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141 posts

Master Geek

#81570 14-Apr-2011 16:23
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Hi all,

My ageing Sony DVD/HDD recorder is reaching the end of it’s life (I keep getting ‘HDD Error’ messages, and even though it does work more than it doesn’t, it’s just too unreliable for recording). In the meantime, I've found some tutorials for opening up my Sony and replacing the SATA cable, and/or the hard drive itself. First I'll try formatting the drive I guess. But ultimately it's time to upgrade anyway.
I am looking for any advice to help me decide what to buy.

Currently I have:

* Samsung LA40B650 LCD TV (with inbuilt Freeview)
* Philips Surround Sound System (real cheap, cost like $300 from DSE years ago, doesn’t have HDMI or even Toslink connections)
* Sony RDR-HX910 DVD/HDD recorder (250Gb, no HDMI connection, is component to tv)
* Sky digital decoder (standard grey Pace box, not MySky, connected to Sony via scart-svideo, TV via scart-component)

I have programmed a Harmony 785 to make it all work with the single remote. We use the Sony to watch DVD’s as well as record analogue TV (Freeview is built in the TV so can’t record it) and Sky. I have networked the tv to my main desktop pc in another room (Ethernet cable). I have a wife and two kids who also use it all.

Ideally, what I’d like to have is a setup that allows me to:
* Record Freeview and Sky channels in the best quality possible onto a HDD
* Watch DVD’s (and/or Blu-ray)
* Two tuners would be good
* Record stuff saved on the HDD to DVD/Blu-ray (of less importance I guess)
* Is easy enough for wife and kids to use (although I guess having the Harmony remote means this is easier, even with a more complicated set-up)

I’ve done some research and no one replacement box seems to provide me with what I’m after. They all seem to have advantages and disadvantages. Ideally, I’d like to not increase the number of boxes involved.

As far as I can tell my options are:

* Panasonic’s DMR-BW880GZK Blu-ray Recorder with Freeview – is $990 at Jb Hifi, so expensive. I assume it’ll get cheaper in a month or two when Panasonic release their 2011 range? This seems to be the closest thing to what I’m after. I can plug Sky into it (only composite/s-video, but better than nothing). Has a 500Gb HDD which is good too. No ability to take recordings onto an external HDD.

* Panasonic’s DMR-XW380 DVD Recorder with Freeview – much cheaper, is $644 at JB Hifi. Again, might get it cheaper in a few months (or am I making that up?). Except it doesn’t have Blu-ray (I don’t have anything else that records or plays Blu-ray yet), and doesn’t record to DVD directly, or from HDD to DVD in HD, and only has 250Gb HDD (which seems small given recordings to HDD will be in HD). Again, not ability to output recordings onto an external HDD.

* Freeview PVR box (like Magic TV, Ultraplus, JCMatthew) which records onto a HDD. But this means I’d need to either need to buy a new surround system to get a decent dvd player, or buy a standalone dvd/blu-ray player – thus adding another box. They also don’t seem to have inputs, so I’d have no way to record Sky. The Vu+ Duo ($830!) seems to be the only one that takes a Sky card ( which would reduce boxes (presumably I could then ditch the Sky digital box), but I’m wondering if the wife and kids would cope with such a set-up.

* MySky – unsurprisingly, this certainly seems the best ‘recording-Sky’ option. However still leaves me with nothing to play DVD with.

I guess if I replaced the cheap Philips surround sound system with something decent, I could use that to play DVD, and a Freeview PVR to record Freeview. However I’d still be left with no ability to record Sky.

The only way to record excellent quality Freeview and Sky seems to be to get MySky AND a Freeview PVR machine. Does anything have that sort of setup? That sounds like it would get confusing fast, especially to those in the house who are less technology minded.

At the moment I’m leaning towards one of the Panasonic recorders.

Any comments/assistance appreciated. Please let know if I’ve misunderstood something, or if there are options that I’ve not mentioned. Thanks.

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1044 posts

Uber Geek

  #458839 14-Apr-2011 16:59
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Aren't the Freeview channels on Sky anyway? If so, get MySky HDi and a Panasonic Blu-ray player - they are cheap as chips now, to play your DVD's and save up for a decent receiver/speaker package for later.

3781 posts

Uber Geek

  #458999 15-Apr-2011 00:09
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Yes, anything worthwhile on Freeview is also on Sky...
But the downside to the MySky setup is two-fold.
1: You can't record off it in HD (to a DVD/HDD recorder for instance).
2: Some programmes can't be recorded off onto a DVD at all due to copyright flags etc.

In an ideal world, you'd have a MySky box and a Panasonic BluRay Freeview recorder.
Not the cheapest, but absolutely doable. The networking capability of the Panasonic recorders is pretty cool too, but oddly enough, it doesn't work overly well with Samsung TV's over DLNA.

Another option for BluRay playback and Freeview recording is a PS3 with a PlayTV device attached. The downside to this, it doesn't allow you to record to shows at the same time, series link or view / use the MediaWorks channels via the EPG.

Personally, I use MySky and record UHF Freeview onto a HDD on my Panasonic if required (this means I can technically record 3 shows at the same time).


727 posts

Ultimate Geek

  #459001 15-Apr-2011 00:19
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Get a Vu+ Duo - easy set up; easy to use; 2 tuners, it'll record your FTA and Sky (with a card, of course).

