Pros When it works, it's great.
Cons If the DVR fails, Dish Networks won't honor the 90 day warranty unless you purchased it through them, which you can't. That means there is no warranty. Trying to resolve warranty issues only results in promises with no action.
Summary If you want to roll the dice and hope you get a good one, you'll either be very happy or mad.
Pros No Monthly fee. Great picture quality.
Cons Forgets to record shows I tell it to. Buggy, very buggy.
Summary I bought this because I was sick of paying for Comcast every month. With a DVR I can record more than enough shows from broadcast networks to watch throughout the day. I bought this unit over a Tivo because it requires no monthly fee. The picture quality of the unit is excellent. HD looks better on this that it did with Comcast. I like the 30 second commercial skip button that the remote has as well.
Now to the bad. It's kinda buggy. I had to unplug the ethernet cable, because after I had it for a few months, it started to always say ethernet connection detected, then ethernet connection not detected all the time when I was watching tv. Worse than that though is if you tell it to record a specific time every week, sometimes it remembers to keep taping the same thing every week, sometimes it totally forgets to record it, and more odd is sometimes it will record the channel you want for the amount of time you want, just at a way different time. Like maybe 4 hours earlier or something. So to get around that, you have to go to the guide every morning to record your shows for the day. I usually only record shows in prime time though, and unfortunately the guide usually only shows about 8 hours ahead of time, so I have to wait til the afternoon to tell it to record, and sometimes I'm not home, so I can't. That's the worst part about the unit.
Overall, I probably wouldn't have bought this unit again. It's nice for the small form factor, and nice remote, but I could have bought a PC with a video tuner card to use as a DVR for about the same price, and gotten the use of a whole computer plus tv on my television, rather than just a dvr.
Pros East to read menus onscreen. Unit is fast and responsive. Operation is dead simple. Great antenna reception.
Cons Not "name based". If a show changes times you miss it.
Not "Energy Star" qualified -- sucks 22 Watts of electricity 24/7.
No streaming NetFlix, though unit could do it with a software upgrade.
Summary The logical upgrade to a DTV converter box.After more than a year of ownership, this is a great box. I understand the unit has been replaced with the Channel Master CM-7000PAL.
Updated on Dec 23, 2010
Pros Record two shows at once
Easy to program, simple interface
Incredibly fast (360x) fast -forward or lower, makes checking programs a snap.
Cons No input to box to use for recording other things like from a security camera, VCR or DVD player. I bought it because I thought I could also use it for my security camera.
Summary I understand that it does not match up to the Tivo that you have to pay $400 for a lifetime membership for or $13/month. But are we really comparing apples and apples or apples and oranges. I think they are different beasts and overall the DTV Pal DVR is a great value for the money. I live in Los Angeles and get around 48 channels over the air and I don't want to pay monthly for cable for the rest of my life. That really adds up at say $50/month ($600/yr), year-after-year! I've had my box for about 6 months, I think and I have saved the cost of the box itself. So at least to me, there is no deal like this. On the other hand if you don't mind paying $13/month for the basic fee to Tivo, then maybe this is not for you. That adds up too. If you live in an area where there are lots of free channels, you can't go wrong with this.Update (1/7/2014). My DTVPal DVR is still going strong after several years (4+) of usage. I bought a 1TB drive to upgrade it, but have not actually installed it yet. The correct drive is rather hard to find, but I located a new one on eBay luckily. I can store approximately 60 TV shows and movies total, so I regularly have to delete them after watching the recordings.
Here are some Pros that there was no room to enter above:
The commercial skip (yellow) button on the remote makes it a breeze to skip over commercials. I absolutely LOVE this feature. It's worth the price of the box alone to be able to watch any show and skip over all commercials (albeit one at a time).
Here are some CONS, that there was no room to post above:
No input to box to use for recording other things like from a security camera, VCR or DVD player. I bought it because I thought I could also use it for my security camera and that would save me about $400, but I later found out that it doesn't have the capability.
The online menu doesn't show the details for most of the shows where I live, and I live in LA, so you would think we would have the best. I have it set to the right zip code, because if you don't set that properly, you'll get no menu details at all.
I did have the problem with the box shutting down by itself in the middle of programs that some other people complained about, but I fixed the problem by updating to the latest firmware and changing some settings in the setup. I had the wrong zip code programmed in it. I actually had my 'correct' zip code for where I live, but the DTV Pal DVR box doesn't want that. It says in the manual that if you live in Los Angeles, you need to use zip code 00002, which is strange since its not my real zip code. I think they should call it a city code or something, to avoid confusion, because anybody would think it actually means their own zip code. I actually suffered and cussed out the box for about 6 weeks before I simiply sat down one day and researched all I could on the box and found out about all of the people having problems too and finally found the solution in some forum somewhere. Now, I'm very happy with the box. But I agree 100% with the other reviewers that say the customer service is HORRIBLE. I called them about my problem and they had no solutions at all. I had to do it on my own.
The only real complaint that I have other than that is that the channel selection menu works too slow. I want to be able to pull up the menu and scroll quickly, but it is a somewhat slow process that I have not yet found a solution to other than simply going to tvguide.com and looking up my programs there instead of the DTV Pal DVR menu, because its more complete and faster.
I still rate the product a 4.5 out of 5 stars despite all of the problems I have had, for the simple fact that there are no truly direct competitors on the market for this product and for the additional simple fact that all of the problems that I have had have been solved or have a workaround, like just using the Internet with my computer to look up shows quickly, rather than rely on the poor menu on the TV Pal DVR box.
Updated on Jan 17, 2014
The feature I would really love to have is the ability to transfer my recordings to a DVD, by hooking it up to a DVD recorder. This works, but the output is not in HD format, so the resolution is not the best if you have a 60 inch HD TV, or the like to view it on. But on a 26" flat screen, I can't tell a difference.
The on screen Tv Guide works pretty good, but does not go too far in advance, depending upon the channel. I haven't used Roku or TIVO boxes, but I think Tivo must have a better TV guide, especially since you have to pay monthly or annually for the service, while DTV Pal's Tv guide is totally free.
Pros We only had the unit for 3 months. Worked well till it died.
Cons It seemed to get stuck on Loading....please wait and we could no longer use it. We tried unplugging it, unhooking it and the whole nine yards.
Summary Seems a huge waste of 250.00 for it to only last a few months and we got no help from the company. No replacement, no repair. Just 250.00 out the window. I don't know about anyone else but we work too hard for what we have and can't afford things that cost this much and work such a short period of time. Times are too hard for this type of product and customer service.