New Magnavox OTA DVRs Announced

TB560S

At CES 2016, Magnavox quietly unveiled a line of OTA (Over-the-Air or broadcast television via antenna) DVRs.  There are three models in the line…

  • MDR877H/F7 (MSRP $399.99): 1 TB (1000 hours), two tuners, DVD recorder
  • TB560HP/F7 (MSRP $449.99): 1 TB (1000 hours), two tuners
  • TB560HS/F7 (MSRP $499.99): 2 TB (2000 hours), six tuners

Magnavox has a long history in the OTA Digital VCR/DVD recorder business, but, as far as I know, this is their first foray into the full feature HD DVR arena. Release date is set for this fall. The first thing that struct me about these is the fact that it looks like a TB560HP/F7 with a DVR burner is $50 less than a TB560HP/F7. I suspect there is a lot we don’t yet know about these things.

CNET posted pictures of the boxes here. I have not seen any first hand information other than that.

Here is some of the interesting stuff from the boxes…

– Pause/rewind live TV
– No subscription EPG
– 802.11n
– Tuners (2 or 6)
– Line in for camcorders (or Rokus?)
– External storage
– IOS/Android live and ‘on the go’ support (download recordings?)
– DVD-r/rw support (MDR877H/F7)
– DLNA Sync (start watching in one room, resume in another)
– DVR Link (recordings from all DVRs are available, via a single menu, on all DVRs)
– Home Network Server

The Rovi powered guide looks very nice — it’s a grid with images and details. There seems to be a search function whereby Rovi recommends and aggregates programming.

The interesting thing is that this DVR does not seem to target any existing DVRs directly with the possible exception of dissatisfied Tablo users or people who might otherwise buy a Tablo.

Also interesting, with DLNA, a six tuner model, and no diskless ‘Mini’, Magnavox seems to be inviting streamers to leverage their DVR — and giving them six months to bring a product to market. Is Roku Media Player a potential client for the Magnavox DVR? Kodi is, so Fire TV, Nexus, and Raspberry PI are too, I guess.

This thing does not include streaming apps. That disqualifies it for one box people unless that one box is a DLNA capable streamer (or TV).

Looks like guide is Rovi only, so not a good fit for those without broadband.

Then there’s price. I’m having trouble with the announced prices and feature sets, but, for discussion purposes, let’s assume the prices are correct and these things are not compatible with any other devices. Let’s see how much this will cost compared to the alternatives for 3/4/5 years…

One room 1T at least two tuners:
– TiVo 1t Bolt @$400 plus $150/yr for years 2-5: $700/$850/$1000
– DVR+ plus @$250 plus a 1t disk @$60: $310/$310/$310
– Tablo two tuner DVR @$220 plus a 1t disk @$60 plus Lifetime @$150 plus Roku 1 @$50: $480/$480/$480
– TB560HP/F7 @$450: $450/$450/$450

Two rooms at least 1T at least two tuners:
– TiVo 1t Bolt @$400 plus $150/yr for years 2-5 plus one Mini @$150: $850/$1000/$1150
– Two DVR+s @$500 plus two 1t disks @$120: $620/$620/$620
– Tablo two tuner DVR @$220 plus a 1t disk @$60 plus Lifetime @$150 plus two Roku 1s @$100: $530/$530/$530
– Two TB560HP/F7s @$900: $900/$900/$900

Three rooms at least 1T at least four tuners:
– TiVo 1t Bolt @$400 plus $150/yr for years 2-5 plus two Minis @$300: $1000/$1150/$1300
– Three DVR+s @$750 plus three 1t disks @$180: $930/$930/$930
– Tablo four tuner DVR @$300 plus a 1t disk @$60 plus Lifetime @$150 plus three Roku 1s @$150: $660/$660/$660
– Three TB560HP/F7s @$1350: $1350/$1350/$1350

Four rooms at least 1T at least four tuners:
– TiVo 1t Bolt @$400 plus $150/yr for years 2-5 plus three Minis @$450: $1150/$1300/$1450
– Four DVR+s @$1000 plus four 1t disks @$240: $1240/$1240/$1240
– Tablo four tuner DVR @$300 plus a 1t disk @$60 plus Lifetime @$150 plus four Roku 1s @$200: $710/$710/$710
– Four TB560HP/F7s @$1800: $1800/$1800/$1800

This isn’t an apples to apples comparison. By the time you get to four rooms, the DVR+ and TB560HP/F7 setups are sporting eight tuners and 4t of disk space while the TiVo and Tablo setups are four tuners and 1t of storage. Maybe you need to add streamers to support popular streaming services. Regardless, this is a basic setup for an OTA first cord cutter. Magnavox is not a price leader in most configurations.

