A high definition journey

Other features of MyFreeview|HD JCMatthew DVR-320T

, posted: 26-Jan-2010 17:06

In this post I will touch on some less common usage scenarios with the JCMatthew DVR-320T.

Software upgrade
The unit has a USB port at the back. When you want to install a software upgrade copy the required files onto a USB stick and connect it. The Menu => System => Information hides an option to trigger a Software upgrade. All you need to do is drill down into the menus mentioned above and hit the Red button. Now you are able to browse the contents of you stick and apply the software upgrade.

Ethernet port / Extracting the recordings
I was hoping to be able to use the Ethernet port to extract the recordings, but it didn't seem to work quite so well. That's not to say that the recordings can't be extracted. The 320-T comes with a standard 3.5" HDD therefore you can use an existing enclosure (or your Desktop PC) to get the job done.

Radio
Listening to the radio channels available from Freeview is easy. There is a TV/Radio button on the remote that switches between radio and TV. What surprised me was how fast it was to switch between the two. All my previous units took ages to flip to and fro but that was surely not the case with the 320-T.

RWD / FWD
When watching a previous recording you might want to skip (ads) or rewind and you should know there is a trick here. There is a lag of around 1 second until the command to stop rewinding/fwd-ig is actually processed. What this means is that you should push the play button just before the actual play time that you want. An easy trick when forwarding past the ads is to hit play when you see the promos that follow the ads. By the time the command is processed the promos will be almost over and you'll only have to put up with a few seconds of "undesirable" content.

The other things you should know is that pushing the RWD/FWD buttons will increase the speed twofold: 2x 4x and 16x. The faster it goes the less accurate you'll be with selecting the play start time.

Record and shut down
A feature I quite like is the ability to start recording a programme and then shut down the unit. The programme keeps recording which is very cool.

Pause vs. Record
The unit allows you to pause live TV at the push of a button. I reckon you should use Record instead as often as possible. But here are the differences I noticed:
- Pause does not persist the recorded programme to HDD and you cannot do much other than hit the Play button once you've Paused live TV
- Record allows you to change channels freely, shut down the unit and also keeps the recording on the drive for later viewing
- Pause is actually slow to kick in: once the button is pressed it actually takes 4 to 5 seconds for the programme to actually freeze...


About the author: Nick Parfene was born in Romania and emigrated to NZ in 2005. He is a consultant for a Wellington based IT company 4 days a week and spends most of his spare time building mobile solutions for a small start-up called Tmro. He adores his partner and his Goddaughter, loves playing adventure games on his PS3, sports, sci-fi, animals (has a dog called Haiduc) and travelling. He is slowly being drawn into the field of photography but has no regrets. You can follow Nick via his Twitter account @nicktmro or his blog http://www.tmro.net/blog.



Using the MyFreeview|HD JCMattew DVR-320T

, posted: 2-Dec-2009 11:29

Now that all the hurdles are over it is time to explore the JCMatthew DVR-320T.

Setting it up was easy as, scanning for channels was kids play. The remote is not the simplest looking remote but I got used to it fairly rapidly. It doesn't feel as good as my Viera's remote but I don't mind it too much.

Changing channels and volume is done with the central arrow buttons, as expected, and the response time is pretty good. (I feel like the unit is snappier to the DVB-TB01 I used to have.)

There are 12 buttons at the bottom of the remote organized on three rows but only the top row is useful really because it contains the EPG, recording schedule and available recording buttons.

Changing channels is easy, like I said, and the OSD (on screen display) is pretty useful too as it display the name of the programme, the quality of the broadcast (resolution, e.g. 1920 x 1080i), aspect ratio (e.g. 16 x 9), rating (e.g. PG), sound information, current time, and more... This information can be displayed at any time by pressing the Info button (bottom of the numeric pad). Pressing the Info button twice will also display a short synopsis of the current programme (same as the EPG I believe). But the piece of information I like the most is by far a progress bar that tells me how much I have "missed" from the current programme and how much more is left. On the right hand side it shows what time the programme is over and to the left when it started.



The menu is very simple but don't let that fool you. You can set lots of stuff: auto subtitles, favourite channel list, OSD duration and more.

The first features that stand out are Pause live channel and Record from the EPG. Let's take them one at a time.

