Q: I tried the Channel Master DVR+ home video recorder. Ultimately, I returned it, because I couldn’t find an indoor antenna that worked well enough in one position to capture all the channels I wanted, and I prefer not to mess with an outdoor antenna.
Channel Master sells Seagate external hard drives with the DVR+, but it won’t accept them as returns, even if the box is unopened. I found this disappointing.
What do you think about the Mediasonic HW-150?
A: Before I discuss the Mediasonic HomeWorx HW-150PVR, I want to warn you that you might not get any better reception with it than you did with the DVR+. Having a good antenna is key to good reception, whether television or FM. You might want to consider an attic antenna if you don’t want to put one outside.
I was intrigued when I received reader e-mails recommending the Mediasonic HomeWorx HW-150PVR (www.mediasonic.ca). Its low price (under $40 online) and capabilities made it seem a godsend to home-recording enthusiasts. I ordered one from Amazon the day I heard about it.
The HW-150PVR is a high-definition, single-tuner box with a USB connection. You can connect an external hard drive and use it to record over-the-air high-definition broadcasts. You can build an unlimited number of recordings by swapping out hard drives when they are full.
What’s more, the recordings are saved as .mts files, so you can connect the hard drive to your computer and play them there, as well. I’m going to experiment with the files from my unit and see if I can make AVCHD or Blu-ray discs from my home recordings. The HW-150PVR can also play music and photographs from USB media.
With only one tuner, you can’t record two shows at once, but you can watch one show with the TV tuner and record another with the unit. If you need to record two programs at once, you’ll need another HW-150PVR and another hard drive, as well as an antenna or a splitter for signal reception.
Connect a hard drive and antenna to the unit, connect it to the TV via HDMI and you are ready for setup. A menu pops up, and the process is self-explanatory. I used a small set of rabbit ears, and it pulled in all of my local stations easily. (Your experience with reception might vary, of course.)
While setup is easy, operation and using the onscreen guide isn’t quite so intuitive, although I was able to figure out its quirks. It’s easy to forgive the difficulties when the unit does what it does, and so affordably, too.
At under $40, the Mediasonic HomeWorx HW-150PVR is an extremely compelling alternative to the Channel Master DVR+. You can get two HW-150PVR units if you need two-tuner recording and still be almost $200 below the cost of the Channel Master unit. The best price I found was on Amazon, where I bought mine for $39.99.
Give it a try, especially because you already have a hard drive you aren’t using.
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Send questions to Don Lindich at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get more recommendations and read past columns at www.soundadviceblog.com.