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New Pvr W/ Analogue Tuner?


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#1 catieb

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 04:51 PM

Hi,

My 5 year old Tevion PVR/DVD is giving up the ghost, so I'm in the market for a replacement unit. For price, I'm thinking of getting just a DVD player (to play what I record on the DVD-RW in the other room) and a new PVR.

Here's the thing -- we only have rabbit ears here, and the signal strength can be a bit iffy, especially in bad weather. So ideally I'd be looking for a PVR that has an analogue tuner, either as the sole tuner or as a backup. I have a HD STB that I would like to be able to use with the PVR via composite.

Are any PVRs being made still that have analogue? Price IS a concern, but I don't want to go second-hand or refurbished.

Alternatively, if no analogue-tuner PVRs are being made any more, can anyone recommend a HD PVR that isn't hyper-sensitive to signal fluctuations and weakish strengths?

Thanks!

#2 pgdownload

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 07:02 PM

Hi,

No, there are no PVRs being made with analogue tuners anymore. Analogue will not be transmitted in most of Australia in a year or so.

Unless you want to spend $500+ you can't plug a STB into a PVR.

PVRs aren't "hyper sensitive" but they all have a point where reception will simply drop out. For example 70%. At 71% you get perfect reception. At 69% you get nothing. Analogue on the other hand simply degrades. So at 71% you get 71%. At 69% you get 69%. Its a trade off.

What price are you considering? Some people feel $500 is cheap others feel $100 is expensive.

Regards

Peter Gillespie

#3 catieb

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 08:20 PM

I can plug my STB into my current PVR, and it was nowhere near $500 and that was years ago. So long as the PVR has composite my STB can be plugged in ... though if the new PVR is going to have its own digital tuner, then that's kind of moot.

I'm hoping to spend around $300 for new, not secondhand or refurbished. Not fussed if it's Freeview or not, my current one isn't and it was just fine until the power supply became temperamental, but I'm not philosophically opposed to Freeview either. Doesn't need to be able to record 2 shows at once or have series-link, but should be able to be set to record with different qualities, so that I can jiggle how much I fit onto the disk (which ideally would be 500GB). I don't have any speakers apart from those built into the LG, so it doesn't need to do anything surround-soundy. I don't have anything that would need HDMI connections.

Someone recommended the Panasonic DMR-XW385 to me, but the reviews I read had it dropping out to black pretty quickly on a poor signal and only recording FTA in DV mode, and it also has heaps of features I'll never use -- don't need it to connect to the internet or to anything other than the LG TV it'll be attached to. I don't have pay TV, and don't plan on exporting anything from the PVR to the computer.

The main thing is it'd be nice if it came from a brand with a halfway decent reputation. I lucked out with my Tevion -- heaps of other people who bought that exact model had problems within weeks, which was made worse when the contracted repairer (Pebble) also went bust. I'm hoping not to have to keep replacing units all the time. I'm not old, but do come from a VCR heritage -- by the end they were cheap as chips, lasted for years, and when they died, they didn't take all your recordings with them - you just went out, got a new VCR, and you were done. Worst case you'd lose the cassette that was in the machine at the time.

My current PVR cost $299 5 years ago, already needs replacing, and has a bunch of good shows locked in it that I haven't had the chance to see yet. Trying to get it repaired well enough to watch them before I retire the unit, and feeling a bit annoyed with the path that 'progress' is forcing me onto.

I'm not 102 years old, and I'm not anti-technology, despite how I may sound. It's just that I keep finding PVRs with all these bells and whistles that I don't need, but that won't do what I _do_ need.

Any product recommendations would be very gratefully received.

Yours in exasperation,

Catie B.

#4 alanh

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 02:16 AM

A better idea is to improve the digital signal.
Look at Get the best reception post in your Geographic forum. Within the post for your area is a link to indoor antennas. I suggest you read it.

AlanH

#5 prl

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 07:27 AM

... I'm not philosophically opposed to Freeview either.

I'm not philosophically opposed to Freeview, either. But I am opposed to the limitations they place on recorders that bear their logo.

