Hey Squad: I’m going to post something here as opposed to on Facebook to see if one of my fellow nerds can help a brother out. There is basically zero chance of my folks ever stumbling across our little corner of the world and I need to ask a Christmas Question.

I’m trying to get a nice gift for my parents for Christmas. Note: My folks are luddites. Here are some truths about them:

  • They do not have (and have NEVER had) cable TV, but instead siphon HD signals through the airwaves from Michigan using a digital TV tuner and a big arial on top of our house. They are morally opposed to paying for cable television.
  • Up until recently their favorite thing to do was to record TV shows from standard broadcast networks onto VHS tapes and play them back at leisure.
  • They also liked very much bringing these VHS tapes with TV on them up to their cottage so they could watch shows there in the evening.
  • The cottage has no Internet access, high speed or no. I believe our normal house has a basic, not great, DSL package.

Their major pain point in life right now is that they have lost the ability to record and move their TV shows because, y’know, VHS tapes being extinct technology 15 years ago and all that. Also, HD signals don’t record to VHS anyway on any piece of modern hardware.

They’ve been asking recently if there’s some kind of magic solution that can help solve their problem. I am considering the alternatives – a DVD Recorder would be the closest thing to a technology they understood, but even DVD Recorders are going the way of the dodo in 2012. I don’t want to saddle them with something that will just be obsolete again.

Two christmases ago I bought them an iPod, and they’ve been able to successfully integrate both iTunes and podcasting into their lives. They can learn things.

I’m at the point in life where pretty much all of my media comes down the fat pipe from my ISP. Netflix is a possibility for them (if I get some kind of appliance) but it doesn’t solve their problem of not being able to migrate their shows North to a place without Internet access.

Anybody know if a device exists that can record a TV signal to MP4 format? Something that could play on a boxee? Any other solution would be considered as well.

Confused, trying to be a good son.

  • Beige