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My first 100 Days with the HR-20


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#1 OFFLINE   Ken S

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Posted 10 July 2007 - 10:56 PM

I was doing some filing tonight and came across my receipts for the three HR-20s I purchased. I thought I would summarize my experience with the device. I'm not at all thrilled with the device and/or the support by DirecTV at this point. But, I will try to be nice and just state the facts in this post to perhaps help others in making their decisions on this device. Please remember this information is worth exactly what you're paying for it.

I have been a relatively satisfied customer of DirecTV for many years. Prior to this "upgrade" I was running a Sony receiver and a Sony T60 DirecTV Tivo DVR. The T60 was a very solid/stable device that met my goal...it worked and didn't require constant babysitting. But, Tivo is not a valid option with DirecTV any longer...it's the HR-20 or nothing.

Onward we go...

1. I had to replace six HR-20s early on because of tuner failures and issues with initial lockups. Thanks the people at Crutchfield this was a lot less painful that it could have been.

2. Since getting three "working" units I have received four national release software patches.

HR-20: Positives for me (Meaning the good things I have found and use with the HR-20. Other people probably utilize other benefits like OTA)

1. Having an HD picture can be spectacular.
2. The Prioritizer is a nice feature and allows for the user to make more decisions about what is/isn't recorded.
3. The UI isn't bad...It's different, but on par with the Tivo.
4. The HD holds a LOT more SD programming than my Tivo did.
5. I don't have to reprogram in SORT and 30-second skip after a device reboot.
6. The List with folders is a nice way to organize the programming.
7. The space remaining/used bar is helpful (hopefully, it's accurate).

The Cons
1. The Box is unreliable in handling its basic function. Recording shows. There are several problems with the box in this regards.
- The HR-20 has problems starting and stopping a show on time. It is almost mandatory to "pad" record requests if you want the first few seconds or last minute of a show.
- The HR-20 just will not record some shows that appear in its guide. Setting a Series Record is no guarantee that you'll record those shows. (See my other posts on Wiggles & Blues Clues)
- The HR-20 will not populate it's To Do list for hours (and maybe days) after you set a Series Record making it even harder to determine if your show will be recorded.

2. The HR-20 will allow the titles of porn movies to show up in a show search even though parental controls are set to block those shows and the channels do not appear in the favorites list. Searching on something like "Spring" or "Pussy Cat Girls" can lead to highly undesirable results when children are present. The fact that this bug still exists is disgusting.

3. The "Channels I Receive" function does not work.

4. On occasion the HR 20 will shutdown a tuner without warning. Programs won't record and even their system test will not report the problem.

5. The slow-motion function requires you to hold the play button for three seconds. This makes it incomputable with some 3rd party remotes that don't support "holding" on a key AND it makes trying to watch something in slow motion a guessing game as you have to rewind three seconds before the point you want to see and then start.

6. The 30 second slip function seems to be anywhere between 25 and 35 seconds. This isn't a huge deal....but it could be better.

7. The TV show information in the guide is scant at best.

8. When you use the Guide's Category mode and select Sports you don't get all of the sporting events on at that time. You get a list of the channels that DirecTV categorizes as a sports channel. This means a sporting event on a major network won't show up.

9. The interactive Features while "interesting" in concept may take up to 30 seconds to appear on screen. The data for sporting events often lags behind many other sources.

10. The HR-20 Remote tends to suffer from key bounce...meaning pressing a key once may trigger that function/character being entered twice on screen.

11. Audio dropouts, audio/video sync issues and pixelation and other PQ issues.

12. Connecting the HR-20 to a network where UPnP is active will cause the HR-20 to lockup and cease operation. It will also prevent it from rebooting properly until the network cable is removed. This isn't a huge problem now because I don't need/want to play music or display pictures through the HR-20, but it will be if they require the network connection for their Video on Demand services.

13. It can take an awful long time to change channels. It's not nearly as bad as my old C-Band BUD, but you can't exactly channel surf either.

14. (One I forgot to enter initially). The Crop bug. For some reason the HR-20 will extend the picture vertically so that the top 10% and bottom 10% are off screen when viewing SD shows in Crop mode. This will mean the part of the screen where networks put their logo is off screen...and the top where a sports scoreboard/line score would be isn't viewable. The rest of the picture is stretched out of proportion.
------------

(I know it doesn't have Dual Live Buffers but that really doesn't bother me all that much)

I hope that the coming change in ownership of DirecTV brings about some serious changes in the way they handle this device, quality control and technical support. They may be working on some of these issues and fix them in a future patch....they may not...DirecTV doesn't seem to acknowledge issues like mine in a knowledgebase or in their forums.

