116 of 118 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Product for the Price - Updated
I was very excited to find this product as there are so few options in this category which I find very surprising. Most people must get a DVR with their over-priced monthly Cable\ Satellite subscription. Not me, I'm too cheap to spend $80/month on TV so I just have basic cable for $15.
Like most people I have a VHS recorder but the quality on those recordings...
Published 17 months ago by Gary
47 of 50 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Weak Tuner
I have converted from Dish to a digital antenna, and I get a wonderful picture. I wanted to be able to record our favorite programs on CBS, NBC and ABC. The tuner on this unit is poor and only picked up CBS and NBC; very strange. I disconnected the Digital Stream device and hooked the antenna lead directly to the TV and I got all channels perfectly. I returned mine...
Published 17 months ago by Paul Weller
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116 of 118 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Product for the Price - Updated,
This review is from: Digital Stream DPH1000R HDTV Recorder with Digital Tuner and 320 GB HDD (Black) (Electronics)I was very excited to find this product as there are so few options in this category which I find very surprising. Most people must get a DVR with their over-priced monthly Cable\ Satellite subscription. Not me, I'm too cheap to spend $80/month on TV so I just have basic cable for $15.
Like most people I have a VHS recorder but the quality on those recordings is pretty poor compared to broadcast quality, let alone HD. It might be fine for a soap opera but try watching a tennis match and you can hardly see the ball.
I labored over trying to find a cheap DVR. At first I could hardly find any products at all, then I discovered that Magnavox had two DVR's in the $300 - $400 range. I read some reviews and there were a lot of complaints about these units getting fried when they lost power and not coming back on again. That was bad but the deal breaker for me was that it would not record in true HD, only SD.
I had pretty much given up and then I stumbled across this device. It was only $200 but it DID record in HD, had a 320Gb hard drive and could handle digital and analog signals transmitted over unscrambled Cable. I have basic Comcast ($15/mo) and DO NOT have a cable box.
So I purchased one of these from Adorama camera (via Amazon) and was excited when it came. After plugging it in and having it scan all the channels it could not find most of my digital channels and the Analog ones were so filled with snow\static as to be unwatchable. I played with all the various settings, multiple cable, different TV's and was satisfied that the unit was the problem. I called their tech support the next day and had a very poor experience, the guy said that was as good a picture as I was going to get, which was ridiculous. So I returned the unit and got a full refund so I was only out the original shipping.
I decided to take a gamble and bought another one from a different source and I'm very glad that I did. After hooking it up it found all of the channels plus some I didn't even know about. The interface is very easy to use and the quality of the picture and recording is excellent and you would NOT be able to distinguish live from recorded.
Recording a program is easy and there are three different ways.
1) Just press the record button on the remote for the channel you are watching.
2) Use the program guide which pulls information that is distributed over the digital signal. (I did not know this existed). It's no TiVo but it is quite handy and makes the recording very easy to do.
3) Simply schedule a recording based on date\time, channel and duration. You can set these to record once, every day, weekends etc.
Playback is likewise very simple. Simply browse the list of recordings (if it's off a digital channel it will have the name of the show, otherwise it will have a date and time) and press play. There are fast forward\rewind options which let you got from 1.5x - 32x normal speed which is handy for skipping commercials.
It passed the girlfriend test quite easily too and she is able to watch, record and play shows without any involvement from me!
I give it 5 stars because of it's price performance. It does not do commercial skipping or pause live TV, but for $200 it has all the necessities plus some nice extras that exceeded my expectations and met all my needs.
****** Update *******
I've had this product about a year now and I'm still very happy with it for the price. I have got rid of basic cable and now do OTA only which works great. We don't watch a lot of TV but use this for sporting events and a few TV shows and it continues to do it's job and provide a good quality picture.
There are quite a few negative reviews of this product so I believe they have some quality control problems (as I experienced first hand) and that is why there is such a disparate range of results.
37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Makes a Good Replacement to an old VCR,
This review is from: Digital Stream DPH1000R HDTV Recorder with Digital Tuner and 320 GB HDD (Black) (Electronics)I like the idea of having an over the air (OTA) DVR to no longer have cable bills but yet take advantage of the benefits of digital recording over old VHS tapes.
Unfortunately, there aren't many machines to choose from when looking for an OTA DVR. This is my third DVR. The first I owned is a defunct DTVPal which when working was great. However, randomly would record shows in Spanish or with no sound. The second one I owned was a PHD-VRX dual tuner DVR which I found just too complicated to use, so I returned that.
