As noted, the biggest problem with EPG data is that television and converter box manufacturers have chosen not to support this feature, or implement it in a very limited fashion. On the most basic level, your TV will show only the title of what is on right now only for the channel you are watching. The next step up is a program guide that gives a listing of all your channels, with the program that is on each channel right now. Some sets implement a "Now/Next" guide that will show the program playing now and the next show along with the start and end times for both. The best EPGs are complete program guides that function similar to what you're used to with pay TV. They are clickable, searchable, and go out about a week, or however long the station provides data for. The picture at the beginning of this article is of the EPG from a DTVpal converter box. It is without question the BEST EPG ever to make its way into a converter box. It is capable of using TVGOS data (TV Guide On-Screen, an independent TV data service) as well as the EPG data encoded in DTV broadcasts. Unfortunately, the DTVpal converter is no longer manufactured, and finding one used is like finding free gold. I use one attached to my 52 inch LCD to provide the guide that my TV does not. I'll give up my cherished DTVpal when you pry it from my cold, dead hands, or it dies a horrible death!
So now you've converted to Free TV, but your TV's EPG sucks. You miss that program guide, and the local newspaper doesn't provide a weekly guide like they used to. You don't want to pay for a daily paper or but a subscription to TV Guide. What can you do?
|The easiest and cheapest solution is to use the power of the internet. Go to http://www.titantv.com/, and register for a FREE account, and set up you guide for your own preferences. Make sure that you check the "remember me" function the next time you log in, to make TitanTV show your schedule as soon as you arrive. Here's a screen shot of my TitanTV guide:|
Another option for you to consider is the Channel Master CM-7000pal DVR. A bit of history first would be in order her. The Dish network DTVpal converter box was produced by Dish Network. Don't ask why a pay TV company would produce a converter box for FREE OTA TV, it doesn't make any sense. But, they also produced the DTVpal HDTV DVR. Both the converter box and the DVR were produced for a very short time and had a number of quality control issues. Dish network no longer makes either product, but they did sell the rights to the DTVpal HDTV DVR AND the SD DTVpal D/A converter box to Channel Master, who now manufacture the CM-7000pal DVR. The CM-7000 is better built than the Dish Network version, and has a longer warranty. It is a FULL 1080i HD DVR, with 2 digital tuners and an integrated program guide. The guide results will vary depending on where you live. In New York City, the local CBS affiliate broadcasts the guide data of TVGOS (TV Guide On Screen) which provides detailed programming data for just about all of the local channels. In other markets, or for certain local channels you may get limited guide data (12-24 hours) which comes from the digital PSIP (Program and System Information Protocol) data embedded in ATSC channels. The free guide may not be as reliable or comprehensive as a paid guide service through TiVo or a paid TV provider, but - it's FREE.
Now, the CM-7000 is not cheap - it's currently about $350. But consider that this is a one-time expense, and it adds the convenience of a DVR with a decent program guide to your home theater, and you'll agree that it's well worth the price. It can record up to 130 hours of SD content or up to 30 hours of HD content, pause live TV and skip commercials just like your Pay TV DVR or TIVO, but with no monthly fee. Speaking of TIVO, yes, TIVO makes a OTA DVR with a program guide too, and it will also record from cable - something the CM-7000 can't do. But a TIVO comes with a monthly subscription fee, too:
You may purchase a subscription to the TiVo Service in one of the following ways:
So, as you can see, TIVO is not cheap. And since you cancelled pay TV to save money (and get a great HD picture!) why would you commit to yet another monthly service fee?