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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Background: Been a DirecTV sub since 1994. Been a hard core DirecTivo user with 2 upgraded Hughes boxes since '02. Had a replayTV unit for a couple of years before that. I'm an electrical engineer by trade, but with 2 small kids, I don't have time to screw around with pre-production hardware and was assured by DTV that this thing was ready for prime time.

I had my HR20 installed on Thursday of last week. Initial impressions at that time were:
- Nice looking box
- HD through HMDI looks awesome
- Menus look pretty nice and a bit more modern than Tivo
- Was there some kind of sale on blue LEDs?

The honeymoon, such as it was, pretty much ended there. Since that time, I've had numerous issues:

- audio dropouts - both using component video with the RCA audio jacks and with the HDMI output.
- I set it up to record a football game yesterday and it just didn't do it
- I notice the problem as the game started and hit record again. It did record it, but as I watched the game time shifted, I was 30 second slipping through commercials (buffered 4X) when I got a BSOD (not seen since Windows 2000) and I waited for the 5 minute reboot. Started playing the game again, got back where I was, 4X slipped again and another reboot. Went to my trusty Tivo and watched the rest of the game there.
- Last night I was watching ER recorded from the week prior. Got 42 minutes into the show and the sound dropped out. Didn't come back for the remainder of the show. Went to my trusty Tivo and watched the remainder of the show.
- Noticed it was recording Desperate Housewives last night. I have it set to record first runs only (I think - more on that in a second). Was excited about watching a new Housewives. Started up the recording only to realize that it was a repeat. Checked the guide data - nothing about a repeat there hmmm. Checked my trusty Tivo - it didn't get it since it was a repeat and that guide data showed that it was indeed a repeat. So, with the HR20, I tried to go in and check how I had my "season pass" set up. Went to the prorities page, but since there are no upcoming episodes, it would not allow me to check my settings - at least from there. Now I'm sure that you guys can tell me how to do that, but this is just an example of the non-intuitive nature of this GUI.

Things I miss about Tivo:
1. My 2 Hughes units are solid pieces of hardware. I have had a few hard drives crap out on me over the years, but I just replace them and keep moving forward. The hardware is solid, the GUI is solid, and the thing NEVER MISSES A SHOW. Not in the 4+ years I've been using it.

2. Wishlists based on title. Is this seriously missing? I keep thinking that I'm just not seeing it, but I'm pretty sure it's not there. Example of why this is a problem: I want to record Wisconsin basketball games. On my Tivo, I set up a category (sports:basketball) title="Wisconsin". Works like a charm. On the HR20 I have to set this up as Keyword="Wisconsin", however, if Wisconsin is in the title but not in the description - as best I can tell it's not getting it. At least from the 2 games that are coming up (it picks up one and not the other).

3. General responsiveness of the unit. Yes, the Tivo has an old, fairly slow processor. BUT, overall, IMO it's far quicker to move around in there than is this new unit. The animation on the new unit is irritating, useless, and just slows things down needlessly. Example: hit page down on the "List". Animation is cool, but don't slow me down while you animate.

I could go on, but I think it's all covered in other posts. I called DirecTV to have them come get the thing, but they convinced me to do a complete reset/reformat on the thing. I'll do that, then waste my time setting up my wishlists again, then I will see the same or similar bugs and I will have them come get it then.

After that, I'm going to get a Series 3 Tivo and switch to Comcast. There, I said it, after nearly 13 years, I have to go back to cable in order to properly utilize my HDTV. Sad, but true.

And, I'm not really a newbie on this forum - used to post here back in like 95/96, but apparently after 10 years of not posting, they disable your username/password. How dare they? :)
 

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richa65 said:
After that, I'm going to get a Series 3 Tivo and switch to Comcast. There, I said it, after nearly 13 years, I have to go back to cable in order to properly utilize my HDTV. Sad, but true.
Better do a little research at tivocommunity...the grass isn't always greener.
 

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sigma1914 said:
Better do a little research at tivocommunity...the grass isn't always greener.
Isn't that the truth!

Rich-

Your experience is not representative of the majority of HR20 users.

That said, there are a number of questions that would help clarify your situation:

1) Have you validated that you are running iwth the latest firmware version?

2) Was your unit reset after the updates to the latest firmware was loaded?

3) Are you running this unit on the exact same cable lines and with the same multiswitch as the previous device?

4) Did you try a full reset/reformat?

