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G4 Tech TV Reviews Three New HDTV DVRs

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the causing-an-acronym-shortage-worldwide dept.

Television 107

Thomas Hawk writes "G4techTV does a review of three of the new HDTV recorders. Noticeably absent is Microsoft's Media Center 2005. The Hughes HD 10-250 gets the highest marks and is the 'G4tech TV Lab Pick.' Although I haven't used the other two HDTV recorders I have to say I would concur on their opinion of TiVo's DirecTV box."

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Ass, Ltd. Ho! (714400) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612156)

See subject, and be sure to eat a fucking cock you cocksmokers!

MCE 2005 (4, Interesting)

Joffrey (242525) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612157)

As far as I knew, Media Center Edition doesn't have HD support. Not therefore surprising that they wouldn't include it in their roundup.

(perhaps the author meant that MCE was noticeably absent as an HD-DVR?)

Re:MCE 2005 (2, Informative)

generic-man (33649) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612238)

As far as I searched [] , Media Center 2005 does support HDTV [] .

Re:MCE 2005 (2)

mysticwhiskey (569750) | more than 9 years ago | (#10613424)

Sure, maybe in theory, but I've got MCE 2005 installed (with an Hauppauge Nova-T DVB-T card) including that hotfix you mentioned, and it doesn't support HDTV (at least in my part of the world, Australia). The HDTV transmissions come through as very jerky with no sound. Third party apps using the BDA drivers (eg ShowShifter) display the HDTV transmissions fine. So either it's due to excessive overhead with the MCE aplication, or it's just not implemented properly - I don't know.

For what it's worth, I have the following setup:

AMD Athlon XP 2500+
512Mb RAM
ASUS A7V8MX mainboard
120Gb Seagate HDD (7200rpm)
Windows XP Media Center 2005

My setup *might* support HDTV if I juiced up the CPU, maybe someone can tell me if they have a similar configuration and get proper HDTV?

Re:MCE 2005 (4, Informative)

doormat (63648) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612243)

MCE 2k5 can support 3 tuners, including HD tuners. The problem is that the only tuners out there are ones that get the signals over-the-air. IE not your HD digital cable or satellite box (and no it doesnt support 5c/hdcp over firewire, but there are ways to set that up with WinXP and some third party software). ?i =2240&p=9

Re:MCE 2005 (3, Interesting)

Joffrey (242525) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612558)

Dammit. I hate it when I'm wrong. The last time I investigated MCE 2005, they hadn't announced HDTV support. Thanks for the clarification.

Re:MCE 2005 (1)

heybo (667563) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614123)

There is no such thing as a *good* lawyer....

Re:MCE 2005 (1)

dabraun (626287) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612623)

Actually - there is no way at all to set up 5c/hdcp firewire recording on a PC. You can record over firewire for non-5c encrypted signals (depends on the market as to whether or not they have started using 5c yet) - using a variety of non-trivial-to-configure pieces of software.

The problem is that the firewire port on a PC simply does not support 5c and I don't think that anyone will be allowed to get the license to add such a port without going through great measures to prove that all the content will remain copy protected once it goes through the port.

G4TECHTV SUcks (-1, Troll)

strictfoo (805322) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612161)

absolute shit...

mod parent up (-1, Offtopic)

ShallowThroat (667311) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612500)


I can't wait to hack one of these... (0)

Sensible Clod (771142) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612164)

...and dump all the HD goodness I can record right into my PC...

Re:I can't wait to hack one of these... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10612685)

yeah! give me some of that sweet sweet HD pr0n!!

I can just see it now, the pumping thrust mashing into that soft pussy flesh. griping that cock for dear life, the juices flowing and dripping...


G4TechTV (-1, Offtopic)

Forezt (769932) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612174)

TechTV is... dead... to me.

Well... (1, Interesting)

BrianGa (536442) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612178)

I don't know. Think about this. PVR's piss off hollywood because you FF through commercials. But, even though you WILL FF through commercials on this also, the commercials will be permantntly burned into a DVD. What sales company wouldn't like the idea of permanent commercials on a DVD?

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10612357)

Can't you just fast forward them on the DVD as well...?

Re:Well... (1)

phalse phace (454635) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612771)

I'm sure someone will eventually figure out a way to transfer the video from the PVR to one's computer. Then just edit out the commercials and burn to DVD.

Re:Well... (1)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612774)

"What sales company wouldn't like the idea of permanent commercials on a DVD?"

Heh probably the companies worried about customers avoiding DVDs with commercials in them. But, that's not really what I wanted to reply to. Right now, there's a business model in place where you pay more to have your commercials shown at a certain time. If they lost time slot value, they could stand to lose money.

Now, whether or not this would actually happen is up in the air, if you ask me. I can't tell you what would in fact happen. I'm not sure that's all that relevent, really. All these companies have to do is be afraid they'd lose money and that would be sufficient to stop them.

