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Folks, finally I have decided to get a digital video recorder. However, despite all the information, I am having a tough time time deciding which one to buy. So my friends help me out and tell me which one is a good buy. I am looking […]

tivo logoFolks, finally I have decided to get a digital video recorder. However, despite all the information, I am having a tough time time deciding which one to buy. So my friends help me out and tell me which one is a good buy. I am looking for good value for money. It would be nice to get some user feedback. My wish-list includes spending as little as possible and also wifi support. And I would rather not pay any monthly fees to get the service!

  1. I bought the Toshiba SD-H400 (80GB TiVo and DVD player) from BestBuy last month for $200. Then i got a $50 rebate and has Tivo Basic, which is free of monthly charges. It’s awesome and a great deal.

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  2. I always recommend to my friends to go with a Directv Tivo (directivo) if you can swing installing the satellite at your home. It has 2 tuners that you can watch/record two things at the same time and with the USB plug on the back, I’m sure you can hook up some kind of wi-fi dongle. The Directivo has a $5 / mo service fee whereas the standard Tivo is $13 / mo.

    A friend has bought his Tivo here for $50 and it all worked out. http://www.expertsatellite.com/exp_showoffer.php?category=dvr
    It is now $99 though :(

    Your other options are to put a PC (with a TV card) in your living room (which may not get you an as seemless experience as if you were using Tivo). On Windows there a bunch of packages such as Snapstream (http://www.pvrblog.com/pvr/2004/03/snapstream_revi.html). On the Linux side there are a few such as Mythtv and Freevo. You can even have a PC running Mythtv for the background work and use a hacked Xbox for the front-end in your living room.

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  3. Order Dish from SBC and get the 522. It has dual tuner so you can record Joey and The OC at the same time this fall. In addition, the 522 powers two TVs without the need for another set top.

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  4. Hi Om,

    Give DirecTivo a try. The units are cheap and the integration is smoother than having a separate tuner/PVR combo. You get discounted Tivo pricing of $5/month, but if that is too much, you might want to get one of the devices with the free basic Tivo built-in (you miss out on the Season Pass though).

    Joe Fung

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  5. Another vote for DirecTivo.

    After having Time Warner Cable’s Scientific Atlanta Explorer and finding it was buggy as hell, it was great to switch to DirecTivo….

    Nice unit, smooth interface, no bugs….

    My only complaint is the slow speed of the program guide, but there’s not much to do about that (satellite latency)….

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  6. The biggest advantage of DirecTivo is that it records the digital source giving you a perfect copy. I’ve owned a regular Tivo and a ReplayTV. The Tivo edges it out with a better interface and more accurate listings. The Replay has higher quality analog recording and is more hackable.

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  7. I’ve been running mythtv for almost a year now. The plugins are what really put it above the others. You can’t really compare sound/video quality because that is all reliant on the hardware you let myth run on. Being able to log into my PVR via a browser (or my phone) to view/schedule recordings is great.

    And linux’s lirc project makes programming a remote control quite easy. It should be noted however that it is still not above a 1.0 version and has it’s share of random crashes to X. I keep my wireless keyboard for the machine under my couch for those instances.

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  8. I recently got the Hughes DirecTivo box, and I like it. I also have an old ReplayTV box which I hacked with a 200gb drive. The Tivo is much slicker, but my ReplayTV is free. Having had a plain old DirecTV box (non-tivo) in the past, I can tell you that the sluggishness of the menuing system has nothing to do with satellite latency (after all, it dials in and downloads the listing each night anyway.) The sluggishness of the menu has to do with the slow processor in those units. If you want to test, go buy a Sony unit; they have faster processors and their menus are lickety-split. Is it worth the extra money? Depends on how much money you have…

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  9. Om, If you have the time, you might want to check out http://www.mythtv.org These guys have done a phenomal job at an open source solution. It is based off of linux. I will tell you right now, even though they have a binary distribution, and it is much more user friendly then before, it is still a huge pain in the ass to configure and setup. But the benefits, I think, outweigh these issues. One of the reasons I like it is the ability use more than 1 tv tuner card in the system. Also, one of the other BIG benefits is they have separated the encoding and decoding functionalities; what this means is that you can have a machine that does all your recording and another machine that you can you to view those recordings, or multiple machines all over. There is also the ability to use HD card called pcHDtv. This guy has written a great setup for RedHat fedora http://www.wilsonet.com/mythtv
    This not an out of the box solution, but if you want to learn Linux, it can be a real learning experience.

    Michael

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