Doesn't need to be able to record 2 shows at once or have series-link, but should be able to be set to record with different qualities, so that I can jiggle how much I fit onto the disk (which ideally would be 500GB). ...

You'll typically only find the ability to recode recordings to a more compact form (with possible loss of picture quality) in DVD recorders. I can't think of any PVRs that have that capability. They normally record the broadcast program stream as-is. If 500GB is too small, there are PVRs around with 1TB.

#6 catieb

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 07:51 AM

Okay, I guess we'll have to forget the whole SP/EP/LP etc recording thing then -- only ever had DVD recorders and PVR/DVD combo units, so didn't know it didn't apply to PVR-onlys ... seems a bit of an oversight there on the part of PVR manufacturers, but whatever, maybe it's just cheaper for them to add USB-export functionality or they're trying to push us to buy bigger HDD units ...

Not sure I really want to start looking at buying new indoor antennas ... my current setup works fine for most recordings, digital and otherwise, and so I would hope it would work well enough with a new machine. I've tried powered indoor antennas in the past and actually found them WORSE than my current bare-bones rabbit ears, probably in part because they tend to require a flat surface to sit on, but modern TVs are thin and don't provide a surface to sit them on!

I guess what I'm interested in is the barest of bare bones PVRs, again, not because I personally can't handle complicated, just because I have no need for the bells and whistles and don't want to pay for features I can't make use of (e.g. HDMI, pay tv, wifi etc etc). But something with a decent reputation would be nice, that isn't likely to drop dead in a year or two, and if it does, that the parent company will be more likely to be around for support and repairs. Prefer non-Freeview, but am flexible on that.

Does that help?

#7 pgdownload

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 08:04 AM

Hi,

You're confusing terms. What you're asking for is a DVDR (Digital DVD Recorder) not a PVR.

PVRs work by recording the exact broadcast signal which means about 2Gb an hour for SD, more for HD. A few (expensive) models have analogue inputs that would allow recording from an external source (e.g. Foxtel or another HD STB) but they'd be out of your price range as mentioned.

Only DVDRs allow / require you to set compression levels for recordings. Newer digital DVDRs now record to the Harddrive the full signal (i.e. no compression). Its only when you go to burn a DVD that you then set a compression amount.

In either device, plugging an external STB in is a clumsy way to record TV (as you have to make sure both machines are set properly) - setting timers is awkward. Much simpler if the device has a built in digital tuner so that you can just set a single timer on that and you're sorted.

I assume your HD STB gets acceptable reception in your house? FWIW if you do end up getting a DVDR to plug into your STB then the DVDR doesn't need any reception abilities (so get any model you like) . But also there's really no way to know if a particular box you buy is going to perform well or not at all at your location. Even boxes from the same model vary. You should try find a place you can mention you have poor reception and you want a week to test any new box and if needed return it for a refund (in the packaging).

As mentioned, is it possible to fit an external antenna yourself?

FWIW I was a fond VCR user. I was time shifting everything I watched from early in the 90s. :)

Regards

Peter Gillespie

PS FWIW A Tassie member in a poor reception area has spoken highly of the Magic MTV4000. ($300)

Edited by pgdownload, 21 March 2012 - 08:11 AM.


#8 catieb

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 11:07 AM

Actually, I don't THINK want a DVD recorder??? I already have one of those, something that records just to DVDs only with no HDD...?

What I'm looking for now is something that records to a hard disk, which is what I thought a PVR was? The unit I'm replacing was a combo DVD recorder / hard disk recorder (the old Tevion TDR251HD -- ahh, she was a beauty!). Actually it only had 250 gig of disk space, but because I could set it to record in SP/LP/EP modes even when recording to disk (which is mostly what I used it for), it was more than enough.

A few weeks ago I was looking for a combo unit similar to this to replace it, because I take DVDs I've recorded in the other room, pop them in the Tevion, copy them to Hard Disk, and then I can chop off the extraneous beginning and end stuff and just have the show that I want to watch -- it means that the bar on the screen displays exactly how long the show is and where we are at with watching it, which is useful.

