Can Anyone recommend the DTVPal DVR After Using it For One Year - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 82 Old 09-29-2009, 04:07 AM - Thread Starter
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The user review's I have read have been overwhelmingly terrible. Users have cited problems with the unit breaking down, no where to get it repaired, and an unresponsive customer service department at Dish Net. To make matters worse, the unit has been discontinued, presumably because of the magnitude of its problems. Has anyone had the DTVPal DVR for more than a year and would still recommend it? Thanks for your help.
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post #2 of 82 Old 09-29-2009, 06:57 AM
 
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I'll be interested in seeing the replies to this as well. I'm a TiVo fan, for sure, but if I've been recommending folks who don't care about recording cable to consider the DTVPal DVR, because it is so much less expensive. If, however, it is more trouble than it is worth, then perhaps I should add a caveat to my recommendations, to that effect.
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post #3 of 82 Old 09-29-2009, 09:28 AM
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I have had mine for about 8 months and have had zero issues. Its a great machine. Not a Tivo Killer but for me, who got rid of my cable, it is great. As for the issues people are seeing. I can not reproduce any of them. Mine never reboots. The guide always works. I will say people are more apt to complain the praise so you are going to see the issues glare out at you.
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post #4 of 82 Old 09-29-2009, 09:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Biddle View Post

To make matters worse, the unit has been discontinued, presumably because of the magnitude of its problems. Has anyone had the DTVPal DVR for more than a year and would still recommend it? Thanks for your help.

The DTVPal DVR was not discontinued. Dish Network just limited distribution, presumably as a cost cutting measure.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Biddle View Post

The user review's I have read have been overwhelmingly terrible. Users have cited problems with the unit breaking down, no where to get it repaired, and an unresponsive customer service department at Dish Net.

Some issues remain, but the most serious issues (crashes, reboots, etc) were resolved with firmware updates. Many complaints were posted before those issues were resolved.

Reports on the DTVPal DVR will vary widely depending on user expectations. Expect rave reviews from those who were previously using VCRs and traditional DVD recorders. Expect less enthusiastic reviews from those who previously had a TiVo or a modern cable (ex: Passport) or satellite (ex: HR20, ViP622/ViP722) DVR. If one were going to stereotype:

Very satisfied with DTVPal DVR
  • previously used VCR or DVD recorder
  • extended guide information (TVGOS) available in market
  • doesn't mind missing the occasional show
  • doesn't mind regular timer maintenance
  • not overly bothered by tedious tasks
  • family records and watches just a handful of programs
  • doesn't need or expect technical support

Less satisfied with DTVPal DVR
  • previously used a modern DVR
  • expected TiVo-like functionality
  • demands 100% reliability; will not tolerate missed programs
  • expects DVR to always record every episode of their shows without any maintenance
  • does not tolerate tedious tasks
  • family records and watches many programs
  • needs or expects technical support
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post #5 of 82 Old 09-29-2009, 02:16 PM - Thread Starter
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Please describe what you mean by "regular timer maintenance". I previously used a VCR. I would, indeed, expect technical support if the unit got squirrely or ceased to function.
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post #6 of 82 Old 09-29-2009, 02:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Biddle View Post

Please describe what you mean by "regular timer maintenance". I previously used a VCR. I would, indeed, expect technical support if the unit got squirrely or ceased to function.

If you currently using a VCR or a traditional DVD recorder, then you are accustomed to timer maintenance.

By regular timer maintenance, I'm referring the the general need to set and update timers as on any VCR or DVD recorder. Examples:
  • update a timer when a program changes the day of the week
  • update a timer when the program changes its start and end time
  • update a timer when the program duration changes (ex: 72min episode instead of a 60min episode)
  • remove a timer when your program isn't showing a certain week so you can add a new timer to record a different program
  • remove a timer when you have two timers set and want to record something different
  • remove a timer when a show is canceled
  • remove a timer when there are no more remaining episodes of a show
With modern name-based DVRs, you don't have to deal with any of these things. Had you used such a DVR for a few years, these things could drive you crazy. But since you're accustomed to a VCR, you should have no problem with it.

