Just what's inside a Sony DHG-HDDxx0? - Page 2 - AVS Forum
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post #31 of 103 Old 02-11-2010, 10:41 AM
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I could take a stab at dumping the DoC if someone wants to send me the mainboard from a dead unit. No way am I tearing into my own HDD500 during the final season of Lost.
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post #32 of 103 Old 02-11-2010, 12:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by videobruce View Post

rcrach; I understand design changes, among other things,

Sony announced but did not ship two units before these. The HDD100 and the HDD200, almost identical to the 250 and 500. In fact if you look at the marketing cut sheet the picture is the HDD200, you can see the Memory Stick slot on the right. So for the 250/500 they used the same chassis and I'm guessing and believe I'm correct, the same main board. These units were designed in 2004 which explains the hardware fix (big black wire) they had to add about the time of the .13 firmware update to account for higher power cable cards they didn't anticipate. If they had not discontinued these so fast there would have been the same kind of user modification interest that exists for Tivo. I think because sony is a large content provider they got cold feet. The excuse that there's no market for this kind of device is total ********. HDD PVR's are being released all over in Asia and Europe all the time. There's a few 10's of millions of OTA viewers in the US now and that's not a small market. It should be interesting to see what happens in Canada when they switch over to ATSC.
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post #33 of 103 Old 02-11-2010, 03:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rcrach View Post

I think because sony is a large content provider they got cold feet.

From what I'd heard, it was more that the retailers that were stocking them were not managing to sell nearly enough. I know Tweeter, among others, had a HUGE blowout sale when Sony discontinued them to clear out the lingering inventory, which would seem to make that more than just speculation.

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Originally Posted by rcrach View Post

The excuse that there's no market for this kind of device is total ********. HDD PVR's are being released all over in Asia and Europe all the time.

As has been discussed at length in these forums on the subject, the Wal*Mart effect is a huge contributor, as well as the fact that most cablecos, and of course the two heavy hitters in the satellite market, have their own DVRs (and of course the fact that HD DVRs for cable and satellite either have to come from the provider to be able to record in HD, or for cable, you need CableCARDs, which has been a pain in the balls to deal with for customers, because the cable companies will lie 6 ways to Sunday to not have to provide them). OTA-only people generally (a) aren't interested enough in TV to spend what a DVR would cost, or (b) aren't in a high enough income bracket to afford such a thing anyway. That's why retail HD DVRs are almost nonexistent.

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Originally Posted by rcrach View Post

There's a few 10's of millions of OTA viewers in the US now and that's not a small market. It should be interesting to see what happens in Canada when they switch over to ATSC.

Haha. Canada. What a disaster that's going to be.
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post #34 of 103 Old 02-11-2010, 04:59 PM
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"From what I'd heard, it was more that the retailers that were stocking them were not managing to sell nearly enough."

They were over priced, and OTA digital content was infant, but to discontinue the product after 5 months seemed a little quick.

"OTA-only people generally (a) aren't interested enough in TV to spend what a DVR would cost, or (b) aren't in a high enough income bracket to afford such a thing anyway. That's why retail HD DVRs are almost nonexistent."

Where does that opinion come from? What do you think OTA-only people are watching TV on? (think new flat screens)
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post #35 of 103 Old 02-11-2010, 09:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rcrach View Post

"From what I'd heard, it was more that the retailers that were stocking them were not managing to sell nearly enough."

They were over priced, and OTA digital content was infant, but to discontinue the product after 5 months seemed a little quick.

I don't think they were overpriced; the 250 GB model retailed for somewhere between $600 and $800, if memory serves, and this was at least a year *before* the TiVo Series3 box came out (which I bought, and still use constantly) for $800 with a 250 GB drive. At that point, disk storage was a good bit more costly than it is now, and TiVo sells their boxes for hardware cost, making up profit on the service fees. At the time, that's just what it cost to make, distribute, market and develop software for the units. You'll notice that LG's DVRs, the Zenith HDR-230 and the LG LST-3410a, both met the same fate.

