Tivo alternative

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Is anyone aware of a TiVo alternative? I'd like to be able to record TV/Movies from my cable service to a harddrive, which would then be playable back on my 40" LCD TV. Is the only alternative option to TiVo, a media center computer?

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The TW csr might have been trying to sell you the triple play bundle for $99 per month for 12 months. That offer is act... (more)

FunnyStuff (Nov. 12, 2010 @ 2:54a) |

I connected my TV with a QAM tuner to basic cable & there are 200+Ch that show up. Everyone should try it & see what the... (more)

handyguy (Nov. 12, 2010 @ 11:38a) |

With a QAM + a regular NTSC tuner, I can get the following:

72 analog basic cable channels
13 digital cable channels from ... (more)

FunnyStuff (Nov. 12, 2010 @ 6:49p) |

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Many cable companies have a DVR available.

There exist HDD recorder devices, like MAGNAVOX MDR513H/F7 $230 at Amazon - but, you have to make sure they work with your cable or cable box, and some do not record in high definition.

If you have a spare computer, adding just a tuner or capture card to it may not cost much.

There's also Moxi boxes:
http://moxi.com/us/home.html

Not as well known as TiVo, but still a good service. When I had Charter cable service, this was the DVR they rented out, and it was WAY better than the Scientific Atlanta DVR I have from Time Warner Cable now.

I like the concept of the Moxi Mates, which can stream recordings from the DVR to another TV. FIOS has a similar "multi-room DVR" setup available with their boxes. I also like the idea of having 3 tuners instead of just two tuners on most DVRs.

jolma said: Many cable companies have a DVR available.

There exist HDD recorder devices, like MAGNAVOX MDR513H/F7 $230 at Amazon - but, you have to make sure they work with your cable or cable box, and some do not record in high definition.

If you have a spare computer, adding just a tuner or capture card to it may not cost much.


The thing with most DVR's, it seems, is there is no expandability to them. Or, do I misunderstand? Expandability, as far as attaching external harddrive to the unit. Most DVRs that I have seen are quite limited - at 45 to 200ish hours of recording space available. Granted, a couple hundred hours of movies is a lot, but, eventually it would get filled. The cheapest TiVo I found was around $260 and only offered 45 hours of storage capacity.

If you're not an experienced Computer Builder, you are wise to steer away from a Media Center Computer.

They are far more difficult to build than other machines. There are problems with fitting everything into their small cases, with subsequent cooling issues. And the TV Tuners can be VERY hard to configure.

I have one with Vista Ultimate that works pretty good - it's used every day by the non-techie members of my family. But another I tried to put together with XP Pro and Nero TiVo TV has never worked as it should.

I'm using a Computer Monitor, but only because of financial issues. You'd be much better off with a real TV with multiple Inputs for your WII, Blu-Ray Player, etc.

marsilies said: There's also Moxi boxes:
http://moxi.com/us/home.html

Not as well known as TiVo, but still a good service. When I had Charter cable service, this was the DVR they rented out, and it was WAY better than the Scientific Atlanta DVR I have from Time Warner Cable now.

I like the concept of the Moxi Mates, which can stream recordings from the DVR to another TV. FIOS has a similar "multi-room DVR" setup available with their boxes. I also like the idea of having 3 tuners instead of just two tuners on most DVRs.


The Moxi is an interesting concept, but at $300-1000 for Moxi, that's entirely out of my range. Is there no cheaper option? I had looked at:

WD Media Player

But, it appears, this only offers media playback, when an external drive is connected. I have external drives, which I would think would be ideal as storage for the recorded video. It appears, though, that the above media player only plays, does not record TV shows & movies. It's beginning to sound as though my best bet is to build a cheap HTPC media center computer.

Any other options to this? I'm not crazy about having an extra computer dedicated to this, mostly for the energy usage needs of an extra computer.

Sk8terboy said: The Moxi is an interesting concept, but at $300-1000 for Moxi, that's entirely out of my range.
It's actually $600-$1000, since you need the main Moxi box at $599, then can add on Moxi Mates as desired. You can't use a Moxi Mate without the main Moxi box.

