Can you record the output from your cable box on a DIRECTV DVR?

If only… It would seem to be the ultimate solution for someone who wants all the channels there are. Get DIRECTV or DISH, then supplement it with a cable TV subscription. Sure it’s expensive but for some diehard fans, it’s worth it. The problem comes when you want to record.

The dream of many a TV fan has been one DVR that would take antenna, satellite and cable signals. It seems so close, especially since DIRECTV’s DVRs will record antenna TV as well as satellite TV. If only there were a way to somehow connect the cable signal to the DVR. Connecting the coax cable doesn’t seem to work, but what about the TV output? It would seem that since the TV output from a cable box connects to the TV’s antenna input, that there must be a way. Here are the problems:

The antenna output from your cable box is probably standard definition. The odds are quite good that your cable company didn’t go through all the contracts in order to put a pure HD signal out with no encryption. it just isn’t worth the time or money. Antenna outs are generally for people who haven’t upgraded to HD anyway.

There would be no guide data. Since DIRECTV’s DVRs get their guide data from a satellite feed, it’s not going to have data for channels DIRECTV doesn’t carry, and there’s no way for the DVR to know which channel the box is tuned to anyway.

DIRECTV’s DVRs don’t scan for channels. In order to even receive the signal, your DVR would have to tune to analog channel 3. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t know how to do that. In a best case scenario if you could find a market that broadcasts on VHF channel 3 in analog (and there does not seem to be such a market) you would get the wrong guide data.

So, unfortunately, as much as we would all like there to be some single solution for recording both cable and satellite, and even antenna, it’s not likely to happen. The technology wouldn’t make it impossible, but it’s not in any of the manufacturers’ best interests to develop.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.