Besides, how long is long enough for a CE vendor to dump money into a piece of hardware and be bleeding red ink before they should cut the project? 6 months? A year? Two? They have to make decisions that are best for their company's bottom line - and when you're losing buttloads of money selling a device no one's buying, you have to make the hard decisions, or someone else will step in and do it for you (and probably hand you your walking papers).

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Originally Posted by rcrach View Post

"OTA-only people generally (a) aren't interested enough in TV to spend what a DVR would cost, or (b) aren't in a high enough income bracket to afford such a thing anyway. That's why retail HD DVRs are almost nonexistent."

Where does that opinion come from? What do you think OTA-only people are watching TV on? (think new flat screens)

You assume that the entire population has HDTVs now? The last I'd heard, HDTV uptake was somewhere in the 40-50% bracket. I don't know how that breaks out in terms of cable, satellite and OTA-only markets, but I'm betting many of the HDTV owners either had cable or satellite, or got service after buying one. I, for one, didn't have cable TV until I got an HDTV (at the time, it was a gift - that was 4-5 years ago now).

Yes, there are certainly some who bought an HDTV and either decided OTA was enough (they weren't that interested in TV content, or decided the service cost was unreasonable, or they're more interested in HD movies), or couldn't afford cable or satellite service on top of it (either they bought their new HDTV on credit, or just had enough saved up to buy it). I'd have to guess they're not in the majority though.

Or at least, that's my take.
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post #36 of 103 Old 02-12-2010, 05:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by demonfoo View Post

. . . Yes, there are certainly some who bought an HDTV and either decided OTA was enough (they weren't that interested in TV content, or decided the service cost was unreasonable, or they're more interested in HD movies), or couldn't afford cable or satellite service on top of it (either they bought their new HDTV on credit, or just had enough saved up to buy it)..........

Or they wanted the best quality HDTV experience available, instead of the lower bandwidth experience that the cableco's and satellite providers promote as "HD".

Don't ever make the MISTAKE of buying a Samsung TV..
They consider THIS
normal on a two month old set..
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post #37 of 103 Old 02-12-2010, 05:30 AM
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And don't forget the trouble a lot of people have had with the TV Guide on Screen system, even back in the "analog era." If TVGOS doesn't work in your area whether because of poor antenna reception, or your cable company not passing the signal through, these units lose a lot of their functionality because you can't set the clock manually so as to schedule recordings by hand.
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post #38 of 103 Old 02-12-2010, 05:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WS65711 View Post

Or they wanted the best quality HDTV experience available, instead of the lower bandwidth experience that the cableco's and satellite providers promote as "HD".

Yes, but depending on where you're at the channel selection is pretty limited. Also, setting up an OTA antenna, unless you're at a pretty optimal position for receiving from your local antenna farm, can be involved and an additional cost. For some people OTA is enough, but I do think they're in the minority - there's a lot of content out there on cable, some very good stuff (IMO), and yes, a lot of crap, but that's how it is with any medium.

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Originally Posted by jtbell View Post

And don't forget the trouble a lot of people have had with the TV Guide on Screen system, even back in the "analog era." If TVGOS doesn't work in your area whether because of poor antenna reception, or your cable company not passing the signal through, these units lose a lot of their functionality because you can't set the clock manually so as to schedule recordings by hand.

Yes, and I'm guessing there are still some lesser DMAs that may not have anyone feeding TVGoS data out at all. But yes, incorrect clock data, feed problems, etc. - it's the problem with a free service, in that you don't know if anyone's going to care enough to set it up right or not, if they can be bothered at all.

Anyway, I think this might just be enough of this little thread derail...
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post #39 of 103 Old 02-12-2010, 08:06 AM - Thread Starter
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designed in 2004 which explains the hardware fix (big black wire) they had to add about the time of the .13 firmware update to account for higher power cable cards they didn't anticipate.

I was wondering why such a heavy gauge jumper. One thing I will say these are void of the usual modifications I see on just about every board I have ever looked at Other than motherboards) where the manufacture discovers dozens of 'issues' after the fact.
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Haha. Canada. What a disaster that's going to be.

