ePVision PHD-VRX & VRX2 Owners Thread - Page 12 - AVS Forum
Forum Jump: 
 2Likes
Reply
 
Thread Tools
post #331 of 2316 Old 06-29-2012, 04:54 PM
Advanced Member
 
HDTV1080P24's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 586
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aleron Ives View Post

Regarding the clock functions, it's also worth remembering that setting the clock with PSIP isn't an option for some people, as many stations don't bother to set the correct time (especially when DST transitions are near). That just leaves getting the time over the network, and unless the VRX keeps its Ethernet hardware powered while in standby (which it probably doesn't), there's no way for it to update the time without being booted.
There's also probably no way for the VRX to "detect" a power failure and turn itself on just long enough to reset the clock. As far as the VRX is concerned, being unplugged is the same thing as a power failure, so the only way to get the feature would be for the VRX to always automatically turn itself on whenever it gets plugged in. Having it automatically turn itself off again after setting the clock would prove troublesome for people setting up the unit for the first time, though. wink.gif

I thought about making my own firmware to improve on features since I do have some programming experience, but for two reason I will not be making my own firmware. First issue is it’s to time consuming to be a volunteer programmer. Second issue is it’s not my responsibility to write firmware since that is the responsibility of the company that is manufacturing the product.

The PHD-VRX remembers the channel database settings, time zone settings, and many other features during and after a power outage. Items like the front panel lock settings and time are lost during a power outage or when the “Master power switch” on the front is pushed.

The PHD-VRX firmware already knows if the unit has never been setup before or when a factory reset occurs by bringing up a special menu that asks the consumer to enter language information, time zone info, etc. A programmer could make firmware that tells the PHD-VRX to check to see if the initial setup has been performed when the box is booting up for the first time (or after a factory reset of all menu options). Basically for first time users the PHD-VRX would just do a complete boot up after the master power button is pushed and then disable the auto time set feature when it sees the initial setup screen has not been setup yet.

Also the PHD-VRX with a firmware update would be able to detect when a power outage occurred by having the PHD-VRX create a special internal standby code set to “1” when the clock has been automatically set by a digital channel or Internet. When the PHD-VRX losses power and enters standby mode it would check to see if the “1” code is set to “1”. If it is set to “1” then the PHD-VRX would remain in standby mode. If it was set to “0” then PHD-VRX firmware would just turn itself on and grab the time and then shut itself off. Every time the box loses power the standbye code would be set to "0".

Also after the box turns itself on to grab the time before turning itself off there should be a 30 second delay with a message box that says. "Auto time set has been performed and box will be powered off unless cancel is pressed within 30 seconds."

Personally I just leave the box on 24 x 7 even though it uses more power.

So there is ways to make the PHD-VRX know when it has lost time after the initial setup has occurred.
HDTV1080P24 is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #332 of 2316 Old 06-29-2012, 05:20 PM
Thread Ender
 
WS65711's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Covington, LA OTA & Charter CableCard
Posts: 4,134
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 69 Post(s)
Liked: 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian A View Post

Unfortunately, I have found at least two problems using the optical output to obtain 5.1 Dolby Digital at my receiver:
1. There is no audio at all when the timeshifting mode is activated. There is audio on the HDMI output.
2. If a recorded program is paused during playback, the video freezes but the audio continues playing for an additional 5 seconds or so. When the video stream is resumed by hitting play, there is no audio until the video "catches up" to the point where the audio originally paused (another 5 seconds). The HDMI output behaves normally.
If ePVision expects us to use the optical output for 5.1 DD, then they need to fix these two serious bugs.

It's sounding more and more like this product is half-cooked, three-quarters raw . . .

Don't ever make the MISTAKE of buying a Samsung TV..
They consider
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 0 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

normal on a two month old set..
WS65711 is offline  
post #333 of 2316 Old 06-29-2012, 05:27 PM
AVS Special Member
 
JoeKustra's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Ashland, PA 17921
Posts: 6,589
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 16 Post(s)
Liked: 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by WS65711 View Post

It's sounding more and more like this product is half-cooked, three-quarters raw . . .

Yeah, but it beats comparing it to a TiVo. And it has four EPGs.
uttsjs likes this.
JoeKustra is offline  
post #334 of 2316 Old 06-29-2012, 06:44 PM
AVS Special Member
 
Aleron Ives's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 2,706
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 247 Post(s)
Liked: 332
Quote:
Originally Posted by HDTV1080P24 View Post

So there is ways to make the PHD-VRX know when it has lost time after the initial setup has occurred.

Yes, but realistically it's hard to see ePVision actually implementing such practical features. It seems like they're only capable of making minor changes, so the potential customers have the sub-optimal choice of either asking for minor fixes that might actually happen or elegant fixes that won't come to pass.
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeKustra 
I would repeat my earlier post: when I turned OFF my old VCR it would start looking for a clock signal starting at channel 2. When I plugged in my CM7400 and set up the network IP connection, it found the time. When I powered on my M6620N it found the time in under one minute. It's not rocket science.

Closed captions shouldn't be rocket science either, but just look at how "hard" it seems to be for any company to actually support something so basic in their DVRs... frown.gif
Aleron Ives is offline  
post #335 of 2316 Old 06-29-2012, 08:50 PM
Senior Member
 
DB100's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 263
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 12
Well, I bought one of these units, and it took the better part of a day to get used to the interface. There's lots I could say, but I want to address a single issue - the Audio.

I made some recordings and the video was great! When recording, they must do some enhancements because the recordings looked much better than live TV. However, the audio is waaaaaaaay to low. You can hardly hear it. With the great video, it was a shame the recordings were practically unviewable because you couldn't hear it. When recording, I had both the TV and PHD volumes set to the max.

I decided to do some tests.

I connected the external harddrive to my laptop and copied over the recording. I loaded it into VideoReDo and took a snippet and saved it down to Test1.mpg. I took another snippet and this time I increased the audio, and saved it as Test2.mpg. I then moved all 3 files over to my TVIX3310 to see what it would sound like. The TVIX would not even play the original recording. It WOULD play both of the VideoReDo files. Test1 sounded like the PHD - no volume at all. But Test2.mpg sounded great! VideoReDo can add plenty of volume, even to where I had to turn the TV volume down.

I copied Test2.mpg, with the enhanced audio, back to the PHD and it sounded great.

Since the TVIX played Test1.mpg with extremely low audio, I conclude that the problem is in the recording process, as opposed to the actual PHD device having a problem with play back.

By the way, I know their web site recommends KM player for viewing a recording on your PC, but I use GOM player and it played the recordings fine.
DB100 is offline  
post #336 of 2316 Old 06-29-2012, 09:32 PM
AVS Special Member
 
Aleron Ives's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 2,706
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 247 Post(s)
Liked: 332
According to DVICo's product page, the 3310 should be able to play both MPEG TS and PS files, so the fact that it doesn't play the VRX's original recording indicates that it isn't raw and is either being transcoded or stored in a non-compliant container. Judging from your post, I assume that the audio is fine when watching live TV, and the low volume problem is only present in recordings. Perhaps the VRX is also performing transcoding of some kind on the audio, or perhaps when it downmixes 5.1 AC3 into 2.0 PCM it incorrectly adjusts the gain. If so, it could be an audio manifestation of the poor calibration seen in the video settings, rather than an indication of a particularly poor transcoding technique. The VRX could possibly be incorrectly using the AC3 DRC settings when it downmixes, too.
Aleron Ives is offline  
post #337 of 2316 Old 06-30-2012, 09:49 AM
Senior Member
 
DB100's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 263
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 12
I see two roles for a DVR: First, serve as my daily-use front end for TV watching, and second, allow me to archive selective programming.

Right now, I use the PalDVR as my daily-use device, and the TVIX3310 as my archive device. The PalDVR has worked great and I'm comfortable with the interface - but it can't archive. The TVIX3310 can archive - but it 's buggy and would be a poor choice as my daily-use device.

Ideally, I would have one device that could do both. I was hoping that the PHD was such a device. It definitely has potential, but with the poor audio level it won't work as a daily-use device. It should work great as an archive device since I can adjust the audio in VideoReDo.

I know VideoBruce has a long list of suggested improvements, but I would put the poor audio issue at the very top!

I know what people are thinking - wouldn't the Tivo do both? Yes, but it doesn't support USB transfers and I just wouldn't own a device that lacked that. Also, I find the external drive on the PHD a real plus. I can just unplug it and plug it into my laptop to get at the files. I like that better than messing with a USB/Network cable.
DB100 is offline  
post #338 of 2316 Old 06-30-2012, 10:16 AM
Senior Member
 
DB100's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 263
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 12
I went to ePVision's web site and reported the low-level audio on recordings. We'll see what they say.

I also congratulated them on their "Favorites" utility. That's the most sophisticated I've ever seen. It's the best way to navigate to a channel when watching TV. If you haven't checked it out - then do so. When you go in, you are at 'Favorite list 1". You can hit down-arrow to go to list 2, and then list 3. Or, you can hit up-arrow to go to a list of the different inputs, and then to a list of all the channels you checked in the "Master List". Here's how I organized it:

Input1 has more channels than Input2. For Input1, I made 3 lists. List 2 has all the sports channels, and List 3 has all the news channels. List 1 has everything else. I organized Input2 differently. I have 18 channels on Input2. Each list can have 6 entries before you have to scroll horizontally. So I put 6 channels on each list. That eliminates any horizontal scrolling.

The way to build your lists is: Up-Arrow to the list of all channels. Select a channel. Down-Arrow to the appropriate list and hit the green button. Then Up-Arrow to the master list and repeat.

Check it out, it's a great utility.
DB100 is offline  
post #339 of 2316 Old 06-30-2012, 01:04 PM - Thread Starter
AVS Addicted Member
 
videobruce's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Buffalo NY
Posts: 15,062
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 142 Post(s)
Liked: 132
Quote:
It's sounding more and more like this product is half-cooked, three-quarters raw . . .
A similar statement was made weeks ago, but not as nicely put.
Quote:
Yeah, but it beats comparing it to a TiVo.
You dare make that statement here? You might get thrown off by all those lawsuit lovers. tongue.gif
Quote:
And it has four EPGs.
I'll take one that works all the time no matter where you are. wink.gif

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.
videobruce is offline  
post #340 of 2316 Old 06-30-2012, 01:05 PM - Thread Starter
AVS Addicted Member
 
videobruce's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Buffalo NY
Posts: 15,062
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 142 Post(s)
Liked: 132
Quote:
However, the audio is waaaaaaaay to low. You can hardly hear it.
Matches the dark video.
Quote:
TVIX3310 can archive - but it 's buggy and would be a poor choice as my daily-use device.
How about the 6620 replacement?

