Trust but verify
ANYONE: is there any clue what the latest firmware update (Date: 07/01/13 - 243.19.20) does?
SOMETHING TO BE AWARE OF: any time the PHD-VRX fails to complete a recording due to power failure or shutdown, or some other causes, it doesn't write the description and user-alterable file name into the disk file called "record." You can play such files from the VIDEO list, but not from the RECORDINGS list, which shows the contents of the "record" file. As a result, they cannot be deleted without being able to connect the drive to an ext2-capable computer or formatting the drive and erasing everything.
I've also noted that using a computer to remove a recording that IS listed in the RECORDINGS list (both the .MPG file and its associated .NAV file) leaves the item in the list; the zero-length file is the clue that you can safely delete the entry from the list without screwing up anything.
Krydor: many users report lockups in a variety of situations - for me it was when watching or changing schedules while recordings were in progress or just ending. I've been hoping the buffered drive would eliminate some of them - they weren't very frequent. None since the new drive, and fingers crossed so far.
Some people think (I monitor a very busy US ePivision forum as well) it involves overheating, as I see most of those with frequent problems have mounted their drives internally or allowed the unit to power their external drives; mine uses a separate power supply. And the recorder sits where the AC outlet keeps it cool, even in fan mode in winter. (In single-glazed Vancouver, things can get pretty cold close to the windows, so I keep the fan stirring things up.) Some others have solved their problems with faster hard drives if they had marginally fast ones.
The PHD-VRX has to tune in each station to get guide detail, and it only has two tuners, so I wouldn't expect it to be able to switch tuners in guide mode. I can't be sure why, though.
The recordings list is annoying in that it only pushes forward the scheduled date if it has done a recording - in the LISTING. The future recordings work even if the listing date is wrong. For example, a M-F recording won't advance its listing on a weekend, and a weekly won't advance its date if I skip a week's recording by marking it inactive, but the lower box that describes the recording (for example, Sat/Sun or M-F or Everyday) will still tell the truth. Don't worry if the date shown is not the next one coming up. As always, make tests on unimportant recordings or, as I do, use a VHS backup device for important ones.
I still sometimes find recordings don't happen when there's no gap between shows on both tuners, despite the vendor's insistence that the problem was fixed. I start my evening news recordings at 10:01 and 11:01pm as a result, happy to miss the intro pre-cap of the top stories.
The PHD-VRX treats the first-recognized USB device as the recording device usba, and gives it exclusive access to the recording functions to that device, including the disk-management functions in the QUICK-button menu. A second device on usbb (including a networked one) can only be used for playback. It can only be accessed through the VIDEO list, which has no Delete function.
When I boot the PHD-VRX with two devices connected to USB inputs, it selects USB1 as the usba (primary) device, though I don't know if that relates to the speed with which they identify themselves.
Guess what? Using a USB mini-hub (watch the power limits!) allows you to plug in more low-power USB devices such as dongles, recognizing them as usbc, usbd and possibly more! They appear in the Select Device box and play. Of course, you can't record on them.
So far, I have not found any USB memory dongles that can record fast enough to capture even one stream without drop-outs.