Recording Sky without Sky+

  [DELETED] 08:03 27 Mar 2008

Hi All

I have a standard Sky box, no subscription (just an expired card) used to view the freebie basics. I used to record from this using a VCR - then the VCR broke! Time to move on, should be easy enough (I thought). But after some searching, I still can't find a hard and fast answer to the following ...

What can I use to do the same job as the VCR?? I don't watch enough TV (or want to) to justify a subscription to Sky+. Also, due to a HUGE tree at the bottom of our garden in direct firing line of our nearest transmitter, Freeview is out and so is any other aerial received signal. So whatever I use has to be able to pal up with the Sky Box.
I need a hard drive something or other that I can scart up to my Sky box so I don't have to prop my eyes open to watch the end of a good film that ends 3 hours past bed time.

There seem to be a few PVR / freeview combos out there for a reasonable price and a decent capacity (like the Thompson 160gb at £99 from Argos). Problem is, if it is geared for freeview, will it record from my Sky box? (Argos 'exclude' PVRs from their 30 day try-it-and-see for some reason). If the Thompson combo type isn't a goer, are there any decent 'standard' PVRs out there with the same capacity at around the same price anyone can recommend?

I don't need anything flashy - just a reliable, user friendly, no ‘glitches’ decent capacity (and price) step up from my VCR. Something I can set a timer to record while I am out or asleep. Oh, and to be able to record from a standard Sky box (if I haven't already mentioned it).


  [DELETED] 18:22 27 Mar 2008

For something a bit different and more sophisticated, which can also be linked up with your PC - have a look here

click here

  [DELETED] 18:47 27 Mar 2008

you should be looking at the sky+ option. the base subscription is £16 but you get the full functionality of the sky+ box. i never had it until august when they dropped £10 premium for it, and believe me you wonder what you did without it. it simply has to be the most relevant piece of home entertainment equipment since the advent of the vcr

  ICF 18:54 27 Mar 2008

"I think you may be referring to boxes for terrestrial digital with a hard drive built in"

They are called PVR's (Personal video recorders)and they don't have a external record function.

  [DELETED] 21:43 27 Mar 2008

I forgot to mention earlier that I have around 10 friends who have Sky + and I would say half of them have had problems with their Sky+ boxes, mostly been the hard drive and the box losing all the recorded programs. My opinion of the Sky+ boxes is that they are not very reliable, although some people may use them with no faults at all, I was simply pointing out what I have heard from my friends experiences.

A HDD/DVD recorder is IMO a better alternative. I have a Panasonic HDD/DVD recorder and I can record off of Freeview (as mine and most others have a built in Freeview tuner) I can also record off of Sky by connecting my Sky box to the AV in Scart socket on the recorder.

I often record off of Sky when I am not at home by doing the following:

I find the program I am wanting to record from the Sky box EPG TV guide, press select to add the chosen program to the PERSONAL PLANNER, next I press the red button to select the AUTOVIEW OPTION, you will now see a red circle with the letter A in it next to your chosen program, I now switch the Sky box into standby. On my HDD/DVD recorder I press the EXT LINK button. Now what happens when my chosen program starts is that my Sky digi box switches on this in turn is detected by the EXT LINK function on my HDD/DVD recorder and this then starts the recording, when the program has finished the Sky digi box switches itself off and then the HDD/DVD recorder does the same.

I would advise that if you go for s DVD recorder that you go for one that has a built in hard drive as well as the DVD recording facility, because if you go for a DVD recorder you will need blank DVDs at hand to record your chosen program, whereas with a machine with a hard drive you simply record on to the hard drive, if required you can then transfer from the hard drive to a blank DVD disk, I'm not sure if it is possible to transfer from a Sky+ box to a DVD recorder so that the program could be burned to DVD disk?

  [DELETED] 12:31 28 Mar 2008

Like FatboySlim71, I have a Panasonic HDD/dvd recorder, which has AV-In.

I use the same arrangement to record Sky from the digibox.

