ePVision PHD-VRX & VRX2 Owners Thread - Page 82 - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #2431 of 2454 Old 04-08-2015, 05:24 AM
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I probably should have clarified, and that's my fault, I was thinking more in line with an already pre-built external drive. One of the reasons I was looking at that way (as opposed to what you have suggested going with a raw laptop drive and case) was simplicity and economics. It looks like I can find these portable external hard drives for a little less than buying the parts separate. And if these drives will work just fine with this unit, that may be a good option to consider. Browsing and searching through this thread I really didn't see that addressed. But then I could have missed it through 2400+ posts! I don't necessarily have a problem going the route you have suggested, and if you think it truly is best for the performance of the system, I'll rethink that setup. I just don't want to under/overkill the setup and have problems or waste money.
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post #2432 of 2454 Old 04-08-2015, 06:53 AM
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We have been using a Toshiba 2TB portable drive (USB powered) with good results. We have also tried (all portable USB powered) Verbatim 1TB and Seagate 1TB Backup Plus, and they seemed to be OK as well. Others will probably remember, but the limit for size used might be 2TB.
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post #2433 of 2454 Old 04-08-2015, 08:49 AM
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I'd speculate that the limit is 2.2 TB (the max. MBR partition size). Other DVRs, such as the CM DVR+, have the same limitation.

If so, a 3TB drive would give you about 10% more space than a 2TB drive. Not really worth the higher cost of a 3TB drive IMO.

A firmware update could overcome the limit, but I haven't seen much activity from ePVision lately.
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post #2434 of 2454 Old 04-08-2015, 06:59 PM
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After looking into several DVRs and options I've settled on this unit (the ePVision PHD-VRX2) and have a question:

Any recommendations on a good external hard drive for this unit? There are obviously several out there from various makes and capacities, then you have different drive speeds or even solid state drives. Anything to avoid? I know I can get an internal drive and get it to work inside the unit but not my preference.
From eburs:
When I was deciding what hard drive to buy for my PHD-VRX2, I chose a drive with capacity up to the VRX2 maximum of 2TB. Since the USB ports on the VRX2 are USB 2.0, it made sense to buy a drive with USB 2.0. USB 3.0 drives use the USB port to power the drive and I did not want to do that in case there was not enough power. I also wanted a fast drive. So I chose the Western Digital Elements 2TB USB 2.0 external drive.

I bought the drive in 2013. It may be harder now to find a USB 2.0 external drive. From what I can see online, the WD Element drives now come in USB 3.0 versions. That would mean a 2.5" drive. Others in this blog have recommended 2.5" drives. This would mean drawing power from the USB port. That may not be a problem. I was being prudent when I made my choice.

Last edited by eburs; 04-08-2015 at 07:00 PM. Reason: Clarify
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post #2435 of 2454 Old 04-08-2015, 08:10 PM
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True; most external drives are USB 3.0 now. Typically, 2.5" drives draw power from the USB port, while 3.5" drives use a wall-wart of some sort (but there are exceptions in both cases).

If you get a USB-powered drive and don't want to risk overloading the PHD-VRX2's power supply, you can still find USB "Y" cables that let you connect the data pins to the PHD-VRX2 and the power pins to a cheap USB wall-wart.

You can also buy standalone HDD enclosures that let you put your own SATA drive inside. They're usually wall-wart powered, but the HDD+enclosure combo usually costs a bit more too.
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post #2436 of 2454 Old 04-09-2015, 03:16 AM - Thread Starter
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Browsing and searching through this thread I really didn't see that addressed.
Did you read the the first 10 posts??

Quote:
I was thinking more in line with an already pre-built external drive. One of the reasons I was looking at that way (as opposed to what you have suggested going with a raw laptop drive and case) was simplicity and economics.
As I stated in the first posts, I suggested it that way purposely; You choose the drive you want, you then choose the case you want. Some of these 'packages' were designed NOT to separate (at least easily) and besides cheaper is usually not better.

Simplicity is no issue. Open case, insert HDD, close case. Surely not complicated.