As far as technical support, Dish Network will send you a refurbished replacement if you have trouble with the unit in the first 90 days. That's about the extent of the assistance they offer for the product. For support, you'll have to rely on forums such as this one; members on this forum tend to be very helpful and the FAQ is regularly updated with known issues and workarounds.
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post #7 of 82 Old 09-30-2009, 05:57 PM - Thread Starter
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I understand. Thank you. I still don't see anyone coming forward who has had a DTVPal DVR for a year or more and recommends buying one.
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post #8 of 82 Old 09-30-2009, 06:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Biddle View Post

I understand. Thank you. I still don't see anyone coming forward who has had a DTVPal DVR for a year or more and recommends buying one.

No one has had the DTVPal DVR for a year. Dish Network didn't ship the first units until late December, 2008.

Many of the early comments were negative, because a substantial number of DTVPal DVRs exhibited frequent reboots until the F206 firmware was released on April 9. With the F206 software, the DTVPal DVR would often lose the correct time, causing recordings to start and end at the wrong times; that issue was addressed with the F208 firmware on July 9.

Look through the DTVPal DVR thread and you'll find plenty of positive comments since July 9.
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post #9 of 82 Old 09-30-2009, 06:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Biddle View Post

I understand. Thank you. I still don't see anyone coming forward who has had a DTVPal DVR for a year or more and recommends buying one.

As you were told yesterday in the other thread, this DVR has only been available for nine months, so you will see Sasquatch before you find someone who's owned it for more than a year.

Joe
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post #10 of 82 Old 10-03-2009, 06:28 AM - Thread Starter
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Can any DTVPal DVR be updated with the F208 firmware by the user regardless of when the unit was manufactured? Any thoughts on whether buying a used unit on e-bay is too big of a risk? Thanks.
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post #11 of 82 Old 10-03-2009, 06:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Biddle View Post

Can any DTVPal DVR be updated with the F208 firmware by the user regardless of when the unit was manufactured?

Yes.

Beware of defective units on ebay, however, because Dish will not replace defective units after 90 days. If it were me, I would opt for a new unit from Sears, with the extended warranty for an extra $45.
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post #12 of 82 Old 10-03-2009, 04:18 PM - Thread Starter
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Good point. I cannot find on the Dish webpage where they say they will replace the unit if defective up to 90 days. I'd like to see that in writing before ordering the unit from Digitalstar.
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post #13 of 82 Old 10-03-2009, 04:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Biddle View Post

Good point. I cannot find on the Dish webpage where they say they will replace the unit if defective up to 90 days. I'd like to see that in writing before ordering the unit from Digitalstar.

The product has a 90-day warranty.

They'll ship you a refurbished replacement if you have problems in the first 90 days.
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post #14 of 82 Old 10-04-2009, 09:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Biddle View Post

Good point. I cannot find on the Dish webpage where they say they will replace the unit if defective up to 90 days. I'd like to see that in writing before ordering the unit from Digitalstar.

Based on everything you've posted, I would recommend you not buy a DTVPal DVR.

'Better Living Through Modern, Expensive, Electronic Devices'

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post #15 of 82 Old 10-04-2009, 09:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ken h View Post

based on everything you've posted, i would recommend you not buy a dtvpal dvr.

+ 1
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post #16 of 82 Old 10-04-2009, 09:35 PM
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It's unfortunate that there are no competing products.  TiVo and Moxi units exist but aren't really comparable.
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post #17 of 82 Old 10-05-2009, 02:10 AM
 
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I suspect that there are no competing products because folks just don't care to spend the money for such products. They got used to cheap-o VCRs, and I guess they are happy enough with such devices.
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post #18 of 82 Old 10-05-2009, 10:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bicker1 View Post

I suspect that there are no competing products because folks just don't care to spend the money for such products.

