I’ve previously been a bit lukewarm towards DISH Network’s DTVPal DVR, but as I contemplate dumping pay TV at some point this year I’m more motivated to explore all over-the-air (OTA) recording options. And the DTVPal DVR ($250) is pretty much one of only two mainstream retail HD DVR set-top boxes currently available. Unlike the similarly priced TiVo HD, DISH’s solution is subscription-free with guide data received OTA.
As you can see from the 23 enlargeable photos below, I’ve gotten my hands on a review unit. The enclosure is still rather plain, plasticy, and bulbous (can’t stack anything on it), with that unfortunate TV character illustration resembling a pig. However, in this case, it’s what’s inside that truly matters. Setup was a breeze. Heck, I probably completed the DTVPal DVR configuration in the same time it takes my TiVo to boot. The initial OTA PSIP guide data was pretty limited, but overnight the dual tuner DVR has been populated with the more comprehensive TV Guide (TVGOS). The unit seems about as a loud as my TiVoHD, perhaps slightly louder and definitely warmer – neither should be an issue. The Ethernet jack is active, and I did try to initiate a software update. But it appears that my OS is current. Perhaps, utilizing that Internet connectivity, at some point DISH Network’s CinemaNow video on demand (VOD) offerings will make their way to this unit. DTVPalDVR OTA ATSC reception seems similar to the TiVoHD, and all my major networks come in via just a small antenna, although I haven’t done any sort of exhaustive comparison of reception or picture quality.
So far, so good! I’ll have more to report in the coming weeks. Anything specific you’d like me to check out?