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post #2437 of 2454 Old 04-09-2015, 04:18 AM
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Originally Posted by eburs View Post
From eburs:
Since the USB ports on the VRX2 are USB 2.0, it made sense to buy a drive with USB 2.0. USB 3.0 drives use the USB port to power the drive and I did not want to do that in case there was not enough power.
Ok, I was not aware of this. I knew they were only 2.0 on the VRX2 (and I figured getting a 3.0 drive wouldn't hurt) but if the 3.0 drives are USB powered only, I might as you did, go with the 2.0 with the option of adding a power supply if needed. Or if for any reason, to put less stress on the unit itself.

Thank you everyone for you input. I feel a lot better buying what I need to make this work as efficiently as possible. I bought one of the first DVRs to come out (Panasonic Replay HS2000) and still have it, but the hard drive finally gave out a couple years ago. And the who digital TV thing wasn't good for it either! So I want to get back into recording OTA again without having to pay a monthly fee. Looks like the VRX2 is the best option for me.
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post #2438 of 2454 Old 04-09-2015, 06:16 AM
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Just a note, the power issue isn't one with the Kingston 240GB SSD USB kit, comes complete with a USB 3.0 enclosure with the drive, so just push it in, clip it closed, plug the cable in to it and then the unit, done. Since the SSD uses very little power, as does the enclosure, there won't be any problems with power at all. Kingston has other SSD USB kit sizes, just check which one you want. Though for light recording (30 shows a week), can easily get 30 1 hour shows with the drive (based on a 7GB/HR value). I've not run out of space with it so far, but if you want more space, the 480 should be enough, since there isn't a whole lot of OTA content at the moment due to the holidays and March break causing shows to end for haitus.

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post #2439 of 2454 Old 05-14-2015, 03:56 PM
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Cool Weekly recordings, file cleanup and external drives

First I'll address the choice of drives issue:

Almost all portable drives also have the option of using an external power supply, though that's not usually provided with the drive. I would strongly recommend external power to lighten the power and heat load in the PHD-VRX; it's also why I would not mount a drive in the chassis. Even adding a fan would increase the power drain on the system power supply. Keep in mind that 2.5" drives still tend to be a bit slower than desktop ones.

My selection for a drive is the Buffalo DriveStation DDR, a 2TB drive (I have bought two now) with a 1GB DD3RAM smart buffer. It's fast and the buffering means no recording overruns; one still sees occasional stuttering on starting a playback, before the buffer's full, while recording. But it's sooo much better, and the DriveStation DDR can store its entire buffer before shutdown if the power is completely unplugged. I paid $129 at London Drugs, but there are probably better deals somewhere now. (I see LD has upped its price, likely due to the Canadian Dollar's collapse.) I hope I'm not violating any rules with this info - if so, I hope just the source will be edited and not my pointing to this drive, which is exceptionally well suited to media use and is just the right size. Buffalo uses Seagate drives internally but mine have been running for 1.5 and 2.5 years now without a hiccup.

Now - file cleanup:

One really does need a computer, in the long run, as the file management functions of the PHD-VRX are minimal other than with successful recordings linked in the "record" file on the disk. I have tested this extensively.

Brief recap: the usual recording format (.MPG) does not save subtitles, enhanced indexing information and watched-to point. ePivision added these functions through metadata in a companion .NAV file, and linked the two with entries in the little file just named "record."

The link between .MPG and .NAV files is only made at the completion of a recording or a manual stop; no failed or interrupted recordings are properly linked, so they cannot be accessed though the Record menu. They CAN be played from the Video menu, but not deleted or renamed, and they will not show subtitles or remember where you've last viewed. You can also only FF/RW at speeds up to 32x, rather than256x as vis the Record menu, and you can't sit on the jump ahead or jump back button for fast FF/RW, as the file will either restart or jump to the end.

If you want to save programs, you'll probably want to move your drive to a computer anyway. You can copy .NAV and .MPG files off and then back and they will still play via Record IF you keep them together with the matching "record" file. That's why you can't combine programs recorded on different drives onto the same drive and have the transferred ones work under Record.

So - any time a failed recording or power-interrupted recording is created, it can ONLY be removed by moving the drive to another device, ideally a computer with ext2 file support. (Like this Ubuntu box I'm on here.) I suspect this is because the Video menu is intended for programming from other devices and they didn't figure you'd want to manage files from other devices that could perform their own file management better. If you never play files from other sources than the PHD-VRX' own recordings (such as downloaded video clips or your own digital video), you may not bear in mind that those files don't have those extra capabilities.

