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DVR Rent or Buy

Posted on 2010-09-13
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Last Modified: 2012-05-10
I would like to get a DVR but I don't know that much about them and don't know if I should pay Comcast, my cable provider, Tivo or buy an independent model.  I am inclined to buy rather than get locked into a monthly fee but it doesn't seem as though I would get all the features unless I am am paying a fee to Comcast or Tivo.
I have tried a google search but all the models I have located give very limited information about the features included.  
If I buy, can you program it to record a specific show, Law and Order SVU, rather than a time so it gets it even if they move nights?  
Can you watch and record the same show at the same time in case you tune in after it starts?  
Will they record one channel while you watch another?  
I have read that some channels might be encrypted.  Which ones?  
Etc.
What's better?  Rent or Buy?
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Question by:sbdt8631
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by:thakurdinesh
ID: 33665849
I will suggest to rent, because of two reasons. One if you will buy, it will be expensive to buy. Second is, after 2-3 years, the capacity of storage will increase, but you wont be having a choice of replacing it. But if you will rent it you can replace it with your cable provider with the larger storage capacity.

If you saves HD movies, on the latest ones you wont be able to store more than 10 movies. later in a year or two that capacity will increase from 10 to 100, as the storage disk increase. So in my openion I will not spent 300 bux on buying a new one, rather will spend 10-15 bux monthly as a Rent.
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rockiroads earned 84 total points
ID: 33665859
A dvr should allow you to record shows at set times. If it has multiple tuners then you should be able record and watch. If your gonna get one get a HD one.

what is the upfront cost of a dvr? considering how quick technology changes as well, newer better models come out maybe at a cheaper price.
what is the cost of renting? with renting you have the option to give it back whenever I guess plus the dvr would be made to work with your provider well and Im sure you get technical support easier if something goes wrong.
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by:d_willia
d_willia earned 83 total points
ID: 33665867
Go with Comcast.  I have tried to get around having to pay the monthly fee with 3rd party boxes, but in the end it's just not worth the time to set up a box that will work for 90% of the time (no updates on programming changes).  Tivo will work, but you still have to pay the subscription fee to get the programming updates.
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by:thakurdinesh
ID: 33665896
And yes you can select any program, this option is provided by the service provider. To save one show and watch other show at the same time you need Dual Tuner DVR which will cost more, but for extra $5 you can get from your service provider. With single tuner you can watch and store the same show, but can not store one show while wathing other show. THis option is only available with dual tuner.
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by:Gary Davis
ID: 33665964
I am a Tivo owner and very happy with it. The classic user interface is really well done. The new Tivo Premier has a new interface and it is nice too (you can opt for classic which is speedier). I have a lifetime subscription to avoid paying monthly fees. It even lowers the monthly on the 2nd Tivo without lifetime.
You specify the Title to record, whenever it happens to come on the specified channel. If the same title may be on multiple channels, you can use a "WishList" (which can be by title, actor, keyword, etc). Set up "Season Passes" to get the same show every week or whenever it airs. It is smart enough to only record the episode once if on multiple times during the  month. It can also be set up to ignore reruns.
On the new Tivos, they have 2 tuners (cable cards) so you can record two shows at once. You can also watch a 3rd from the list of shows you already recorded.
If you are going to watch 3 hours of prime-time shows, don't watch live. Record them and start watching after the 1st finished recording (9pm if prime-time starts at 8). Fast forward thru the commercials and at the end of the 3rd hour, you will have caught up since each show is about 40 minutes. So you watched 3 hours in 2. It will really change your life.
You don't need to worry about encryption since the show may be encrypted on disk but the device decrypts to play. If you are talking about premium channels, that is up to the cable-tv account. If you are talking about downloading to your PC, there are tools to do the encoding.
Also, Netflix and YouTube and other Internet shows can be downloaded and watched while the two tuners record.
Gary
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Author Comment

by:sbdt8631
ID: 33665990
thakurdinesh:
When it comes to TV I am a dinosaur.  I don't have an HD TV yet so storage will probably not be an issue soon.  Under normal circumstances my wife can store everything we record on one or two VCR tapes.  (Yes I know, everyone can quit laughing just because we still use a VCR.  It's paid for)

rockiroads
Comcast wants $15 a month.  The ones I've looked at are $300-400, Approx.  There is one called FIIVO that got some hype, but again I couldn't find specifice information as to features.  I hate to rent for two years and spend the same money and own nothing.

d_willia
I'm inclined towards Comcast over Tivo.  Why pay for the box if you still have to pay for the service.  In a perfect world I want Tivo's features on a box I can buy without the monthly service.
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by:sbdt8631
ID: 33666143
Gary
But don't you have to buy the box and pay the monthly fee.  I went on their site briefly last night and it seemed that the box is $300 + $13 a month.  Comcast is $15 a month.  What is so much better about Tivo to justify the money?
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by:thakurdinesh
thakurdinesh earned 84 total points
ID: 33666150
$15 will be for dual tuner I belive. single tuner should nto cost that much. But if you are not interested in HD channels at all and do not want to plan the same. You can go with the option of buying a new one. But remember, todays technology Doubles in every 18 Months, that means after about 3 years your DVR will be outdated to store more programs such HDs, if you plan to buy that time.

