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Author Topic: Pending analog to digital TV changeover  (Read 21200 times)

Noam

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Re: Pending analog to digital TV changeover
« Reply #15 on: November 05, 2011, 08:47:39 PM »

Jeff, I was going to suggest something similar, but was beaten to the punch.
I'm surprised that you, in all your infinite geek-wisdom, haven't come up with a solution yet.

Time for you to invent the XTB-DVR ;)

Seriously. I don't know anything about the Panasonic DVR, but perhaps there is a way to make a user-friendly interface for a device to change the channel on the cable box at the appropriate time.

Years ago I had this in NY, with Time Warner cable. They offered a "Watch 'n Record" box, which had two tuners in it. It had connections to feed out to the VCR, and another to feed back in FROM the VCR. It had a separate feed out for the TV.
To record stuff, I would first set it up on the cable box, and then set the VCR to record on channel 3 at the appropriate times.

It sounds like this is about the same as what you are facing with a programmable "channel changer"
It may take a little practice, but this would probably be a lot cheaper than getting a Tivo, or a DVR from the cable company.

I don't know what the controls on your DVR are like, but maybe there is a way to skip the DVR programming altogether, and have the "channel changer" turn it on to record "live" when it changes the channels on the cable box. Then, there is only one device to program (the "channel changer").
Another way to go would be to build your own PC-based DVR, with a digital tuner card in it. It might be cheaper than getting two TiVos, but still not cheap.
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JeffVolp

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Re: Pending analog to digital TV changeover
« Reply #16 on: November 06, 2011, 12:00:23 AM »

The E100H is a superb analog DVR.  While it has just a single tuner, it allows simultaneous record and play like the TiVo.  Coupled with the independent TV tuner, that gives us the flexibility that we don't want to lose.

Some newer DVRs included the ability to change channels on a cable box through a tethered IR transmitter, but the older E100H didn't incorporate that feature.

I have been researching the TiVo further.  While I don't save many programs, I also don't want to lose the ability to do so.  On the Panasonic, programs can be edited down and commercials eliminated if you want to spend the time.  Then 4 hours of program material is easily selected and burnt to DVD in just over 20 minutes.  TiVo includes no editing feature, but it can transfer programs to a computer.  That apparently works in real time, so it would take 4 hours to make the transfer.  The TiVo PC software doesn't support editing on the computer before burning the programs to DVD, but that can probably be done with still another program.  While it is possible to archive TiVo programs, it is certainly not as convenient as on the Panasonic.

A PC-based DVR sounds interesting, but I doubt that would have much of a WAF unless it incorporates easy menu driven programming.  I'll have to do some research on that option.

Jeff
« Last Edit: November 06, 2011, 12:13:31 AM by JeffVolp »
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Noam

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Re: Pending analog to digital TV changeover
« Reply #17 on: November 06, 2011, 12:59:03 AM »

A friend of mine built one that is based on Win7 Ultimate, and using Windows Media center with a hauppage tuner.
He said it is really to use. I'm not very familiar with the software options, but I know there are a ton of them for Linux, that are easy to customize. I'm sure someone has written a plugin for one of them, to control a cable box with an IR blaster.
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ITguy

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Re: Pending analog to digital TV changeover
« Reply #18 on: November 06, 2011, 10:44:37 AM »

Jeff,

This isn't exactly what you're asking for, but you might want to check out the Ceton InfiniTV tuner.  Available as either a PCIe card or a USB external box.  It uses a "cablecard" provided by your cable provider and allows watching/recording up to four channels at once using only one cablecard.  Because it uses the cablecard, NO cable box is required.  It would require you to build a Windows 7 PC for the purpose, but the whole works should cost less than that $1000 Tivo, with no recurring fees and NO LIMIT on how much storage you want to put in the box.

It's really made for HDTV, but supports recording SD also.  If your TV isn't HD, you'd also need a DVI-to-component adapter cable, but that's $20 or less from various providers at Amazon.

Regarding the WAF, it uses Windows Media Center, which includes a channel guide, so that probably would work.

Anyway, there's more details here: http://cetoncorp.com/ , and a YouTube search will give you a bunch of user videos regarding the installation and user experience.

In the interest of "full disclosure", I don't have one of these.  I dumped my cable provider for satellite.  Good to be rid of Time Warner, bad to be locked in to DirecTV, where I can only use their stuff.  :(

Regards,

ITguy
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JeffVolp

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Re: Pending analog to digital TV changeover
« Reply #19 on: November 06, 2011, 11:16:16 AM »

Thanks everyone for your inputs.

The requirements for a PC-based DVR (including the Celton) are way beyond anything I have now, and that doesn’t look as user friendly as a device designed to provide that one function.  It has to be really simple to use to have an acceptable WAF.

An article on ehow.com suggested the Moxi HD as a TiVo alternative.  That is an interesting option.  While slightly more expensive than the equivalent TiVo, there is no licensing fee.

Update:  Reading the Moxi reviews on Amazon, it looks like that unit isn't quite ready for prime time yet.  Certainly not the reliablity of the Panasonic, which goes for months unattended without a glitch.  The only problem we have with it is when the networks move their schedules arround.  I believe TiVo would track the changes, but the Panasonic just works off the timer.

The reliability issue seems to be related to the fact that it records 3 channels 24 hours a day with no ability to switch it off.  That is a huge amount of harddrive wear and wasted power for the 20 hours a week that we normally record.

Jeff
« Last Edit: November 06, 2011, 11:50:04 AM by JeffVolp »
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Backward Engineering

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Re: Pending analog to digital TV changeover
« Reply #20 on: November 06, 2011, 12:39:28 PM »

Jeff,

I have a similar situation.  I have DirecTV.  Not the cheapest way to go, but you are not locked into DirecTV equipment as stated by ITGuy.
I have older SD equipment.  NO HD receivers.  I use a ReplayTV box to control the RCA receiver via a serial port on the receiver.  The ReplayTV box is a DVR with a hard drive that I have upgraded to 500 GB.  At about 1 GB per hour, that's a lot of recording.  The ReplayTV that I use has a lifetime guide service that updates the guide every night and stores the program guide for the nest 2 weeks,  however DirectTV, which now owns the rights to the ReplayTV, recently announced the end of life for the service.  The uproar from the announcement caused DirecTV to reverse the decision to end the guide service.  An alternate guide service can be found at Schedule Direct, but that requires running a PC as a server to first download the guide and then send it to the ReplayTV box.  With a ReplayTV box you can transfer the files to a PC or another ReplayTV box over the Internet.  You can record a program while watching a previously recorded program.  And most importantly,  the version I have has the automatic commercial skip feature that was banned in the later models.  If you think you are interested in a ReplayTV box, I'm willing to trade one for one of your XTB-IIRs.  You have my email address.  I presently have a few of the ReplayTV boxes that I have upgraded from the original 40 GB hard drive.  More than I need for my personnel use.

Don
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JeffVolp

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Re: Pending analog to digital TV changeover
« Reply #21 on: November 06, 2011, 01:50:00 PM »


Thanks for the offer on the ReplayTV box.  I had read about that yesterday, and except for the ability to control the RCA receiver, it doesn't really offer as much as we have now.  Reviews on Amazon weren't any better overall than for the Moxi.

In addition to recording the weekly cycle on hard drive, I still want to be able to edit and save selected programs to DVD.  It appears that nothing available today provides that capability directly.

Jeff

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