Explorer 8000 DVR Audio problem - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 09-19-2004, 06:09 PM - Thread Starter
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We just picked up one of the new Explorer 8000 DVR (SD) from TWC in Houston. So far, I like it pretty well. It's replacing a ReplayTV 4xxx model. More on that later....

Anyway... I've just started playing around with it and I'm experiencing a couple of audio problems when pausing live TV (I haven't recorded any shows yet -- some are coming up tonight). Often times if I've paused it, sometimes the audio comes back out of sync with the video. I have to return to "live" for it to match up, or just keep hitting Pause/Play/FF until it matches up. The other problem is that sometimes the audio will be sync'ed, but I'll get a "popping" or "clicking" sound every 5 seconds or so. If I return to "live', the pops/clicks go away.

Has anyone else experienced this problem? I'm wondering if it's a common bug with the Explorer 8000 DVR, or if I need to return it for another machine.

Any comments/thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks!

Kerry
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post #2 of 14 Old 09-20-2004, 08:25 AM - Thread Starter
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We just watched a couple of recorded shows and we are still having the "pops" with the audio. Quite annoying... I'm calling TWC.
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post #3 of 14 Old 09-20-2004, 10:44 AM
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kg,

You didn't mention what sort of audio setup you had. The digital output on the SA8000HD seems to exhibit a number of compatibility issues with different Dolby receivers.
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post #4 of 14 Old 09-20-2004, 02:08 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally posted by bfdtv
kg,

You didn't mention what sort of audio setup you had. The digital output on the SA8000HD seems to exhibit a number of compatibility issues with different Dolby receivers.
I haven't tried a Digital Audio connection, yet. I'm just using the standard analog jacks.

I spoke with TWC this morning, and apparently this is a fairly common problem. They had me unplug the unit for 15 to 30 seconds then plug it back in and let it re-boot. That's it.

Sure enough, the pops and clicks are gone. The instant replay button works as advertised. All-in-all it seems to be working normally now!

I'll have to use it some more to see if there are any audio sync problems, but at least a few of my major gripes have been taken care of!
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post #5 of 14 Old 09-23-2004, 10:09 AM
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kgforce,

I am anxious to hear your opinions on the Explorer 8000. Our Cable company (Charter) will be rolling it out in our are soon, and I am very interested in trying it out.

I have been a long-time ReplayTV proponent (I own a 2000, 2020, and a 5040), but I am having HORRIBLE problems getting my model 5040 to control our DCT-2000 Digital Cable box (which is our only option.) I have tweaked the IR codes, and it's still very unreliable. I just gave up and connected it to the "raw" cable feed. My 2000 and 2020 don't seem to have as hard a time controlling the DCT-2000, but they still choke occasionally.

Anyway, I am interested in hearing your review of the Explorer 8000. Sorry to bombard you with questions, but...

1. How "comprehensive" is the channel guide? Does it provide decent descriptions? (Actors, etc.)

2. I understand that you can search for shows by various different listings (genres, date, etc.), but there is no "alpha" search like ReplayTV's "Find Shows" feature. Is this correct? How is searching for a show in general?

3. Does it have a "find other episodes" feature? That's one of ReplayTV's strong features--finding other airings of shows so you can record them at a more convenient time.

4. Are the various screens filled with advertizing? (I know that this may vary from cable company to cable company.) I can't stand lots of advertizing.

5. How is the picture quality?

6. How is the remote response? I find the ReplayTV 2xxx series very "snappy" and the 5040 a bit sluggish but usable. How does the Explorer 8000 compare?

7. What features do you like about ReplayTV that you don't have on the Explorer 8000?

8. What features do you like about the Explorer 8000 that you don't have on ReplayTV?

Any other information you could give would be most appreciated!

-Jim

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post #6 of 14 Old 09-24-2004, 10:21 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally posted by jbarr
kgforce,

I am anxious to hear your opinions on the Explorer 8000. Our Cable company (Charter) will be rolling it out in our are soon, and I am very interested in trying it out.

I have been a long-time ReplayTV proponent (I own a 2000, 2020, and a 5040), but I am having HORRIBLE problems getting my model 5040 to control our DCT-2000 Digital Cable box (which is our only option.) I have tweaked the IR codes, and it's still very unreliable. I just gave up and connected it to the "raw" cable feed. My 2000 and 2020 don't seem to have as hard a time controlling the DCT-2000, but they still choke occasionally.

Anyway, I am interested in hearing your review of the Explorer 8000. Sorry to bombard you with questions, but...

