Ok, let me preface this with the following:
I love Ceton. I think they are the most innovative company in the home theater space. Period.
They have done something remarkable; they've continued to spark life into Windows Media Center for several years and have kept me from wanting any other DVR / distributed TV system in my life.
However, I feel constantly let down by their products, and recently, their support is horrible.
I started my investment when the InfiniTV4 was first announced. I pre-ordered 3 of them just to make sure I'd get one.
When i finally did get one, I loved it, and got many friends interested and they bought them too.
I used it to build the system I discussed on http://www.hdhomesportsbar.com
and it worked out just great....well, actually I have to restart my HTPC every 2 days on a schedule otherwise the InfiniTV4 disappears from Windows and we lose our tuners for our DVR, but otherwise, great.
So, fast forward a few years. I'm doing a major basement renovation in a new home. More TVs, bigger screens, a real bar this time.
I bought an Echo in December ( I didn't make the beta cut ) and used it to replace a DMA 2100 in our bedroom. It worked great, it was fast and quiet.
So for the basement, this was to be my extender.
I have 4 42" TVs going in to augment the 120" main screen, and I decided that I'd move the Xbox 360 I've been using on our 65" DLP down as the extender for the 120", and would use another Echo.
Ok, that makes an order of 5 more Echos for a total of 6 in the house, and 2 Xbox 360s.
Before I did that, I decided I should probably get another InfiniTV 4 so I'd have enough tuners for all the TVs, and still be able to have some shows recording.
Here starts the trouble.
I bought a 2nd InfiniTV 4, went through the CableCard dance with Comcast, went through 2 exchanges with the office assuming I had been given bad cards, and then they had to roll a truck - I couldn't get paired. They sent a decent tech and he tested the cards he was using against my working InfiniTV4 and we found out it wasn't the cards, it was the InfiniTV4.
So, after hours of my time, and paying for a truck-roll, Ceton tech support acknowledged the problem and RMA'd the unit. (Ticket ID: VAJ-466-10305)
I will say this; once you jump through the hoops to get an RMA, the process, at least for the InfiniTV4's, is great. They took my credit card as a deposit, and cross-shiped me a new card 2nd day and the new one worked just fine. One of my friends that bought an InfiniTV4 after seeing my setup had the same experience.....which makes me wonder just how much RMA'ing is going on....
Now I had an HTPC with 2 InfiniTV4s! And yeah, I still have to restart my HTPC every 2 days or the first InfiniTV will flake out and disappear, but, tolerable.
Ha, "tolerable", what else would want from $600 in tuner cards on top of the cost of an HTPC???
Despite the hellstorm of negativity I saw with the Echo beta tests, I was really happy with the Echo that I bought and am running in our bedroom, so I jumped in; January 12th, I ordered 5 more Echos.
Steep. But, I had a vision in mind for how I want to control everything and how I want to be able to use 2 cable cards to feed everything in our house. I believe in what Ceton is doing.
I am finally at the stage of my project now where I'm able to install the TVs and Echos, and the last week has been hell.
I did everything you'd want in a new build meticulously, everything was pre-wired, tested, ordered in advanced, ready to drop in.
What should be simple; plug in power, plug in Ethernet, plug in HDMI, pair with Media Center. What a nightmare and waste of my time.
Issue 1 - February 24th, 2013: Removing the Xbox 360 from the 65" Mitsubishi DLP in our living room and replacing with a Ceton Echo:
I thought the most annoying part about this was going to be re-programming my Harmony One, nope.
So, while every other HDMI device I've ever plugged into this TV has worked flawlessly, instantly I had problems with the Echo.
The HDMI connection would not properly handshake as the Ceton Echo booted up and started Media Center. Video would drop out. I set up audio to bypass HDMI and use the S/PDIF out so I could hear at least that the echo was on, and connected to Media Center, and that TV or content was playing, but the TV was blank.
February 25th, I submitted a ticket. After 3 hours I got a generic response, asking for diagnostics on both the Echo and the HTPC. I completed both within an hour, and sent support everything.
Today is March 4th, and I have not heard back. Not even an acknowledgement of a receipt of my diagnostics.
I've solved the issue, well, at least fixed it for now.
After a lot of research, I found out that this could be an HDMI EDID issue, and I ordered a Geffen HDMI Detective
In the time where I heard nothing from Ceton, I received the HDMI Detective, installed it, and all is well.
I updated the ticket to let Ceton know they have some sort of EDID issue - I haven't heard anything, but for an extra $85 my wife can still watch TV while I finish up the basement.
Issue 2 & 3.
Of the remaining 4 Echos, 2 installed just fine, and are working great. 2 are $185 bricks.
Here's the deal - I understand the sample size is far too low for me to say this authoritatively, but, Ceton, your failure rate in my experience is abhorrent!
1/2 of the InfiniTV4's, and 1/3 of the Echo's I've purchased are bricks and 1 is a brick wearing a life jacket.
But the worst part about this is, CETON KNOWS IT. Further, their support is inadequate.
When I finally discovered the issue with the 2 Echos that weren't working, and were putting themselves into recovery mode out of the box, I filed another ticket.
Ticket ID: JOP-949-91461
I filed this ticket at 3:00 PM Eastern on FRIDAY March 1st. Ceton's website says that we should expect / accept a 24 hour response period, and that support is available until 6PM Pacific Time Monday-Saturday.
Saturday Came and went, no response. Weekend lost for my install.
I did find all the info available about how to get the Windows 7 only recovery program, and the ludicrous button combination you need to enter to get into recovery mode, but also saw that I needed to get my MAC addresses white-listed so they could go through recovery
Today, March 4th, I finally got a response, and, after a few hours of ticket-lag, had both of my devices white-listed and was able to recover one of the echos, one will not recover, and the one that did recover will not pair with Media Center even after updates to the latest firmware(s).
The most frustrating part about this is the White-listing, and the waiting on Support. I'm not resolved at all on either of these units today, and I guess I can wait until tomorrow for support to ask for Diagnostics that I probably won't hear back about in a timely manner either....
Look, Ceton, you know there are some serious problems with the hardware you shipped in the Echo.
You know we are suckers and are crazy enough enthusiasts to be comfortable manually flashing our "consumer" hardware to try to get it working.
Why on Earth have you set up a process that requires us to submit tickets that aren't responded to quickly just to be "white-listed" to download a recovery image?
Ceton should absolutely put all of these materials together in their FAQ on their site, and let people openly try a recovery with a clean image, before they have to open a ticket.
The ticket process should just let us show you we've tried everything, and initiate the RMA process.
Ceton should pull their products until they iron all of this out, this is terrible.
Can you imagine your parents or normal people trying to use this stuff???
Total spent on Ceton Products for an incomplete, unstable system to date:
$1,580 and hours of my time...
I hate to have to take this to the public in this way, but I feel entirely dissatisfied in my investment in Ceton lately. Please, change my mind back.