Why would you say that? They have had the opportunity to learn from our mistakes. The biggest problem they have is the fact the CCs' own the OTA stations and many up there feel they want OTA to go away!
Living in the only US city to have the advantage of being within the largest Canadian TV market, I surely hope that never happens. Screw Rodgers Cable! I have watched Canadian TV since I was old enough to go up in the attic and reposition the antenna (probably when I was around 10).

Abundant OTA television is what makes this country different from all others. Lets keep it this way.
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post #40 of 103 Old 02-12-2010, 08:10 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:


Anyway, I think this might just be enough of this little thread derail...

It's good to get this stuff out in the open.

I haven't been able to find any of this "TrueFSS" software. With this M-Systems getting sold to Sandisk (of all companies), apparently they have since completely dropped any support. I serach their sight and go no response for this "DiskOnChip".

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post #41 of 103 Old 02-12-2010, 08:52 AM
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I have the 500. I was thinking"how could or would it be possible to put in another tuner so it could be like DTVpal?" This would be great if someone could figure this out. I NEED two tuners or I might have to make a trip to Sears,wife wants to watch and record two shows at same time.{never should have told her about the pal...}
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post #42 of 103 Old 02-12-2010, 09:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by videobruce View Post

Why would you say that? They have had the opportunity to learn from our mistakes. The biggest problem they have is the fact the CCs' own the OTA stations and many up there feel they want OTA to go away!

Well, I guess if they want OTA to go away, they're certainly on their way to that. Considering several networks in Canada, including CBC, have stated they're not even going to bother going to OTA digital in most areas until sometime well after Canada's stated digital cutover date, that's probably what's going to happen; that, or the government will realize they have nowhere near reasonable digital OTA coverage levels and push the date back repeatedly, making more time for the networks to ignore it...
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post #43 of 103 Old 02-12-2010, 09:25 AM - Thread Starter
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wanab; We can't even figure out to add a 2nd HDD to a 250 let alone add a 2nd tuner. It would be just easier to pick up a 2nd 250 off ebay for around $350 (or less if you time it right). That DTVPal has it's own issues. Namely, it's OTA only. Being enclosed in a cheap plastic case doesn't say much either. It looks more like a $50 CECB.

Abundant OTA television is what makes this country different from all others. Lets keep it this way.
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post #44 of 103 Old 02-12-2010, 09:38 AM
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Thanks, I'll just wait. Had to ask. On that pal thread,lots of issues.
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post #45 of 103 Old 02-12-2010, 09:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by videobruce View Post

That DTVPal has it's own issues. Namely, it's OTA only. Being enclosed in a cheap plastic case doesn't say much either. It looks more like a $50 CECB.

And some people are still having reliability issues with it (apart from PSIP/TVGoS stuff), even with E*'s many firmware updates.
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post #46 of 103 Old 02-13-2010, 12:51 AM
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Originally Posted by wanab View Post

Thanks, I'll just wait.

There's the TiVo (w/lifetime fee) and Moxi, too.
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post #47 of 103 Old 02-13-2010, 08:14 AM - Thread Starter
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If anyone wants to get together with going further on this, please PM me.

Abundant OTA television is what makes this country different from all others. Lets keep it this way.
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post #48 of 103 Old 02-13-2010, 09:43 AM
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Has anyone dared to experiment with hotplugging a drive?

Mark Fontana mentioned in this post that it worked.
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Originally Posted by dp70 View Post

It was a while ago, but I did manage to get a second drive to show up in the system menu of my HDD250 by hotplugging the drive (!) after the unit was already up. (It would not boot with the drive connected.) If someone gutsy feels like picking up on those tests, you might try reproducing that result and then doing a disk format from the service menu while the drive is shown. (So basically take advantage of the unit's own ability to prep a drive.) This experiment is above my risk threshold for now.

