Author Topic: Suggestions for dvr without cable? (in Boston)  (Read 8479 times)

NestEggChick (formerly PFgal)

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Suggestions for dvr without cable? (in Boston)
« on: June 25, 2014, 04:30:59 PM »
I stopped watching cable tv years ago, but I continued to watch network channels through the "basic cable package." For $15-$20 this seemed like a reasonable deal. But with the dvr it became $45. I want the dvr. It lets me easily record the shows and movies I want to see, plus with a ready queue, I watch less junk. But I got sick of paying $45 per month.

So I gladly switched to Aereo. For $12.75 per month I get all the channels I really want, plus 60 hours of dvr space. I knew the broadcasters had sued them, and it was in the courts, but they'd won every case in the lower courts, so I signed up. Today they lost at the Supreme Court level. So that's it. They either need to close up or find a new business model.

My guess is they're going to close up. So can anyone suggest options? I can buy an antenae for the tv, but I still want a dvr. What can you guys recommend as options? I don't want to pay for a tivo subscription. I'm open to internet options. I just want ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, and hopefully TVLand or similar (I love old shows) and hopefully a channel that shows old movies. Plus anything that shows BBC series ;)

I'd love any tips you guys can offer! Thanks!

AH013

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Re: Suggestions for dvr without cable? (in Boston)
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2014, 01:21:06 PM »
Install XBMC or Windows Media Center.  Buy antenna & TV tuner for your computer.  Connect antenna to TV tuner, which is plugged into your computer, and connect computer to TV.  You now get to watch live TV, and you can set your computer to record TV shows as they air.

I use XBMC personally and it is awesome.  The system has scrappers which basically go to various open-source websites to gather TV show titles, synopsis, genre, year, etc so you can have a quick media library that you can search through.  There is a bit of setup work, but once you're done it is an awesome system that can be expanded into other things to make a smart TV (music player, email popups as you're watching a show, VoIP phone, video game emulator, the list goes on).

Seriously, install XMBC and buy a 2-3TB external hard drive (~$100) and you have a personalized DVR.  Video compressed to MKV format runs about 300MB per hour of content, so a 3TB drive will let you store enough content to watch TV & movies 24/7 for a year straight, plus house every video game console & game made until ~2009.

A fully decked out system including hard drive, TV tuner, computer remote control and other convenience tools to make it more cable-box/DVR-like will run you $150 max, which is cheaper and has more capacity than most other solutions like TiVo (10,000 hours vs maybe 150 hours), and best of all requires no monthly/annual subscription.

DoubleDown

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Re: Suggestions for dvr without cable? (in Boston)
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2014, 01:25:31 PM »
We use antenna + Tivo + Netflix. This is more programming than I could ever want to watch, costs $18/month I think (plus the initial purchase of the Tivo DVR, which was about $100 with a promotion they had).

schimt

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Re: Suggestions for dvr without cable? (in Boston)
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2014, 01:39:26 PM »
we have been using an android version of apple tv called the G-box, which comes with XBMC loaded on it. You just have to to hook it up to your tv and internet and install a few add-on's to XBMC and you are golden. When i moved in with my girlfriend who loved to watch TV, i asked her if we could try this out for a month or so before we get cable, and it has been almost a year and still no cable. And all the setup or customizing you could ever want to do with it I found by searching youtube. You can get a wireless keyboard and mouse for it, or their "flymouse" which is a nice air mouse with a keyboard on the back.

http://www.amazon.com/G-Box-Midnight-MX2-Android-Streaming/dp/B00CH643A8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1403810934&sr=8-1&keywords=g-box

maizeman

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Re: Suggestions for dvr without cable? (in Boston)
« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2014, 03:25:39 PM »
Another vote for XBMC if you're at all technically inclined.

I've been using various iterations of the software package since back when it ran on an original microsoft XBox. The one downside is that once you have an XBMC HTPC properly set up, a significant fraction of your friends and family may start asking you to build similar systems for their own homes. ;-)

NewStachian

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Re: Suggestions for dvr without cable? (in Boston)
« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2014, 03:45:17 PM »
Install XBMC

I bought a Raspberry Pi for $35 and installed RASBMC. You download apps and get whatever you want. You can also add some other programs that are slightly less reputable to get every show and movie ever streaming... not that I'd ever do that... but I've heard about it. (Icefilms)

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Suggestions for dvr without cable? (in Boston)
« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2014, 07:55:20 PM »
We get free basic cable with our internet. When we miss a show, we just watch it online the next day. Fox even has a Roku channel; for CBS, we have to hook the laptop up to the TV.

schimt

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Re: Suggestions for dvr without cable? (in Boston)
« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2014, 05:23:57 AM »
not that I'd ever do that... but I've heard about it. (Icefilms)

IceFilms is good, but look into MashUp, which has an awesome search function that searchs several addon's including IceFilms and give you a wide selection, also has some live TV options.