The Digital Stream DPH1000R DVR I feel is the middle of the two previous mentioned. The DTVPal was very user friendly and easy to use. The PHD-VRX was too difficult and unfriendly to use.
If one hopes this DVR will offer as many features as DVR from a subscriber (examples, TiVO, Comcast, U-Verse, Dish) then one will probably be disappointed. But if one looks as this DVR as a step up from the days of VCR recording, than one might be quite satisfied.
Rather than trying to go over the various features of this DVR, I'll list out what I like and dislike.
- Editable recording schedule after selecting via program guide. For example, I like to record the evening news. I can look at the program guide and select to record it. The selection then shows up on my schedule. I can then select and edit the selection to automatically record by frequency (Mon-Fri as an example).
- USB port for external media. I haven't used this yet, but I will. I have several old VHS tapes that I wish to digitize. I can transfer the old tapes to the built-in HD then copy that program to an externally connected HD. Plus, I can then play the videos from the external HD. Also, I can view pictures from files using the USB port.
- Resume playing of a recording program. If I stop a program before finishing viewing it, when I decide to watch again, I can resume viewing from where I left off. The PHD-VRX DVR didn't do this.
- ill-designed remote control (more on this later). I don't like the remote control. The two most noticeable are first the buttons feel spongy when pressed. Second, and more importantly, the most likely used buttons (pause/play, stop, forward, rewind) are tiny. The larger buttons are the numeric buttons but they aren't used as much by me as the navigation buttons.
- can only record from one tuner. The DVR has two tuners. But unlike other DVRs with dual tuners, only one tuner records. One can have a recording in progress and watch another program, but not record both.
- the DVR does use a program guide which automatically gets updated. Perhaps it's by area, but I've only seen at most about 12 hours of program information, unlike the 7 day maximum one would expect.
- Automated prompts that can't be turned off. After each recording, a prompt comes up on the screen and defaults to automatically shut off machine in about 10 seconds unless one navigates to cancel the shut off. Also, before a recording starts, a prompt comes up notifying that a recording is about to happen unless I want to navigate and cancel the recording. I wish I can just turn off the prompts but there is no option to do this.
- Can't pause live TV. This is one feature I loved on my DTVpal DVR. While watching a program, I'd just press the pause key, and a buffer of up to 1 hour would start. From there I can walk away and take a break up to an hour before resuming the program. There is a workaround sort of with the Digital Stream. That is, to press the "record" button to record what one is watching. Then go to the playlist and watch the recording program in progress. There one can use the viewing buttons. This works for the most part, but is not as transparent as just hitting the pause button to pause live TV.
- Remote doesn't have Skip 30 seconds button (more on this later). Another feature I loved on my DTVpal DVR was at the touch of a button, to be able to skip 30 seconds forward of a recorded show. This was a convenient way to go past commercials and not use the Forward button and guess when to press the play button to halt the forwarding.
- Maximum speed of the forward button is 32X. This is okay for commercials but slow if one wants to move towards the end of a recorded program.
24 hour clock. The DVR uses a 24 hour clock. For many, they do not like it. I'm more familar to regular am/pm 12 hour format. Yet I also like that with a 24 hour clock, there's no confusion as to getting the day/night confused as I have in the past got my am/pm mixed up and missed programs.
As mentioned early, one of my major dislikes is the remote. First because of it's bad layout and feel, plus the feature of a skip 30 seconds is missing. To solve both issues, I decided to get another remote. Not just a remote but one with macro features. Thus, now I have a remote that has better keys, and also have created buttons on the new remote which add a skip forward 30 seconds and a skip backward 10 seconds funtion. With my new remote control, the skipping forward and backward isn't as instantaneous as with my old DTVPAL DVR, yet is adequate. A review of the remote I got can be viewed here: URC A6 Pre-Programmed and Learning Universal Remote Control for up to 6 A/V Components
In summary, though there are a few things which I dislike about this DVR, when treating it as an upgrade to my old VCR, and now I have digital viewing without cable bills, the ability to archive old VHS recordings to digital, and found a new remote control to retain the much wanted feature of commercial skipping 30 seconds forward, I can learn to really like this DVR.
Update (10/14/2012): I have been using the DVR for about three weeks and am getting more familiar with and am happy with its features. I did experience the first hiccup this morning as when I turned on the DVR, there was no sound. After unplugging and replugging back in, the sound came back. When playing a previously recorded program from the morning, that did contain sound.
