Home Theater Network
Digital Video Recorders (DVR)

DVR Examples


Using a HDTV capture card, a Home Theater PC (HTPC) can be a great alternative to a standalone DVR. The capture cards have the same functionality of DVRs such as:

HTPC with HD Capture Card

Comparing DVRs

For ease of setup, it is hard to beat the cable or satellite companies STBs with built-in DVR abilities. Recording shows is a cinch by simply hitting the record button when using the STB’s guide listings. Using a TiVo or ReplayTV DVR complicates things by adding a second box. The TiVo/ReplayTV DVR will have its own guide menu and will have to use a serial port or IR port to change channels. Furthermore, a cable/satellite company will usually charge you less per month than TiVo/ReplayTV and no expensive hardware purchases are required. The HTPC DVR has the best price for monthly charges – free. However, you will only be able to record OTA HD channels and analog cable channels because cable companies encrypt their video signals. Because of this, it is best to use a HTPC DVR more as a VCR–like device with scheduled recordings such as movies and sports that you plan on keeping for a long time.

As far as stand–alone boxes go, it is hard to say if TiVo and ReplayTV will survive with all the competition out there. DirecTV is getting away from TiVo and using other manufacture’s DVRs for HD and SD recordings. With HDTVs dropping in price, the HD market is growing fast. TiVo and ReplayTV are going to miss out if they don’t have HD capable DVRs on the market.

DVR Tips

  1. HD recordings are approximately six times larger than SD recordings.
  2. Satellite companies are switching to a more efficient MPEG4 compression algorithm. This could limit the channels viewable by current satellite STBs.
  3. ReplayTV does not offer HD capable DVRs.
  4. HTPC DVRs are great for video that you want to keep for a long time or permanently.
  5. TiVo and ReplayTV DVRs are hackable.
  6. Expect a one to two second delay when changing channels on a TiVo/ReplayTV DVR due to the IR (Infrared) port.
  7. Remember, that you can use your broadband internet connection to make daily calls too. For Tivo, just use “,#401” as the dialing prefix.

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