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Sunday, May 1, 2011

New DVR - Magnavox 515h

I bought a new DVR. It's a Magnavox 515h. I've had it for two weeks and I like it.

I didn't accept payment from Magnavox or others to write this. I probably should have, since this is a favorable review. I don't like it when blogs accept payment to write a post on a specific subject, such as pay-per-post. I don't like ads disguised as content.

The Magnavox 515h is like a Tivo, but with no subscription fees. It has a 500GB hard drive. It also has a DVD burner, supporting R-, R+, RW-, and RW+.

The hard drive can hold 600 hours at the lowest resolution (SLP). I found that the be too low quality. I switched to EP, supporting 400 hours, and that was good enough.

For certain channels, such as CNBC, there's a quality problem. I think it's Time Warner and not the DVR, but I'm not sure. It's an intermittent problem, which makes me suspect Time Warner. Perhaps this DVR doesn't properly compensate for low cable signal quality.

I don't know why anyone would pay for a Tivo subscription or cable DVR subscription. Assuming the DVR lasts a year, the Magnavox is cheaper than a Tivo. I can handle setting the cable box timer myself. A Tivo isn't worth the subscription fee.

Unfortunately, you can't buy the Magnavox 515h in Best Buy. Best Buy only offers Tivos. They probably get a cut of the Tivo subscription fee. Therefore, they prefer to sell Tivos instead of a higher quality product.

I ordered from They added sales tax to the price. Since when did they start doing that?

There are other nice features, compared to a regular VCR. I set it to "auto-chapter" every half hour. That makes it easy when I record several programs at the same time. I can fast-forward or reverse a half hour at a time.

If you stop and resume playback, it remembers where you were. You can record up to 12 hours at a time, or multiple recordings totaling the full HD capacity. That's useful when recording a marathon.

You can "burn to DVD" if you want to save something. I only watch each program once.

Cable DVRs *DON'T* offer auto-skip. You can fast forward, but not skip ahead 30 seconds. They want to force people to watch commercials. The Magnavox 515h offers a skip forward and backward button. I set it to skip ahead 30 seconds and backward 15 seconds.

This makes it very easy to skip over commercials. (However, it doesn't automatically edit them out.) Commercials are nearly 1/3 of a TV show! It's much faster to skip over commercials with this DVR, compared to a regular tape VCR.

I also have a Panasonic EZ48V. That was a real POS. I bought some Memorex DVD+RW disks. They worked in the Magnavox DVD burner but not the Panasonic DVD burner.

There are other neat features. You can "pause live TV", like with a Tivo. The Magnavox "pause live TV" buffer is 6 hours, longer than a Tivo. If you're watching a show with the DVR on, you can convert the autostart recording to a regular recording on the hard drive. You can watch one show already on the hard drive while recording something else. You can watch a recording in-progress from the beginning.

I'm liking the new Magnavox 515h DVR. I like the way you can easily skip over commercials. Cable DVRs don't allow that. I like the fact that there's no subscription fees. I'm annoyed that Best Buy doesn't offer this DVR. They prefer to sell Tivos for a cut of the subscription fee.

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