With work and everything else, I’ve found it hard to watch television since I’d have to rotate my schedule around when something specific is on.  Not to mention that some things I want are on at 2am or so.

After doing without something to record for so long, I gave up and began exploring Digital Video Recorders (DVR) for off-the-air (OTA) channels.  Since I don’t want to use cable nor satellite (overly expensive, monthly fees, continually rising, etc), and since we’ve finally migrated over to digital format for air transmissions, the best option was that.

The biggest issue is finding anything decent for OTA DVR use, since most DVR that are appliances (Not MythTV computers) are for satellite or cable.  After looking around the researching multiple different styles, I found one that fit my needs very well.  The one I found was the Echostar DTV Pal.  Oddly, this device was made for Dish Network, but is only for OTA and not satellite.  It really has everything I need as a DVR, and I’m very happy with it.  This link shows pictures of the unit, along with talking about it in extreme detail.

The features of this DVR are as follows:

  • a 250GB harddrive (can handle 30 hours of HD, and much more SD)
  • Dual ATSC OTA tuners (can record two channels at a time, or record one and watch another OR watch a recorded show while recording 2 channels)
  • A 30 second forward and back button
  • Ability to watch a recording as it’s occuring without inhibiting recording
  • HDMI, Component, Composite, or coax connections for output to your TV
  • An ethernet RJ45 adapter so you can update firmware over the network/internet along with possibly downloading TV Guide information.

The guide is updated by either TV Guide or the OTA channel data.  OTA channel data is limited to a 24 hour period.  Other than the few times when the guide doesn’t download properly (happens with the channel data), everything “just works”.  It’s surprisingly quiet, and I cannot hear it even in a dead silent room.  Only two lights exist on the front.  One is power, and is green.  The other is “Record”, which is red.  Other than that, it’s a black product, which is mundanely designed but not “ugly”.  The guide is relatively slow in my opinion, and felt about the same speed as my old Hughes DirecTV 80Gb DVR that I used 4 years ago.

All in all, it’s basically a Tivo for OTA antenna hookup… without MONTHLY FEES!!!
Also, if you want a massive amount of storage space, you can simply replace the drive with a 1TB SATA harddrive and instantly you have 4x the amount of time to record.


I’ve noticed that the channel reception is a little better than my television as it picks up channels that weren’t there before.  Also, if a channel appears out of the blue, when you turn it on again it will display that xyz channel appears to exist, blah blah, to inform you.  I keep it off most of the time until that 2-3 hour stint that I have a TV watching window.  (sometimes filled with Wii time, or watching my instant queue on Netflix)

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