But those kinds of combo units seem to have rocketed up in price in the past few years, so I was thinking of just getting a DVD player, and separate to that getting a PVR, and connecting them both to the LG television.

Where I definitely DID get confused was thinking that you could still have the SP/EP/LP functionality with a PVR unit that doesn't have a DVD component.

Just looked up the Magic unit you mentioned and it seems to have much that I don't need, but also pretty much everything that I do, the reviews DO seem good overall, and the price is right, so I might give that a go -- thanks!

#9 prl

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 01:31 PM

Actually, I don't THINK want a DVD recorder??? I already have one of those, something that records just to DVDs only with no HDD...?

Your initial requirement to be able to compress recordings to a smaller size is one only met by DVDRs. Most (all?) DVDRs these days have a HDD.

What I'm looking for now is something that records to a hard disk, which is what I thought a PVR was? ...

Both PVRs and HDD DVDRs (such as the Tevion you used to have) can record to HD. The main non-obvious difference is the inability of PVRs to compress recordings.

A few weeks ago I was looking for a combo unit similar to this to replace it, because I take DVDs I've recorded in the other room, pop them in the Tevion, copy them to Hard Disk, and then I can chop off the extraneous beginning and end stuff and just have the show that I want to watch -- it means that the bar on the screen displays exactly how long the show is and where we are at with watching it, which is useful.
...

Many non-Freeview PVRs allow you to copy to either a USB HDD or across the net to a PC (or both). Freeview badging means that you won't be able to do this. Another upside of this is that HD recordings remain HD, which they won't if you copy to a DVD on a DVDR.

Just looked up the Magic unit you mentioned and it seems to have much that I don't need, but also pretty much everything that I do, the reviews DO seem good overall, and the price is right, so I might give that a go -- thanks!

I'm not sure what it does that you think is in excess. Dual tuners perhaps? My setup has a total of four :) Being able to copy more directly to a PC via a USB HDD or over the net replaces what I think is a cumbersome way of transferring recordings.

#10 pgdownload

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 01:55 PM

Actually, I don't THINK want a DVD recorder?

You're initial posts had several conflicting requirements and terms. Before we can make suggestions we need to be sure we're talking about the same things (for example most DVDRs have hard drives and digital tuners these days). You might also find a few solutions you we're aware of.

But I think we've worked through to an acceptable solution :). Note that the Magic (and most PVRs) have resume play so you can always bounce back to where you left off without issue. With a PVR you won't need your HD STB

As a last thought, the analogue network will be turned off in the next year or two. At that time your current main DVDR will become much less useful. It might be a better option to consider the full PVR/DVDR hybrid like the (brand name) Panasonic DMR-XW385 as recommended. You could then move the current one into the spare room. You then wouldn't need to buy a separate DVD Player?

So instead of spending $350 you would be spending $450 - JBHiFi

Regards

Peter Gillespie

Edited by pgdownload, 21 March 2012 - 01:56 PM.


#11 Baird

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 02:42 PM

You're initial posts had several conflicting requirements and terms. Before we can make suggestions we need to be sure we're talking about the same things (for example most DVDRs have hard drives and digital tuners these days). You might also find a few solutions you we're aware of.


As a last thought, the analogue network will be turned off in the next year or two. At that time your current main DVDR will become much less useful. It might be a better option to consider the full PVR/DVDR hybrid like the (brand name) Panasonic DMR-XW385 as recommended. You could then move the current one into the spare room. You then wouldn't need to buy a separate DVD Player?

So instead of spending $350 you would be spending $450 - JBHiFi

Regards

Peter Gillespie


May I point out to catieb (I know you know, Peter) that the 385 (or any Panasonic AFAIK) will not allow transferring of files to or from a USB, though you can play them and that (at least on my 380, the last to allow SP/LP/DR/XP etc) you can only burn a copy of a file from the HDD To DVD. So that if I want to keep all my files for viewing on the one HDD I have to (from a previous post)

"I have a Panasonic XW380. From time to time I have AVI files of TV programmes on my PC and in order to watch them on my Sony TV via the 380 and because we like to watch & control everything from the HDD I deal with them thus :-

1) Use Nero to burn to a DVD
2) Put the DVD into the 380 and copy the entire contents (sometimes 3 or 4 programmes) to the HDD of 380. Usually done overnight so it doesn’t get in the way.
3) Once completed Name the group on the 380
4) Then go about dividing into titles using Time Slip & Divide
5) Then Release Grouping
6) Then individually edit/re-name the individual titles of the Group.