47 of 50 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Weak Tuner,
This review is from: Digital Stream DPH1000R HDTV Recorder with Digital Tuner and 320 GB HDD (Black) (Electronics)I have converted from Dish to a digital antenna, and I get a wonderful picture. I wanted to be able to record our favorite programs on CBS, NBC and ABC. The tuner on this unit is poor and only picked up CBS and NBC; very strange. I disconnected the Digital Stream device and hooked the antenna lead directly to the TV and I got all channels perfectly. I returned mine within the 15 day return limitation. Not worth buying until they upgrade the tuner.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Day one -- lousy,
I am new to digital television but recently purchased an inexpensive Visio television and discovered about 100 channels (including HD options for all of the broadcast channels) while just having regular $15/month cable and was excited to find an HDTV recorder that (1) didn't require me to get a cable box with monthly and (2) wasn't a $400+ refurbished model (ala Magnavox).
The Digital Stream arrived last night. Before connecting it I read through the manual and then began installation.
18 analog channels found (interestingly, no CBS or NBC). The ones found are so snowy as to be un-watchable. Zero digital channels.
I did what most other reviewers did - I tried selecting different cable systems, I even tried channel scanning as if I was using an antenna... nothing better (usually worse)
Tried calling customer service who were already closed for the day -- I will report back on this -- but perhaps it is telling that on the digital stream website [...] the product doesn't even appear.
As one previous reviewer noted maybe it is time for Amazon to drop this product.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Digital Stream DPH1000R HDTV Recorder with Digital Tuner and 250 GB HDD (Black) (Purchased on June 17, 2012),
I may try purchasing this again as it is what I want, if it works.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The worst product I've purchased on Amazon,
To start with, Amazon was extremely prompt in fulfilling my order - so prompt that after placing my order on Saturday, I found that it was too late to cancel it on Sunday after having second thoughts (noticing the similar brite-View BV-980H Digital HD DVR (for Antenna and clear QAM use) ,with 320GB HDD Built-in, EPG Supported,Time Shifting - Black cost significantly less than this unit). The Digital Stream arrived on Tuesday. After unpacking Amazon's characteristically well-packed carton, I found that the product's box had come unglued and was open on one side. But inside the box, it appeared to be in pristine condition. The unit is roughly the size of a VCR, but through the ventilation shaft, you can see that the chassis is almost completely empty, aside from the logic board and hard drive, whose manufacturer (WD) was clearly visible.
I hooked up the unit to the HDMI input of my ancient Sharp LCD HDTV purchased in 2005. The Digital Stream features an antenna pass-through, and I verified that my TV still got all of the channels through this connection. Then I set up the unit. First, I noticed that I had to aim the remote right at the unit. I saw that in the setup screen, the up and down buttons would wrap around at the end of option lists and scrolled quite rapidly, so it could be difficult to select an option in a two option list. Then the list would advance automatically and you couldn't see your choice to make sure it was correctly chosen. The Digital Stream insisted on scanning all of the analog broadcast channels with no option to skip. Then, it scanned the digital channels. The whole process took around 5 minutes. It proudly declared that it found a grand total of 3 channels, which was actually just 1 channel with 2 additional subchannels. The one channel that it found was an "independent" station featuring only syndicated content and reruns, not a major broadcast network. I verified that my TV, through the pass-through connection, was fully capable of receiving my local CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS, FOX, and so forth as before. I heard that the tuner was weak, but it paled in comparison to one found in my TV from 2005.
For fun, I decided to test out some of the functionality. I noticed that flipping between the HDMI output of the unit and my TV's version of the same station, the unit demonstrated lower audio volume, darker colors, and the picture overall looked slightly muddy, as if the live signal were being filtered and recompressed. (Maybe it was attempting to convert a 1080i broadcast into 720p?) Then, I tried recording the live signal by pressing the "Record" button. I wasn't sure if it started and I pressed it again, and got a pop up indicating that it was recording the remaining 13 minutes of the program (meaning that it knew that when it ended). I decided to see if I could pause the recording in progress by pressing the play/pause button. It kicked me back to the recording list. The recording was only recorded under a name giving the time of the recording, even though I later verified that the program guide had the program name in it - and remember, it knew when the program ended, so it should have known this too. When I played back the recording, it was unwatchable - it looked like an extremely poor broadcast signal full of video glitches, and numerous pop ups appeared indicating that there were audio problems. But the show had no such glitches on the live TV function of the unit as it had started recording, and continued to be glitch-free when I returned to the live TV view.
The program guide, for this one station at least, was better than I expected, giving the names of programs as well as a short synopsis. It extended about 24 hours into the future, but I believe the guide was provided via PSIP, which is maintained by each individual station.
