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Discussion Starter #1
I have seen a number of people asking if they should purchase the SA 8000hd or 8300hd. While it might seem tempting to avoid the $25 rental fee per month, I am just offering my opinion that you should think twice about doing it.

I have rented 8 different boxes and they have all broken. I rented the 8000hd when it first came out, and the first 3 boxes that i rented were broken as soon as I plugged them in (ie they didn't work right off the bat). I obviously was able to exchange and "try again", but someone who purchases maynot be able to do this. I then rented another 8000hd, which broke after a month or two (with of course saved recordings on the Hard drive that i couldn't retrieve). This happened 1 more time before i moved to the 8300hd (this time I had previous recordings of 24 on it that I hadn't watched and couldn't retrieve - therefore, I lost those recordings!). Now, I am on my third 8300hd, and it wasn't working again this morning (after only having it since last Friday). This morning, the display, instead of displaying the clock, had numbers that were counting.

I'm not sure what happens upon purchasing it, but if you can't simply exchange the item at Rogers and have to go through some warranty BS, I would think twice.

Paul
 

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I had an 8000SD since the day they were available without any problems. I have had an 8300HD for a couple of weeks now with no problems.

I have been renting the whole time. I was also renting 2 regular SD terminals since the day digital cable was available (over 5 years now I think) up until about 1 month ago. I have not had to return any terminals other than to upgrade to the newer model. I think I have paid about $1500 in rental fees so far for all these terminals.

It is definately nice to be able to upgrade models whenever you want and have the security of not having to working about them breaking but I don't know if it is always worth it to rent. The 8300HD seems to be something that there may not be much more to upgrade to in the near future (ok there is the multiroom 8300HD but many people wouldn't care about that). You can always pay the extra warranty fee to be more safe.

-Darryl
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I have never had any problem with the standard definition boxes. I cannot explain why this is happening here, but then again, neither can Rogers. They simply replace, or come out, take a look at my setup, and then replace. When you have something for less than a week and it breaks down (which has happened 5 times to me), you start questionning how reliable it would be to buy. You're right - you could purchase the extra warranty, and if that allows you to go ahead and exchange on demand, then that would be the way to go. I'm just letting people know that there's more to it (potentially) than just comparing the rental fees to the purchase.

PAB
 

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Sounds pretty strange. I have a purchased 8000SD since it was available and a rented 8000HD since it was available-- not a single problem. (well, other than the well-known ones!)
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I guess I've been a little unlucky with it. I just noticed that the problem with my 8th box has been fixed as it is no longer counting continuously and is displaying the clock again. Based on another thread here, it appears that this has happened to others and may have been a firmware upgrade.

PAB
 

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Pab,
I certainly won't argue with you; I've been renting my 8000HD since June and still am on the fence as to whether
to buy(probably the 8300HD) or not.

But...
1. as you said yourself - the most recent problem was probably the firmware upgrade, so no "real" problem

2. if you've gone through several STB's in such a short time
then maybe there is sth else at play here: maybe you're
having problems with power(unstable voltage) or cable
in your area, and maybe the box is getting zapped somehow.
Just a thought worth considering...

That being said, I've had a few issues with my 8000HD, too.
I seem to have a bad sector on the HDD, most likely towards the end of the disk, which makes the STB freeze
whenever I start playing a recording on it. I sort of lucked
out in finding a temporary fix for it by recording a short, 20 min. segment on it. Now that I know which one it is - I just
keep that recording indefinitely and make other recordings
"around it".
Also, FWIW, my component connection to my tv went dead right after the firmware upgrade, but I figured out that must have been because I also had a DVI cable connected between the STB and the tv. As soon as I activated the DVI input on the tv - I got my picture again that way(I remembered from my times with the 3250 that you could
only get one of the two: either the component or the DVI).
 

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Take it from someone who knows, technology changes so quickly these days that renting is the way to go. You will never have obsolete equipment and you don't have to worry about expired warranties.

VIP members can rent a PVR for under $15.00 / month !
 

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electronics_tech said:
Take it from someone who knows, technology changes so quickly these days that renting is the way to go.
If having the 'latest and greatest' is your thing, then this makes some sense. But not everyone is a technophile (and its not hard to make a pursuasive case that technophelia is a waste of money for some applications).

For example, its worth pointing out that PVR market is different from other systems where regular upgrades make some degree of sense (like computers): The task of dumping HD data to a file and decoding HD material for playback is NOT rapidly changing and demanding higher and higher spec. from the PVR equipment (unlike computer gaming and animation for example).

I am happy if my PVR records the 2-3 programs I watch without audio drops and pixelling. Lately, the 8300HD seems to be doing a fine job. And if the 8300 never had pixelling and had flawless firmware from the start, I suspect many would consider purchasing over renting.

Assuming the 8300 works according to spec (no pixelling), then there is little for me to gain by owning a new PVR when new ones are available. A new PVR won't write better files to the hard drive...so what's the point? If my 8300 works without pixelling for the next 2-3 years, then I would be happy to keep it for that long.

