Is there such a thing as an HD DVR?
August 21, 2009 5:55 PM   Subscribe

My HD cable channels route through a DVR. I have an HD TV. Do I need an HD DVR to take full advantage of HD? Is there such a thing? Thanks!
posted by jackypaper to Technology (11 answers total)
Yes, you need an HD DVR. And they do indeed exist.
posted by mcstayinskool at 6:02 PM on August 21, 2009

ze google
posted by mcstayinskool at 6:03 PM on August 21, 2009

We were able to receive local HD channels by bypassing the cable box and DVR and plugging in the cable (Comcast) directly into the TV. Eventually we got an HD DVR, oh so worth it.
posted by halogen at 6:10 PM on August 21, 2009

TiVo has an excellent hd dvr.
posted by unixrat at 6:14 PM on August 21, 2009

Protip: If the HD channels actually show up and are watchable on said DVR, it is indeed an HD DVR. No further action needed!

Else... I don't know what cable provider you use, but Time Warner will let you trade your old gear up for HD DVRs no questions asked. In fact, I think that's ALL the TWC offices here carry. Last month, my brother finally traded in his old gear that he's had since... '98, I think. (He'd just gotten a huge HDTV but was all "nah, I don't need HD channels." We've, uh... since convinced him of the boneheadedness of running a SD receiver on an HDTV.)
posted by Yoshi Ayarane at 6:19 PM on August 21, 2009

You have two basic options: Either rent a HD DVR through your cable/satellite supplier (they most likely offer it, unless they're a very small local operation, and even then, they still probably do). In that case, you don't pay for the box, you just pay for renting it each month along with the DVR fee. It will replace your set top box and current DVR.

Or you can get an HD Tivo, which comes in varying models with different storage capacities and a few different features (front display, DVD player/burner, etc). A basic model will set you back $260, and hold about 20 hours of TV at great quality. You can then pay for service based on how long you plan on using the box ($129 for one year, $300 for three years, $400 for permanent service for the box). The Tivo will probably have a better interface and more features than the one the cable company provides, and I have an SD Tivo that I love dearly. If you have the cash, I'd recommend the HD Tivo. Also, get a CableCard for the Tivo, as that means you don't need to use a set top box anymore. Just ask your cable company to send you one.
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:25 PM on August 21, 2009

I'm not sure I understand the question. Can't you just record something on the DVR, play it back, and look at it to see if it is in HD? If it's HD, you're fine. If it's not in HD, you're not fine. Seems like it would take 5 seconds?
posted by Justinian at 6:32 PM on August 21, 2009

You so need an HD DVR. We limped along with our regular tivo until about this time last year, when I got an HD Tivo for a total steal. I am so, so glad we sprung for the new one.

Plus the new one has dual tuners and we can get netflix instant watch. It's just better all around.
posted by sugarfish at 7:16 PM on August 21, 2009

Yeah, post more about what you're asking. What's in your head isn't coming out on the keyboard completely. Just type a lot and we'll figure it out.

I assume you mean to ask:

Q: Can I watch HD from cable without using an HD DVR, or any cable set top box at all?

A: Yes. You can connect the cable (use a splitter) directly to the TV, then use the TV channel scan function to find all the channels. Many of them will be HD. The channel numbers that the TV displays on screen will make no sense at all, and may change at the whim of the cable company. You will only be able to see the "basic" cable channels, but that will include the big networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, etc.) For more info, google for "clear QAM HD cable".

Caveat: Lately, cable companies have been moving even their clear QAM channels behind an encryption wall, but providing you with a free "DTA" box. That will be the death knell of plugging the cable directly into the TV, and again put you at the mercy of their shitty box (shitty decode, shitty remote, etc.)

Kill your cable. Get HD for free over the air. It's better quality HD, it's free, and you don't really need hundreds of channels, do you? OTA HD + Tivo = Heaven
posted by intermod at 7:28 PM on August 21, 2009

It's better quality HD, it's free, and you don't really need hundreds of channels, do you?

Definitely not. But a lot of the channels you do need (for the same value of "need" for which NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, etc qualify) are not available OTA.

You do need some sort of set top box in order to get HBO, Showtime, FX, AMC, and so on. Now, you can tweak your setup to get some channels OTA HD and some via your set top box but that's not trivial and rather beyond the scope of this question. Additionally there are a lot of places where it's difficult to get the OTA channels because of intervening buildings, hills, etc.
posted by Justinian at 9:03 PM on August 21, 2009

I highly recommend the Tivo HD, which uses Cablecard (which cable companies are required to make available on request).
posted by raf at 3:03 PM on August 22, 2009

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