* they omit a "skip" button which allow for quick bypassing commercials.
* you cannot copy files out via USB fpr processing in a PC
* the EPG system used is very slow and not good.
So, when buying a PVR, look for units that are not labelled "FREEVIEW" as they retain the above 3 functions.
You can find a full discussion on this topic at http://en.wikipedia....#Video_Decoding
NOTE TO NUBIES ABOUT POSTING QUESTIONS
Please, please take the time to study this essay before posting any questions to make sure the answer to your query cannot be researched here.
Particular questions about your units are best posted away from this thread in a new one. This thread is designed for basic help/information only.
Advertising for digital recorders can be confusing as the "PVR" term is not being used with "DVR" appearing instead. Basically there are two different types of recorders (1) PVR or DVR (see below) and (2) a DVDR (see below). There are many variations of PVR - most only recording FTA TV, others only pay TV, a few recording both and a few with external inputs like a VCR.... Please read this essay carefully to make sure you understand the choices available.
If you are after information on DVD recorders go straight to section 10 below, BUT research carefully to make sure a DVDR is the best replacement for your VCR. Please read and understand through the section on DVDR vs PVR to make sure a DVDR and not a PVR best meets your needs..
Simplistically the DVDR appears a replacement for the VCR but really is not. Ask yourself the simple question:
Do I tape a program on the VCR, then keep that tape to look at again and again? If the answer is "yes" then you like to archive programs for repeat viewing so a DVDR could be the most suitable replacement
BUT if you merely tape a program to look at it later wiping it as another is recorded, then the VCR is only being used to time shift (look at that program at a more convenient time). In this situation the best digital replacement for your VCR is a PVR (where a computer hard drive effectively replaces tape). Note that with some PVRs you can archive on to an external or computer HDD but that might not be a convenient as the portable DVD burned by a DVDR.
MOST IMPORTANT: Particular brands have been mentioned in this essay but that should not be interpreted as an endorsement of them. Individual needs differ in regards to budget and personal requirements so there is no "best" unit for everyone. So this is background info to help you be able to make more informed choices. There is extensive discussion of particular units for you to research elsewhere in this forum.
As previously stated, there is no "best". This is a personal decision you must make after reading the specifications of units and the comments on them on this DTV site. Obtaining the best PQ from recordings can be a challenge, especially from DVD. Unfortunately a "plug and play" approach does not always give the desired picture quality due to a number of factors:
1. The quality of the broadcast being recorded. It varies quite a lot. See item 3 below for a discussion of Standard & High Definition - HD does not necessarily guarantee better picture quality.
2. The type and cable quality of the link between the video source and the recorder (discussed fully below);
3. The quality of circuitry and software in the PVR or DVDR. Again there are differences but DTV recordings will be superior to analog on a VCR;
4. The type and cable quality of the link between the player and receiver/processor and to the display. Digital links, particularly HDMI, are generally regarded as the easiest and best - detail in chapter 16 below;
5. The synergy between units - responsible for unexpected results in 2 & 4 above. Some components just do not match well and it is often difficult to understand why;
6. The quality and type of the display - these can vary quite a lot despite most new units now being 1080P. Do not be mesmorised by "plasma" or other advertising hype. Look at the picture quality to make your own judgement;
7. Have the player/recorder & display been optimally set up via the menus with the latest firmware installed? This is frequently overlooked and can be challenging with poorly written manuals not explaining the affect of some of the options. Tweaking a display can result in dramatic PQ improvements.
8. The aerial system used for digital reception can be tricky to install and must have enough, but not too much signal input. [See http://www.dba.org.a...asp#PROGRAMMING ] Signal QUALITY is as important as signal STRENGTH and inferior cabling from the aerial or poor quality connectors can drastically affect this. Professional advice from an experienced technician with a meter is essential if you live in a difficult area. Ask around (electronic parts store employees often know who to recommend) to find someone who knows what they are doing.
9. If you are in a difficult reception area (as I am) be aware that not all digital tuners in STBs, PVRs and DVDRs are of good sensitivity. Make sure the retailer or net source will accept your item back and refund the monies if you find the unit has poor reception.
Setting up a system for optimal results can be technically challenging so make sure you understand the fundamentals as outlined below and you will be well on the way to achieving very satisfying home viewing.
1. The Basics
2. Digital v Analogue TV Tuners
3. SD and HD Broadcasts and PVRs
4. Inbuilt Tuners
5. How Does a PVR Compare to a VCR and What Can You Do With a PVR?
6. What You Cannot Do with a PVR
7. How Much Can a Hard Drive Record?
8. So How Big a Hard Drive do I Need?
9. So Which PVR Should I Buy?
10. How Does a DVDR Operate, What Choices Are There With a DVDR, and What to Look For?
11. What Advantage Does a DVDR Have Over a PVR?
12. What Disadvantage Does a DVDR Have Over a PVR especially those with Digital Tuners?
13. Further Notes on DVD recording
14. So Should I Buy a PVR or a DVDR?
15. Time Shifting Austar & Foxtel Programs off Satellite
16. So What Video Input/Output Should I Look For in a PVR or DVDR?
17. What Blank DVDs Should I Use?
18. So How Do I Hook Up my Recorders and Players to my Receiver?
19. SUMMARY: First Decisions When Buying in to Digital TV
20. Truths, half truths and myths surrounding DTV
21. FINAL VERY IMPORTANT WARNING: Read the specifications in advertisements with care
1. The Basics
Aerial connections - the signal coming from the aerial carries both SD and HD on an RF signal (see below). Tuners decode the digital TV from this RF signal. Recorders and most digital items have an "Antenna IN" or "RF IN" and an OUT. A series of items can be linked up in "daisy chain" manner this way. The item only needs to be on standby for the aerial signal to be passed on. The order of connecting items in daisy chain aerial setup is unimportant but usually finishes at the TV as it has no RF out. There is nothing special about the embedded HD signal compared to SD - both SD and HD will still be there in the (RF) loop out aerial connector from any recorder. There is a 5% signal loss from the IN aerial compared to the aerial OUT - unimportant for good signals. Items with two tuners (one possibly analog) might require an aerial RF loop connecting one tuner to the next. If in a borderline reception area, use of a masthead amp is the best option. Otherwise a powered splitter might be ok but exercise care as these can overload the input. Make sure you have good quality aerial cable from the aerial to the recorder. Experiment, but if all fails you might need to seek the help of a competent technician.
Analog signal (A) - one in continuous form (as is needed for detection by our senses) and designated with (A) below.
Digital signal (D) - an analog signal broken up into "1"s and "O"s, transmitted in pulses. Analog is converted to digital because it is easier to transmit without loss and are easier to manipulate. Designated with (D).
Analog <-> Digital Conversions - . All sound (audio) and video is normally in analog form so must be in that form for us to recognise. So, anything in digital form has to be digitally encrypted by an analog -> digital converter. Conversely digital form must be reconverted to analog for us to recognise by a digital -> analog converter (a DAC). These conversions are not simple and account for differences in audio and video quality.
BD - The high definition Blu-ray format. See http://en.wikipedia....ki/Blu-ray_Disc for details. NB: Only a few DVDRs burn discs in this format
DVD (D) - digital video disc, contains all audio and video in digital form. A DVD player converts that to give a choice of digital (only HDMI for video) or analog outputs. See CONNECTING LEADS below. Most DVD players now have inbuilt scalers which convert SD DVD to higher resolution.
DTV (D) - digital TV, has audio and video in digital form. In the latest TVs the digital video remains in digital form to the screen or display but the digital audio is converted to analog. Often these have a choice of either digital or analog audio to be connected to other gear but usually have no video out.
