DVR, PVR and DVD Recorders

Copyright 2009 by Stephen Vermeulen
Last updated: 2009 Dec 05
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See also:

Commercial Systems

  • 2009-Dec-05: Slashdot discusses PC DVR software for all platforms. [8823] [1] [2]
  • 2009-Aug-14: Shaw Cable is blocking the firewire output on its hidef PVR boxes again. [8400]
  • 2009-Jul-21: Engadget takes a stab at building an HTPC with Blu-ray for under $1000, in fact they suggest ways of building a less-capable machine for about $500. [8308]
  • 2008-Oct-16: Nero in partnership with TiVo has introduced TiVo PC, this is a TiVo remote, Hauppage card and TiVo DVR software in a box for use on a PC. The software is also available separately. EngadgetHD gets its hands on this and gives it a review. [6945]
  • 2007-Nov-27: SageTV is going to market a Media Extender (STX HD-100), a set top box like device to allow you to play your digital media on a regular TV at hi-def resolutions. It looks like it will do S-Vidoe, Component and HDMI, plus it has a number of USB ports so maybe it can play from locally attached drives or flash cards too? [4199]
  • Software PVRs are becoming Tivio killers according to Slashdot. [3548]
  • The SnaZio net DVD players [3547]
  • This Line-On LVW-5045 DVR unit looks like a good deal [3546]
  • I-O Data has announced a DVD player with network and USB connections that can play MPEG-4 and DivX. [3545]
  • GoVideo is combining a DVD player with wireless media playing [3544]
  • Panasonic is getting serious about their combination DVD-R and Hard Drive TV recorders, they have now announced models with up to 400G drives. Their DMR-E85HS is more reasonably priced and has a 120GB drive, it also has a built in EPG (electronic program guide) that picks up its information from signals provided over basic cable (works in Calgary, Canada with Shaw Cable in Dec'04). Its biggest limitation is that it only writes to DVD-R and DVD-RAM, but that's not too bad - however, almost all the competition also write to DVD+/-RW media. When it writes to DVD-RAM it creates VRO format files, apparently these are just MPEG files and are like VOB files (see this reference) except missing some indexing information. The LG Super Multi DVD drive has no problem reading these, and if you just change the extension from VRO to MPG they will play. [3543]
  • Buffalo is making the PC-MV72DX/U2, which is a video capture and playback device that includes a TV Tuner. This does not have internal storage, it can be attached to a PC or a NAS device to make a full-blown PVR. [3331]
  • Tom's Hardware compares MythTV to Windows Media Edition [3330]
  • Pioneer (Mar'06) is launching some PVRs with the ability to add extra hard drives via USB ports. [3329]
  • How to build a practical home theater PC [3328]
  • The Toshiba RD-XS34 (replaced by the RD-XS35) has 160GB of storage and is quite a nice unit. It is missing a few features the Panasonic DMR-E85H has, the main one being that when you are in a contents view mode (where there are a number of thumbnails representing individual shows or chapters) these are just static images on the Toshiba, while on the Panasonic these actually will show the video. The Toshiba does have one major advantage in that if the unit is recording and you go to watch another previously recorded show at the same time, the Toshiba will let you set chapter marks in this show, but the Panasonic will not. [3327]
  • The Panasonic DMR-E85H is quite a nice DVR, it has a 120GB drive and the TV Guide on-screen function (which works quite well). It looks like this was available in the 2003-2005 timeframe and has been replaced by some other models. From time to time it will "crash" (for me this ocasionally happens when I insert a blank DVD-R to do some dubbing, maybe about once a month), sometimes when it crashes it looses the contents of the TV Guide memory buffer, so you may have to wait for a day or two before the TV Guide is available again. A number of people have reported U99 errors (especially with use of the divide function), I've only seen this problem once. See this artical for some discussion of the U99 issue, including a remark about the owner having put a 160GB drive into the DVR, but the DVR only used the first 120GB of it (maybe it would be possible to remove the drive after it has been formatted and then extend the partition?), there is also discussion of some additional hidden menus. The AVS Forum also has some postings on these subjects. There is also some information on the forums at afterdawn.com. [3326]
  • This media player from Conceptronic is like a portable USB drive with video output capability [3325]
  • Toshiba's RC-XS54 has 250GB of storage and network connectivity which is strangely crippled (they won't let you copy from a PC onto the DVR, but will go the other way) [3324]

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