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.
videobruce is offline  
post #341 of 2316 Old 06-30-2012, 01:37 PM
AVS Special Member
 
JoeKustra's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Ashland, PA 17921
Posts: 6,589
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 16 Post(s)
Liked: 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by videobruce View Post

Quote:
However, the audio is waaaaaaaay to low. You can hardly hear it.
Matches the dark video.
Quote:
TVIX3310 can archive - but it 's buggy and would be a poor choice as my daily-use device.
How about the 6620 replacement?

The M6620N is ok. You need to add a SATA hard drive. What made me box it up was the front panel. It's hyperactive. It shows a countdown to a recording start and a display of the recording time and channel. Both of these SCROLL continuously when the unit is active. It's worse than watching CNN.

The Tivo can be made blank. My Blu-ray is blank except when playing. I have enough clocks for NASA, I don't need any more.

As for the audio issue, I will assume it is a global, not channel specific problem. But I have no dog in that hunt.
JoeKustra is offline  
post #342 of 2316 Old 06-30-2012, 01:58 PM - Thread Starter
AVS Addicted Member
 
videobruce's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Buffalo NY
Posts: 15,062
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 142 Post(s)
Liked: 132
Quote:
What made me box it up was the front panel. It's hyperactive. It shows a countdown to a recording start and a display of the recording time and channel. Both of these SCROLL continuously when the unit is active.
Can't that be cover over either totally of partly with opaque tape?

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.
videobruce is offline  
post #343 of 2316 Old 06-30-2012, 02:11 PM
AVS Special Member
 
JoeKustra's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Ashland, PA 17921
Posts: 6,589
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 16 Post(s)
Liked: 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by videobruce View Post

Quote:
What made me box it up was the front panel. It's hyperactive. It shows a countdown to a recording start and a display of the recording time and channel. Both of these SCROLL continuously when the unit is active.
Can't that be cover over either totally of partly with opaque tape?
Then how do I use the remote? It scrolls since it rather small. Also with a dual tuner it can be confusing if two shows are being recorded at the same time. It's a well build unit, just not so good in operation. Did I mention that the titles have the END time in their title? That's how computers work.

Their support people said they would look into the situation.
JoeKustra is offline  
post #344 of 2316 Old 06-30-2012, 02:22 PM - Thread Starter
AVS Addicted Member
 
videobruce's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Buffalo NY
Posts: 15,062
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 142 Post(s)
Liked: 132
Not enough to cover up the IR window.
Quote:
Did I mention that the titles have the END time in their title?
No and huh?? confused.gif

BTW, that last firmware is still on their site.
Also, the audio issue was moved up to #5 from #9. I still feel those basic functions are more important. Not that audio isn't, but if you have to stand on your head to get a recording made, what's the point? wink.gif

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.
videobruce is offline  
post #345 of 2316 Old 06-30-2012, 02:42 PM
AVS Special Member
 
JoeKustra's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Ashland, PA 17921
Posts: 6,589
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 16 Post(s)
Liked: 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by videobruce View Post

Not enough to cover up the IR window.
Quote:
Did I mention that the titles have the END time in their title?
No and huh?? confused.gif
BTW, that last firmware is still on their site. Also, the audio issue was moved up to #5 from #9. I still feel those basic functions are more important. Not that audio isn't, but if you have to stand on your head to get a recording made, what's the point? wink.gif

Remember I have no PSIP? So manual recordings are by channel and time. The time is the end time not the start time. But it is in US format not Japanese format like the BV-980H. My Mag and TiVo can name recordings. The rest is almost like a VCR. But I survive.
JoeKustra is offline  
post #346 of 2316 Old 06-30-2012, 03:02 PM
AVS Special Member
 
Aleron Ives's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 2,706
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 247 Post(s)
Liked: 332
What Joe means is that the timestamp on a recording is the "modified" time, not the "created" time. As a result, recording a show from 8 - 9 will result in a file that's stamped 9 instead of 8. I thought I read that the VRX did the same thing, but maybe I was wrong about that. The time isn't part of the filename; it's just displayed as part of the file properties.

The scrolling on the front display is annoying, but it thankfully only happens during recording. During playback the unit displays the play time, so the only reason you'd have to watch the scrolling is if you're trying to watch something else while the DVR is recording. If that's the case, a piece of cardboard would suffice as a temporary display cover, since you don't need to interact with the unit while it's recording, anyway. I've been tempted to do it myself, but I haven't felt like searching for a suitable piece of cardboard.
Aleron Ives is offline  
post #347 of 2316 Old 06-30-2012, 03:08 PM
AVS Club Gold
 
wajo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 14,048
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 38 Post(s)
Liked: 134
An old, thicker greeting card works nicely, at least as a starting point. If you use a thin card, and operate close to machine, it can "bore" thru... at least it did on my Mag DVDRs.

Slicker barriers can be cut from old black plastic VHS tape cases.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 0 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
|
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 0 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
|
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 0 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
|
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 0 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
wajo is offline  
post #348 of 2316 Old 06-30-2012, 05:54 PM
Advanced Member
 
HDTV1080P24's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 586
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 27
The audio level on the PHD-VRX is exactly the same between the live broadcast and the recordings as far as I can tell. Would have to use a sound meter to verify. Regardless of the audio menu settings the PHD-VRX is capturing the native 5.1 and 2.0 Dolby Digtial ATSC audio stream when recording. The audio level changes depending on the audio level of the channel. For example when watching and recording on my local PBS channel the audio level is above normal compared to the other channels in my area.

The problem is that the HDMI output only offers a 2.0 PCM low level volume. Also make sure if you are using PCM over HDMI that you adjust the volume control on the PHD-VRX remote to 100%. Now the optical output is fixed and the volume control on the PHD-VRX remote will have no effect. When the optical output in the menu is set to PCM the 2.0 PCM is a little louder compared to the HDMI output. I found the AC3 setting with optical was the best setting since the PHD-VRX bitstreams the audio with no changes made at all. The 5.1 Dolby Digital, 2.0 Dolby Digital, and Spanish 1.0 Dolby Digital tracks I tried were at a normal volume level for both live broadcast and recordings.

The problem comes back to what I have been saying from the beginning, the HDMI output needs a firmware update to correct the audio issue. Since the volume control on the PHD-VRX only works on the HDMI output and not the analog audio outputs one might question if the volume control feature is even needed at all. Anyone having a HDMI input on their TV or A/V receiver will more than likely not want to use the volume control on the PHD-VRX at all. I would recommend the PHD-VRX software engineers to either completely remove the volume control feature or to make the volume control only control the analog audio outputs. For example if someone wanted to connect powered speakers to the analog audio outputs then having the volume control on the remote would be ideal if a firmware update would allow volume control over analog audio outputs.

If there was an option in the PHD-VRX audio menu to add a choice of toggling between PCM and AC3 for the HDMI output this would solve this audio problem issues. Many TV’s with a HDMI input can decode AC3 bitstream over HDMI and convert the audio to 2.0 PCM. Right now the problem is the HDMI output has a very low 2.0 PCM output even when the volume control is on maximum. The PHD-VRX optical 2.0 PCM is a lot louder which means that the way the audio is being offered over HDMI is a bad hardware or software design in terms of volume level (plus no AC3 HDMI option). Adding the AC3 bitstream audio option to HDMI would solve this problem for consumers.
HDTV1080P24 is offline  
post #349 of 2316 Old 07-01-2012, 11:02 AM
Senior Member
 
DB100's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 263
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by HDTV1080P24 View Post

...Right now the problem is the HDMI output has a very low 2.0 PCM output even when the volume control is on maximum. The PHD-VRX optical 2.0 PCM is a lot louder which means that the way the audio is being offered over HDMI is a bad hardware or software design in terms of volume level (plus no AC3 HDMI option). Adding the AC3 bitstream audio option to HDMI would solve this problem for consumers.

You're laying the blame for low audio on how they handle the HDMI output. This didn't make sense to me since I had copied a file over to my TVIX3310 and the volume over there was too low also. My TVIX3310 uses component out, not HDMI out. So, I decided I better redo my experiment just to make sure. In the process, I learned something about my TV's volume control that I had never even thought about. I just assumed that when you set the volume on your TV set, that was that.

I had set the TV's volume to max while I was using the PHD (TV Input: HDMI). I changed my TV Input to "Component" to view the same recording on my TVIX. When I played it the volume was the same - too low. What I now know is that the TV stores and resets the volume for each individual TV Input. So when I reset to Component, the TV volume was lowered to what it was the last time the tv was set to Component. I should have raised the volume back to max and I would have found that the recording played much louder on the TVIX.

The bottom line is this: I set each device to the same channel and switched back and forth while watching live tv. To get the volumes to match, I had to decrease the TVIX's volume to the half-way point on the scale. So I guess you could say the TVIX is twice as loud as the PHD, which means what you say about the HDMI port now makes sense. The TVIX had the analog channel while the PHD had the digital channel. I don't know if that's relevent.

One last thing. I have a cable plugged into the earphone jack of my TV, running to my a small stereo, to get better sound than my TV. I happened to unplug this and noticed the volume was set to 50%. In other words, the TV stores separate volumes for when the jack's plugged in and when it isn't. I turned the volume all the way up with the jack out. When I plugged the jack back in it seemed to make recordings match live tv in sound level, with new recordings.
DB100 is offline  
post #350 of 2316 Old 07-01-2012, 01:26 PM
AVS Special Member
 
VideoGrabber's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: SW Michigan
Posts: 2,799
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by VideoGrabber View Post

while it's odd and inconvenient not to have a User Manual, I can get by without one if the device does what I need it to. If it doesn't have the functionality, or what's there is broken, then the manual is irrelevant.

After some consideration, I have to amend this, and bump up the priority of the User Manual. Why? Because while you may be able to figure out what it can do without a manual when you have a unit, when you don't have a unit you can't figure out anything. Having to buy a unit to be able to figure out what it can and can't do is ridiculous.

- Tim
VideoGrabber is offline  
post #351 of 2316 Old 07-01-2012, 03:44 PM
AVS Special Member
 
VideoGrabber's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: SW Michigan
Posts: 2,799
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
I've been re-reading (and marveling at all the details) in Bruce's posts on page1. I've picked up a few things I missed on the first pass through those information dense posts, that I wanted to comment on.