DVDR (D) - DVD recorder. [Effectively 4 items in one - a STB + hard drive recorder + DVD burner + DVD player] These have digital tuners with HDDs and all allow for external analog audio and video inputs. Further discussion on DVDRs items 10, 11, 12 below. DVDRs now upscale SD beyond progressive but all presently available DVDRs only accept SD video input. Some are now emerging with HD tuners and will accept HD from video cameras but do not have other HD inputs.
DVR (D) - Digital video recorder [Effectively a STB + hard drive recorder]. The same as PVR - not to be confused with a DVDR.
DivX - a compressed video format which attempts to find a balance between reduced space and quality. A full discussion can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DivX and there is a site specific to it at
http://www.divx.com/ Note that only a few commercial players handle this format, so it is not covered more fully in this essay.
DVI - "digital video interface" is a connection for transmitting SD digital video direct to another item without conversion to analog video. It does not transmit audio & is now only found in older units - displaced by HDMI which also transmits digital audio. See CONNECTING COMPONENTS item 8 immediately below..
HDMI - "high definition media interface" is a connection for transmitting SD & HD video and audio without conversion to analog form. The protocols for transmission via HDMI have changed over time and the latest version is 1.4 which is set up for 3D. Note that due to HDCP (see below) there is considerable processing involved and this has cause problems in some linkages. See CONNECTING COMPONENTS item 9 immediately below.
Analog Tuner (A) - this is still the most common unit in TVs, VCRs & DVDRs throughout the world but the video suffers from ghosting, snow and other reception problems and will phase out in Australia in 2013.
Digital Tuner (D) - this is necessary for DTV and overcomes the relatively poor video quality of analog tuners with associated ghosting etc problems. All new TVs have digital tuners but a STB or PVR is needed to enjoy the improved picture from DTV with older TVs. Note that all digital tuners will receive both SD and HD but the STB or recorder might not have the necessary circuitry to enable HD output to be viewed.
Display or monitor. There are a number of alternatives to the TV set for displaying video such as plasma, CRT screens or projectors. Most of these latest displays will allow video links to remain in digital form using a HDMI link. See CONNECTING LEADS below. Most displays available today handle HD.
Firmware - this is the computer software which the player/recorder uses to function. Quite often there are later firmware releases which overcome bugs (faulty operations) in units. New firmware can either be installed directly to the unit from the internet site of the manufacturer via your PC or to a USB memory stick connected the PC and then to the unit.
FTA (D) - free to air broadcasts.
FREEVIEW - labeling on some recorders which have restricted functions (so such PVRs are to be avoided). Full details at http://en.wikipedia....#Video_Decoding
SD (D) - standard definition, the usual standard of reception. This is 576i (PAL) or 480i (NTSC).
HD (D) - high definition (only video, not audio). This is 576P, 720p, 1080i or 1080p. Receiving this requires specialised and more expensive components. HD video is carried on both HDMI and component links but not via composite or s-video. See Chapter 3 below. Note that sometimes "HD" instead of HDD is incorrectly used for hard drive so check you are interpreting correctly. Note that "Blu-ray" [BD] is the only available commercially used HD format. HD STBs & PVRs will transmit HD via component BUT SONY has decreed that after 2011 Blu Ray players must only output SD via component links.
HDCP - high definition copy protection. This is software which prevents digital copying of files and is associated with DVI and HDMI video connection. In effect it means you cannot connect two items by either of these connectors and then extract any analog video signal out. DVI and HDMI is designed to carry digital video to displays and no recorders have these inputs but do have such outputs to go to displays. HDCP has caused problems with some HDMI video links.
HDTV - high definition TV. It will receive all HD as well as SD TV broadcasts & the latest units handle full 1080p HD. Most have analog and/or digital audio outs but very few feature video out. Only a few of the available channels broadcast in HD. However most TVs now upscale the SD broadcasts to HD.
HDD (D) - hard (disk) drive, a data storage medium as in a computer which stores audio and video in digital form. See items 10 & 11 below for discussion on HDDs and their capacities.
GB (D) - gigabyte, a measurement of large digital storage capacity.
MPEG (D) - "Motion Picture Editors Guild". MPEG2 is the compression used for DVDs and digital broadcasts. There are moves towards using MPEG4 in the future to allow for more channels. See the discussion at http://answers.yahoo...18091002AA3Ujhx for more detail.
Composite video (A)- a basic analog video signal in one cable ( YELLOW SOCKET ). All units have provision for this but it is the poorest quality..
s-video (A) - a better quality (than composite) analog video signal in 4 wires (4 pin socket). Most earlier units have provision for this although most of the latest PVRs omit this output. Check this carefully if you intend feeding a DVDR from a PVR as the highest video quality input on most DVDRs is s-video.
Component video (A) - an even better quality analog video signal in 3 wires (Green, Blue, Red sockets). This quality analog video link is now replaced by digital HDMI cabling which carries digital audio & video.
RGB video (A) - potentially the highest quality analog video signal but as emphasis shifts to digital video is not found on the latest units. NOTE: RGB generated by computers -> monitor has different protocols to the RGB which is generated by some domestic audio/video gear ex a SCART outlet.
SCART (A) - a 20 pin analog audio/video connection that can (but does not always) carry component, s-video or RGB and composite analog video as well as L/R channel analog audio. Note that it was not originally designed to carry component video (although a few units have been modified to allow this) or any digital audio or video. It is basically an analog audio and video connector, popular in Europe (but not the USA) which is now being replaced by the digital HDMI connector. Contact the author if you want more information on this connector.
STB (d) - set top box. This contains a digital tuner which gives a choice of digital out via HDMI or analog out (Video: component, s-video & composite; Analog: L/R). A SD STB is the choice for anyone wishing to see the digital chanels on an older TV which only accepts analog inputs. A HD STB will not show HD TV on an older TV set.
PVR (D) - personal video recorder. This is a STB with a HDD for recording but will only record FTA aerial or satellite input as it generally has no external inputs. Most now have two digital tuners so will record two different channels simultaneously and some have digital outputs such as USB for downloading files to computers. Generally PVRs are replacements for VCRs when time shifting FTA programs. SD PVRs are being displaced by HD PVRs although some of the early units did experienced problems. There are now a variety of choices from PVRs recording FTA (and a new entrant TiVo) to those recording Foxtel. See item 5 below.
PQ - "Picture Quality"
RF (A) - radio frequency. The aerial connection is by RF so "RF IN" is where the aerial connection is made. "RF OUT"can be used to daisy chain aerial connections out of one component into another with a 5% loss of signal strength. If aerial signal strength is borderline, a powered splitter might be needed for aerial connections to a number of items (but be careful as it is signal quality which is important, not strength, and problems can occur with overload due to too much amplification). Audio and video signals can also be carried via RF connections but generally yield poor PQ so are not discussed here. Note that the analog and digital TV signals are carried on the RF frequency transmission and RF is not digital. That RF signal carries both SD and HD broadcasts. A tuner is needed to decode the TV, an analog tuner for analog TV and a digital tuner for both SD and HD digital TV. All STBs, PVR, and digital TVs have a digital tuner and some DVDRs also now include one. DO NOT USE THE RF CONNECTION TO CARRY AUDIO & VIDEO FROM ONE UNIT TO THE NEXT*. Use composite (worst), s-video or component (best) for the video links and L/R analog audio (worst) or digital (best) audio to carry the sound. New units now use HDMI links which carry both audio & video in digital form in the one cable.
