Gefen DVR Records via HDMI


We’ve discussed this unit a few times in the comments, and last week I finally managed to get my hands on the Gefen HD DVR ($999). It was announced last summer, and Gefen intended to ship prior to the end of 2007. I’m not actually sure if they made their target, but they’re definitely shipping now in 2008.

The first things you need to know are that Gefen doesn’t provide an EPG (that I could find) and there’s no network connectivity. Recording is initiated while viewing live content or via scheduling. No pausing of live television either. Really, this is nothing more than a glorified VCR. But where things get interesting is the advertised ability to record high definition content via HDMI. To the best of my knowledge, HDMI and HDCP licensing specifically prohibits recording… Which is why we haven’t seen any other devices like this.


HTPC guru “AVeNVy” and I confirmed the Gefen DVR records (HBO via CableCARD!) from a Motorola HDCP set-top box over HDMI in 720p and 1080i. The unit has both an internal hard drive and a SD card reader. Until we dropped STB output to 480i, we couldn’t record onto my SD card. Therefore, it appears HD content is restricted to the unit’s hard drive. However, we removed four screws and voided the warranty to determine that recordings (H.264 MPEG-4) are unprotected on the DVR’s 2.5″ drive (and play fine in Windows).

What’s going on here… Licensing loophole, software bug, ignorance, arrogance? Hm.

Click on thumbnails for a larger view:

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