NestEggChick (formerly PFgal)

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Re: Suggestions for dvr without cable? (in Boston)
« Reply #8 on: June 27, 2014, 08:10:31 AM »
Thanks everyone! There are some good ideas here! I should have mentioned that my tv is pretty old, and I can't connect my laptop to it. But I'm sure others who are losing Aereo (or just want alternatives) will find the hookup ideas useful.

ketchup

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Re: Suggestions for dvr without cable? (in Boston)
« Reply #9 on: June 27, 2014, 08:38:49 AM »
Windows Media Center worked great for me a few years back (better than expected) to record MPEG2 ATSC broadcasts.  Not re-compressed though; I don't remember if it was an option.

peace

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Re: Suggestions for dvr without cable? (in Boston)
« Reply #10 on: June 27, 2014, 09:58:12 AM »
Magnavox makes several DVRs with digital tuners and hard drives. Prices run $200-300, although there have been sales bringing the price down to $100 recently. Once you've purchased one, there's no additional cost to operate it (other than electricity). The DVR basically functions like an old-fashioned early 1980s VCR, but includes features like rewinding and freezing live TV while recording. They connect just like a VCR, so should work with your tv.

The AVS forum has a thread with a good introduction to the standard definition DVRs -

http://www.avsforum.com/t/940657/magnavox-537-535-533-515-513-2160a-2160-2080-philips-3576-3575

And the high definition versions -

http://www.avsforum.com/forum/42-hdtv-recorders/1498196-philips-hdr5710-5750-dvrs-antenna-cable-streaming-int-ext-hdds-33tb-storage.html

The first entries in these links include where to buy the dvrs and current prices.

Secret Stache

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Re: Suggestions for dvr without cable? (in Boston)
« Reply #11 on: June 27, 2014, 11:14:42 AM »
I use XMBC as stated in several of the above threads but my desktop is in another room so I have it connected wirelessly with an HDMI transmitter.  I use a wireless mouse and keyboard to navigate the screens on the TV. 

Scandium

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Re: Suggestions for dvr without cable? (in Boston)
« Reply #12 on: June 27, 2014, 11:49:55 AM »
Used/older Tivo on ebay? If you buy it outright I don't think there is a subscription. But the newest ones are then of course $700 or something.

I have XBMC on my HTPC and it's nice, but pretty flaky waking from sleep so would not want to use this as my main TV interface. All the reboots are annoying, not to mention how my wife would react.

TexasAggie

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Re: Suggestions for dvr without cable? (in Boston)
« Reply #13 on: June 28, 2014, 10:33:30 AM »
Has anybody looked into the ChannelMaster DVR+?  It looks to be a pretty decent over-the-air DVR.  I've been thinking about getting one of these.

NestEggChick (formerly PFgal)

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Re: Suggestions for dvr without cable? (in Boston)
« Reply #14 on: June 28, 2014, 01:12:49 PM »
These suggestions are awesome! Thanks! Any suggestions for a particular antennae? Or are they all pretty much the same, quality-wise?

econberkeley

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Re: Suggestions for dvr without cable? (in Boston)
« Reply #15 on: July 31, 2014, 11:48:45 AM »
Anyone used the ChannelMaster DVR+?  Were you guys able to hook your own external drive to the dvr?

MooseOutFront

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Re: Suggestions for dvr without cable? (in Boston)
« Reply #16 on: July 31, 2014, 12:26:17 PM »
I've been on the prowl to sort this issue since aereo went down on me.  For the most direct aereo like replacement look into Tablo.  It has a channel on the Roku that looks similar to aereo's so it's a good solution for accessing your recording from multiple TVs.  Total cost for the box, hard drive and lifetime service sub is about $450 if I remember correctly.

The channelmaster DVR+ appears to be a good option.  My issue with it is that it doesn't differentiate between new shows and re-runs.  A small thing, but still a sticking point for me.  Also this isn't a whole home DVR solution.

I don't have a spare PC lying around which makes the cost of setting up a HTPC (home theatre pc) with XMBC or windows media player pretty expensive.  Or at least expensive enough that it makes me look pretty hard at the low maintenance of Tivo.  I could get the Roamio Basic with a bedroom Tivo Mini both with lifetime subs for right at $700.  Compared to $500 ish for other options the TiVo is sounding better and better.  Plus there's solid resale at the moment on tivos with lifetime subs, so I could get much of my money back if I decide to get brave on the HTPC thing later on. 

But then we're talking about dropping serious coin on damn tv that we don't watch that much of either way!  I mean, it's nothing compared to the savings we have from dropping cable, but that was 8 months ago all of a sudden...

Nancy

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Re: Suggestions for dvr without cable? (in Boston)
« Reply #17 on: July 31, 2014, 02:26:44 PM »
These suggestions are awesome! Thanks! Any suggestions for a particular antennae? Or are they all pretty much the same, quality-wise?