* The RF link can be used to carry audio & video from items to TVs if there is no audio or video input. The TV is "tuned" into a channel but the quality of video using this transmission method is poor and is not necessary with modern displays as they have multiple composite, s-video, component and HDMI video inputs.
Receiver - the A/V (audio-video, AVR) receiver contains complex audio and video circuitry usually involving (i) video inputs and outputs (ii) analog and digital inputs and outputs (iii) a digital processor (iv) software controlled switching (v) an FM tuner (vi) audio amplifiers. The latest units are capable of very good quality sound and can be configured to associate various combinations of audio and video inputs to give the one audio and video output. Most now incorporate video scaling to give HD output from SD input and are able to convert between the various types of video. The extent of these conversions varies but most now convert analog video input to digital video HDMI output. The sophistication of receivers varies widely but they are a most convenient item to have in the chain of a system and greatly simplify cabling. However be careful about the switching capabilities and the types of connections involved as there are wide variations in what the various brands of receivers can achieve.
Skip function - still incorporated in some modern recorders so that each press of the button on the remote skips forward by 30 seconds or more. Very convenient to avoid advertisements but is not available on FREEVIEW units.
Time Shifting - the term used to describe recording on a HDD to view a program at a different time to when it was broadcast.
EPG - electronic program guide. This makes setting timers for recording easy but can be unreliable because stations often do not stick to advertised times. Most recorders have provision to add time at the end to overcome this. The alternative is to manually enter start and stop times, allowing for a finish later than advertised or, using the EPG, to manually extend the EPG entered finish time.
CONNECTING COMPONENTS There are a number of ways of connecting a STB or PVR to other units (usually a DVDR or TV/display). Until recently all audio and video was in analog form (A) but newer units are now using the HDMI digital (D) connection for audio and video to TV/displays. However only analog audio and video can be connected to a DVDR.
What is each Socket For?
1. A single yellow socket (termed RCA) is for composite video (A) - this is the most basic (and poorest) analog video link and is found on all units and is commonly used on VCRs. Composite is a small step up from RF (essentially RF is composite in a video RF carrier and is accessed from an aerial socket.)
2. A pair of red & white RCA sockets are for analog audio (A) - they are the most basic audio links, also found on all components. They carry Prologic surround sound but not DD 5.1 or DTS surround sound.
3. A 4 pin socket is for s-video - also called Y/C (A) - this splits up the video signal and can give excellent video quality. The Y "luminance" is identical in both s- video. Now being used less so no longer featured on some items.
4. A 21 pin SCART socket (A) is rarely used on the latest gear. It only carries analog audio & video. A few older items have SCART configured for component output but now this is uncommon.
5. A group of red, green, blue RCA sockets together is for component video -also called YUV.(A) - this is NOT the same as RGB but is generally regarded to be better than s-video but not as good as digital via HDMI. More detail at http://www.michaeldv...oConnectors.asp
6. A RCA socket labelled S/PDIF is for digital audio (D).
7. A squarish socket labelled S/PDIF is also for digital audio (D) - sometimes it is labelled "OPTICAL". Audio purists prefer the RCA digital output.
8. A rectangular socket with a 3 rows of 24 connectors + 4 connectors on the right (termed a DVI-I dual link) carries digital video (D) but no digital audio. This socket is only found on a few older items. The HDMI socket Has replaced DVI in the latest items. More detail at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DVI.
9. A rectangular socket, rounded at the bottom, with 19 connectors (termed an HDMI link) is now in common use for high definition video (D). It carries audio as well as video in digital form and there have been 2 main versions - 1.1 & 1.3. There is a good discussion about this at http://www1.electron...dmi_basics.html . You can read more detail at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HDMI There is increasing debate about the audio jitter (and associated distortion) introduced by the HDMI link but this is only of concern to audio purists.
FOR A DISCUSSION OF THE RELATIVE MERITS OF composite, s-video, component, RGB, DVI and HDMI see the detailed discussion in chapter 16 below.
What leads are needed?There is a further description with good pictures at http://www.hometheat...kmeup/1105hook/
1. Requires a single 75 ohm digital cable usually with a yellow RCA plugs either end.
2. Requires a twin cable usually with red & white RCA plugs either end.
3. Requires a special s-video cable with a 4 pin plug either end.
4. Requires a rectangular plug with 21 pins. There are a number of adaptors available which have RCA and s-video sockets or leads attached.
5. Requires a lead with 3 cables with red, green & blue RCA plugs either end
6. Requires a 75 ohm lead like no 1 but the RCA plugs may not be yellow
7. Requires a special optical cable.
8. Requires a DVI cable for transmitting digital video. Note there are cables and adapters which convert DVI to HDMI but only transmit video, not audio.
9. Requires an HDMI cable for transmitting digital video and audio.
The digital video links in 7 & 8 above avoid a digital video -> analog -> back to digital conversion for plasma etc. However there could be digital conversions involved as discussed at http://forum.ecousti...579/122868.html and this link suggests these can cause problems in some situations. Digital video links are generally superior but might not be better than analog video links in a few situations. Experimentation is recommended. This further discussed item 16 below.
Scaler - a relatively expensive item inserted between the video output and the display. However most units now have scalars built into them so external scalars are no longer needed.
Surround Sound - there are three basic formats (i) Dolby Digital Pro Logic - has the surround signals encoded to give up to 5 channels and can be carried on analog as well as digital audio signals and is now in second generation as PLII (ii) Dolby Digital 5.1 & DTS - both have up to 6 discrete channels encoded in a digital signal in a compressed form but is not carried by analog audio signals. Note that all TV stations are transmitting (i) but (ii) is less common. A decoder is needed to extract the surround sound from audio and these are in most receivers and many DVD players. The latest decoders handle PLII. NOTE: If the budget allows, plan to mate a good audio system with the video so you can benefit from some of the excellent sound associated with digital broadcasts. A receiver is the most economic approach but research the possibilities carefully as the sound quality varies between different brands.
VCR - the tape recorder. The most common variety only accept composite input and the video quality is mediocre at best, and very inferior compared to DTV recordings on a PVR.
So, what connections etc will give you the best possible results?
HDMI is generally regarded as the best and easiest connector although very good results can be achieved with component video and RCA digital links between a player or recorder and the display. However with transfer of data beween a recorder and DVDR there is usually less choice as no digital connections are possible. In practice L/R analog audio and s-video can give excellent results.
2. Digital v Analogue TV Tuners
Analog TV uses analog tuners and is due to be phased out in Australia by 2013, so after this TV reception must use digital tuners. If you have reasonable analogue reception then you should have good digital reception. DTV requires a digital tuner so if you want to use your older analog TV you will need to buy a digital set top box (STB). The main disadvantage of doing this is a smaller screen and only 4:3 presentation.
STBs, PVRs and the newer DVDRs have digital tuners but these vary in sensitivity. If reception is poor the picture from digital can break up and be unwatchable. In a few cases a special aerial, aerial cable or aerial amplifier (booster) might be needed.
Digital TV is broadcast in the 16:9 format that suits modern widescreen TVs. Analogue broadcasts will continue to be broadcast in the boxier 4:3 format.
In summary this is how the analog and digital tuners operate:
ANALOG TV -> ANALOG TUNER -> ANALOG VIDEO (not clean) & ANALOG AUDIO
DIGITAL TV -> DIGITAL TUNER in a STB, PVR or DVDR -> EITHER (i) digital A/V via HDMI to receiver or TV OR (ii) ANALOG VIDEO (crystal clear) via composite, s-video, component video AND ANALOG AUDIO to TV etc
CAN I BUY A UNIT FROM OVERSEAS WITH A DIGITAL TUNER IN IT?