Well... I bought a KWorld ATSC340U from buy.com for $15 (after rebate), and I've been rather pleased with that purchase. It's not really competing with a DTVPal since one's computer cannot necessarily display on a TV. And it's way more trouble, and has zero WAF. But at least it can record programs right onto your hard drive, unencrypted, and in HD.
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post #19 of 82 Old 10-05-2009, 11:36 AM
 
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Yup, there are a lot of options if you're willing to compromise.
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post #20 of 82 Old 10-07-2009, 07:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Biddle View Post

The user review's I have read have been overwhelmingly terrible. Users have cited problems with the unit breaking down, no where to get it repaired, and an unresponsive customer service department at Dish Net. To make matters worse, the unit has been discontinued, presumably because of the magnitude of its problems. Has anyone had the DTVPal DVR for more than a year and would still recommend it? Thanks for your help.

Biddle,

Around 8 months ago I briefly researched for a reasonably priced recording solution to replace wife's VCR due to the Digital transition.

I found much to her dismay VERY few OTA ATSC Non-Subscription *HARD-DRIVE based type recorders. The "story" being that the subsidized cable /satellite boxes had pretty much decimated the market.... so the mfg'rs pulled out of the market.

(I excluded Subscription (Tivo), GREY-MARKET, or "high-priced" units)
GREY-MARKET=Not sold or supported by the manufacturer for sale in the North American market.)

*Hard drive recording is light years ahead of recording to a dvd disc, RW disc holds 4.7gb.. which isn't much space. Additionally you can expect the dvd burner to burn out much sooner than a hard drive.

Sad thing is right now due to the digital transition, and with Canada going digital soon that there is a HUGE market that the manufacturers are ignoring. There are millions upon millions of persons with VCR's , and/or ANALOGUE type DVR's looking for a recording solution.

(Hint-Hint to all the manufacturer's /insiders who may run across this post...
1: Every person that has a VCR, and/or ANALOGUE DVR without a ATSC tuner is a potential customer.. Think about how many VCR's are out there with ANALOGUE tuners in them which are due to the digital transition pretty much useless.
2: There is a market "out there" that due to the digital transition should be viable now more so than before the cut-off.

EG: Due to the digital transition with the increased number of OTA stations /programing being transmitted in "crystal clear DVD like clarity " that rivals and surpasses what you get with cable or satellite and most being in HD people ARE looking for VCR and ANALOGUE DVR replacements. Due to these factors, people that would a few years ago who would have not have been interested in a OTA recorder looking to save money are seriously thinking about dropping their cable, going to OTA only.

Translation: There is a large numbers of potential customers out there who would buy hard drive based OTA recorders.)


***************

Philips 3575/3576 and Magnavox H2160
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=940657

DTVPal DVR - 90 day warranty- Sort of tells you how much faith they have in the unit, eh?


Comparison Chart of available OTA recorders
(Compare these specs to what a PC running a SiliconDust HDHomeRun, or SEVERAL HDHomeRun tuners can do! NOTE: Each HDHomeRun has (2) tuners- So with a PC you can record 2,4, 6, 8? channels.... Additionally note: With a PC based solution hard drive space is unlimited /easily expanded)
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showp...56&postcount=6



*******************

After reviewing all the Pro's, and Con's I went with a PC based recording solution (and yes it is viewable via TV thru S-Video, and to the 61" Big screen Tv via HDMI/DVI.)

(*Note that most ALL TV's these days have HDMI, so PC to TV should not be much of a problem.)

Solution I arrived at was a SiliconDust HDHomeRun tuner and a PC running WIN7 Media Center which gives me GUIDE data, with detailed program info out to (2) weeks.

PS: Since the tuner plugs into your "NETWORK" ....The tuner(s) and guide programming are accessible via ANY computer on your network... Additionally note you can EXPAND your system (add tuners), and EXPAND HARD DRIVE SPACE VERY EASILY SINCE you are using a PC.

NOTE: If buying used, you want to try to find a REV 2 unit... On the bottom of the unit is a sticker... if if starts of 1013 (or above) I'm pretty sure it's a REV 2 unit.