REMEMBER - DON'T DELETE THE "record" FILE FROM A DRIVE THAT YOU WANT TO PLAY PHD-VRX RECORDINGS FROM THE RECORD MENU WITH ENHANCED INDEXING/SUBTITLES/WATCHED-TO POINT!

The PHD-VRX will create a zero-length "record" file on other usb devices you stick into it, but those can be deleted safely if there are no PHD-VRX recordings on them.

And third (for Clydester88 back in what was message 2375 today, and others): M-F recordings.

It is true that the PHD-VRX does not properly advance the next recording date of M-F events over the weekend. (It seems to advance only once over the two days, oddly enough.) BUT this does not stop the recordings from working as planned; the event will NOT be recorded during the weekend, but it WILL be recorded when weekdays come around again.

The main pain about this is that it's not as easy to check the schedule when some of the programs are in the wrong place in the listings! I work around it by always updating my programming for the week on Sunday evenings, but this only works if you entered a manual event. You have to first change the M-F to Everyday or Weekly, then adjust the date, then switch back to M-F. Heck, I'm the obsessive type anyway.

Note: you can't do this with events scheduled by the guide. SOL.

I note that Clydester88 also mentions the problem of "Phantom" scheduled recording events.

This is an outright bug, and something is corrupting scheduled events. I suspect this is minimized by strictly observing the editing of each tuner's events WHILE THE SAME TUNER IS SELECTED FOR VIEWING, but haven't confirmed it. I often see that editing one entry will cause others to change maddeningly, or find a conflict we can't see.

Somehow, events are persisting somewhere that we can't see, using up our maximum recording slots and causing conflicts. The only way I have ever found to clear them all is reflashing the firmware, and then re-entering all programmed events. Major pain.

It is also possible for phantom events to continue recording even though they are not listed! For example, I recorded a Sunday afternoon movie a few weeks ago as a "once" event, and every Sunday thereafter it would record at the same time! I found a work-around, though. By creating a conflicting event, I was offered the choice of which to de-activate, and by selecting Modify the other was rendered inactive... but it still consumed an event slot, reducing my available ones.

This also relates to something others have noted: they sometimes can't enter "30" in the minutes field, and have to scroll to it. This is in fact due to the minimum recording length of 5 minutes. If you want to record a half-hour program, it's most natural to first set the hours to zero, then try to enter 3 and 0 in the minutes field. But this fails because as you enter the 3, it falls afoul of the minimum length.

If you leave the hour field set to a nonzero value (it appears as 1 when creating a new recording), you will be able to enter 30 in the minutes field, then drop the hours back to 0. Not much of a problem compared to scrolling the whole half-hour, or even from 50 minutes to 30, eh?
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Last edited by Ed Bear; 08-17-2015 at 12:45 AM. Reason: In the capitalized "REMEMBER- DON'T DELETE..." line, I corrected it to "THE RECORD MENU" from "THE VIDEO MENU."
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post #2440 of 2454 Old 05-14-2015, 05:14 PM - Thread Starter
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I would strongly recommend external power to lighten the power and heat load in the PHD-VRX; it's also why I would not mount a drive in the chassis.
Never been a problem, the additional heat is very little.

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post #2441 of 2454 Old 05-31-2015, 08:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Ed Bear View Post
First I'll address the choice of drives issue:

Almost all portable drives also have the option of using an external power supply, though that's not usually provided with the drive. I would strongly recommend external power to lighten the power and heat load in the PHD-VRX; it's also why I would not mount a drive in the chassis. Even adding a fan would increase the power drain on the system power supply. Keep in mind that 2.5" drives still tend to be a bit slower than desktop ones.
Just a note to this, 2.5" drives with sufficient cache can outperform the unit's 25MB data stream limit (which seems to be the ability of the unit). Kingston SSD USB kits can offer smaller drives for those who don't need to record months of shows that can be plugged into the unit and won't put any more strain on the unit than a large capacity usb stick would. The usb enclosure is designed to use only the power a standard usb stick does, though most SSDs are fine with this power amount anyways. There are companies with lighter power consumption SSDs, but they lack the USB kit that does the same. If you're concerned, each USB hub (2 ports) typically offers up 500mA total (that is shared between the two). Simply plug the unit into your computer and go into the Device Manager, under View, "Devices by connection", open your computer, then the ACPI-Compliant System, then the PCI Bus and then open each of your USB host controllers and look for USB Root Hubs inside, each hub will list whats plugged into it. Properties on that hub will show you under the Power tab, what power is being required by each device. Technically, your device shouldn't go past 250mA, if it does, try putting a powered USB hub in front of it, so as to not stress the port's voltage regulating circuit in the recorder.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed Bear View Post
If you want to save programs, you'll probably want to move your drive to a computer anyway. You can copy .NAV and .MPG files off and then back and they will still play via Record IF you keep them together with the matching "record" file. That's why you can't combine programs recorded on different drives onto the same drive and have the transferred ones work under Record.