Quote:
For playback, all the actual recordings are in Media Player. Unlike other DVR's, this took some getting use to since there is a 'Recorded Shows' entry under the Record tab in the main menu that shows what you have recorded, if it is still actually there or not and not been deleted. It's just a history list, nothing more. You can't play a recording shown as one would think you could.

I remember reading about that in one of their 'manual' fragments, and thinking, "that can't be right". You're right on a list of all your recordings, with full info on Channel, Source, etc. and you can't Play from there! You have to leave that Menu, and navigate your way to the MediaPlayer, where you'll be greeted with a listing with less information, and then you Play from there. That goes well beyond poor design. It's almost like they had random coding going on, with a group of programmers working on pieces, who weren't talking to each other.

Quote:
The 'cryptic' looking file name consists of the channel number, the date and the start time in military format (24 hr.) including seconds. Looking at the 2nd attachment, above the named recording at the bottom of the list shows channel 9.1, recorded on May 12, 2012 at 200pm (1400) and 36 seconds.

That naming method makes me wonder what will happen when you set up certain types of simultaneous recordings:

1) let's say I want to record the same program from 2 different channels (in case one has problems). I've done that frequently with my TiVo. So say I set up The Mentalist to record on CBS3 off cable, and CBS22 off antenna, on the two tuners. Same Date, same Time, same program Name. Since the channel # isn't incorporated into the names of files recorded from the Guide, I suspect that would have an unpleasant result (unless that startup process had a time skew that resulted in one starting a second or two later). Otherwise, it would be necessary to set one up as a manual recording, to avoid a name-clash.

2) my cableCo doesn't know the virtual channel #'s for some stations. So it substitutes it's own carrier # for that station. So in my case, ION is 10-1 on Cable. Let's say I wanted to set up manual recordings for 'Leverage' from ION on cable, at the same time as 'The Firm' on NBC, from Antenna at, you guessed it, 10-1. Those two manual recordings would also suffer name-clashes, barring startup time skew. I guess you "solve" that one by starting one of them a minute earlier. And then try to remember which was which.

[BTW, while it would seem that the 'fixes' for these are fairly obvious, that's assuming that you set them both up at the same time. If, e.g., The Firm was set up previously, and I then added Leverage later, I'm not real sure I'd even be checking to see what else was recording. Nor, I suspect, would the 'DVR' catch that conflict, since it occurs at a lower level.]

Quote:
Four tuner memories! Each RF input has separate memories for OTA and CATV, even after you assign each input it's purpose in the initial setup procedure. There are two Guides, one for each tuner. Each operates separately.

I can see this being handy in several situations. But...

Quote:
...the Guide has no ability to save/store/remember data from any station. You can not see all stations listings for a specific time slot at once.

I see that ePVision claims they have 2 EPGs. But I don't think they know what an EPG is. Based on the above, IMO, they have _0_ EPGs.

Lastly, I noted that pacofortacos asked:

Quote:
Will the unit play other file/file types via a usb drive? For ex. a .ts file or .mp4 file?

I saw no answers to that question here (I may have missed it), nor surprisingly (?) could I find that information anywhere at ePVision. It certainly seems like a very appropriate question to me, for a device that claims to be a Media Player. Unfortunately, here's everything I could find from them on the subject:

"PHD-VRX comes with full-feature HD Media player. With the built-in Ethernet connector, PHD-VRX can play all HD media contents from its recorded shows or other media files and from either USB port or local network. Full feature HD Media Player playing back video, photo or music via USB drive or local network."

The implication that they "can play all HD media" is hard for me to believe. I realize that we're trying to encourage them, and cut them some slack on things, but it just seems really poor to me when a company makes a product, but can't even tell you the basics of what it can or can't do.

- Tim
VideoGrabber is offline  
post #352 of 2316 Old 07-02-2012, 03:12 AM
AVS Special Member
 
VideoGrabber's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: SW Michigan
Posts: 2,799
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
It was my understanding that they had indicated they would be posting updates every 2 weeks, yet it has been 4 weeks since the last update (AFAICT). Also, if you go to their website, the link for the current update is broken. I.e., you can't even get the month-old version now.

At least DB100 was considerate enough to mention (tangentially) that the .mpg files it produces can be read by VideoRedo. Yay! I was certainly happy to hear that. Thanks, DB! That's one deal-killer off the list for me (though others may still find the non-compliant .mpg files to be unacceptable for their purposes).

They claimed that the Weekly recording option would be added in the next update, yet there's still no clue when that update will come. Lack of Weekly is yet another deal-killer (for me), and I wouldn't even consider buying one that had that ridiculously obvious defect in the core functionality. I mean, seriously, even the crappiest VCR ever made in the last 30 years has had that basic function. How could they possibly get THAT wrong? mad.gif And no, I'm not buying anything with serious basic flaws, and hoping/trusting promises that they will somehow fix them later. Been there, done that. Been burned, and not going to repeat that mistake again.

The simple fact that they've released and are selling a product with so many glaring holes in it tells me a lot about the company behind the product. They need to get up to speed, pronto, and fix these problems, or risk losing any shred of credibility they may have left. It's one thing not to have certain features that some folks may wish it had (like cable-card support). That's acceptable because they never positioned it for that. If you really need that, this is not the product for you. Fine. But there are plenty of things they claim that it has that it either doesn't or don't work properly, and that's what is unacceptable. [E.g., don't claim that you have two EPGs, when you can't even remember what programs are on a single channel! That's _0_ EPGs. And [B]nobody[/B]* is going to be tolerant of having to manually go searching for the point where they left off watching a previous recording. There's a significant list.]

Personally I think that Bruce has been way too kind to them in his evaluations. eek.gif I understand why (absence of a workable product in this category), and agree with him that it's better to encourage them than to bash them. Certainly offering suggestions and friendly criticism is a more productive approach. And they've put a lot of work into it, which was a significant investment on their part. I applaud their tenacity, and the determination that brought them this far. Some things do work, and they need to be counted as successes. I'll readily give them credit for that. Well done!

But at some point, you have to be willing to call a half-baked pie a half-baked pie. It ain't ready yet. They need to pop this one back into the oven, until it's finished. wink.gif And they need to be extremely receptive to all the suggestions and comments (even negative ones) made here in this Forum, by technically knowledgeable potential customers. It will be invaluable to them if they have any hope of creating a product that is usable (and enjoyable) by the masses, and will sell in the kind of quantities they need to make a profit (and we need, so they'll continue to support it in the future).

Current status: Not Ready for Prime-Time.

*(and note the bug in the Muddler's bbcode handling, where a bold type specification isn't interpreted properly within the context of a bracketed sentence.)

- Tim
VideoGrabber is offline  
post #353 of 2316 Old 07-02-2012, 04:32 AM
Member
 
RamKat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Ottawa, Ontario
Posts: 91
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
I am still finding that the is a notable difference between the sensitivities of the two tuners. This is especially noticeable with marginal channels. In my case it is a channel at the high end of the UHF band (Channel 51) Anyone else having a similar issue?

Epson 8500UB (R); Elite Electric100 16:9; Yamaha RX-V671; Polk Monitor 60 x 2, Polk CS2, Polk Monitor 30 x 4
RamKat is offline  
post #354 of 2316 Old 07-02-2012, 05:12 AM - Thread Starter
AVS Addicted Member
 
videobruce's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Buffalo NY
Posts: 15,062
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 142 Post(s)
Liked: 132
Quote:
After some consideration, I have to amend this, and bump up the priority of the User Manual. Why? Because while you may be able to figure out what it can do without a manual when you have a unit, when you don't have a unit you can't figure out anything. Having to buy a unit to be able to figure out what it can and can't do is ridiculous.
That's why I had listed first. They must think they are TWC. wink.gif
Quote:
Current status: Not Ready for Prime-Time.
Correction, Still not ready for prime time. Not even close.
Quote:
Personally I think that Bruce has been way too kind to them in his evaluations. I understand why (absence of a workable product in this category), and agree with him that it's better to encourage them than to bash them.
That might change shortly.

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.
videobruce is offline  
post #355 of 2316 Old 07-02-2012, 05:20 AM
Senior Member
 
DB100's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 263
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by VideoGrabber View Post

...It certainly seems like a very appropriate question to me, for a device that claims to be a Media Player. Unfortunately, here's everything I could find from them on the subject:
"PHD-VRX comes with full-feature HD Media player. With the built-in Ethernet connector, PHD-VRX can play all HD media contents from its recorded shows or other media files and from either USB port or local network. Full feature HD Media Player playing back video, photo or music via USB drive or local network."
The implication that they "can play all HD media" is hard for me to believe...

I did some testing on this. First, I connected a HDD that serves as my backup copy of everything on my TVIX3310. I wanted to see what would play. This drive is formatted NTFS and the PHD played them, but in a start-stop fashion. Basically useless. I don't know why they even mention NTFS - recordings on a NTFS drive are unviewable. FORGET ABOUT NTFS!

I next copied some files over to the ext2 formatted drive. I copied a .ts file that I had left over from my HTPC-on-my-laptop days, and it played. I was really surprised when I copied over a .MKV file and that played as well. Alot of video players on my laptop have trouble with that file. It's a file I made myself. You know the series WITHOUT A TRACE? Whenever they return from a commercial they would have a few seconds of video flying over New York City. It was a cool effect, especially the night shots. I cut out a whole series of these and pasted them together, added some .mp3 music, and packaged it into an MKV wrapper. My GOM player on my laptop had trouble with this file until I removed my codec's from my laptop, downloaded Shark007 codec pack and installed it. After that GOM could play the file. So I was really surprised that the PHD played it.

SOUND
To see if I could get louder audio from the PHD, I ran a composite connection from the composite out (red/white) over to my sterio. Both the HDMI and composite send sound at the same time. This did not give me any increase in audio - disappointing! Also, neither the TV volume control or the PHD volume control had any effect on this audio. It as at one level and was non-adjustable. My next step is to see if I can get a cable that would let me connect digital audio out to composite in for my stereo. I NEED MORE VOLUME!

