Monday, September 15, 2008

Recording Digital TV Programs With Existing Equipment

Over the past few months several people have asked me how they might be able to continue to record TV programs on a VCR or PVR (Personal Video Recorder) after the analog broadcasts are shut off in February. The short answer is that if you are a cable or satellite subscriber nothing will change. You will be able to continue to record and playback just as you do now. If, on the other hand, you receive your TV channels over the air using an antenna, you will need to make some changes.

The simplest solution for over the air households is to get a video recorder that has a built in digital (ATSC) tuner. You can connect it to an antenna and to your analog TV set and record just as you do now using the controls and auto-programming features of the recorder. The least expensive of these recorders uses a DVD disc to record. There are two types of DVD discs. One type can be recorded to only once. The other can be erased just like a VHS tape and reused. Be sure that the DVD recorder you buy can record to both types of discs. I have seen several models that will work just fine with prices beginning at $170.00. Also your analog TV must have input jacks for either S-Video or composite video signals. You should not use the antenna input on your TV for this set up.

For those who choose to use a Set Top DTV Converter, it gets a bit more complicated. You can use your analog VHS VCR or DVD recorder with your DTV converter. Connect the antenna to the DTV converter and connect the DTV converter to the analog TV. You can use either the composite video input or the antenna input on the TV. The composite video input is best.

While this is the least expensive option, there is one big drawback. You can not use the auto-programming features on the VCR. You can set the VCR to record a program in the future by setting the day and time. You cannot auto-program a channel change.

So if you decide to record a program on Channel 48 on Monday evening and you want to set the system to record the program before you go to work on Monday morning you will need to set the video recorder’s timer to the time the program begins. This is the same process that you do now. However, instead of programming the channel on the video recorder to Channel 48 it needs to be set to “line” or “video” input if that is the connection between the DTV Converter and the video recorder or set to Channel #3. Channel 3 is the channel that the video recorder uses to receive the signal from the DTV Converter. Finally, you need to make sure that the DTV Converter is turned on and set to Channel 48. As you can see this is a bit of a hassle and does not allow you to record several programs from different channels without manually changing the channel on the DTV Converter.

As more and more of us get digital sets and analog equipment is phased out, things will get a bit simpler.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about a dvd player/recorder? What about the converter boxes? Is there any way to record more than one program on more than one station? I have been researching this for months, have finally concluded the only option is Tivo, which will cost $300 for the box and $129 for yearly service. This for something I used to do with a $70 vcr and a $2 tape. I am not happy. My income is limited, and I resent the goverment taking away my options.

1:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I finally figured out how to record after getting my DTV Converter Box by setting tv remote to Video 2 and can only record one digital channel, which is okay for now. The problem I am having is it is recording in black and white instead of color. Can you help me with this. Thank you.

6:08 PM  

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