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490 posts

Ultimate Geek
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Topic # 67409 1-Sep-2010 08:17
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Yes "it" exists. "No" it's not imaginary.  And by the sounds it's not far away for most people either.

I was thrilled a couple of weeks ago to get a phone call asking if I was still interested in being part of the beta for the PVR. Last week I got a phone call asking when they could install it. An afternoon off work later and Thursday night I was the proud recipient of the PVR. 

I have a fairly extensive Telstra setup with two digital decoders as well as an analog one in the house. We also have two backfeeds running from the digital decoders so that any tv in the house can watch whatever the digital decoders may be set to. An important issue for me was keeping this functionality as well as improving on the features of the current digital boxes. 

The first decision really is where to put the box. While the biggest tv in the house or lounge is the logical choice, for me, I spend more time in the second lounge (it has the pc) so in the end there it went.  That room has 42inch Panasonic Viera plasma that is about 4 years old. The tv has hd 10801 picture quality but is the model that does not have hdmi input. The installing technician was wonderful and really wanted to play with my setup to ensure all the options I wanted ended up working (a benefit of being on the beta I was not saying no to). 

Install seemed very straight forward to change over the digital box but be prepared to be patient while the PVR box sets itself up. The box itself looks very slim under the tv. It is solid black and has a bright blue circle (not sure if this can be dimmed). Atm playing back a recorded program there is also a red and green solid light. While bright they don’t pull my eyes from the TV at all. 

I was advised that the PVR has 2 simultaneous outputs by the technician. This was a big worry as I need 3 (one for the second lounge tv where the box was going, an hdmi one for main lounge tv and one for one of the backfeeds). Hmm, little greedy but hey :) As I mentioned he was great and in the end we set the tv in the second lounge with an s-video cable, had everything ready for a 15 metre hdmi to the main lounge and used the composite yellow for the backfeed. All I needed to buy the next day was the quality long hdmi (ouch expensive but well worth in the end) and 2 audio splitters so I could use the sound for both the second lounge tv and backfeed. Plugged these in the next day and everything works wonderfully. Yes, it means a bit of a compromise but for me I have the functionality I really wanted. One change we can make would be to change from s-video to component for better picture and I may just try this in time but I will be honest here, on the 42 plasma, the old digital box looked fine on channels with a good signal, this new box looks wonderful and has pvr options so I really don’t see a pressing need. 

Where picture matters for me is in the main lounge. This tv is a Sony Bravia SXRD KS-60R200A 1080p 60 inch. The older digital box on this tv looks...ok. Sport is watchable but yeah at these image sizes you notice everything. Signal to the tv is filtered thru a Pioneer VSX-LX60 home theatre with Wharfedale Opus 2 and B&W speakers.  So yeah, if the new box had issues I was going to see them. One nice expensive 15 metre hdmi cable later and the quality is everything I wanted.  I had Freeview Terrestrial installed to watch the games back when the boxes were $600 :( and never regretted the 2 weeks of stunning pictures. For the first time I now have that whenever I want to watch something other than blu-ray or Freeview. I will save the technical stuff for those that know way more than I do but I have watched hd broadcasts, hd recordings and sd recordings (e.g. an ep of Law and Order from the Living channel) and everything plays live or recorded beautifully. Even sd programs look clear and detailed when playing back from a recording. 

The hd signal looks wonderful. Sport is stunning and no longer do I feel like I need to go to my Mums (she has MySky) to watch hd programming. Sound is crisp and clear from all speakers. I am very much more a picture person than a sound one but sport really did sound great from all speakers. 

The third signal is the backfeed. Here the quality looks fine. Probably not better than the old digital box (it is after all running from a composite signal) but a side by side comparison did seem a little crisper but hey could just be the excitement that everything was working so well. The ability to be able to playback from the PVR to the bedroom tv (via the backfeed) is great. Tv when you want it not when broadcast. 

So what is using it like? I saw the early MySky versions and it seems better than these. There are some things I like and I have found a couple of bugs but this is a beta after all. Overall if this was the delivered product I would not be unhappy with it. 

