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Old 2013-11-25, 08:05 PM   #541
laridae
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Default Homeworx 150

So, I installed new firmware in my HW 150 today; upgrading from V3 to V10. Firstly, let me say I'm impressed with the support provided by the company and their quick response to my emails. Their product may not be the greatest but they are certainly knocking themselves out to support it.

Running on V10 the machine is now more stable and less buggy - it doesn't hang on the timer page like it used to. The biggest remaining issue is no signal pass-through unless machine is On. Perhaps that's a hardware issue that they can't fix with firmware, I don't know.

I miss my old Sony PVR and would gladly have kept using it if I hadn't decided to cut the cable this month rendering it obsolete. My original intention was to purchase an OTA digital tuner to put in front of the Sony so I could keep using it, recognizing I would have to pre-tune channels manually. I couldn't believe it when I found the HW 150 would not only tune but also record to my HD, and all for $60! The wife's not too happy with the cludgy UI, but hey, the whole idea behind cutting the cable is to save money on live TV which we rarely watch.

The 3rd function of the HW 150 was supposed to act as a media server for other types of media files; photos, music and videos obtained elsewhere and not recorded by this device. A quick test revealed that while it does play back some of my movie and TV recordings, there are others that it will not play, or even list in the directory. Those I must continue to play through the USB media support directly into my Samsung Series 5.
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Old 2013-11-27, 03:05 PM   #542
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After installing firmware upgrade V10 I also asked Mediasonic/Homeworx to send me any future firmware upgrades for the HW 150 PVR and this was the reply I got;

Hi,
V10 will be the only update
as it fixed the time and recording issues,
no more update will come
regards

So, I guess we're stuck with the remaining issues - no pass-through unless set is On, no renaming shows recording, recordings lost, recordings cutoff if channel changed, etc ....
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Old 2013-11-29, 07:12 PM   #543
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Bought a PDH-VRX2 online today. Looking forward to seeing what it can do. The multiple inputs make this one exactly what I want to use.

It looks like it's as close to a TiVo as you can get without it being a TiVo.
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Old 2013-11-29, 09:23 PM   #544
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Well good luck with your new PDH-VRX2 and let us all know how it turns out.
There's a real shortage of OTA PVR's so we need all the info we can get.
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Old 2013-12-03, 04:23 PM   #545
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Default PHD-VRX2

Hi all,

Looking for some advice on OTA PVR's. My wife currently uses a Panasonic DMR-EZ28 DVD recorder to record TV programs OTA onto DVD-RW's. Her TV is a Sony KDL-32L4000 which is a 720P display. The Panasonic is buggier then a nest full of bees and sometimes drives here nuts. I was wondering how the PHD-VRX2 would work with an 2Tb external hard drive. It would be a xmas gift but I don't want to buy another lemon. I was going to order it through Save and Replay. Has anyone had much experience with this unit?

Thanks Dan
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Old 2013-12-05, 04:53 AM   #546
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==> MetroDand: The PHD-VRX can use USB-interface hard drives (or regular ones through an adapter) of up to 2TB in size, but not bigger; it can do USB 2.0 but not 3.0. In any case, you should format it to ext2, rather than NTFS, Fat or Mac. The OSX file system is actually an ext3 system with fake pseudo-Mac metadata forks added. ext2, unlike the newer ext3, NTFS or FAT, is NOT a journaling file system, so it has a lot less overhead (and thus better throughput) while recording.

I format USB drives to ext2 to carry around PHD-VRX files, since FAT/NT only accommodates 4GB files or smaller. A 64GB dongle will hold about three full-length movies, or about 50-60 as .AVI or .MP4 files.

I note that Buffalo has a 2TB USB external hard drive (not a portable, which would probably be slower and less reliable) with 1 gig or two of DDRAM in it for media buffering. That looks to be an ideal unit for a media drive, as it will probably completely prevent overruns when recording, even if other things are keeping the PHD-VRX busy. It's $159 at LD (who have a special till Dec. 11 on the non-DDR version for $109) but I'm waiting to see if there's a Boxing Day deal.

BTW, Save & Replay told me they wouldn't import the 4-device remote coded for the PHD-VRX into Canada, so I'm having someone in Seattle get me one.

==> Rosenqui: I dunno - I wouldn't think that anything dependent on a subscription (even if it's just for guide data, if that's your deal-breaker) could be attractive to cord-cutters. Looks like a cord to me.

===> Krydor (and anyone else who gets a PHD-VRX2): the original PHD-VRX's composite outlet rescales images to full-height, so the image sent to a TV set by composite output looks vertically stretched, and the PHS-VRX's aspect controls don't affect the composite output. I can accept that I will still have to use an HD set to see the menus and controls, but it would be nice to be able to record to a VCR without the stretching.

