Which DVR Should I Get?
So you want to record movies and your favorite shows from your fancy HD television? Most people think of TiVo first, but you've got options when it comes to selecting a DVR service. Here's the scoop...
The time has come to take over your television. You want a DVR like your friends, but you're not sure how to go about it. Should you get a TiVo, a store-bought DVR, or the DVR service offered by your cable, satellite or FIOS tv provider? Read on for the pros and cons of each..
TiVo has been around for a few years now. Not only can you program, record and play back your favorite shows, you can skip the commercials. TiVoing is so precise you can pause live or recorded shows, rewind and fast forward in 3 different speeds, jump around the program and lots of other options. The TiVo player comes in different models at prices starting at $149.00. The downside is that you have to pay a monthly service fee after purchase. This runs anywhere from $12.95 for month to month service up to $399.95 for a lifetime. However, a free "TiVo Basic" service is available on some DVRs made by Toshiba and Pioneer.
Don't want to pay a monthly fee? A standalone DVR might work for you. Pioneer has two models, their DVR-810H and Elite DVR-57H. Wanting to jump on the TiVo bandwagon, they have paired with the company to offer their service free. TiVo Basic service is included, with no startup cost or monthly fees. The DVR holds 80GB for 80 hours of programming and has most of the same features of TiVo. The Elite DVR-57H or the DVR-810H are not manufactured any longer, but you can find them used on eBay and other places.
Toshiba SD-H400 and the TX60 models also include the TiVo Basic service, but like the Panasonic models, are no longer available new. I've seen these units on eBay for under $300, so that's a great economical choice for people who want to try the TiVo Basic service.
Sony's RD R-VXD655 DVD Recorder & VHS Combo Player with HD Tuner sells for about $329. It doesn't have a hard drive, but can record your favorite TV shows and movies on DVD discs or VHS tapes.
Another option for techies is to build your own DVR from a spare computer. You'll need a TV capture card, and DVR software such as SageTV or MythTV. The software gives you all the features you would expect in a DVR, including fast forward, rewind, pause, commercial skipping, and the ability to store programs on your hard drive. In a nutshell, you plug the TV capture/tuner card into an available slot on the motherboard, install the DVR software, then plug the coaxial cable (your TV service) into the back of the computer. You can find lots of tips and advice on doing this if you search Google for "make your own DVR".
DVR Service From Your TV Provider
Before you run out and buy a TiVo or a standalone DVR, you should check out the DVR service offered by your television service provider. If you get your television signal via cable, satellite or fiber optic service, then most likely you can get an upgrade which includes a TiVo-like DVR service. Expect to pay somewhere between $5 and $15 per month for the DVR service.
Direct Star is offered by Direct TV for satellite customers, AT&T's U-Verse users can try the Total Home DVR. Cable subscribers can use Optimum Online's DVR for iO or the Comcast DVR service. Verizon FIOS customers have the Home Media DVR option.
I recently upgraded my Verizon FIOS service with the DVR, and so far I really like it. The service costs $10/month extra, and they offer a 3 month free trial. After swapping my set top box and activating the service, I just press the DVR button on my remote to record or play back a show. To add a new show to my list of recordings, I just find it in the menu, and then choose whether to record one episode or the entire series. During playback, you can pause, rewind, or jump ahead to skip the commercials.
Do you have TiVo, a standalone DVR, or DVR service from your TV provider? Post your comments below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 19 Feb 2009
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Which DVR Should I Get? (Posted: 19 Feb 2009)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved