PVR - record 2 progs with hdmi connection

srhill

Active Member
I am looking to source a pvr which is:

1) capable of recording 2 digital freeview channels at once

2) has a hdmi connection

3) is easy to use

4) is as reliable as my old tivo

Is there such a beast?:lease:

ps ideally I would like a dvd recorder as well however I understand there is no 2 tuner dvd recorder on the market at present. Also I am a little worried to hear that dvd recorders with hard disks and a digital tuner do not record to HDD as incoming but converts and re-converts - is this actually true?
 

LV426

Administrator
Staff member
The last bit is true, yes. The main reason is - transmitted streams may have errors (often from reception) in them which may put the resulting file outside of DVD specification. It's easier and more reliable to decode and recode them to ensure playability.

Why do you feel you need an HDMI interface?
 

mk-donald

Active Member
I've got one such set in my sights at the moment - announced in Argos catalogue/website but still no sign of the actual goods being on sale.

It's the Wharfedale DTR which comes in 4 variants from £120-£150
- 160 or 250GB hard-disk size (+£20)
- without or with HDMI/upscaling (+10)

The non-HDMI models appear to be available, but not the HDMI versions. The website originally claimed all had HDMI/upscaling - its clearly only the models with HDMI in their subject/title that do.

See www.Argos.co.uk
search for Wharfedale DTR to see all four of them (and another)
eg 160GB HDMI model is # 5321234 at £129.99

Only one report I've seen of anyone buying a non-HDMI model and they said they'd confused it in first few days :(

Somehow I doubt VERY much if it will be as reliable as Tivo! Mine's needed one reboot in 5 years. My/family/friends cable/freeview set top boxes need a power off at least every 1-3 months.
 

srhill

Active Member
The last bit is true, yes. The main reason is - transmitted streams may have errors (often from reception) in them which may put the resulting file outside of DVD specification. It's easier and more reliable to decode and recode them to ensure playability.

Why do you feel you need an HDMI interface?

From experience of my skyHD boxes I feel I get a better picture when upscaled through the HDMI than I do when viewed through scart connection.

Hence my requirement for a HDMI connection.

Surely if the program is decoded and recoded their must be a drop in quality?

Does this happen with all HDD recorders (specifically DVD HD recorders)?
 

nwhitfield

Well-known Member
It happens with all DVD recorders, regardless of whether or not there's a hard drive in them.

Here's an explanation of the reason, from an article on my web site:

To record digital TV to DVD, you have to convert the Transport Stream to a Programme Stream; this is actually not too hard, and there's no quality loss, since it's really just rearranging the existing info in a slightly different way.

BUT - and it turns out to be a big one - the DVD Video standard is quite strict on the range of parameters that can be used for the MPEG2 video, with regard to things like the picture size and the number of frames between complete pictures; it's more strict than the standards for DVB-T.

Some of the channels on Freeview use settings that, while working fine for broadcast, don't fall within the allowable range for DVD Video. They have a resolution that's wrong, or too many intermediate frames between pictures - good ways of saving bandwidth, sometimes at the cost of picture quality. But not acceptable for DVD.

That means that, to maintain compatibility with every DVD player, a DVD recorder will have to re-encode the images. (As an aside, I imagine that if a DVD recorder were to create discs that couldn't be played on everything with the DVD logo, there would be licensing issues - just like some copy protected CDs in the past haven't been allowed to have the 'Compact Disc Digital Audio' CD logo, because they don't work in some players.)
 

Paul Shirley

Active Member
They have a resolution that's wrong, or too many intermediate frames between pictures - good ways of saving bandwidth, sometimes at the cost of picture quality. But not acceptable for DVD.

That means that, to maintain compatibility with every DVD player, a DVD recorder will have to re-encode the images.

I believe this is not strictly true for HDD+DVD devices. The lower quality/higher compression settings on my fathers box seems to use resolutions not allowed by DVD,VCD,SVCD or any other disc standard I'm aware of, if only for HDD recordings. Dumping and replaying broadcast streams would not be a problem, yet they chose not to do it.

I suspect the real reason is largely to simplify the device, just whack in a totally independent Freeview system and capture its final output. Much easier to get working than doing it the best way. It also avoids the annoyances high GOP lengths cause trying to seek through programmes. The box already ends up recoding its HDD recordings when copying to DVD to achieve compatibility.

Whatever the reason these devices are a very poor way to record Freeview.
 

LV426

Administrator
Staff member
From experience of my skyHD boxes I feel I get a better picture when upscaled through the HDMI than I do when viewed through scart connection.
- whilst there may be a difference, all other things being equal a RGB analogue connection will not be in a totally different "ballpark" than a HDMI connection, even if upscaled in the source device. The most common reason for a noticeable difference is that the SCART connection is missing one of the 5 (or so) essential factors to ensure RGB, and is, instead, composite.
Surely if the program is decoded and recoded their must be a drop in quality?
- there may well be a drop in quality. It probably isn't significant, though. True PVRs (that's hard drive only; no DVD ability) do record the broadcast exactly as received.
Does this happen with all HDD recorders (specifically DVD HD recorders)?
- yes for all DVD recorders. But then, I think I already said that.
 

Paul Shirley

Active Member
The quality loss complicated by the varying bitrates, GOP lengths and other variables across the channels. Realtime encoders in DVD recorders don't do quality based variable bitrate recording, you pick a single setting that has to cover all recordings.