  [DELETED] 17:00 28 Mar 2008

Thanks for all your responses - I'm liking the HD/DVD combi, giving the option of archiving worthwhile films, etc, and freeing up HD space. Means all's not lost if the beast goes bang, too!

Anchor & Fatboy Slim 71, you both sound as though you are happy with your Panasonics(?) Tried and road tested! Can you tell me: 1, Which you have? (I've read one of them is about off the market now),2, Any beefs or annoying glitches? ,3, If you would buy the same again? (or do you know of similar/better now out?),4, Can you fit a decent amount on a DVD? (I've read 45 mins is the norm, which isn't a film - what about on LP, is the quality still reasonable, or is there such a thing as a high capacity DVD disc?),5,Can adverts be edited out for transfer to DVD, and could the DVD's be played on my (quite elderly – about 8 years but still going strong) Sony home cinema DVD system (ie, are they the same as 'standard' DVD's once burned?)

Apologies for the 3rd degree, and thanks again for your help. This site warns off emailing direct ‘unless invited’. Would this be ok with you, if necessary?



  [DELETED] 23:14 28 Mar 2008

I am very very pleased with my Panasonic DMR EX85, I have owned this for coming up 2 years in August and its never missed a beat, no problems or glitches whatsoever, its an amazing bit of kit.

I would definately buy the same again (or the equivilent model as mine is no longer made) the equivilent model now is the DMR-EX87, this has the same size (250 GB) hard disk drive in it as mine.

Regarding "Can you fit a decent amount on a DVD?"

There is various recording qualities that you can put your machine on for when you are recording a program and as such this will determine how much you will be able to fit on to a DVD disk.

I have just consulted my instruction manual and this is what it mentions about my model. The below is based on recording to or transfering to
a DVD disk. XP is the highest quality.

XP = 1 hour

SP = 2 hours

LP = 4 hours

EP = 8 hours

I usually leave mine on the SP mode if there is a chance I might want to transfer to DVD, but otherwise I usually leave mine on the XP mode (best quality) in this mode the picture quality is absolutely fantastic, you will be hard pushed to notice any difference from the original program. Saying that, there is nothing wrong with the picture is SP mode, its still absolutely fantastic and you would be hard pushed to notice any difference between XP and SP.

Regarding LP mode, yeah the quality isnt just as good as obviously XP or SP, but it is still WAY WAY BETTER than LP mode used to be on VCR's. I used it once to fit a series on to DVD and I have to say that I was impressed with the fact that I was able to fit 4 hours of video on to a disk and the picture quality was hardly any less than when using the XP or SP modes. I have never used EP mode but I read somewhere that the picture was not that good, so I would say LP would be the lowest to go to IMO.

You can buy dual layer blank DVD disks, these basically hold twice has much as a normal DVDR disk, my machine can record to these but I have never used them, I can imagine that the current range of model of HDD/DVD recorders would definatley be able to write to dual layer DVD disks.

Yes you can edit any unwanted footage out (as long as the program is on the hard drive) before you transfer to DVD, I have done this a few times and find its an excellent feature.

Regarding "could the DVD's be played on my (quite elderly – about 8 years but still going strong) Sony home cinema DVD system"

The thing I found with some older DVD players is that some wont play DVDR disks, you would really need to consult your instruction manual for your 8 year old DVD player to determine if it can play DVD-R and or DVD+R disks. Even if it wont play DVDR disks, you can pick a DVD player up now for less than £30.

If you have any further questions then yes it is ok to email me, but it is sometimes better if you post the question/reply on the forum so that if someone else has the same question/problem it can be of help to them.

  [DELETED] 07:27 29 Mar 2008

FatBoyslim: my Sony DVD recorder doesn't have a button called EXT-Link. Could it be called something else or look like something else?

  [DELETED] 11:43 29 Mar 2008

The EXT-Link button I was refering to is what it is called on my Panasonic model, Sony models may not have this feature or a similar feature, as I have never owned a Sony DVD/HDD recorder I cannot comment.

  [DELETED] 11:48 29 Mar 2008

Incog, surely that would be the equivalent to AVin

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