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post #49 of 103 Old 02-14-2010, 06:56 AM - Thread Starter
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I don't know how much of this is valuable, but I added these links to the previous post for the DiskOnChip;
This design goes back to 1995 where I found 1st reference. Apparently, Sony was one their last customers. Interestingly, just about all of the 'hits' I got when searching for "TrueFFS software" are from M-Systems literature even though the company doesn't exist anymore.

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post #50 of 103 Old 02-20-2010, 06:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by videobruce View Post

Anyone want to try your hand with this;
link

Hi. Excuse my intrusion, I'm going crazy by a month because I've bought a netbook with a m-system udiskonchip 2Gb and I need its toolbox in order to instal XP. Unfortunatly the m-system site does not exist because Sandisk has incorporated it. I've found everywhere, I've written to Sandisk but I can't find these utilities. I've seen the link for DiskOnChip; Can you help me to find a link for Udiskonchip, please ? (I think TrueFFS 6.x or 7.1)
Thank you in advanced

Best Regards
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post #51 of 103 Old 03-26-2010, 06:15 AM - Thread Starter
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I haven't been able to find that software either.
Someone else stumbled across this post from four years ago that dp70 wrote that no one went further with. I guess there are too many "straight arrows" here;
Quote:


The main drive has 3 partitions- the first two are standard ext2 filesystems, each 78 MB, each containing three identical files that I believe comprise the upgradeable non-TVGOS portion of the Sony's firmware: an 18 MB target.cfs cramfs filesystem image, a 65-byte sign.dat signature file (probably verifying the integrity of the cramfs file) and a 52-byte firmware load control file upgRec.bin which contains binary data but has text references to target.cfs and sign.dat inside. Partitions 1 and 2 contain identical copies of all three firmware files for safety.

Partition 3 occupies the remainder of the disk. It's an xfs filesystem containing the video files. I tried mounting it on SuSE Linux 9.1 (which supports xfs) and the mount operation segfaults every time. fsck.xfs indicates problems with the filesystem as well. I was also unable to mount the cramfs filesystem using the normal method (i.e. "mount -o loop -t cramfs target.cfs "). This all seems rather suspicious to me and makes me wonder if perhaps Sony has hacked up encrypted versions of cramfs and xfs. In the case of the cramfs file, this happens to make it hard to inspect the firmware files to ensure Sony has fully complied with the applicable open source licenses.

Anyway, I am pretty certain the upgradeable portion of the firmware is contained in the cramfs image, and that the main purpose of the USB port is to load updated versions of these files from an external disk. I'm going to try putting target.cfs, upgRec.bin and sign.dat on a USB flash drive and see whether the Sony recognizes them.

As for the hard drive upgrade-- here's what I know so far:

1. If you replace the 250's single drive with an identical brand new bare drive (unpartitioned), the Sony cannot deal with it and recover. It does not get past the Sony boot logo screen. Partitioning the drive and putting a valid filesystem on it does not make a difference. From watching the hard drive activity LED on the mainboard for a successful boot, it is pretty clear that the Sony runs a flash-based bootloader that in turn loads those firmware files from disk. So the first thing I did was to make a backup of those firmware files so that I can recover if the drive fails.

2. If you simply connect the second drive as a slave on the IDE bus, set the original drive to master (original setting was Cable Select), the drive is not automatically initialized. However, I was able to get the system up and running enough to see the second hard drive appear in the diagnostic menus with 0% free space. The DVR model was still shown as HDD250.

3. With two drives connected, there is no way to choose which drive to format. I tried formatting (realizing I was going to lose the stored content on my main drive) and the format operation failed with the unit restarting repeatedly until I disconnected the second drive. The Sony then happily formatted the main drive and booted into "out of box" setup mode. I am pretty sure the "format" terminology refers only to performing a mkfs.xfs operation on the video storage area-- the firmware partitions are not disturbed.

4. I tried creating a single large partition on the second drive, but the Sony still refused to format the drive. I tried creating a valid xfs filesystem on that large partition... still no luck.

5. What I'm trying now is to clone the original drive to the new drive (using the UNIX dd command). We'll see how the Sony likes that... if this does not work, it would be really helpful if someone with an HDD500 would let us know how the second drive is partitioned.