Get a cheap BD player - forget about copying to BD or DVD - the capacity is too limited, especially when a 1 TB drive is only about $100.

3607 posts

Uber Geek


  #459052 15-Apr-2011 09:43
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This topic comes up every month or so. You effectively have 2 choices:

1) HTPC which will do everything you want but requires set up/maintainence and doesn't generally have such a high WAF.

2) Get the discrete devices to do each job.

I went through a similar exercise and to me having separate devices for each to perform a specialist function makes more sense. "One device to rule them all" is a bit of a pipe dream IMO. Pick the best/most economical device in class to do each task and you end up with a much less frustrating experience.

You've got a Harmony so that makes it so much easier to manage - you don't have to have 6 remote controls for 6 devices.


141 posts

Master Geek

  #459084 15-Apr-2011 11:20
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Thanks for the comments guys. I will keep investigating. It's becoming more and more obvious that I have to make some trade-offs. I guess I need to work out what I don't actually need (i.e. do I really need to be able to make copies of stuff I record?).


141 posts

Master Geek

  #459087 15-Apr-2011 11:33
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A friend with 'regular' Sky was called and offered free install and 6 months free on 12 month contract. She took it. I think if they called me I'd take it too.


141 posts

Master Geek

  #460503 19-Apr-2011 13:53
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Just an update - I've got a call in to Sky to see if they can offer me that deal. Turns out they actually called our house about 10 days ago but my wife said 'NO!'. So essentially I'm just saying 'we' changed our mind.....;-)
Apparently someone will call me back within a day or so.
If for some reason they say I can't take that offer (free install, free for 6 months), I guess I'll go for the one at Harvey Norman (free install, 6 free PPV movies).

However, JBHifi have just knocked $200 off the Panasonic 500Gb Blu-ray recorder (DMR-BW880GZ-K) $794, which is what some places are still selling the DVD version (DMR-XW380GN-K) for. Massive reduction.

Head explodes.


3781 posts

Uber Geek

  #460613 19-Apr-2011 19:11
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Makes sense - the new versions will be out soon.
I can only assume they'll have 3D playback... don't know if there'll be many other additions, but probably better interweb connectivity, and potentially upgraded DLNA functionality (although I do like the way the 880 shares TV shows on the network).


141 posts

Master Geek

#460637 19-Apr-2011 20:22
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Dunnersfella: Makes sense - the new versions will be out soon.
I can only assume they'll have 3D playback... don't know if there'll be many other additions, but probably better interweb connectivity, and potentially upgraded DLNA functionality (although I do like the way the 880 shares TV shows on the network).

I'm currently using the DLNA function on the Samsung tv to watch downloaded video (tv shows) and it's working well. Just using the Samsung PC Share Manager that came with it. What advantages over that would I get with the 880?
Sky said yesterday morning when I rang that someone would call either that day or today. But nothing. Guess it'll be tomorrow.....or maybe they want me to buy that Panasonic...

3781 posts

Uber Geek

  #460643 19-Apr-2011 20:30
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The 880's DLNA server capability is limited to two things right now...
Serving TV shows and photos on the 880 across the network. Meaning a network connected TV in a bedroom would be able to view shows recorded on the 880 in the lounge (as an example)... or on a laptop in another room could pick them up etc etc.
Kinda cool. BUT, you can't control the recorder from another computer / TV... only watch the video or view the photos you have recorded on the hard drive.
I've seen it work well on LG's and Panasonic's, but not consistently on Samsungs... can't tell you why though.


141 posts

Master Geek

  #461489 21-Apr-2011 23:29
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Another update - I'm all sorted (well, for now at least). Sky came through today. I got a call back and apparently it was confirmed that I was on the 'list' for the promotion.
So next Wednesday they're coming to exchange my old decoder with MySky. The deal is: free installation, twelve month contract, free for the first six months, free multi-room for three months, free HD ticket for three months. So all up, I only need to pay $90 if I want to cancel the whole thing after a year. I'll certainly end the multi-room and HD ticket after the free period, but I'm pretty excited about being able to test-drive them for free and for that long.

1044 posts

Uber Geek

  #461513 22-Apr-2011 07:53
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CM:  I'll certainly end the multi-room and HD ticket after the free period, but I'm pretty excited about being able to test-drive them for free and for that long.

Wait and see, pretty hard to give up multiroom once you have had it ( much like MySky ). Incidentally, the HD ticket is free all the time if you have multiroom anyway.


141 posts

Master Geek

  #463399 28-Apr-2011 15:50
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MySky all installed. Happy puppy. Watched Barcelona v Real Madrid in bed before work while kids watched Playhouse Disney in lounge. NICE. Still can't see me being able to justify $25 a month for it though.

424 posts

Ultimate Geek

  #465401 4-May-2011 19:19
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CM: MySky all installed. Happy puppy. Watched Barcelona v Real Madrid in bed before work while kids watched Playhouse Disney in lounge. NICE. Still can't see me being able to justify $25 a month for it though.

Sanity.  We have multiroom - and before getting it the kids would fight over what channels to watch.  We got multiroom hooked up to master bedroom which feeds to my daughters room - so she can watch her tween programmes and the son can watch cartoons and documentaries in the lounge on the mysky. 

When you look at the cost per week, that equates to $6.25 - one less bought coffee and a muffin per week to stay sane at home ;-)


"In the real world as in dreams, nothing is quite what it seems" - The Book of Counted Sorrows

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