The simple answer to that is NO. This applies to TVs, STBs, PVRs and DVDRs. The digital tuners in overseas units are not compatible with Australian standards because of subtle differences in broadcast standards.
Australia chose DVB-T and most DVB-T units will work in a lot of places around the world if the manufacturer brings out a software release to support these subtle tuner variances. We have 7MHz carriers not as a deliberate ploy to be different to elsewhere, this is because this is what our analogue frequency was. So, to keep in our channel plan properly, we chose 7MHz, and to keep from having to do antenna upgrades and have serious propagation variances, we chose to keep the channels broadcast at similar frequencies to their analogue counterparts (ABC VHF2 being the only exception, being shuffled right up to VHF12), and to keep some "defacto" standards that most places have these days, we chose to have AC3 audio as an option for SD, and to use the HD standard at the time, we chose to use MPEG2 for HD.
Further Notes re buying overseas
Blu ray players are regionally coded so units from the USA and Asia will not play discs purchased in Australia. However there are now kits available for some models that allow discs from any region to be played and not all Blu Ray discs are regionally encoded. You can see a map defining the regions at http://en.wikipedia....ki/Blu-ray_Disc
HD Camcorders have two different standards depending upon the power frequency of the country involved. Units in the USA use a frequency of 60 hz (and are misleadingly branded "NTSC" although it has nothing to do with those standards). Camcorders here use 50 hz as do many other countries. So, if travelling overseas, check the local situation out carefully before purchase.
3. SD and HD Broadcasts and PVRs
Standard Definition (PAL): SDTV involves a resolution of 576i and offers video of less quality than HD.
High Definition (PAL): HDTV is recognised by the following resolutions - 576p, 720p, 1080i, and 1080p
There are two sources of SD and HD video – (1) TV and (2) input from players and recorders.
Discussion of the broadcast TV signals can be found at http://www.dcita.gov...paper_Final.pdf Exactly what is being broadcast in Australia is listed at http://www.dba.org.a...sp?sectionID=15.
The display is like a canvass on which a picture is painted from the source. Not all displays are designed to show all the detail fed into them, i.e. they also have different resolution capability. A SD display is limited because it will only show video from SD sources and will not show any picture if fed by HD signals.
HD displays have the potential to show more detail and will display a picture if fed by HD signals. Just how much extra detail a HD display will show depends upon its design and the PQ of what is fed in.
There are now many PVRs which can record HD but, in common with all PVRs and DVDRs, some are less reliable than others and not all are simple to operate. Research this forum carefully to assist decision making, particularly in regard to ergonomics, reliability and functionality. Panasonic have a DVDR which records HD but all other DVDRs only record in SD. Presently little is being broadcast which is originally in high resolution format. Most of it is SD scaled up so no advantage can presently be detected between the two formats.
So, before buying a HD STB, PVR or DVDR note -
1) You must have a display (TV, plasma, LCD or projector) which will handle HD
2) You cannot record FTA HD on to a DVDR unless it has an HD tuner and, remember, an HD STB or PVR MUST be set to SD output to record into a SD DVDR. Unless you do this there will be no usable output from composite or s-video to feed into a DVDR.
3) Because HD involves so much more data, the HDD of an HD PVR will not record as much video timewise as a SD PVR.
4) Any recorder with the "FREEVIEW" label is nothing special and does not have a "Skip" button which many of us frequently use by bypass ads - more convenient than the FF function. Check this out before buying.
Note that many of the latest DVD players and DVDRs now have inbuilt scalers which convert SD to a higher resolution suitable for input to a HD display. These are usually be very effective and very close to genuine HD.
The latest DVD HD blu ray players use more advanced audio formats. However given the video quality of most broadcasts, most DVDRs with SD digital tuners and upscaling can yield excellent PQ results and DVDR single layer blanks are relatively inexpensive. The number of HD DVDRs available is increasing but they are more expensive than SD units and the PQ advantages they theoretically offer rarely eventuate in practice. HD inputs via HDMI is unlikely because of HDCP. Blu ray DVDRs will preserve HD on to blu ray DVD but very few current HD broadcasts are of sufficient PQ to warrant the outlay. Reason: CAVEAT: The maximum PQ is not realised on FTA broadcasts, it is only achieved with well set up blu-ray players and commercial discs. The proliferation of digital channels on the one frequency is at the cost of broadcast fidelity with SBS & the ABC using 720P. This trend will continue as more channels are put on line but this trend for quantity (more channels) over quality is of great concern as generally HD broadcasts or scaled up SD gives excellent results and PQ far superior to the older analog signals. But the PQ of HD broadcasts is improving as more native material in this format is used so eventually a Blu Ray DVDR will be worthwhile.
Nearly all brands of TVs now have inbuilt HD tuners but these differ in sensitivity so check that out. Recording HD can meet problems with some PVRs, but given good conditions, can give excellent PQ. HD is more and more becoming the norm with prices of HD components dropping.
More discussion on HD at: http://en.wikipedia....h_definition_TV
4. TVs with Inbuilt Digital Tuners
These TVs do not require an external STB for DTV viewing but few, if any, have a SD video output for external recording to a DVDR. Even if they do, it means the TV must be on during recording - not very useful. More convenient time shifting recording requires a PVR (preferred), DVDR with a digital tuner or a STB/DVDR combo. Note that most have a L/R audio out and some also have a digital audio out for connection to a receiver or amplifying system. With no video out, it is impossible to make recordings on a VCR or DVDR from these TVs. A reminder that nearly all DVDRs only record SD.
5. How Does a PVR Compare to a VCR and What Can You Do With a PVR?
* The PVR is not a direct replacement for the VCR as there is no removable media like tape so all information will normally remain on the HDD until deleted. So recorded programs must be viewed in the same room as the PVR but can be downloaded on to a DVDR or VCR. Many regard the DVDR as the replacement to the VCR as they equate DVDs with tapes. However for most viewing purposes the PVR is a better option than the DVDR as discussed later.
* The PVR records FTA TV programs on to its internal HDD just as a VCR put them on to tape. Note that most PVR's HDD can only record FTA signals which come in via the aerial because not all have external inputs. So you cannot record Foxtel or video from any other source on most PVRs. This is a fundamental difference between a VCR & most PVRs, although more are now coming on the market now that do have external inputs so check out the specifications carefully if this is important for you.
* The HDD recording is in digital form. This means that the recording is identical to the original broadcast and will remain so indefinitely. It is vastly superior quality than the analog recordings made on a VCR.
* When a VCR is recording the machine is tied up for that purpose. A single digital tuner PVR records a channel and most PVRs allow viewing of a previous HDD recording at the same time. With a dual digital tuner PVR you can record from two channels at once and view a previously recorded one or record from one channel and look at another.
* PVRs allow many hours of recording, that time depending on the HDD capacity (see later). HDD recorded programs can be easily deleted.
* You can pause, FF / REW etc. as with a VCR. However on some machines this can be jerky or the top speed is too slow. More common with most PVRs is to use a SKIP button. This allows the playback to be instantly jumped forward or backward a certain amount (e.g. 30 seconds to 3 minutes).
* Most PVRs can pause live TV and also start playing a file before it has finished recording (Chaseplay).
* TiVo offer specialist recording options for FTA. See http://www.tivo.com.au/ Note discussions on this forum about this PVR.
