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17 posts


#93056 12-Nov-2011 12:10
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This is a bit of a two-parter.

I currently have a TF5010PVR (twin tuner DVB-S) which has served me well for years (albeit with an unfortunately small HDD), but it's just given up the ghost.

Part 1: the symptoms are that the day before yesterday it failed to start one scheduled recording (but did start another one) but was otherwise working ok; since yesterday it shows no picture and only gets as far as showing the firmware version on the front panel during boot, and all it'll respond to is the standby button on the remote (and it shows the emergency shutdown dots when doing so).  If anyone has suggestions on things to try to resurrect the beast, they'd be appreciated.

Part 2: if I can't resurrect it, or just out of upgrade-itis, I'm interested in finding out good candidates for a replacement PVR.  My situation/requirements are as follows:
  • I have very good satellite signal.
  • I have decent DVB-T signal although the picture does break up on occasion (possibly weather related).
  • My TV has builtin DVB-T with single-tuner recording functionality, although I prefer not to use it as it has some glitches (mainly that if the TV is on when a scheduled recording is due, it displays a warning and fails to record, even when watching a non-TV input).
  • I have an HDTV but don't really care whether recordings are SD or HD (I can see the difference but it doesn't bother me).
  • I'm using a number of TAPs (user written plugins) for my current PVR to add features it didn't ship with.  I'd like to keep as much of the functionality as possible; notable ones include:
    • skip forward/backward (currently I have an adaptive skip, so whenever you change directions it halves the skip size)
    • auto-extend scheduled recordings a few minutes before and after
    • include date of recording in filename
    • trim start/end of recording (permanently)
  • I need at least twin tuner (two simultaneous recordings plus watching a recording or another channel on the same frequency), but the more the merrier.
  • The EPG isn't a big deal, but I prefer having a full 7/8 day one.  Bonus points for Series Link.
  • I want to be able to offload recordings to a PC; mainly for extra storage but bonus if I can watch them from there too.
  • Bonus points if it can act as a DLNA media server for files on an external USB HDD.
Any particular recommendations for PVRs to seriously look at, or to avoid?  From my own research, the Vu+Duo seems the most promising (DVB-S with support for homebrew extensions), but the Ultraplus X-9200HD also looks good (DVB-S three tuner).  On the DVB-T side the only one that appears any good is the Tivo (apart from EPG for Prime), but there also seems to be a lot of "abandon ship" vibe around that one.

Another possibility is building an HTPC; I do have a spare PC with a reasonable amount of grunt, but no TV cards.  But my brother went that route (first Vista then Win7 MC based) and has had a fair bit of performance-related grief, which I'd rather not repeat.  (Although if I built my own I was thinking about using MythTV instead.)

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256 posts

Ultimate Geek

  #544551 12-Nov-2011 12:17
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sounds like the caps have dried out, take it back to where you bought it , these are an extremely good box


1105 posts

Uber Geek

  #544597 12-Nov-2011 15:09
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If it is out of warranty you could open it up and look for bad capacitors

If it is that they can be removed and replaced. Do not forget electrical safety precautions.

Your Topfield's HDD could probably be replaced by a larger one too.


17 posts


  #544926 14-Nov-2011 00:00
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Oh, it's long out of warranty -- I've had it for about four and a half years now, and this is the first time it's given me any grief.

I'm not really much of a tinkerer though. Can that sort of thing be fixed at a general electronics repair shop? (Somewhere like Tiscos -- they used to do good work on VCRs.)

And does anyone have any thoughts on my second question?

7047 posts

Uber Geek


  #544976 14-Nov-2011 09:22
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In all honestly I think most people should look at freeview HD if you are in a suitable reception area.

Series link.
For this you'll need a freeview approved unit as the series link information is bundled up in the official MHEG5 EPG data. You don't need to add time on the start or end etc like you did in the past, and setting up recordings is now a lot easier, simply find and select the program in the EPG.

Going official comes with a bunch of hurdles that people coming from free-er/non restrictive devices can find really annoying. If you can live with it then I don't think they are too bad, but things like nice skipping of ads etc is out the window, as is moving your recordings anywhere else.