The menu is a little laggy but not intolerably so. I did manage to bug it (but then not everyone right surfs thru a weeks’ worth of guide just using the right button). It was on long program names (e.g. a four hour cricket match) when it went into a mini loop. Changing channel on the guide down one channel past the "stuck" item then back to that channel and I could carry on. For a beta bug not a big one really. 

Pushing "Favs" not "Guide" takes some getting used to once you have these set but this gives you just your favourite channels on the program guide - nice feature. May have been better as one option but nice that you can choose which guide you want easily from the remote so no real biggie on that one. Live tv button takes you back to tv at anytime. I do miss that once favourites were set and you then up or down channelled on the remote you saw only your favourite channels. Maybe I have missed how to get this to work though. But it is something I would like to see back if not as it meant you could scroll thru live channels and miss the ones you do not have subscribed or like. 

Recording from the epg is simple and anything set to record shows up easily with a big circle with red dot inside on the guide. Once you have set to season record you can see anytime you scroll around what will be recording. My Mum’s MySky seems to vary the record quality by which tuner you recorded from but I am yet to pick up any quality issues - everything recorded so far has been spot on picture wise. It says you can record two things and watch a third. I am yet to pressure test this tho. In four days of recording I have had one "failed" which it says was to a schedule conflict. My Mum's MySky gets a few of these too so there is obviously some tricks you need to learn. 

One thing many people will not know is that series passes for a program depend on which screening it is. Now I may not have this 100% but if you set the main broadcast you do not get the repeats. Equally you do not get an alternative screening of say a different season on the same channel either.  A good example is Air Crash Investigation.

Some of the night feeds and the day feeds mean you need to get both set to season pass if you want it all. This is not a TC issue and holds true for all pvr season pass recording on say Sky or Tivo. 

I may have gone a little overboard on the Air Crash Investigation :(.

My poor wee box between that, all the other season records and the cricket was in 4 days showing as 55% full. Oops.  I set the cricket to season record and it seems to be picking up all these. I will need to keep watching (past the England Pakistan games) but it will be good to select a sport and just have it capture them all. This Nascar fan would be very very happy. 

To delete something is the blue button. For MySky it is the yellow one. Not a biggie but people changing provider will notice it. The other thing I missed was the option to set a playlist of recorded programs. Something MySky can do and is great if you have a back feed to another tv. Set and let it play out. Maybe it is there and I cannot find it but would be a nice feature down the track if not. 

The remote is the same as the old one just has a few more buttons and a colour logo at the bottom (useful to know if like me you will still have the old digital box).  

I do find that when watching something I keep pressing the arrow keys around the ok button rather than the bottom black set with ff/rwd.

A bad habit I will need to get over quickly.  Channel entry still lets you push say "1" rather than "001" which is great and the manual says doing it 3 digits is quicker but I still find single number entry much more logical and seems to work fine. 

Anyway I have now had the box for 4 days and have half filled it. I may need to remove some of the season records as I just might have gone over the top. Overall I am very happy with the PVR box and think most people will be.

 

TLDR - Well worth the wait.

 

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Master Geek


  Reply # 375166 1-Sep-2010 08:49
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Good write up - thanks for this.

Can you move content from the PVR to an an external drive or burn to a dvd?



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  Reply # 375173 1-Sep-2010 09:10
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I have not tried but would assume not. Since it works with the backfeed via composite outputs maybe you can rerecord that way. I did spot that you can mark recorded programs as keep via the yellow options button.

Looks like there was a software update yesterday but I could not see any immediate changes.

Thanks for the positive comments. I really did think when I signed up for the beta way way back I would never hear anything so its kinda amazing I got in. Wanted to share my first thoughts on the box.

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  Reply # 375177 1-Sep-2010 09:21
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Who manufactures the box? Any chance of some pics?

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  Reply # 375182 1-Sep-2010 09:35
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Thanks for the write up, good to read some positive news. Hope talking about this is allowed under the T&Cs of the beta programme?

This might be wishful thinking, but does it have a port for external media?



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  Reply # 375186 1-Sep-2010 09:45
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Yes, I asked first. I did not want them turning up and taking the new toy away. :D

As to the other questions I am at work now so can only reply on some stuff sorry. I think full pictures were posted in one of the earlier threads.