You will never have obsolete equipment and you don't have to worry about expired warranties.
So do you lease your home computer too? If not, why not? Certainly the same arguments apply.

Like automobiles, you always pay a premium for the kind of convenience you are talking about. In this case, you are paying $300/year (unless you are VIP...but, for me, that would mean paying for a heck of alot more than what I would be using). And in two years time, the price of the PVR's will decrease significantly making this whole argument academic.

Cheers,

Mike Flynn
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I think the title of this thread might not have been the best choice. Since I have obviously gone back to Rogers for these boxes even after they have had problems, it is easy to see that there is some (in fact a lot) of benefit to them. To be able to record HD and 5.1 is awesome! My Tivo, although I love it, can't do that and therefore I'll always need to have HD/5.1 recording ability in addition to the Tivo.

My first post was trying to make the point that there is more to consider than simply rental fee vs. purchase price (which is how a number of posts here are worded). If it is purchased, then how does it get replaced if (or in my case when) it breaks? if it is an easy replacement from the store it was purchased at it, then no problem - look at it as a rental vs a purchase price thing. if not, then there is more to consider.

57, thanks for the point about the heat. I saw that in your faq's and will definitely have to move the box (not as easy as it sounds since I've got to move some other equipment around too). i'm also having a cable guy come over today to check on the pixelation on some channels that comes and goes. Maybe when he checks on it, a problem with the cable might come up that will help solve the overall problem here. I hope so.

I'm not a technophile so take this with a grain of salt, but i don't think that this industry of HD recording is anywhere near being done in advancement, and can pickup pace at any time. I think there will be new and better things. I've seen in past recent readings of HT and S&V that a new version of HD has been discussed that is something like 5x better than current HD. This is not (for me) a reason not to buy today since this is in the future (probably far off), but the industry is still advancing. Not rapidly as Mike points out currently, but that CAN change.

PAB
 

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pab said:
If it is purchased, then how does it get replaced if (or in my case when) it breaks?
Bad HDDs will show up usually quite early in the life of the unit (within the 1 year warranty period). So in most cases its a non-issue. Hardware defects are not all that common for solid state electronics...but usually they will show up early as well.

If the unit is properly cooled, then its VERY unlikely to get a defect in the unit over the first few years. Remember that all the technology in the box is robust.

but i don't think that this industry of HD recording is anywhere near being done in advancement, and can pickup pace at any time.
No, you've got this wrong. All the PVR does when it records is dump a data stream to the hard drive...there is no compression/decompression cycle since the data arrives already compressed.

The existing hard disk file systems already have FAR MORE than the required specifications for recording HD programs.

The only area that can be improved is in the MPEG encoding and decoding process. We don't have to worry about encoding...thats a problem that the producers and broadcasters have to worry about. We do have to worry about the decoding process...but that process is a function of the encoding standards...which is unlikely to change anytime soon.

Think of it this way: Suppose we get a new MPEG standard that is incompatible with the existing decoders (say HD+). ABC can't just decide to broadcast all of their programs according to the new standard because all of their existing HD viewers won't be able to view the material. So the new standard must be phased in over extended periods of time...having HD+ channels compatible with HD+ decoders for the early adapters, etc.

The broadcasters and producers are busy enough trying to upgrade to EXISTING HD standards (and are still a few years away). They won't be upgrading all those cameras and hardware encoders any time soon.

Not rapidly as Mike points out currently, but that CAN change.
Yes...but there won't be any surprises any time soon. And all you need is 2 years out of your PVR to get your money's worth.

DVD hardware is a different story, since movie producers can produce limited quanties of (say) HD DVDs for the early adapters (at a premium) while still getting the bulk of their sales from owners of the older standard.

TV broadcasting is a different market altogether....and is not able to move with the kind of ferver that we see in other applications. it will move...and we will get broadcasters that 'downsample' to the older standard for a while. But the PVR you buy today will do for at least a couple of years. (and is already capable of handling FAR more than what most broadcasters are currently broadcasting.

Cheers,

Mike Flynn
 

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My 4th 8000 HD is acting up...

Gotta agree with Pab on this one. I would recommend to anybody out there to avoid these boxes (8000 HD and 8300 HD) like the plague. My experience is with Videotron, and I did buy the 8000 HD last May when it was new. Here is the rough timeline of my boxes:

#1 - was good for about a month and a half, until the hard drive completely died (ie, pressing pause or trying to record something resulted in the box doing absolutely nothing) and all I could watch was live TV. So, Videotron sent somebody over with box...

#2 - was good for 1 day, and then just constantly reset itself. A week later, Videotron came back and replaced it with box...

#3 - was good for about 4 months, though it wasn't as good as the others had been at their functional best. It had constant image and audio problems, where the image would freeze, the sound would make a loud crack, and then it would drop out. Then if the sound ever came back, it would certainly be out of sync. It almost seemed like some component in the box wasn't to spec and was unable to keep up with the data stream. After verifying that it wasn't a signal problem, Videotron finally came over with box...