Frankly, I think there's some room for innovation here. I cooked up an advertising scheme once that I thought might be a nice "meetcha half way" alternative. The idea is to give away episodes of TV on the web. To watch them, you have to answer 3 multiple choice questions. "Who makes this particular car? a.) VW b.) Honda c.) Cowboy Neal" If you answer it wrong, it shows ya a quick vid advertising it. Then the show is unlocked for unlimited viewings. New shows would have new questions added.

So what's the idea? The idea is that recognition of a product is tested, and once passed the audience doesn't have to deal with it again, at least for that particular file. If they kept it short and unobnoxious, it could get their point across without having to use the current SPAM approach.

I could see this adapted to PVR use as well. If the cost of a show is to know the difference between a Civic and an Accord, what the heck? Beats 15 minutes of noise per hour of television.

Everyone knows Geico sells auto insurance... (1)

b00m3rang (682108) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614512)

that's not their only goal. They want you to hear about it over, and over, and over again, until you associate the type of product with their company alone.

Interesting (-1, Troll)

Pan T. Hose (707794) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612179)

Interesting article but why there is no review of Media Center 2005 by Microsoft which some people consider one of the most important products on the market or at least a one backed by one of the biggest players? Are we supposed to uderstand it as a silent kind of boycott after the recent behaviour regarding the media in general and electronic media formats in particular? Why has Microsoft been so ostensibly ignored?

Re:Interesting (2, Informative)

Joffrey (242525) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612191)

MCE doesn't yet have HD support. This wasn't a "roundup" of all DVR systems.

Re:Interesting (1)

generic-man (33649) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612250)

MCE doesn't yet have HD support.

Actually, it does [] .

Microsoft pays me $100 per message to post this information, so it must be true.

Re:Interesting (1)

Osrin (599427) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612544)

It works well too... although the only supported cards at the moment are "over the air" HD. Nothing for cable or satellite.

Because... (1)

Sensible Clod (771142) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612196)

MCE doesn't do HD yet, as someone previously stated.

Re:Because... (1)

Osrin (599427) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612536)

Wrong. 2005 does...

Re:Because... (1)

erick99 (743982) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612582)

Yes and no... MCE only supports over-the-air HDTV. MCE does not support cable HDTV.

Re:Interesting (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10612228)

Dear Slashdot community,

This account has been posting karma whoring and troll posts all day, and in fact has been doing so for the last several months. "Pan T Hose, PhD" (Mr. Pantyhose to you) uses a large sig with the PhD acronym in it in an attempt to garner mod points. This technique has been used by several other fake "PhD" troll posters in the past. This fellow is slightly more subtle sometimes, but if you look at the posts overall, most of them only make a nominal amount of sense and are intended as trolls, flamebait or karma whoring, and do not actually contribute meaningfully to the discussion (as this post, which is based on factually incorrect information mixed with some flamebaiting).

Please mod Mr. Pantyhose accordingly.

Where is the fair criticism? (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612651)

Actually, I'm glad the slashdot crowd is modding based on the "PhD" tag. It just goes to show how stupid the mods are in the first place.

I only hope that over time, people will actually READ the post rather then casting their mod points aside so freely based on trust.

This truely is a blessing in disguise.

Note: I'm not in favor of dishonesty, but someone needs to get the message out and make the point be known that fair criticism be applied to all on Slashdot.

Re:Interesting (2, Funny)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612786)

(Mr. Pantyhose to you)

I think I've actually gotten emails promising this sort of thing.

Re:Interesting (1)

artifex2004 (766107) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616481)

Not to mention, he can't spell.

Re:Interesting (3, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612275)

I'd say it has more to do with the fact that the Media Center is a piece of software that's being implemented on hardware that ranges from $1000 to $6000 depending on what brand you get... meanwhile this review was limited to settop boxes that are one-size-fits-all kits.

Re:Interesting (4, Funny)

Fancia (710007) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612307)

Ostensibly? [] Really, you might at least check what the words mean before you post them. I realize that you're just trolling/karma whoring, but surely you might take some pride in at least making semantic sense. :b

G4 Tech TV (3, Insightful)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612188)

Call for Help with Leo (now broadcast out of Toronto) and Screen Savers (AKA what happened on slashdot today) and maybe that Martin guy is all I watch on the channel.

It's fairly good but the billions of videogame-related shows are essentially useless.

Re:G4 Tech TV (0, Offtopic)

MBCook (132727) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612237)

I loved TechTV/ZDTV. Then they merged. I still watch the channel (in that I have my TiVo record shows from it).

That said, I have complaints. I was worried when it was announced, and it turned out OK, but there are still problems. Lets start with series. When will new episodes of Invent This! and Fresh Gear start?

