DTVPal DVR Coming Soon

Dave Zatz —  November 12, 2008

Dish Network’s DTVPal DVR, formerly known as the TR-50 and big brother to the DTV Pal digital-to-analog converter, will be available for pre-order beginning next week with initial shipments expected in December. The high definition, over-the-air (OTA) DVR lists for $300, though DISH will offer an early bird instant $50 rebate to sweeten the deal at dtvpal.com. While the unit integrates both an Ethernet and USB jack, these will serve no purpose at launch and guide data will be received over-the-air via local broadcasters.

As I discovered last night at CES Unveiled here in NYC, in the looks department this hardware still has no TV stand appeal. Though the DTVPal DVR runs the solid DISH Network DVR software, discerning customers will want to hide the bulbous matte black plastic enclosure behind closed doors. Aesthetics aside, this launch is notable as it’s been some time since we’ve seen a major player enter the US retail DVR market… and without imposing a monthly service fee. Though I wonder how large the market really is for a purely OTA DVR.

28 responses to DTVPal DVR Coming Soon

  1. “TV stand appeal” ??? That’s an actual factor? There are so many STBs, everyone and their brother wants to encrypt their technology into its own proprietary piece of hardware, that there is even a slang term for it.

    Amazing.

  2. I may have just made up that term and use it specifically for the looks of the device. I’m not terribly shallow, but this enclosure (and logo) isn’t very attractive. To your point, it’ll be interesting to see how/if the content is recorded. I assume they’re simply porting large chunks of the existing satellite DVR code… wonder if Archos PMP offloading will be enabled at some point? That would make it quite interesting.

  3. No, no. I wasn’t criticizing. It was “wonder” from learning something new, something I continually do by reading this blog.

    Reminder: I am someone constantly trying to AVOID proprietary hardware, and see STBs as “toxic”, an impedance to me just watching the TV shows and movies I like. I assume I am the except here, lots of ZNF reader are into the gear and stuff, and that’s cool. I find value in the information and use it to make my purchasing decisions…or knowing what to run away from screaming.

    “That not a pure service? It requires a dedicated piece of hardware?!?!? Aaaaaaaaaa!! Noooo!!…”

    :)

  4. Todd, until your TV has a built in hard drive you’re going to need another piece of hardware. Figured this one would appeal to you since it records all the digital high definition content via antenna – free content, no subscription. True, it is proprietary and I fear it’ll mostly be locked down. They did imply their could be future plans for those ports though… would be nice to network the thing and pull content off at will. Hopefully, I’ll get an early look like I did with the original DTVPal and can experiment some.

  5. This thing would be great for me. Not only do I want DVR without having to have cable or satellite, but my TV is actually one of these “monitors” that doesn’t have its own tuner. I’m hoping the tuner in this DTVPAL DVR will be an improvement over the Zenith HDV420 digital receiver I’m using now.

  6. Good luck trying to order one, I have had nothing but problems ordering the DTVPal using the government coupons. Not to mention the level of customer service that is one step below McDonalds.

  7. “Though I wonder how large the market really is for a purely OTA DVR.”

    I think having a HD DVR is much more important than having a bunch of channels via cable/satellite. I’m surprised more people aren’t interested in eliminating monthly fees.

    I have 2 TiVo HDs with lifetime subs that only record content from OTA antennas and I have more hours recorded than I can keep up with. It’s much cheaper to Netflix/AmazonVOD the few non-broadcast shows I watch than it is to pay $70/month.

    If they offer network connectivity and full-resolution show transfers to a PC, this could be a very interesting piece of hardware (ugly case excluded.)

  8. So it’s basically a fee-free TiVo HD but without all the advanced functionality like Amazon, Netflix, etc?

  9. Ivan, I’m not sure how many tuners it has… and even if you pick up analog cable, would you have a guide? Also, no word yet on offloading content. Don’t suppose it’ll have remote scheduling either, and who knows if the hard drive can be replaced/expanded. We’ve still got a lot to learn here.

  10. Why wouldn’t you have a guide? My old ReplayTV is plugged into analog cable and gets complete guide info. Though, I think it still calls in over a phone line. Hmm… Haven’t been back in the wires for a while.

    I think this is huge. Why aren’t they doing more to market the no-monthly-fee DVR? Though I guess if you want cable/telco service, the added monthly fee for DVR functionality isn’t that high anymore. Big value really is for people who only want OTA.