Unless the DVR recorder is a TB560HP/F7 with a DVR burner (which makes no sense) or these Magnavox DVRs work with inexpensive streamers, I am not sure who would choose one.

On the other hand, if this thing works with a Fire TV stick running Kodi, things look a LOT more interesting…

TB560HS/F7 @$500 plus three FTV Sticks @$150 gives you streaming in four rooms for $650/$650/$650 which is truly a bargain.

What do you think about this DVR?  Did Magnavox get things right?

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By Len Mullen Posted in DVR, OTA

16 comments on “New Magnavox OTA DVRs Announced

  1. Hi Len,
    Looks intriguing… kind of pricey but when they release more details…. I am usually not a first gen buyer (simpletv and hdhomerun dvr exceptions)…

    Are you going to jump? Would like to get some reviews on it… looks good though I dont understand what the whole house feature is entirely, unless its DLNA

    Will be keeping an eye on this one..

    Preston

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    • I’m not interested (probably not the right word). I have three TiVo Roamio OTAs, two Minis, three DVR+s, three (working) DTVPals, five single tuner STVs, and two dual tuner STVs. My wife walked in the room when I was researching this and wagged her finger strongly in my direction. My (our) New Year’s resolution is to spend no money on Free TV. (The $300 TiVo with Lifetime has already tested my resolve.) I do, however, love the product if they can pull off the bullets on the box.

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    • I did. Did you see the Minis on Woot this week? If I knew someone who was cutting the cord right this week, I would tell them to grab a couple of those Roamios plus three Minis — a house full of fun for $815!

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  2. So what is your thought on the best dvr out there now? With the recent news of Rovi and TiVo, I’m hesitant to purchase a DVR+. I’m slowly talking my wife into allowing me to purchase a dvr. I was trying to hold out until Microsoft released DVR capabilities for the Xbox One, but I don’t see that happening very quickly.

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    • Er, submitted a bit too soon there. I was going to say that I saw the 1tb Magnavox listed on a website or two for about $350 (if I remember right). I haven’t done enough research, but with this being a newer box I’m wondering what all the problems are going to be with it. I doubt I would ever use the DVD burner, so that is worthless to me. TiVo is just too expensive (either pay $$$ and get lifetime and hope the device never breaks or I get into a monthly expense and pay $$$ in the long run)…. so I’m back to the DVR+ haha. Just wish I could take a glimpse in to the future and see if the guide will stay stable.

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      • There is no ‘best’ DVR right now. There are a lot of terrific DVRs and which one is best for you depends on how price sensitive you are, how you feel about monthly fees, and whether you want a whole house solution.

        I still sit in front of a Channel Master DVR+ most nights (right now, in fact). It’s a rock solid DVR at a reasonable price (2/$300 last Black Friday). Love the usb storage and plan to give Sling TV a ride. Already use Newsmax TV, WeatherNation TV, Vevo TV Hits, and Twit TV which are all free streamed services. The DVR+ is the only DVR which can be used untethered and will continue to work after the manufacturer goes out of business. (I still use a DTVPal with a PSIP guide.) I have a small library of Vudu content as well and am glad to have that app on the DVR+.

        Not sure why the recent TiVo news would steer you away from the DVR+. Even if you believe Rovi will pull the plug on their DVR+ guide, the DVR+ has a PSIP guide and Gracenote is probably looking for a new partner. TiVo users have been telling the rest of the world Gracenote has a better guide for years.

        I like the TiVo too, but the tuners are not as good (probably because the signal is split four ways instead of two). One of my favorite features of the TiVo is the ability to program a recording with my phone. I love that the TiVo has apps, but hate that they are terrible and, for the most part, unsupported. (We are using Fire TV devices even on sets with TiVos because the Plex app is so bad.) Right now, the TiVo is pretty expensive.

        An ‘All in’ Bolt will set you back $750-$850. An ‘All in’ Roamio OTA is $400. I’m glad I got my TiVos when I did because $400 is too much to pay for a TiVo with Lifetime.