Let's go to the G4 content that I now get. Some shows (say Icons) can be interesting. Filter can be interesting, but the budget is low, and the host is annoying as hell (as is the style). I wouldn't have gone out of my way to get G4 (I origionally got a DirecTV dish due in large part to ZDTV, as it was then known).

And... grow up. Naming the evening/latenight block "the G-Spot"? Come on.

X-Play is as good as ever. Otherwise, it's worse on average.

And please... drop Anime Unleashed (the name)! I like Anime, but name the shows their real names and call the "block" Anime Unleashed (not unlike Adult Swim on Cartoon Network). It's really annoying to check to see what's on and only see "Anime Unleashed" and have to switch to see what series it is. But this one is just a pet pieve of mine.

G4 Tech TV - giving it up for new years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10612248)

Speaking of screen savers WTF is that retarded virtual sports show that screen savers start out with now? What brain dead audience is that aimed at? That show is quickly losing appeal. I find it diffucult to take anything the do seriously anymore...

Re:G4 Tech TV (4, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612255)

Call for Help with Leo (now broadcast out of Toronto) and Screen Savers (AKA what happened on slashdot today) and maybe that Martin guy is all I watch on the channel.

One thing that should be noted is that Leo Laporte's Call For Help show got continued by G4TechTV Canada in a primetime slot... but the show is nowhere to be found on the USA version of the channel. Odd for a show to get upgraded and canceled at the same time by two networks that share the same name.

Re:G4 Tech TV (2, Informative)

Jardine (398197) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612303)

One thing that should be noted is that Leo Laporte's Call For Help show got continued by G4TechTV Canada in a primetime slot... but the show is nowhere to be found on the USA version of the channel. Odd for a show to get upgraded and canceled at the same time by two networks that share the same name.

There are a few reasons Call For Help got picked up by G4TechTV Canada. From what I've heard, quite a few Canadians wrote in to complain about it being pulled.

Also, there are special rules in Canada about Canadian content. Since the show is filmed in Toronto with a Canadian crew and 2 Canadian co-hosts (Andy Walker was born in the UK but I expect he qualifies as Canadian as far as CanCon rules are concerned), it gives them a show that takes up Canadian Content airtime and is popular.

Re:G4 Tech TV (0, Flamebait)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612312)

One thing that should be noted is that Leo Laporte's Call For Help show got continued by G4TechTV Canada in a primetime slot... but the show is nowhere to be found on the USA version of the channel. Odd for a show to get upgraded and canceled at the same time by two networks that share the same name.

Leo speaks his mind and if that means that he "disses" some company I could see why advertisers might be upset.

The new version of the show is a bit glitchy (what would you expect - it's Canadian) but since I am a newcomer to watching computer-related stuff on TV I'm hooked.

It is very possible that G4 Tech TV (Canada) gets funding from various government agencies in the form of CanCon. So Leo's probably making only 60% of what he could but at least he gets free health care in case Basil zooms in too close and breaks his ankle.

Re:G4 Tech TV (1)

Jardine (398197) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612392)

So Leo's probably making only 60% of what he could but at least he gets free health care in case Basil zooms in too close and breaks his ankle.

For those who haven't seen the new version of CFH, Basil is the cameraman who Leo has to pass by on his way to his station to take calls. He says hi to Basil pretty much every time he walks past him.

Something I also noticed in a few episodes is that Leo has a hatrack with quite a few different hats on it (cowboy hat, chaffeur hat, etc). I don't know about other people, but it reminds me of Mr. Dressup's tickle trunk (Mr. Dressup is a kids show that was on for 32 years). I wonder if it's something they do intentionaly to remind people of that show.

Re:G4 Tech TV (1)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612436)

If you bring up references to The Friendly Giant I'm going to go get my son's old Barney plush toy and hug it.

I don't know why Leo was laid-off in the first place, we're really happy to have him up here. Neener-neener Americans.

Re:G4 Tech TV (1)

squall14716 (734306) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614323)

Wait wait wait, Call for Help is still going on in Canada?

I liked that show better than most of the garbage G4 brought, but I'm not moving to Canada to see it. Why can't they just replace one of the crappy G4 shows with it down here in the US?


Re:G4 Tech TV (1)

retinaburn (218226) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614416)

Not odd when you look at how the hosts have been shifting in the last 6 months. Going to the young hip hosts and casting aside the older more informative less reactionary hosts. :/

Re:G4 Tech TV (1)

Picard102 (803951) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612407)

The station is a joke. 80% of the content is console crap, any of the shows worth watching are either cut into by fake hockey clips, or are so short for time that the content is way to compressed.

Re:G4 Tech TV (1)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612510)

The station is a joke. 80% of the content is console crap, any of the shows worth watching are either cut into by fake hockey clips, or are so short for time that the content is way to compressed.

Canada must have stricter regulations on advertising time for a program slot because we get homegrown productions of mini computer howtos. You can also see this type of thing on Space, where the average program ends about 10 minutes (for a one-hour show) ahead of time.

