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Impressions of the HR10-250 from a Dish Customer (long)


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#1 OFFLINE   Lee L

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Posted 12 May 2004 - 11:54 AM

OK, here are my observations after a few days of using my HD10-250 and SDDVR40 after having switched from Dish Network using 2 DishPlayer 7200’s with upgraded drives, and a 6000. I now also have 2 other Hughes receivers in spare rooms but I have not been able to use them much beyond initial setup because of the switch issue described below.

First, a little history. When my house was built, the builder ran one RG6 line to each bedroom and the living room. I talked to the super and ran an extra line to the living room area as well as some surround pre-wiring right before the sheetrock went in. Originally, I had just the 2 DishPlayers hooked up to 110 and 119 using SW21’s, then I got an HDTV and the 6000 in April of 2001so I ended up using an SW64 with inputs from 110, 119 and 61.5 going to the 3 receivers in the house, with the 6000 and one of the DP’s in the living room.

For the DirecTv stuff I opted for the professional install since my wife did not want me to be climbing on the roof of the 2 story house and we don’t have a ladder tall enough to reach anyway (I had to borrow one to install the Dish stuff). The installer got there and had never seen an HD TiVo and did not even know one existed or had been thought of. He did also install Dish stuff and was plenty familiar with a DishPlayer 7200 though, of which he had 3 at home. He had installed SD TiVo systems though and he commented that while most sales companies would pay extra for a TiVo install because it has 2 lines, that one or 2 did not pay any more than if a regular box was installed (when I saw that the setup took about an hour and he had to stay until it as done to confirm operation, I understood why). Luckily, he said that Value Electronics does pay extra for the job. He did complain a little about having to go into the attic to run a second line to the bedroom but after I showed him that was the only thing he had to do other than change the dish put, he agreed. He was getting paid for installing 3 receivers after all. He did mention that even though he did not run most of my coax, he was responsible for warranting it so he tested it all and that took some time as well.

Initially, he hooked up 2 lines from the dish to a 3x4 multiswitch (which was not sent with my stuff but we were going to pay the installer for) and the other 2 straight to the 2 basic boxes and set everything up to use the 3 slot dish. Everything seemed to work fine at first but the TiVos that were looking for Sats A, B and C were not always seeing them and were giving errors during setup. I told him I thought he needed a 5x8 switch but he said no, this should work. After trying for a few minutes and calling a buddy, he agreed that yes, I was right and I needed a 5x8 switch so he hooked the dish feeds up to the 2 TiVos and I ordered the switch and I’ll hook it up when it comes. He did call me back after leaving and said that actually, the 3x4 switch would have worked but he needed to hook the 2 feeds from the dish to the HD TiVo and the feeds from the switch to the non-HD boxes, and then set them for 1 slot operation. This way, you only have 2 lines that can receive HD from the satellite but the other receivers don’t need them. I told him it was fine and I just ordered the 5x8 switch so I could change things later if I wanted. It turns out this was good as my locals are on the Sat B (Raleigh-Durham) so I needed to go that route anyway. THe switch should be here Thursday and I'll be good to go.

Update on the Multiswitch

Today I received my Terk BMS-58 Multiswitch. I posted in another thread but figure I would update here as well. The switch, unlike the SW64 Dish Network switch, requires a seperate power feed on a coaxial input. The SW 64 had a power supply with a power inserter that allowed you to use one of your regular receiver feeds to power the switch. Since the installer is gone and did not mention this to me, I will need to run an additional line out the roof and down to the switch since my house is on a slab and I have no crawlspace. I'll then just install an outlet in the attic to power the power supply. The other alternative would be to mount an outlet outside near my box where all the satellite lines are to plug the PS in but that will be much more difficult IMO. This to me is a key advantage to the SW 64 as far as install flexibility goes. I'm not sure if there are DirecTv switches that have a power inerter or if the way their switching works precludes this option or if this is just an issue with the Terk BMS-58.


OK, now, the actual usability. All-in-all, I’m very happy. I love the ability to record in HD, plus I can now record 4 things at a time :) , but there are some different features that are not on the TiVo’s that were on the Dishplayers. First, is the ability to watch the PIP while in the guide. The TiVos do not have this, although some small amount of the picture shows around the guide and the sound continues. This has not bothered me much since we really did not watch the guide PIP much anyway, but some seem to use this more than others. The TiVos do not have caller ID but I never could get it to work on my DishPlayers anyway and I’m not sure the 6000 ever had it so again, I’ve not been bothered by this, I just keep the cordless phone nearby. Also, the TiVos do not have a space remaining indicator like the DishPlayers did but that was a feature that was added in the last SW version so I did not always have it I plan on trying to keep tabs on space with suggestions but this would be a nice feature to add in a future SW version for TiVo.

