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A compendium of HR2x software problems


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#1 OFFLINE   Syzygy

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 01:25 PM

Here's my list of more than 60 HR2x inadequacies. If I've left out any material defect or annoyance, please help me out.

I've tried to include every design deficiency, annoyance and plain stupidity in the HR2x software that I could recall. Except for the DoublePlay item, I've experienced each of these defects with my HR21s (two in succession), and as far as I can tell none of them have been fixed yet. (The fact that search results unavoidably include VOD shows and channels you don't get is intentional, driven by marketing.) A few lucky people may not have seen everything I've seen; maybe they use fewer features, or maybe they have a box that's fast enough for their tastes (the HR20s are said to be faster).

I haven't included complaints about cosmetics; these would be purely matters of opinion. Most of these items (but not all) are better on a TiVo, but the main intent of this list isn't to praise that elegant DVR interface, but rather to indict the HR2x's. To defenders of the D* faith: Please, please refrain from the usual (and predictable) denials.

••• Slow Reaction
• A new Series Link or Autorecorded Search can take days to correctly schedule all its recordings
• An Autorecorded Search re-executed from the Prioritizer usually returns very few of the possible matches
• Missed recordings are still happening (even when the Series Link is long-established)
• The entire UI is so slow that keys are ignored, or acted on too late (and it's probably not because the hardware is inadequate)
• Press-and-hold functions work only sometimes
• Press-and-hold functions, when they work, take way too long to engage
• Press-and-hold functions sometimes engage when you least expect it
• Instant Replay goes back only 5 seconds, and sometimes takes 2 or 3 seconds to act, leading you to press it too many times
• You can't pause a recording on the right frame unless you anticipate and press the Pause key early
• All remote button presses are ignored for the first few seconds after playback starts
• Entering letters with the numeric keypad frequently generates mistakes

••• Recording
• Series Links are limited to 50 (and the interface is even slower if you use all 50)
• No way to tell what channel the background tuner was on when nothing is recording
• DoublePlay won't continuously buffer the background tuner (after two hours)
• Big separate partition to hold PPV/VOD shows you'll never buy
• Unsupported add-on disk storage (eSATA) disables the internal disk drive and is subject to erasure
• Manual recording is unnecessarily difficult, requiring too many keypresses
• No way to enter a 3-digit channel number when recording manually
• Manual recording can't be used to capture what's in the foreground buffer
• End-padding of recordings is limited to certain arbitrary amounts; for example, pads of 3, 4, and 10 minutes aren't allowed
• Start-padding of recordings is even more limited (1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 10 minutes); 15, 20 and 30 minutes would be nice [new]
• The only way to see a long Prioritizer item (without the "...") is to make it do its (usually ineffective) search
• History list gives incorrect reasons for a show's cancellation or deletion
• Neither channel name nor number can be seen in the History list 'til you view the detail screen [new]

••• Searching
• Search results don't always include all matches
• Search results in general include all channels: VOD shows, PPV channels, and all the channels you can't get
• Person and Keyword searches produce lists that contain channel numbers but not channel names
• Keyword searches are limited to 50 characters, and the TTITLE and CCHAN operators are unnecessarily long
• There have been no improvements for keyword search expressions in spite of many good suggestions
• Channel searches require that you know the first few letters of the channel name; you can't search for Red Zone, for example
• Autorecording based on keyword searching records PPV channels and a few channels you can't get
• Search-result lists refresh themselves for no reason, and sometimes restart from the beginning
• The list of Recent Searches is limited to 25, so you must frequently recreate them [new]

••• User Interface
• No dedicated Slow Motion key
• No dedicated Clear key; Exit clears, but might dismiss the program you're watching
• The Dash (-) key is wasted on a useless "Recorder OK?" function; it could've been the Clear key
• The Dash (-) key can be pressed twice to delete items from some lists but not from others [new]
• The Active key is another wasted button; it also wastes your time when pressed by accident
• Autocorrection after FF goes way too far backwards after all 3 speeds (and when pressing Pause in live TV)
• Stepping after a pause requires multiple presses of the >> button
• The progress bar does not go away by itself when you single-step
• The progress bar covers 15% of the screen (TiVo's covers about 3%)
• There's no way (like TiVo's backdoor) to make the progress bar disappear by itself quickly
• Pressing Play twice to make the progress bar disappear often makes it reappear instead [new]
• The progress bar shows a recording as complete no matter how much of it was lost to rain fade
• Closed Captioning uses only low-resolution fonts with jagged edges (maybe "Subtitling" is better)
• Closed Captioning does not stay on during FF1
• Show's full name (without the "...") isn't shown in the blank area at the top of the To Do List or the History list
• I'd miss TiVo's backdoor elapsed-time display if I didn't have a plasma TV
• The Format key can't change the way an HD channel is displayed when the TV Ratio is set to 16:9, yet it cycles through all the options