Funny that you should mention compression problems. G4 Tech TV is the only station that screws-up if I move near the TV. Since I have a digital cable connection this baffles me. Maybe I have a radiant personality that transcends the known laws of physics. I *have* noticed that streetlights turn off when I walk by and sometimes my computer crashes for no apparent reason.

While reading this do you feel some kind of unusual vibration or difficult-to-describe feeling?

Re:G4 Tech TV (1)

hackwrench (573697) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612936)

I had streetlights turn off on me recently when I was on my bike. Anybody got an explanation for this?

Just wait... (4, Insightful)

zerdood (824300) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612194)

Next week on /. we will see the story: "Major HDTV broadcasters sue HD DVR manufacturers"

You kidding, right? (3, Insightful)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612627)

Hah, that will be the day. Now, would someone please explain how they would sue when Time Warner offers the HD DVR service to it's customers? Here in Austin, we provide both the Scientific Atlanta 8000 and 8300 HiDef DVR units.

Talk about shooting yourself in the foot. Broadcasters WANT ratings. And pissing off Time Warner and Cox cable is not a wise move.

Also: pcHDTV HD-3000 now taking pre-orders... (4, Interesting)

manyoso (260664) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612195)

The folks over at [] are now taking orders for the new HD-3000 *linux only* HDTV video capture card. []

And yes, they are working on QAM digital cable support for this new card. Here is a nice FAQ [] about what is new in this card.

Re:Also: pcHDTV HD-3000 now taking pre-orders... (2)

alphax45 (675119) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612575)

what; so if both Linux customers actually buy the thing; it won't be a total flop? Sorry, I couldn't resist; it's a windows world, and this is just a bad business decision. Hopefully it will do well, but only time will tell that

Re:Also: pcHDTV HD-3000 now taking pre-orders... (1)

MayonakaHa (562348) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612673)

Time has somewhat. The company is at least a year or two old now considering one of my friends bought the HD-2000 awhile back. From what I've heard it's a really good card and he enjoys it.

Re:Also: pcHDTV HD-3000 now taking pre-orders... (3, Interesting)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612688)

it's a windows world, and this is just a bad business decision

I'm not so sure that it's such a bad business decision. At this early stage in the HDTV market, the overlap between people who will be recording HDTV and people who can run Linux may be pretty high.

Moreover, to market it for Windows machines on a larger scale than the Linux market they would probably need to slog through the Microsoft programs to get the little "Designed for Windows" logos on their products (which could involve adding extra Redmond-approved DRM hooks), and they would probably need to somehow break into the big retail sales channels to make the extra effort worth it. All that might be a pretty big capital investment. Maybe they see a niche where they can make some money without a lot of up-front investment.

Re:Also: pcHDTV HD-3000 now taking pre-orders... (1)

geckofiend (314803) | more than 9 years ago | (#10613871)

You have got to be kidding me right? Perhaps you weren't aware, but the the current king of PVRs in terms of features and functionality isn't a windows app it's a Linux app.

Digital cable standards (5, Interesting)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612197)

In my neck of the woods there are few HDTV providers - Cogeco (a cable system), and Bell Canada ExpressVu (a satellite system). Both of them use entirely different hardware, and thus my choice of PVR box is dictated by my choice of provider (in my case it would have to be a Motorola DCT6208 or a Bell 6120..whatever manufacturer that is), and if I ponied up the $800CDN or so with one and became disatisfied with the service, I'd have to toss the box in the garbage.

Which is why I chose to rent the box for $20 a month - when the two-tuner version comes out (within the year) I'll do a swap. The point of all of this? I guess that ultimately I am choosing provider and the PVR comes along for the ride.

Hughes (4, Informative)

apoplectic (711437) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612199)

I've owned one of these for the past two months, and I have to say that I love the box. Video from the HDMI port is impeccable. The Tivo friendliness factor is high as usual. I've not blinked over the high cost of the unit since I fired it up.

Only complaint? The usual slow Guide rendering.

Re:Hughes (2, Informative)

Thomas Hawk (796343) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612253)

There are two ways you can use the guide. One is direct from the satellite (very slow) and another setting that is a much faster guide. Play around with it and you'll find a much faster guide.

Re:Hughes (4, Informative)

rufo (126104) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612395)

The guide is set in Grid mode by default, which is horrifically slow. Bring up the guide and press the Enter key on the remote to bring up the Guide options, and set it from Grid mode to whatever the other option is - this is what standalone TiVos default to and it is light-years faster. It may take a little getting used to but most TiVo owners tend to prefer the TiVo style as opposed to the grid (I know I do).

Re:Hughes (1)

Arcady13 (656165) | more than 9 years ago | (#10613273)

They sell the regular TiVo for $49. You add a 250GB drive and a couple tuners and that makes it $999? Talk about a ripoff. Next year this stuff will cost $199.


Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10612213)

that goes double for you, tyler!

Hughes HD 10-250 ?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10612222)

Is it just me, or does the article not even MENTION the Hughes HD 10-250? What is the submitter talking about?

Re:Hughes HD 10-250 ?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10612231)

It's the DirecTV one. For some reason the submitter refers to it once as the Hughes, and once as the DirecTV, which makes you think he's talking about two separate products. Not so.

The article itself only calls it a DirecTV box, never mentioning the word "Hughes."

As an owner... (2, Informative)

comwiz56 (447651) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612232)

I can say the hughes box is very nice. Two tuners, standard direct tv interface, and everything you'd expect from a TiVo. My only complaint is the lack of caller id that some direct tv boxes carry now.

oh... and yeah... $1000

Re:As an owner... (1)

Osrin (599427) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612549)

... and that it only has the faetures of a Series 1 TiVo.

Who knew! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10612244)

Wow... people still watch Tech TV since the G4 buyout? I never seen the flagship show for a network (TSS) get mutilated like that before, not to mention I could literally feel my brain cells being killed with each promo they showed... felt like I was watching Nickelodeon or something.

Re:Who knew! (1)

Vash_066 (816757) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612445)

I don't watch it anymore. A week or so ago some woman called in asking if the NFL sunday ticket was a good deal...Whoever allowed that call to get thru needs bitch slapped with a rock.

Re:Who knew! (1)

davmoo (63521) | more than 9 years ago | (#10613028)

I'm still watching, but I have a feeling that my days of viwership are severely numbered. And this saddens me deeply, because I have been watching TSS quite literally since episode 1. When I purchased my PVR a year ago, an entry for TSS was the very first recording I scheduled.

The triggering event is one of this week's episodes where they rated TV dinners. If I want to see stories about food, I'll watch the fschking Food Network. I don't see Emeril doing stories on how to wire your kitchen with 802.11, therefore I don't see the need for G4TechTV to rate caffinated drinks and TV dinners.

Re:Who knew! (1)

TuballoyThunder (534063) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614090)

My sentiments exactly. Each episode draws from a limited set of topics
  1. A joke involving Kevin & Sarah's relationship
  2. A hollywood pitch
  3. How they don't make enough money
  4. Kazaa
  5. Piracy
I find the eye-candy [] particularly OT and I like women. Hot women are great, but having them on a tech show when they know nothing about--or have nothing to do with--tech is just an obvious play for the male audience. How about Kim Polese [] or Ellen Poon [] for a change.

I didn't find the drink review too bad--Jolt, Code Red is common beverage of choice in the programmer/gamer world. The constant reference to Bawls was idiotic. The analogy that comes to mind is that adult supervision has left the show and the kids are playing.

Re:Who knew! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10612755)

TechTV was horrible long before teh G4 buyout. If you actually knew anything about technology, every show on the channel was completely moronic. I haven't seen it lately, but it's hard to believe it could get even worse.

Re:Who knew! (1)

Vash_066 (816757) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612974)

yes it did indeed get worse. While I'll agree that it wasnt great i used to enjoy parts of it. Their first mistake was changing the set, they had the grungy basement look for a long time then went to this bright and XP-ish looking set....and's painfull to watch.

Re:Who knew! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10613026)

Yeah, TSS sucks now. It's just a bunch of kids that have trouble reading a teleprompter who think that they're incredibly funny.

Bring back Patrick and Leo and I might watch again....

you Faiel I7... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10612254)

And exciting; n3ed your help!

OTA on Hughes as well (4, Informative)

RedX (71326) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612261)

The reviewer mentioned the $10.99 fee for DirecTV's HD package but didn't mention that this box is also fully capable of recording OTA HD programs with no monthly charge. I've had this box since the week it was released and only carried the HD package for about a week but still have plenty of HD recordings each week via OTA channels that I don't pay a dime for.

Its odd (2, Informative)

doormat (63648) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612267)

One of the cons for the Echostar unit is that it can only record 25 hrs of HD content, but that problem isnt mentioned anywhere on the HD DirecTV/Tivo box, even though its got the same sized hard drive. The only difference is that you can go to weaknees [] and upgrade your HD DirecTV/Tivo and get 70+ hours of HD recording.

Re:Its odd (2, Informative)

jerw134 (409531) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612617)

It wasn't mentioned as a con because the DirecTV can record 30 hours.

Future Channels? (4, Interesting)

SurfTheWorld (162247) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612320)

I think equally important in the discussion is the number of channels that will realisticly be offered in the near future.

While I'm not OTA, cable, or dish network expert (neither am I a DirecTV expert!), I do know that the launch of DirecTV 7S earlier this year represented a monumental leap forward in bandwidth capability. It's my understanding that the purpose of 7S is to relieve the other birds from their coast-to-coast broacasts (using it's spot-beam technology), thereby freeing up the frequencies for HD content.

