OK all you high-tech gurus out there, I have a question.
I have a standard-definition, analog VCR that I use to record shows when I'm not home. I also use it to record shows when I'm watching another show on the TV.
When the switch to DTV is made in February, I have discovered, my VCR will become almost worthless. That's because it will need a converter box in order to tune in stations. This seems like a real pain in the @ss......
So, my question is: Are there DTV-ready VCR's out there?
And my other question is: Can I get a Tivo-like digital recorder without having to subscribe to a service?
The generic name for a TiVo box is "digital video recorder." If you Google that phrase, you'll find them for sale by the truckload. But, be aware, they only work from a digital source.
I've not heard of a VCR that has a digital tuner, although somebody may make one. VHS is considered obsolete at this point, or a "legacy format" to be charitable. Nobody's going to exert a lot of effort to squeeze a superior signal into a grossly inferior recording format to feed TV's that everybody is throwing away by the tons.
But look, all you have to do to continue doing what you're doing is to get one of the free or cheap converter boxes and put it in front of the VCR. Then feed the analog TV with the converted analog signal from the VCR like you're probably doing now. By hooking it up as a chain like this, you'll only need one converter box. You'll simply use the tuner in the VCR and not the one in the TV.
The reason I still have my VCR is that it does everything I want it to do:
It records shows when I'm not home.
It records shows when I'm watching another one on TV.
It -- most importantly!! -- records a show on one station, and then will record another show, on another station, all by itself when I'm not home. For example, I might have it record the Notre Dame game on channel 8, and then record This Old House on channel 10.
With a converter box, I physically have to tune the seperate stations for it to record, which means I need to be home in order to do this, thus negating the functionality of the VCR's tuner.
And so you're right -- it's time to upgrade to a digital recorder. But as far as I know, you must subscribe to a service to get one.
Are they available for purchase, without subscribing to a service??
I don't really watch a lot of TV. A little football now and then, but that's it. I may sound snobby, but the truth is, my DH has written one full page of DETAILED instructions on how to use the HDTV, cable, DVD, surround sound, stereo, outside speakers by the pool, etc. I CAN"T GET IT TO WORK!
If you are going to walk on thin ice, you may as well dance!
Yes, digital video recorders are easily available for purchase. As I said, just Google to see the list.
Typically, the recorder doubles as your "cable box" for digital TV services (cable or satellite). If you're planning to receive digital over-the-air after February, I reckon you could hook up your antenna to the DVR. Many of them (not all, so check) have analog outputs to old TVs, which would eliminate the need for a separate converter. Naturally, all of them have digital TV outputs as well.
OK, here's what I found out after reading for the past few hours.
You cannot purchase a DVR (the one with the hard-drive) without a subscription service. They are simply not available.
You can, however, purchase a DVD recorder -- some of which come with a hard-drive. Meaning that you can use the DVD recorder with hard-drive as a non-subscription replacement for a VCR. You can't use the programming guide like on TiVo since there's no subscription service, but you can program it just like I already do with my VCR.
So the answer in my case is the DVD recorder with hard-drive!