1. How "comprehensive" is the channel guide? Does it provide decent descriptions? (Actors, etc.)
It's excellent. Basically the same thing at ReplayTV's. In some ways it's better. On the Replay, sometimes if a description was long, you wouldn't be able to read it all. On the 8000, it has a larger area, with a smaller font so you can read the entire description.

Quote:
2. I understand that you can search for shows by various different listings (genres, date, etc.), but there is no "alpha" search like ReplayTV's "Find Shows" feature. Is this correct? How is searching for a show in general?
You can browse by Theme, Title, or Channel. You can't search by typing in a name or title, you just scroll through a long list. (It's definitely more difficult to find a show than on ReplayTV. )

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3. Does it have a "find other episodes" feature? That's one of ReplayTV's strong features--finding other airings of shows so you can record them at a more convenient time.
No. That would be nice. When you schedule a recording, you can choose to have it all episodes on that day/time on that channel, or any day/time on that channel.

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4. Are the various screens filled with advertizing? (I know that this may vary from cable company to cable company.) I can't stand lots of advertizing.
No advertising! I hated that with the Motorola box that we just replaced.

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5. How is the picture quality?
It's excellent. Better than our Replay 4508 ever was, even at High Quality. (there's no need for a quality setting on the 8000, since it's not converting to analog and then to digital).

Quote:
6. How is the remote response? I find the ReplayTV 2xxx series very "snappy" and the 5040 a bit sluggish but usable. How does the Explorer 8000 compare?
The remote is excellent. Fast, and it is very full-featured. We have it controlling the TV, Receiver, DVD player, VCR, and Cable/DVR box!

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7. What features do you like about ReplayTV that you don't have on the Explorer 8000?
What we miss the most is Commercial Advance and the 30-second Skip ahead button. We also liked the ability to download shows to the computer with DVArchive -- and make VCDs or DVDs.

The screensaver. On the 8000, when you Pause or even Stop a recorded show, after a set amount of time (30 min or an hour -- not really sure), the show will start playing again!

The ability to pause or rewind "live" TV for more than an hour. Apparently the 8000 will only let you rewind back an hour.

More FF/REW options (2x, 8x, etc.). On the 8000, you only see 1, 2 or 3 "arrows" -- so I don't know how that corresponds. It seems that one arrow is 2x, but I don't know about the others.

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8. What features do you like about the Explorer 8000 that you don't have on ReplayTV?
TWO TUNERS! It's nice to be able to record two shows at once -- and watch a third recorded program at the same time. It rarely happens, but for instance, we recorded both "Lost" and "Smallville" on Wednesday. We would have liked it last year to record both "Alias" and "Arrested Development"! Now we can.

PICTURE QUALITY is much better.

Only $6.95 a month extra. Plus no equipment to buy.

The response time, changing channels is FAST! With the previous Motorola box, it would take seconds to change channels. Now it happens immediately.

PIP -- while watching one show, we can flip to another channel for a few minutes during the commercial and know when the commercials are over

When viewing the "Guide", the channel you are watching is in the top right corner, so you can still watch and browse the guide at the same time.

Now that we aren't using the ReplayTV and it's remote, we are taking advantage of iControl (PPV movies and free in-demand programming that is made available). For some reason, our kids love "Andy Pandy" on the BBC Kids in-demand channel!

When you are FF/REW, a graphic progress bar at the bottom of the screen appears so you can see how far along you are in the show.

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Any other information you could give would be most appreciated!
One annoying thing about the 8000 is that it ALWAYS reverts to Channel 2 when it's turned back on. I wish it would stay on the previously tuned channel.

I don't know about Charter, but trying it out with TWC is a no-brainer. You can just go pick up a box and see how you like it. If you don't like it, you can just take it back and get a regular digital cable box.
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post #7 of 14 Old 09-24-2004, 01:14 PM
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kgforce:

I have exactly the same problem regarding out-of-sync audio. It usually happens when I'm fast-forwarding through commercials, then hit play to resume. Usually rewinding a few seconds and hitting play again will solve the problem. Definitely annoying, but not that serious.

I second your comments on the SA8000. Overall, it's very good, but the program guide could use work to make it easier to use.

Regarding reverting to channel 2 - you can set the box to come on at a specific time of day on a specific channel. Since TWC has apparently set up these boxes to shut off automatically at 1:00 a.m., I have it set to turn back on in the morning on Channel 4. So, for all intents and purposes, it's on all the time.
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post #8 of 14 Old 09-24-2004, 01:57 PM
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Whoa! Thank you so much!!!