#4 - this one worked perfectly for about 2 months, with minimal picture and sound problems. But then, suddenly in early January, the PVR functions stopped working altogether, though in a different manner than with box #1. This time, when I pressed pause, it would pause to a black screen, which would stay on even when I then pressed play. Also, when the PVR was supposedly recording, the red light would go on indicating that the HD is recording, but nothing would actually record. So again, as with box #1, I was limited to watching live TV. Then, inexplicably, the problem went away. It came back last week for about a week, then went away again.

Needless to say, I have absolutely no confidence in this product given the mind-blowing variety of problems that have come up with the boxes that I've had. The box is well ventilated, in a completely open TV stand with air flowing freely on all sides. There is no excuse for such a shoddy product, and I will be pursuing a refund from Videotron, because to me it is completely unacceptable that they keep replacing my defective unit with yet another defective unit until there is no warranty left.

I really like the theoretical functionality that the SA8000HD provides, but the actual executed product is way below the standard that I would expect for a $129 basic box, let alone the $869 that Videotron charged me in May!

This is quite the rambling first post...I'll try to be more concise next time. I hope the anger and frustration I've had with this box is coming through though!
 

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Debaser said:
My experience is with Videotron, and I did buy the 8000 HD last May when it was new. Here is the rough timeline of my boxes:
Ask them for a 8300HD next time. I did, and Rogers gave it to me at no extra cost.

Odd that some people seem plagued with problems like this while others have very different experiences.

Cheers,

Mike Flynn
 

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I would suggest that anyone who has had more than 2 STBs "go", have some other issues. Could be:

- Low signal strength
- improper ventillation of the STB
- poor power to the STB (not usually an issue, but could be in some cases)
- abuse (the box got "knocked around")

The failure rate on these boxes is not zero, but it's also not 50%. I believe I saw some stats that it may be 10%, which would put the STB "in line" with other electronics of this nature.
 

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It is odd! It seems people either have no problems, or tons of problems! For my part, the only defective SA terminal I've ever personally seen was my very first 2000HD. It would go crazy when it on for more than 30 minutes (obviously heat related). I thought the 3200 in my bedroom got fried somehow last month, but it turned out that I had disconnected the wrong cable in the basement :eek:
 

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57 said:
- improper ventillation of the STB
I bet this is a big problem for some people. People here seem to be suprised by having to do this. You cannot put a STB inside a closed, sealed cabinet and expect it to work well. I ran in to this problem right away when I got my first STB way back when. I put it in my cabinet on top of my VCR under my TV. It only worked for about a day and then I fuigured out it was overheating. Ever since then I keep my STB's on top of my TV with nothing on top of them.

-Darryl
 

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57 said:
I would suggest that anyone who has had more than 2 STBs "go", have some other issues. Could be:

- Low signal strength
- improper ventillation of the STB
- poor power to the STB (not usually an issue, but could be in some cases)
- abuse (the box got "knocked around")
I don't have any of these problems - the signal strength has been checked repeatedly by Videotron and is fine; the STB is on an unobstructed shelf; it is plugged directly into the wall as suggested by Videotron (and I'm in a new home that has no electrical problems - also, the STB draws less power than a number of items plugged into the same fuse), and the box NEVER gets "kicked around" - the only child in the house can't get close to reaching the box on its shelf.

All I can say is that either the failure rate on these things must be higher than usual, or Videotron has gotten all the bad ones.

One more detail - Videotron doesn't offer the 8300HD yet. The current offerings are the 8000HD and the 8300SD. I suspect that they're still trying to dump their 8000's before introducing the 8300.
 

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Debaser said:
All I can say is that either the failure rate on these things must be higher than usual, or Videotron has gotten all the bad ones.
Its not unusual for a particular shipment (say an early batch) to have a few more QC issues than later ones....or a shipment that has been knocked around during shipping.

My first 8300HD displayed tons of pixelling. I returned it for a new one (that came with a new shipment), and the problem was dramatically reduced the same day....and lately has been zero on my box (I am assuming firmware updates for the recent improvements).

The issues you are experiencing are hardware related (instead of firmware based)....and seems indicative of a bad batch...or a batch that has been damaged during shipping to your area. It might be worthwhile to check in with other users in your area to see if they have similar problems (check the frequency of returns with videotron).

As for the 8300HD not being available...I would ask that they order one for you. You've been patient enough...they owe you some latitude IMO.

Cheers,

Mike Flynn
 

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mike infinity said:
As for the 8300HD not being available...I would ask that they order one for you. You've been patient enough...they owe you some latitude IMO.

Mike, I'll probably wind up doing that - there are many who wouldn't be as patient as I've been with them, and we do pay them enough for their service, so the least they owe me is the option to try a different box. Hopefully the 8300HD *can* be used on their network - if it hasn't been introduced, the network may not be set up to recognize it. That being said, the 8300 will (hopefully) be out eventually here...
 
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