Since a number of folks have identified these items as potential obstacles prior to getting your HR20 to run fine (like the rest of ours do and have for some time), you might want to try check on or try these things before giving up. There are plenty of us folks who have gotten our install, run this unit for months, and not had any of the problems you've reported....so we're gonna try to help you get to that point as well if possible.
 

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richa35,

I have to agree with you that if you don't have time for a little tinkering, this box probably isn't for you yet. If you do spend a little time with it, though, most of us have moved past the early heartbreaks and found ways to coexist with or even enjoy it. A lot of us actually like it better than TiVo. Sigma1914 is right, it looks like TiVo series 3 is not really any more stable.

It's been covered here over and over, and whether or not we like it, it turns out that HD DVR, especially with MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 together, is tougher than anyone thought.

It seems like some sort of major upgrade is in the works for the very near future (or so everyone thinks). Maybe you might want to delay returning the HR20 until we all find out what that's going to entail.
 

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richa65 said:
Background: Been a DirecTV sub since 1994. Been a hard core DirecTivo user with 2 upgraded Hughes boxes since '02. Had a replayTV unit for a couple of years before that. I'm an electrical engineer by trade, but with 2 small kids, I don't have time to screw around with pre-production hardware and was assured by DTV that this thing was ready for prime time.

I had my HR20 installed on Thursday of last week. Initial impressions at that time were:
- Nice looking box
- HD through HMDI looks awesome
- Menus look pretty nice and a bit more modern than Tivo
- Was there some kind of sale on blue LEDs?

The honeymoon, such as it was, pretty much ended there. Since that time, I've had numerous issues:

- audio dropouts - both using component video with the RCA audio jacks and with the HDMI output.
- I set it up to record a football game yesterday and it just didn't do it
- I notice the problem as the game started and hit record again. It did record it, but as I watched the game time shifted, I was 30 second slipping through commercials (buffered 4X) when I got a BSOD (not seen since Windows 2000) and I waited for the 5 minute reboot. Started playing the game again, got back where I was, 4X slipped again and another reboot. Went to my trusty Tivo and watched the rest of the game there.
- Last night I was watching ER recorded from the week prior. Got 42 minutes into the show and the sound dropped out. Didn't come back for the remainder of the show. Went to my trusty Tivo and watched the remainder of the show.
- Noticed it was recording Desperate Housewives last night. I have it set to record first runs only (I think - more on that in a second). Was excited about watching a new Housewives. Started up the recording only to realize that it was a repeat. Checked the guide data - nothing about a repeat there hmmm. Checked my trusty Tivo - it didn't get it since it was a repeat and that guide data showed that it was indeed a repeat. So, with the HR20, I tried to go in and check how I had my "season pass" set up. Went to the prorities page, but since there are no upcoming episodes, it would not allow me to check my settings - at least from there. Now I'm sure that you guys can tell me how to do that, but this is just an example of the non-intuitive nature of this GUI.

Things I miss about Tivo:
1. My 2 Hughes units are solid pieces of hardware. I have had a few hard drives crap out on me over the years, but I just replace them and keep moving forward. The hardware is solid, the GUI is solid, and the thing NEVER MISSES A SHOW. Not in the 4+ years I've been using it.

2. Wishlists based on title. Is this seriously missing? I keep thinking that I'm just not seeing it, but I'm pretty sure it's not there. Example of why this is a problem: I want to record Wisconsin basketball games. On my Tivo, I set up a category (sports:basketball) title="Wisconsin". Works like a charm. On the HR20 I have to set this up as Keyword="Wisconsin", however, if Wisconsin is in the title but not in the description - as best I can tell it's not getting it. At least from the 2 games that are coming up (it picks up one and not the other).

3. General responsiveness of the unit. Yes, the Tivo has an old, fairly slow processor. BUT, overall, IMO it's far quicker to move around in there than is this new unit. The animation on the new unit is irritating, useless, and just slows things down needlessly. Example: hit page down on the "List". Animation is cool, but don't slow me down while you animate.

I could go on, but I think it's all covered in other posts. I called DirecTV to have them come get the thing, but they convinced me to do a complete reset/reformat on the thing. I'll do that, then waste my time setting up my wishlists again, then I will see the same or similar bugs and I will have them come get it then.

After that, I'm going to get a Series 3 Tivo and switch to Comcast. There, I said it, after nearly 13 years, I have to go back to cable in order to properly utilize my HDTV. Sad, but true.