* Pay TV service Foxtel will hire out a PVR - see http://www.foxteliq.com.au/)
If you want to keep (archive) a program for later repeated viewing you can feed the audio and video out of a PVR to a VCR or a DVDR to keep on a tape or a DVD OR a few PVRs allow you to copy the unaltered digital file from the PVR to a PC (or Mac). Editing software on the PC can then format and burn the file to a DVD. Archiving from the pay TV PVRs requires a video stabiliser in series in the s-video line to bypass the copy protection. These are available at http://www.digitalme...stabiliser.html
6. What You Cannot Do with a PVR
1) Most PVRs do not allow input from any other sources so you cannot record a program from any external source including Foxtel (see 15 below for alternate recording from external sources). But there are now PVRs that will allow such external inputs so check out the specifications if this is important for you. However examine how such functions operate as they could tie up the recorder so it is unavailable for FTA recording if the external input is in use. As with all PVRs, carefully study the relevant threads in this forum on any PVR which appeals to ensure which one best suit your needs. In particular you should find the discussion at http://www.dtvforum....showtopic=68937 helpful. See item 9 below for further discussion.
2) SD recordings will take about 3.5 gb per hour of TV while HD recordings will take about 7 gb.
7. How Much Can a Hard Drive Record on a PVR and DVDR?
1 TB is becoming standard HDD size and will record over 120 hours of HD and 240 of SD. A HD PVR can record either in the SD or HD.
DVDRs only accept SD external analog input, converted to digital format for recording. With the DVDR (but not a PVR) this recorded digital signal can have differing levels of compression / picture quality. More compression (performed in analog format) means longer recording times are available on the HDD but the quality can be less. This quality loss is difficult to quantify as it depends on how good the original signal is. Many programs would not show detectable quality loss at SD while top quality broadcasts theoretically show deterioration although I have never detected any. Note that because there are digital<->analog conversions going on in a DVDR the HDD holds less material than a PVR and the circuitry is much more involved Note that because that circuitry is more complex there are significant differences in PQ between cheaper and more expensive DVDRs - you really do get what you pay for! There are also significant differences in the ease of recording between DVDs with Pioneer regarded as the best by most of us.
At slower recording speeds a DVDR will hold more than a PVR but at reduced PQ.
8. So How Big a Hard Drive do I Need on my PVR or DVDR?
How much you need depends upon your viewing habits. The following must be taken into account:
1) Are a lot of movies likely to be recorded and left for awhile before being viewed? A 90 minute movie expands to 2 hours with ads and extra time must be allowed in case it is not broadcast on schedule so a 90 minute movie could take 135 minutes of recording time. Recording a few such movies soon uses up available HDD space. An 250 GB HDD will record around 24 movies in SD but only 12 in HD so sizes of 500 GB and 1 TB are now common.
2) Do you want to retain a number of episodes of a series to be later viewed simultaneously?
3) How disciplined is the household at looking at previously recorded programs? Leaving recordings on the HDD restricts the space left.
4) The ease of recording often seduces owners into recording programs they think "might" be of interest as it is so simple to erase them if they turn out otherwise. A number of such recordings can soon fill up a HDD.
5) Are you likely to want to record a week's worth of TV while you are absent on holiday or business?
6) Are you recoding in SD or HD?
Some PVRs allow for external HDDs so this option allows for future expansion. Note that a PVR operates in digital format only so uses HDD space more efficiently than a DVDR which employs a lot of analog to digital conversions.
9. So Which PVR Should I Buy?
It is a balance of :
* Price,HDD size, ability to upsize the drive yourself or add another external drive, whether or not you want to use it in conjunction with a DVDR or computer - affects the output connections you will need ;
* Ensuring, by study of this board, the brand you like has not experienced problems or has operational drawbacks you would dislike. No one unit is perfect and some have irritating problems and/or unfriendly interfaces.
Generally the more expensive models operate more smoothly, easily and more reliably but some are better buys than others. Some inexpensive PVRs have multiple function buttons which can be confusing to use initially but are ok after becoming accustomed to the unit.
http://www.dtvforum....showtopic=36191 and http://www.dtvforum....showtopic=68937
Another feature in the latest PVRs which should now be considered is Ethernet connection. This computer link can be used to send audio and video to other rooms in the house and is now a feature of a few PVRs.
10. Is the DVDR a replacement for a VCR, How Does a DVDR Operate, What Choices Are There With a DVDR?
IMPORTANT PRELIMINARY NOTE: A DVDR is more complex and more expensive than a PVR and is not necessarily the best replacement for a VCR. If you have a library of tapes which you look at again and again, then a DVDR could suit best so you can build up a library of recorded DVDs. But if you have only used your VCR to time shift recordings then the less expensive and more convenient PVR is a better option. The hard drive in the PVR effectively replaces the tape in a VCR with the only inconvenience being the recording is inside the machine and must be viewed where the PVR is located.
1) Most DVD recorders have a digital tuner but older DVDRs needed a STB or PVR in addition to the DVDR to record clean digital pictures. Panasonic have models out with twin tuners and others that will record in HD but note that external inputs are only SD.
All DVDRs presently take in analog audio and SD video and convert it into digital form to record on a DVD or on to an internal computer hard drive.
In summary -
ANALOG AUDIO & VIDEO -> DVD recorder (stored in digital form) -> CONVERTED BACK TO ANALOG when played.
A DVDR with a digital tuner reduces one stage of analog -> digital input conversion and if the HDMI output is used, also removes that output stage of conversion so PQ is theoretically better.
So how much better is that PQ? A number of factors will determine if there is any observable affect:
(i) The quality of the circuitry inside the DVDR. Recorders do vary & not all are the same.
(ii) The size and quality of the display being used to view the recording.
(iii) The PQ of the material being copied. This is the most variable factor as FTA broadcasts vary a lot. However most of the latest DVDRs can reproduce the broadcast PQ, particularly if they incorporate upscaling.
(iv) The time length of the recording. With single layer recordings, 2 hours is the upper limit to retain PQ and 3.5 hours that with the more expensive dual layer blanks.
All DVDRs take in and put out analog video signals and use analog conversions internally. None accept digital audio or video inputs. Most have analog + digital audio and video outputs.
VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are downloading a file from a HD STB or HD PVR, you MUST set the output to SD 576i or you will not see any video. Most of the currently available DVDRs only accept SD video via analog s-video input. However HD DVDRs are now available but check out if the extra cost of the unit and recording blanks is worthwhile for your purposes and keep in mind you can only lend discs burned on a HD DVDR to someone who has a Blu Ray player - they will not play on standard DVD players .
POSTSCRIPT: Most DVDRs are effectively single tuner devices, even if there is both an analog and digital tuner installed although twin digital tuner units are now available. With single tuner digital tuner units you can record from one of the tuners only or from one of the external inputs, but can only use one of these sources at a time to either record or view. As with a single tuner PVR, you can look at a previously recorded file while it is recording.
2). Most DVDRs will record dual layer for longer recordings at the highest video quality. However these blanks are more expensive than single layer blanks. Most recorders will record up to 2 hours of program material on the single layer at maximum video quality and can record even longer times. This is "bit mapping" or "optimisation". When burning a DVD one of the first options to flag is the speed at which it is to be recorded. Options which increase the time above this do incur a PQ reduction although this might not be apparent if dubbing from VHS or programs of lower initial PQ.
3) Care is needed when handling recorded DVDs or their life expectancy is lowered. If DVD blanks are not chosen carefully, over time, the recordings could be lost, particularly with some of the less expensive brands available on the net. Store DVD recordings away from sunlight and heat. The inexpensive folders used for CDs are a good option to use.