ALERT
I'm experiencing something that can't be coincidental. Ever since I hooked up the PHD, my breaker switch in my RV has tripped twice now, shutting off power to that circuit. I took a few devices off that circuit and plugged them into another circuit thinking that would correct it. But when I got up this morning the breaker switch was tripped again. Mmmmmm.
DB100 is offline  
post #356 of 2316 Old 07-02-2012, 05:26 AM - Thread Starter
AVS Addicted Member
 
videobruce's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Buffalo NY
Posts: 15,062
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 142 Post(s)
Liked: 132
VideoGrabber & HDTV1080P24:

Feel free to C&P my "laundry" list and add, move, edit any of what I posted with your own additions since it's doubtful I will bother adding any more.

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.
videobruce is offline  
post #357 of 2316 Old 07-02-2012, 05:56 AM - Thread Starter
AVS Addicted Member
 
videobruce's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Buffalo NY
Posts: 15,062
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 142 Post(s)
Liked: 132
Quote:
The implication that they "can play all HD media" is hard for me to believe.
It can't, it's been proven otherwise.
Quote:
but it just seems really poor to me when a company makes a product, but can't even tell you the basics of what it can or can't do.
They apparently don't know.
Quote:
It was my understanding that they had indicated they would be posting updates every 2 weeks, yet it has been 4 weeks since the last update
False adversing, broken promises.
Quote:
They claimed that the Weekly recording option would be added in the next update, yet there's still no clue when that update will come. Lack of Weekly is yet another deal-killer (for me), and I wouldn't even consider buying one that had that ridiculously obvious defect in the core functionality. I mean, seriously, even the crappiest VCR ever made in the last 30 years has had that basic function.
He/they have claimed a lot and haven't delivered.
Quote:
How could they possibly get THAT wrong?
Especially with all their "experienced" engineers?? wink.gif

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.
videobruce is offline  
post #358 of 2316 Old 07-02-2012, 07:47 AM
Advanced Member
 
HDTV1080P24's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 586
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 27
The EpVision PHD-VRX final review (at least I hope it is my final review) Part 1 of 3


I have spent many days and hours running tests on this EpVision PHD-VRX under the latest firmware VRX-242.18.10 which currently is shipping with all orders. I could create a third party user’s manual but that would be a waste of time since EpVision is suppose to be releasing one sometime in the future. Before I get in to the recording feature I will mention a few items that should be fixed in the future.

On tuner number 1 if one has a virtual digital channel like 65.1 then if one types in 65 on the remote control without typing 65.1 the PHD-VRX is smart enough to go directly to 65.1 if the channel is in the database (which is a nice feature). The problem is tuner number 2 software works different since typing in channel number 65 will cause the box to be locked in a scan mode and the only way to get it out of that mode is to push the channel up or down button. On tuner 2 if there is a virtual digital station on 65.1 one has to type 65.1 on the remote in order for the PHD-VRX to tune directly to that station. I realize to keep the cost of the PHD-VRX lower that tuner number 2 does not have an analog NTSC section but still the firmware should be designed so while channel surfing one can enter the same channel number regardless of which tuner one is using. Consumers will get confused if on one tuner they can type 65 to get to 65.1 and on the other tuner they need to type 65.1. A software update would be able to fix this issue.

Digital Preferences update: For some reason the Digital Preferences feature started to work(My last review mentioned I could not get it to work at all). When Spanish is selected under Digital Preferences the PHD-VRX on some channels that were broadcasting in 2.0 or 1.0 Spanish Dolby Digital automatically switched to Spanish (This feature is only for QAM/ATSC channels). The problem is on some channels the PHD-VRX does not automatically switch to Spanish when the channel is broadcasting in Spanish and one has to manually toggle the “AUDIO” button on the remote for the Spanish audio to be received. A firmware update hopefully will correct this. Also once and a awhile the PHD-VRX would have a glitch and not automatically flip to the Spanish audio track even for channels it worked for a few minutes before while channel surfing.

On Direct TV HD DVR’s and on Digital Cable boxes when one changes the channel they are able to see the channel number with program title and program description briefly appearing on the screen for a few seconds. Currently the PHD-VRX only shows the channel number data when flipping the channel. Adding the ability to see the program title and description along with the channel number would be a nice feature.

Selecting the storage drive to use with the PHD-VRX


The PHD-VRX does not offer a high speed e-SATA III interface which is capable of transfer speeds of up to 6Gbps. Also the PHD-VRX lacks a USB 3.0 interface that is capable of transfer speeds up to 5Gbps. Those feature of course would have increased the cost of the product. Most HD DVR cable boxes and HD DVR satellite boxes will offer a high speed e-SATA jack for consumers to plug in a hard drive using the e-SATA interface. So instead of the PHD-VRX using a e-SATA interface it has two slower USB 2.0 interfaces. The USB 2.0 interface has a maximum speed of 480Mbps (0.48Gps). Even the old e-SATA 1 interface is over 3 times faster compared to USB 2.0. The latest eSATAp interface is a powered interface that allows consumers to plug in a hard drive without any external power needed. The one positive feature regarding the USB interface is that it is hot swappable. e-SATA devices are much faster but they are not hot swappable.

So consumers can plug in their flash drives and hard drives that contain USB interfaces without the need to power down the USB drive and the PHD-VRX. I would have still preferred to also have both a USB and e-SATA interface. e-SATA would have been ideal for a 2TB hard drive for long term recordings. The two USB interfaces on the PHD-VRX are ideal for quickly connecting a USB drive that contains family videos, music, and pictures.

The fastest USB flash drives on the market with read and write speeds of 35Mbps or higher can be used on the PHD-VRX. The problem is high-end flash drives do not have the storage capacity of hard drives and also they are higher in cost. Also extremely fast solid state drives with a USB interface in theory will also work with the PHD-VRX but again like flash drives they lack the storage capacity of hard drives and they are much more expensive.

3TB hard drives will not work correctly with the PHD-VRX under the current firmware


EpVision clearly mentions in their documentation that 2TB is the maximum size USB drive that can be used. I decided to try a 3TB drive anyways to see if that was correct information. The EpVision would not record at all when the hard drive was setup as a 3TB partition. When I set the 3TB hard drive up as a 2TB partition I was able to record but there was still problems like NTFS was not useable at all and the format utility built in the PHD-VRX would format the drive as a 750GB hard drive. So do not use 3TB hard drives since they do not work on the PHD-VRX under the current firmware.

The following top of the line external 2TB hard drive was connected to the PHD-VRX and it is 100% compatible


I decided to use a Seagate SV35 series hard drive. The 2TB model is the ST2000VX000 which has a SATA III 6Gbps interface with a maximum sustained data rate of 210MB/s and an average data rate of 156MB/s. Plus the Seagate SV35 series is used by corporations as a 24 x 7 video surveillance drive since mean time between failure is rated at 1 million hours. Also a Thermaltake ST0020U was used as the enclosure for the Seagate SV35 hard drive. The Thermaltake ST0020U allows SATA III 6Gbps hard drives to be enclosed in an external hard drive case that offers USB 3.0 5Gbps transfer speeds (Of course the hard drive is limited to a maximum of 210MB/s transfer speed). Also the Thermaltake USB 3.0 enclosure has two low noise fans to keep the hard drive cool along with a blue light that can be switched on or off. A cheaper USB 3.0 enclosures can also be purchased that does not have any fans. Note: There are also cheaper hard drives and enclosures that will also work on the PHD-VRX. This setup is ideal for someone looking for a high-end hard drive that can also be used with a desktop computer with USB 3.0 interface.

2TB hard drive spec sheet plus enclosure and ordering links (Total cost $177.98)

1. Seagate ST2000VX000 spec sheet ( Around $132.99 at Amazon with free shipping.)

2. Thermaltake ST0020U USB 3.0 SATA III hard drive enclosure ( $44.99 with free shipping.)

So the EpVision PHD-VRX normal price is $229.95 ($199.95 was lowest sale price so far). For those that want a top of the line 2TB hard drive add $177.98. So the total cost of the PHD-VRX after hard drive is connect is around $407.93.

Test results of the 2TB hard drive connected to both a USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 interface


USB 3.0 is also backwards compatible with USB 2.0 and USB 1.1. The first thing I did was connect the USB 3.0 2TB hard drive to my computers USB 3.0 hub to test real world conditions. With a speed test program I was able to measure an average of 144.23 MB/Sec write speed and 140.63 MB/Sec read speed using the NTFS file system. ExFAT file system produced around the same results. Also there is suppose to be a firmware update available for the Thermaltake ST0020U enclosure that offers UASP. I have not gotten around to installing the latest firmware update so my speed was limited to an average of 144.23 MB/Sec write and 140.63 MB/Sec read for the 7,200RPM SC35 series Seagate hard drive. I was surprised to discover that when I plugged the hard drive into a USB 2.0 port on my computer I was only getting an average of 20.31MB/Sec write and 32.23MB/Sec read. I also tried dedicated USB 2.0 enclosures with the same results or slightly slower speed ratings. When I placed the SV35 series hard drive inside my USB 2.0 hard drive enclosure and plugged it into the USB 3.0 hub, the speed jumped to an average of 31.35 MB/Sec write and 35.83 MB/Sec read. The test results clearly show that under real world conditions that USB 3.0 interface is so much faster. With average writes at around 144.23MB/s and peaks above 151MB/s I was able to get close to what this hard drive specs claim. A 6Gbps SATA III interface would most likely even give me better speed ratings but I did not try connecting the hard drive directly to my computers SATA III interface. I realize these speeds of the 7,200RPM hard drive are slow compared to a solid state drive or 10,000RPM hard drive but when one wants 2TB storage capacity they are limited to 7,200RPM hard drives.

Speed results when connected to the PHD-VRX: The PHD-VRX supports reading and writing of several different file systems. FAT16, FAT32, NTFS, ext2, and ext3 can be used for reading and writing (exFAT is not supported). The PHD-VRX USB speed test program has issues. For one thing the “USB Speed Check” program has a problem of not giving accurate results when one is on a digital channel. Moving the PHD-VRX to tuner number 1 and placing the PHD-VRX on an analog channel or better yet blank analog channel will give one higher test results. Possible the PHD-VRX software and processor is too busy decoding the digital channel and that throws off the speed test by 1-3MB/s sometimes. So placing the PHD-VRX on a blank analog channel with a snowy picture will give the best speed test ratings. Also another issue is that the PHD-VRX for some reason allows one to run a speed test while one or more recordings is going on at the same time. Doing a speed test while a recording is occurring will throw the speed test results off by at least 8MB/s. In addition to the speed test being messed up while recording, the recordings on the hard drive will have digital artifacts until the speed test is finished. There should be a firmware update that fixes these speed test issues. When a consumer tries to run a speed test while recording a TV program there should be a message that pops up on the screen that says something like “USB Speed test is not available, please stop your recordings first”.