Everything you described sounds quite good with the possible exception of two things:

1. The inability to search based on keywords
We like to occasionally create Themes based on keywords. If ReplayTV never finds the show, so be it, but sometimes it does, and that's great! For example, my brother-in-law told us about a Lewis Black" special on HBO which, of course, we missed. I just created a "Lewis Black" Theme, and eventially, it found it and recorded it. We also do a "Find Shows instead of having to browse the channel grid or the TV Guide. (Of course, I've worn out three ReplayTV remotes over the past four years--probably too much button pressing--maybe the lack of this feature would be a blessing...)

2. The inability to find other instances of a show
We use this feature very, VERY often to either find a show we missed (I REALLY like that you can "go back" in the Channel Guide to see what aired...) or to find alternate airings so that we can resolve recording conflicts. The fact that the Explorer 8000 has a dual tuner would probably eliminate that problem.

Other than that, it sounds like something we could live with. Hopefully, it'll pass the "Wife Test". My wife's biggest gripe is the technical complexity that has crept into our lives. For example, when I get home and she's very pissed because she couldn't even turn on the "TV system", I know that something's amiss... Consolidating the Digital Cable box and a DVR into one box could certainly help simplify things.

Anyway, thanks again for your information. I'm patiently awaiting the rollout in our area...I just called Charter, and they now say "Probably mid-October"...AAHHHRRRRGGGHHHH!!!! <beats head on desk>

-Jim

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post #9 of 14 Old 09-24-2004, 02:39 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally posted by jbarr
Whoa! Thank you so much!!!
You're welcome!

Quote:
Everything you described sounds quite good with the possible exception of two things:

1. The inability to search based on keywords
We like to occasionally create Themes based on keywords.
We never created any Themes, but we would often type in a title or actor and search for a show. That was definitely handy and we do miss it.

Quote:
2. The inability to find other instances of a show
We use this feature very, VERY often to either find a show we missed (I REALLY like that you can "go back" in the Channel Guide to see what aired...) or to find alternate airings so that we can resolve recording conflicts. The fact that the Explorer 8000 has a dual tuner would probably eliminate that problem.
Yeah, having dual tuners eliminates some of that, but I'm hoping they are able to make software upgrades to the box to add some of that functionality. FYI: you can only "go back" in the Channel Guide an hour or so, if I recall correctly.

Quote:
Other than that, it sounds like something we could live with. Hopefully, it'll pass the "Wife Test". My wife's biggest gripe is the technical complexity that has crept into our lives. For example, when I get home and she's very pissed because she couldn't even turn on the "TV system", I know that something's amiss... Consolidating the Digital Cable box and a DVR into one box could certainly help simplify things.
Your wife will appreciate this: You can program the Remote to turn on all your components with one button push. I have mine programmed to turn on the TV, Receiver and Cable/DVR box. Once you've programmed that in, you just hold the Power button down for 2 seconds and it will go through and turn on (or turn off) your specified components.

Quote:
Anyway, thanks again for your information. I'm patiently awaiting the rollout in our area...I just called Charter, and they now say "Probably mid-October"...AAHHHRRRRGGGHHHH!!!! <beats head on desk>
Bummer. Have they announced how much they will charge for it?

I think Replay and Tivo are going to be in trouble as more and more cable companies come out with their own DVR solution. I think both companies should have worked to strike deals to provide this service (like Tivo has with DirecTV). The average cable user is not going to spend money to buy a Tivo or ReplayTV box, then pay an additional $12.95 a month, when they can get a similar set up from their cable company with no cost upfront and only $6.95 a month. Plus, if the box breaks, you just get a new one from the cable company.

I don't see how Tivo and Replay can survive in that reality.
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post #10 of 14 Old 09-24-2004, 02:44 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally posted by twentworth

I have exactly the same problem regarding out-of-sync audio. It usually happens when I'm fast-forwarding through commercials, then hit play to resume. Usually rewinding a few seconds and hitting play again will solve the problem. Definitely annoying, but not that serious.
Since the reboot, we usually only experience that problem when we hit the Instant Replay button. Most of the times, it works perfectly. Every once in a while, it messes up, but it seems to fix itself quickly. Not a deal-breaker.

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I second your comments on the SA8000. Overall, it's very good, but the program guide could use work to make it easier to use.
If it had a better search function, it would be almost perfect.