A setting able to adequately capture say BBC1 (4.5mbit source) will waste huge amounts of space on much lower Q channels like ITV4 (about 1.5mbit). It will also sometimes not use enough bits for some other channels using variable rates - I've seen 6mbit on BBC3&five for instance. There's simply no way to set a DVD recorder to maintain quality across all channels without wasting huge amounts of space on most of them. Your 160Gb drive will hold as much as a 60-80G PVR drive.

Of course if image Q is important you won't be watching many Freeview channels ;)
 

mk-donald

Active Member
Well my interest in a "record 2 progs with HDMI connection" is simple - it's for a Dell TV that is 720p HD'able (via DVI) but does NOT contain a Freeview tuner, hence feeding it from a DTR with upscaled HDMI=>DVI (with TV set to 1:1 display + L/R RCA audio) is a ideal way to watch recorded Freeview.

Still no sign of the Wharfedale ...HDMI's at any Argos anywhere near :(
 

182_blue

Active Member
I've got one such set in my sights at the moment - announced in Argos catalogue/website but still no sign of the actual goods being on sale.

It's the Wharfedale DTR which comes in 4 variants from £120-£150
- 160 or 250GB hard-disk size (+£20)
- without or with HDMI/upscaling (+10)

The non-HDMI models appear to be available, but not the HDMI versions. The website originally claimed all had HDMI/upscaling - its clearly only the models with HDMI in their subject/title that do.

See www.Argos.com
search for Wharfedale DTR to see all four of them (and another)
eg 160GB HDMI model is # 5321234 at £129.99

Only one report I've seen of anyone buying a non-HDMI model and they said they'd confused it in first few days :(

Somehow I doubt VERY much if it will be as reliable as Tivo! Mine's needed one reboot in 5 years. My/family/friends cable/freeview set top boxes need a power off at least every 1-3 months.

did you test that Argos link LOL:oops:
 
S

Smegz0r

Guest
After much persistence I managed to get through to some manager or other in Argos who checked with their stock management department or some such. Apparentley they are tenuously expecting delivery of the HDMI models on 23rd September, which is very annoying.
 

182_blue

Active Member
After much persistence I managed to get through to some manager or other in Argos who checked with their stock management department or some such. Apparentley they are tenuously expecting delivery of the HDMI models on 23rd September, which is very annoying.

strange that as i order one online from Argos and i got it today :thumbsup:
 

182_blue

Active Member
well, it was for my parents, but its just to complicated for them to use, so now im stuck with a £130 box i dont really need, and Argos wont refund it :(
 

LV426

Administrator
Staff member
You can put an ad in our classifieds............

But, before you do, it may be worthwhile persevering with the parents; for the most part, it isn't the use of the machine itself you have to overcome; it's the CONCEPT of using a hard disc as opposed to tape. Once you can dispel the idea of linear recording, erasing, and 3-hour time limits, you may find it starts to get clearer for them. At least, that was the experience I had with a neighbour (who still, bless her, calls the process "taping" TV).
 

182_blue

Active Member
You can put an ad in our classifieds............

But, before you do, it may be worthwhile persevering with the parents; for the most part, it isn't the use of the machine itself you have to overcome; it's the CONCEPT of using a hard disc as opposed to tape. Once you can dispel the idea of linear recording, erasing, and 3-hour time limits, you may find it starts to get clearer for them. At least, that was the experience I had with a neighbour (who still, bless her, calls the process "taping" TV).

well, TBH i found it just so un user friendly i wouldn't want them to have it, to record things you had to set the start and finish time, set channel etc etc, it was like going back 15 years TBH, the whole thing was just horrible, and coming from a quite user friendly thomson box i just thought it was rubbish TBH, anyway in the end i found there to be a few issues with the machine so Argos have agreed to refund me in full :D
 

srhill

Active Member
well, TBH i found it just so un user friendly i wouldn't want them to have it, to record things you had to set the start and finish time, set channel etc etc, it was like going back 15 years TBH, the whole thing was just horrible, and coming from a quite user friendly thomson box i just thought it was rubbish TBH, anyway in the end i found there to be a few issues with the machine so Argos have agreed to refund me in full :D

Surely, you must be able to set recordings from the epg by pressing a button (as per sky+) - I thought this was common across all pvr's, after all it's not too much to ask is it?
 

mk-donald

Active Member
Methinks someone missed out reading the manual and/or the whole point of a FREEVIEW PLAYBACK badged PVR, or indeed any of the Freeview PVRs available over the last 2-3 years.

FREEVIEW PLAYBACK requires:
  • "One touch recording"
  • "Record your favourite shows at the touch of a button from the on-screen TV guide"
  • "Freeview Playback has an 8 day TV guide."
 

srhill

Active Member
Methinks someone missed out reading the manual and/or the whole point of a FREEVIEW PLAYBACK badged PVR, or indeed any of the Freeview PVRs available over the last 2-3 years.

FREEVIEW PLAYBACK requires:
  • "One touch recording"
  • "Record your favourite shows at the touch of a button from the on-screen TV guide"
  • "Freeview Playback has an 8 day TV guide."

can't read the manual - haven't got the product - hence my request for knowledge to enable me to make a choice of purchase - simple really
 

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