To verify /get support check out the support forums:

http://www.silicondust.com/forum/


HDHomeRun® Networked Digital TV Tuner


http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16815327005

http://www.silicondust.com/products/hdhomerun_atsc

HDHomeRun® Networked Digital TV Tuner
One Box, Two Digital Tuners, Anywhere on Your Network

* Watch TV from any computer on your network.
* Record full 1080i broadcast resolution.
* Pause, rewind, fast-forward live TV.
* Schedule and record all your favorite TV shows.
* Expand with multiple HDHomeRun devices.

TV sources

* For use in United States and Canada:
o ATSC over-the-air digital TV.
o Unencrypted digital cable.
* For Europe, Australia, and New Zealand click here

Works with popular DVR software:

* Pause, rewind, fast-forward live TV.
* Record all your favorite TV shows by name.
* Integrated TV guide (provided by the DVR software).

Seamless operation with multiple computers:

* Run Vista Media Center on multiple computers sharing the pool of HDHomeRun tuners.
* Tuners are automatically allocated between computers as needed.
* Multiple HDHomeRun units can be used together to expand the number of tuners.
* Tuner pooling works with Windows Media Center, BeyondTV, SageTV, GBPVR, MediaPortal, and TotalMedia.
* Free software/firmware upgrade available for download.

Compatible With:

* Windows Media Center:
o MCE 2005 (32/64-bit)
o Vista WMC (32/64-bit)
o WMC TV Pack (32/64-bit)
o Windows 7 (32/64-bit)
* Elgato EyeTV - DVR for Mac
* MythTV - DVR for Linux
* SnapStream BeyondTV - DVR for Windows
* SageTV - DVR for Windows/Linux/Mac
* MediaPortal - DVR for Windows
* GB-PVR - DVR for Windows
* VLC - Multi-platform media viewer
* TSReader - MPEG-2 transport stream analysis

Specifications:

* 8-VSB (ATSC over-the-air digital TV)
* QAM64/256 (unencrypted digital cable TV)
* 100baseTX high speed network
* 1 year warranty

Requirements:

* 2.8 GHz Pentium 4 or better for HD playback
* 512 MB RAM (1 GB recommended)
* 1-4 GB per 1/2 hour of DTV recording
.
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post #21 of 82 Old 11-11-2009, 10:03 AM
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I purchased a DTVPalDVR from Dish Network in January 09'. It is actually an Echostar Technologies L.L.C., FC Model ID032. According to the embossed data on the actual plastic of the back cover.
dtvpal.com/
It died in mid September 09'. Dish Network refuses to replace it or repair it even for a fee. They can not even recommend a place to get it fixed. I am now told it had only a 90 day warranty which was not obvious at the time of purchase as you only find out once you read the manual that comes with the unit. I contacted EchoStar the original marketing outfit for the DTVPalDVR under the TR-50 model name.
At ces.cnet.com/8301-13855_1-9840910-67.html &
echostar.com/Products/TechSupport.aspx and pretty much I was ignored completely.

When it worked it did so very nicely, but I don’t want to buy a new one every ¾ of a year. Any suggestions on how to proceed to get it fixed. I’m thinking a computer repair shop might be in a position to do it, but I have not found one yet.
The bar codes are RRETAT02214L for the unit and RR67517T02110M for the Main Board.
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post #22 of 82 Old 11-12-2009, 11:27 AM
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OK I won't say yes get one or no don't but here is my story for you:
- I only watch OTA (HD for 10 years or so now with one of the first RCA DTC100)
- I have a replay TV 5080 which was the absolute best ever, but unfortunately became obsolete on digital transition
- I watched for months about a replacement, was aware of issues with the DTVpal DVR, watched over issues being posted pre F208, and finally made the move post F208 as there was no other satisfactory solution.
- I knew I was getting from better to worse (no recording by name, etc..)

So I think first that bfdtv has got it right on the money as to expectations/satisfaction.