Pushing the Pause button will freeze the screen and in a couple of seconds it will show a still image and a media-player like menu on the screen. Sadly you can loose your recording if you push the wrong buttons... You don't want to push stop as it will all be gone. Also if you fast forward and catch up to Live TV your recording will also be gone. The only thing you can do is push the Play button. Once you do that you can forward and rewind as much as you want. The thing that disappointed me is that, despite the fact that there are two tuners in this unit, I could not change channels and let the current programme record. To achieve this result I had to push the record button instead of the pause button...

The feature that I really liked was being able to browse the EPG and select the programmes that I wanted to record. It was as easy as pushing the red button on the remote. If the selected programme was a series (in my case Top Gear) I was offered the option to record the whole series. Now, depending on my answer the EPG would label a programme with [R] if a programme was a one off recording and with [S] for a programme that was part of a whole series I had selected to record...

This is it for now but I promise to get back to you with more details in the coming days. In the mean time I invite you to tell me what you'd like to know about this unit via comments on this blog or a message to my twitter account @nicktmro.

About the author: Nick Parfene was born in Romania and emigrated to NZ in 2005. He is a consultant for a Wellington based IT company 4 days a week and spends most of his spare time building mobile solutions for a small start-up called Tmro. He adores his partner and his Goddaughter, loves playing adventure games on his PS3, sports, sci-fi, animals (has a dog called Haiduc) and travelling. He is slowly being drawn into the field of photography but has no regrets. You can follow Nick via his Twitter account @nicktmro or his blog http://www.tmro.net/blog.



MyFreeview|HD JCMatthew DVR-320T setup problems? Check the antenna

, posted: 23-Nov-2009 09:41

In a previous post I tried to clarify some of the slang that relates to Free-to-air television in New Zealand. Today I will tell you about my first impressions of the new JCMatthew DVR-320T.

The DVR-320T packaging is simple and unexciting. I was a bit amused that the people on the packaging are holding remotes that differ from the one in the box (completely different button layout) but this is hardly a relevant detail. The actual printed information on the box seemed accurate and to the point.



Apart from the unit the remove and some batteries the box also included a component and a composite cable. For better image quality I would strongly recommend using the component cable (or an HDMI cable if you have only lying around).

Previously I was using another JCMatthew product: the DVBTB01. The TB01 was just a Freeview|HD receiver that has the ability to record to a hard drive connected to its frontal USB port while the DVR-320T is what we call a MyFreeview|HD product.



After setting everything up (very straightforward as all the ports are clearly labeled) I unplugged the UHF antenna from my old receiver and plugged it into the new one. I then started the unit and let it scan for channels. To my surprise the unit failed to tune in all the channels that its predecessor had no problems with. I was completely unable to see TV3, TV3 Plus 1 and C4. I tried scanning manually, I tried to fix the plug but to no avail. I plugged the antenna back into the old box and everything was okay.

At this point I went outside and checked my antenna and I noticed that it was not only old but also a little bit... broken. Still... the old box didn't seem to mind it at all.

My conclusion was that the tuners in the new box were more sensitive than the ones in the old unit. So I decided to email JCMatthew directly and ask them for their opinion and I also asked Freeview (via Mauricio) for help.

I have to say I was impressed with how responsive everyone was. JCMatthew replied to my email and confirmed that the two units were being manufactured in different factories and told me that the new unit should not be any more sensitive than the old unit. The response included suggestions and an offer to swap the unit if everything else should fail (which I thought was very nice of them). The other call for help resulted in Freeview sending Alistair from Scottstv to check my set-up.

In one word Alistair was awesome! It was obvious to him that the antenna was in really poor shape and that it had a big impact on the quality and strength if my signal. (He also had tools and gadgets to measure all this stuff). He replaced the antenna with a new one (which I thought was even smaller than what I used to have), changed the cable (15 years old...) and plugged everything in. I reset to unit to its factory defaults and let it scan. I was doubtful but also wrong: the unit tuned into every single freeview channel and even more, when we went into manual mode to check the signal quality we saw an incredible 99% on the screen! That was up from 38% that the old unit used to report.

Thanks to this "unfortunate" situation I did discover that the menus are very simple, intuitive and responsive. I also learned that an old antenna/cable can have a major impact on what a receiver is able to do. But probably the most important discovery was how good and responsive JCMatthew and Freeview were.