And, I'm not really a newbie on this forum - used to post here back in like 95/96, but apparently after 10 years of not posting, they disable your username/password. How dare they? :)
Everything you say is true, but as an HR20 owner for two months now, I can tell you that it has improved greatly since October. I was absolutely DONE with the thing in October, but I have stuck with it, and it now has only one major bug IMO, the sports subscription bug. Hang in there...
 

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I have had very good luck with my HR20 nothing Earth moving and it keeps getting better witht he updates. However I know how you can get frustrated. I was so frustrated with the install process for the Hr20 that I almost switched to E* and even considered Cable. In the end I ended up staying with D* cause I know that once the kinks are worked out I will have a really nice box here.

No I don't get paid to say that.....LOL
 

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mnassour said:
I'm sorry, but if you've got an HR20, you're part of the beta group. If you weren't, this forum wouldn't exist.
So does that go for every other "support" forum that exists for every other product out there? TiVo's, Dish, Cable-Co's, ect?
 

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Yes it (applies to the other devices). Any complex piece of consumer grade hardware when it first comes out is little more than beta for a while. Perhaps Beta is too specific a term to apply correctly to the HR20 ...let's just say any new product (that is lucky enough to have a development cycle) early in its development, is going to share a common set of "challenges".

This isn't a criticism and not necessarily a bad thing...just the reality of it all. No new model of ANYTHING is without its developmental issues. This is especially true of firmware based devices. (although lots of firmware based devices don't have any development and have the same deficiencies and bugs they had on initial release)

I'm VERY pleased with D*'s progress with the HR20. Effort continues, fixes continue, some new problems get introduced, some old problems don't get fixed (in every environment), and a few new features are enabled without new problems. The updates are relatively frequent. Admittedly, this process could be very difficult for the less geeky among us. I would hate to be without the kind of feedback/discussion/suppport that we have on this forum (if I were having problems).

All I can say to the O.P. is that it is unfortunate that D* didn't warn you that you were an early adopter and subject to some "issues". On the other side, caveat emptor, especially with any new product. It is my experience, things rarely go smoothly with initial releases of new hardware/firmware.

The good news is that it appears that virtually all the HR20 issues are resolvable and they are being worked on and fixes released. Things could be MUCH worse (been there done that, more than once)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks for the replies. I just think that DirecTV released it waaay early. I can't imagine putting the box I have in the hands of someone with no technical knowledge - ie a standard user. And DTV is not really adding the disclaimer that they need to be adding when folks call in to order this thing. Truly, I think they have until the end of '07 before it's even close to ready for wide release. Just my opinion of course.

As far as - how it helps to say how great my Tivo is? I'm just saying that the thing is rock solid. My point is that many of the folks going to the HR20 are moving away from the DirecTivo's. I think your average DirecTivo user is going to be EXTREMELY disappointed in the HR20 and if my post helps them realize the limitations of this thing before they go to the expense and trouble of ordering one, then I think that's a good thing. Once you get past the incredible picture, there are serious issues. It's not consumer ready IMO. I worked on a Cable Phone product back in 1995 and that was brand new technology at the time. Granted, far less complex than this box, but really, we wouldn't have let the thing out of the development lab into the test lab with the kinds of issues users are seeing on the HR20.

1) Have you validated that you are running iwth the latest firmware version?
Yep, it upgraded last Wednesday when I first installed it to the 0xfa.

2) Was your unit reset after the updates to the latest firmware was loaded?
Yes

3) Are you running this unit on the exact same cable lines and with the same multiswitch as the previous device?
Lines No, multiswitch no. Multiswitch was upgraded and 2 new lines run for the HR20. Tivos continue to perform as always on the same new multiswitch.

4) Did you try a full reset/reformat?
That's what tech support wants me to do and their attitude when telling me that was basically - we don't know what the heck is wrong hopefully this will fix it. After you spend a couple of hours setting everything up, that's not really what you want to hear. When I'm ready to ship it back, that will be my last ditch effort.

Good info regarding the Tivo3's. I have not looked very closely at them, so perhaps they are just as bad. If so, I'll watch live OTA HDTV for a couple of years when I need my HD fix and continue using my DirecTivos while the HD DVR technology settles out. When this HR20 forum settles way down, I'll know it's time to give it another shot.....
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
mnassour said:
I'm sorry, but if you've got an HR20, you're part of the beta group. If you weren't, this forum wouldn't exist.
That's all good and well, but it's DirecTV's job to tell me this - it's not my job to scour the internet searching to see if the product is essentially still in Beta. I read a couple of basic reviews - Cnet, something else. They said the thing is pretty good - I believed them and ordered it. When the problems started, then I looked at this forum to see if it was just me. It wasn't.
 

