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Original DTV customer, not happy with sluggish receivers.

Discussion in 'DIRECTV HD DVR/Receiver Discussion' started by dohabandit, Nov 12, 2007.

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  1. gully_foyle

    gully_foyle Hall Of Fame

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    Los Angeles
    Good ones do.
     
  2. Shrunken Head

    Shrunken Head Mentor

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    Those of us who know what computers can do (most of us) can see what a hobbled system this is.
    That being said, it is now pretty reliable for me.

    I wish DTV had some pride about making something really great.
    This could have been a Lexus or at least a nice Honda.

    I think it is a reasonably tuned Ford Pinto.
    It starts up and gets me from point A to point B.
    Not much inspiration, but usually functional.
     
  3. rkreitl

    rkreitl Duplicate User (Account Closed)

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    But you had that option to turn off the "noises" didn't you? Opposed to forcing one option on everyone.
     
  4. arxaw

    arxaw Icon

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    Just curious, which specific remote do you have? The model # is in the upper left area of the remote....
     
  5. MIKE0616

    MIKE0616 Godfather

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    It seems to me that the easiest way to make the determination of what to display in the guide and in search requests would be to use the info on the activation card or wherever they store it in the system what you are REALLY entitled to receive and do a logical binary compare before cluttering the results. Since the system can quickly determine I am not subscribed to the Playboy channel if I turn to it, why is it such a big deal to eliminate that channel from the search results.


    You offered them two? I only offered them one! They could only have it either cheap OR fast OR good (bug-free.) From what I have seen of the HR-20, D* management has chosen option #1 (cheap) in every case.
     
  6. reggie

    reggie Legend

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    But few will pay for the good ones. Management seem to think programmers are a commodity and don't realize the difference in quality. Afterall, it's just typing right???:rolleyes:
     
  7. JayB

    JayB Legend

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    Alas, all too true. Occasionally, you find a place like the one I'm in currently where they understand that a good coder is worth actually paying for but the vast majority of shops have become as you describe. For some reason, they seem to think that making software is a manufacturing environment.

    Well, sure. Think about the fact that this only really gives them (the management/bean counters) three options to pick from: Good/Fast, Good/Cheap, and Fast/Cheap. Cheap and fast is easy (but, like cheap fast food, ultimately unsatisfying). Cheap and good isn't quite as easy, but triple my time line and give me time to train the cheap people and we can talk. Good and fast is also easy if you're willing to pay for the right people. Note that using this matrix you end up with 2 outcomes that, from an engineering standpoint only are acceptable (Good/Fast and Good/Cheap), meaning that they both produce a good product. Only Fast/Cheap has a bad outcome. Unfortunately, as I said, time and money are the easily measurable items, so you end up with a disproportionate number of quickly, cheaply created products.

    I will agree that the box shows signs of this, but I'd also argue the someone, somewhere who actually cared got his/her way in a few cases. There are certainly features in the software that I for one appreciate (mostly small stuff, like the free space indicator, the icon in the todo list that tells me what *won't* be recorded, things like that) as well as some hardware features that I really think were forward thinking like the eSATA port and the ethernet port (though, someone went cheap there and made it 10/100 instead of 10/100/1000). Obviously, they must have lost the fight a few times though - the lack of dual buffers and the 50 series link limit are both just silly. Overall, the box is a mixed bag, but I, for one, continue to have hope.
     
  8. Revenoor

    Revenoor AllStar

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    I have been with D for well over 10 years. When I moved to Atlanta from Tx I leased while looking to buy. Due to line of sight issues I had to have E installed. I absolutely hated the slugginess of the service. Not being familiar with E, I went to local sat service guy's business and talked him up on this subject. He proceeded to tell me I was crazy and proved it by demonstrating on his shop TVs, they were deathly slow as well. Yes, it's only TV and I grew up out in the boonies where we had no TV but this irritation meant enough to me to close on a house early and pay for both houses for 3 months just to get rid of that crap and go back to D. Perhaps my E stuff was faulty, maybe not but they didn't seem to care and accepted it. Jump foward to today and it's slowly going backwards. I will stay with D but I do say that I must support the OP's position with this, it is irritation. I use mostly IR now instead of RF for several reasons but I see no speed difference between these two protcols and there is no difference between D's remote and my Harmony 880.

    My 2 cents because I can and it's slow at work this morning.
     
  9. MIKE0616

    MIKE0616 Godfather

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    Only thing I can say about that is "even the blind squirrel finds an acorn once in a while." :D Management cannot kill every good idea, no matter how hard they try! Some good things are bound to slip through.