4) Avoid inexpensive brands of blanks. Recorded DVDs may not have a long shelf life so choice of good material for recording is very important. Verbatim has a good reputation but many posters on this DTV forum consider the Taiyo Yuiden to be the best although warn that there are inferior counterfeits for sale so the store used for purchase must be carefully chosen. The online store http://www.jpldispla...talog/index.php imports direct and many swear by their service. http://www.blankdvds...ucts.php?cat=15 is another recommended alternative.
This, and other relevant items, are discussed at http://www.clir.org/...ub121/sec4.html
5) DVDRs can also play DVDs BUT there are two fundamental differences to be aware of.
(i) DVDRs need a menu setting to record the USA NTSC TV format but most players automatically playback either format.
(ii) Not all DVDRs are region free or can be configured this way, so if you intend using the DVDR as a player as well as a recorder, check out whether or not its regional coding is permanently set for Australian DVDs and cannot be changed.
6) Using s-video input from other sources might give compatibility problems with a murky picture resulting. The cure for this could be the insertion of a VIDEO STABILISER in the input chain. These units are available at http://www.digitalme...stabiliser.html and are also useful when copying files from VHS.
7) Is s-video input good enough? DVDRs vary in circuitry and so there is no general answer possible. However feeding s-video into a DVDR will, in the author's experience with the better DVDRs, give very high quality results.
8) Most DVDRs now have internal digital tuners and upscale SD output to HD standards and have HDMI output. On a very good quality SD DVD this can be very effective.
9) Why are there so few DVDRs that record HD? There are two main reasons-
(1) HD is only a recent home entertainment development so the demand for these is small at the moment with only a few of the 19 odd transmissions made in HD..
(ii) Processing HD is very complex and this explains the problems some manufacturers have experienced making reliable HD PVRs. The circuitry involved in a DVDR is more complicated again and present DVDRs have evolved from an analog background and employ considerable digital <-> analog conversions which are not developed for HD. As technology progresses HD DVDRs using only digital processing could evolve but the resulting recorders and the blank discs are more expensive. In the meantime SD DVDRs using upscaling are a very satisfactory alternative.
IMPORTANT NOTE: DVDRs which can record HD on an internal HDD are equivalent to an HD PVR but MOST IMPORTANTLY check whether or not the recordings to disc are Blu Rays or SD DVDs - having HD tuners might not mean HD is recorded onto disc
Note that all present DVDRs involve some sophisticated software & circuitry and are much more complicated that PVRs, so good quality and reliability comes at a price. Be careful about buying an inexpensive uncommon brand. Bottom line, shop carefully and think through just how much you intend to use the machine for archiving. It is not the best choice for time shifting. That is done far more effectively with a dual tuner PVR. But assembling up a library of your own DVDs appeals to the collecting instinct with video editing a creative pastime. Once the initial capital cost has been met, you can burn a 2 hour program you have edited for under $1 and that can be fun!
See item 15 below re using a DVDR to record Foxtel programs.
11. What Advantage Does a DVDR Have Over a PVR?
1) If you want to keep (archive) a program for later repeated viewing you can feed the audio and video out of a STB or PVR to a DVDR to keep on a DVD. At the appropriate recording mode there is little observable loss of quality despite the analog <-> digital conversions involved.
2) If you have a DVDR with a HDD you can edit a recording to remove unwanted ads etc and then archive the program on to a DVD which can be played back anywhere there is a DVD player so you have a portable recorded medium similar to a tape but of much higher quality.
3) The DVDRs accept external inputs (usually 3 or 4) so programs from Foxtel/Austar/STBs (using analog s-video outputs) can be time shifted on HDD and then erased or archived.
4) Recordings made on a VCR, video camera etc can be transferred to the DVDR HDD, edited and archived on to DVD.
5) The DVDR is a dual purpose unit as it can play back commercial DVDs as well as record your own.
12. What Disadvantage Does a DVDR Have Over a PVR, especially those with Digital Tuners?
The disadvantages are cost due to added complexity and most only have a single digital tuner.
However, in general terms, a PVR (particularly one with a twin tuner) is by far the most convenient item to use for FTA time shifting of programs. A DVDR should only be seriously considered if you intend making permanent recordings of programs for repeated viewings.
DVD Recording Formats
(1) Video Mode. This is the standard DVD format used on commercial media but is not the most useful for DVD recorders as it does not allow for any editing. However most recorders do allow for this option and any recording made using this format will work in most DVD players with DVD-R, DVD-RW discs but not DVD-RAM.
(2) VR mode. This allows for editing with DVD-R, DVD-RW and DVD-RAM disks but because the technology is relatively new, only more recent players will recognise the data and reproduce it. Note that DVD-R recordings need to go through an end process of finalisation to be used on other players.
(3) +VR. This is only found on some recorders and might not require a finalising process at the finish. This format is not approved by the DVD forum so recorders using it lack the DVD-Video logo.
14. So Should I Buy a PVR or a DVDR?
This depends upon your viewing habits and whether or not you like to archive recordings and/or share them with others. DVDRs are more expensive and more complex. If you only look at FTA then a PVR is the cheaper and easier option with the only possible disadvantage being you must view the program in the room the PVR is located. Recordings from PVRs can be archived to a DVDR or a VCR.
Questions to answer in making the decision between a PVR and/or DVDR
1. Do you want to watch recorded programs in more than one room?
If your answer is "yes" then you need the recording to be on a DVD so you can watch it on any DVD players in any room.
If your answer is "no", then recording on the HDD of a PVR is simpler and far more convenient.
2. Do you like sharing some recorded programs with others?
If your answer is "yes" then you need a DVDR but that could be in conjunction with a PVR. The few recorded programs you like to share can be downloaded to a DVDR later. That still makes the PVR the main recorder for time shifting programs. The alternative is to have a DVDR with a digital tuner and a HDD which you can time shift programs on. It is then simple to edit a recorded program and burn a disc.
If your answer is "no" then a PVR would meet your needs.
3. Do you find there are sometimes clashes of programs you want to record?
If your answer is "yes", then you need a twin tuner recorder. The alternative is to have a TV set with a digital tuner you can use to look at a program while recording another on either a PVR or DVDR.
If the answer is "no" then a single tuner DVDR or PVR will be fine. (Note that this is not the experience of most of us).
4. Are there recordings you would like to keep for future viewing again?
If your answer is "yes" then a DVDR is the best option. It is possible to retain programs on the HDD of a PVR but this limits the amount of space available for future recordings. Another option is that some PVRs have the option of adding an external HDD so this could be used for such archiving.
So, before coming to a decision, examine your viewing habits carefully to determine if the extra cost of a DVDR is justified. If you do not want to keep programs to view again, view them in other DVD players in the house or share them with friends, then a DVDR is the better option. But be aware that your viewing habits will change because recording on HDD is so easy – you will record far more than you ever did on a VCR.
15.Time Shifting Foxtel TV Programs off Satellite
There are now only 2 options -
1. (Foxtel only) Hire their SD or HD PVR - the best option
2. Feed the analog audio & video output from the satellite box to a DVDR with a hard drive. Most DVDRs can capture that PQ accurately with s-video input but using this option requires tedious manual program change on the STB.
Because of increased piracy Foxtel now has encryption which precludes the use of non Foxtel approved products for recording. Because of this the s-video output from either their STB or PVR requires a "video stabiliser". http://www.digitalme...stabiliser.html in line to a DVDR to transfer recordings.
16. So What Video Input/Output Should I Look For in a PVR or DVDR?
This varies as processing video is a very complex task whether it be in digital or analog form so circuit design, the quality of parts used, the controlling software etc can affect the resultant PQ. Add in the complicating factor that we are hooking together different items and it can be that item A works superbly with item B but the PQ appears mediocre with item C. This compatibility of one item to another can lead to frustrating problems and is caused by different manufacturers using different standards or not following standards properly.