In the next post I will talk about the DVB-320T's menus and usability.

About the author: Nick Parfene was born in Romania and emigrated to NZ in 2005. He is a consultant for a Wellington based IT company 4 days a week and spends most of his spare time building mobile solutions for a small start-up called Tmro. He adores his partner and his Goddaughter, loves playing adventure games on his PS3, sports, sci-fi, animals (has a dog called Haiduc) and travelling. He is slowly being drawn into the field of photography but has no regrets. You can follow Nick via his Twitter account @nicktmro or his blog http://www.tmro.net/blog.



Introducing Nick Parfene reviewing the JCMatthew DRV-320T

, posted: 16-Nov-2009 10:54

Despite the fact that I don't watch too much TV I was very happy when I was offered the chance to review a MyFreeview|HD product.

I have owned a Freeview receiver for quite some time now and moving to a MyFreeview|HD product was going to be the next step for me anyway for reasons that I will make more clear over a few blog posts.

For those who are not very familiar with the terminology around Freeview Satellite, MyFreeview Satellite, Freeview|HD and MyFreeview|HD here's a very quick reference:

- Freeview stands for free-to-air digital television. Free-to-air basically means there is no ongoing license/fee that you need to pay in order to keep watching.

- Free-to-air broadcasts (Freeview) can be received in two ways: via satellite (wherever you might be in NZ) or via UHF (terrestrial). The terrestrial broadcast is in High Definition (HD). You can check your coverage here to see what is available in your part of the country.

Regardless of which Freeview option you go for (Satellite or HD) you have the option of getting a "smarter" receiver, that can also record (even 2 programmes at a time) TV so that you can view it later. MyFreeview is the term used to specify such a device. In conclusion there are two more terms for you: MyFreeview Satellite and MyFreeview|HD.

Choosing HD (terrestrial) over standard definition (Satellite) should be an obvious choice, but it isn't. On Freeview|HD you (currently) don't have Cue, Stratos and Te Reo TV channels and George FM radio station. While on Satellite you don't get TV Central and Chinese TV. Refer to this list for up to date information. Having a satellite dish already or a working UHF aerial might also weigh the balance towards one choice or another.

Freeview (and me for that matter) recommend that you choose HD whenever possible. The investments seem to be going towards HD and the quality is much better (at least for TV One, TV2 and TV3). I have had Freeview satellite but once I installed my first Freeview|HD receiver I just knew there was no going back.

Truth be told, if you don't have a HD TV you are less likely to notice the difference, but one day you will be upgrading that TV and having a HD receiver will make your view experience a whole lot better.

But why MyFreeview|HD? The promise is that:

- you'll be able to watch your content whenever you want, rather than when it is broadcast
- you'll never miss an episode from your favourite TV series
- you'll be able to pause TV to open that cold beer that's been sitting in the fridge without missing a single beat
- you'll never have to choose between two programmes: you'll be able to record them both, or watch one while recording the other (actually, there are even more options)

Does it deliver? We'll soon find out. Stay tuned...

About the author: Nick Parfene was born in Romania and emigrated to NZ in 2005. He is a consultant for a Wellington based IT company 4 days a week and spends most of his spare time building mobile solutions for a small start-up called Tmro. He adores his partner and his Goddaughter, loves playing adventure games on his PS3, sports, sci-fi, animals (has a dog called Haiduc) and travelling. He is slowly being drawn into the field of photography but has no regrets. You can follow Nick via his Twitter account @nicktmro or his blog http://www.tmro.net/blog.





What is this blog about?

Welcome to MyFreeview|HD Review! It’s almost like a “reality show” online. For the next four weeks we are going to follow three people experiencing high-definition digital TV, recording their experiences with three different MyFreeview|HD devices. This blog is sponsored by Freeview but the blog posts are by no means influenced by the company. Here is how it works: I had to chose three people from the Geekzone community to try and report their experiences with the devices, broadcast quality and anything else related to using the service. So I found my three candidates and each received a different model, courtesy of Freeview. Here are the reviewers: Suzi Heath (Magic TV 3500 DTR), Tony Hughes (Homecast HT9200DTR), Scott Palmer (Zinwell ZMT-640 PVR), and Nick Parfene (JCMatthew DVT-320T).

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