6. I confirmed the two hard drive power connectors in the Sony's power supply are tied together electrically, so it should be OK to use a Y-cable to run both drives off the single PC-style power connector. I went ahead and made a power cable just in case, though. One end needs to be a standard 4-pin Molex PC power plug, and the other end needs to be the smaller size 3.5" floppy drive power connector. The header on the power supply uses a different locking mechanism, but the pinout and pin spacing are the same, and the floppy drive plug fits well enough.

7. Mounting the second drive requires four extra-long screws and the fabrication of some anti-shock rubber mounts that are not present on the second mounting sled. I used two sizes of rubber grommets for this (photos to follow) and the results came out pretty well.

Stay tuned...

Anyway, someone else suggested "Ghosting" the drive. While I understand it isn't that simple, my question is there must be a program (non windows based) that is able to do this. Somewhere.

Input?

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post #52 of 103 Old 03-27-2010, 04:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by videobruce View Post

... Anyway, someone else suggested "Ghosting" the drive. While I understand it isn't that simple, my question is there must be a program (non windows based) that is able to do this. Somewhere.

Input?

There has been a lot of speculation that the drives are registered to the bootload firmware. This could be a piece of data written to a hidden sector/track, or maybe read from the drive's firmware (i.e. serial number). So, if a replacement drive is installed, the bootloader sees that this is not the original drive, and refuses to continue.

Part of the procedure at the Sony depot, when repairing a machine that involves drive replacement, must be to "bless" the new drive, or reflash the bootloader data area to contain the new drive's credentials.

The thing to have, aside from the jig they probably have to do this, is the utilities they use when they need to make drive replacements. It would be handy for this info to be "leaked" to the DHG geek community.
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post #53 of 103 Old 12-29-2010, 03:53 AM - Thread Starter
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I have had some conversation (messages) with someone that was a Sony insider that was involved with this unit and after asking some questions about HDD replacement I received this reply. I have no idea who he is, but from his text, I believe he is who he says he was, not just someone playing the part.
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The OS is linux 2.4 (2.4.18 I think), filesystems are encrypted XFS. You will not be able to put larger HDDs in the unit because the SW probably wouldn't recognize them. Also there is some magic that will prevent you from replacing the drives, this can be done only by Sony service.

The reason for this is to protect the encrypted content decoded by the CableCard. When companies produce CableCard equipment, they must take a lot of precautions to prevent theft of encrypted content because they could be held liable. The encrypted HD streams on premium channels like HBO and Showtime are very valuable.

The other reason, if I recall correctly, that drive swapping was disabled by design was to reduce overhead on Sony service. If you could swap the drives, lots of people would do it, some drives would work, others wouldn't, there would be lots of calls/etc... to Sony service and that costs time and money. Also people might be dissatisfied if they tried changing the drive and it sort of worked but rewind/FF was slow or the unit sometimes locked up -- it could give a negative impression to the product when the product is not at fault. Better to simply disable it.

Also you have to understand that not all HDDs are equal. The ones used in the DHG were selected based on a number of criteria that allowed them to perform well in a DVR application. Many other HDDs would not work as well, it is a very demanding application. I hope this answers your questions!

The problem I have about the above is, TiVo allows this and so does the ill fated Dish/CM DTVPal DVR. Though you can't extract anything recorded, you can at lest swap drives.

Anyone doing this;
1. Isn't a newbie,
2. Has done this with at least a PC,
3. Realizes that it would void the warranty,
4. Also realizes that not all drives would work.

Anyone have a handle on "encripted XFS"???

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post #54 of 103 Old 12-29-2010, 03:54 AM - Thread Starter
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The follow up to the above was this;
Quote:


When the DHG series was produced, Tivo had yet to turn a profit and was burning through a ton of cash every month. Tivo actually never made a profit until FY2008. So doing what Tivo did circa 2005 might have made sense for a small market segment of hackers/DIY types (like us!) but not for the business as a whole.

