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DVRs For Consumers, And Transferring Shows Out Of Them

ChannelMaster DVR

Leonard in Raleigh, North Carolina listens on WPTF 680 AM asked:

I watch TV and DVR a lot of shows. Is there some type of product out there like AT&T or Time Warner have, a DVR for consumers?

There are a few DVRs for consumers, but unfortunately, they really are few. The Nuvyyo Tablo can record over-the-air TV and stream it to various devices including Chromecast and AppleTV. It will not come cheap, it costs $220 and requires a $5 a month subscription to work, but it has a nice user interface and it plays nice with devices you may already have.

If you want a more traditional solution, the ChannelMaster DVR+ has been around for years, it’s a little more expensive at $250, but you won’t have to pay for a subscription to continue to use the service.

The main strike against the ChannelMaster is that it’s not a fully self contained product

The main strike against the ChannelMaster is that it’s not a fully self contained product, it requires that you bring your own hard drive, if you want WiFi, that’s an extra module too, if you don’t already have an antenna, you will need to get one. Considering all streaming sticks seem to be able to bundle in WiFi at a total cost of $40, it seems kind of strange that a much larger device that costs a lot more will require you to pay extra for WiFi support.

The other popular option is trying to access content online, it’s not always as straight forward as it should be, sometimes it’s actually easier to get it from illegal sites than it is from legal ones, but there are more and more ways to view content online these days without having to put on an eye patch and setting a trusty bird on your shoulder first.

Hulu has a lot of annoying and very repetitive ads, but they also do tend to keep a good library of current episodes, even if you’re not a subscriber.

A lot of the network’s own websites allow you at least partial access to shows if you don’t have a cable subscription (or don’t want to put on that eye patch and borrow a friend’s subscriber number).

A lot of the network’s own websites allow you at least partial access to shows if you don’t have a cable subscription

TiVo Roamio is another interesting choice. The device costs $49.95 for the OTA-only (Over-The-Air) version with a one year commitment for DVR service at $12.50 per month. Depending on which model you get, it will accept input from digital cable, Verizon FIOS, or over the air with an HD antenna, which is where we presume you are.

The OTA-only version holds up to 500 hours of recording. The $200 model that also supports digital cable and Verizon FIOS doubles that for 1000 hours of recording. TiVo Mini is a $149 remote viewing box that lets you have whole-house DVR viewing and control.

And of course there are apps for your smartphones and tablets. TiVo is one of the oldest and most widely recognized names in DVR software and that’s a big reason to always give them a look.

Scott in Nashville, Tennessee listens via the App and asked: 

Is there a way to transfer a movie I recorded on Dish Network to a thumb drive so my kids can watch it on a road trip?

There are certain ways to do this, but it is entirely dependent on what type of Dish Network DVR you used to record your movie. Most newer models, like the 626, come with USB ports that can transfer your movies from your DVR to a computer by simply plugging in your external drive and exporting them. However, the 625 model does not support this feature although it also has a USB port.

The reason some models have USB ports but do not allow users to export media is because it’s only intended to perform Pocket Dish transfers (like a portable media player) and to view images from devices, such as a camera. If you do have a Pocket Dish, then you can easily watch your programs from there, but because you asked, its probably safe to assume you don’t or you might be required to purchase one to do this, depending on your DVR.

With just about any DVR from most companies, there are ways to go about getting recordings onto other devices. There are even ways to do it without a USB drive! We have heard of a seemingly difficult method that requires a digital transfer box and an S-Video cable, others that only require a firewire or eSATA port, and some very questionable ones– but where theres a will, there’s a way.

These days, you can typically stream your shows fairly easily but that  won’t help on a road trip unless you have a big budget for a data plan. Dish in particular does offer a solution if you happen to have a Hopper with Sling. If you do, you should be able to transfer your recorded shows to a tablet or smartphone and watch them wherever you are without using your data.

Written by Dave Graveline

Dave Graveline

Dave Graveline is the founder, Host & Executive Producer of "Into Tomorrow" in addition to being President of the Advanced Media Network".

Dave is also a trusted and familiar voice on many national commercials & narrations in addition to being an authority in consumer tech since 1994. He is also a former Police Officer and an FBI Certified Instructor.

Dave thrives on audience participation!

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