From what I read (sorry I can't provide links), the amount of bandwidth 7S brings to the skies above us is enormous, and the intended purpose of the bandwidth is the carrying of HD content.

DirecTV knows that Cable is ramping up HD offerings. Not wanting to fall behind, I'm sure DirecTV will offer more HD channels in the future.

Personally, I'll hold off until 7S starts broadcasting, and wait for DirecTV to offer ESPN, CNN, FOX, etc in HD before I actually sink my credits into a HDTV. Hopefully by that time, prices of HD-TiVO's will have come down (hopefully to $500).

But, I think that contemplating what future offerings will be provided is certainly relevant when discussing which company to go with. ... especially when you're talking about $1000 for the PVR!

Hope this info helps.

Re:Future Channels? (1)

jerw134 (409531) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612621)

You're confusing 7S (which is going to be used for spotbeam SD locals) with the Spaceway satellites, which are going to be used for HD. Once all four Spaceway satellites are launched (2 in 2005 and 2 in 2007), DirecTV will have the capability to deliver every local channel in the country in HD, along with 200 national HD channels. This is all in addition to their current line-up.

Re:Future Channels? (1)

ewolfr (209134) | more than 9 years ago | (#10616231)

Actually there are only three Spaceway sats planned for right now. Spaceway 1 and 2 will be launched next year with the third being built as a replacement stored on the ground until they need it.

HDTiVo can output to non-HDCP sets (4, Informative)

Radak (126696) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612323)

The reviewer is wrong. The Hughes HR10-250 most certainly can output to non-HDCP-compliant sets. In fact, it even comes with a HDMI-to-DVI cable in the box. Just last night I was watching HD stuff on my 20" Dell LCD, using the (non-HDCP) DVI input.

However, if the broadcast flag is ever flipped on (no one's done it yet), then those people using non-HDCP sets will get downres output on DVI.

Bah! (1, Offtopic)

Devil (16134) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612455)

Perhaps I'll be a little more open to listening to what G4 has to say when their channel ups its contrast. I mean, I've got a couple hundred channels on my digital cable and G4TechTV is the ONLY ONE whose contrast is low.

hi (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10612477)

fuck you

The Hughes box is nice UNLESS.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10612490)

... you already have a series 2 Tivo, in which case you drop several features, including the home media option.

Every HD PVR out there at the moment has one or more major compromise factors. The first manufacturer to bring a fully featured machine to market really will corner the HTPC market very quickly.

For now I'm sticking with my series 2 until Tivo/DirectTV bring out a series 2 HTDV box OR a tuner card exists for the Microsoft MCE machine. I don't care which comes first...

hi dickheads (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10612630)

woohoo! you're all cocks! waste your modpoints on me!

Service Fees (4, Informative)

tji (74570) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612681)

The DirecTV service fees listed in the article are a bit misleading..

The $10.99/month is for a package of HDTV channels (ESPN-HD, Discovery-HD, HDNet, HDNet Movies, Bravo-HD.) You are not required to purchase this package.

For no additional charge, you can record all of your local off-the-air channels (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, PBS, etc.). And, if you have HBO or Showtime, those you automatically get their HD channels as part of your existing package.

agreed on the $10.99 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10614482)

I've had an HDTiVo since about two weeks after its release. I do not purchase the HDTV package from DTV because it is such a poor value. DTV has added Bravo HD since then, and Discovery HD has started to air real programs. Most of the channels air HD loops or cheaply produced nature programs most of the time. That $10.99 in essence gets you ESPN HD and Monster Garage and Trading Spaces in HD. That's far too much for me.

The only HD channels I get from DirecTV are HBO HD and Showtime HD. And I don't even watch them much, because HBO HD airs movies in pan and scan. They do air their original content (Sopranos, etc.) in HD, but I don't like any of their shows. I do TiVo "Dead Like Me" in HD on Showtime HD.

I get the vast majority of my HD content from the networks. I receive FOX,CBS,ABC,NBC,PBS,WB and UPN in HD. I watch sports and several dramas in HD each week.

I think really the big story for me about HD isn't DTV, it isn't cable, it isn't even the HDTiVo. The big story to me is the utility of OTA (over the air) HDTV. For $52, I got an antenna that I aim at a tower 50 miles away and I pick up all these channels for free. Even though we didn't have cable when I was young, I find this amazing. I heard so many stories about how 8VSB (the encoding for OTA ATSC digital TV) is terrible, especially in areas with multipath problems. Well, I live in a mountainous area and my ATSC transmitters are a long way away, but I get flawless reception.

The only issue left is that TiVo (and probably the other recorders) cannot run an antenna rotator. This makes their pre-programmed (and especially speculative) recording useless. There should be a standard for interfacing to an antenna rotator. Do this, and OTA will give DTV and cable a huge run for their money.

