No-Fee DVR

InsideTheParker

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Jul 15, 2005
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We don't like paying any more monthly fees than absolutely necessary, so for years we have owned a Magnavox DVR that we have used for recording both over-the-air (PBS) and Directv (movies and baseball). It was particularly satisfactory for starting and stopping live Red Sox games. It originally cost something like $350.00. It was fried in the lightning strike, and the most vigorous Googling can't find a replacement for less than $659., refurbished. The insurance guy is balking at this, and I don't blame him, but the policy is for replacement value, and we can't find anything else comparable. Every other one he finds turns out to be analog, requiring a monthly fee, not usable for satellite programs, etc. My husband found a discussion that said that these have become very popular with cord-cutters who, so long as they were paying a sat or cable co., rented dvrs from them and now want their own.

Does anyone know of another DVR that does everything we need for a more reasonable price? I can't believe that no one is giving Magnavox some competition in this area. TIA.
 

bradcote

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We don't like paying any more monthly fees than absolutely necessary, so for years we have owned a Magnavox DVR that we have used for recording both over-the-air (PBS) and Directv (movies and baseball). It was particularly satisfactory for starting and stopping live Red Sox games. It originally cost something like $350.00. It was fried in the lightning strike, and the most vigorous Googling can't find a replacement for less than $659., refurbished. The insurance guy is balking at this, and I don't blame him, but the policy is for replacement value, and we can't find anything else comparable. Every other one he finds turns out to be analog, requiring a monthly fee, not usable for satellite programs, etc. My husband found a discussion that said that these have become very popular with cord-cutters who, so long as they were paying a sat or cable co., rented dvrs from them and now want their own.

Does anyone know of another DVR that does everything we need for a more reasonable price? I can't believe that no one is giving Magnavox some competition in this area. TIA.
You might want to look at a Channel Master. You can get their DVR box and hook a hard drive up to it. I used that to record over the air content.
 

Todd Benzinger

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Amazon has the 1 TB Magnavox model for $359 (refurbed).

I've used one of these (actually a 500gb) for a while, mostly for OTA sports and PBS. Most of the recent substitutes require greater hands-on computer work and additional equipment (lie an HDHomerun). I've tried some and they are a pain to deal with and turn out to wonky & unreliable (for me anyway).

The Tablo looks kind of cool, but I haven't tried it, and it seems to be for OTA antenna, not for DirectTV...
 

cgori

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The Channel Master is supposedly one of the better OTA DVRs. I wasn't even aware of the Magnavox device until this thread (I assume you had a MDR865H, or similar, after reading about them).

I think you will find it hard to locate another product that can record from DirecTV. (I am sorta curious, was that recording purely time-based, like a VCR? I assume you connected the component or S-video out of the DTV box to the Magnavox and told the DVR when to record from the external input, but I'm not clear on how it changed channels on your DTV box.)

DirecTV has no incentive to make this easy - they want you to use their box instead. In fact, I believe that the HDMI outputs are going to flag programming via HDCP which probably means it cannot be recorded that way without using an HDCP stripper (e.g. HDfury Integral), and most people will not accept the limitations of S-video/component (S-video is going to cap out at 480i, and component at 1080i, with some weird exceptions). This basically squashes the market for a company that might try to build such a box.

The cord-cutters use something like the Channel Master (or a Nuvyyo) to record OTA and OTT (over-the-top/streamed) programs. You are sort of in the middle, without cord cutting (keeping DirecTV) but wanting a fee-less DVR.

If you can find a way to not use DirecTV and can go with one of the other streaming offerings for your movies (YouTube TV or DirecTV Now), many have Cloud DVR functionality built into the subscription cost. You'd need to use MLB.tv or similar to watch games, which also has a pause/resume feature. You'd obviously need the OTA for your PBS/network programming.

One other idea, depending on your use model, is to check out HD HomeRun, that might be more effort than you want to go to but it would handle multiple TVs quite well, if that was an issue for you. It still won't deal with the DirecTV issue though.
 

InsideTheParker

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Amazon has the 1 TB Magnavox model for $359 (refurbed).

I've used one of these (actually a 500gb) for a while, mostly for OTA sports and PBS. Most of the recent substitutes require greater hands-on computer work and additional equipment (lie an HDHomerun). I've tried some and they are a pain to deal with and turn out to wonky & unreliable (for me anyway).

