any kind of box with an additional monthly charge over what I'm paying now :-( (unless like I said, the monthly charge is very cheap like a few dollars a month)



    Does anything like what I want exist? (set top box that lets you record / no tapes or discs / no or *very* cheap *monthly* charges)

    If so, what exactly is it called (brand and product name) and if you have any clue what it costs (new or if possible, used), that would be nice too Any other info / product page links on it you could provide would also be appreciated.



    If they do sell DVR Boxes completely separately (no services or DVD Burner parts , what are they called technically? Just "DVR Box"?

    For example, if I were to go to Best Buy's homepage and use the Search blank, what terms would I enter to find one of these DVR Boxes?

    .

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  • Avatar of jekyll

    jekyll

    [2]Oct 9, 2007
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    There are digital recorders out there, but not for free with what is generally accepted to be typical DVR functionality, such as 'season passes' to TV shows.Compiling than information and sending it to a DVR/having a DVR access itcosts money, so if you want that you have to pay.
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    danharr

    [3]Oct 9, 2007
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    A couple of years ago I remember dvd-r's some of which had harddrives for storage and had they're own guide listings for recordings. I also remember there being no charge for these primitive boxes and their guides so you may want to go to amazon.com and best buy and start looking at the dvd recorders.
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  • Avatar of dhowerter

    dhowerter

    [4]Oct 11, 2007
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    jekyll wrote:
    There are digital recorders out there, but not for free with what is generally accepted to be typical DVR functionality, such as 'season passes' to TV shows.Compiling than information and sending it to a DVR/having a DVR access itcosts money, so if you want that you have to pay.

    Well, you see, all I need is the basic ability to record programs onto a DVR's hard drive with timer settings I create manually, just like a VCR. Anything extra is unnecessary for me SO I don't need season passes, other features like that and I already have a program guide provided by my digital cable provider.

    So, would a standalone DVR Box do what I want (no monthly service)?

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  • Avatar of EJamison

    EJamison

    [5]Oct 12, 2007
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    You would think that if they were around it would be the simplest thing in the world to find one but it seems like they're hiding. The idea of what you want is so straightforward. It's simply a VCR that records on a hard disk instead of tapes.

    My first TiVo grudgingly allowed me to not use the service and let me program it manually. I had to connect every once in a while to get the clock reset.

    If you don't realize it already, a DVR like you want will cost a lot more than a TiVo. TiVo sells the boxes cheap in order to make it back on the service. I'm not sure but I suppose the breakeven point is about 3 years. That is, you are getting in cheaper for 3 years but after that you would otherwise own the box and it would be free as long as it still worked.

    I have 4 TiVos but I hate the way it feel that TiVo is cheating me. It seems like I'm already paying for the information with one box and I don't think I should have to pay for it with each box. I would feel better if TiVo would make the kind of enhancements I want but everytime they send a new update I almost always find it useless. The exception was when they allowed it to retrieve deleted programs, although I think there are still flaws in that procedure also.

    So I have a real love/hate relationship with TiVo.
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  • Avatar of sfaberge

    sfaberge

    [6]Oct 13, 2007
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    Umm, I have no idea how it works in America but there are hundreds of stand-alone DVRs in the UK that don't need monthly charges. They're basically replacements for the VCR and will take video from any source including paid channels. They range from 50GB to 500GB HD. I guess you could try and import one but I have no garuntee it would work for you.
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  • Avatar of dhowerter

    dhowerter

    [7]Oct 13, 2007
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    EJamison wrote:
    You would think that if they were around it would be the simplest thing in the world to find one but it seems like they're hiding. The idea of what you want is so straightforward. It's simply a VCR that records on a hard disk instead of tapes.

    My first TiVo grudgingly allowed me to not use the service and let me program it manually. I had to connect every once in a while to get the clock reset.

    If you don't realize it already, a DVR like you want will cost a lot more than a TiVo. TiVo sells the boxes cheap in order to make it back on the service. I'm not sure but I suppose the breakeven point is about 3 years. That is, you are getting in cheaper for 3 years but after that you would otherwise own the box and it would be free as long as it still worked.