Several times, I ran the USB speed test program on the PHD-VRX and I ended up almost always getting an average of 26MB/s for the FAT16, FAT32, and Ext2 file systems. So the PHD-VRX USB ports appear to be limited to a maximum of 26MB/s. Now on the Ext3 file system I was only getting around 25MB/s maximum since the PHD-VRX appears to not handle that file system as well as the others. When it came to the NTFS file system I was in shock that I could only get 6MB/s maximum which would only be ok for recording one SD channel. My 2TB USB 3.0 hard drive formatted with NTFS can easily transfer an average of around 144.23MB/s when connected to a computer, so the problem was not my hard drive. There is a major problem with the way the PHD-VRX handles the NTFS file system. I also tried recording two 1080i channels at once with 5.1 Dolby Digital to make sure the speed test program was working correctly. I had massive digital artifacts trying to record one or two HD channels using the NTFS file system. This NTFS file system quality issue is a clear flaw that needs to be fixed with a firmware update.

The PHD-VRX has a USB Disk Format utility program. This USB Disk format utility will not work with hard drives that are unformatted. So the consumer needs to format the USB flash drive or USB hard drive with either FAT16,FAT32, NTFS,ext2 or the ext3 file system before plugging the drive into the PHD-VRX. I found the “USB Disk Format” utility to work very good for hard drives that already were formatted with FAT16,FAT32, NTFS, ext2, or the ext3 file system.

For example if one has a 2TB hard drive that they want to use with the PHD-VRX, they then should format the hard drive using the NTFS file system. Then since the PHD-VRX cannot properly handle the NTFS file system the consumer will need to re-format the hard drive once they plug it into the USB 2.0 port on the PHD-VRX. Selecting the “USB Disk Format” menu option will properly format a 2TB hard drive and other hard drives to the ext2 file system.

I also found that the ext2 file system is the best file system to use with the PHD-VRX under the latest firmware version.

Under the current PHD-VRX firmware version the NTFS file system is not reliable and should never be used for HD channels. I was able to use the FAT16 and FAT32 file system for recording but not without some issues. FAT16 is only good for small hard drives that are 4GB or smaller. Also Windows operating system will not allow hard drives bigger then 32GB to be formatted as FAT32 with the built in Windows format utility. With a third party format utility it is possible to format a 2TB hard drive using the FAT32 file system. I found the PHD-VRX did an excellent job of recording under both the ext3 and ext2 file system (ext2 is the best to use). I tried the FAT32 file system which also works fine for HD programs that are 30 minutes or less. The problem with using the FAT32 file system is that the recordings will completely stop at 4GB (3.99GB) since that is the maximum file size allowed. Also one channel I was recording reached the 4GB limit at 35 minutes into the program and the other channel the 4GB limit was reached at around 53 minutes. The hard drive literally stopped recording but the PHD-VRX firmware kept saying the programs were still recording when in reality they really were not. So it’s a bad ideal to use the FAT32 file system due to the 4GB file size limit. It is too bad the PHD-VRX does not support the exFat file system since that would be an excellent alternative to the NTFS file system.

While the ext3 file system was a reliable way to record long programs, the PHD-VRX handled the ext2 file system the best. So the best thing to do is too just use the “USB Disk Format” utility that will only format all drives to the ext2 file system. I used the Record now feature to record two 1080i 5.1 Dolby Digital programs at the exact same time. I let the recording run for over 11 hours and 15 minutes before stopping it. Each file size was over 68.5GB so under the ext2 or ext3 file system there is no problem with big file sizes. Only when it comes to FAT16 and FAT32 is when the file size is limited to 4GB.

The advantage of the PHD-VRX when connected to a external USB drive is that the recordings are not encrypted


With Digital cable boxes and satellite systems that allow an external e-SATA hard drive to be connected, those recordings are all encrypted. For example a family member I know has a 2TB e-SATA hard drive plugged into a Verizon FIOS Motorola 7,000 series HD DVR. The Motorola digital cable box encrypts the hard drive so that it cannot be copied. Also one cannot read the files on the encrypted hard drive even when connected to another cable box in the same house, and also the encrypted hard drive is not readable at all with Windows. So one time the Motorola digital cable box broke and had to be exchanged. All the programs that were recorded on the 2TB hard drive had an encrypted key that only the old digital cable box could read. As soon as the 2TB hard drive with all the programs recorded on it was plugged into the exchanged Motorola digital cable box all the programs were erased and a new encrypted key placed on the e-SATA hard drive. When one owns or rents a Digital cable box HD DVR with a CableCard or satellite receiver with HD DVR those external recordings belong to the program providers and when the subscription is canceled the external 2TB e-SATA hard drive will no longer be able to playback the recordings.

The PHD-VRX does not encrypt the recordings onto the 2TB hard drive at all. So when one is recording ATSC broadcast channels or in the clear QAM channels 100% of all channels and programs can be copied and watched on other devices under the fair use laws. Also the MPEG-2 video and audio are bit for bit the same quality as the master ATSC broadcast and master QAM signal (More about that videophile feature is mentioned later in this review). I do wish the PHD-VRX would have had an IEEE-1394 interface to make a bit for bit recording to a D-VHS or future standalone Blu-ray recorder but it does not.

So with the external USB drive one is able to unplug the hard drive from the PHD-VRX and connect it directly to a Windows PC. Once on a Windows PC I was able to copy and paste the recording of the local 1080i HD news broadcast with 5.1 Dolby Digital onto my internal computer hard drive. With PowerDVD Ultra 12 or other free 3rd party software one is able to watch programs in true 1080i quality on their HD computer monitor. Also if one owns a Blu-ray computer recorder (optical burner) drive with special Blu-ray software they can place the HDTV programs onto a Blu-ray disc for personal use under the fair use law. Of course owning a HD tuner card built into the desktop or Notebook computer would make it easier to burn the local news and other HDTV programs to a blank 128GB, 100GB, 50GB, or 25GB Blu-ray disc. The new BDXL drives support 128GB and 100GB capacity blank Blu-ray discs. Around 8 hours of HD quality programming will fit on one 50GB Blu-ray disc using the MPEG-2 transport stream as a source. With special software the MPEG-2 source files can be convert to MPEG-4/AVC or VC-1 to place many more hours onto a Blu-ray disc.

The current firmware makes it difficult to connect an external hard drive to a Windows PC


Windows PC’s read FAT16, FAT32, exFAT, and NTFS file systems without any special software or drivers required. FAT16 and FAT32 are only good for 1080i recordings that are around 30 minutes in length since the 4GB file size limit. It would be ideal if the PHD-VRX would support exFAT file system but it does not. Then when it comes to the NTFS file system the PHD-VRX cannot properly handle that file system do to the 6MB/s restriction under the current firmware. NTFS is currently not useable on the PHD-VRX for HD recording do to digital artifacts.

That leaves only the ext2 and ext3 file systems that are ideal for recording on the PHD-VRX. Ext2 file system works the best on the PHD-VRX. So consumers if they want to make backup copies of their recordings onto the PC hard drive or computer Blu-ray drive will need to install special Windows software and or drivers that will read the Ex2 and/or Ex3 file system.

The PHD-VRX recording feature is bit for bit the same quality as the master ATSC broadcast and QAM signal


I recorded several hours of programs from many different SD and HD ATSC/QAM channels. I even messed around with the PHD-VRX audio settings and turned the contrast and brightness all the way down to make sure the audio and picture controls had no effect on the recordings. Then I took the USB 3.0 hard drive and within a few seconds copied and pasted the files to an internal 3TB hard drive inside my desktop computer. Larger files that were several GB’s long take a few minutes to copy depending on the file size. Transfer rate was around 150MB/s over USB 3.0.

Once the files were transfer to my desktop computer I was able to see that the PHD-VRX makes a perfect digital bit for bit recording of any digital channel. Which is an ideal Videophile feature. Also with the PHD-VRX I was able to record 1080i ATSC programs from the antenna and record the exact same 1080i programs on the Verizon FIOS cable system. The Verizon FIOS MPEG-2 QAM channels are bit for bit the same as the ATSC master broadcast. Being able to record a NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, PBS, and other networks from dual signal sources at the same time allows one to compare the files once they are imported into the computer. Some cable systems that are lacking in bandwidth add addition video compression to their QAM channels, but not Verizon FIOS.

The picture control settings and the audio settings like AC3 and PCM only affect the playback of files when using the PHD-VRX and have no effect on the recording process. On my desktop PC the native MPEG-2 transport files looked even better then what I saw on the PHD-VRX. I wish there was a way to disable the picture control settings on the PHD-VRX so consumers could just view the native MPEG-2 signal. Audio was also nice and loud on the PC compared to the low volume HDMI 2.0 PCM that the PHD-VRX offers.

Here are some of the bit rates I measured from the recorded files that the PHD-VRX produced.

480i SD channels had bit rates of around 3.96Mbps at 29.970fps.
720P channels had bit rates of around 14.8Mbps at 59.940fps.
1080i channels had bit rates of around 18.2Mbps at 29.970fps.
English 5.1 Dolby Digital programs had a bit rate of 384kbps.
English 2.0 Dolby Digital programs had bit rates of 256Kbps or 192kbps (depending on the channel).
Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital programs and Spanish 1.0 Dolby Digital programs both had bit rates of 192kbps.

The PHD-VRX was able to record the English or Spanish audio track but it appears that both audio streams are not recorded at the same time. If one toggles the “AUDIO” button on the remote to Spanish and then does a record now option in the menu then the Spanish audio track will be heard in the recording. Now after the recording of the Spanish audio track starts it is possible to toggle the “AUDIO” button to English and listen to the program in English while the PHD-VRX is still recording the program in Spanish. The PHD-VRX will continue to record the audio track that was selected when the recording started and even if someone changes the audio track to another language after the recording starts the original audio track selected at the start of the recording will end up being the one that is recorded. Also for scheduled recordings if someone has the Digital Preferences set for Spanish then if that channel contains an active Spanish audio track the PHD-VRX is suppose to record the Spanish audio but on some channels it has trouble detecting the Spanish audio track and instead records the English track.