Overall, the weak tuner on this unit made it a non starter, as it couldn't receive the vast majority of the channels I watch every day. But other design defects, too, made the feel shoddy even if you live in an area with good reception. Please don't waste your time with it - you deserve better. I would also be wary of the brite-View, which has a curiously similar design, though has only one tuner. For example, both have nearly identical remote controls, aside from 4 additional colored buttons on the Digital Stream remote, which the manual helpfully describes as having no function.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It's A Bust,
I'm disappointed that this unit failed so quickly. What little time that it did work, it was easy to program recordings and operate. I have searched high and low for a similar unit, but there doesn't seem to be any more around without going to Tivo, Direct TV, etc.
I really wanted this to work out as it seems the only way to go without renting one from my cable company.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seems OK so far....,
We are also extremely lazy Neandertals, in that we really never used the DVD burner. So in searching for a replacement, we noticed the Digital Stream unit did not have one, and we really didn't give a hoot.
I was very concerned about the tuner quality from reading some of the other reviews, almost to the point of avoiding this unit. All I can say is that the Digital Stream appears to have captured all of the same channels as the Magnavox had. Note: My antenna is a cheap RCA rabbit-ear plus loop about the size of your fist-type. It is not on my roof, nor towering over my neighborhood guiding aircraft, but just sitting on top of the armoire.
At this time I have not really checked into the other features of the unit, but will give an update when they are investigated. With certainty, my Neandertal wife will complain about something. Her complaints with be faithfully listened to, empathized with, documented, then transmitted to you via the miracle of the Amazon review process. I'll bet you can hardly wait.
Second Opinion Oct 2012: I came back from work wanting to see the presidential debates and lo and behold my wife had the DVR stuck. I eventually unstuck it by hitting the standby key and it worked until I got it in some other mode where I just see blue screen. Not sure what to do now.
Third Opinion: I will try to get the old Magnavox working after feedback from one of the other reviewers... THANKS!
Digital Stream DPH1000R HDTV Recorder with Digital Tuner and 250 GB HDD (Black)
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I love Amazon. It should not sell this product.,
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good If You Still Have Some Analog TV Signals,
Now about the unit. I'm a TiVo owner, so I have certain standards. This box ain't no TiVo!!! But it is a capable box that can do one thing that no TiVo can do. This box gets its program guide data directly from local TV stations, and allows you to recodr by program name instead of time and channel. (There's no data for analog channels, so you have to record these like with an olf VCR.) Setup is relatively painless, with a scan for analog and digital TV channels that finishes relatively quickly. Once set up, channels can be selected as you would with your TV set, using (for example) "5-1" to get the main program stream from digital TV channel 5, and "23" to select analog channel 23. There's only one tuner input (the other is an output), so you can connect to an antenna (ATSC/NTSC) or closed circuit (MATV, CATV, etc.) cable (OpenQAM, NTSC), but not both at once.
One big disappointment with this box is that it does not support pausing or rewinding live programming. If you must have this feature, this isn't the box for you. OTOH you can play back a program that you're recording, so that's one work-around. Since you have to go to the playlist it's not as convenient, but it's better than nothing. I typically use this to record the news and other shows that I'm going to miss because I'm out doing things, so I can watch them before I go to bed. I realize that most road warriors aren't going to pack a DVR, so this is more likely to be used in a vacation house or other place where you wouldn't want to pay for cable TV service year 'round. You could use this as a budget "only DVR", but it's not really for cable systems. Whatever you use it for, it's going to be a special purpose.
Now for what this box can do: It can record one channel while you watch another channel. It can record by time/channel (what I call "VCR mode"), or by program name when the digital TV station provides program guide data. It can record one show while playing back another. And, as I noted before, it can play back the program you're recording. It sets its clock from a local TV station. It shuts itself off when it's done recording to save power. It plays MPEG-2 (PS) video from an external drive (a USB thumb drive or USB-connected hard drive) and saves MPEG-2 (TS) video to a connected drive. It can be set up to play to a HDTV or an old NTSC TV/monitor. There's a separate RCA jack to feed an RF modulator (not included) if your TV doesn't have line inputs.
Picture quality is great. The remote is awful. You have to point it straight at the box, and even then it doesn't get the message on the first try. It has HDMI outputs, but, as usual the cable is not included. The manual is very basic. If you need an analog (NTSC) / digital (ATSC or QAM) DVR with a built-in HDD at around $200, this is likely to be your only choice.
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