There are a lot of opinions out there on this unit, I ran accross this thread while researching something else.I worked for an authorized repair center for these units and have some actual facts for you on this to help you determine if you want one of these, or if it is worth reparing a damaged unit.
1) The unit is based on a modified version of Linux software. originally desinged for a tablet version. The motherboard is vram programed (IC208 Intel Flash Ram), there are no inputs for keyboard or mouse.
2) The ACTUAL boot software is stored on the CDR drive, NOT the motherboard vram. This was supposed to be a cheaper version of software upgrades if needed. There is NO COMPATABLE CDR on the market to replace or upgrade the CDR, period. If you look at your CDR it will have a sticker on the top, stating: Loader BDR-L** (** is the version, 03 to 08 were released, 08 being the newest).
3) The tuner is a Samsung TCSN9082PA26H. This is a software selectable NTSC/PAL and Mono,Stereo,ENCDH2 tuner. While the design was to have auto detecting mode, It was not entirely compatable with IC201 (Zoran Digital Encoder/Decoder). This was due to the Linux design software causing it to select ENCDH2 (encoded audio) when used with cable that also has broadband signal. So, instead of a new motherboard design, they simply locked the tuner (through Flash Software)to mono to produce the unit.
The tuner also is designed to input signal and process to the RCA jacks, The tuner output is simply a pass through when not using the DVDR. This being the reason many may think the unit is not working properly. If you hook the unit to the TV through the tuner only, It will show a boot screen, then appear to go blank and just show MENU on the front panel. You must view the DVDR through the RCA jacks to actually use the unit.
4) The HDD in the unit is a slave, so you can upgrade the unit with any IDE drive. It will power on, then off, when you pwr back on, it will ask to reboot or format. There were no lHDD limits as far as capacity ever listed, I suspect they figured people would only try a WD 160 gig as listed in the upgrades.
5) The cooling fan is severly undersized and the unit has very poor circulation. Most failures are heat related. For the diehard who really like the unit, create a ventelation system with new vent holes and a BRUSHLESS 3" cooling fan. If it is mounted in a rack or in a panel, remove the cover to allow better ventelation. I have measured Factory HDD's, running overnite with a digital thermometer, 195~225 Degrees F. were not uncommon.
5A) The cooling fan in the unit does not have a capacitor in circuit, and unfortunatly is mounted near the Tuner, which has tin coated covers, not lead. This is the main cause of lines in the tuner output. A polarized 470 PF cap accross the leads to the fan will remove the line 90% of the time, be sure to solder neg to neg, positive to positve....
6) The Remote... Slow? Yep.... Instead of sending the IR burst when you touch the button, and stopping when you release the button, it sends the burst for a pre determined amount of time.... Hence the seemingly slow responce. RCA remotes can learn the dvdr codes, DTV remotes will work very well.
7) The power supply is not the best design (12v/5v/-12v/-5v)... Using a step down transformer driving a transistor (T9)to create the onboard 12 volts.... ONLY! The motherboard then converts the 12 volt to a needed 5 volt (IC301) with another transistor. not a good design, and it is very "amps" limited on the 12 volt side. Some larger gig HDD's will draw more than it can produce (especially if running hot) and cause the unit to reboot over and over.
8) The question about the 60/120 minute recording many of you have, the unit will auto matically switch to 60 minute depending on the remaining amount of HDD space. Unfortunatly, the softare determines that and it seem to switch down even if only 25% of the HDD is used.... A larger HDD will help with this.
I hope some of this helps provide some insight to the unit, and quiet the hot heads. RCA knew there would be a market for a cheap version of a progressive scan DVR with some high end options, the idea was great but I think they rushed into it and put it on the market before they knew how it actually worked. Good' ol China product. When they copy something it is ok, when they design it.... wellllll......