Suggest a DVR for my TV viewing

My live-in partner, a smart, interesting, and otherwise amazing individual, wants to watch Dr. Phil.
In order to do so, we’ll need to DVR the episodes.
I have Time Warner’s ‘Lifeline Basic’ subscription which gives me 20 of the low-numbered very basic cable channels, as well as their high-speed internet package named ‘Roadrunner’.
I spoke to their online sales people and was told that a DVR would cost us $19 per month.
This seems a little high to me.
I’m considering getting a stand-alone DVR that we wouldn’t have to rent from them.
Does anyone have any suggestions?

Tivo pretty much messed up the market for DVRs.*

Tivos require a $15 or $20 a month schedule fee (depending on how you buy the DVR, model, etc.). That’s on top of buying the thing. You can buy a lifetime subscription, but these devices have a finite lifetime, as well as becoming technologically obsolete, so that’s a big chance.

There are a handful of non-Tivo DVRs you can buy, search Amazon, etc., but there are issues of quality, reliability, getting schedules, controlling your cable box, etc. Try researching those but be very, very careful to check every possible aspect. It really helps to know some of the technical aspects of all this.

For most people, in practical terms, it’s either Tivo or their cable/satellite provider.

*Years ago, I was talking the head of North American home entertainment for a major Japanese electronics company. They really, really wanted to make DVRs but Tivo completely messed up the way they should have been marketed: Full price for the DVR, cheap schedule fees. He was not happy.

So the entertainment DVR marketplace works like cell phones do.
Good to know.

Tivo is about $12 a month. I’ve had two, the interface is great and they just work. I use mine with an over-the-air antenna, whether it would work with your particular cable I don’t know. You’d have to call Tivo about that.

You can do this using a personal computer. Windows 7, for instance, includes Windows Media Center, which one could to record shows.

Magnavox has DVD recorders that use DVD reusable media (so you can treat that like you would video tape). They also have a model that also has a hard drive in it, so you can view and delete.

Since the OP lists a very basic cable package, it could well be an older, analog NTSC signal. This could complicate use of current TiVo or DVD recorders. Since analog cable is going away at a rapid rate, if that is what you have, any solution you choose should support QAM/ATSC and NTSC.

(the Time Warner solution is probably going to be the most trouble free and obsolescence-proof.)

It is most certainly NTSC.

For anywhere between $40 and $100 you can buy a Series 2 TiVo off of eBay that has a lifetime subscription. I have one squirrelled away that I’d be happy to sell, which includes a fresh remote as well as a wifi adapter if you’d prefer buying from a Doper (and can bitch about behind my back if something goes hinky). PM if you’re interested.

Does TW use or plan to use DTA’s? They make automatic recording difficult.

What are DTAs?

OP, is your cable High-Definition or Standard Definition? If you want to record HD programming that will limit which DVRs you can get. If you’re going with a Tivo you’d need a Series 3 or newer.

Also the DVR has to switch channels on your cable, that can be tricky.

I’m going to say no; I don’t have a cable box of any type.
Analog NTSC signal, no hardware besides an aging TV.
Not HD by any stretch of the imagination.

They are excellent, much more reliable than the Sharp DVRs I had.

Not sure if I’ll be buying from Munch or not, but I think this resolves my IMHO…

It stands for Digital Transport Adaptor - think of it as a miniature cable box for old NTSC televisions. Often provided for free to those who don’t want to pay for a cable box.

It is a tuner, so you set your TV to ch 3 or 4 to use it. Means any sort of recorder cannot do timed recordings that require a channel change.

Channel change actually won’t be a problem.
She only wants to watch a single show.
If Dr. Phil changes networks, that probably won’t happen more than once a year.

I have a Series 2 and it does not really work with digital cable. I have a free digital converter box but the remote doodad (sorry, IR blaster) doesn’t control the coax inputs (one for analog cable, one for OTA analog).

It would control a cable box that has RCA/composite outs though. Mine only has coax (channel 3/4) out.

I use it as a backup when the newer DVR is busy on both tuners. But I have to manually change the channel with the converter’s remote.

A Series 2 and similar is only a good idea if there are analog channels and the cable company is planning on keeping them for a while.

This is why Series 2s are so cheap. Functionally quite limited.

(The inability to set a Series 2 to control the coax in using either the IR blaster or the serial connector has ticked me off for years.)

Sorry, my previous post was for the dual-tuner Series2. I don’t know what the setup is for a single tuner one is. You can find manuals for all models at Tivo’s website. Double check to make sure it can do what you want if you elect to go that way.

(BTW: The difference between dual-tuner and single-tuner is greater than day and night.)

So, I get all of my TV over the air digitally. All 4 networks, their sub channels, MyNetwork TV, Me TV, Antenna TV, all in all about 30 or so channels. What I don’t get OTA, I have a Roku for Netflix and Hulu.

Would one of the afore mentioned Series 2 Tivos with a dual tuner be something I could use? Just Curious…

Not natively. You would need a digital tuner box and then the issue of the Tivo controlling it comes up.

Series3 and later have digital tuners. No need for anything else for OTA. (Or for any sort of cable box if you go the M-card route.) Note also, the original Series3 wasn’t HD. I strongly urge anyone, regardless of current need, to get an HD model. (And put a 1TB HD in it if it doesn’t have one already.)

Which is the “great divide” in terms of used Tivos. Series3 or better: useful and worth money. Series2 or less: almost to the point of becoming boat anchors.