That's about all I can remember off the top of my head. I have posted much more detailed descriptions of the problems I've listed here in other posts.

If some of you consider my evaluation unfair...remember it's MY evaluation of the HR-20s that I purchased and use. Your experience may be different for the better or worse.

Also know, I'd much rather be writing positive posts about this device and/or helping people with one-off issues than dealing with this.

Anyway, I hope this is of help to some folks and doesn't burst a blood vessel on others.

Finally, I have no financial or emotional interest in DirecTV or any of their competitors.

...Ads Help To Support This SIte...

#2 OFFLINE   kbohip

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 12:05 AM

Great, this thing sounds like a POS, and I just ordered one today.Posted Image Oh well, it was either go this route or Comcast, so that made for an easy decision. Hopefully I have a better experience than you've had, but it's still REALLY tough to go from a perfectly functioning HR10-250 to this.:(

#3 OFFLINE   jbrasure

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 12:20 AM

Ken, thanks for the info. I appreciate the honest review.

I left DirecTV about 6 months ago because of problems with the HR20. I just popped back into the forum to see if things had improved. It sounds like they haven't. Perhaps I'll check back in another 6 months.

In the mean time, I've been quite happy with Comcast and the Tivo Series 3. Comcast had to visit me twice to fix CableCard problems. However, the day-to-day operations of the Tivo is nearly flawless. It has recorded thousands of shows with zero errors.

#4 OFFLINE   funhouse69

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 02:31 AM

I thought I would throw my thoughts out there as well seeing that I got my first HR20 just about 100 days ago as well.

First of all if I did not find this forum and have interest in following the progress of the HR20 I would have sent it back within a week of getting it.

The reason I went down the HR20 road was because I was thrilled with my D* SD TiVO's and had recently upgraded to my first HD TV.

While I've been with D* for many, many years I actually gave cable a try and have to say that was just a joke. While their HD quality was good compared to SD I wasn't blown away. I would have jumped on FIOS but we can not get their TV Service as of yet and don't have any ETA. This prompted me to call D* even though in my opinion their SD picture quality is nothing like it used to be I thought that their HD would be great.

I won't bore anyone with the details of the pain I went through with my HD upgrade that took 3 different installers 5 visits to get right. That has been documented elsewhere on this site.

As for the HR20 itself I had no clue what I was getting myself in to when I ordered it. I was shocked to see that it didn't have DLB which for me to this day is a joke and something that I use constantly. Obviously the manual is a joke and should be replaced with a single piece of paper telling people to go to this site. As the installer was upgrading me I almost bid on a D* HD TiVO on ebay until I found out that it wouldn't support MPEG4 so as previously mentioned this is really the only game in town.

I personally haven't had many issues with the units stability, although just today the unit wigged out when I tried to enter setup to check my sat levels (dish out of alignment again - tech coming later today). It eventually recovered so I rebooted it and all has been well since. I as well have gone received all of the national releases and nothing have not participated in any of the CE's only because I value my content too much and didn't want to end up with a bricked unit. I would gladly go down the CE road if I had another unit which may happen down the road.

I have had some issues with recording start / stop times catching the beginning / endings of show but I also had that with my TiVO's as well so I wouldn't put that only on the HR20.

I should mention that the only thing I record on the HR20 is HD Content. I still have 3 SD TiVO's and use them for all of the rest of the stuff. Based on this the HD Picture quality for the most part is exceptional. Obviously the picture is only as good as the source so I will say things like Planet Earth blow me away while other things like Baseball Games are really good but don't have the wow factor for me. I think that the last National Release was a major step backwards for MPEG 4 Channels though. I can't do any trick play whatsoever.

I also like that without any additional modification you can add an external hard drive to the unit. As soon as I found that out I ordered a 750GB and had it connected 3 days later and have been using it ever since without any issues **knock on wood** :D

I loved the ability to go RF with the remote but had to go back to IR when I got my Slingbox Pro. The unit does suffer from "Key Bounce" very often but seems to have gotten better. I agree that the remote layout could be a whole lot better and a little more intuitive but I think that ship has sailed.

I do use OTA and think that is a great feature. I've had very good luck recording OTA content. I would highly recommend that anyone that can get OTA Channels go for it. For me I get a good amount of channels that I don't get on D* so it was well worth it. This also keeps me sane when I suffer rain fade which to me is far worse with the new dish than my old dual LNB one.

