By Don Lindich
Week 14, 2016
Q. My old DVD recorder no longer works. I used it with an antenna to record over-the-air broadcasts. The only comparable option I could find is a Magnavox HD DVR/HDD 500GB with an ATSC tuner. Is this a good unit, and is it worth $228?
-Kent Saunders, Minneapolis, MN
A. Reviews for the Magnavox are generally positive if you must have a device that burns DVDs. I suggest you also consider an alternative where you separate the disc playback and recording functions. It would be less expensive and more convenient.
I receive a fair amount of correspondence regarding home recording. Home recording was very simple in the days of VHS VCRs with cable-ready tuners. Once you had the VCR there were no other fees to pay and you could easily create an archive of recordings on tape for future viewing.
When DVRs came along (which was even before HDTV) they offered unbeatable convenience and the ability to pause and rewind live television. Though it was a superior recording solution, subscription fees quickly became attached to DVR service. There is also the matter of creating an archive of favorite recordings, which is difficult due to copy protection used with subscription-based DVRs.
What I will suggest gives you the best of both worlds. Get a new disc player and a separate video recorder to go with it
If you do not have one already, buy a Blu-ray player. It will play your DVDs and CDs as well as high definition Blu-ray discs that look and sound far superior to purchased DVDs. You can get a good Blu-ray player with Wi-Fi for about $60.
In the past I have recommended the Mediasonic HomeWorx HW-150PVR for home recording, and it is still a great buy. The HW-150PVR is a small set-top box with an over-the-air tuner, a connection for an antenna and HDMI and USB ports. Just connect it to your TV and antenna and plug in a USB flash drive or hard drive. Format the drive in the setup menu, then have the tuner scan and memorize stations. You will then have an onscreen program guide to easily tune stations and schedule recordings using the remote control.
The HW-150PVR will allow you to pause live TV and it records full quality HDTV to the USB drive. Flash drives won’t hold much video so you are better off with a hard drive. Once a drive is full you can replace it with a new one, saving your recordings on the old drive for future viewing.
The HW-150PVR sells online for about $33 and there are no additional fees. Sometimes the unit’s operation can be a little bit quirky, but no more so than the Magnavox you are considering. www.mediasonic.ca
Free antenna day: This week’s question is a great lead-in to Free Antenna Day. Channelmaster is turning April 15 tax day into Free Antenna Day by giving away their best-selling FLATenna, including free shipping. Beginning April 15 at 8 AM Pacific Time you can visit Channelmaster’s website and sign up for your free antenna, limited to one per household, while supplies last. This is the proverbial free lunch, or in this case a free antenna delivered to your door. Try to log on the moment it starts on April 15, as I imagine they will go fast! http://www.channelmaster.com/Free_Antenna_a/331.htm
Next week I will continue my coverage of the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show with a vacuum tube hybrid integrated amplifier with Bluetooth for only $150.