••• Navigation
• Too many keypresses required to get to the To Do List, the Prioritizer, or Manual recording
• No way (Ch up/down?) to go directly to the previous/next detailed show description in any list
• Returning from a detailed show description to a list takes too much time refreshing the list
• Now Playing doesn't remember where you were [new]
• The Prioritizer doesn't remember where you were [new]
• Recent Searches doesn't remember where you were [new]
• No menu remembers where you were in it [new]
• No way to skip to a given date in the To Do List [new]
• No way to go quickly to the top or bottom of Now Playing [new]
• No way to go quickly to the top or bottom of the Prioritizer [new]
• No way to go quickly to the top or bottom of Recent Searches [new]
• No way to go quickly to the end of the History list [new]
• No way to skip to a given date in History [new]

••• Miscellaneous
• Occasionally jittery sound (brrrpp) and picture
• Screen saver is jumpy and gets interrupted by flashes of an unrecognizable full-screen image [new]
• Search for Titles: Kool & the Gang is listed only as "& the Gang, Kool"
• Search for Titles: Jackson 5 is listed only as "5, Jackson"
• Any bug fix is usually kept secret, referred to only generically as "UI Polishing" (for example)
• The HR2x user interface is an award-losing interface. ;)

Most of these problems have been reported over and over by many users. While they haven't been fixed, several unrequested and fairly useless features have been added.

Here's why I haven't gone to another provider (I'm definitely NOT staying for the sports packages):

In August 2004, I started subscribing to DirecTV after buying an HR10-250 for $900 (plus $100 for a UHF antenna). I had been a Comcast HD subscriber, but Comcast was refusing to sign a deal to carry the local ABC affiliate in HD. The clincher was that D* had an HD TiVo; no one else did.

I thought the HR10-250 would be a long-term investment. Then, in August 2005, just a year after I started using it, DirecTV announced it would not be using TiVo as its supplier for high definition DVRs, going instead with NDS in a deal which would divert revenue from DVR rentals more directly to DirecTV. In February 2008, DirecTV subscribers were informed they would need to upgrade to its (inferior) NDS equipment if they wanted full HD service. This pair of actions broke faith with customers who, like me, joined DirecTV mostly because of the HD TiVo.

After adding ESPN2 HD to their MPEG-2 channel lineup on 8 Sep 2005, D* added any other new HD channels only to MPEG-4 satellites my HR10-250 couldn't see. In February 2009, D* began to gradually delete their existing MPEG-2 HD channels. (So far, HDNM, UHD and SHOH have disappeared from the HR10-250's view.)

My wife continues to use our HR10-250, mostly for SD even though it's attached to an HDTV (Sony tube), because its interface is so friendly and fast. Eventually we hope to have two MPEG-4 TiVos.

[edit]
Removed "One-touch recording can't record a buffered show if it's (almost) over" -- I can no longer duplicate this; it works great.
Added 16 [new] items

Edited by Syzygy, 08 September 2009 - 12:40 AM.
Added more items

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#2 OFFLINE   Stuart Sweet

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 01:34 PM

Kudos on a well-written and thorough post. It's clear you've put a lot of effort into this.

Normally I'd ask this question privately, but I think it might be helpful for others to hear your reply:

Given that you've listed a lot of items that are design limitations, not per se "bugs," how can we in the forum help you? Without going point by point, I think we can broadly agree that most of these items work as designed and it's the design that you take issue with. Am I right?

I'm happy to help this thread move in the direction you intend for it, but I'm not sure what that intention is.
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#3 OFFLINE   Steveknj

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 01:44 PM

I do have a lot of these issues, but there ARE things that the old D* Tivos CAN'T do that the HR2x does do. But that said my HR21 which replaced and HR20 is WAY too slow in response time. THAT, and the 50 show limit on the Prioritizer are the only real pet peeves I have left on the HR2x series boxes.

