DVR Advice Needed

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K's picture
DVR Advice Needed
I have hundreds of hours of DVDs that I recorded off of the TV. I would like to get rid of the DVDs by loading them on some sort of storage device and then be able to then play back on my TV. I thought about going the DVR route, but after exploring and playing with a DISH DVR a friend has, I found a big flaw with the DVR available. My understanding is that all the national players Directv.DISH,Comcast,U-Verse etc. all have proprietary coding so that if you use their DVR you can never switch providers without losing your previous recordings. I tried copying off a DISH DVR to a DVD And it allowed me to save the files but when I tried to Play them back on a DVD player, I received a message that I had to be plugged into a DISH receiver.  Is this true that a Directv DVR will not recogize DISH recordings etc?

Even though I am a Directv customer, I DO NOT WANT TO BE A CUSTOMER FOR LIFE TO ANY COMPANY! 

I am not a big technology geek so I don't want a complicated solution where I have to hook a computer to my TV. Is there a way of simply connecting a hard drive to my DVD player or TV? I have been able to find only one company that still makes a standalone DVR without an additional subscription  fee.  Am I the only one that has a problem with the monopoly and extortion that the national providers have and for them basically driving any competitive hardware off the market?