    EJamison / ALL -

    Yep that is what I want alright (A DVR that recrods like a VCR on a hard drive)

    About your first Tivo, which let you record without the service and let you program it manually: You say you had to connect it every once in a while to reset the clock.

    Firstly, connect it to WHAT? (phone jack?)

    Secondly, can't you just manually set the clock like on a VCR? (there must be a way)

    Thirdly, when you did reconnect your Tivo to reset the clock, did Tivo / the connectiontry to lock up your box in any way? (so you would be forced to buy their monthly service)

    And yeah, I'm hoping any DVR Box I get will last more than 3 years SO for me it would be cheaper to not get the service. (I already have a program guide with my Digital Cable anyway).

    .

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  • Avatar of dhowerter

    dhowerter

    [8]Oct 13, 2007
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    sfaberge wrote:
    Umm, I have no idea how it works in America but there are hundreds of stand-alone DVRs in the UK that don't need monthly charges. They're basically replacements for the VCR and will take video from any source including paid channels. They range from 50GB to 500GB HD. I guess you could try and import one but I have no garuntee it would work for you.

    Hnmm OK, 3 questions:

    1. Would they (since they come from the UK) be able to record / play back NTSC programming? (the UK uses PAL right?)

    I'm in the USA btw.

    2. Could you name some good brands of these types of units? (specific models if possible, the cheapest ones tho

    3. Any clue where to buy what you speak of? (online,besides Ebay of course)

    .

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  • Avatar of EJamison

    EJamison

    [9]Oct 14, 2007
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    dhowerter wrote:
    Yep that is what I want alright (A DVR that recrods like a VCR on a hard drive)

    About your first Tivo, which let you record without the service and let you program it manually: You say you had to connect it every once in a while to reset the clock.

    Firstly, connect it to WHAT? (phone jack?)

    Secondly, can't you just manually set the clock like on a VCR? (there must be a way)

    Thirdly, when you did reconnect your Tivo to reset the clock, did Tivo / the connectiontry to lock up your box in any way? (so you would be forced to buy their monthly service)

    And yeah, I'm hoping any DVR Box I get will last more than 3 years SO for me it would be cheaper to not get the service. (I already have a program guide with my Digital Cable anyway).

    There was no way to set the clock unless you knew how to hack into it. There were postings on how to do it but I never tried to use them. I had to dial in and connect to the service and it would say my account wasn't valid but it would still update the clock. I was risking that they might lock up the box but they didn't. The machine eventually started acting unstable but I don't think they disabled it. It was on extended warranty and Best Buy exchanged it for a new machine but I had to get the service on that one.
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  • Avatar of sfaberge

    sfaberge

    [10]Oct 14, 2007
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    1. If you use HD then it would definately work. NTSC is used in other countries other than the UK and I think reading the features of each DVR should tell you.

    2. Most of them have an internet download TV Guide that works quite well in America. You don't have to use this but it's quite useful. It's similar to Windows Media Centre if you've ever seen that. It's free too. If you don't want to use this you can set a timer like with VCRs. Most DVRs have a DVD recorder attached.

    The one I have is the Panasonic DMR-EX87EB-K which has a 250GB hard drive and is HD. The cheaper one is DMR-EX77EB-S which has a 160GB hard drive. The Panasonic DMR-EH65 will work on both NTSC and PAL so I'm only assuming that the rest of their range will.

    I'm not familiar with other brands. I actually use my PC for it.

    3. I have no idea where you would buy one in America. I know Amazon has a couple but other than that I don't know
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  • Avatar of 123home123

    123home123

    [11]Oct 15, 2007
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    I only pay about $9.95/month for my Comcast DVR (not including digital cable costs, which I would have signed up for anyway). The Comcast units aren't the greatest in the world, but it's relatively cheap.

    If you go the DVD-recordable route, I think DVD-RAM is supposed to be the best format for multiple recordings and re-recordings. It's true that DVDs hold much less data than even the smallest modern hard drives, however.