#4 OFFLINE   The Merg

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 01:45 PM

In February 2008, DirecTV subscribers were informed they would need to purchase full upgrades to its (inferior) NDS equipment if they wanted full HD service.


Wow, that is some list.

From what I remember, DirecTV swapped out MPEG2 HD receivers for free for an extended amount of time. I couldn't count the number of posts I saw here about people who received an HR2x receiver to replace their HR10-250.

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#5 OFFLINE   Syzygy

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 01:53 PM

Kudos on a well-written and thorough post. It's clear you've put a lot of effort into this.

Thanks, Stuart. Unexpected graciousness from a person who (I believe) is strongly on the DirecTV side of this controversy. (Please correct me if that's wrong.)

There's a fine line between a bug and a mistake in design. I didn't try at all to draw that line.

If I had any goal to achieve with this list (besides venting ;)), it was to get some D* programmers to fix some of these issues, to the extent they are fixable. If some people chime in on one or more fixable items, maybe the squeaks will be loud enough to have an effect. (BTW, whatever happened to the new, spiffy database technology that was supposed to speed everything up?)

Another (albeit far-fetched) possible result if that a decision-maker at D* may, after seeing this list, realize that the HR2x software is not salvageable, and therefore throw his or her weight behind phasing it out in favor of a two-tiered TiVo approach (maybe with two levels of features).
Frank TiVangelist since Aug 1999, HD since Dec 2002, DirecTV since Aug 2004, DECA/MRV since Nov 2010
HR24-100 > HDMI > Pio 5020FD plasma
HR24-100 > HDMI > Sony KV30HS420 tube

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#6 OFFLINE   Syzygy

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 01:57 PM

Wow, that is some list.

From what I remember, DirecTV swapped out MPEG2 HD receivers for free for an extended amount of time. I couldn't count the number of posts I saw here about people who received an HR2x receiver to replace their HR10-250.

Yep, you're right. My little history is very incomplete. It is true, however, that D* said at first that we'd all have to "purchase full upgrades" (someone else's words). I'll soften that sentence.
Frank TiVangelist since Aug 1999, HD since Dec 2002, DirecTV since Aug 2004, DECA/MRV since Nov 2010
HR24-100 > HDMI > Pio 5020FD plasma
HR24-100 > HDMI > Sony KV30HS420 tube

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#7 OFFLINE   Stuart Sweet

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 02:00 PM

Sure, I'll call myself a DIRECTV fan, but I do try to be fair and most of all I try to encourage respectful disagreement. Also I do think you make some really good points there. No matter which side of the fence you're on, I think we can all get behind a speedier user interface for example.

I would be curious to see, if you looked back at that list, which items you deem poor design choices and which ones you deem bad implementations (i.e. bugs.) The reason I ask is, if you think about it that puts the ball in two different courts, doesn't it?
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#8 OFFLINE   Doug Brott

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 02:10 PM

My wife continues to use our HR10-250, mostly for SD even though it's attached to an HDTV (Sony tube), because its interface is so friendly and fast. Eventually we hope to have two MPEG-4 TiVos.


OK .. Hopefully it lives up to your expectation.
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#9 OFFLINE   Syzygy

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 02:24 PM

... I would be curious to see, if you looked back at that list, which items you deem poor design choices and which ones you deem bad implementations (i.e. bugs.) The reason I ask is, if you think about it that puts the ball in two different courts, doesn't it?

Bad coding or bad design? It would be tough for me to know. For example, keypresses getting missed or handled way late: Is it bad coding (or bad design) of interrupt handlers? Bad setting of priorities within the software? Time wasted executing inefficient code?

Who knows, real-time execution profiling might reveal that a lot of cycles are spent (wasted) in surprising places in the code. It's happened at other companies.

It's clear to me (from the ways that cellphone-style typing frequently fails) that the software can lose track of time. It sometimes thinks two presses of the same numeric key were far apart in time when in fact they happened in quick succession. To me this suggests the kernel is AFU [a technical term ;)].

What are those "two different courts"?
Frank TiVangelist since Aug 1999, HD since Dec 2002, DirecTV since Aug 2004, DECA/MRV since Nov 2010
HR24-100 > HDMI > Pio 5020FD plasma
HR24-100 > HDMI > Sony KV30HS420 tube

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#10 OFFLINE   sigma1914

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 02:26 PM

As a Directv "fanboy":lol:, I must say, well put together list. A few comments I put in Red.