The Close Captioning feature currently only works for live broadcasts when the “MUTE” button is pushed or when the “CC” button on the remote is toggle to the close caption on mode. The Closed Captioning menu feature and audio language menu feature does not work when playing back a recording. There is a possibility that the MPEG-2 transport file system might be leaving the Close Captioning data intact instead of stripping the data. The problem is one cannot turn on the Close Captioning option while a recording is playing back. This should be fixed hopefully with a firmware update. It would also be ideal if up to 3 audio tracks could be recorded at the same time (being able to record all the audio tracks offered on that channel would be ideal).


Part two continues in next post.
HDTV1080P24 is offline  
post #359 of 2316 Old 07-02-2012, 07:47 AM
Advanced Member
 
HDTV1080P24's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 586
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 27
The EpVision PHD-VRX final review (at least I hope it is my final review) Part 2 of 3



The PHD-VRX when set to 1080P will upconvert everything to 1080P. A 24fps and 60fps menu option would be ideal feature to have on the PHD-VRX when 1080P output mode is active. Those with older 1080P displays that do not support 24Hz would then be able to allow the PHD-VRX to do a 3:2 pulldown for native 1080p/24 VUDU programs (VUDU is planned in the future). Also it would be a nice feature to have the PHD-VRX be able to do a reverse 3:2 pulldown for film based programs and upconvert SD and HD film based programs to 1080p/24 instead of 1080p/60. Video based programs would be outputted at 1080p/60Hz. The current system information screen does not mention if the 1080P signal being output is 60HZ or 24HZ. That information added to the System information screen would be ideal.

PHD-VRX recording features and a few bugs under the current firmware


The PHD-VRX has two USB ports. Both USB ports can be used to play video, audio, and photo’s from two attached USB drives. Up to two USB drives as large as 2TB can be connected. File systems supported for media reading is FAT16,FAT32, NTFS, ext2, and ext3. When only one USB drive is connected the PHD-VRX Media Center menu will automatically pull up the directory of the connected drive once the user selects “Video”, “Music”, or “Photo” option regardless of what USB port the drive is connected too. Now if one has two USB drives connected then when the user selects “Video”, “Music”, or “Photo” option under the Media Player menu the PHD-VRX will give the user an option to choose which USB port the user wants to use. The problem with this “Select Device” menu selection screen is that the USB ports are labeled as “USB:usba” and “USB:usbb”. The big question is which USB port is number 1 and which is number 2 (On the back panel the ports are labeled as “USB1” and “USB2”.) So a software update to change the USB port labeling to match the back panel labeling would be a simple firmware fix.

The hard drive size and file format used does not matter when it comes to the PHD-VRX assigning which hard drive will be used to record. When it comes to recording the PHD-VRX will only record from the first USB device that was connected. The second USB device connected will be used for Media Playback. For example lets say I have two 2TB hard drives and I connect the first 2TB hard drive to USB port 2, and then I connect the second 2TB hard drive to USB port 1. Then the hard drive that was plugged into USB port 2 would become the hard drive that the PHD-VRX would use for recording since it was the first one plugged in. Now if I unplug the hard drive from USB port 2 then the PHD-VRX would select the hard drive connected to USB port 1 for recording. Now if I plug the 2TB hard drive back into USB port 2 the PHD-VRX will still consider that hard drive the recording hard drive since it use to be the first hard drive used (USB port 1 is no longer the recording hard drive since USB port 2 hard drive is reconnected and use to be the recording hard drive according to the database). Now if the user unplugs both USB port 1 and USB port 2 hard drives then the database memory will be reset and the PHD-VRX once again will select the first USB hard drive that is plugged in first. Now if the user power cycles the PHD-VRX while two USB drives are connected then everything gets reset in regards to which hard drive is the recording hard drive. Doing a warm reboot (remote power button standby mode) or cold reboot (Master power switch on front of PHD-VRX) will cause the USB drive connected to USB port 1 to always be the recording hard drive and USB 2 to always be the media playback drive until the user removes the USB port 1 hard drive. So for those consumers that plan on having two hard drives connected all the time then USB port1 should always be setup for recording. If the user has two USB hard drives and sets up USB port 2 to record then when the PHD-VRX is warm or cold rebooted by default the USB port 1 connected drive will be made the new recording hard drive.

I decided to stress test this PHD-VRX to see how will it would record since the current firmware is limited to 26MB/s using either USB port 1 or USB port 2. I wanted to see how well the PHD-VRX would handle recording two 1080i 5.1 Dolby Digital channels at once while playing back a previously recorded 1080i 5.1 Dolby Digital program that was recorded from before. As a stress test I recorded two 1080i 5.1 Dolby Digital channels using the record now feature for over 11 hours and 15 minutes. The file sizes ended up being over 68.5GB for each program. The “Record now” menu option is easily activated when the user hits the red record button on the remote control. Then one has a choice of selecting either “Record now” or “Create a manual recording”. I let the unit run for over 11 hours and 15 minutes recording the two different 1080i 5.1 Dolby Digital channels.

99% of the time the PHD-VRX had no problems recoding two 1080i 5.1 Dolby Digital channels at once while playing back a previously recorded 1080i 5.1 Dolby Digital program. Even the scanning fast forward features worked ok on the playback program while two 1080i channels were recording. I was worried that the 26MB/s USB 2.0 transfer speed would not be able to handle 3 1080i programs with 5.1 Dolby Digital at once, but it ended up not being a problem. There is a possibility that the USB Speed test program built into the PHD-VRX is not accurate and maybe I was getting even faster transfer speeds with the high-end 2TB hard drive setup. Now around 1% of the time when recording only one 1080i station and two 1080i stations the PHD-VRX would cause a little digital artifact glitches that would happen during the program or toward the end or beginning of the program. The digital artifact glitch happen sometimes when I was only recording one program. Recording two 1080i programs at once while watching a previous recorded 1080i program at the same time did not appear to make a difference in terms of picture and sound quality. It would most likely take several hours and days to isolate the glitch but my guess is that once and a while when a recording is stopped or started that a brief second of digital artifacts occurs in the recordings since the PHD-VRX sometimes cannot handle multi-tasking. If one just records one or two programs at once most the time the PHD-VRX will not insert digital artifacts in the recordings. Its when those programs start and stop recording when the problems might more likely occur. In addition, some times when channel surfing on one tuner and recording on another tuner the PHD-VRX once a while might insert digital artifacts. Also it would appear that when one toggles back and forth between tuner 1 and tuner 2 while using the “TV” button on the remote the PHD-VRX will sometimes insert digital artifacts for a second or so on the recording. Again these observations would need to be verified again over several days and hours since it is a minor glitch that happens maybe like 1% of the time. It might increase to 40% of the time if I could isolate the exact cause. Maybe turning the display off or on while the HDMI handshaking is occurring might once and awhile cause digital artifacts in the recording . The good thing is that most of the time if the user has a fast USB hard drive or fast USB flash drive connected they will be able to record two 1080i 5.1 Dolby Digital channels at the same time while watching a previously recorded 1080i 5.1 Dolby Digital channel. The same can be said for 480i and 720P channels. Since 1080i channels take the most bandwidth and are data hogs I mainly used those for most the stress testing situations.

When playing back a recording the PHD-VRX will display the words “PLAy” on the front LED display as long as nothing is being recorded. The “PLAy” words on the LED are disabled when recordings are occurring. Now if one is recording one channel then the PHD-VRX LED display will display either “rEC-1” or “rEC-2” depending on which tuner the user activated the record feature on. If two programs are being recorded then the PHD-VRX LED display will display “rEC 1-2”. The record button and the stop button are very easy to use to start or stop recordings. The “Record now” menu option is easily activated soon after the user hits the red record button on the remote control. When pressing the stop button on the remote a yes and no message box will pop up on the TV screen saying “Are you sure you want to stop recording?” Some of the message boxes are very well designed. The following easy to understand message box occurs when a consumer presses the record button on a NTSC analog channel: “This channel is not RF digital, record function is not available.” Another example of a good message box is if I am recording a channel on tuner 1 and I want to change channels, if I hit the channel up or down button the following message will pop up on ones TV screen: “The current channel is in recording. If you want to change channel, please stop recording first.” Of course if tuner 1 and tuner 2 would have been integrated into one channel database with program guide then the PHD-VRX would change to another channel. In a prior review I already mentioned how two channel databases could be integrated in one electronic program guide. If the signal source for both tuners is exactly the same then one channel database and only one electronic program guide is all that is needed (This mode would be for cable only customers or ATSC broadcast only customers). The dual signal source is where the consumer has one tuner setup for cable TV channels and one for ATSC broadcast channels. The dual signal source situation is when the programming would become more complicated. The cable TV QAM channels could be integrated with the ATSC broadcast channels by creating a channel database and electronic program guide that combines the two tuners. The ATSC channels would have one color in the electronic program guide while the QAM cable channels another color in the electronic program guide. Then the consumer could flip channels from both the cable system and ATSC antenna system without having to toggle back and forth between the two tuners. Right now since both tuners have a separate program guide it makes it possible for the consumer to by mistake record the exact same channel twice. If the channel databases were combined for a single signal source then this would prevent the consumer from recording the same channel twice since the PHD-VRX would be able to notify the consumer that the channel is already being recorded on the other tuner.

I now notice that the program guide has up to 4 days worth of program titles and detailed descriptions which is a nice feature (The electronic program guide detailed listings varies per channel depending on the amount of data the station is sending). The problem is as soon as one starts recording two channels at once the program guides cannot be used at all to view upcoming programs on other channels (only the channels that are being recorded will show program titles and descriptions). The ability to view and schedule future recordings on other channels when using the electronic program guide should be possible when recording two programs at once but instead the PHD-VRX is unable retrieve that program data from other channels. The recordings needs to be stopped in order for the electronic program guide to be fully functional again. Then for the tuner that does not have a recording occurring one can look at the program guide with program titles and descriptions.

To make things simple for the consumer the PHD-VRX should pop up with a message that says “This program is already being recorded”, when the consumer hits the record button for a channel that they are already recording. Currently when hitting the record button the message box says “NOT AVAILABLE” if the channel is already being recorded as long as one is on the same tuner.