The Tablo looks kind of cool, but I haven't tried it, and it seems to be for OTA antenna, not for DirectTV...
This is exactly what we want, but 1) it no longer is available for $359 (maybe Amazon likes you better) and the problem is that the insurance guy doesn't want to pay more. However, the link you provided is a bit better than we found, because I don't believe we saw the $488.99 price. I have to try to cajole the insurance rep into understanding that this is what "replacement value" is now. Thanks.
 

InsideTheParker

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I think you will find it hard to locate another product that can record from DirecTV. (I am sorta curious, was that recording purely time-based, like a VCR? I assume you connected the component or S-video out of the DTV box to the Magnavox and told the DVR when to record from the external input, but I'm not clear on how it changed channels on your DTV box.)
All you do is "autotune" on Directv, which we use all the time to turn on the Sox, for example. Then the DVR just records whatever is on Channel 3. We can't abandon Directv, which I would love to do, because I am a Soxaholic and my husband loves the Pats so much he reads and talks about them all year long. (I should have added that because of our location on the N. side of a hill, we can't get the networks over the air. We get great PBS from both VT and NH, tho. The lightning fried all of our ota antennas, haven't replaced them yet, either.)
 
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cgori

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As far as I can tell, these don't work with satellite or cable.
Is cable potentially an option for you? Some DVRs can support CableCard, which would work with Comcast/etc but DirecTV has never released a CableCard, to my knowledge. You might be able to get the most basic cable package plus a cable-card DVR (something like this maybe). Or you might find that the cable even with the DVR charge is less than DirecTV at the moment?

You would definitely be able to stream Sox games via MLB.tv - it's how I watch them every day in California - but for NFL, you'd have to have OTA or some other way to get the local stations because of your hill/line-of-sight issue (satellite/cable/fiber/etc).
 

InsideTheParker

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Is cable potentially an option for you? Some DVRs can support CableCard, which would work with Comcast/etc but DirecTV has never released a CableCard, to my knowledge. You might be able to get the most basic cable package plus a cable-card DVR (something like this maybe). Or you might find that the cable even with the DVR charge is less than DirecTV at the moment?

You would definitely be able to stream Sox games via MLB.tv - it's how I watch them every day in California - but for NFL, you'd have to have OTA or some other way to get the local stations because of your hill/line-of-sight issue (satellite/cable/fiber/etc).
Cable's not an option, which is why we put up our satellite system years ago in a snow storm so that spouse could watch the Super Bowl.
Mlb.tv is not an option for watching the Sox in real time, as there is a blackout for folks in MA.
And, as I explained above, we can't get the locals via OTA, we're blocked. As a matter of fact, you should have seen the husband a few years ago, wandering all over the property holding an antenna, shouting back to me in the den, "See anything yet?"
 

gtmtnbiker

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Mlb.tv is not an option for watching the Sox in real time, as there is a blackout for folks in MA.
I have MLB.TV but because of the blackout restrictions, I use the reddit MLBstreams to watch the game on my FireTV using the Silk Browser. I'm surprised how good the quality is. My other options are to watch via the NESN app on my iPad or use the other TV which still has cable.
 

Dernells Casket n Flagon

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Cable's not an option, which is why we put up our satellite system years ago in a snow storm so that spouse could watch the Super Bowl.
Mlb.tv is not an option for watching the Sox in real time, as there is a blackout for folks in MA.
And, as I explained above, we can't get the locals via OTA, we're blocked. As a matter of fact, you should have seen the husband a few years ago, wandering all over the property holding an antenna, shouting back to me in the den, "See anything yet?"
YouTubeTV?
 

InsideTheParker

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I have MLB.TV but because of the blackout restrictions, I use the reddit MLBstreams to watch the game on my FireTV using the Silk Browser. I'm surprised how good the quality is. My other options are to watch via the NESN app on my iPad or use the other TV which still has cable.
I do know I tried to get the NESN app, but found at that time was not available for android. Also, you have to prove you are a subscriber to something like Directv, so what's the point. As for the reddit MLBstreams, that may be something to look into during the off-season. I will have a rokuTV (arriving tomorrow), have chromecast for other TV, but never have heard of the Silk browser.