As many of you know, Samsung has emailed a firmware update to users who request a fix to the SIR-T165 Horizontal Shift issue (uncentered image with DVI or RGB connections.) This issue is purportedly the ONLY thing for which the firmware provides a workaround.
As a warning to those who haven't yet applied this poorly tested firmware update, and as a request for advice from fellow T165 owners, or even as a request to an informed Samsung representative, let me share my disturbing tale:
My setup includes:
Samsung SIR-T165 Set Top Box
- connected to digital Samsung DLP HLN507W - 720p HDTV (via DVI)
- connected to analog VCR/PVR (via S-Video Out)
Set Top Box Settings
- Resolution Switch 720p
- DTV Out Switch set to RGB,DVI rather than YPbPr
Prior to applying the firmware update, all worked in glorious harmony (ignoring Off-Center Image, "Auto" Clock, Gray vs Black Masking Bars, etc) and I could watch a digital OTA broadcast in 720p supplied to my TV via DVI, while I simultaneously recorded the same program to my analog VCR via the 480i S-Video Out.
In other words, the T165's analog connectors (S-Video and RCA Jack video outputs) always provided 480i for OTA broadcasts regardless of the Digital Resolution Switch for the HDTV being set to 1080i, 720p, 480p, or 480i.
**After*** the firmware patch (v2.4) was applied, and using the same configuration and settings, a "Blank Green Screen" is all that is fed through the analog video connectors (audio is fine), ruining recordings to my analog VCR/PVR. The digital HDTV feed through DVI is still fine, as is the RGB connection. Interestingly, this issue ONLY occurs for the 720p setting, and *NOT* for 1080i or 480p or 480i. Obviously a flaw from the firmware patch.
In July, I reported this to the person at Samsung who seems to be responsible for distributing this firmware update. After initially claiming this behavior shouldn't be happening, he actually checked on his unit and reported the same behavior. His suggestion - "stay tuned", but he always side-stepped questions regarding timeframes or other feedback or prognoses.
Here is a synopsis of his email communications to me:
"I do not have the previous software, I am going to the enginneering (sic) dept. to look into this as well as check my unit. This is very strange if it is doing what you are describing."
"I have the same thing going on with my unit here. Same sympton (sic). I have another main board I need to install and check the before and after. Stay tuned"
"It's still being looked into. It definitly (sic) does exactly what you say."
Well, being patient, I waited several months, and decided, OK, enough already - if I can't get a properly functioning firmware update, let's have a warranty replacement. I check with the Samsung rep. His replies:
"Please try this software and see if it helps."
The same Samsung firmware guy sent me a newer version of the firmware (v3.10) and suggested I see if that helped. Apparently he never actually tested for this issue himself, because it didn't further change any observable behavior in the T165. The analog outs were still not functioning for 720p Resolution Switch settings, still sending "Blank Green Screens" to my S-Video connected VCR/PVR. I asked him for a replacement T165 unit.
"We again have no technical resolution and therefore would have to contiune (sic) to follow page 1.2 of the owners manual 720 for dtv only set and 480i for analog set. You would have to move the resolution switch."
(My Comment - I don't HAVE an analog TV set, I have a 720p HDTV and an analog VCR/PVR. I would like to watch the TV at 720p while I simultaneously record to my analog VCR/PVR, as I was able to do prior to the firmware patch.)
"...that unit does not have always on analog outputs. It never was intended too (sic). You had a unit with old software that we / you upgraded. By doing this it alloud (sic) the unit to operate properly and if the resolution is on anything but 480i analog outputs are not supported. We unfortunetly (sic) are not going to develop a fix as this is how the unit was designed. Warranty would not correct this either. This is how the unit is. I am verry (sic) sorry for the disatisfaction (sic) it may have caused you."
Then he has the nerve to actually suggest I purchase the Samsung SIR-T160, since it *DOES* support "always on" analog outputs, and even supplied me a web-link to ease my purchase from Samsung! What a load of garbage! First he supplies me with a faulty firmware patch, crippling my T165, and then generously offers that I purchase another model that functions the same way my T165 originally functioned, (although the T160 is otherwise geared towards DirectTV!) What kind of scam is this?!
Now clearly, the T165 *is* intended to always provide 480i to the S-Video and RCA Video outputs, regardless of the Digital Resolution Switch setting. Excerpts from the Owner's Manual certainly imply "always on" 480i for the analog connectors. That is how the T165 operated *prior to* the firmware update. That is how the T165 *STILL* operates for 1080i, 480p and 480i - all EXCEPT 720p! Although the T165 User Manual may not neatly display a settings table as is done in the T160's manual, it does have references to settings as follows:
Per P1.2 - Resolution Select Switch:
Samsung instructs the user to match the Resolution Select Switch to the resolution of the Television (in my case 720p.)
Per P1.7 - VCR with Monitor Out jacks:
"If you connect a VCR with the Monitor Out jacks to the Set-Top Box, the VCR will record exactly what you are viewing on the Set-Top Box." (Not a Blank Green Screen.)
P1.10 - Digital Signal IN - Analog recording:
"Connect a Firewire cable between an D-VHS device and the Set-Top Box and also an analog cable between the AV input on the D-VHS device and the AV output on the Set-Top Box."
Per the manual, the only items specifically *NOT* supported when the resolution Switch is NOT set to 480i:
p1.5 - "If 1080i, 720p, or 480p (DIGITAL) is selected":
"the On Screen Display", (STB Menus, Messages & Electronic Program Guide), "will not be supported for VIDEO OUT and S-VIDEO OUT"
Since I don't want to record STB "On Screen Display" items, this was never an issue. But recording "Blank Green Screens" to my analog VCR/PVR while I watch my 720p Samsung HDTV because I have the Digital Resolution set to 720p would be a ludicrous design, and obviously was *not* the engineers' intent, and it *wasn't* what was originally sold to me.
Anyway, my intent is to warn others regarding this firmware fiasco, and also ask my fellow users whether they have a definitive source to refute the Samsung claim that the T165 "does not have always on analog outputs. It never was intended too."
Any advice on resolving this issue with Samsung or point me to a Samsung contact that can help? (I still have a long time left on my warranty.)