One negative thing that the PHD-VRX allows to happen is that when one is recording one or two programs at once the PHD-VRX will allow the user to hit the power button on the remote. If the user by mistake or on purpose presses the power button on the remote or standby button on the front of the PHD-VRX, then both recordings will suddenly be stopped as the PHD-VRX enters the standby mode. This also occurs when one hits the master power switch on the front of the PHD-VRX, but of course the master power switch is a physical mechanical switch that cannot be controlled or disabled. Pushing the master power switch on the front is like pulling the power cord. Also when recording two programs at once and someone does a warm or cold reboot of the PHD-VRX, then when the PHD-VRX boots back up it will sometimes get locked up. When pressing the power button on the remote while I was recording sometimes caused my PHD-VRX to get locked up and not finish the boot process. I even tried the master power switch several times within a 10 minute period and the PHD-VRX would get stuck in the “boot” mode with no picture appearing. The only way to get out of the “boot” mode was to toggle the “TV” input to the other tuner or push other random keys on the remote. After doing that the PHD-VRX would finish rebooting and a picture would appear on the screen. The Master power switch does not clear enough of the memory since one should never have major problems rebooting the PHD-VRX.

Consumers that hit the power button on the remote by mistake while recording would like the following firmware update. There needs to be a firmware update that pops up with a message that says “You cannot place the PHD-VRX in standby mode while you are recording”. The PHD-VRX firmware needs to be changed so that the PHD-VRX properly shuts down the recording before entering the standby mode. This would greatly prevent the PHD-VRX from locking up and getting stuck in the booting mode.

The YouTube is a nice streaming feature offered on the PHD-VRX and “VUDU” is planned for in the future. The limitation of the PHD-VRX prevents the YouTube feature from being used while one is recording a channel. To use YouTube all recordings need to be stopped. Another interesting limitation in the PHD-VRX is that when using the upscaling video switching feature one can only record on tuner number 2. When one starts recording on tuner number 1 the video upscaling input selector cannot be used at all.

The favorite list is a very detailed nice feature. Again like the program guide there are a set of favorite lists for both tuner 1 and tuner 2. It would have been ideal to have the favorite lists be able to share bookmarks between tuners. A firmware update would be ideal to allow the two favorite lists too be combined so one could have a favorite list that contained channels from both tuner 1 and tuner 2.

One feature that I do not like is that every time I power up the PHD-VRX out of standby it displays the following message “USB device was connected to TV. Do you want to open Media Player?”. That option box should only be designed to pop up when one plugs in a new USB drive and not when one power cycles the PHD-VRX out of the standby mode. Sometimes a message like record function has failed pops up on the screen when trying to record and to fix the bug one needs to power cycle the PHD-VRX. When powering off the PHD-VRX into standby mode it also sent a signal to my USB 3.0 2TB hard drive to power down into a standby mode which is a nice power saving feature. The attached 2TB USB 3.0 hard drive also goes into standby mode when it is not recording any programs.

The scheduled recordings feature in the electronic program guides for the PHD-VRX works very well. The user that schedules a future recording does not even need to leave the PHD-VRX tuned on, instead if one wants to press the power button on the remote control the PHD-VRX will go into the standby mode. The only problem with placing the PHD-VRX in standby mode is that around 35 seconds of the beginning of the program will be missed since that is how long the PHD-VRX takes to boot up out of standby mode. There needs to be a firmware update that would automatically power up the PHD-VRX 1 minute before the scheduled recording is suppose to start so that 35 seconds of the beginning of the program is not missed. Once the recording has finished the PHD-VRX will not return to standby mode but will leave the box fully powered up (I have no issue with that but some people might).

One can schedule a recording from the electronic program guide and then go back in and modify the start and end time if they want but there is no option in the program guide to cancel a scheduled recording. To cancel a scheduled recording one needs to go to the “Upcoming Recordings” menu option screen and select the scheduled recording or recordings that they want to delete.

One negative feature of the PHD-VRX is that it requires the user to go to the media player to play all TV programs that were recorded. Also a firmware update should be issued to fix the file size information for recorded shows in the PHD-VRX media player. There have been many times the Media Player lists the incorrect size of a file when comparing the exact same file on a Windows PC. Also it would be nice to be able to rename the file name of the recordings on the PHD-VRX, currently one needs to plug the USB drive into a Windows PC in order to rename the file name.

The “Recorded Shows” menu option in the PHD-VRX is currently not able to playback previous recordings. There should be a firmware update that allows the “Recorded Shows” menu option to play TV programs that were recorded. Another real negative is that the “Recorded Shows” menu screen is just like the Internet history feature but instead of showing the websites one has visited it shows a history of every TV program that has every been recorded on the PHD-VRX. The problem is it even shows a history of programs that were recorded on USB drives that are no longer connected. Deleting the “Recorded Shows” history only deletes the history and will not delete the TV programs on the USB hard drive. To delete the TV programs on the USB hard drive the user has to go to the Video option under the Media Player.

The “Recorded Shows” menu feature is currently a useless feature that should be completely re-written by the EpVision programmers. When a user selects the “Recorded Shows” option it should only show the TV programs that are available for the USB hard drive that is currently connected and not a complete history of programs that exist on USB drives that are not even connected. Also the “Recorded Shows” menu feature should be interfaced in with the Video Media Player so that a button can be pressed to watch the TV program from the “Recorded Shows” menu option. Also when one deletes a TV program from the “Recorded Shows” menu it should delete the program from the USB hard drive and not just the history.

The PHD-VRX when playing back previous recorded TV programs will work fine with HDMI and optical when the audio is set to PCM (HDMI is variable PCM only and the optical is fixed PCM). The problem occurs when the optical output is set for “AC3” while watching a recording. When the pause button is pushed on the remote the picture will instantly pause but the problem is the audio will take another 5 seconds before it pauses. Then when one pushes the pause button again the picture will instantly start moving again but the audio will take around 5 seconds before it starts up again.

When the time shift feature is activated on the PHD-VRX and the consumer has the “AC3” option turned on for the optical output the audio will be completely lost in the live viewing mode but not in the time shift recordings. Consumers are forced to use HDMI which is only PCM or to change the optical audio option from “AC3” to “PCM” in order for the time shift feature to work properly. This needs to be fixed in a firmware update.

The time shift feature needs a firmware update: There should be an option in the menu to turn the time shift feature on 24 X 7 instead of having to manually activate it. On HD DVR satellite boxes and HD DVR cable boxes the time shift feature is automatically activated as soon as one flips to a new channel and runs 24 x 7. It would be ideal if the PHD-VRX would automatically have the option to do the same and have the time shift run 24 x 7 like other HD DVR’s do. At the very minimum the time shift feature if not running 24 x 7 should start running as soon as the consumer presses the pause button on the remote.

There are several slow motion backwards and forward features on the PHD-VRX when time shift is running. Also the fast forward and backward scan has a 64X, 128X, and 256X times speed options that are nice. As soon as the consumer switches to another tuner, the time shift feature is automatically turned off.

Watching a previous recorded program on the PHD-VRX requires the use of the Media Player menu option. The problem I ran into with the PHD-VRX is its ability to fast forward up to 32 times speed is not working correctly when the “AC3” audio option is turned on in the menu. It did not matter if I was recording two 1080i programs at once or just plain old recording nothing. The previous recorded program feature had some major issues with scanning while the “AC3” option is turned on. I tested the feature on a 1080i recoding that was over 11 hours and 15 minutes long. Now the backward scanning appeared to work just fine most of the time with 2X, 4X, 8X, 16X and 32X scanning. The backward scan offers no audio scanning but it was so much more smoother and faster compared to the forward scanning when the “AC3” audio option was tuned on. Now the fast forward scanning was slower and most likely the reason is that it appears to pause and to try and capture the AC3 audio stream once and awhile when in 2X, 4X, 8X, 16X, and 32X speed. The 2X speed forward offered the best audio option with AC3 but the faster one goes with the scanning forward the audio is captured less, and the 32X speed offers no hearable audio. Also once and awhile the graphics menu would get messed up for the direction of the arrow for a few seconds when switching from forward to backward scan while the “AC3” option was turned on. Now if the consumer turns off the “AC3” option in the menu to “PCM” the scanning forward up to 32X speed is nice and smooth but with no audio at all. The rewind and fast forward feature was very fast way to jump through a program that is several hours long with brief screen freezes in that mode to give some an ideal where they are. Pushing the fast forward or rewind button briefly jumps the program 20 seconds forward or backward. This issue needs fixed with the “AC3” audio causing the fast scan forward to be choppy.

In conclusion the EpVision PHD-VRX has many positives and negatives. It is the only subscription free NTSC/ATSC/QAM product on the market that has a dual RF input mode with 4 channel database. The only other brand on the market that offers a dual RF input is the TIVO models that can run $800-1,000+ after a lifetime subscription and 2TB external hard drive is purchased. The EpVision PHD-VRX starts at $229.95 for those consumers that only want a tuner and later on if they want to upgrade it to a HD DVR they can. Once a high-end external 2TB hard drive is added the PHD-VRX total price is around $407.93.

The big negative of the PHD-VRX is that it has many major and minor bugs currently that need to be fixed with a firmware update. Most of those bugs come into effect when a consumer attempts to do some recordings. I would definitely recommended the PHD-VRX for someone that is not looking to record but looking to pick up a low cost tuner for $229.95 that wants ATSC broadcast channels and in the clear cable QAM channels along with NTSC cable channels. The PHD-VRX main strength is the ability to accept two signal sources. For those consumers that have both cable TV and an outdoor antenna the PHD-VRX is the ideal product for subscription free in the clear channels. Now for those consumers that are using a single signal source like cable TV only or only one TV antenna then there are other brands and models on the market too choose from. If one does not need a dual RF input with four channel maps then the options for HD DVR’s are many. Other brands on the market have integrated two tuner HD DVR’s with one program guide. Perhaps in the future the PHD-VRX will move from being an ok product to being an excellent product when and if a firmware update occurs.

