(asked in PM by a member in the London, ON area)
how do you get a epg on the unit (CM7000Pal) without being able to enter a postal code on it? i seriously want to buy one but i am disturbed by the info on the lack of ability to program this thing ? and what other ota dvr are available now ?
There are two methods this DVR uses to receive EPG data: (1) TVGOS (linked to a ZIP code), or (2) PSIP (data sent out by the stations themselves).
The former provides up to 7 days of data for stations within the TVGOS host station's local area. The latter--if provided by the station--typically provides 12 hours or so. Some stations offer several days of PSIP data (such as TVO), or up to a week (CBC's digital English stations, currently).
In London, even if you manage to receive a US TVGOS host station (usually PBS stations), it may not provide data for local London and area stations. You may wish to ask in the London reception thread for clarification.
Either way, in London, most stations offer PSIP data (exception would be CHCH). And even if they didn't, you can still program the DVR to record shows on that station.
This particular DVR is easy to program. Here's a tip of what I do in my area:
Locally for me, I receive WNED Buffalo PBS, which means that I receive TVGOS data for the Buffalo area stations and CFTO Toronto. If a US network program is available on local Canadian stations, such as CHCH, I set the program to record on the American network, then edit the program to change the channel to the Canadian station carrying the program.
This works well for me for shows such as "Jimmy Kimmel Live". It airs on ABC and CHCH Hamilton at the same time. However, as CHCH doesn't offer PSIP, I simply edit the channel after setting the recording for the ABC affiliate in Buffalo. And presto! It records at precisely the correct time on CHCH with having to set start/stop times, etc.
With regards to competing DVR products: Unfortunately I haven't done much research on the subject. You're welcome to explore the DVR & PVR Recorders
thread to catch up on discussion of other devices on the market.
Some people prefer the simplicity of an "all in one solution". But as I have some IT skills, I've decided to go the Home Theatre PC route for my next DVR. The advantage with a HTPC is that you can grab EPG data online up to two weeks into the future. And you can network your HTPC to various TV's throughout your home--much like a "whole home PVR" solution offered by some of the cable/satellite companies.