This being said, my unit (F208- LA market) is a total POS. I'm having all the problems mentionned plus more, and Dish network is dismal in its customer service, to the point that I have no satisfactory solution.
The unit oes the following (documented for months):
- reboots often (several times a week, even 2-3 times a night while watching sometimes)
- Arbitrarily starts or cancels recordings on its own
- double record on its own (two recordings of the same show)
- Remote stops working right (buttons acquire different functionality), yet turning on or off doesn't solve, I have to unplug/replug
- Records shows without sound (only happened once or twice)

As far as Dish network:
- First call useless
- Second call, they will replace, ship me a new unit. I never got it, they couldn't show me tracking
- Fourth call, they will ship again. Again never received, no tracking
- Fifth call they said someone had given me a wrong process, that they would send me a box for me to ship the original unit back FIRST (before I checked everytime and they said I had to ship the broken one back AFTER I received the replacement, also there is no doubt about the model number and name I gave them so no unit confusion). Never received the box. Incidentally before someone makes another assumption, my shipping address was correct as since the first shipment I am getting their junk mail, account status mail,, etc, and it was verified many times already.
- Sixth call, with escalation, now I have to ship back on my own dime and believe that they will ship me one when they get the old one. Yeah right, so I pay for their crap, have to believe what they say with three proofs of utter ******** so far, and lose the use of my unit and hope I may get a refurbished one (or not and then be a at loss to find where it is when I don't get anything).
- I'm contemplating what to do, I have no trust in shipping it back first.

So basically like many people I'm screwed. Whether it was bad luck or too high expectations, my unit is a POS and I'm stuck with it. It still somewhat functions and is better than nothing or a VCR for that matter, so fine, but I so miss my replay TV 5080 (my CECBs are zenith 900 and DS 5500 so no luck controlling them either). Everyday I have to watch whether it's still recording what is planned, and eventually erase what it recorded unplanned. Then suffer a few reboots here and there, and/or unplugs/replugs. With that in mind it kind of serves its function OK I guess.
BTW a feature I'm not sure people have mentionned. The number of searches you can store is limited and I think it's like 10 or so (small anyway, I use a stored search to check if it cancels records I set up, or to set up again)
The other thing is that it can't be set with a static address (I still suspect that maybe the DHCP lease renewal may interfere, but no hard proof).

In short it's a POS, I will never deal with Dish Network if I can help it, but it's still my best option AFAIK. Some people seem extremely happy however.

Could Samsung make a PN63B650 with no buzz, PIP (or 2 tuners) and integrated DVR???? Please Mr Samsung?
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post #23 of 82 Old 11-13-2009, 01:55 AM
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maybe I'm one of the lucky ones. Are there things I'd like to see fixed/improved? sure. I have a VIP622 which is much better but for the most part my DTVpal DVR works fine. 1Tb drive is getting installed next week

Rick
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post #24 of 82 Old 11-13-2009, 06:22 AM
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I've had mine since Christmas day last year. I have used mine almost every day since then and I'm still very happy with the unit.

I did upgrade the harddrive from 250GB to 500GB with no issues - - - I think the extra space helps and I could upgrade it again to 1TB but see no reason to do that.

I started with firmware F201 and now use F208. Dish has fixed many small issues along the way - - - I think using the DTVPal DVR is very easy.

Do I think it is for everyone - - - NO - - - but for folks like me who either use OTA or FTA satellite for TV - - - the DTVPal is a great unit.

My brother also has one and he uses it every day - - - he loves his.
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post #25 of 82 Old 11-13-2009, 07:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sankatyus View Post

I purchased a DTVPalDVR from Dish Network in January 09'.

It died in mid September 09'. Dish Network refuses to replace it or repair it even for a fee. They can not even recommend a place to get it fixed. I am now told it had only a 90 day warranty

When it worked it did so very nicely, but I don't want to buy a new one every ¾ of a year. Any suggestions on how to proceed to get it fixed.