Re:agreed on the $10.99 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10614807)

I get the DirecTV HD package, and I'm actually quite happy with it.

ESPN continues to increase the amount of HD programs they run. Even SportsCenter with HD is a big improvement this year, well.. on Sundays at least. They show all the highlights in HD when available. Since almost all the NFL games are done in HD, the NFL highlights are excellent.

Discovery has some good nature and travel shows in HD. But, I don't watch it too often.

Bravo-HD carries the older episodes of "The West Wing" in HD. They were originally broadcast in SD, so this is the first chance we've have had to get them in HD.

HDNet Movies has a lot of great older movies, all shown in their original aspect ratio. They can be repetitive, and many of the movies just suck. But, there are plenty of gems in the mix too. Just scan through the guide, and tell Tivo to record the good ones. Several of the movies shown here are not even available on DVD. So, the only other way to see them is grainy, chopped 4:3, VHS.

Also included in the HD package are CBS and NBC locals (I think Fox locals are also coming soon). BUT, these are only available to people who qualify for them, or are allowed a "waiver" by there local broadcaster to get out of area broadcasts. So, the benefit here is limited.

As for HBO-HD. I would also rather watch movies in their original aspect ratio. I don't even watch movies ripped to 4:3 anymore. But, I find the cropping to 16:9 to be much less severe (in most cases.. there are certainly examples of where going from 2.35:1 to 1.87:1 changed the scene). So, I quite happily record and watch HBO-HD movies.

Only 3!? There are quite a few out there . (1)

ayeco (301053) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612719)

What about Scientific America's HD cable dvr? Or Motorola's 6208, or Sony's new DHG-HDD500 and 250?

Re:Only 3!? There are quite a few out there . (1)

snookerdoodle (123851) | more than 9 years ago | (#10613737)

Didja mean Scientific Atlanta?

To the point. FWIW, /. had a story-about-a-story on one of these a bit ago: 25 9

The person wasn't all that happy with their hddvr. I think that there will be more and better options coming for those of us who don't wanna shell out the Early Adopters Premium$.. ;-)


Roll Your Own (3, Informative)

tji (74570) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612723)

One option that is important to the Slashdot crowd, but is not listed in the article is creating your own DVR. There are several HDTV PCI cards available that can be used to build your own HD recorder. I have used one for the last two years to record all kinds of OTA HD material for free.

Some of the options:

- HD-2000 / HD-3000 cards + MythTV, on Linux. This option has a ton of potential. But, from what I hear, there are still some fairly major kinks to be worked out. I am hoping this improves, as I would love to switch to a Linux solution.

- MyHD MDP-120. HD tuner card with hardware MPEG2 decoder (so, system requirements are very low). Probably the best of the group of similar cards with hardware tuner. Software is reliable for basic recording and playback. Can't do full PVR functionality, like pausing live TV or playing a saved file while recording another. (Some of the similar cards are: AccessHDTV, HiPix, OnAir DTV Pro, etc)

- Dvico FusionHDTV. HD Tuner card, MPEG decoding done in software.. simpler hardware means it's cheaper. Software has been unstable in the past, but seems to be improving. Reportedly making BDA drivers for use with Windows Media Center 2005.

- ATI HDTV Wonder. Fairly new. Software based MPEG decoding. Is supposed to have good MS Media Center 2005 integration.

- ElGato EyeTV 500. MacOS X HDTV solution. Firewire based device, uses software MPEG decoding.

- Sasem OnAir USB HDTV. supported on Windows only, connects via USB 2.0 port.

Re:Roll Your Own (1)

dizzydazed (795256) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614270)

I like the look of the HD-3000 but the lack of a wey to hook up to satellite is a problem. A DVI in would be nice. Wouldn't let us select via the guide, but it would give a digital copy. For those in Canada near the major border points, it could be an interesting card. Price is attractive as well.

Re:Roll Your Own (1)

tji (74570) | more than 9 years ago | (#10615356)

The thing that makes HDTV PVR's relatively easy is that HDTV signals are sent as 20Mbps MPEG2 Transport Streams.. So, they are already compressed, and the computer only needs to write the stream to disk.

To compress HDTV video output (DVI, RGB, or Component) would require compression chips capable of handling 1920x1080 in real time. These are prohibitively expensive, and are currently only used by TV broadcasters in equipment costing tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

To further complicate matters, DVI output from satellite or cable set-top boxes is encrypted (they enforce HDCP usage restrictions). So, even if you had one of those expensive encoding boxes, you still couldn't capture the output. The only currentl solution for satellite is a PVR with an internal hard drive.

One option that may be useful in the future is that some cable carriers are enabling firewire output ports on their cable boxes. This can allow archiving content to D-VHS tapes, future HD-DVDs, or possibly even PC devices. In this model, the MPEG2 stream is sent to the storage device via the firewire - so you don't have the encoding problem.