Now this sounds a lot of mucking around & yes it is a bit but a lot of the time consuming stuff i.e. Burn with Nero & Copying to HDD is done in down time & is set & forget, however it would be great if there was some quicker way which would copy to HDD and also automatically add the programme names to the HDD without me having to put in by hand.

I can put up with things as they are but if I’ve missed some obvious easier way to do things, I like someone to point me in the right direction.

I don’t particularly want to buy anymore equipment not because I’m a tightwad but what with Foxtel and everything we’ve got enough. When things are all on the HDD it just makes life so much easier. I’ll just add that apart from the inability to copy from USB & the lack of a Mute button the remote, I am very, very happy with the 380.

Thanks in advance for any help. Baird

(The query was answered but I'm stuck as I am)

Edited by Baird, 21 March 2012 - 02:43 PM.


#12 prl

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 02:45 PM

...
As a last thought, the analogue network will be turned off in the next year or two.
...

Better make that "the analog network is already being switched off". In much of regional SA, Vic and Qld it's already been switched off. A big chunk of regional NSW and the ACT is next to go on 5 June. Canberra will be the first state/territory capital to lose analog. The rest of regional NSW will go in the second half of 2012.

All analog TV is due to be switched off by the end of 2013. Hobart, Perth & Brisbane/Gold Coast are next in the first half of 2013. Sydney/Gosford, Melbourne and Adelaide, along with all the remaining regional/remote analog transmitters will go in the second half of 2013.

#13 catieb

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 04:18 PM

You're initial posts had several conflicting requirements and terms. Before we can make suggestions we need to be sure we're talking about the same things (for example most DVDRs have hard drives and digital tuners these days). You might also find a few solutions you we're aware of.


Sorry if I was confusing. I had thought I was being clear when I said I was looking for a PVR and a separate DVD player, but you're right, I didn't know that PVRs don't have the ability to record in differing qualities to maximise disk space, so when I said I wanted that, everyone who DOES know that would immediately have mentally switched to "DVDR", so I can see where it was kind of confusing :)

But I think we've worked through to an acceptable solution :). Note that the Magic (and most PVRs) have resume play so you can always bounce back to where you left off without issue. With a PVR you won't need your HD STB


That'll be much easier than the Tevion. I had to mark the start and end of commercial breaks as a way of bookmarking where I was up to in a playback -- this sounds much easier.

As a last thought, the analogue network will be turned off in the next year or two. At that time your current main DVDR will become much less useful. It might be a better option to consider the full PVR/DVDR hybrid like the (brand name) Panasonic DMR-XW385 as recommended. You could then move the current one into the spare room. You then wouldn't need to buy a separate DVD Player?

So instead of spending $350 you would be spending $450 - JBHiFi


But I'll have this spare HD STB lying around, so just as easy (and cheaper) to plug the soon-to-be-spare STB into the DVD disk-only recorder, and to get PVR and DVD units for the main setup in the living room.

The guy who is repairing the Tevion now says he prefers separate DVD and PVR setups because "there are fewer parts to go wrong". He also said he'd seen the Conia version of my Tevion in for repairs before, and their main problem was overheating -- they have no fans, relatively poor ventilation, and get VERY hot. But he didn't want to recommend a brand for me to look at getting. That's where Aldi stuff is actually pretty good - you get 30 days to see if it works for you, and if it doesn't, you can just hand it back, no questions.

The only $299 Magics I've been able to find today have been online, don't know I'll get that level of flexibility with an online merchant though ....

#14 M'bozo

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 04:23 PM

Are any PVRs being made still that have analogue?

Not that I'm aware of.

I installed a Sony RDR-HDC300 this morning.