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Your experience is par for the course. The software in this unit is half baked. The unit failed to record the Cal Stanford game on Saturday and whiffed on recording the Cowboy game yesterday. I am paying way too much money for NFL Season Ticket, and the HD package to wave my hands and accept that this is new technology so the early adopters must be patient with unfinished software. Last time I checked D* successfully billed me in full for all of the services I have signed up for. If they can bill me in full, they can serve me in full. This is NOT happening.

Fact 1: This is not new technology. Disk based recorders have been around for many many years. The HR20 cannot perform the most rudimentary functions of a DVR reliably. So stop apologizing for the performance of a dreadfully implemented software platform. Paying customers do not deserve such treatment.

Fact 2: D* customer service admits that the software problems are system wide, not isolated incidents. But only after being confronted with a request for a replacement unit.

Fact 3: The UI lacks the most basic elements. Such as making a sound to acknowledge a button press. I would love to look at the algorithm for detecting switch closures as well as the variable delay in the HR20 for processing user input is a problem that has been solved by thousands of consumer devices (including Tivo) for decades.

I am glad that the development team is continuinig to release updates to attempt to rectify these problems. But as I have stated in other threads, this software should have never passed the QA process and been deployed into an extremely diverse set of configurations in the field. Basically, the HR20 was set to fail by the management teams decision to deploy too early.

I have read many posts complimenting the progress that has been made, I cannot echo those sentiments. The basic functionality issues that were there months ago with regard to recording programs reliably still exist today. That doesn't earn a passing grade.

factually yours,
rda
 

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I'm sorry, the HR20 sucks so far. If my wife bought this thing without me around to figure out how to reset it and check this forum for problems she wouldn't be watching it right now.

The good news is that this forum is here to help figure it out. Without this forum and just D* it would be 10X worst. Still this thing sould not have been sold to just anyone.

I have many problems with my HR20 too. I am going to do a complete reset and format the harddrive and see if that clears up things. Could be that the factory software getting upgraded isn't the best way to go. Old windows upgrades never worked that great and I'm guessing that going for a complete reset may clean up things and make it more stable.

It's all fun for us that like to mess with things like this. It would be a big mess for the person that doesn't know anything about these things like my wife or most of the people in the are going to get one of these HR20's.

Bret
 

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Richa65

You post is right on the money, despite those saying otherwise. And, believe it or not, mine is currently working (I think I just got lucky, to be honest. It did have BSOD issues early on, as well as some other freeze-ups). I still have no true confidence in the HR20's reliability right now. I expect that sooner or later, it will go screwy again. Just a feeling. Bottom line is the issue that if people with no technical expertise who leased this box have problems, they will be clueless. And D* has depended on this forum to pass along critical information to its subs. Sad. If you want to really get a laugh, read D*s response to the negative user reviews that poured into CNET (in response to their positive review), calling the HR20 its "most successful product launch" ever. It's an amazing document. Total stonewalling propaganda. Yes, they are frantically trying hard to get it right, but they are failing miserably so far (time to don my flame retardant suit).
 

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richadam said:
Your experience is par for the course. The software in this unit is half baked. The unit failed to record the Cal Stanford game on Saturday and whiffed on recording the Cowboy game yesterday. I am paying way too much money for NFL Season Ticket, and the HD package to wave my hands and accept that this is new technology so the early adopters must be patient with unfinished software. Last time I checked D* successfully billed me in full for all of the services I have signed up for. If they can bill me in full, they can serve me in full. This is NOT happening.

Fact 1: This is not new technology. Disk based recorders have been around for many many years. The HR20 cannot perform the most rudimentary functions of a DVR reliably. So stop apologizing for the performance of a dreadfully implemented software platform. Paying customers do not deserve such treatment.

Fact 2: D* customer service admits that the software problems are system wide, not isolated incidents. But only after being confronted with a request for a replacement unit.

Fact 3: The UI lacks the most basic elements. Such as making a sound to acknowledge a button press. I would love to look at the algorithm for detecting switch closures as well as the variable delay in the HR20 for processing user input is a problem that has been solved by thousands of consumer devices (including Tivo) for decades.