(i) s-video is better than composite but is now omitted from most PVRs
S-video separates the Chroma and Luminance signals so the video unit receiving the signal has no need to filter the luminance signal as is needed with a composite signal. The result is the unit can use the full bandwith of the video amps and not give any colour crosstalk on stripey images. E.g. the image of someone wearing a shirt with closely spaced vertical stripes will be resolved cleanly with s-video but the same image with composite yields a messy image. Similarly, looking at the frequency response vertical bars on a video test pattern, up around the chroma 4.43361875MHz and a bit to either side of it using composite video will give you a blurry mess of colours that shouldn't be there but using s-video gives a nice crisp vertical black and white lines all the way up past 5 MHz. On Composite, the bandwidth of the Luma signal is severely limited in order to accomodate the Chroma signal on the same cable but on s-video the full bandwidth requirements of an SD signal can be provided on the Luma signal line.
Where confusion can arise however, is that most PC graphics cards lazilly send the same limited-bandwidth Luma signal out for use -regardless of whether it is on Composite or S-Video lines. But that's in defiance of the S-Video spec, and not to be taken as something that is universally done. And certainly doesn't apply to STB's, DVD players etc
(ii) Component or RGB is generally better than s-video However, as mentioned above, most will record high quality DVDs using s-video input to a good recorder. I have found PQ just as good via s-video as via RGB from TV.
(iii) Digital DVI and HDMI video connection is the best Most new items have HDMI output so this is the simplest connection to use but be aware that HDCP causes problems in some cases so component output has to be used. The difference in PQ between the two will not be observable in most situations.
A link for further discussion: http://videoexpert.h...rtic1/227yc.htm
TO SUMMARISE THE ANALOG vs DIGITAL VIDEO CONNECTOR:
*Digital connections will generally surpass analogue, if properly designed and implemented at all stages.
*Both analogue & digital systems can provide superb reproduction if designed and set up correctly.
*Digital is suited to modern computerised ("digital"!) systems.
*Digital has that great advantage of effortless, seamless multiplexing etc.
SUMMARY OF THE VARIOUS VIDEO LINKS
* Composite is a small step up from RF (essentially RF is composite video in an RF carrier) - neither should be used for good results
* s-video is a giant step up from composite (all sorts of composite artefacts moving to s-video, such as dot crawl and moire patterns are eliminated) . However note that in most of the new PVRs this connection is being omitted.
* component & RGB (less common on the latest units) are theoretically a step up from s-video but whether or not improvement would be detectable will basically depend on the original quality of the video.
* DVI or HDMI is the best video link but HDCP can give problems with processing required at each end of the cable due to HDCP. Note that DVI is only found on older units and carries video only.
Note the caveat in the earlier discussion above, this hierarchy assumes optimal circuitry and software, something which cannot be assumed to exist in every video unit. So carefully research out anything under consideration to be sure it is well designed and built and will integrate seamlessly into your system.
The most common outputs from STBs, PVRs and DVDRs is now HDMI and most will now upscale SD to HD. The 4 pin s-video and SCART are less common. Some older units have two SCART outlets and these might be able to be configured differently with one for RGB and the other for s-video. This European SCART connector is rarely found on new gear in Australia.
Component is the most favoured analog video output followed by RGB and s-video. Composite is not regarded as a quality video link. If test patterns were viewed, the cleanest video in the above 4 would be either component or RGB, followed by s-video with composite trailing the field. However in practice, it might be very hard to pick the PQ differences between RGB, component and s-video. So, do not become too concerned about links not being component, particularly if feeding into a DVDR. PQ can often more depend upon the quality of the picture being broadcast than on the type of video link being used. Differences are also less evident on smaller displays so keep this subject in perspective and not be dogmatic you MUST have an item which uses a certain video link format.
So, for SD broadcasts, you can expect fine PQ with any of s-video, component or RGB. Colour saturation is usually greater for RGB or component than s-video but in some units this is over done. Resolution is very similar for these three and on larger displays it is clearly better than composite. For HD broadcasts, HDMI is the link to choose and is the standard output on all the latest items .
Note there are converters available costing around $100 which take RGB in and feed component out but they do not convert component to RGB. Similarly no simple converters will take s-video in and feed component or RGB out. However many recorders and receivers include circuitry that do these conversions as will the more expensive video scalars and processors.
17. What Blank DVDs Should I Use?
Name brand blanks are usually made by other companies and can be purchased from those other companies more cheaply. The site on the net discussing this is at -
Single layer blank DVDs are inexpensive in spindles of 50 or 100 and are available from many sources. Many posters here like shopping at http://www.instantit....au/default.asp There is a discussion of the reliability of DVDRs at http://www.cdrinfo.c...rmats/Home.aspx
Some DVDRs are capable of burning dual layer http://www.tivo.com.au/. Prices for dual layer blanks remain relatively high. There is considerable choice for dual layer DVD+R but only Verbatim produce dual layer DVDRs. There is a discussion about the reliability of 8.5 gb DVDRs at http://www.cdfreaks....tibilities.html and a review of the dual layer Verbatim DVD-Rs at http://www.cdr-zone....iew_page_1.html
http://www.digitalme...tabiliser.htmlI find that bit mapping (termed "Optimised" by Pioneer but also used in other brands) gives very good quality up to 2 hours using single layer blanks on the equipment here.
18. So How Do I Hook Up my Recorders and Players to my Receiver?
Be clear about what your receiver will do. Will it convert your analog video inputs to digital? [Newer more expensive receivers do this but older and less expensive receivers do not].
There are 3 basic situations for video with receivers:
(1) Some of the latest, more expensive units will convert analog video input to digital output . In this case you only need the one digital video HDMI link to your TV or display regardless of video input.
(2) Some receivers have input and output for HDMI digital video so will switch through digital inputs. They also have analog video inputs and outputs but no conversion of the analog video to digital so there needs to be an separate analog video link (usually component) from the receiver to the TV or display.
(3) Older receivers only have analog video inputs so an analog component output to the receiver is the only option.
Another option on some of the newer receivers is that they will upscale SD to HD. Output can then be either HDMI or component to the HD TV or display but no upscaled video output will be from s-video or composite. Note that HDMI links do sometimes give problems because the HDCP is not properly processed at one or both ends where the cable connects. In this case HD video can be transferred by component video link.
WARNING: Check out your personal needs carefully before rushing in to buy a receiver. Configuring and connecting them correctly can be challenging, especially for those with less technical expertise and patience. The latest TVs have multiple inputs and inbuilt scalers + audio out so, if all you want is a better speaker and amplifying system this is relatively easy to connect. A good receiver is the most comprehensive answer but might be more complex and expensive than you need. & if you buy a receiver, make sure there is very good ventillation as they run quite hot.
19. SUMMARY: First Decisions When Buying in to Digital TV
1. Do I merely wish to time shift and view FTA recordings in the same room?
If yes, a PVR is all you need. Generally you cannot record from other sources on most PVRs (BeyondWiz & some Topfield PVRs are the exception). If a PVR is your choice then choose a twin tuner unit but research out the various models if choosing a HD recorder and most have given problems. Choose the largest size HDD available as HD uses a lot of HDD space.
2. Do I wish to time shift and but be able to view recordings in other rooms and keep permanent copies (archiving) of some? If yes, there are a number of options:
(i) a VCR will still work but the picture and sound quality will only be mediocre -> lose much of the advantage of the digital signal.