    I am wondering what D* uses to program these boxes. I know its supposed to be working on a Linux OS, which would mean, to me, that they would most likely be using 'c' as the language of choice. (Making a rather rash assumption on my part.) I KNOW that I haven't used 'c' all that much since I was at Bell Labs in the 70s, but from what I have done, I cannot fathom how they have managed to make it work as slowly as they have. Just for S&Gs a neighbor & I set up a Linux box a couple of years ago, an old 386sx one at that, and it sped through the installed applications quickly. IF D* is using that OS, a CPU that is faster than an old 386sx, and way more memory, just how can this thing be this miserably slow? Did they figure out a way to get "visual basic" to run on Linux and use that as the development tool?

    As someone who grew up on hex coding on cards and moved UP to assembler (aka machine code), I have seen and used about every software development tool out there, but have seen nothing that could waste enough machine cycles to perform this poorly.
     
  10. MIKE0616

    MIKE0616 Godfather

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    I know exactly what you mean. I had D* for years and then got really PO'd cause I lived in a major market (top 50 DMA) and no locals in spite of fact that they had long since rolled them out to much smaller locales (like they are now doing now with HD). Since E* had them and cable was absurd, I went to E* and got their high-priced DVR. It was awful and I finally bought out my contract to get away from them. I went to the local comcrap company and got one of their Moto 64xx boxes and it had HD and everything, but was nearly as slow as my Hr-20s are. After a few days, I was wishing I had held onto E*, as the Moto box had more bugs than a kennel. It was slow, unresponsive, unreliable, and was conastantly breaking (in less than one year, had 15+ boxes, they all kept breaking or committing suicide and comcrap could not figure it out.) Finally convinced wife to let me change again (she isn't the one who records, she just wants me to record so she can watch, hehehe) and took the existing 3 dishes down to make way for the new one. After getting D* back, its been "interesting" to keep finding new fleas here and there, but so far, it sure beats the alternative choices.

    The thing that simply amazes me is what the public will settle for. I don't want to be without service most of the time, so how does the local cable company keep customers? I would like the channels to be there or at least told in advance is they are leaving, unlike the "yo-yo satellite programming network", so how does E* stay in business? D*'s boxes are slow and lots of bugs, but the apologists say they are awesome, they must not know the meaning of the word or are in such denial that they will never see the light of day. This makes me feel like people will settle for anything you offer them, there really must be few that care about getting good products and services. :confused:
     
  11. arxaw

    arxaw Icon

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    A lot of people care. But that doesn't the providers care enough to offer such things any more.

    Ya have to settle for what's out there, or do without. Which I sometimes consider doing - dumping all this beta crap and going back to watching OTA with my antenna.
     
  12. dohabandit

    dohabandit Cool Member

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    I don't want to bash DTV. Regardless of the problems I have heard from others who sound or claim they have had horror stories, my experience with DTV service has been great from day one and I have been with them since the original birds were launched.

    Even though I had "free" cable tv service, I only used it for internet and always kept my DTV service. The deals that the cable companies sign with scientific atlanta or motorola, or whoever never did them any good. I was happy for a while that DTV was encouraging competition in their receiver line, which could only mean good things for the consumer.

    Now that the Mr. Murdoch and the NDS folks have reined it all back in (and soon all those old non NDS boxes will become totally useless I am told when MPEG2 streams are shutdown), the choices are few.

    If they are going to force feed me a receiver, then they can expect me to complain about the things that constantly irritate me while I use their product.

    The problem with the remote being sluggish includes the panel buttons. I have even done some testing where I pressed the remote buttons and the panel buttons nearly simultaneously and it's obvious these keypresses are being fed into the same fifo. It's possible their I/O is being processed by some sort of finite state machine or dynamic state machine, but regardless the logic they are using sucks. They need to tighten up the response times there and improve the logic used. If they are using a linux/bsd based O/S or a vxworks, this should not be "hard" to fix. Unless they have coded themselves into a corner.

    Something I would also *really* like to see is the ability to use networked storage thru the ethernet port and not just the e-sata port. I don't like the fact that the internal sata drive space is lost when you attach an external device, and I also don't want a bunch of noisy drives spinning in my listening area. I would much rather setup a 2TB 4-drive raid-0 stripe set (fast!) on my server in my office room and run a twisted pair over to there. (the twisted pair is there waiting.... come on NDS make me happy!)

    And if more than one DVR could share that swamp for storing/playing content, that would be REALLY nice too!

