Wednesday, August 20, 2008

To Tivo or not to Tivo

I have been into a few electronic goodies stores of late. When approached by the sales person, I just tell them that I am looking and they go away........well, mostly they go away.

I have realised that I need to write a list of my requirements for the newest techno beast for the highrise.

Tivo has been released in Australia, although commercial television interests have made sure it is a pared down version. I have judged Tivo as paying a bit extra for the name, and it does perhaps more than what we need and it is nearly $800. I am not interested in the Foxtel machine, as we would have to get cable tv, and I am just a poor worker who can't afford such luxuries.

Feel free to give advice and/or information. Below is what I need the machine to do.

1/ Either have a built in video player to transfer videos to dvd, or a reasonably simple plug and record system from our existing vcr.

2/ The highrise can presently record 16 hours of tv on two video machines at long play. Even when we were off on a long holiday and recorded eight hours, we never go around to watching it all. Anything more than 16 hours is superfluous and it does not have to be at high quality.

3/ I like what I hear when I hear that you can record a program and catch it up when you get home not long after the show has started, even while recording another. So that it three things happening.

4/ There may be an occasion when I want to burn a tv program from the hard drive to a dvd, so it would need that capacity at least and given point #1, it would.

I don't think we need anything too flash and it should not cost us more the a couple of hundred dollars.

What you reckon?


  1. I still can't program the clock on the VCR.
    Stop laughing, you'll bust something, Andrew :P

  2. Don't play the techno dumb Jayne. You could if you wanted to.

  3. Andrew,

    My advice is that you simply shouldn't watch so much television. Sixteen hours of continuous recording? I've no idea what requires that amount of DVD/video space (with the possible exception of Kenneth Brannagh's 'Hamlet') but whatever it is, that's one day you won't be seeing again in a hurry.

  4. Anonymous12:50 am


    I find this forum: has oodles of information on the types of devices you are looking for.

    A PVR can record from 2 tuners simultaneously to a hard drive and save something like 100 hours of material to review at leisure. One of the best features is timeslip recording, where you can pause a current channel, make a coffee or whatever, come back and continue from where you left off. Some PVRs allow transfer of a recording to a PC for burning to disc, although they are mainly for temporary recording. Most PVRs cost more than a few hundred, although you can get a well regarded Topfield 5000 PVR from ebay for around $200 delivered.

    DVD Recorders these days can act as a PVR as well as copy a recording to a DVD, but they are generally around $400 or so for a single tuner device.

    As the market is moving towards High Def, the Standard Def PVRs and DVD Recorders are dropping in price.

    Panasonic sell a twin HD tuner DVD Recorder with hard drive for around $1000: can record HD to the hard drive and convert HD to SD for recording on a DVD.

    Panasonic also sell a Bluray twin HD tuner DVD Recorder with hard drive for around $2000: can save HD to Bluray discs or convert to SD for burning to DVD and will also play Bluray movies.

    I think you will be struggling finding a device for a few hundred to do all that you require, but good luck.

    At least 2 tuners is necessary for those times when there are overlapping programs one wants to record from 2 channels.

  5. I don't watch much Brian, that is why I want a digital recorder, so that I can watch what I want when I want.

    Thanks heaps for that info Yanid. I am thinking I will just get a dvd recorder and forgo the two tuners for the time being.

  6. I have the cable company's machine, and I absolutely adore it. The few shows I enjoy are on after my bedtime, and the ability to record does away with pesky "conversation during dinner." (How pitiful/dreadful am I?!)

  7. Yes, I could but I rationalise it with "do I want to clutter up my head with the knowledge or the tv programs themselves?"
    The answer is always no lol.

  8. Daisy, you don't think such thoughts as 'shut up, I am trying to watch tv, and I have to pretend to be listening to you'?

    Brains are only so big Jayne.

  9. Anonymous9:32 am

    I've had a TiVo for several years now. The useability is excellent, although I haven't tried the latest (official) release. Others are catching up now, but I still think the TiVo useability is the gold reference that the other PVRs are compared against.

    I'm not sure what's been hobbled for the Aus market, but it's a pity they've killed the 30-second skip. At least you can fast-forward at 60 times speed.

    Having a PVR is an excellent choice for the TV addict. It's been years since I've had to endure a commercial break, and with the electronic guide, you can (almost) keep up with 7 and 9's apparently random movement of popular but late evening shows (Buffy, Leno, etc).

  10. Thanks Anon. I guess you bought yours overseas.

  11. I was in Coles the other day and they had a PVR with a 250GB hard drive and a DVD burner for about $300. If you want one, I know that as of Saturday 23 August Coles in Diamond Creek had exactly 2 in stock, not that that is particularly convenient for you.

  12. Aldi had some cheap ones too, a couple of weeks ago. I have now educated myself on them and know what I want.