Can anyone tell us if the new component output on the PHD-VRX2 can properly display a full-height image? One CAN record the stretched image and re-size it on playback, but that means always having an aspect-adjusting display for playback.

====> I'm still pretty happy with my PHD-VRX, though I acknowledge that it's a lot easier if one is a computer expert, a Linux user and the owner of a suitable computer to transfer files to and from the device. (Not to mention to erase fragmentary recordings that didn't get entered in the "Media Player/Recordings" list because they didn't complete properly; these can be viewed from the "Media Player/Video" list - but not deleted there!

It's the massive size of the files and the hundred or so VHS tapes that make me want to dump some programs to VHS if they're not quality-intensive. Wish I had a decent way to down-rez files on the computer. FFMPEG seems to want to take about a day and a night to convert an hour of HD vid on my machine... time to upgrade?
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Last edited by Ed Bear; 2013-12-05 at 04:56 AM. Reason: bracket balancing
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Old 2013-12-13, 10:32 AM   #547
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PHD-VRX2 Initial Reaction

Not quite what I was expecting. Does not scale HDMI properly, in that the edges of the menu are in overscan. The picture can be resized, but it is frustrating.

Does not resolve recording conflicts automatically, in spite of there being dual tuners, you have to switch to the other tuner to set up the other set of records.

When in dual record mode, you can't switch to different inputs. ie, if I wanted to use the VGA input to mess around on the computer, it doesn't allow it.

More to come.

[eta]

does work with media servers, specifically Tversity. Does not work with Playon.

Last edited by Krydor; 2013-12-13 at 04:10 PM. Reason: adding stuff
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Old 2013-12-13, 05:21 PM   #548
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METRODAND: I've picked up one of those 2TB Buffalo Drivestation DDR units, and am happy so far. It's compact - barely the size of a 3.5" naked drive - black and with no red LED (the blue and green are less glaring; don't want to cover the LEDs because one wants to see when things like file deletion are complete) to distract the viewer, and has a THREE-YEAR guarantee. Let's face it, I'm going to beat this thing to death 24/7, and regularly carry it over to the computer for file management.

I did notice one effect of the new drive's speed: when I was playing a recorded program while another was being recorded, and the recording ended as playback continued, my PHD-VRX' display would switch from REC-1 (or 2, or 2-1) to REC and stay that way until I stopped my playback. Now - perhaps because of subtle timing issues - the display switches back to the appropriate channel number when recordings end. Are others seeing the stuck-REC display?

My old Seagate Barracuda 250 GB tested at 24MB/sec on the PHD-VRX, but is old enough that error retries were probably slowing it down at times. The Drivestation DDR, of course, can't be benchmarked even after recording for an hour, because the test data probably never get out of the buffer before being read. The test result is randomly, impossibly large.

In fact, I have several drive that wouldn't benchmark correctly unless I first let them record for a minute or two to fill their internal buffers and force the disk to start writing. That's why I tried that with the Drivestation, but to no avail..

KRYDOR: the PHD-VRX can't switch inputs because it needs to keep reading the tuners, I expect. But my TV also has a VGA input - check if yours does? Also check to see if your computer's video card also has an HDMI or DVD-D output you can use to feed the TV; the quality is MUCH better than VGA.

Similarly, check if your TV has aspect modes that can be re-set to show the default PHD-VRX menus properly. My Sharp TV is even nice enough to remember different aspect settings for each input (VCR, PHD-VRX, DVD etc).

I know that none of this will be helpful if you're using an older TV, alas.

Note that you do NOT have to switch tuners when create recordings in MANUAL mode - only when using the Guide. When doing a number of changes to your schedule, it's easier to go Manual. As most of my recordings are further in the future than the PIPS data, I usually go manual anyway.

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Last edited by Ed Bear; 2013-12-13 at 05:30 PM. Reason: add detail after checking references.
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Old 2013-12-13, 11:52 PM   #549
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Ed,

Oddly, I can stream via my server with no issues while recording, on both tuners, so I don't think it's necessary to block input changes. The interface itself is kind of kludgy. The quick button just takes you to the hard drive, instead of asking you to choose.

There are clearly some ways the guide can be improved, and I'm hoping for a partnership with Zap2it or something of the like. Not stoked with the idea of setting timers every week to ensure new records happen, or that there are only 28 active timers at a time.