  11. Mari, TiVo and Replay phone home (phone or Internet) for channel lineups and guide data. The existing DTVPal gets this data over the air from the local broadcasters and the DTVPal DVR will not utilize that Ethernet or USB jack at launch. Meaning no analog cable guide. So it’s a DVR for just a handful of OTA stations. Granted, there’s lots of good content to be had – but if it only has one tuner, the device is somewhat limited. Perhaps it can also be used as a digital VCR with analog cable. But that’d be SD and who knows if the box can tune BOTH OTA and cable sources.

  12. Dave- Good present for recent college grads who can’t afford monthly cable service…

  13. Dave, the unit has 2 tuners, so Jeff M can watch one thing (and record it, if he wants) and tape another. Connectivity is either through HDMI, component (w/analog or optical digital audio), composite or 75 ohm for those with REALLY old TVs. Guide is populated OTA from either TV Guide data where available or PSIP from the stations where not. The guide format will be familiar to all Dish people.

  14. Two tuners makes it much more interesting… Hope I can get my hands on one early. And I’m still pushing for a ‘Freeview’ movement here in the US. Have CNN, ESPN, others broadcast OTA.

  15. Also, no clear QAM tuner, so no cable – no NSTC tuner either, so no low power stations or analog cable.

  16. Dang, I had an entire data sheet in my laptop bag that I forgot all about. I can confirm ATSC dual-tuning and EPG via TV Guide or PSIP. Looks like a 60 miute buffer, 30 second skip ahead, and 10 instant replay are available. Four speeds of ffw and rewind, with slow-mo and frame-by-frame options. In addition to DVR scheduling, the unit will also allow you to set reminders. Simultaneous HD and SD outputs – nice if you’ve got a Slingbox SOLO or equiv.

  17. That’s one dirty DTVPal DVR in the picture! Looks like something being auctioned on Ebay…
    Anyhow, if this thing does everything it’s supposed to, I think it will be worth the $299 price tag.

  18. Someone mentioned no cable… Does this mean I can’t use it with my barely cable (*not basic but just bare bones cable)? I have a digital tv with both tuners…

    There are only a few channels that I would pick up only on cable that I’d be interested in recording (TBS & WGN)

  19. Dave, can you publish the full specs ?

  20. Here’s a PDF of the owner’s manual from dtvpal.com:

    http://www.dishnetwork.com/dtvpal/downloads/DTVPal_DVR_UG.pdf

    Read at your leisure!

  21. Nathan:

    That is correct – NO cable. No QAM tuner. This is from Dish Network, after all!

    James:

    How about an “instant $50 rebate,” making it $249?

  22. OK, I promise – last post today :-)
    The unit is now available for pre-order at http://dtvpal.com/
    Estimated shipping date is December 17.

  23. I have been waiting for this. I have been using a Panasonic EZ-27K DVD Recorder (now for sale) which has worked well, but only allows 4 hours of good recording or 8 hours of not so great using a ReWritable DVD Ram drive. It works great, however I have already ordered the DTVPal DVR, and Yes, I had major problems ordering one and after talking to three reps and tech support, I got one secured. I think they do that to discourage anyone from ordering one, because I know there are others like me who canceled cable and dish over 10 months ago and are very happy with the currently 16 channels in HD I get now and with a $0 monthly charge. After the transition, I look forward to more channels showing up. Why pay for cable/dish and be forced to watch commercials when I can get free dtv and skip the commercials? The day cable and dish give me free tv in exchange for watching commercials, is the day I’ll switch back. Until then, it’s free DTV for me.

  24. I am so excited for this. I already preordered my DTVpal DVR at http:www.dtvpal.com . Its kinda spendy at $249.00, but I have a rooftop antenna and don’t pay for cable and get great reception…know I can record my favorite shows when I am too busy to watch them. YEAH. Plus, the DTVpal DVR is from DISH and I’ve always been pleased with them!

  25. I tried to order DTVPal DVR on the website, and it wouldn’t let me because I have previously bought a DTVpal converter.

  26. I finally received mine today after ordering in November. This is sweet. The picture shown above sucks. This is a slick and nice unit. Seems very sturdy. Comes in a anti-static bag with dish remote and all cables. Remote is identical to a standard dish and it even controls the TV. The Guide is great. Records 35 hours in HD and 135 in SD. No more pay TV with my 16 free channels. I may order another one because I like this so much.

  27. Are people who purchased the DTVPal DVR satisfied with it?

    Any warnings to me before i purchase one?

    How long will it take to receive the order?

  28. i ordered one 4-13-2009, this was almost impossible to do (14 phone calls all over the country), until i got to rob h in englewood, co. he gave my confirmation number etc said i should have in 7 days. it is impossible to order from the website, and most of the customer svc people i spoke with knew nothing. hopefully it will be here soon and i can finally dump the nazi ways of verizon. there is also a software (firmware) update at their website.