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Master Geek
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  Reply # 375198 1-Sep-2010 10:05
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 Install seemed very straight forward to change over the digital box but be prepared to be patient while the PVR box sets itself up. The box itself looks very slim under the tv. It is solid black and has a bright blue circle (not sure if this can be dimmed). Atm playing back a recorded program there is also a red and green solid light. While bright they don’t pull my eyes from the TV at all.


Thanks,

does this box connect to Telstra's coax like previous ones?
Does it have an ethernet output?
Does it have a freeview decoder, so it basically does what Tivo does an more? - that means I could buy it and use it as PVR, possibly for doing video-on-demand without a tv plan if they let us

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  Reply # 375237 1-Sep-2010 11:12
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ZiglioNZ, yes this is a HFC DVB-C box that connects to the Telstra cable network just like the current SD one, and sadly for the EPG to work there is a extra Motorola Speedsurf modem required that uses the LAN port just like the standard box fiasco.

As for other services via the Ethernet port, dunno

Cyril

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  Reply # 375238 1-Sep-2010 11:25
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Nice.. sounds good.. a bit jealous for not being on the beta :-( Would've been great as we're going through home renovation and will be putting in cables at strategic spots.

Anyhow, we are on the borderline switching our digital TV solution, currently on TCL Digital STB, and slowly-slowly losing the patience for TCL HDPVR, but this rejuvenate the "faith" a little.




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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 375253 1-Sep-2010 11:55
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Several months ago when I saw the Telstraclear PVR box in one of their stores, it seemed kind of slow changing channels. I wonder if they have improved this. How does it seem to you?



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  Reply # 375257 1-Sep-2010 12:17
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Sub - Moving around the epg does feel more laggy than the sky one. Changing channels did not feel overly so. i will double check tonight when home.

ZiglioNZ - yes this gives you all Freeview Terrestrial would plus the Sky channels you subscribe to. So if you have the hd ticket and sky sport you get sport in HD if broadcast that way.

I am pretty sure Tc will have been lumped with the same restrictions as to moving items off the box as everyone else in NZ has been.

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  Reply # 375286 1-Sep-2010 13:19
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cyril7: ZiglioNZ, yes this is a HFC DVB-C box that connects to the Telstra cable network just like the current SD one, and sadly for the EPG to work there is a extra Motorola Speedsurf modem required that uses the LAN port just like the standard box fiasco. As for other services via the Ethernet port, dunno
Cyril


Uh, ok, so: does it work off a lan port from a router?  

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Master Geek
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  Reply # 375288 1-Sep-2010 13:21
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ZiglioNZ - yes this gives you all Freeview Terrestrial would plus the Sky channels you subscribe to. So if you have the hd ticket and sky sport you get sport in HD if broadcast that way.


Thanks but I was curious to know whether it had an antenna input so that you could receive over-the-air freeview and use the box as a cheaper tivo rather than paying for TC's tv subscription.
They do mention '3 tuners' on the homemedia page. 

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  Reply # 375322 1-Sep-2010 14:50
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ZiglioNZ:
Thanks but I was curious to know whether it had an antenna input so that you could receive over-the-air freeview and use the box as a cheaper tivo rather than paying for TC's tv subscription.
They do mention '3 tuners' on the homemedia page. 


In short no. It will only connect to Telstra's cable network. 







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  Reply # 375327 1-Sep-2010 15:01
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It will have 3 DVB-C tuners so thats not going to work with DVB-T (freeview)

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  Reply # 375438 1-Sep-2010 19:22
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Uh, ok, so: does it work off a lan port from a router?


The current and seemingly ongoing TCL mess requires that you have a Broadband modem on their HFC network that directly connects to the STB via the LAN port and supplies EPG info. This connection is not related to your normal broadband via HFC cable and operates on a seperate carrier and VLAN on the Telstra HFC network, basically its all a nasty cludge.

So what other things TCL can put on this connection I have no idea, currently it only provides EPG data to the SD STB's, so at the current point all I can say is you cannot do anything with the LAN port its tied to a seperate VLAN to provide data from servers you have no access to (but the STB does) so what extras it can provide are privey to TCL, I suggest you call their help line and ask a CSR and see how far you get, take some pills or a strong drink beforehand, it will help.

Cyril

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