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Edit - 2007.08.24: This thread has not been updated in quite a while. Many of the tricks are no longer required since the latest firmware solved many of the issues. See the following threads for addditional information:

SA8300HD Issues

Latest Firmware - Resolved issues and new features

Tips for SA STBs.



The following list is a summary various Tips and Tricks for the SA83000HD (and most work for the SA8000HD). Much of this started from SA8000HD posts by AVS Member vegggas with his approval to repost. Additional information has been added by others and by me. Here goes.

Additional disclaimer - some of these may not work, depending on your service provider and firmware version.

Slow Motion Mode. While viewing a recorded program, press Play a second time to enter Slow Motion mode.

Frame Advance Mode. While viewing a recorded program, press Pause, the FF/REW buttons now become Frame Advance buttons.

Getting rid of the bar graph Hit the exit key. If you are doing the frame advance trick, you can get rid of the bar graph by hitting the exit key immediately after hitting FF key. The bar will stay away until you're finished with the frame advance.

Fast Forward/Rewind. Pressing the FF or REW button starts the desired action. But did you know you can press them up to 4 times to increase the speed? The FF speeds on our (Rogers) unit are 4X, 10X, 30X and 128X.

Mimic Tivo Jump-Back. Tivo users have gotten used to the way it 'jumps back' a few seconds when you hit Play after fast forwarding. You can mimic this behavior by hitting the Replay button, the one with the curved arrow on it, instead of the Play button. This will bounce you back a few seconds and resume normal speed from there. So, when you see the show come back on, hit the Replay button and it should start playing near the fade-to-black between the last commercial and the program. Once you get the hang of it, it will become quite natural. (DravenStone)

However, I don't know whether you've noticed but if you use this, the next time you try to FF, you will be given the "next" FF speed from the one you were previously using, rather than FF1.

Lets call the 3 FF speeds FF1, FF2, FF3. If you were on FF2, hit jumpback, then watch some of the show and then hit FF, you will get FF3 instead of FF1. (may depend on the firmware). Workaround is to hit play, then jumpback.

Disappearing Diagnostic Window. Enter diagnostic mode by pressing/holding the SELECT button on the front of the unit until the Mail LED lights, then press the INFO button. While in diagnostic mode you can change the transparency of the screens by pressing the Select button on the front of the box (or the blue "B" button on the remot). It goes from 100% opaque to about 50% opaque to about 5% opaque. You can then use the Page Up/Down button on the remote or unit to cycle through screens. This is useful when changing channels, noting signal levels/PQ, or trying to see levels fluctuate as glitches occur.

LaZy Man's Diagnostic Mode. You can enter the diagnostic mode from the couch! Be careful with this one though, it may do other accidental things if you press the wrong buttons. Press and hold the Pause button until the Mail light starts to flash (around 10-15 seconds). Press Page Up and you will enter the diagnostic screens. This does not appear to affect the buffer or recording in progress.

Forced Reboot (without unplugging unit). On the front of the box, press and hold both the VOL+ and VOL- buttons, then press the INFO button.

Skip To End 1. Let's say you schedule the recording of a program and go out for dinner. When you get home, you begin watching the recorded program from the beginning while the rest is still recording. When the recording ends, you are 'kicked out' of your viewing. You then have to reselect the program from the list of recorded programs, but the only option is to start viewing from the beginning again. You can FF through to the point where you left off, but if it's a 2-hour program and you were 10 minutes from the end, FF can take some time. However, at this point, if you press Stop you will be given more options (Restart, Archive to VCR, Erase, Skip to End). If you choose Skip To End and then use REW, you can get back to the point where you left off a lot quicker. Remember that pressing the REW button 3 times increases the rewind speed. You may need to avert your eyes so that you don't see the end of the programme.

Skip To End 2. Another option. If you happen to be watching the clock and you know the recording is about to end, simply press Pause and wait for the recording to end. Once the clock ticks, you can press Play and view from the point where you paused. NOTE: You *might* have to be inside the buffer for this to work though. (DravenStone)

Skip To End 3. Skip To Beginning Workaround. Another option. Stop the current recording and save it (usually during a commercial). Then start a "new" recording to finish the program. You can then view the first part from the beginning and then view the second part, either in progress or from the beginning after it finishes. While it is annoying to divide the recording into segments, at least you can easily skip to the beginning without rewinding, certainly a useful feature for time-shifting. (Northern Lights)

Skip To End 4. Edit the recording to extend the recording time by an hour or two. This way you'll have plenty of time to completely watch the recording and won't get "kicked out".