So - any time a failed recording or power-interrupted recording is created, it can ONLY be removed by moving the drive to another device, ideally a computer with ext2 file support. (Like this Ubuntu box I'm on here.) I suspect this is because the Video menu is intended for programming from other devices and they didn't figure you'd want to manage files from other devices that could to their own file management better.

REMEMBER - DON'T DELETE THE "record" FILE FROM A DRIVE THAT YOU WANT TO PLAY PHD-VRX RECORDINGS FROM!
A few things here, the "record" file is the main culprit when recordings stop working after a failed record happens, it's not enough to remove all the programs and recreate them, the "record" file has to go too, or the recorder won't record any program, then you're stuck removing the programs again and then the record file. Sadly, I've had way too much experience in this and is the reason I'm piecing together a 4 tuner HTPC to replace this unit (I've simply had enough). You *can* play the recordings with your PC without problems (or the "record" file), you can also use HDTVtoMPEG2 (rename the .mpg to .mpg.ts first) and it will redo the mpeg into mpeg format without issues. I've used it for years from various recorders and it's always worked afterwards. It does offer the ability to chop out commercials, but it's a bit tedious. The best part is, no loss in quality, it doesn't do a reencode, only a proper mpeg reformatting.

Now, first, even though I am building an HTPC to replace this unit, I don't knock the hardware (well, the power button finally died on the remote, that I blame for cheapness, inexcusable), the lack of quality software to run the hardware, isn't the fault of the hardware. Sure, there are some hardware shortcomings (the Daylight Savings in EST are off), a proper software solution would have let us choose the month/day for the Daylight Savings swaps (my old DVR has this), would let us properly set recordings (with or without a guide), wouldn't require us to specify a tuner, but to instead, enable us to "use whats available" instead. A modularized design to advance the abilities of the unit to offer network recording (yes, I know, 100mb lan, you can still do it, but it's painful), a pre & post delay on recordings (my old DVR and VCR would fire up 30 seconds, pre-ready the recording device and right on the start second, would record, a feature missing from this software).

My thought would be, though it's too late now, this hardware is pretty much "dead" in the eyes of retailers, would have been to have known authors of HTPC software contracted to write the software for these units. Now, with how long it's gone, I don't see these units selling much anymore (where I am, they don't carry them anymore because mostly of the low sales, but the returns with complaints), a shame the company won't release their firmware source (now if that has happened, which I doubt, it may benefit someone out there).

GuruSR.

Last edited by GuruSR; 05-31-2015 at 08:12 AM. Reason: Typos, I love typos! (Probably more, but that one was bad!)
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post #2442 of 2454 Old 05-31-2015, 10:20 AM - Thread Starter
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a shame the company won't release their firmware source
I would be willing to bet, it's Broadcom that isn't letting them.

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post #2443 of 2454 Old 06-04-2015, 12:34 AM
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GuruSR said: A few things here, the "record" file is the main culprit when recordings stop working after a failed record happens, it's not enough to remove all the programs and recreate them, the "record" file has to go too, or the recorder won't record any program, then you're stuck removing the programs again and then the record file. Sadly, I've had way too much experience in this and is the reason I'm piecing together a 4 tuner HTPC to replace this unit (I've simply had enough). You *can* play the recordings with your PC without problems (or the "record" file), you can also use HDTVtoMPEG2 (rename the .mpg to .mpg.ts first) and it will redo the mpeg into mpeg format without issues. I've used it for years from various recorders and it's always worked afterwards. It does offer the ability to chop out commercials, but it's a bit tedious. The best part is, no loss in quality, it doesn't do a reencode, only a proper mpeg reformatting.