• Big separate partition to hold PPV/VOD shows you'll never buy - others do buy them

• Unsupported add-on disk storage (eSATA) disables the internal disk drive and is subject to erasure - Any disk can fail and erase at anytime, even Tivos.

• One-touch recording can't record a buffered show if it's (almost) over - If I hit record while I've had a show on since I've had the channel on, it keeps everything from the show (up to 90mins).

• The Minus (-) key is wasted on a useless "Recorder OK?" function; it could've been the Clear key - Don't people who watch and have OTA need the "-" key? Like for channel 11-1?
If you stop responding to them or put them on ignore, then eventually they'll go away.

#11 OFFLINE   Syzygy

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 02:33 PM

Stuart, I just thought of an item that is probably due to bad design but could be corrected (I hope) by fixing the code:

• Search-result lists refresh themselves for no reason, and sometimes restart from the beginning
Frank TiVangelist since Aug 1999, HD since Dec 2002, DirecTV since Aug 2004, DECA/MRV since Nov 2010
HR24-100 > HDMI > Pio 5020FD plasma
HR24-100 > HDMI > Sony KV30HS420 tube

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#12 OFFLINE   Stuart Sweet

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 02:36 PM

What are those "two different courts"?


I think it's fair to say that in any large company like DIRECTV, there are the people who design and the people who execute. Someone at DIRECTV decided that it was a good idea to put a pretty big drive in the DVR and then reserve some of it for instant viewing. That would be a design decision.

Now, someone was in charge of making sure channel change times didn't unexpectedly balloon up for some people. That would be in the execution phase, it seems to me.

Yes, the bottom line is they are one big company and as a company they need to be accountable. But Frank, I think you said at one time you were in software development, you know what I'm saying. You're smart... in your opinion did they move very successfully in the wrong direction or very unsuccessfully in the right direction?

But of course, there's always something going on behind the scenes that we don't understand, right?
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#13 OFFLINE   hdtvfan0001

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 02:38 PM

I commend the OP on the time and effort taken on his list....however...I even take issue with the name and premise of the thread...

Let me first say that "bad design" is in the eyes of the beholder - in other words - you may not like some specific things, whereas others may see things in a much different way - potentially even preferring the current design in some cases.

I also feel that the contents of the list ranges from:

...debatable opinions of what they feel should be features/functions - this one is a great example:

Series Links are limited to 50 (and the interface is even slower if you use all 50)

(I do not see that number as a limitation whatsover, while some others may)

...to perceived or actual flaws....

...to "wishlist" capabilities, some of which may or may not be addressed in the announced future TIVO HD DVR and/or other devices.

The list seems to reflect a combination of an existing wishlist already being tracked in its own thread, coupled with extensive existing threads specific to most, if not all, of the other items.

So while this is a very well-done list, it appears to be redundant to most of these being discussed at great length already.

That's just my 2 cents...no more.

YMMV

Edited by hdtvfan0001, 02 September 2009 - 02:43 PM.

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#14 OFFLINE   Syzygy

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 02:43 PM

As a Directv "fanboy" :lol: ...

others do buy PPV/VOD [minimizing]
Any disk can fail and erase at anytime, even Tivos [denying]
If I hit record while I've had a show on since I've had the channel on, it keeps everything from the show (up to 90mins). [missing the point]
Don't people who watch and have OTA need the "-" key? Like for channel 11-1? [missing the point]

About recording the buffer: It fails if the show is over, or almost over -- as I said.

About the "-" button: It could be a character if entered after a digit, otherwise "clear." Even after a digit, "-" after another "-" could mean "clear."
Frank TiVangelist since Aug 1999, HD since Dec 2002, DirecTV since Aug 2004, DECA/MRV since Nov 2010
HR24-100 > HDMI > Pio 5020FD plasma
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#15 OFFLINE   RACJ2

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 02:43 PM

There definitely is room for improvement in the HR's. Although I don't agree with the issues below and have added some additional comments in blue.