Where have you gone, Patrick Norton? (1)

madpanzer (588976) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612760)

A tear comes to my eye when I think about what they did to that network. In my mind, TechTV was a very fine balance of tech shows. You had Call For Help, TSS, Fresh Gear, XPlay (love it or hate it,) etc etc. Now there's games, games, games, games, games, Screen Savers, games, games, games, games, Unscrewed with Martin Sargent, games games, ad infinitum. Those two girls on G4 Live are seriously the dumbest women alive.

Microsoft's Media Center 2005 doesn't support HDTV (0, Redundant)

branchingfactor (650391) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612820)

Noticeably absent is Microsoft's Media Center 2005.

Because it doesn't yet support HDTV.

Re:Microsoft's Media Center 2005 doesn't support H (1)

Thomas Hawk (796343) | more than 9 years ago | (#10612850)

Per CNET: "With Media Center Edition 2005, Microsoft is dipping its toe into the world of digital television. For systems in the United States, Microsoft is supporting recording high-definition TV, but only for free, antenna-based signals. Poole said the reason is that cable and satellite providers have not yet provided access to their high-definition signals." Although only OTA, Microsoft has been very vocal about the new MCE 2005 supporting HDTV. Similar to one of the recorders in the review that only supports OTA HDTV, so does MCE 2005. You might be confused with MCE 2004, which did not.

This is news, how? (1)

Osmosis_Garett (712648) | more than 9 years ago | (#10613012)

I realize that christmas is coming and so the marketing machines are getting into some high RPMs at this point, but really!

Bleh (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 9 years ago | (#10613461)

People are still watching TV? I'm not even sure why I pay for my cable anymore..


The future of PVR/HDTV (1)

tyrani (166937) | more than 9 years ago | (#10613502)

I see the future of a HDTV / PVR combination as being the first good reason to use a PC to record television.

PC's are already capable of recording in HD. Cheap storage and easy upgrading allow people to record more shows. There are up-to-the second accurate guides avalaible on the internet that could easily be transformed into "guide" content. It's easier to hack a PC to do exactly what you want then it is to modify a HD-PVR to do what you want.

What's the point? (1)

dledeaux (174743) | more than 9 years ago | (#10613788)

I can't see the point of this review. The first DVR is for Dish Network's service. The second DVR is for DirecTV's service and the third one is for OTA (over the air) recordings. It can't even record satellite or cable broadcast HD. How can you compare products that aren't designed to be used in the same arena? The only thing the article will tell you is which service provider to choose (if any) based on the features of the DVR.

Quite frankly I'm not surprised by the lack of third party HD recorders in this "review". It's a problem that is plaguing the HD industry right now.

HDTiVo records OTA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10614500)

I don't think the Dish one does, but the HDTiVo records OTA.

So there is some way to make a direct comparison, at least between two of the units.

Dish Network Fee (3, Informative)

GweeDo (127172) | more than 9 years ago | (#10613844)

While they mentioned the $4.99 a month DVR fee from DirecTV, they failed to mention the $4.98 fee from DishNetwork/EchoStar. If you have a DVR with any hard drive > 80GB you get hit with their Video On Demand service fee for $4.98 a month (I get tagged with that on my 522 [] for its 120GB hd). You can however get this fee waived if you signup for the America's Everything Package [] which is 180 channels + locals (if your market is supported) + all the premium content channels for $77.99 a month. If you are the AT60 [] ,120 [] , or 180 [] you have to pay the $4.98 though.

Just offering that heads up :)

How about a review on the T.V.'s themselves? (1)

martin_b1sh0p (673005) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614210)

I've been looking around for a good review of the HDTVs themselves...something unbiased that will compare rear, lcd rear, dlp, plasma, etc and perhaps recommend a few.

Re:How about a review on the T.V.'s themselves? (1)

martin_b1sh0p (673005) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614224)

I guess I should have added that so far from the research I've done it appears that DLP is the way to go...would be nice to have something validate what my research has shown me.

G4TechTV Labs, like a lab but different. (2, Insightful)

motionvector (824906) | more than 9 years ago | (#10614278)

Sloppy and Incomplete reporting. The "Lab" uses no test equipment when evaluating video equipment and no test patterns"The 921's high-def 1080i output via DVI and component output looked the best to my eye with great contrast and smooth clarity" Who cares about your eye? I have an eye, I have two, I want actual facts from you. They use no standard methodologies or even common criteria when they evaluate gear so no apples to apples comparison is ever possible. In this case they mistakenly report that the TIVO's HDMI output is incompatible with DVI, it is not, and it even comes with an adapter cable, but they make no mention of what will happen to the DVI if the Broadcast Flag is ever enabled on the content. On the fly down conversion? Blacked out picture? What about the Component output? How do they look to your eye? Lots of older HD monitors only have analog component inputs if the DVRs have cheap and awful D to A converters that would be good to know. blah blah. This channel sucks now.
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