BEAR AGAIN: The "record" file is an actual file on the drive, visible when it's connected to a computer but not on the PHD-VRX, which treats it as hidden. I think you may be confusing it with the list of programmed events or the Recording History, which do not appear to be stored on the drive but somewhere in non-volatile memory.

Let me make sure I've been clear - you CAN play the .MPG files on a computer, or on the PHD-VRX, but the .NAV file won't be picked up without both files and the "record" file to link them. The .NAV file's timestamp and size never change, so at least the watched-to point must be saved in the "record" file.

What I was saying is that to play WITH ALL THE EXTRA FEATURES - enhanced indexing, subtitles and watched-to point - you need properly linked .NAV and .MPG files with their "record" file. Then you can play from the Record menu in recording mode.

I've edited my post to say:

REMEMBER - DON'T DELETE THE "record" FILE FROM A DRIVE THAT YOU WANT TO PLAY PHD-VRX RECORDINGS FROM THE VIDEO MENU WITH ENHANCED INDEXING/SUBTITLES/WATCHED-TO POINT!

I have NEVER had to remove the "record" file to eliminate failed recordings. They don't have entries in the "record" file because that's only created when the recording completes normally. The failed recordings can be watched (in Video mode, with no extra features as above) and then simply deleted on a computer by deleting their .MPG and .NAV files.

As I've noted, you never have to remove all the program events and re-create them... just toggle them inactive and active again if you've removed the drive with the PHD-VRX turned on, and they will work. I have done this many times. (Do one pass toggling all the Tuner1 events while Tuner1 is active, then another for the Tuner2 events while Tuner2 is active.) Deleting the "record" file will prevent the linkage. The "record" file is an actual file on the drive, visible when it's connected to a computer but not on the PHD-VRX, which treats it as hidden.

CAVEAT: I have yet to load an empty drive with only matching .NAV and .MPG files to see if the PHD-VRX will create a new "record" file without whatever's saved in the "record" file such as watched-to point. Has anyone tried to see if that works for the basic indexing, subtitles and user-assigned program title?

I have assumed that doesn't work because the PHD-VRX never makes failed recordings (which DO have matched .NAV and .MPG files but no "record" entry) visible or playable from the Video menu (with enhanced features).
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Last edited by Ed Bear; 06-04-2015 at 12:50 AM.
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post #2444 of 2454 Old 06-13-2015, 06:38 PM
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new firmware version in RC status

All, FYI --

On the PHD-VRX2 web site, EPvision shows 243.25.43 as the latest "clickable" firmware, but the announcement on the web page dated 8/22/2014 announces the release of 244.22.30 (non-clickable):
http://www.epvision.com/HDTVSTB/phdvrx2main.htm
However, in the directory structure there appears to be a new version coming (245_22_30); presently in RC status:
http://www.epvision.com/HDTVSTB/Documents/PHD-VRX2/
VRX2_245_20_23_RC1_3.3.pdf is still the PDF file for 244/3.2 -- they haven't updated it yet. But I assume that the "3.3" in the file name is for "TV Micro Version 3.3". Haven't seen that before...

Just be sure to bookmark the direct page to get download files from there.


For me, I'm hoping that they fix the "recording playback skipping bug". When I reported it last year, they already knew about it and a few other folks here had seen it also.

Just a heads up...

Scott
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post #2445 of 2454 Old 06-14-2015, 07:01 AM - Thread Starter
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Post 10 updated

with additional FW links for both models.


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post #2446 of 2454 Old 06-21-2015, 04:13 PM
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I hope the skip is fix on this up date
Thank you
Dave

Quote:
Originally Posted by 645824 View Post
All, FYI --

On the PHD-VRX2 web site, EPvision shows 243.25.43 as the latest "clickable" firmware, but the announcement on the web page dated 8/22/2014 announces the release of 244.22.30 (non-clickable):
http://www.epvision.com/HDTVSTB/phdvrx2main.htm
However, in the directory structure there appears to be a new version coming (245_22_30); presently in RC status:
http://www.epvision.com/HDTVSTB/Documents/PHD-VRX2/
VRX2_245_20_23_RC1_3.3.pdf is still the PDF file for 244/3.2 -- they haven't updated it yet. But I assume that the "3.3" in the file name is for "TV Micro Version 3.3". Haven't seen that before...