Is there no cheaper option?
The cheapest option, at least upfront, is probably renting a DVR from the cable company. It's probably around $15 more a month to rent a DVR than just a regular cable box.

Note that any other DVR solution is going to need 1 CableCard device per "tuner," whether it's a TiVo, Moxi, or HTPC. These typically cost around $3-$5 each to rent from the cable company, although it may be a wash in cost if you're no longer renting a regular cable box from them.

I agree with jolma to check out options with your cable service provider.

slingbox offers a way for you to watch your tv from anywhere with an internet connect, but I don't think it has a DVR option. I'm not too familiar with this product, but it may be of use to you

Sk8terboy said: The thing with most DVR's, it seems, is there is no expandability to them. Or, do I misunderstand? Expandability, as far as attaching external harddrive to the unit.
Tivos and Moxis are expandable with external harddrives.

The Moxi, for example, comes with a 500GB harddrive, which holds 75 hours of HD or 300 hours SD programming. However, you can add one external drive up to 6TB in size, making a total of 900 hrs of HD, or 3,600 hrs of SD, video total.

Even with my SA DVR from TWC, I was able to add an external 1TB drive to it (I think 1TB is the max allowed).

However, DVRs are best used for time-shifting, not archiving forever. The DRM employed on them will prevent you from moving the drives, and the video recorded on them, to another DVR. This could mean that once the DVR dies, you'll lose access to all the shows you recorded. TiVo has a "TivoToGo" feature that allows you to move programs to your PC, which is probably the best choice for archiving.

Sk8terboy said: Any other options to this? I'm not crazy about having an extra computer dedicated to this, mostly for the energy usage needs of an extra computer.

All the TiVo's and DVR's are really just dedicated computers, and they need to be on all the time.

So I really don't think a Media Center is going to use more electricity than those other solutions.

In fact in the morning and late evening I just shut my Media Center off, as I know nothing I want to record is on during those hours. The only way to do that with a TiVo is pull the plug.

Unless you are only interested in stations broadcast over Clear QAM, a cable company DVR is your best bet, as marsilies notes. Almost every other option requires a cable card or dedicated set-top box, which adds expense. If you are OK only with clear QAM and no HD, the Magnavox 2160A or 513 are probably your best bet. FYI, many cable DVRs ( e.g., cablevision) are expandable with external hard drives and FIOS will be, via eSATA, once firmware 1.9 is pushed out.

skibum43 said: Unless you are only interested in stations broadcast over Clear QAM, a cable company DVR is your best bet, as marsilies notes. Almost every other option requires a cable card or dedicated set-top box, which adds expense. If you are OK only with clear QAM and no HD, the Magnavox 2160A or 513 are probably your best bet. FYI, many cable DVRs ( e.g., cablevision) are expandable with external hard drives and FIOS will be, via eSATA, once firmware 1.9 is pushed out.

I nearly forgot that my Media Center requires a small Comcast box with an IR dongle. I took my IR Emitter and Receiver and placed them both inside an empty White Dental Floss box, which works perfectly.

Build your own PVR: Website

That site has tons of options. LiquidTV is also another option, it uses your computer, about $50 on eBay, it's discontinued but comes with a free year of TiVo & USB tv tuner.

there is no alternative if you use Directv

they made it that way

cindyann said: there is no alternative if you use Directv

they made it that way


I wonder if I'll be in the same boat after my AT&T uverse install in two weeks. A tech who had tried to install in the past (ended up being too far from the CO), said that I would not be
able to use my Series 2 any longer. He said that the Series 1 would work, but nothing else.

Honestly, I'm only getting the TV service in order to bundle and get a price break, but this will be a pretty distasteful experience to not have TiVo - either through FIOS (prior to moving) or antenna (currently).

I'm technically adept, so has anyone found/know/theorize a work around and why I can't use my TiVo with Uverse?

