So I got half a year’s free trial of an online VCR, thanks to a cooperation with a German computer/electronics magazine. (The regular trial period is just two weeks.)
That’s going to expire in about five weeks’ time, and so I have to decide whether that service is worth actual money to me.
They were pretty clever in giving you access to the premium product during the trial period—I can hardly imagine going back to the basic product. (Which is, incidentally, all they had when I had tried them out quite a while ago.)
And the thing that really attracts me is not the higher resolution, but the clip lists: where they automatically clip out advertising as well as material before and after the actual show. So you can always set it to record, say, 5 minutes before and 15 minutes after (in case it starts a bit early or runs over), and you only get the actual content, not half of the next show as well.
The “personal channels” feature is also pretty handy, where you can program it for certain keywords and it’ll automatically record those for you: useful for series you like to watch, where you don’t want to have to keep telling it every week or two to record new episodes—or for watching special films so that when they do get shown, you have them in your personal library without having to check the TV listings every week.
Anyway, so at the premium level, the cheapest option (pay yearly) is €10 a month. Hmm. (And basic is €5 a month cheaper in all cases, so €5 a month when paying yearly.)
I seem to recall reading somewhere that there are services that will let you clip recordings yourself, but being able to check a checkbox “apply clip list to this recording” when downloading it is extremely convenient.
(And the cliplists aren’t perfect; sometimes they cut off a bit of the beginning and/or end. But they’re usually pretty good. And they promise to have them up no later than 24 hours after the show aired; in my experience, the time can be as low as 15 minutes or so, with perhaps 2 hours being common on weekdays, while on weekends, the wait can be more like 12 hours. It also seems to vary by channel and/or show, with “popular” channels and shows getting quicker responses.)