Another factor is that in 2005 there was no other CableCard HD DVR - the DHG was it. Again, when you sign the CableCard agreement, it has many very specific technical requirements regarding the protection of HD content. I don't know about Tivo but I do know that some other manufacturers are not meeting this spec even though they signed the contract. Such manufacturers may find themselves in real hot water one day if HBO/Showtime/etc... go on a money hunt.

Also, Sony has a lot more experience producing electronics than Tivo, and they knew that allowing the DIY crowd to swap parts in and out of units would end up costing them money from the service center end. My guess is that Tivo either didn't consider this or didn't care. They may have also wanted to encourage the DIY crowd, I'm not sure. It's also worth noting that Sony has a large content division as well, so that may be another reason they are more conservative about this sort of thing.

In any case, the worlds of "cool stuff" and "good business" don't often intersect. The DHG was cool and the 2nd generation would have been a lot cooler, but unfortunately we didn't get to make that happen. The 2nd gen would have gotten you the USB 2/external HDD solution, that was in the works. But in the end Sony decided that DVRs weren't a good business so they shelved it. And that may have been the right decision for them -- again, it took Tivo 8 years at least to turn a profit! Not many businesses can wait that long for a return.

Was it Sony or Hollywood that didn't think it was a "good business decision"?

Some additional info:
Quote:


The OS and SW are loaded entirely from flash memory. They are NOT loaded from the images on the disk. The disk is used to store the original SW in case the user performs a "revert to factory defaults" operation. The disk is also used to store the latest SW upgrade images.

Basically the disk is used for:
A/V data
SW upgrade images
Original SW images in case for factory defaults op

There is no hidden partition.


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The Internet is no place for streaming video.
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post #55 of 103 Old 04-06-2011, 08:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rcrach View Post

Sony announced but did not ship two units before these. The HDD100 and the HDD200, almost identical to the 250 and 500......

A pre-production 200 from some pawn shop just sold on ebay.
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post #56 of 103 Old 06-18-2011, 12:11 PM
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I dont suppose there is a spot for a IEEE1394 connection on the board where an enterprising individual could install a connector and see if sony actually programmed this functionality into the unit but did not expose it to the consumer. Same question goes for the network interface which I see there is a place for on the board.
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post #57 of 103 Old 06-30-2011, 12:04 PM
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Originally Posted by videobruce View Post

this possibly works in conjunction with the 'diskonchip plus'. The st m27w401 one time programmable eprom. Description is; here is the datasheet;
http://www.datasheetcatalog.org/data...s/mxyzuyuw.pdf'

this is only on the 500 gb motherboard.

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post #58 of 103 Old 06-30-2011, 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by videobruce View Post

This possibly works in conjunction with the 'DiskOnChip Plus'. The ST M27W401 One Time Programmable EPROM. Description is; Here is the datasheet;
http://www.datasheetcatalog.org/data...s/mXyzuyuw.pdf'

Otp eprom
This possibly works in conjunction with the 'DiskOnChip Plus'. The ST M27W401 One Time Programmable EPROM. Description is;
Quote:
It is ideally suited for microprocessor systems requiring large data or program storage
Here is the datasheet;
http://www.datasheetcatalog.org/data...s/mXyzuyuw.pdf'
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version Name: ST M27W402 IC 200.JPG Views: 29 Size: 157.3 KB ID: 166471 Click image for larger version Name: CC slot board.jpg Views: 29 Size: 102.2 KB ID: 166472
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THIS IS ONLY ON THE 500 GB UNIT. THIS is why you cannot just add another 250gb in a 250 unit.

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post #59 of 103 Old 07-01-2011, 04:26 AM - Thread Starter
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Nice find.
Why isn't it needed on a single drive version??

Abundant OTA television is what makes this country different from all others. Lets keep it this way.
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post #60 of 103 Old 07-03-2011, 11:18 AM
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Where on the boards is it loaded? there's some good pics somebody took some years ago in the thread and i'm too lazy to dig them out at the moment

over
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