    If they don't start innovating soon, Comcast is going to sneak up on them. DTV is trying to compete with their internet based on-demand stuff, but I have seen first hand the huge disk arrays that are deployed all over the comcast viewing area. Comcast is betting that video-on-demand is going to be where they shine. DTV is inherently a multicast technology and not suited well to VOD. I don't think people are gonna be happy with having to wait for a long time while their DSL line is MAXXED out trying to download a show. Comcast owns their VOD arrays and has them strategically placed close to the last mile of HFC. DTV will not be able to beat that unless they start making arrangements to distribute their content out via content distribution networks like Akamai or co-located at the big ISP players and that is not likely to happen. How long is it before Bellsouth and other DSL providers start to QoS the crap out of that DTV bandwidth pig?

    That said, I think the DTV VOD stuff is gonna be still-born. They should work on improving their functionality in other areas (maybe I am just being selfish, hehe).
     
  13. Stuart Sweet

    Stuart Sweet The Shadow Knows!

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    You make some excellent points, not the least of which being that from the user perspective, DIRECTV receivers are not terribly responsive. That being said the current crop of cable boxes aren't necessarily better, and when switched digital video becomes the norm I expect that to get worse, not better.

    I agree that on-demand video will be a huge part of the market in the future but I disagree that the cable companies will be the real beneficiaries. They are just as likely to see their own bandwidth maxed out by a yet-uninvented IPTV appliance that uses their bandwidth to download from various IPTV sources.

    As far as limiting bandwidth to the home, I could see cable doing this but I see telcos consistently upgrading their last-mile connections, the result being service to single residences that ten years ago would have been used for whole skyscrapers or universities.

    I would love to see faster DIRECTV receivers, perhaps flash-based DVRs that run both cool and fast. In the meantime I notice that DIRECTV is constantly updating its software and has revamped its entire product line except for its SD DVR in the last 12 months. My cable company is still handing out the same old Motorola boxes they used five years ago.
     
  14. dohabandit

    dohabandit Cool Member

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    Well, the thing that the cable co's have going for them is they can invent bandwidth whenever they want. They don't have to buy blocks of spectrum from the FCC. They own the cable plant. The FCC only gets mad when they have "leakage".

    The cable tv VOD systems have huge disk arrays that are located in most of the hubsites that the hybrid fiber/coax plant terminates into, so basically you have a neighborhood of a couple hundred houses going thru copper into a fiber that runs to that hubsite. The VOD content is right there. Believe me, the cable co is grinning like a cheshire cat with respect to this and the big setback as you have described is the set top box. From what I understand, this will be much less of an issue in the not too distant future.

    The DSL bandwidth issue I think you missed the point. The DSL provider does not care about the bandwidth you consume on your local loop. The loop just terminates into the DSLAM and from there its riding over DWDM/SONET rings or whatever, but that is not where the bandwidth crunch comes into play. The bandwidth crunch for most ISP's is at the IAP where you leave their network and it starts to be "internet". When things start to get congested at the IAP, engineers (& management) start looking for ways to throttle some of the traffic rather than spending money to buy more bandwidth. P2P protocols are already under attack as a result, and streaming media is becoming a big issue (is it still more than 50% porn? hrmm), so my guess is that whatever DTV does with respect to VOD over the internet, it will have to incorporate some sort of arrangement with the DSL/Broadband providers. Broadband companies will tell them to take a hike. DSL providers are attacking P2P, so they can't use some sort of distributed P2P VOD technology. They will have to do something like Akamai. good luck...

    But anyway, thanks DTV for all the extra HD content. I never watched any of your PPV's and I just buy DVD's for the movies I like. Just wish I didn't have to pay a premium for the HD channels.
     
  15. MIKE0616

    MIKE0616 Godfather

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    Personally, I cannot believe that Motorola puts their name on the 64xx line of boxes, they are such a POS. From what I have read, some vendors are creating some really nice boxes for "switched" cable as they will be able to compete as all contracts will not simply belong to Motorola and SA (both of which are doing new architecture boxes of their own.) While the D* boxes are far from perfect, they sure beat the others that I have used, or attempted to use.

    The local cableco already had said farms in place when I left them to come back to D*. With literally hundreds (if not thousands) of times more offerings (including HD) than D* has this kind of puts D* at a disadvantage. What makes D* competitive is the lousy implementation and hardware offered by cable, however. If cable cleans up its act and someone wants VOD, D* will not compare for some time.

    In former BellSouth country. don't look for this to happen any time soon. DSL has been a bust here as its slow, expensive, and as implemented, buggy as hell. Cable OWNS the high speed internet market as a result in this state and that is not likely to change. (U-verse should be in this metroplex between now and the year 3500 :) )

    Sounds good, but until the problems of limited life and reliability of flash can be resolved, thats about it. Currently AFFORDABLE (as in mass-marketable) flash has a limited life-cycle for erase / write life (currently guarantee is usually only 100,000 times) and until that can be overcome, its not a viable option.

