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Non-DTV DVR to act as VCR

Discussion in 'DIRECTV SD DVR/Receiver Discussion' started by jetbyte, Apr 18, 2013.

  1. jetbyte

    jetbyte New Member

    Apr 18, 2013
    Has anyone used a non-DirecTV DVR (with no DTV subscription) with their SD service? I'm wondering if this is still possible and if there are any specific models that might be a better selection for this use. I understand that this kind of setup, if it works, would be limited in nature where I could only record what is currently being watched and that it would really behave more like a VCR. I really just want something to record shows when I'm away. I know I'd probably need to leave the receiver running on the correct channel.

    I'm just not seeing the value in paying DTV $99 for a device that I lease plus $20 shipping plus the exra $10 per month plus a 2 year contract renewal. I think I'd really be ok with all this if there were a minimal fee for the DVR initially but for $120 (DTV's initial cost plus shipping), I could buya brand new device of my own that would work with cable if I ever wanted to swtich in the future.
  2. harsh

    harsh Beware the Attack Basset

    Jun 14, 2003
    Salem, OR
    While the DVR fee is a bitter pill, the rest is chicken feed compared to the cost of a recorder, tapes/discs and fussing with setting it all up. The manual for your receiver should cover the connections that need to be made.

    You can plug in any recorder you want and there's a bonus if the recorder has the ability to control the DIRECTV receiver (for changing channels). My recollection is that modern DIRECTV receivers are not capable of controlling external recording devices.

    Whether you run into copy protection is a whole other issue and dependent on what you're recording.
  3. studechip

    studechip Godfather

    Apr 16, 2012
    Welcome to dbstalk jetbyte. I assume you called and the prices you mentioned are what they told you. If you have been a customer for over a year, try calling back. You may well get a better offer. If you are fairly new, it's unlikely they will give you much of a deal. Harsh, aren't the Dish dvr fees higher than the fees with Directv?
  4. moghedien

    moghedien Legend

    Dec 3, 2007
    I use a Philips 3575 DVD recorder w/HDD connected to a Directv H23 via line input. The non-DVR Directv receivers have autotune so you don't have to leave the STB on or tuned to a specific channel in order to record. But like you said, you won't be able to watch another show while you're recording.
  5. jetbyte

    jetbyte New Member

    Apr 18, 2013
    Thanks for the info everyone... Studechip, you are correct, I did call about the DVR prices. I've been a customer since the late 90's but had to get new receivers back in September because of the MPG format. I didn't get into a new contract but they did provide the receivers for free. I'll probably need to wait another 6 months or so to get any kind of special pricing or a discount.
  6. CCarncross

    CCarncross Hall Of Fame

    Jul 19, 2005
    Using an external recording device to record Directv from a reciever is a pain in the a**, and super inconvenient compared to just haveing a real D* dvr. I did it years ago, and would never ever go back. I hihgly recommend just getting a dvr, I have 3 now....
  7. ThomasM

    ThomasM RF Engineer

    Jul 20, 2007
    Milwaukee, WI
    Channel Master sells a stand-alone DVR designed to be used with an antenna. It costs about $300. It's also HD and has 2 tuners. I'm not sure if it has any inputs other than for an actual antenna but with the addition of a modulator it could be connected to the output of a DirecTV receiver. The SD DirecTV receivers all have RF (channel 3/4) outputs so these would plug right in.
  8. xmguy

    xmguy Active Member

    Mar 26, 2008
    Middle, TN
    You can use a unit like TiVo or the older Replay TV. I have a Replay myself. You can get units that can control the receiver (ie TiVo controls the R12 via IR) and you watch and change channels on the external DVR. That's the way my Replay TV unit worked.
  9. gov

    gov Legend

    Jan 11, 2013
    I have one client still time shifting with a VCR (that I know of). She uses auto-tune to get a soap every day, and also does a backup recording from Soapnet. I DEFINITELY hear about it if something goes wrong and she misses an episode. She is unable to program her VCR (although she can rewind and play, thank God) and unfortunately, her hubby has messed up a recording more than once by coming home for lunch and trying to watch TV while the machinery is running. His life day to day is not worth living, when he screws up a recording it gets MUCH worse. I expect to hear a murder/suicide call on my police scanner, but so far, he has not found release from his particular Hell.

    I have another client that TIVOs OTA and loves it, although with her (slow) dial up internet, the firmware update apparently took most of a day, and that was after several failed attempts.

    I have several clients set up to make archival DVDs of HDD footage from their D* and E* equipment.

    Due to the difficulties most folks had 'back in the day' of recording onto their VCR from the D* hardware we had back in the 90s, I would advise if they were going to be gone 8 hours or less, to just let their VCRs record the right channel in SLP mode while they were gone, and to not bother with timers at all, it being faster to fast forward the tape to the show that came on while they were gone, than it was for them to call me and have me walk them through the procedure of setting the timers over the phone.

    HDDVRs have been, for me, an unqualified blessing.
  10. markfp

    markfp Legend

    Mar 9, 2010
    You might be surpised at how many people still use VCRs. Oh not most of the folks who come here, but if you go to some old movie forums like like TCM.com you're bound to find people who don't care about quality (they like to brag if there recorder has an 8 hour mode) and are happy to keep what they have. Actually, I have a couple hooked into my own system, not for me, but for an elderly aunt of mine who won't get a DVR. Now and then she'll ask me to record something for her.

    Last year her VCR died. I can't imagine why. She "only" had it for about 20 years. I picked her up a really nice, gently used, one in a charity thrift store for about five bucks (and they threw ten blank tapes) I opened it up, cleaned the heads and the rollers, and it works like a charm. Hey, it ain't state-of-the-art, but it works for her and she's happy.
    1 person likes this.
  11. CCarncross

    CCarncross Hall Of Fame

    Jul 19, 2005
    My dvr has a 450 hour mode if I chose if you consider being able to have a single HD recording on a 2TB drive
  12. duckland23

    duckland23 New Member

    Aug 20, 2013
    Replay Tv DVR has no subscription to it . Im under the impression its now lifetime with no fees to pay . It will update to lifetime when you hook it up to the internet via Ethernet . You can also use phone line too , but im unsure if that works . I picked mine up for 30.00 on ebay.

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