I am glad that the development team is continuinig to release updates to attempt to rectify these problems. But as I have stated in other threads, this software should have never passed the QA process and been deployed into an extremely diverse set of configurations in the field. Basically, the HR20 was set to fail by the management teams decision to deploy too early.

I have read many posts complimenting the progress that has been made, I cannot echo those sentiments. The basic functionality issues that were there months ago with regard to recording programs reliably still exist today. That doesn't earn a passing grade.

factually yours,
rda
This software has all the hallmarks of reverse engineering a mature product from scratch. That is, the initial software requirements were met, but the user experience has not gone through the many, many small but crucial revisions to make a product world-class.
 

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richa65 said:
That's all good and well, but it's DirecTV's job to tell me this - it's not my job to scour the internet searching to see if the product is essentially still in Beta. I read a couple of basic reviews - Cnet, something else. They said the thing is pretty good - I believed them and ordered it. When the problems started, then I looked at this forum to see if it was just me. It wasn't.
I couldn't have said it better myself.

All I want to do is watch TV.....NOT redesign products and then hang out on the Internet all day long whining that I can't watch TV because the durned thing doesn't work.

And I don't think I'm the only one losing patience not only with the HR20, but with the entire process of software authoring as it relates to consumer products. For instance, it's not uncommon for autos to have software "upgrades" before they will run properly. Satellite receivers, well, we all know THAT sad story of which the HR20 is only the latest chapter. And the list goes on.

Personally, I'm convinced that garbage code like this is released knowingly, as the companies (not just DirecTV) figure that the money saved by having the initial customers beta-test will make up for the loss of goodwill they have to endure as we, the first customers, are more likely to buy the party line that faulty software is just part of getting a new product.

We've been sold a bill of goods by many different companies as different as car manufacturers and microwave oven makers. And my New Year's resolution is.....I'm not gonna take it any more.

Anytime a product, no matter WHAT it is, shows a software flaw and the manufacturer says "wait for the upgrade" I will IMMEDIATELY ship that product back. Gone. Toast. Pushin' up the daisies. Life is to short to be an unpaid betatester for mega-corporations.

I guess the irony of it is that PCs are the ONE product I'll have to exempt from the rule, as they were designed for software to be continually changed, that this is part of the normal life-cycle of the product.

But satellite receivers? Horsehockey! If DirecTV really EXPECTED to have this many upgrades in the first few months....and still have a box in as sorry shape as this one apparently is, well I might as well sign up with Dish. Maybe the hardware works no better, but when it does, you have more channels to watch.

Oh Lord no.....remember the first Dishplayer?:lol:
 

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Simply put, the HR 20 WAS released before it was ready. But it is not alone.
DirecTV has allowed themselves to be backed into a corner.
They had run out of bandwidth at a time when adding new HD channels is what is expected.
This required a massive, costly, and sadly not very well executed effort to move to correct this situation The HR-20 is but one part of whole system-wide failure. Three different Dish designs, and now we learn that most of the parts are not interchangeable creating a support nightmare for the repair guys. Deployment of very expensive MPEG encoders, that are not up to snuff and now they must be replaced.
Installers that do not understand the importance of how complicated this install is and just make up the rules as the go along. There is lots of evidence that most all of the new dishes are not aligned correctly. There is a total lack of knowledge of how the new MPEG 4 system affects the operation of the customer equipment as evidenced by how people here report more issues in MPEG 4 markets than out of them.
One can go on and on here. The simple fact is that the whole deployment here is rushed and not well understood. The HR-20 is only one part of a whole total failure.

As was stated ,customers should have no part of this. We pay to be provided TV to watch. While I am a System Engineer by trade and if I am truthful ,I’d have to admit that I get off on trying to work through just these types of issues, for others there are too many issues for those who don’t want to be involved with ALPHA testing. I have a friend ,who is also in Atlanta ,and had a new HR-20 installed on Friday. He is not a “geek” and surely his wife is not. They just want to watch TV on their new Plasma. I asked him yesterday how his HR -20 was, this is his response:

“long story.....i just landed in LA so I will send you an update....long story short....it is still not working. Guy was an idiot and I don't think the dvr was working right. Supposed to get a new one today”


Is that what DirecTV thinks is going to keep customers happy? I know his wife…. Cable is on her mnd.
 
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