    In this area, the only upgrade offered by Moto has been the dual tuner capability addition and larger hard drive. Otherwise, its the same old POS with that horrid interface that has been offered since the beginning.
     
  16. MIKE0616

    MIKE0616 Godfather

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    Also, most people seem to think that data streams move from their local ISP to the destination via some "magical route." What they fail to realize is that since the internet is a VOLUNTARY network comprised of many servers belonging to schools, governments, businesses, etc. that are up when the owner feels like it and down when they feel like it, there is absolutely NO guarantee of any form at what speed and via what route your data transfer will take place. D*'s business model depends on this? The cableco can control those variables for VOD as its all within THEIR network. That is why I see VOD as more successful to the cablecos than for D* as D* will be depending on the "public" data network. Oh, well, like you say, until there is an incentive for the network owners to upgrade hardware, why should they? Not to service VOD that only eats up their bandwidth and brings them nothing.

    A friend's son worked in the data center at a major university while in grad school. That particular school served as an international hub as well for internet traffic. At any time that the school's computers became overloaded and the private processing for the school slowed down, the school dropped the connections to international traffic via their systems. A far eastern country got in an uproar as this action pretty well locked them out of the US market, but the hard line at the school was that since they were their computers, tough. As taxes keep going up and schools are getting squeezed more all the time, the private backbones will be the ones who are already looking to charge based on traffic. I can see D*, the cablecos that are not already doing so, etc. having to compensate these companies as well, as schools are going to get out of the "free data circuit" business.
     
  17. Stuart Sweet

    Stuart Sweet The Shadow Knows!

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    That's a shame to hear. I know that people in other parts of the country have different results though. I've heard over and over again that people with verizon are getting fiber rolled to the home fairly commonly. For myself, I've been offered 20Mbit as the fiber switch is in my front yard.
     
  18. highheater

    highheater Legend

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    The dirty little secret Direct TV doesn't want you to know.

    They are at the mercy of broadband suppliers as much as you are are at the mercy of Direct TV for the delivery of certain channels and features under their terms only.

    Look for them to make some agreement with broadband suppliers that will ultimately cost you more money on a monthly basis for what you can do (for a one-time fee) with Slingbox now.

    Turn around is only fair play ....
     
  19. jes

    jes Icon

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    I have also always owned Sony boxes prior to the branded era. ...and yes I'm an hardware/software engineer that believes performance and functionality should be the highest design priority. I still have a 3 LNB dish up with 2 Sony HD300s, a H20 and an HR20. The number of SATs make no difference to speed of the guide or channel surfing. The reason for the problems/issues with the new D* equipment has already been discussed in this thread and others. :beatdeadhorse: There is no competition, so D* and their equipment designers have no motivation to build the best or address customer issues short of giving them the same trash other services give them. Why be a outstanding, when you can be just above average? You don't like the way the boxes work, buy another brand! Oh wait, there is no other brand! :lol:
    Who's at fault? The designers for not having the knowledge or pride to design & build the best. The customers for putting up with it. The technical businesses run by too many MBAs who look at the bottom line and their paycheck first.

    Biggest issues/losses:
    *I don't think the current workforce of software/firmware engineers understands code optimization! They think you can just throw faster hardware at it... sorry, their bloatware has long ago exceeded that point.
    * If there was competition, you'd see features like:
    * a one handed ergonomic remote. It's real hard to use a number pad at the bottom w/o 2 hands...
    * CC as a button on the remote, not 10 levels down the menu tree
    * a front info panel that can actually display text, like channel number & music channel song info
    * bigger hard drives in the DVRs
    * wasting time implementing/fixing redundant features like CID. If I want to answer the phone while I'm watching TV, the phone (with CID) will be within reach. Why do I need yet another pop up on the screen?
    * etc...

    oops, I guess I've gotten a little carried away... :rant:

    Bottom line & reality check... We've come a long way from snowy analog TV with VCRs to time shift our viewing. The HR20/HR21 is a very sophisticated piece of equipment. Maybe with our feedback & rants ;) we can encourage D* to get the most out of the design. For me and a few others, we'd like to have the option of a premium box at a price premium...
     
  20. MIKE0616

    MIKE0616 Godfather

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    That is something that D* has failed to realize or maybe just doesn't care about. There are some of us who WOULD pay to get better hardware as we do on packages that we want. We already do pay premiums for the HR20s over the analog boxes, so its already known to an extent, but more choices would mean more customers, over all for D*, so you would think they would go for it.

    Oh, well, maybe someday......... :)
     
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