        I don’t care for the remote boxes like the Simple TV DVR and the Tablo. Tablo has done a good job in this space, but read their forums before investing in one. You cannot get around the lag associated with remotely controlling one of these via some network device. Right now, I don’t love any of the streamers, so Tablo and HDHomerun are out of the question for me. (I do have four Simple TV DVRs running right now.)

        The Magnavox DVRs (https://freetvforme.wordpress.com/2016/01/16/new-magnavox-ota-dvrs-announced/) attack another niche. I think they are kind of expensive for what you get, but if you want a whole house DVR without apps or a monthly fee, they may be your best option. We’ll have to wait to see how ‘finished’ they are at launch.

        If you can hold out until November, you should get a chance to read some hands on reviews of the Magnavox DVRs. I expect Channel Master to have good deals on Black Friday and TiVo will feel pressure to do the same. Except for very special circumstances, I would avoid a Tablo.

        Hope that helps.

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      • Definitely helps. Reading your blog and a bunch of other sites make me feel the DVR+ is a good decision. Using just PSIP shouldn’t really matter right? If I just want to make sure I capture whatever show, the system should be intelligent to do a search whenever guide data is updated and make the schedule.

        Does the DVR+ offer any sort of signal strength meter?

        Honestly, I hope I don’t have to wait until Black Friday for a deal… unfortunately I just missed out on their recent bundle, but I’m not sure I really would have even used the antenna and the WiFi while nice probably wouldn’t be used either.

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  3. PSIP data is provided by the broadcaster right in the stream. It tends to be MORE accurate than Rovi or Gracenote, but sometimes a broadcaster is not consistent with the data. They are required to provide the data, so, when one drops the ball, I email the broadcaster, then file a complaint with the FCC. Typically, PSIP data is only out for three days. Ongoing recordings by name or time work, but you cannot ‘find’ programming outside the data window. Generally, this is not a problem for me.

    The DVR+’s signal meter can be seen here: https://freetvforme.wordpress.com/2016/05/06/review-stellar-labs-30-2476/ (just scroll down to the fourth image. You get signal strength and quality.

    They also offer open box returns for $175 pretty regularly. Keep an eye on their facebook page and twitter feed and subscribe to their updates email: http://www.channelmaster.com/Contact-Us-a/281.htm.

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    • Awesome… I just picked up a DVR+ from Channel Master’s eBay. It was open box, but at $199 it isn’t too bad. Now to find a good hard drive… it seems people on AVS complain an awful lot about models of hard drives and issues long term. Thanks for all of your input!

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      • I use seagate and western digital 1t and 2t USB disks for storage. They get their power from the DVR, so there is no extra wall outlet requirement and they are convenient to store and swap out. I find that 1t is a very comfortable size for television series and 2t is great for movies. I treat them like giant VHS tapes (if you are that old). I have one disk for transient files (time shifting) and others for the files I want to keep (archive). For instance, I have one for Holiday Specials, one for Movies, one for Dramas, and one for sitcoms.

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      • Are you wizwor? Hahaha, I was reading through the DVR+ thread and if you aren’t him that is crazy… He states the same thing (VHS). I still have a lot of reading to do. I probably won’t store things long term, though with that said I saw Finding Nemo was on last week and that would have been something nice to store for my daughter once she is a few months older. Ah… decisions decisions.

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  4. Yes. Wizwor 😉

    Don’t lose your mind over on the AVS forums. Those guys have been picking apart the DVR+ since a year before it was released. Some of it’s worst critics have never even touched one.

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    • Yeah.. I’m hoping that is all it is. Reading through that thread kept making me on the fence of getting one. The hard drive thing does seem to be an issue though, whether it is the sleep feature of drives or not – that I am not sure. Reviews online are always hit or miss, generally people don’t waste their time reviewing unless it was AWESOME and they had something to gain from reviewing it or it was terrible and they just want to complain to somebody… the majority is then left out full of people who neither think it is worth their first born or think it is the spawn of Satan. Once I get the DVR I’ll be able to see signal strength again I think that will be beneficial for me to figure out the deal with the channels that are hit or miss for me – I could even try to move my antenna to see if I can get a better location. Unfortunately my attic floor is insulation, so an IV cart won’t help me much… but I’m temping to throw down a small sheet of OSB so that I could easily rotate and move a cart around.

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