(ii) A better alternative is the DVDR with an internal digital tuner. Using DVD-RW you can transport recordings to another DVD player in another room but this will not give you permanent copy. But a DVDR gives that option of being able to make permanent DVDs of anything being broadcast if you use normal blanks. As discussed earlier a DVDR with a HDD makes editing of recordings much easier.
Note that a PVR can be used in conjunction with a DVDR in exactly the same way as a STB. The output from the HDD in a PVR is identical to the original so you can transfer any recording on the HD of a PVR to a DVDR with no loss of PQ. However if you intend to archive a lot of programs on to DVD, then the added expense of the DVDR with an internal digital tuner might be justifiable.
3. Do I want to view one DTV program which is being broadcast while recording another?
If yes, you need a twin tuner PVR.
Note this can extend the flexibility of the various options in 2 above.
4. Do I wish to time shift and possibly archive Foxtel/programs?
If yes, there are SD & HD PVRs for hire from Foxtel. These PVRs are by far the most ergonomic time shifting alternative for pay TV. Satellite PVRs can no longer be used with Foxtel but analog signals from a Foxtel STB or PVR can be fed into any DVDR and some other brand PVRs. There is extensive discussion about options for digital pay TV on the DTV boards at http://www.dtvforum....hp?showforum=71 etc
5. How can I tell how big a HDD I should Get?
This is no longer an issue as nearly all new units carry a 1 TB HDD internally with provision for external HDD.
20. Truths, half truths and myths surrounding DTV
1. DTV is vastly superior to analog
Qualification: Generally true, but not always vastly superior, particularly in areas of borderline reception. Pixilation and audio drop out in difficult areas can be irritating. Overcoming such digital reception problems can be very challenging. Hopefully, by the time analog is phased out, there will be enough digital repeater stations constructed to ensure most people get good reception.
2 HD is a huge improvement on SD
Unfortunately this is rarely true due a number of factors:
(i) the size of the display and the viewing distance from it;
(ii) the effectiveness of the display as the quality of the parts and circuitry used in these does vary
(iii) the quality of the video being broadcast. This varies widely with limited true HD broadcasts presently occurring - most are merely SD scaled up. Note that SBS only uses 720P for HD and most ABC broadcasts are SD only.
(iv) the emphasis at the moment is more on quantity than on quality with more stations eating up the bandwidth and decreasing PQ.
3. Analog conversions for audio and video result in deterioration of the signal
Qualification: In practice, with good gear, such conversions should not be observable. With a genuine HD signal an HDMI or DVI digital path would be superior to any analog converted one but analog video has been around for many decades and has achieved a high degree of sophistication. Compromises in the quality of components, particularly the display, can reduce the effectiveness of a purely digital path.
4. Composite PQ is the poorest analog video choice
Comment: This should always be the last connector chosen BUT in some circumstances the PQ is acceptable and can be very watchable from digital sources. Many people are more than happy with composite connections and fail to appreciate any improvement with s-video or component, let alone DVI or HDMI
1. RGB is better than component.
Theoretically true but in practice it can be difficult to distinguish between the two. This is because of the many factors discussed previously which affect the final result. Few of the latest units offer this form of analog video anywaty.
2. There is a chalk and cheese difference between SD s-video and component.
Qualification: chalk & cheese difference can be an exaggeration. PQ resolution is the same from both on a good system although, because of greater colour separation, component PQ colour depth is greater. Again, the observable difference depends on a number of factors. If the video circuitry is designed to extract maximum fidelity from component and only gives passing reference to s-video then the chalk and cheese difference will apply. Many DVDRs only accept s-video in but, with good internal processing produce fine component video out. This was discussed at length in Chapter 16 above.
3. Brand "A" PVR or STB gives vastly superior PQ to brand "B".
Comment: From the author's experience and reading of the many posts on this topic this is only partly true. Differences in PQ detected between "A" and "B" could reflect how "A" and "B" behave when placed in the context of a certain set of components rather than demonstrate that "A" is better or worse than "B". Note that this does not invalidate an individual's preference for "A" or "B" in his or her system. Unfortunately electronic components, both audio and video, do not work in isolation but work together and some appear to match more harmoniously than others.
The above comments apply to considerations of plasma vs LCD etc. Which is "better" depends on a large number of factors such as the circuitry involved, size of screen etc and, most importantly, on the subjective reaction of the viewer. That said, as with all audio/video units, there are differences in the quality of the circuitry and software so less expensive units might not perform as effectively as others. This does not mean that more expensive items are necessarily better than their less expensive counterparts but very cheap items do have a lot of compromises in their design and these can show up in poorer video PQ.
Bottom line: There is no "BEST" for everyone.
1. PQ from Pay TV is poor
Comment: The PQ from pay TV, as with FTA, depends primarily on the PQ of the video material being broadcast. Foxtel used to broadcast a lot of older material and its PQ was mediocre to poor at times. However they now offer HD and even their SD has improved so the earlier criticism is no longer valid.
2. A DVDR should have component rather than s-video input for best results.
Comment: The SD s-video signal is already split up into two parts and, with appropriate processing, can give recorded results just as good as component input. Whether those results are as good depends on how sophisticated the analog processing is so varies from brand to brand, but it is a myth to claim it is universally true. Be aware that many units no longer sport an s-video output so check this out carefully if you intend downloading to a DVDR.
21. FINAL VERY IMPORTANT WARNINGS: Read the specifications in advertisements with care
Some advertisements use the words recorder and high definition loosely without clearly defining whether or not it is a PVR (confusingly, a term not being used in advertising) or a DVDR and exactly where the high definition lies. So read the advertising blurb carefully, remembering -
* Most DVDRs do not record high definition but there are more and more HD PVRs which do, although some early models were very troublesome.
Some DVDRs have progressive scan built in and that scales up the video output from SD to a higher resolution but to label such a recorder as a high definition product is misleading advertising. Note also that even with progressive scan, the display must be able to handle that output and not all will.
Similarly some TVs have scalers built into them (you can recognise these by the advertising blurb talking about 100hz or being HD ready) and these very nicely convert SD into better PQ but it is not HD.
So, when shopping around for STBs, PVRs, DVDRs, displays/TVs:
* be careful that all are compatible with one another ;
* make sure your display or receiver has enough of the matching connecting sockets to accommodate all your toys AND double check they will all connect together easily before you buy,
* buy the largest TV/display the budget allows, but check out the PQ carefully as there are huge differences between brands.
Some salesman use the terms "high definition" and "digital" loosely so double check the specifications of units you are interested in buying. If you have any doubts, post a question on this dbv board before purchase.
And do not get mesmerised by the abilities of a DVDR unless you intend to do extensive archiving. A PVR, particularly a twin tuner unit, is a much more user friendly option for time shifting FTA.
When you have your new toys, be sure to install them so they have good ventilation as heat is an enemy of electronics so do not stack one on top of another. Some units can emit radiation which will interfere with the operation of others. Installing a spacer between them or sticking feet under one using double sided tape helps with isolation as well as ventilation. You can see some neat feet at
http://www1.jaycar.c...?...P0834. RCA plugs are usually secure but s-video and SCART plugs can have the irritating habit of dislodging so to plug them in securely with no strain on the leads is good practice.
The world of digital TV is exciting and PQ can be stunning but carefully analyse the context of advertisements touting "digital", "High Definition" etc. These terms are often used loosely and inaccurately.
If you are new to digital video, welcome to DTV, and feel free to post further questions on these boards. We are all here to help one another.
Edited by Tassie Devil, 02 November 2012 - 07:32 AM.