    In the U.S., I would check out BestBuy.com, NewEgg.com and Amazon.com to start with.
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    sfaberge

    [12]Oct 15, 2007
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    It's quite difficult to find a DVR that doesn't need need a subscription that doesn't have a DVD RW drive, I have no idea why but that's just what I've found
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  • Avatar of EJamison

    EJamison

    [13]Oct 16, 2007
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    sfaberge wrote:
    It's quite difficult to find a DVR that doesn't need need a subscription that doesn't have a DVD RW drive, I have no idea why but that's just what I've found
    I think that's the key. It's thought of as a DVD recorder with a hard disk, not a DVR, even though it effectively is a DVR.
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  • Avatar of dhowerter

    dhowerter

    [14]Oct 16, 2007
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    sfaberge wrote:
    1. If you use HD then it would definately work. NTSC is used in other countries other than the UK and I think reading the features of each DVR should tell you.

    2. Most of them have an internet download TV Guide that works quite well in America. You don't have to use this but it's quite useful. It's similar to Windows Media Centre if you've ever seen that. It's free too. If you don't want to use this you can set a timer like with VCRs. Most DVRs have a DVD recorder attached. The one I have is the Panasonic DMR-EX87EB-K which has a 250GB hard drive and is HD. The cheaper one is DMR-EX77EB-S which has a 160GB hard drive. The Panasonic DMR-EH65 will work on both NTSC and PAL so I'm only assuming that the rest of their range will. I'm not familiar with other brands. I actually use my PC for it.

    3. I have no idea where you would buy one in America. I know Amazon has a couple but other than that I don't know

    sfaberge / ALL -

    Hmm well no I only have a Standard Definition TV (NTSC) and no intention to get a hdtv anytime soon ,so would a uk DVR Box work in that case?

    BTW when you said the UK was full of what I wanted (the DVR Box) I thought you meant Standalone DVR boxes (NO DVD Drive / burner) instead of a combo DVR / DVD Recorder.

    I think at this point I want to go for a standalone DVR Box (no dvd recorder part) because I don't really need the dvd recorder part and I'm trying to save $$ So would there be a lot of THOSE out in the UK? :-)

    BTW is the DMR-EX77 (the cheaper one) a stadnalone DVR box or a DVR / DVD Recorder combo?

    .

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  • Avatar of sfaberge

    sfaberge

    [15]Oct 17, 2007
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    I think there's one that Microsoft and LG released which is basically a Windows Media Centre PC but with only the Media bit. I'm not sure that's a good option though.

    If you don't want to get one with a DVD drive then there's no point in importing from the UK because the import price would be more than what a DVD drive part of the DVR is worth. I think all of the ones apart from Sky + and TiVo (basically the paid ones) have a DVD burner built in.

    The main problem is the monthly subscription you don't want to pay so why not buy something with TiVo Basic already on it, that way you get a standalone DVR without the monthly fee.

    I only know of a few though because I'm not in the US:
    Toshiba RS-TX20 160GB TiVo Basic 2 (Has a DVD drive but is affordable)
    Pioneer 810H-S 80GB TiVo Basic (Again has a DVD drive but is very cheap)
    Philips HDR212 20 Hours (No DVD burner)****

    **** I'm not sure if you're aware of this but with some devices like the Philips one, they come with TiVo but if you don't pay the subscription you're left with basic functions like recording by time which is basically what you're after.

    How much are you looking to spend? OR how big a hard drive are you after?
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  • Avatar of EJamison

    EJamison

    [16]Oct 17, 2007
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    I think your best bet it to ignore the DVD drive (that is buy it but pretend it's not there). If I had to guess, and it's only a guess, it's probably only adding $30 to the price. If you find a machine that does everything you want then judge it by the price and pretend the DVD drive isn't there and if it seems like a good deal then buy it.