So I will end my 100 day summary with this. To date my HR20 is by no way my primary D* DVR. This is for a few reasons even though I personally haven't had many issues with it I don't trust it 100% like I do my TiVO's as of yet. As mentioned I only use it for HD programming / recording which as we all know there isn't much of yet. So my 3 SD TiVO's are my primary's that I use say 90% of the time. The remaining 10% of the time I will switch to the HR20 when I want to watch either live or recorded HD programing. Obviously now that D10 is up there that number will hopefully increase dramatically as new channels are added.
Was with D* for over 10 years then switched to the dark-side a few years ago and haven't looked back. I truly enjoy the 50% savings and uninterrupted service

#5 OFFLINE   BobbyK

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 04:46 AM

My first 100 Days with the HR-20
- The HR-20 has problems starting and stopping a show on time. It is almost mandatory to "pad" record requests if you want the first few seconds or last minute of a show.

This is the only problem I have with two HR20s, and its a BIG problem with me. We should not have to pad ever show.

#6 OFFLINE   Ken S

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 05:47 AM

BTW, the help and information I have received from some of the folks at DBSTalk has been invaluable. If not for this forum I would have tossed the units in the trash long ago.

My other choice was Comcast as well...and they were in the middle of taking over Adelphia in this area. Couple that with they didn't have MLB EI at the time and DirecTV won out.

Recently AT&T has won approval and is going to begin offering their UVerse service here and Verizon has started to bring FIOS to Florida. So, the next few years may provide more choices.

#7 OFFLINE   pixlpush

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 07:44 AM

I switched from the HR10-250 about 2 weeks ago and despite the some of the short comings of the HR20 it's working out much better for me than the HR10. I went through a LONG series of problems with my HR10-250. It was incredibly unreliable for me, see my post over on the tivo community forum if your interested in any gory details:

http://www.tivocommu...ad.php?t=356675

So far the HR20 has been performing without a hitch, fingers crossed. I just added a 750G esata drive and that couldn't have been any easier. Even my technophobe wife has adapted quickly and is just starting to get over her mistrust of all things HD. I'm a happy camper. I have no allegiance to any box in particular but I do appreciate one that works and the HR10 often didn't in my case. I sure hope the HR20 doesn't start picking up some of the demons you've mentioned.
My HR10-250 is dead to me

#8 OFFLINE   veryoldschool

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 07:57 AM

I don't want to turn this into another one of those threads where every other post is Mines great or this is a POS.
KenS has had some bad luck & if I'd seen the same thing I'd say it too.
I've had mine since Nov [1st one] & Feb [2nd one] with some problems, but haven't had any since Mar.
Everybody will use it differently, with different equipment & for different things. That's just the way it is, so do understand: YMMV.
A.K.A VOS

#9 OFFLINE   harsh

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 08:00 AM

eSATA drives should be referred to as "substitute" drives at this time as opposed to "added" drives.

#10 OFFLINE   hasan

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 08:04 AM

I switched from the HR10-250 about 2 weeks ago and despite the some of the short comings of the HR20 it's working out much better for me than the HR10. I went through a LONG series of problems with my HR10-250. It was incredibly unreliable for me, see my post over on the tivo community forum if your interested in any gory details:

tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb/showthread.php?t=356675

So far the HR20 has been performing without a hitch, fingers crossed. I just added a 750G esata drive and that couldn't have been any easier. Even my technophobe wife has adapted quickly and is just starting to get over her mistrust of all things HD. I'm a happy camper. I have no allegiance to any box in particular but I do appreciate one that works and the HR10 often didn't in my case. I sure hope the HR20 doesn't start picking up some of the demons you've mentioned.


Don't get to comfy with "all things HD"...it still is a long way from ready for prime time. All things HD includes a lot of "sins", many of which have nothing to do with the HR20 itself.

Overall, I'm very pleased with my HR20. It has an excellent feature set, reliably records (I've missed exactly two recordings since September of last year), and is being continually developed on a short cycle. D* has involved the user community with the CE process and has responded quite well to the feedback we have given them. I have my own priorities and some of them are not being addressed. Looking at the "big picture", however, I see lots of things that are being fixed, enhanced and added.

There are still lots of things to fix, and many, many rough edges. That said, it's my only DVR and I don't find myself disappointed in the slightest (overall).

