Visual Media

Toshiba SD-H400 DVD-Tivo

No-service fee Tivo

If you want Tivo, but don’t want to subscribe to the monthly Tivo fee ($13), or the very high lifetime fee ($300), then this basic Tivo box is great.

It is the least expensive Tivo box which offers the Tivo Basic features. This is a no-fee service which allows you to program the Tivo either by manually specifying a time and channel, like a regular VCR, or you can choose to record from a 3-day-in-advance programming guide. You can store up to 80 hours on the Basic (highest compression) quality. On the Best quality, which I use exclusively, much less compression occurs, and you get about 24 hours.

Pros: The Tivo interface is exactly the same, except items that are only accessible to the Tivo Plus paid service subscribers do not appear on several menu pages.

Cons: No advance Tivo features, like season pass, or search lists to snag future shows based on keywords. And the 1 button, 30 second commercial skip is not supported on this unit. You can still scan forward/backwards in one of 3 speeds, just like a normal Tivo box, so honestly, I really don’t miss it. Also, the remote control is not the same as an elegantly designed Tivo remote. (In addition to the buttons for Tivo control, there are buttons used for the DVD control.) Tivo Basic does not have the Wish list feature.

Summary: The Tivo Basic feature is great if you just want simple time shifting capabilities, and the convenience of random access, high-speed scanning of a digital recorder. With no subscription fees.

— Jaime Villacorte

Toshiba SD-H400 80GB
From discounters such as

Or $275 from Amazon

Manufactured by


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