Just be sure to bookmark the direct page to get download files from there.


For me, I'm hoping that they fix the "recording playback skipping bug". When I reported it last year, they already knew about it and a few other folks here had seen it also.

Just a heads up...

Scott
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post #2447 of 2454 Old 06-28-2015, 07:13 AM
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I hope the skip is fix on this up date
Thank you
Dave
I see that there is yet another RC1 update listed on the epvision site:
http://www.epvision.com/HDTVSTB/Documents/PHD-VRX2/


This time it is: VRX2_245_21_29_RC1


Does anyone have any insight on this latest version?

Last edited by windermere; 06-28-2015 at 07:17 AM.
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post #2448 of 2454 Old 07-05-2015, 05:27 PM
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Thank you for the update
Dave

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Originally Posted by windermere View Post
I see that there is yet another RC1 update listed on the epvision site:
http://www.epvision.com/HDTVSTB/Documents/PHD-VRX2/


This time it is: VRX2_245_21_29_RC1


Does anyone have any insight on this latest version?
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post #2449 of 2454 Old 09-03-2015, 03:41 PM
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PHD-VRX2 Composite Mode

Has anyone figured out how to view the function keys like "Menu" when the VRX2 is connected to the TV in the composite mode. All I have been able to to is to watch TV. None of the DVR functions show up on the screen.
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post #2450 of 2454 Old 09-03-2015, 08:38 PM
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It's been a while since anybody has discussed it, but I'm pretty sure it's impossible. The menu doesn't show over the composite connection, so you'd have to convert one of the other connection types to composite if your TV only has composite connections. (If your TV only has composite, you might as well just use a VCR, as you can't take advantage of HDTV, anyway.)
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post #2451 of 2454 Old Yesterday, 07:01 AM
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Well, I don't think I'd go all the way down to a VCR and start having to find places to store those bulky VHS tapes just because my TV is old. DVRs offer a lot of niceties besides HD. One of my DTVPals is hooked up to an old SDTV and my wife loves it.

But it's true that the PHD-VRX is a bad fit for SDTVs. Its composite output was apparently intended for use with a VCR or DVD recorder; hence, no menus.
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post #2452 of 2454 Old Yesterday, 08:34 AM
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Composite Outputs and the Menus

It looks like the menu and control overlays are added only to the digital HDMI output stream, and not the composite analog. The analog output is useful for both non-digital projection devices (they can be very expensive, so they will be replaced more slowly than TV sets) and VCR output.

When I first got my PHD-VRX, I had only an analog TV and connected a small DVI-equipped computer monitor for control until I got a (used) 32" Sharp digital for $100.

I will remind everyone that recording to a VCR will result in the recorded image playing back as a 4:3 DS image, vertically stretched, on an SD TV - but playing back on a digital TV (or any TV with switchable aspect ratio) allows the image to be re-proportioned properly. (EDIT: I forgot to mention that the PHD-VRX can do this if your TV can't) This results in a BETTER image as it's recorded over the full height of the analog image and not compressed into a narrow band.
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Last edited by Ed Bear; Yesterday at 10:55 PM.
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post #2453 of 2454 Old Yesterday, 01:45 PM
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If your tuner supports overriding the AR, you can also create anamorphic widescreen VHS tapes to avoid having to zoom the picture on a 16:9 TV. Set the tuner to squeeze the whole 16:9 frame into the 4:3 area that the VCR will record, and then force the TV to stretch the VCR's output to 16:9 during playback, and you'll get the original AR without having to zoom in on the tape.
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post #2454 of 2454 Old Yesterday, 10:52 PM
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That was more of less what I was trying to say, Aleron Ives. My point was that you don't HAVE to do that - the PHD-VRX's composite output is already vertically stretched (anamorphed, as you say) to 4:3 (the SD ratio - sorry I got it wrong above - I've corrected that) and will therefore be recorded with more lines of info than as a "letterboxed" or otherwise squished format, which wastes the lines at top and bottom.

All you have to do is stretch the picture horizontally on playback, which the PHD-VRX can do for you if your TV can't.
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Last edited by Ed Bear; Yesterday at 10:57 PM.
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