...hasan, N0AN

SlimLine5-SWiMLNB/DECA/WHDVR
HR44-700, WD20EURX 2 TB eSATA/ThermalTake Max 5 Enclosure

HR24-200, WD20EVDS 2 TB eSATA/ThermalTake Dock

HR24-200, H21-200. Samsung UN60C6400 60" LED/LCD

DirecTV since 1995


#11 OFFLINE   pixlpush

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 08:24 AM

eSATA drives should be referred to as "substitute" drives at this time as opposed to "added" drives.


True, it doesn't use the internal drive once the eSATA is installed I hope that changes at some point. But since it doesn't involve removing the original internal drive I still think of it as adding a drive.

In comparison it's way easier than what you had to go through with the HR10 Tivo to add a larger drive. If I remember correctly it went something like this:

1) find tiny torx drivers, open case, void warranty
2) remove 8 screws, remove old drive
3) open desktop computer, detach all hard drives, install new tivo drive in desktop computer and format it with cryptic third party program.
4)Put desktop computer back together and hope you didn't screw it up in the process.
5) add new drive to tivo, replace fastening hardware
6) close case, warranty really voided now.

Don't get me wrong I appreciated being able to hack a larger drive into the Tivo box but plugging an off the shelf drive into the back of the HR20 is much prefered.
My HR10-250 is dead to me

#12 OFFLINE   jheda

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 08:42 AM

+1

Of course, i dont ever remember disagreeing with hasan :)

Don't get to comfy with "all things HD"...it still is a long way from ready for prime time. All things HD includes a lot of "sins", many of which have nothing to do with the HR20 itself.

Overall, I'm very pleased with my HR20. It has an excellent feature set, reliably records (I've missed exactly two recordings since September of last year), and is being continually developed on a short cycle. D* has involved the user community with the CE process and has responded quite well to the feedback we have given them. I have my own priorities and some of them are not being addressed. Looking at the "big picture", however, I see lots of things that are being fixed, enhanced and added.

There are still lots of things to fix, and many, many rough edges. That said, it's my only DVR and I don't find myself disappointed in the slightest (overall).


JHEDA

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#13 OFFLINE   Chuck W

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 09:15 AM

My first 100 Days with the HR-20
- The HR-20 has problems starting and stopping a show on time. It is almost mandatory to "pad" record requests if you want the first few seconds or last minute of a show.

This is the only problem I have with two HR20s, and its a BIG problem with me. We should not have to pad ever show.


I don't know if it's much different than any other DVR because I ALWAYS pad may recordings on all my DVRs(an HR10-250 and a couple older SD Directivos) mainly because of the networks. THEY are the main culprits in screwing up the timing IMO. I always add 1-2 minutes before AND after, just to be sure.

With that said, I am getting an HR20 installed next week, but am keeping my HR10-250. I'm gonna run them in parallel for a bit and see how the HR20 stacks up, with recording things vs my HR10-250, which has been 100% reliable for recordings. The only issue I've been having with my HR10-250 is recently I've started to have 1-2 second audio dropouts, every so often(random). What is strange is that I can rewind that portion and the audio plays fine, so I can't decide if it's the HR10-250 or my long optical cable or my Onkyo receiver.

#14 OFFLINE   jchumbley

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 09:20 AM

Ken, well written and organized information about the problems you're experiencing. Sorry to hear that. Although I'm glad that the people who own the HR 20 continue to update the readers about these problems, since it makes my decision not to purchase one and upgrade from my VERY reliable HR 10-250 with TiVo. About 6 months ago, I had contacted D* and ordered the HR 20 and the new dish, however, after constantly checking this web forum, I ended up cancelling my order, hoping that the bugs would eventually get worked out. It seems as though they still have not. I was hoping that they would before the NFL season started, but once again, that doesn't seem to be the case. I guess I will just continue to keep watching this site to see how things are developing. Thanks for the info. Jeff

#15 OFFLINE   CTJon

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 09:28 AM

I'm probably about 100 days into my experience and although I guess I get some of those problems I really am quite please and surprised based upon this board. From the minute my HR20 was installed it has been rock solid, I haven't had to reboot and the only time it was restarted that I'm aware of was after a 4 hour power outage at the house.
I have 1 program that it doesn't seem to want to record but my SD recorder does that for me and I haven't played with it a lot.
I do have the padding issue with some shows but I think that is really more the network or the program guide issue.
Is it perfect? There are things that I find confusing about it but in general I like it as much as my TIVO unit and I didn't think that I'd say that in the first few days.
I don't do OTA (have local HD) and I don't do CID so those are issues for me.
I am looking forward to some of the items that are in the Cutting Edge releases that we should be getting soon.