Overall, I find the DirecTv grid guide to be about as fast as the DishPlayers. While the DP did not seem to paint the guide block-by block, it did freeze up from scrolling every few lines so going from say channel 100 to channel 150 seems to take about the same amount of time to me. Most other operations seem to take a similar amount of time as well so I would think that anyone switching from a DishPlayer to a DirecTiVo should not be disappointed with it. Of course, the DishPlayers had about 8 days of data, while the TiVo has 14. As far as searching or going to a certain channel and time in the future to set up recordings, the DP and TiVo are different but once I got used to the way the TiVo worked, it seemed a little better implementation to me, especially the way the TiVo guide automatically gives search results on the side with each letter typed instead of waiting for you to press enter or select. This can save a ton of time and aggravation.

The picture quality seemed similar to the 6000 on my TV. It is a Mitsubishi 46 inch so no, it is not the most demanding set but I have seen plenty of pixellation in the past and certainly notice that some programs are much better looking that others, even when comparing different video based programs to each other. WRAL has some HD commercials and promo's that run instead of local insert ads on HD and I've seen them 1000 times. The looked the same as what I ahd seen before. To my eyes (and my wifes, who has had Lasik and sees better than 20/20) it looks the same. Now, there is definitely the possibility that someone with a 65 or 73 inch set or projector will noticed things I cannot but I would not let the reports of the quality not being as good as other STB's disuade you from purchasing this box. There is plenty of variation in quality from STB to STB and program to program. I don't think this will be an issue to 99% of even the run of the mill video geek.

As for OTA use, the HD10-250 seems at least as sensitive if not more so than the 6000 8VSB module. The signal strengths generally seemed higher and more stable on the TiVo but since it is not totally clear how the signal strength numbers are derived on either box, it is probably not fair to compare number for number. I have not noticed any dropouts on the recorded shows I have watched but the true test will be NASCAR on Sunday. Fox is my worst station, usually in the 70’s on a Sunday afternoon because they are not at full power and with the 6000, the signal would sometimes drop to the low 60’s and I would lose lock. The HR10-250 scanned and found all the channels fine and the signal strength meter seemed easy to use. The TiVo does not have a reading on the channel bar like the 6000 but as long as it does not drop out on me, this should not be a problem. Of course, the guide info is available for the OTA stuff, something the 6000 does not have and probably never will and selecting things to record is no different than any SD channel. Also, there is the ability to add a second OTA area to the box so it will download guide info for those stations as well but since I can’t pick up the Triad area stations reliably, I left that blank. The OTA signal scan seems to scan all the channels though and I’m sot sure what would happen if it picked up a station not in your guide list. This could be a problem if you can pick up stations from 3 DMA’s OTA but there are not many places that can happen.

Both TiVos seem very quiet to me, which was surprising since I had heard so much about the noise. While my living room unit is in a cabinet and I can’t hear anything, the bedroom SD TiVo is in an open armoire 8 feet away and I can barely hear the fan even in the dead of night. It is much quieter than the DishPlayer it replaced. Also, the units do not seem any hotter than the 6000 and the DishPlayers either.

As far as the CSR’s went, my initial impression was not any better with DirecTv than Dish. We had some issues getting the HD10-250 set up as the CSR’s did not have it in their list evidently, plus the switch issues caused problems with it receiving the auth packet. The installer called twice before re-doing the hookups and I called the 3rd time and got lucky to get someone who appeared to care. He seemed like a native speaker (the first call was answered by someone in India, much to the installers irritation), probably a college age guy who was genuinely interested in the HD Tivo and once I explained what it was and he mentioned that he had heard of it and was supposed to get trained on it in a couple of weeks. He got a supervisor and came back and got me going after a couple of minutes.

One thing that will take some getting used to is the channel numbers. Dish seemed to have like channels grouped together better than DirecTv, but then again, I've had dish for 6 years or so so I'm used to their lineup.



So, there you go. All-in-all, I'm very happy to be using DirecTv and the HR10-250.


DirecTV, please don't make me have to go back to watching March Madness in standard Def! Oh, and the usual begging for AMC and BBC America. You are so close to actually being the HD Leader.

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#2 OFFLINE   Tusk

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Posted 12 May 2004 - 12:22 PM

Thanks for the post Lee. It's interesting to see the comparison between services.

#3 OFFLINE   Chris Blount

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Posted 13 May 2004 - 05:57 AM

OK, now, the actual usability. All-in-all, I’m very happy. I love the ability to record in HD, plus I can now record 4 things at a time :)...


Thanks for your thoughts Lee. Great job!

Keep in mind though that the HD Tivo has 4 tuners but you can only record 2 things at a time. Also, the 6000 does have caller ID.

