Can a DVD Recorder Without an RF Input Record TV Programs?

Recording TV with a DVD recorder is not the easiest process ever

Toshiba DVR620 Tunerless DVD Recorder/VCR Combo
Toshiba DVR620 Tunerless DVD Recorder/VCR ComboDVR620 Tunerless DVD Recorder/VCR Combo.

 Toshiba

DVD recorders are designed to record or copy video from a variety of sources, including camcorders, VHS players, and television broadcasts.

Depending on the brand and model of the DVD recorder (or DVD Recorder/VHS Combo), connecting to an antenna, cable, or satellite box may require different connection options.

DVD Recorders with Digital Tuners

If you have a DVD recorder with a built-in tuner, it will have an RF input into which you can connect an antenna, cable, or satellite box for recording TV programs. When using an antenna, simply connect your antenna cable to the RF (Ant/Cable) input on the DVD recorder. You can then use the DVD recorder's built-in tuner to set the channel and recording time.

DVD Recorders with Analog Tuners

You cannot record programs received by an antenna because TV stations now broadcast digitally, which is incompatible with the analog systems used before 2009. In order to use a DVD recorder that has an analog tuner, you will need to install a DTV converter box between your antenna and DVD recorder. A DTV converter box converts digital TV signals to analog, allowing it to be read by DVD recorder that does not have a built-in digital tuner.

If you have cable or satellite TV, you will need to make sure that the set-top box is connected between the cable coming from the wall and the DVD recorder. Here's how:

  1. Connect an antenna to the RF/antenna input of the DTV converter or set-top box.

  2. Connect the DTV converter or set-top box output to the DVD recorder's RF/antenna Input.

To record a TV program, you will have to set the DVD recorder to channel 3 or 4 and set the channel you wish record using the DTV converter or set-top box. What this means is that the DTV converter or set-top box controls what channels are received by the DVD recorder. You cannot use the DVD recorder's tuner to set the channel you wish to record.

Alternatively, you can connect the AV outputs (yellow, red, white) of the set-box to corresponding inputs on the DVD recorder. In this case, instead of setting the DVD recorder to channel 3 or 4 to receive and record programs, you can select the DVD recorder's AV or Line input to receive and record TV channels and programs.

Tunerless DVD Recorders

Although DVD recorders are increasingly rare, most units that are available are now tunerless. That means the DVD recorder does not have any way to receive or record TV programs using an antenna or cable connection.

In this case, you have two options.

  • If you receive TV programs via antenna, place a DTV converter box between the antenna and DVD recorder. Connect the antenna to the RF input on the DTV converter box and connect the AV outputs (yellow, red, white) to the corresponding inputs on the DVD recorder.
  • If you receive TV programs via cable or satellite, connect the AV outputs (yellow, red, white) of the set-top box to the AV inputs of the DVD recorder. Then use the set-top box to set the channel and time you wish to record.

Many cable and satellite channels and programs are copy-protected, meaning you may not be able to record certain programs directly to DVD. If you have a DVD recorder/hard drive combination, you may be able to record programs onto the hard drive but not onto a DVD disc.

The Bottom Line

Although most people record TV programs using set-top boxes and DVRs, there are still many DVD recorders in use. Depending on the brand and model, there are differences on how you will have to connect and set it up for recording programs.

Consult your DVD recorder's user manual for any additional setup requirements or operational features that may affect the video recording process.