Checking Status Of Current Recording. You can use PIP to check on the status of a program that is currently being recorded. The recording program will be displayed in the PIP window. If you are watching a program that is being recorded while recording a second program, the second program will be displayed in the PIP window.

Program In Progress Recording Bug Workaround. Most times you can start recording a program you are watching by simply pressing the Record button, editing the settings, and then accepting them. However, there appears to be a problem when the program you are watching started before midnight and it is after midnight when you want to start the recording. Simply put, nothing happens. The recording doesn't start and the program does not show up in the LIST. We believe there might be a workaround. (DMorgan486)

  • The easiest way to avoid this bug is to simply record the program even if you are going to watch it. This requires you to FF to the point where you want to start watching from, and this can take some time, but it's better than missing the end of the program.

  • Another way is to press the Record button and edit the Start time to start the recording from the current time. NOTE: This has not yet been tested.

Program Distribution. The 8300HD has 2 tuners and 2 outputs that can ALL be used at the same time. The Archive To VCR option does not have to be used only with a VCR. You can connect another TV (or VCR) in another room to the output connections and then view a downconverted pre-recorded program using the Archive To VCR option. At the same time, you can view a different recorded program on the main TV. However, it doesn't stop there. You can still record two other programs at the same time. You could easily send a recorded show to another room for your spouse/kids to watch while you watch a recorded/live program on the main TV without the fear of blocking any other recordings. NOTE: I have not tested this myself, but others have, including one who streams programs to a central PC for further distribution/remote control.

Viewing A Third Program. No matter how many tuners the 8300HD has (2), there are times when they are simply not enough (how many are? ). Oftentimes, you will already be recording 2 programs and you want to watch (or even record) just one more. Well, you still can, but you will be limited to OTA or analog cable channels and SD resolution. There is nothing to keep you from hooking up an antenna to the ANT input on your TV and switching to that input to view a third program. There is also nothing to keep you from splitting your cable and running a second line to your TV to do the same thing. There is also nothing to keep you from running that second line to a VCR and then to your TV to view/record the third program. (DMorgan486)

Audio Out Using HDMI Connection. An HDMI>HDMI or HDMI>DVI connection will automatically select 2 channel stereo if your TV does not support Dolby Digital (DD). In order to restore DD audio out to your receiver, you need to change the automatic setting. Press the Settings button twice and scroll to Audio: Digital Out. Change the setting from HDMI to Dolby Digital. This will force DD audio to the HDMI, as well as the digital/optical audio outs.

Removing Bars On SD Channels. As the 8300 comes set up from the factory, you get side bars on non-HD channels and have to toggle zoom modes to get rid of them. Run the setup wizard (16:9, advanced) and activate the appropriate formats. You also have to set the General Settings to Pass-Through. Press the Settings button twice and scroll to Set:picture Format, select Pass-Through.

Automatic Jump-back? Some of you have probably noticed that when you hit the Play button after FF through a commercial that the audio takes a few seconds to "catch up" to the video. It appears as though the 8300HD is "backing up a bit" so that you don't miss as much of the programme time after the commercial has ended...
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
I'm surprised this post got zero replies or comments, so I'm adding one myself.

How to see incoming video format? Go to one of the last pages of the diagnostics (go back one from page 1). The section will show:

1080i (1080 x 1920)
720P (720 x 1280)
480i (if not on upconvert1)
480p (if on upconvert1)

Interestingly some of the 1080i stations show 1088 vertical lines while others show 1080. Anyone know about this???
 

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Hey thanks. I got my sa8300 two days ago, and am still learning how to use it. Was annoyed that the progress bar showed up in frame advance. Nice to know I can get rid of it. Damn, these PVRs are the nail in the coffin of VHS.
 

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Last Resort

If for some reason you can't get the STB to do what you want and you've rebooted it by unplugging it, etc. This is a "last resort" item. You can reformat the HDD (courtesy of websurferdude).

The Explorer 8X00 has a fairly simple procedure to erase the drive (start clean). Note that this process will erase all scheduled programming and will cause the unit to reload all programming data from your cable provider. On the plus side, it will repair any fragmenting problems.

"Press and hold PAUSE until Mail led is lit. Press PAGE down or (-),
and then press LIST three times. Turn box off. When turned-on,
formatting will begin."
 

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Are the GB's used on a recording with the 8300HD displayed in the diagnostic? If so on what page and how would it be recognized?
 