Unless the unit is a total black-out, there is a chance the problem is hard disk failure. The HDD is user replaceable -- although not an easy task for someone who is not comfortable digging around inside a PC. If it is more than that then I'm afraid the unit is a total loss after 90 days. Dish does not offer in-house repair and does not have any 3rd party repair network for the DTVPal DVR, so no repair shop will be able to help you if they cannot obtain parts (I'm sure you could find a repair shop that will take your money to diagnose the problem). You bought the unit back in Jan '09 during the beta phase so you only paid $250 for it. Even if they could get parts, taking it to any repair shop out of warranty will incur a cost that would rival the cost of a new unit. In other words, like most sub-$300 units, the DTVPal DVR is throw-away electronics. There is a reason the Pal DVR costs half the price of a TiVo -- or rather, a TiVo costs 2X the price of a Pal DVR. Because of the substantial cost savings, a lot of people are willing to take a chance on the Pal DVR, compromise their expectations, accept the lower level of functionality and live with all the flaws. This gamble seems to have paid off for a large number of people here -- they have units that function good enough for them at a price point they are happy with. It's only a problem for those who get burned when their unit is a brick in less than a year.

Perhaps the new models sold at Sears have a little better build quality. In any event, if you buy a new DTVPal DVR you can and should buy the Sears 2yr extended warranty. The only real downer is that once you do buy your second unit + warranty from Sears, you realize you've essentially paid the cost of a TiVo HD and yet just have a Pal DVR.

- kelson h

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post #26 of 82 Old 11-13-2009, 02:44 PM
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Have been working with no issues at all (six months), have been at 206. Only minor issue was TVGOS was lost few months back and now with tip on this forum about factory reset, is has resurrected itself too, so I am happy like a clam.

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post #27 of 82 Old 11-16-2009, 05:21 AM
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It's unfortunate that there are no competing products.

There are plenty of Sony DHG-HDD250 DVRs' on ebay. Prices run between $330 and $475 for the common 350 and around $600 to $800 for the less common DHG-HDD500 with dual HDDs'. As long as you live in an area that has TVGOS available without issues.
(BTW, this is about the only time I would recommend Sony. )

Abundant OTA television is what makes this country different from all others. Lets keep it this way.
The Internet is no place for streaming video.
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post #28 of 82 Old 11-26-2009, 12:52 PM
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I'm very happy with the DTV Pal DVR after 6 months of ownership. I purchased it at the same time as a TiVO Series 3 HD with lifetime service. Both units are used exclusively with Over The Air (OTA) broadcast TV.

The TiVO is hooked up to broadband. The DTV Pal DVR is in a different city, hooked up in a place where it would be awkward to run an Internet or phone line.

I love the 'season pass' of the TiVo -- it just collects non-repeating episodes of shows (e.g. "Nova" or "American Experience"). But in every other important respect I prefer the DTV Pal.

DTV Pal Advantages
  • Better menus, cleaner fonts on screen, less button pushes
  • Faster channel surfing, better digital reception on fringe channels
  • Less electricity used
  • No advertisements
  • Easier to replace or upgrade hard drive (a notebook drive works great, and save even more electricity). Unlike TiVo the unit does not boot from the hard drive.
TiVo Advantages
  • Season Pass, "name based" recording.
  • Netflix Streaming (mostly old TV Shows, plus a few Movies).
  • Has more networking features (though I don't use any of them).

The TiVo's "Please Wait" clock icon is infuriating. The DTV Pal is just more pleasant to use day to day.

See also http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1099071

-Bryce

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post #29 of 82 Old 11-26-2009, 06:02 PM
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Originally Posted by jmanthey View Post

As you were told yesterday in the other thread, this DVR has only been available for nine months, so you will see Sasquatch before you find someone who's owned it for more than a year.

So, you're saying I'll be able to see a Sasquatch about 3 (or 6) months from now?

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post #30 of 82 Old 11-26-2009, 10:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Kelson View Post


Perhaps the new models sold at Sears have a little better build quality.

Why would you think that?

'Better Living Through Modern, Expensive, Electronic Devices'

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