    The only caveat I'd mention is the converstion to digital TV that will occur in 16 months. If you buy now you might have an obsolete machine. It depends if your cable company is planning to downcovert the channels you watch.
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    belial_77

    [17]Oct 19, 2007
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    I know you said "NOT a PC"... but with Windows Media Center PCs and MythTV boxes being nice, easy to use options... I'd say at least check into them... I really want to set-up a MythTV system in my house with a big back-end server that records the shows and a few front-end boxes so I can watch the files anywhere in the house... but I'm broke and lazy, so I guess I'll just use my dual-tuner TV card uin my Vista box for now.
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    dhowerter

    [18]Oct 20, 2007
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    sfaberge wrote:

    The main problem is the monthly subscription you don't want to pay so why not buy something with TiVo Basic already on it, that way you get a standalone DVR without the monthly fee. I only know of a few though because I'm not in the US: Toshiba RS-TX20 160GB TiVo Basic 2 (Has a DVD drive but is affordable) Pioneer 810H-S 80GB TiVo Basic (Again has a DVD drive but is very cheap) Philips HDR212 20 Hours (No DVD burner)****

    **** I'm not sure if you're aware of this but with some devices like the Philips one, they come with TiVo but if you don't pay the subscription you're left with basic functions like recording by time which is basically what you're after. How much are you looking to spend? OR how big a hard drive are you after?

    Hmm now those sounds interesting... basically, well how low do they go in terms of hours of programming storage ? I don't need a lot, just more than 8 hours would be nice Basically, my main goal here is as friggin cheap as possible with 8 or more hours of Hard Drive programming storage

    BTW, if a unit has Tivo Basic on it, do you have to connect it to a phone line for any reason (eithertemporarily (once)or continually (leaving it hooked up to the phone line all the time) Remember, I don't need a program guide because I have my cable one, BUT well if the machine simply won't record anything without connecting it, it would be hard to use that way ;-D

    .

    Edited on 10/20/2007 4:44pm
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  • Avatar of dhowerter

    dhowerter

    [19]Oct 20, 2007
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    EJamison wrote:
    I think your best bet it to ignore the DVD drive (that is buy it but pretend it's not there). If I had to guess, and it's only a guess, it's probably only adding $30 to the price. If you find a machine that does everything you want then judge it by the price and pretend the DVD drive isn't there and if it seems like a good deal then buy it.

    The only caveat I'd mention is the converstion to digital TV that will occur in 16 months. If you buy now you might have an obsolete machine. It depends if your cable company is planning to downcovert the channels you watch.

    Heh. I see your point, but I was under the impression that the dvd recorder / dvr combination machines were being phased out, thus making them harderand harder to find in the future and presumably more and more expensive over time (when I need the inevitable replacementfor whatever I buy now.

    Heck don't the DVD Recorder / DVR combosgo for at LEAST like $400 and up as of NOW? (om Ebay)

    Obviously if they were cheap as dirt it would be diffferent (I've heardthe standalone dvr boxes go for around $100 or less)

    Oh and as for the conversion, I have digital cable, so no problem

    .

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  • Avatar of EJamison

    EJamison

    [20]Oct 21, 2007
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    dhowerter wrote:
    Heh. I see your point, but I was under the impression that the dvd recorder / dvr combination machines were being phased out, thus making them harderand harder to find in the future and presumably more and more expensive over time (when I need the inevitable replacementfor whatever I buy now.

    Heck don't the DVD Recorder / DVR combosgo for at LEAST like $400 and up as of NOW? (om Ebay)

    Obviously if they were cheap as dirt it would be diffferent (I've heardthe standalone dvr boxes go for around $100 or less)

    Oh and as for the conversion, I have digital cable, so no problem

    Being phased out should not be relevant. (I don't know if it's true, and if it's true I don't know why that would be.) If you expect it to last at least 4 years then you will have to evaluate the technology then and you'd replace it with what's available then without regard for your old machine.

    But yes, they are expensive. I haven't heard of any that are as cheap as you say you've heard. If they are really cheap then I suspect the hard drive is too small for my needs. And I'd have to wonder about their reliability.

    I confused about your statement about digital cable being no problem. Are you looking for a DVR with a digital tuner, or will you have a set-top box where you change the channel? Or an IR link where the DVR changes the channel on the STB?

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