If your TiVo has an infrared transmitter, you should be able to get it to work with in conjunction with a set top box. That's how I get my series 2 to work with FIOS. If that's not possible, why not just continue to use it with an antenna?

Logan71 said: I'm technically adept, so has anyone found/know/theorize a work around and why I can't use my TiVo with Uverse?
TiVo uses conventional ATSC/QAM Tuners or CableCards to receive channels containing MPEG2 video.

Uverse is an IPTV solution that sends MPEG4 video over the IP protocol. It's a totally different way to transmit video, closer to Youtube and Hulu than to cable, satellite, or OTA.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AT%26T_U-verse#U-verse_TV

So you can't use the tuners in your TiVo. As skibum43 points out, you could hook the TiVo up to the Uverse box and record from the decoded video output of the Uverse.

Thank you, Marsilies. I can see that working, under the assumption that the TiVo will record whatever channel the DVR is on currently..and I should be able to FF/RWD live TV, which is an addictive feature that would be tough to live without.

handyguy said: Build your own PVR: Website

That site has tons of options. LiquidTV is also another option, it uses your computer, about $50 on eBay, it's discontinued but comes with a free year of TiVo & USB tv tuner.


Nero LiquidTV is also sold on Amazon for $63.98 shipped.

I found it to be highly problematic.

I assembled some older but adequate components to test it out (Sempron 3100+,1GB DDR,DVD,80GB HD), with a fresh install of XP Pro. Then I fully updated the OS and Drivers.

Finally, before I installed LiquidTV I used Seagate DiscWizard to Image the HD, so as to be able to reinstall the OS fresh over and over if needed. It was needed.

After a couple of weeks of trying to get it all to work I put it aside for a few months, and just haven't had a chance to go back to it yet.

If you read the Reviews on Amazon you'll see my experience was far from unique. Sadly.

SalemCat said:
If you read the Reviews on Amazon you'll see my experience was far from unique. Sadly.


You have to get the software update from Nero. It works fine for me.

SalemCat said: handyguy said: Build your own PVR: Website

That site has tons of options. LiquidTV is also another option, it uses your computer, about $50 on eBay, it's discontinued but comes with a free year of TiVo & USB tv tuner.


Nero LiquidTV is also sold on Amazon for $63.98 shipped.

I found it to be highly problematic.

I assembled some older but adequate components to test it out (Sempron 3100+,1GB DDR,DVD,80GB HD), with a fresh install of XP Pro. Then I fully updated the OS and Drivers.

Finally, before I installed LiquidTV I used Seagate DiscWizard to Image the HD, so as to be able to reinstall the OS fresh over and over if needed. It was needed.

After a couple of weeks of trying to get it all to work I put it aside for a few months, and just haven't had a chance to go back to it yet.

If you read the Reviews on Amazon you'll see my experience was far from unique. Sadly.


this is nice but wont work with directv...........

If nags do not bother you, an unactivated TiVo allows manual recording to the hard drive.

http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/arcmessageview.php?catid=24&threadid=1015706

Logan71 said: Thank you, Marsilies. I can see that working, under the assumption that the TiVo will record whatever channel the DVR is on currently..and I should be able to FF/RWD live TV, which is an addictive feature that would be tough to live without.

You can FF/RWD live TV on the main Uverse box.

The Magnavox option looks pretty good to me. I only want to tune clear QAM (Time Warner sends the big 4 networks in clear QAM digital HD as part of the basic cable package) and OTA and I think I can live with a decent 16:9 SD recording.

I did some research on what it would take to get TiVo HD / Series 3 / Premier up and running. In addition to the cost of the TiVo and TiVo service I'd have to upgrade my cable TV to a digital package (+$30/mo) and rent two cable cards (+$5/mo) and pay Time Warner a $50 installation fee.


Can anyone verify that the free basic service hack on the TiVo HD from above is still working?

WalMart is selling the new Magnavox 515 for $279 Magnavox-MDR515H-F7 It has a 500GB hard drive and some features the older models don't have. See AVS Forum thread for everything you wanted to know about Magnavox DVRs.

