I just wanted to post my thoughts concerning these three DVRs, as I purchased the CM-7000PAL at the end of December.
As a long-time user of three, since May 2005, of the Sony DHG-HDD series of DVRs, my 500 bit the dust in the middle of December. I sent it to Sony in hopes of getting it repaired, but the main board had failed, and the part is no longer available, well at least not inexpensively. That hurt, because for me at least, these devices are great products.
I had bought my parents the DTVPal DVR in May 2009 to go along with their new HDTV. This was the only available option as they, and I, are OTA only. Well, 387 pages later, yes there are issues. I was reading this thread from the get-go, so I knew there were going to be some problems.
My parents have experienced every strange occurrence that has been posted on this thread: time drift, DST issues, timers disappearing, missed recordings, shows that seem to be recording but don't show up in My Recordings, Spanish audio, reboot loops, you name it, they've gone through it. Obviously, I was hesitant to even consider this product for myself, even after the F208 update.
When my Sony died, I went to Fry's and picked up the CM-7000PAL, and crossed my fingers. I had a 1TB Seagate drive from the list on Page 1 that I had bought for my parents, but they did not want installed at the time. So, I installed it in the CM-7000PAL. So far, everything's good, which means it probably just exploded.
Here are some of my thoughts and questions so far, mostly wishing it worked like the Sony:
- Why doesn't the Guide display the episode "Title?" I can remember this far better than the description in trying to identify repeats. Plus, I could look the title up online to find out more info for an episode.
- Why doesn't it buffer the station it is tuned to when I'm playing a recorded program? I use this all the time with the Sony. It's a bummer that it only starts buffering when you hit stop from the recorded program.
- If there is a power hit, does it lose the programmed Timers? Every time there is a power hit at my parents home, the DTVPal DVR will selectively delete some of its Timers, which is huge hassle for my Mom. Strangely, it only deletes the Timers for the shows that my Mom really wants to see. I think it may have become "aware."
- It would be nice if it would let you pad the timers by more than five seconds. This is a must for any sports, or programs that are on after a sporting event. I'm talking about you, CBS.
- It is annoying that even though you can sort My Recordings by Title Group, it is totally random. It should order it by Date, or at least give you an option, when using the Group settings.
- A chapter mark button, where you can insert a marker in a recorded program would be great. The Sony has this and was nice to use if you wanted to immediately go back to a specific point in a program.
- The GUI leaves a lot to be desired, but I do like the dark gray color scheme of the CM-7000PAL versus the DTVPal DVR. I guess I got used to the way the Sony guide looks.
- Does the HDMI connection carry 5.1 audio? I hooked it up this way to my receiver and it would only carry stereo audio. I tried changing the Dolby Digital and PCM settings, but it would still only produce stereo audio. I used an optical cable and was able to get 5.1 audio to work this way. I haven't had an issue before with HDMI 5.1 audio.
- I left Updates turned on and have not had a single reboot. I do not have ethernet hooked up to it. Maybe the CM-7000PAL's firmware is little smarter in this area. I'm on F400.
- Concerning picture quality, I can say that channels that broadcast in 720p that get upconverted to 1080i by the CM-7000PAL are a little soft. Not bad, but just a tiny bit. A native output setting would be great, but I can change it if I want to be picky.
- Also, on picture quality, at least over HDMI compared to my other devices, the image appears to have a slightly brighter gamma setting and is skewed slightly towards a yellow tint. Nothing crazy, but it's there. I know every device will be a little different, so I'll just need to make a custom preset on the TV for this device.
- This device is very quiet. I always considered the Sony to be fairly quiet; I could only hear the fan. Both the DTVPal DVR and CM-7000PAL are quieter than the Sony. My parents have theirs out in the open, and I can't hear it five feet away, fan or drive. Mine is in an enclosed cabinet with vented shelves and a semi-open back. It's the only heat generating device on that side and varies from cool to luke warm to the touch. I can hear the fan a little, but far less than the Sony, probably due to cabinet resonance.
I've only used it for five days, but so far, so good. My guide is fully populated. The handful of recordings I have done have all worked. My clock is accurate and in sync with the Sony (I'm in the DFW area). It's just going to take some getting used to. Granted, I haven't really given it a good workout since we are in repeats for the next couple of weeks. Hopefully it's one of the "good ones."
Sorry for this to be so long-winded, but I thought it might be helpful to new users or us "old dogs" looking for replacements. Thanks to everyone who has posted here as your
thoughts and input have been extremely helpful.