#4 OFFLINE   Lee L

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Posted 13 May 2004 - 06:37 AM

True enough, since I have the SD DVR40 as well, I can record using that for the total of 4, whereas with 2 DishPlayers, All I got was 2 at a time. I changed the title a little to relect the SD TiVo.


DirecTV, please don't make me have to go back to watching March Madness in standard Def! Oh, and the usual begging for AMC and BBC America. You are so close to actually being the HD Leader.

#5 OFFLINE   Chris Blount

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Posted 13 May 2004 - 07:24 AM

True enough, since I have the SD DVR40 as well, I can record using that for the total of 4, whereas with 2 DishPlayers, All I got was 2 at a time. I changed the title a little to relect the SD TiVo.


My bad. I didn't realize you were including the SD DVR40 in that statement.

#6 OFFLINE   David_Levin

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Posted 13 May 2004 - 08:03 AM

No disk remaining indication? I hope they add this - that's a big problem considering how guickly HD fills up the 250 gig.

Does the standard TiVo have an indication?

#7 OFFLINE   Chris Blount

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Posted 13 May 2004 - 08:17 AM

No disk remaining indication? I hope they add this - that's a big problem considering how guickly HD fills up the 250 gig.

Does the standard TiVo have an indication?


No, the standard Tivo does not have that indication. It's never really been a big problem. If I turn on "Tivo Suggestions", the Tivo will fill up the drive with movies and shows. Since they hold a very low priority, they get erased as season passes get recorded. It's fairly easy to tell how much hard drive space is left by looking to see how many Tivo Suggestion recordings remain.

#8 OFFLINE   BrettStah

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Posted 15 May 2004 - 05:36 PM

No disk remaining indication? I hope they add this - that's a big problem considering how guickly HD fills up the 250 gig.

Does the standard TiVo have an indication?

There are some issues involved with having a "disk remaining" indicator on a Tivo. But since they've added one in to the Series2 standalone Tivos as a hidden "backdoor" feature, it wouldn't surprise me if they finally added an official one.

In case you're curious what "some issues" I'm referring to, basically a Tivo (or DirecTivo in this case) uses space differently than the way most other devices use it. For example, my computer tells me how much space is free. My DVD recorder tells me how much space is left on a DVD. But neither of those are usually configured (in the computer's case) or even able to be configured (in the DVD recorder's case) to automatically use the available capacity based on many different criteria, and data that's automatically downloaded and processed. In other words, if I go on vacation for a week, my computer is not going to automatically realize that a new version of Visual Studio is released via the MSDN download site, or a new Linux distribution and then download it. (Sure, it's possible to configure a PC to do stuff like that, but it's not the norm). My DVD recorder won't realize that there's a marathon of Angel episodes coming on Saturday and automatically record them.

Basically, if you're using a Tivo normally (with season passes and auto-record wishlists), and especially if you have more than one person in the house who schedules recordings, just knowing the current remaining space doesn't really mean that much in terms of predicting availability of that space, unless and until you take into account the upcoming recording schedule (which is listed in the Tivo's To Do List). Not to mention the various sizes of different things on different channels (Dolby Digital soundtracks take up more space than non-Dolby Digital ones, HD content will take up tons more space than SD, live sporting events take up more than talk shows, etc.).

So let's assume that my Tivo told me tomorrow that I was using X% (or X hours, or X GB) of space. Let's say that I figured out that I had about 12 hours available right now (assuming average SD usage), based on what the Tivo told me. So I schedule two baseball games that are coming on tomorrow to record, with each one being padded so that each recording will be 4 hours long. Even considering that they're live sporting events (which tend to use a lot of space), that should fit in the allotted space. However, I don't realize that my auto-record wishlist for "PUNKY BREWSTER" has caused the Tivo to schedule a 24 hour Punky Brewster marathon beginning at midnight tonight. By the time the first baseball game starts, those 12 hours will be long gone. Or maybe my wife scheduled a few movies on HBO or Showtime to record, etc.

The point I guess I'm trying to make is that a Tivo is more likely to automatically record stuff, which means that it's more important, if your goal is to know when you're going to run out of space, to know not only current space available, but also expected/scheduled space utilization. Having an indicator that just tells me current free space would be helpful, since I realize that I have to then take into account the To Do List to see when I'll approximately run out of space, but my ideal solution would be for the Tivo to crunch all of the numbers, and give me a conservative prediction as to when it's going to run out of room, based upon the known data it has.

Something like: "This show is scheduled to be deleted at 9PM on Tuesday, May 18th, to make room for NYPD Blue."

Give some indication to the users that if the data changes (e.g., you make more room by deleting things, or schedule some more things to record) that the scheduled deletion date/time could change.
Brett




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