• One-touch recording can't record a buffered show if it's (almost) over - If I hit record while I've had a show on since I've had the channel on, it keeps everything from the show (up to 90mins).
If the buffer has a prior program in it, you can even record it. Just rewind into that program, press record and it will capture the program that is already done.
• The Minus (-) key is wasted on a useless "Recorder OK?" function; it could've been the Clear key - Don't people who watch and have OTA need the "-" key? Like for channel 11-1? I use the dash for the RSN HD channels and alternate channels. Also use the dash (twice) to quickly delete items in my Playlist.
• There's no way (like TiVo's backdoor) to make the progress bar disappear quickly. Not sure about TiVo's command, but you simply press Exit to clear it.
• No way to enter a 3-digit channel number when recording manually If you have an available tuner there is. Change the channel to the one you want to manually record, prior to going into the menu. Then it is already preset when you set it up.
• You can't pause a recording on the right frame unless you anticipate and press the Pause key early The pause key stops playback immediately, so I'm not sure what you mean.

Edited by RACJ2, 02 September 2009 - 03:06 PM.

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#16 OFFLINE   Syzygy

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 02:54 PM

I think it's fair to say that in any large company like DIRECTV, there are the people who design and the people who execute... Yes, the bottom line is they are one big company and as a company they need to be accountable. But Frank, I think you said at one time you were in software development ... in your opinion did they move very successfully in the wrong direction or very unsuccessfully in the right direction?

Yep, 30+ years in software development. But what a choice you give me!

How about "very unsuccessfully in all directions at once?" ;)
Frank TiVangelist since Aug 1999, HD since Dec 2002, DirecTV since Aug 2004, DECA/MRV since Nov 2010
HR24-100 > HDMI > Pio 5020FD plasma
HR24-100 > HDMI > Sony KV30HS420 tube

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#17 OFFLINE   HRJustin

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 03:03 PM

Here is my hypothetical idea of why D*s DVR software isnt quite as refined as the TiVos. TiVo was around and going for quite a few years before D* decided to release its own line of DVRs. So by that IMO D* has spent very little time coding the software for their own DVRs.

I think this is the main reason for the CE program. The software is being coded and fixed on an ongoing basis. Things are added, removed, fixed, then tested, and so on. I am sure the TiVo software went through the same types of things. Maybe their software wasn't tested publicly.... Maybe the programmers that created the base code had a better idea of what they wanted to begin with....

TiVo was started as a dedicated DVR software not linked to any specific Television provider. It only makes sense to me that they have more perfected their user interface. D* on the other hand went into the DVR software much later. They also more or less basically just added it into their original guide from what I can see. The software for the DVRs vs the standard receivers isnt that awful much different at least from the interface aspect. I just think that given time D* will better perfect their DVR software just as Tivo already has. D* is making the DVR so it more integrates with their guide as it is. Tivo has never had this limitation they created their own user interface/guide from the beginning. Look how far the D* DVRs have came so far. I think that its just a matter of time before more issues get worked out.
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#18 OFFLINE   Syzygy

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 03:05 PM

There definitely is room for improvement in the HR's. Although I don't agree with the issues below and have added some additional comments in blue...

• One-touch recording...
• The Minus (-) key...
• There's no way (like TiVo's backdoor) to make the progress bar disappear quickly. Not sure about TiVo's command, but you simply press Exit to clear it.
• No way to enter a 3-digit channel number when recording manually If you have an available tuner there is. Change the channel to the one you want to manually record, prior to going into the menu. Then it is already preset when you set it up.

(1, 2) I tried to answer the first two in a previous post, above.

(3) TiVo lets you tell it to always dismiss the progress bar quickly. No keypress needed.

(4) I knew about changing the channel before starting to record manually. It's a needless waste of time, and not possible if two recordings are in progress.
Frank TiVangelist since Aug 1999, HD since Dec 2002, DirecTV since Aug 2004, DECA/MRV since Nov 2010
HR24-100 > HDMI > Pio 5020FD plasma
HR24-100 > HDMI > Sony KV30HS420 tube

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#19 OFFLINE   RACJ2

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 03:11 PM

(4) I knew about changing the channel before starting to record manually. It's a needless waste of time, and not possible if two recordings are in progress.

OK, I understand, you just want your TiVo working with MPEG4 channels. If you have an available tuner, its the same 3 buttons to enter the channel # prior to going into the menu, as it is to enter it when you are already in the manual record menu. So how is that a waste of time?
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#20 OFFLINE   PCampbell

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 03:12 PM

There will be a HD Tivo soon, get it.

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