TheGrayMan said: The Magnavox option looks pretty good to me. I only want to tune clear QAM (Time Warner sends the big 4 networks in clear QAM digital HD as part of the basic cable package) and OTA and I think I can live with a decent 16:9 SD recording.


skibum43 said: WalMart is selling the new Magnavox 515 for $279 So, after tax that's about $300 which is reasonable, but puts it in the ballpark of a lifetime TiVo HD on eBay ($400-ish). The Magnavox may be the way to go if there is no way to get cablecards from TWC without purchasing a digital package.

Do you have Broadcast or Basic Cable with Time Warner? At least here, Digital Cable (which includes 1 tier) + 1 cablecard is less than (analog) Basic Cable.

FunnyStuff said: Do you have Broadcast or Basic Cable with Time Warner? At least here, Digital Cable (which includes 1 tier) + 1 cablecard is less than (analog) Basic Cable.I have Basic Cable from Time Warner (Raleigh, NC). OTA reception isn't so hot where I live.

Digital Cable is at least $15 more a month plus they nickle and dime you on a bunch of other digital related stuff.

EDIT: Just got off the phone with TW and adding Digital Cable plus DVR is an extra $40 per month all told. I'm unclear on exactly what the specific costs are, but that is the very lowest level of service for one tv.

skibum43 said: WalMart is selling the new Magnavox 515 for $279

Is it still outputting in SD? Their previous recorders took HD input but convert to SD for output.

It is still SD - believe it records in 480i but upconverts to 720p or 1080i as previous models do.
handyguy said: skibum43 said: WalMart is selling the new Magnavox 515 for $279

Is it still outputting in SD? Their previous recorders took HD input but convert to SD for output.

TheGrayMan said:

I have Basic Cable from Time Warner (Raleigh, NC). OTA reception isn't so hot where I live.

Digital Cable is at least $15 more a month plus they nickle and dime you on a bunch of other digital related stuff.

EDIT: Just got off the phone with TW and adding Digital Cable plus DVR is an extra $40 per month all told. I'm unclear on exactly what the specific costs are, but that is the very lowest level of service for one tv.



According to TW's website in your area, Basic Cable is $59.95. So, are they telling you that digital cable service for 1 tv is $100 per month?

FunnyStuff said: According to TW's website in your area, Basic Cable is $59.95. So, are they telling you that digital cable service for 1 tv is $100 per month?

In a word, yes. Digital Cable plus DC box plus DVR for 1 TV was $40 more than my existing Basic Cable.

However, on my third call to TWC I got a rep with a clue who said the previous two reps were mistaken and he gave me a promo for Digital Cable at $10 / mo for 12 mos plus $11 for the DVR. This seemed a lot more reasonable. He also said the previous reps had quoted me more equipment rental than I actually needed.

The TW csr might have been trying to sell you the triple play bundle for $99 per month for 12 months. That offer is actually not a bad deal as just getting digital cable puts you in the $80 per month range.

I connected my TV with a QAM tuner to basic cable & there are 200+Ch that show up. Everyone should try it & see what they get. True, if you use a box, you get a better numbering system.

With a QAM + a regular NTSC tuner, I can get the following:

72 analog basic cable channels
13 digital cable channels from Broadcast tier
33 digital OTA channels
13 digital channels from Analog Basic Tier
52 audio channels
total: 183

If somebody has a free preview, there would be more channels for a couple weeks. So I guess there is 200 channels sometimes. Here is a site that shows what digital channels are available via QAM in your area. I would say one would be very fortunate to regularly get 200 unique digital channels with video.

http://www.silicondust.com/support/channels/

Note that the only HD channels would be from the Broadcast tier. Cable companies add/delete/move qam channels all the time, so it is a hassle just finding them. Luckily for me TW's pricing is much better in my area as it makes no sense to stick with analog cable if you have equipment that can use cablecards. I just wish there were more choices of devices that uses cablecards.



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