#16 OFFLINE   Michael D'Angelo

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 09:29 AM

Ken, well written and organized information about the problems you're experiencing. Sorry to hear that. Although I'm glad that the people who own the HR 20 continue to update the readers about these problems, since it makes my decision not to purchase one and upgrade from my VERY reliable HR 10-250 with TiVo. About 6 months ago, I had contacted D* and ordered the HR 20 and the new dish, however, after constantly checking this web forum, I ended up cancelling my order, hoping that the bugs would eventually get worked out. It seems as though they still have not. I was hoping that they would before the NFL season started, but once again, that doesn't seem to be the case. I guess I will just continue to keep watching this site to see how things are developing. Thanks for the info. Jeff


:welcome_s to DBSTalk

The problems that Ken S and some members are having not all of us are. I have had two HR20's since September and had problems at first but for the last 5 or 6months I have only had a few minor problems. I even added another one in May and will be adding one or two more. You have to remember you will see more bad post then you will see good one's because most people only post the bad things.

#17 OFFLINE   Ken S

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 10:31 AM

:welcome_s to DBSTalk

The problems that Ken S and some members are having not all of us are. I have had two HR20's since September and had problems at first but for the last 5 or 6months I have only had a few minor problems. I even added another one in May and will be adding one or two more. You have to remember you will see more bad post then you will see good one's because most people only post the bad things.


I'd be willing to bet that the problems I've been reporting with recording some shows can be duplicated on any HR-20 700.

#18 OFFLINE   veryoldschool

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 10:43 AM

I'd be willing to bet that the problems I've been reporting with recording some shows can be duplicated on any HR-20 700.

While I haven't had your problem(s), I agree with you. I believe it is the show [guide info] causing it. While as a user, it doesn't matter if it's the recorder or the guide that is causing it, since it just plain didn't work & that's the bitch.
Some sports programing has done this also.
Each of us watch different shows. If the guide isn't screwed up for mine, it works fine. If on the other hand "my show" has bad guide data, then you bet, mine would screw up too.
The whole system is quite complex from D* through the SAT, to our dish, to our hardware with it's software, & finally to our TV. If I poke the remote and don't get what I want, it doesn't work for me. [@#$@#$] It could be bad batteries in my remote all the way to something on D*s end, but most of us will blame the HR-20 because it didn't do what we wanted it to.
My two cents. :)
A.K.A VOS

#19 OFFLINE   Ken S

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 11:24 AM

While I haven't had your problem(s), I agree with you. I believe it is the show [guide info] causing it. While as a user, it doesn't matter if it's the recorder or the guide that is causing it, since it just plain didn't work & that's the bitch.
Some sports programing has done this also.
Each of us watch different shows. If the guide isn't screwed up for mine, it works fine. If on the other hand "my show" has bad guide data, then you bet, mine would screw up too.
The whole system is quite complex from D* through the SAT, to our dish, to our hardware with it's software, & finally to our TV. If I poke the remote and don't get what I want, it doesn't work for me. [@#$@#$] It could be bad batteries in my remote all the way to something on D*s end, but most of us will blame the HR-20 because it didn't do what we wanted it to.
My two cents. :)


VOS,

We can't be sure it's bad guide data or the HR-20 not handling the data it's getting correctly. We also can't be sure if it is bad guide data being received by the HR-20 that the data isn't being corrupted by some DirecTV process. People here are very quick to blame Tribune for these ills. Maybe it is them...but we really can't be sure. Either way the HR-20 should deal with this issue quite a bit more elegantly than it does.

As for the complexity...that's why I spent time going through the priority list, going through the history on two machines and then looking at show descriptions. Something a customer really shouldn't have to do. Then comparing the results of my attempts to other people using different models of DVRs on the DirecTV system.

DirecTV could tell us what the issue is...if they wanted to.

Oh, by the way I use a Harmony remote that has been on its cradle and is fully charged. I also have my original HR-20 and to make sure I checked the batteries...they're good too ;)

#20 OFFLINE   veryoldschool

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 11:31 AM

Ken S, now I know you knew I wasn't telling you it was your batteries. :lol:

Should all of this be fixed? You bet.

My point was:
1) to agree with you.
2) to attempt to show how the programs we want to record could account for why some of us do and others don't have an issue.
3) give others some idea of how long the chain was to their TV. :)
A.K.A VOS




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