Quote:
Regarding reverting to channel 2 - you can set the box to come on at a specific time of day on a specific channel. Since TWC has apparently set up these boxes to shut off automatically at 1:00 a.m., I have it set to turn back on in the morning on Channel 4. So, for all intents and purposes, it's on all the time. [/b]
I didn't know that you could have it turn on automatically -- I'll have to check that out. Or just leave it on. (I was aware of the "shutdown" at 1 am, though)
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post #11 of 14 Old 09-24-2004, 02:46 PM - Thread Starter
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One other annoying thing about the 8000... when watching a recorded show, I would expect the "INFO" button to display information about that particular show -- Title, Description, etc. Much like the "Display" button on Replay does. Instead it shows something about it being on the DVR channel or something like that. In fact, I don't recall being able to see "information" about a recorded show at all. Can anyone confirm that or tell me otherwise?
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post #12 of 14 Old 09-26-2004, 10:18 AM
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I've had the 8000HD (Comcast) now for about 2 weeks, and I really am enjoying it. I have used a TIVO for about 3 years (still have that on another tv) and this is far better. I would pretty much agree with everthing reviewed/questions answered by kgforce. However, I do believe, at least throuch Comcast's "Guide", that when you do a search by alphabet, it will list all of that particular show for that day. For example, I have been recording "Curb Your Enthusiasm" on HBO and when I do a search for this program, it does list it twice for a particular day. I just highlight the time I want to record and I'm all set. It does, of course, give me the opportunity to record the whole season, but haven't done that option yet.

I have my PVR running through my Harmony 659 Remote and it is very quick and responsive. I have been able to program all the commands I need onto it and it works great. It also solves the problem of which channel pops up each time I turn the TV on because I have the remote programmed to turn on at a certain channel. I do wish it had a 30 second or 1 minute "skip" button. I haven't quite gotten the commercial skip down yet, but I'm sure practice will make perfect.

I do enjoy the ability to record two shows at once, which is a big improvement over my TIVO unit (it is nearly 3 years old so newer models may have solved that issue). The other feature that I really like is the "8 second" replay button. Comes in handy during games. Had some friends over for an HD college game the other night and they flipped over that one little feature, not to mention taking their breath away with the HD broadcast.

Anyway, I would definitely recommend this "gadget". Great fun, and easy enough for the wife to use to!
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post #13 of 14 Old 09-27-2004, 07:04 AM
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clemsound85 said...
However, I do believe, at least throuch Comcast's "Guide", that when you do a search by alphabet, it will list all of that particular show for that day.
That's a good start. One of the really nice things about ReplayTV is that it maintains up to two weeks of Channel Guide data, so searching is not limited to just one day. This is really handy.

Quote:
kgforce said...
FYI: you can only "go back" in the Channel Guide an hour or so, if I recall correctly.
Again, a good start. ReplayTV will go back either 12 or 24 hours (I forget) but the reality is that I rarely go back more than just s few hours.

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kgforce said...
Your wife will appreciate this: You can program the Remote to turn on all your components with one button push. I have mine programmed to turn on the TV, Receiver and Cable/DVR box. Once you've programmed that in, you just hold the Power button down for 2 seconds and it will go through and turn on (or turn off) your specified components.
That sounds VERY nice! It could let me eliminate my Sony Home Theater remote. Another step toward simplification...

Quote:
kgforce said...[/i]
Have they announced how much they will charge for it?
I believe it will be $9.95 per month--not as cheap as I would prefer, but not offensive. Considering the relative cost of ReplayTV or TiVo's monthly subscription price, and the lack of an up-front equipment purchase, I still see it as a decent deal.

<digression>
As a slight digression, (and some may not necessarily agree with this) I really see ReplayTV and TiVo as being pretty "stagnate" over the past couple years. Yes, ReplayTV HAS released some software improvements, and TiVo HAS added its Home Networking option, but that's really about it. I haven't seen a whole lot of "innovation" come across either platform in a while. Just look at the ReplayTV and TiVo message boards over the years, and you see amazing and doable suggestions that have fallen on deaf ears. No, the Explorer 8000 doesn't seem to be "revolutionaly", and it does lack some features I have grown to really like, but the fact that it integrates the cable box and the DVR seems like a great step forward to me. Being able to access PPV, On-Demand, and all the other "cable-specific" goodies all from the same box, the same remote, and the same interface is very enticing to me. (I just worry about the possibility of them "limiting" recordings based on the forthcoming "broadcast flag"...)
</digression>

-Jim

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post #14 of 14 Old 10-05-2004, 08:21 AM
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"One annoying thing about the 8000 is that it ALWAYS reverts to Channel 2 when it's turned back on. I wish it would stay on the previously tuned channel."

You shoul be able to fix this. With my Time Warner remote, hitting the "settings" button twice on the remote brings up a menu and a choice of "Viewer:Power On". You can set it for any channel you want or "last channel".
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