Edit: This has analogue & HD/SD tuning. Required as part of an analogue distribution legacy system

It's not a current model, but some Dick Smith stores may still have one in stock (that's where this l'il sucker came from).

Edited by M'bozo, 21 March 2012 - 06:54 PM.


#15 Paul55

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 04:45 PM

because I have no need for the bells and whistles and don't want to pay for features I can't make use of (e.g. HDMI, pay tv, wifi etc etc).


A decent PVR should last at least 5 years - probably longer. Buying for your current needs could prove to be shortsighted. Your next TV will undoubtedly have multiple HDMI inputs and this is the simplest and most efficient connection system available. You will kick yourself if your PVR doesn't support HDMI.
Likewise for wifi and dual tuners. The cost of adding these to a product at the design phase makes them quite cost effective. I bet that 10 years ago you didn't imagine how much you would use and rely on the internet.

#16 catieb

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 05:00 PM

I'm not sure what it does that you think is in excess. Dual tuners perhaps? My setup has a total of four :) Being able to copy more directly to a PC via a USB HDD or over the net replaces what I think is a cumbersome way of transferring recordings.


"Excess" for me with the Magic is: HDMI, wireless capability, and the ability to export recordings via USB. These features all sound lovely, just not anything I personally will be using. Probably won't be upgrading firmware any time soon either, unless there's significant reason for me to do so. Certainly if I go the Magic I won't be upgrading it to turn it into a Freeview machine ... the more I read about that, the less interested I am in having it!

#17 catieb

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 05:16 PM

A decent PVR should last at least 5 years - probably longer. Buying for your current needs could prove to be shortsighted. Your next TV will undoubtedly have multiple HDMI inputs and this is the simplest and most efficient connection system available. You will kick yourself if your PVR doesn't support HDMI.
Likewise for wifi and dual tuners. The cost of adding these to a product at the design phase makes them quite cost effective. I bet that 10 years ago you didn't imagine how much you would use and rely on the internet.


I don't mind it having HDMI, just not critical for now. Am hoping the current TV will last longer than 5 years -- we used to get over 20 out of our old CRTs -- so am not planning to make any major changes to the current setup, and wouldn't be making ANY if the Tevion hadn't become so temperamental in the past month or so ...

For the record, 10 years ago I was already on dial up internet, now I'm on Virgin Broadband@Home which routinely operates at dial-up speeds, so not much has changed for me in that regard, but I do concede your point :D

#18 prl

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 05:18 PM

"Excess" for me with the Magic is: HDMI, wireless capability, and the ability to export recordings via USB. These features all sound lovely, just not anything I personally will be using. ...

You'd probably be hard pressed to find any HD capable receiver that doesn't have HDMI. The next TV you get will probably have it, too, unless it's been made obsolete by then. The ability to export recordings by either USB HDD or network is pretty common, too, thought by no means as common as HDMI out.

If you don't mind getting a refurbished unit, IceTV is currently selling refurbished Topfield 2400s for $350. Includes 12 month warranty, and, wait for it ... a HDMI cable :)

Edit: changed link from IceTV forum announcement to IceTV store entry.

Edited by prl, 21 March 2012 - 05:21 PM.


#19 nbound

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 07:16 PM

The guy who is repairing the Tevion now says he prefers separate DVD and PVR setups because "there are fewer parts to go wrong".

By running separate units there are MORE components to go wrong, as you now have 2 of everything. When they are housed in the same unit alot of the componentry can be shared.

A decent PVR should last at least 5 years - probably longer. Buying for your current needs could prove to be shortsighted. Your next TV will undoubtedly have multiple HDMI inputs and this is the simplest and most efficient connection system available. You will kick yourself if your PVR doesn't support HDMI.
Likewise for wifi and dual tuners. The cost of adding these to a product at the design phase makes them quite cost effective. I bet that 10 years ago you didn't imagine how much you would use and rely on the internet.