The idea was an all in one DVR for me. I'm still running my HTPC directly to the TV, but I was hoping to end up with fewer remotes. Let's hope there's some new firmware in the future.
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Old 2013-12-14, 03:44 PM   #550
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New issue popped up with my PHD-VRX2: locks up for no apparent reason. Can't change channels, can't pause stuff, just power down. Power it back up and it works fine for a few minutes but will lock up again. It may be a clock issue.
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Old 2013-12-19, 07:37 PM   #551
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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.
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Old 2013-12-20, 06:47 PM   #552
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Well, Ed, in my emails back and forth with the folks at ePvision it looks like I have the latest firmware.

They are trying to recreate my issue but it is clearly a network issue. Ran it with no lockups for days, plugged in a network cable and it locked up.

Weird problem manifested during a double record. I have a WD Passport that I'm using to move shows back and forth because I can't use my media server due to network connectivity. The machine thinks that drive is there for the purpose of recording and will not record if I'm watching something on that drive.

The inability to remove broken records remains in this firmware.

Overall, I like it. That network issue isn't a deal breaker just yet, but if the firmware update scheduled for the new year doesn't fix it, I'll be displeased.
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Old 2013-12-25, 02:37 AM   #553
Ed Bear
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Well, I bit the bullet and flashed the new PHD-VRX 243.23.31 software into my PHD-VRX. The only change I've noticed so far is that I can now benchmark drives that previously gave gibberish results for speed - though my new Buffalo DriveStation DDR benchmarks at the same 24MB/sec as the old Seagate Barracuda. Once the buffer's filled, you can's get any faster, and the actual drive reads and writes seem to be at about the same speed. But there are no retry hiccups from disk re-reads once the buffer's full.

Fast-forward and Rewind play are still jerky, as one is flushing (or discarding) the buffer contents when jumping around in the stream, I imagine. Fast-forward has always been jerky with most digital players, as the intervening frames must be decoded even if one is not showing them. In normal-speed play, the frames are not shown faster than they can be decoded.

I expected to lose all my stored recording events, as when I did the March update, but this time my channel maps were not lost - just the names I'd applied to them. I use slightly different names for the same channel on each of the two tuners, which helps keep me mindful of which tuner I'm booking.

And turning the unit off with the main POWER button didn't nuke my time setting this time!

Again, when I'm putting in new stored recording events, strange things happen. The tuner, station and times sometimes are replaced (AFTER saving) by data from adjacent or nearby events. This could be an index pointing to the record that's not being properly maintained. It's a pain. I've developed the habit of checking the next day's recording daily. This is a problem I often have when adding more than one or two events, sometimes have in a single addition, and have found no logical clues to while experimenting.

Has anyone ever had similar problems? As far as we can tell, the stored recordings are in the unit, not on the USB device, as they can be managed with no USB device active.

There's no noticeable effect, as yet, on such things as glitchy starts on playback.

I've also gotten my friend to order the companion remote, though I won't see it until someone in Seattle come up to visit and bring it.

Krydor: again, you can delete files not registered as RECORDINGS using a computer to access their file names directly. Make sure you note the names and sizes of the files you want to delete, as you won't be able to use the RECORDINGS name on your computer. The VIDEO list will supply that name along with previewing the file to make sure it's what you want.

I never have a problem with programmed recordings starting while I'm playing something back. I haven't been able to check whether the channel display returns when a recording ends yet.
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So far this evening no problem recording the following:

1. GLOBAL-8 on Tuner 1, 10pm-11pm (the BOMB GIRLS slot, though it's xmas junk tonight)
2. CBC-2 on Tuner 2, 10:01pm-11:32pm (weekday CBC news)
3. CTV-32 on Tuner 1, 11:01pm-12:03am (everyday CTV news)

The first and second have completed successfully. The next new recording will be:

4. CTC-31 on Tuner 1, 12:05am-12:36am (THE DAILY SHOW with Jon Stewart)
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Old 2013-12-27, 09:19 PM   #554
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Ed,

It's not a question of being able to delete files, it's a question of having to detach the drive, hook it to a PC running Linux (because USB is faster in Linux) and then delete the broken recordings.
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Old 2013-12-28, 03:20 AM   #555
Ed Bear
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No argument there, Krydor. Full file management would be nice. At least it doesn't require having a Mac or Windoesn't machine for those chores!

I had a second (the first about two months back, with previous hard drive and firmware) incident that left files cross-linked. The machine locked up when it began to record while I was playing - during the interactive time when it was asking me if it was OK to change the channel. As a result, the file I was watching suddenly started playing an earlier one I had recorded. Both file entries now lead to the munged combo file, which says it's 5 hours long but is only an hour if played. The index figures and progress bar both change as one passes from the first fragment to the second.
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