You can ask your cable provider for lesser price. I remember comcast without HD tunre with DVR charged $8 a few months back.
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by:rockiroads
ID: 33666330
expensive then at $15 a month. Difficult one to call but if you definitely going to stay with your provider that supports your model (which it should) then go for it. At the end of the day you have to feel most comfortable with your decision and if feel buying is better because after 2 years renting it works out the same then buy it.
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by:rockiroads
ID: 33666336
Whatever you get, it you want it future proofed a little then min has to be multiple tuners and hd.
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by:Thibault St john Cholmondeley-ffeatherstonehaugh the 2nd
Thibault St john Cholmondeley-ffeatherstonehaugh the 2nd earned 83 total points
ID: 33667001
The box I get as part of my broadband package is great for recording two channels at once, pausing tv and even watching one recorded thing while recording two others. What it lacks are some really useful features that my old vcr had. I used to be able to record between any two times of my choice as well as choose a program from the teletext. If I hit record during a program this digital box will record all the program I have just watched as well as the five minutes I actually want to see. It will record just that program and stop at what it thinks is the end, if the program overruns by 30 seconds I miss the end. I used to be able, while watching something back, to put an index mark on it so if someone had to go out and miss the second half of something they could index the place and watch from there next time they had a chance. This super digital box doesn't have that feature, you have to fast forward through the whole thing to find the bit you want - you can't step to the next program and fast rewind, it doesn't work like that. You can't set it to record two programs that overlap by overriding the start and stop times, it will only use the teletext times and record the entire program. This means that if you wanted a film but didn't mind missing 15 minutes at the beginning because it clashes with something else you have to choose between one and the other (if you are also recording something else at the same time). We are a family of four and there are frequent clashes between recordings. It would probably be an ideal machine for one person but it's not quite good enough to share. It is not possible to download a recorded program to pc or to dvd, some machines will let you do this, consequently the disk is gradually filling up with old things that we want to keep and we will eventually have to lose. Lots of negative points, but if you can find a machine that doen't have these limitations then you will wonder how you ever managed only recording one channel. I think that my major complaints are not being able to download onto removable storage and the inability to override the set times for recordings.
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by:Gary Davis
Gary Davis earned 83 total points
ID: 33667334
There is a very acitve user community at http://www.tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb/forumdisplay.php?f=29. There are many reasons why people like the Tivo over the Comcast DVR - season passes and wishlists are often mentioned as well as the friendly user interface.
Gary
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by:aleghart
aleghart earned 83 total points
ID: 33668524
There is a monthly cost for Tivo service.  The cableco DVR units have a slightly higher monthly, but don't have an upfront purchase cost.  For very good reason.  If you ever have the pleasure of living with a Tivo for a week, you'll not wonder why there is an active Tivo-brand community.

The cablecos always point out the shortcomings of Tivo, as if there is really such a thing as a perfect product.  There isn't.  My Tivos have always just worked.  Same reason why Mac lovers like their more-expensive machines.  Feels better, does what they want, and isn't overly-techy, or as prone to crash.  Besides, I've used the cable boxes and DVR units that were "free" except for the monthly recurring rental (read: PROFITS).  They crash.  They have problems.  And, they're significantly more profitable.  $15/month for an average of 4 years = $720 for something that probably costs them $100-150.  They get zero $ from a Tivo.  That's why they've upped the "rental" fees for the CableCard.  It used to be $2.  Now it's $4.  Those monthly recurring fees are both the profit and stability for the company.

I started with a DirecTivo with sattelite, then HD DirecTivo.  Now using HD Tivos with FIOS.  They have their quirks and some limitations, but they do what I need, quickly, and without requiring re-boots in the middle of shows.

I don't need to play one unit in four rooms, like AT&T U-verse advertises.  I have two TVs, so two Tivos.  K.I.S.S.  I can record 4 hi-def channels at the same time, and watch two of them.  I'm a geek....but that's even too much for me to keep up with.

Try the Tivo for a couple of weeks.  Buy it from a legit seller with a 30-day return policy.  You should be able to rent CableCARD from your cableco for $2-4/month, month-to-month, with no commitment.  If you don't like it, send it back and return the CableCARD.  Then get the "free" DVR that they provide.  It just a little bit of time spend on field research.

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Author Closing Comment

by:sbdt8631
ID: 33671313
Thanks guys.  I called Comcast and they offered me a one year promotional price for a two tuner DVR that increased my monthly bill by only $7, with no commitment, so I decided to go that route for now.
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