I'd get the HD reception of the TV going well, just in case you do want to watch something in HD.

TIVO offered an option for offloading recordings, not much else does, unless you go HTPC or satellite PVR like a Vu+ Duo or Ultraplus type unit.

Just looking quickly on the net the capacitors are often the cause, but looking at the board it appears there are a lot of them. If one had obviously burst then that would be good, but you can have problems well before it's visible outside.

267 posts

Ultimate Geek

  #545427 15-Nov-2011 01:17
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I think Jaxson's reply is based on his personal preferences. Not everyone feels a need for HD video, but I do and so mostly agree with him. However I would point out that the MTV3600, which is Freeview approved does have firmware patches available which enable convenient add skipping and transfer of unencrypted files to and from your pc via your home internet connection.
TiVos offer this ability too, which you can do by simply entering its home network address into your browser if you have the Media Access Key number for your TiVo - or you can use their Home Network Package.

Another TiVo advantage is being able to selectively enable or disable repeats and duplicates of a program when booking series record mode. Unfortunately these flags are not well maintained (probably down to slackness by the broadcasters who supply their EPG data for the TiVo servers - or some who don't supply data at all.)

I've never read anywhere officially that mheg data is the licensed property of Freeview and cannot be used by other manufacturers. Is this just a popular myth? It is broadcast as part of the FREEview system and freely accessed by programs like EPG Collector.
"Best" systems are in the consideration of individual users, depending on their needs and their budgets.

17 posts


  #545846 16-Nov-2011 08:24
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Just in case it helps with diagnosis, I hooked up a serial cable to the unit and watched what it was doing.  The result was this:
LOAD : NEC uPD6113x Embedded Controller...
<<< Loader L4.36 >>>
¬Ü3 ¸

LOAD : NEC uPD6113x Embedded Controller...
<<< Loader L4.36 >>>
¬Ü3 ¸
... repeated forever.

On the second question again, you mentioned above that a requirement of transferring recordings was an Internet connection.  I assume that you actually meant a LAN connection?  I can't see why the Internet should get involved... 

256 posts

Ultimate Geek

  #545849 16-Nov-2011 08:33
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contact dishtv: they were the distributerd and work on them everyday



267 posts

Ultimate Geek

#545904 16-Nov-2011 10:19
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uecasm: you mentioned above that a requirement of transferring recordings was an Internet connection.  I assume that you actually meant a LAN connection?  I can't see why the Internet should get involved... 

Yes. Correct. I was thinking in terms of the TiVo which does require the internet to provide your EPG data and so its servers can keep tabs on what you're up to.  

121 posts

Master Geek

  #548700 23-Nov-2011 01:17
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Part 1: the symptoms 

Part 2: if I can't resurrect it, or just out of upgrade-itis, I'm interested in finding out good candidates for a replacement PVR.  

Hi uecasm

Part 1: As has been said, the most likely problem at this age with the Topfield are dry caps. DishTV usually does this repair for about $55 I think. If you are in their area (Hamilton) they will check it over for free and give you a quote, otherwise pay the courier cost and risk it if you like this PVR. If I remember correctly the 5010PVR came with an 80gig IDE drive, you can swap it out with a larger one easily, the DishTV guys will know the max, but I think you can do 250gig at least. Which is 3 times what you have now. So perhaps for not much money you can have your PVR back again and with improvements?

Part 2: I personally prefer satellite over terrestrial, as long as the PVR is S2 and has a good HDMI upscaler. S2 means on satellite you get a few extra channels from Australia, including an HD channel. But as said before each person has their own preference. I like the DishTV S7090PVR, I think it is still the only Freeview approved satellite PVR, which gives it series linking. Which is great.

But after the Topfield you really like ad skipping and removing files. You cant have that with Freeview approved. So as you already pointed out, maybe the non-approved models are more suited to you. 

17 posts


  #561515 26-Dec-2011 11:12
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Just a quick update for anyone interested: yes, it looks like the caps were the problem.  I sent it down to DishTV for repair and it's all working perfectly again.  (In the meantime, though, I ended up buying a Tivo as well, since they were going cheap.  It does have some good stuff but apart from the HD it's just not as good as my Toppy.)

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