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posted by [personal profile] rfunk at 03:25pm on 13/09/2007 under , , , , , ,
This week we heard the latest news in the digital TV saga: cable TV operators will allow customers to use analog TVs until at least 2012. Which basically means they'll continue having analog video outputs on their boxes; I figure those output will stick around quite a few years longer than that.

On the other hand, those of us in the U.S. who get TV the old-fashioned way, through the antenna, are currently scheduled to lose the old NTSC signal on February 17, 2009, about a year and a half from now. The federal government is supposed to provided $30 coupons for digital-TV (ATSC) converter boxes, but when I checked the Best Buy website today I found only one such box available, and that was $180. It's slightly tempting to run out to buy one to add to the entertainment center.

Then consider that, for anyone still recording shows with a VCR, the tuner in the VCR will also become obsolete, so the VCR will no longer be programmable to record the appropriate channel at the appropriate time. The solution for that, of course, is a DVR, preferably a dual-tuner one.

But the only DVR I've found so far that handles digital broadcast signals is the third-generation TiVo, and that currently costs $800, plus a monthly TiVo service fee. (Other TiVos are more like $250.)

So since digital-broadcast DVRs are so rare, the next thought is to build a super-DVR (plus other capabillities) out of computer parts, using MythTV or Freevo software. Lots of geeks are doing it these days, but that starts a big adventure of choosing the most-compatible tuner cards, video output cards, and fast-enough processors that are still quiet and cool. Who knows what the price would turn out to be. (Update: [livejournal.com profile] ah_graylensman says about $685.)

Maybe I should wait a bit to work on this one. There will, by the way, be a talk at the upcoming Ohio LinuxFest that seems tangentially related to this: "The Path to the $100 Linux Media Center"
Mood:: 'intimidated' intimidated
There are 4 comments on this entry. (Reply.)
posted by [identity profile] zonereyrie.livejournal.com at 07:25am on 14/09/2007
Hi, I run [livejournal.com profile] tivolovers and TiVoLovers.com.

I think you missed the announcement of the TiVo HD. TiVo recently launched a new high-def recorder in the Series3 family - the TiVo HD, which has an MSRP of just $299 (and is selling for a little less than that online). It has nearly all the features of the original $800 S3, just a smaller drive (160GB instead of 250GB), a Series2-style remote instead of the fancier S3 remote, and a simpler chassis with no OLED display, etc. I wrote a review of it on TiVoLovers.com - it is a solid unit.
posted by [identity profile] zonereyrie.livejournal.com at 07:26am on 14/09/2007
Oh - and the original S3 sells for around $600 now, and a $200 rebate kicks in this Sunday, dropping it to under $400. So if you wanted the original S3 with the larger drive, nicer remote, etc, it will be a good time.
posted by [identity profile] rfunk.livejournal.com at 01:06pm on 14/09/2007
Best Buy didn't list that one in my initial search (turns out it just wasn't one of the top 3 results they displayed.
Then I looked at TiVo's list of boxes and saw it, but since they emphasize cable it wasn't clear to me that it would work with ATSC broadcasts, especially dual-tuner.

It's definitely a possibility, but I'm still not a fan of the TiVo monthly service fee.
posted by [identity profile] zonereyrie.livejournal.com at 06:59pm on 14/09/2007
The TiVo HD definitely supports antenna - both NTSC & ATSC - and cable - analog and digital (with CableCARD), with dual-tuners for any combination of those.

An option is to pre-pay instead of paying monthly. And that's the least expensive option overall. $299 for three years comes out to about $8.31 a month - while the best monthly rate is $12.95/month.


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