I agree with this bloke. Especially in regards to HDMI, new tvs these days may only have one AV (composite) input, and also 1 component input if you are lucky, all the other inputs are HDMI. It wont be too much longer until AV sockets are a thing of the past, and to use a device that needs them will require a composite or component to HDMI converter (extra $$$)

#20 pgdownload

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 07:56 PM

But I'll have this spare HD STB lying around, so just as easy (and cheaper) to plug the soon-to-be-spare STB into the DVD disk-only recorder, and to get PVR and DVD units for the main setup in the living room.

Cheaper yes, but just as easy? Recording from a STB to a DVDR is doable, but clumsy. Presumably you've tried this setup and found it works for you?

The guy who is repairing the Tevion now says he prefers separate DVD and PVR setups because "there are fewer parts to go wrong".

Definitely a consideration. Would never recommend a TV with a built in TV for the same reason. If you have a DVDR already then at any stage you can plug it into a PVR and 'transfer' recordings off to it for burning. Clumsy but doable. Works if its just a few favourites, but if you really want to make a lot of DVDs then a combo PVR/DVD provides a lot of convenience. But end of the day DVDs are just about as obsolete as a VCR. Slow, prone to damage, limited capacity, etc. On the plus side people do like holding something in their hands (like a VCR tape :)) If you're setting up home entertainment then a system that saves files to a harddrive (portable or transferable) is much more flexible.

The Aldi deal is very good. Costco have a similar/better deal if that's an option. The online merchants will allow you to return the goods for a store credit but not a refund.

Regards

Peter Gillespie

#21 pgdownload

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 08:00 PM

By running separate units there are MORE components to go wrong, as you now have 2 of everything.

That's correct, however the drawback of combo units isn't really the chance of failure (IMO its probably about the same for all machines) but more that if on part of a combo unit fails it makes the whole unit unusable.

Regards

Peter Gillespie

#22 prl

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 08:02 PM

... Would never recommend a TV with a built in TV for the same reason. ...

:shocked:

TV with built-in PVR perhaps?

Personally, I think I'd now prefer a TV without any tuner. Any tuner needs a HDD to go along with it.

#23 nbound

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 08:09 PM

That's correct, however the drawback of combo units isn't really the chance of failure (IMO its probably about the same for all machines) but more that if on part of a combo unit fails it makes the whole unit unusable.

Regards

Peter Gillespie


Yeah the chance of failure is relatively similar for all machines, which is why having two machines doubles your chances. The main issues in combo units are power supply issues (which in this case chances are halved by shared housing), and losing one of the drives (which in almost all units leaves the other drive operational - leaving you no worse off than if you had 2 separate units anyway).

#24 catieb

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 08:14 PM

Well, probably not 'just as easy' (STB + DVDR disk recording), but that's what I've been doing for the past 3 years now, so it's what I'm used to anyway. I don't keep things on DVDs, I just record FTA shows onto them so I can bring them into the living room to watch, hence I use -RWs and not -Rs. Don't keep things on the HDD either, just watch-and-erase.

And ..... okay okay, so I'm getting the impression that I'm going to have to bite the bullet and accept that HDMI will be a part of my future, if not my present :) Not quite sure what it offers me that composite doesn't, but hey, maybe it'll solve that 'sound level on the tv needs to be almost maxed when playing back files' problem I've been having with the Tevion :) Just checked, and the LG LCD tv that we're using actually has two HDMI inputs at the back, as well as a bunch of other connections that I've never needed to use, so maybe my HDMI future is closer than I thought.

The Topfield looks nice, but it's $70 more expensive than the Magic and it's refurbished, not new -- is the Topfield really THAT much better/more reliable that it would outweigh these concerns?

Edited by catieb, 21 March 2012 - 08:16 PM.


#25 catieb

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 08:25 PM

On, and I'm looking at getting two machines because with my hybrid unit, it was the power supply which failed, which means I lost my HDD recorder AND my DVD player, so while I totally get where you're coming from 'nbound', right now the 2-machine option is looking pretty good to me.

If they had been 2 separate machines, then either I'd still have a PVR or I'd still have a DVD recorder/player, and sure, one or the other quite easily could have failed long before this, but it wouldn't have left me in the lurch as much as the single-machine option has done.