We made ours: http://makezine.com/projects/digital-tv-coat-hanger-antenna/

heartygrain

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Re: Suggestions for dvr without cable? (in Boston)
« Reply #18 on: July 31, 2014, 03:27:50 PM »
I use this mediasonic tuner/dvr attached to an antenna for free over the air hdtv.  Looks better than cable hdtv and the dvr works great for the price.  $37!
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00I2ZBD1U/ref=pe_385040_30332200_TE_item

NestEggChick (formerly PFgal)

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Re: Suggestions for dvr without cable? (in Boston)
« Reply #19 on: August 02, 2014, 09:41:16 AM »
I got a good antenna for $10 off Amazon and now I'm looking for a used tivo with a lifetime subscription on ebay. But since I don't have the tivo yet, I'm considering the other ideas you guys are posting - thanks for the tips!!

DoubleDown

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Re: Suggestions for dvr without cable? (in Boston)
« Reply #20 on: August 02, 2014, 10:00:09 AM »
These suggestions are awesome! Thanks! Any suggestions for a particular antennae? Or are they all pretty much the same, quality-wise?

Antennas can be really quirky and sensitive to placement, atmospheric conditions, etc. For the most part, your best bet is a rooftop or attic antenna. But if that's impractical or too much hassle and you want just something for near the TV, you should definitely try cheap rabbit ears first. I've tried all the fancy, expensive, amplified, high-tech antennas, and found ZERO improvement over $10 rabbit ears. In my area (suburbs of Washington DC, so similar market as Boston), we get about 50 channels with a simple $10 antenna.

Another idea: Buy several different types at your local Best Buy or Radio Shack, try them all out, and see what works best and what you're willing to spend for the best results. Then you can decide which one to keep, and return the rest. That's what I did, and how I concluded that $10 rabbit ears work best.

tyd450

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Re: Suggestions for dvr without cable? (in Boston)
« Reply #21 on: August 02, 2014, 10:06:38 AM »
for ease of use I recommend a used Tivo HD or Tivo Premiere with LIFETIME SERVICE.  People paid something like $300-500 just for the tivo lifetime service and that is tied to the specific box and can't be transferred (to a new box but can be transferred to a new owner of that specific box).  The lifetime service is basically just access to all of the guide info from tivo. 

I just bought a premiere with lifetime service off of a guy on craigslist last week for $280.  Roamio is the current model and premiere is only like 2 years old.  I'm pretty sure you can get a Tivo HD (the model before the premiere) for around $175 with lifetime service.

If you plan to watch OTA or antenna though make sure you are getting the right model #.  Here are the ones that will work for you:

TIVO HD:  TCD652160

TIVO HD XL: TCD658000

TIVO Premiere:  TCD746320

TIVO Premiere XL (bigger harddrive):  TCD748000

For some reason the fancier models don't work with OTA (antenna).  Like the Tivo Premiere Elite XL.  The new roamio base model works with OTA but the roamio pro and roamio plus only work with cable (requires a cable card from cable company)

So you basically just have to buy a unit used with lifetime service and the person you buy it from has to call tivo and have them remove it from their acct.  Then you call and tell them you need to add it to your acct and transfer the lifetime service.  Then you get all of the tivo guide info for life and never pay tivo a dime.

wkumtrider

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Re: Suggestions for dvr without cable? (in Boston)
« Reply #22 on: September 29, 2015, 06:52:28 AM »
[quote author=tyd450 link=topic=19762.msg360723#msg360723 date=1406995598
I just bought a premiere with lifetime service off of a guy on craigslist last week for $280.  Roamio is the current model and premiere is only like 2 years old.  I'm pretty sure you can get a Tivo HD (the model before the premiere) for around $175 with lifetime service.

If you plan to watch OTA or antenna though make sure you are getting the right model #.  Here are the ones that will work for you:

TIVO HD:  TCD652160

TIVO HD XL: TCD658000

TIVO Premiere:  TCD746320

TIVO Premiere XL (bigger harddrive):  TCD748000

For some reason the fancier models don't work with OTA (antenna).  Like the Tivo Premiere Elite XL.  The new roamio base model works with OTA but the roamio pro and roamio plus only work with cable (requires a cable card from cable company)

So you basically just have to buy a unit used with lifetime service and the person you buy it from has to call tivo and have them remove it from their acct.  Then you call and tell them you need to add it to your acct and transfer the lifetime service.  Then you get all of the tivo guide info for life and never pay tivo a dime.
[/quote]


I just purchased a Tivo Premier with lifetime service from a guy on craigslist too, for $200.  The DVR and lifetime subscription is over $500 new.  So thanks for the advice for checking out craigslist first!

FLBiker

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Re: Suggestions for dvr without cable? (in Boston)
« Reply #23 on: September 29, 2015, 07:50:47 AM »
I bought a Raspberry Pi for $35 and installed RASBMC. You download apps and get whatever you want. You can also add some other programs that are slightly less reputable to get every show and movie ever streaming... not that I'd ever do that... but I've heard about it. (Icefilms)

Thanks for this!