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See the first post of the following thread - the section on HDD space paragraphs... Page 18 of diagnostics provides indirect information.

http://digitalhomecanada.com/forum/showthread.php?t=13405

It's also possible to get an estimate by clicking preferences on the recorded programmes page, viewing the percentage of disk space used, then deleting a programme and then viewing the percentage of disk space again.

Usually a 2 hour HD programme will use ABOUT 10% of the space.
 

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Creating 2 recordings "in this timeslot" (same program title, same channel)

As you know if you try to create a 2nd recording "in this timeslot" for the same program name on the same chanel, the 1st is lost. To work around this, create the 2nd recording as "One Episode", then edit it to "All episodes" then "in this timeslot". No more limits...
 

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I've deleted a bunch and moved a bunch of posts.

This is NOT a Q&A thread, its a tips & tricks thread. Please feel free to add tips or clarify what has been said but don't hijack this thread
 

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I did a search for this, but didn't find what I was looking for. Is there any way to get the progress bar, or bar graph, to appear without pausing a recording? Sometimes I just want to see how much time is left in a recording without hitting the paus.
 

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Jem, not that I know of. Hitting play (for slowmo) and play again (to get back to play) is probably the easiest, the bar appears after the second press.

If you insist on one button press, use the 10 second "skip back" button...
 

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Lazy Man's Forced Reboot (without unplugging unit). From the remote, press pause (also pauses your program) and hold until the mail light comes on (similar to the diagnostics screen). Press page down (opposite of page up for diagnostics) and then press the stop key 3 times and wait a few seconds and you should see a "b00t" message on the front of the box. If the box has hung you may need to try the forced reboot from the front or unplug the unit.
 

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SA 8300HD one-button closed captions trick

Hi,

I discovered a neat trick, sorry if this is already known?

I noticed that when connected to the TV via HDMI input, the SA 8300HD volume control does not affect the TV sound, full volume is always sent to the TV.

[question: is it possible to have the SA 8300HD control the volume of its HDMI sound output?]

So, by setting "Captions: On with Mute", then you can use the Mute button on the SA 8300HD remote to turn captions on and off ! Thankfully the MUTE display box dissappears after a few seconds.

On a side note, it's much better to use the SA 8300HD's CC than the TV's CC, because the SA 8300HD will turn off captions whenever you channel surf or go into the guide. The captions over guide was a major annoyance for me in my previous setup (with SA 8000) because I left the TV's CC mostly on.
 

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Be aware that the "On with mute" option is only available if you use the "variable" volume option on the STB and not the "fixed" option.

You may be able to vary the volume on HDMI if you use PCM instead of DD? For people who want to use the STB to control the volume I believe you can also hook up the analogue audio cables in addition to HDMI. This may depend on the TV.

The PCM option is of course not good if you connect the STB to an AV Receiver as you'll lose DD5.1 on that setting.

The PCM option also allows you to invoke the "Narrow/Normal/Wide" audio dynamic range compression option.
 

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Audio Out Using HDMI Connection. An HDMI>HDMI or HDMI>DVI connection will automatically select 2 channel stereo if your TV does not support Dolby Digital (DD). In order to restore DD audio out to your receiver, you need to change the automatic setting. Press the Settings button twice and scroll to Audio: Digital Out. Change the setting from HDMI to Dolby Digital. This will force DD audio to the HDMI, as well as the digital/optical audio outs.
From the 8300 Manual. If you want to run both 2 channel stereo to your TV and dolby digital to your Receiver.

If the TV (video/audio monitor) connected to the 8300HD using HDMI is not Dolby Digital capable, it may not produce audio through its speakers when the Audio: Digital Out setting on the 8300HD is set to Dolby Digital. You can either switch the Audio: Digital Out setting back to HDMI when you are not using the home theatre or Dolby Digital decoder, or you can connect the basband audio outputs (OUT 1 Audio Left and Right) to the TV.
 

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Not getting kicked out of an ended recording.

This is my biggest pet peeve with this recorder...While watching a currently recording program, you will get kicked out when the recording ends.


This takes a bit of timing skill, but I have seen this workaround succeed numerous times.

Press the rewind button once just before the recording ends. For some reason, you do not get kicked out of playback mode. So you can then fast forward to the point that you were (not too far ahead), and continue normal playback.


Of course, if Rogers would just get off their ass and give us the 1.88 firmware update, there would be no need for this nonsense. However, until then, this should help you out.
 

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Manual recording. I've never done it put it is like the 'old-school' VCR method of entering the date and time of the recording.
 
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