Yesterday Susan and I went to Circuit City and found a DVD/VCR combo player for $80. She wanted it for her old TV in the sewing room (she calls it her studio). When we got it home and went to hook it up, we found that the TV had only Coax input (the threaded nubbin that you connect cable to; also called an F connector) and that the DVD/VCR had only more modern outputs like composite (red, white, and yellow) and S-video. Worse still, it had no coax input at all so we couldn’t even connect it to the cable coming out of the wall. I said we should take it back, but she called Zenith (now apparently owned by LG) and they said she should get an RF converter from Radio Shack.
We looked up other VCR/DVD combos on Amazon and discovered that you can’t buy one with coax input anymore. This is because of the switch to high definition and the only combo players with coax are high-end players that are converting HD signals. Nobody makes analog tuners (the pre-HD signal we’ve always had is called NTSC). From what it looks like, recording TV shows onto VHS tapes won’t be possible anymore and these combo players are really only meant to play tapes and DVD’s and record DVD’s on to tapes.
I wonder if an HD converter box would help at all with this, but I’m thinking it would not. The converters require a separate antenna and only convert the broadcast channels plus the broadcast HD channels. I don’t know what they would do with the cable signal.
Even if you get an RF modulator, I still don’t think it would be tuning in any particular station. It would just be a physical adapter so that the combo player could send a signal over coax to the TV (on Channel 3 or 4). There still wouldn’t be a way to connect the combo player to the wall. Even if you got some other kind of adapter, I don’t know that the combo player could differentiate the cable signal containing all of those channels.
Meanwhile, Susan also bought a 22-inch HDTV last night by Toshiba for her bedroom. We connected the coax cable to it and it recognized all of the regular channels she was seeing before (without a cable box) as well as a number of digital channels that her old TV wouldn’t recognize and some HD channels including at least a few of the local HD channels (though these have numbers like 800-01 instead of just 21). The TV includes a DVD player and is amazingly lightweight. We had also been thinking about a 24-inch Samsung TV that can be used as a computer monitor as well, but Susan liked the DVD player being incorporated (just a slot in the side) and Circuit City didn’t carry the 24-inch Samsung in their stores, only online.