Personally I plan on keeping my PHD-VRX for the exclusive dual RF input feature. The closes product I have found to the PHD-VRX is a single tuner only model for around $162.95 with only one RF input and dual channel maps. The problem is to use the dual channel map on the older PHD-8VX box the consumer needs to spend around $30-$40 for a wireless remote control RF A/B switch so they can switch between cable TV and a TV antenna. The PHD-8VX ends up costing around the same price as the PHD-VRX once the A/B switch is added, plus the PHD-8VX does not record. If the PHD-VRX would have been released as a single tuner with a built in A/B switch with dual channel maps it would have been a hit for consumers that have both cable TV and a TV antenna . The PHD-VRX with its two tuners ,two RF inputs, and 4 channel maps was designed to be turned into a HD DVR with an optional add on hard drive. The HD DVR feature is the weakest feature on the PHD-VRX because of all the major and minor bugs that hopefully will be fixed with a firmware update.

part 3 continues in next post
HDTV1080P24 is offline  
post #360 of 2316 Old 07-02-2012, 07:48 AM
Advanced Member
 
HDTV1080P24's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 586
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 27
The EpVision PHD-VRX final review (at least I hope it is my final review) Part 3 of 3



Major firmware updates needed


1. The PHD-VRX cannot use the NTFS file system to record HD quality channels since the PHD-VRX limits the transfer speed to 6MB/s instead of 26MB/s. This is the most popular file system to use with a Windows PC and this issue should be fixed.
a. If for some reason the NTFS file system cannot be fully supported on the PHD-VRX then the exFAT file system would be a good alternative since all Microsoft operating systems from Windows XP thru Windows 7 supports exFAT file system.

2. Offer a native video option so the picture control settings can be disabled in the PHD-VRX. Satellite receivers and Cable boxes do not require picture adjustment menus.

3. Firmware update needed for the pause feature when AC3 is used: The PHD-VRX when playing back previous recorded TV programs will work fine with HDMI and optical when the audio is set to PCM (HDMI is variable PCM only and the optical is fixed PCM). The problem occurs when the optical output is set for “AC3” while watching a recording. When the pause button is pushed on the remote the picture will instantly pause but the problem is the audio will take another 5 seconds before it pauses. Then when one pushes the pause button again the picture will instantly start moving again but the audio will take around 5 seconds before it starts up again.

4. When the time shift feature is activated on the PHD-VRX and the consumer has the “AC3” option turned on for the optical output the audio will be completely lost in the live viewing mode but not in the time shift recordings. Consumers are forced to use HDMI which is only PCM or to change the optical audio option from “AC3” to “PCM” in order for the time shift feature to work properly. This needs to be fixed in a firmware update.

5. AC3 menu option when turned on messes up the quality and smooth scanning of the fast scan feature: Watching a previous recorded program on the PHD-VRX requires the use of the Media Player menu option. The problem I ran into with the PHD-VRX is its ability to fast forward up to 32 times speed is not working correctly when the “AC3” audio option is turned on in the menu. It did not matter if I was recording two 1080i programs at once or just plain old recording nothing. The previous recorded program feature had some major issues with scanning while the “AC3” option is turned on. I tested the feature on a 1080i recoding that was over 11 hours and 15 minutes long. Now the backward scanning appeared to work just fine most of the time with 2X, 4X, 8X, 16X and 32X scanning. The backward scan offers no audio scanning but it was so much more smoother and faster compared to the forward scanning when the “AC3” audio option was tuned on. Now the fast forward scanning was slower and most likely the reason is that it appears to pause and to try and capture the AC3 audio stream once and awhile when in 2X, 4X, 8X, 16X, and 32X speed. The 2X speed forward offered the best audio option with AC3 but the faster one goes with the scanning forward the audio is captured less, and the 32X speed offers no hearable audio. Also once and awhile the graphics menu would get messed up for the direction of the arrow for a few seconds when switching from forward to backward scan while the “AC3” option was turned on. Now if the consumer turns off the “AC3” option in the menu to “PCM” the scanning forward up to 32X speed is nice and smooth but with no audio at all while scanning forward. The rewind and fast forward feature was very fast way to jump through a program that is several hours long with brief screen freezes in that mode to give some an ideal where they are. Pushing the fast forward or rewind button briefly jumps the program 20 seconds forward or backward. This issue needs fixed with the “AC3” audio causing the fast scan forward to be choppy.

6. The time shift feature needs a firmware update: There should be an option in the menu to turn the time shift feature on 24 X 7 instead of having to manually activate it. On HD DVR satellite boxes and HD DVR cable boxes the time shift feature is automatically activated as soon as one flips to a new channel and runs 24 x 7. It would be ideal if the PHD-VRX would automatically have the option to do the same and have the time shift run 24 x 7 like other HD DVR’s do. At the very minimum the time shift feature if not running 24 x 7 should start running as soon as the consumer presses the pause button on the remote.


7. A 24fps and 60fps menu option would be ideal feature to have on the PHD-VRX. Those with older 1080P displays that do not support 24Hz would then be able to allow the PHD-VRX to do a 3:2 pulldown for native 1080p/24 VUDU programs (VUDU is planned in the future). Also it would be a nice feature to have the PHD-VRX be able to do a reverse 3:2 pulldown for film based programs and upconvert SD and HD film based programs to 1080p/24 instead of 1080p/60. Video based programs would be outputted at 1080p/60Hz. The current system information screen does not mention if the 1080P signal being output is 60HZ or 24HZ. That information added to the System information screen would be ideal.

8. An option in the channel data base menu could be created for customers to disable the second electronic program guide and second channel database for those consumers that only have one signal source (only cable TV or only ATSC broadcast, but not both). This would solve many of the complaints about having two program guides. If the signal source is exactly the same for digital channels then there does not need to be two electronic program guides and two channel databases. This would be an easy fix.

9. The dual signal source is where the consumer has one tuner setup for cable TV channels and one for ATSC broadcast channels. The dual signal source situation is when the programming would become more complicated. The cable TV QAM channels could be integrated with the ATSC broadcast channels by creating a channel database and electronic program guide that combines the two tuners. The ATSC channels would have one color in the electronic program guide while the QAM cable channels another color in the electronic program guide. Then the consumer could flip channels from both the cable system and ATSC antenna system without having to toggle back and forth between the two tuners.

10. Consumers that hit the power button on the remote by mistake while recording would like the following firmware update. There needs to be a firmware update that pops up with a message that says “You cannot place the PHD-VRX in standby mode while you are recording”. The PHD-VRX firmware needs to be changed so that the PHD-VRX properly shuts down the recording before entering the standby mode. This would greatly prevent the PHD-VRX from locking up and getting stuck in the booting mode.

11. The “Recorded Shows” menu feature is currently a useless feature that should be completely re-written by the EpVision programmers. When a user selects the “Recorded Shows” option it should only show the TV programs that are available for the USB hard drive that is currently connected and not a complete history of programs that exist on USB drives that are not even connected. Also the “Recorded Shows” menu feature should be interfaced in with the Video Media Player so that a button can be pressed to watch the TV program from the “Recorded Shows” menu option. Also when one deletes a TV program from the “Recorded Shows” menu it should delete the program from the USB hard drive and not just the history.

Minor firmware updates needed


1. Make tuner 1 and tuner 2 operate exactly the same way while channel surfing:Consumers will get confused if on one tuner they can type 65 on the remote to get to digital channel 65.1 and on the other tuner they need to type 65.1. A software update would be able to fix this issue. The problem is tuner number 2 software works different since typing in channel number 65 will cause the box to get locked in a scan mode and the only way to get it out of that mode is to push the channel up or down button.

2. The Digital Preference feature does not always work for some channels: When Spanish is selected under Digital Preferences the PHD-VRX on some channels that were broadcasting in 2.0 or 1.0 Spanish Dolby Digital automatically switched to Spanish. Also once and a awhile the PHD-VRX would have a glitch and not flip to the Spanish audio track even for channels it worked for a few minutes before while channel surfing. This feature needs to be improved for accuracy with a firmware update.

3. The ability to playback recorded programs that are Close Caption encoded would be ideal. There is no menu option in the PHD-VRX to turn on the Close Captioning feature when a recorded program is played back. So even if the Close Captioning data might be recorded in the MPEG-2 transport file system if there is no menu option to turn it on then that is bad for the consumers that want Close Captioning.

4. The ability to record up to 3 audio tracks at once would be nice for some people (being able to record all the audio tracks offered on that channel would be ideal). The current menu selection does not allow the toggling of the audio track options when playback a recording.

5. Consider offering a firmware update that would add support for 3TB hard drives.

6. There should be a firmware update that fixes these speed test issues. When a consumer tries to run a speed test while recording a TV program there should be a message that pops up on the screen that says something like “USB Speed test is not available, please stop your recordings first”. This will prevent recordings from being messed up. Also the speed test accuracy needs to be improved since running the program on a digital channel can mess up the results by 1-3MB/s.

7. Add program title with channel description information during channel changes: On Direct TV HD DVR’s and on Digital Cable boxes when one changes the channel they are able to see the channel number with program title and program description briefly appearing on the screen for a few seconds. Currently the PHD-VRX only shows the channel number data when flipping the channel. Adding the ability to see the program title and description along with the channel number would be a nice feature.

8. A software update to change the USB port labeling to match the back panel labeling would be a simple firmware fix. The problem with the “Select Device” menu selection screen is that the USB ports are labeled as “USB:usba” and “USB:usbb”. The big question is which USB port is number 1 and which is number 2 (On the back panel the ports are labeled as “USB1” and “USB2”).

9. To make things simple for the consumer the PHD-VRX should pop up with a message that says “This program is already being recorded” when the consumer hits the record button for a channel that they are already recording. Currently when hitting the record button the message box says “NOT AVAILABLE” if the channel is already being recorded.

10. The ability to view and schedule future recordings on other channels when using the electronic program guide should be possible when recording two programs at once but instead the PHD-VRX is unable retrieve that program data from other channels while recording. The recordings needs to be stopped in order for the electronic program guide to be fully functional again. Then for the tuner that does not have a recording occurring one can look at the program guide with program titles and descriptions.

11. A firmware update would be ideal to allow the favorite lists menus too be combined so one could have a favorite list that contained channels from both tuner 1 and tuner 2.

12. One feature that I do not like is that every time I power up the PHD-VRX out of standby it displays the following message “USB device was connected to TV. Do you want to open Media Player?”. That option box should only be designed to pop up when one plugs in a new USB drive and not when one power cycles the PHD-VRX out of the standby mode.

13. There needs to be a firmware update that would automatically power up the PHD-VRX 1 minute before the scheduled recording is suppose to start so that 35 seconds of the beginning of the program is not missed.

14. A firmware update should be issued to fix the file size information for recorded shows in the PHD-VRX media player. There have been many times the Media Player lists the incorrect size of a file when comparing the exact same file on a Windows PC. Also it would be nice to be able to rename the file name of the recordings on the PHD-VRX, currently one needs to plug the USB drive into a Windows PC in order to rename the file name.
HDTV1080P24 is offline  
Reply HDTV Recorders

Tags
Epvision Phd Vrx

User Tag List

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off