2014 list of consumer available DVR's - Page 17 - AVS Forum
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post #481 of 532 Old 06-09-2014, 01:30 PM
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I've been using my PHD-VRX for almost a year now (I've had it a good bit longer, but it took a while to get an HDMI monitor, which it NEEDS) and, while it has its flaws like all of them, I'm pretty happy with it and not wishing I'd chosen another. I recently looked over the Homeworx boxes, which are about $70 here in Canada, but limited storage and the lack of manual time setting (no OTA PBS here in most of Canada!) rules it out.

Here are a few items I think may need updating or clarification in the bit comparison table:

1. External record: HDD / Memory stick:
- To the best of my knowledge, nobody has managed to record to a memory stick successfully. I've tried a variety of them, the fastest being a 64GB Lexar S23 USB 3.0 (in USB 2.0 mode, as the PHD-VRX does not do 3.0). None could record HD consistently or even play back an HD .MPG file that had been copied to the stick. (This is a low-cost but very fast USB drive, but cheap plastic casing and connector means one usually has to wiggle it and pull it out a bit to get it to connect, but it works great otherwise.)

2. Edit channel names and/or call letters:
- I am able to set a name or call letters, though the names are short - I think the longest I have is GLOBAL-8. I like to set a different formant (upper or lower case) for each tuner so I always know which one I'm using. You could also use a prefix, such as A or B.

3. Time setting; auto and/or manual & source:
- The table lists "NT / PSIP Man," which seems to mean "Network Time/PSIP/Manual." As there is no PBS time for most Canadians not able to get PBS from across the border, I'm curious if there is in fact a way to set time from the PSIP info. (Yes, I know that can cause Daylight Savings problems.)

I always use manual time setting, but it takes numerous tries because I can't figure out any way to tell where in the minute the time will be set, and more than about 10 seconds off will lose start or end of recordings. Many series have important recap/preview info in those periods, and one can't pad the time if another recording follows immediately. I've gotten in the habit of starting my evening news shows a minute LATE to avoid recording failures caused by the 15-second delay when the channel must be changed on that tuner between shows: if both tuners change channel at the same time, at least one following recording will fail. That's an acceptable work-around for me, because most of that is the theme music, graphics and previews.

Anyone know how to set the seconds?

4. Recording conflicts action; auto or manual:
- The PHD-VRX doesn't auto-resolve conflicts, but it also does a dreadful job in detecting them! I think this actually got WORSE in my most recent firmware upgrade, to 243.23.31. Using the correct tuner to set up or modify shows, I get conflicts with shows on OTHER DAYS or on the OTHER CHANNEL. It is necessary to select "modify," which de-activates the conflicting entry, and then go back and re-activate it. Worse, one has to remember to always switch to the other tuner before re-activating, or one may lose the channel selection entirely or get it set wrongly.

5. Auto pad recordings start & end in Guide:
- It doesn't automatically pad, but you CAN set padding (in only one direction - you can't ask for it to start late or end early to spare other recordings), and when you initiate a recording from the guide the previous padding settings you used are copied. In effect, this lets you "auto-pad" by never changing those. The weekly/daily/M-F and Weekend choices also persist when creating new recordings from the guide. (You can change any of these before saving the recording entry.)

6. Remembers where playback left off:
- This does not work when you use EXIT to quickly leave viewing mode. You should always use PAUSE/STOP/GoTo (BACK on some remotes) to ensure the viewing position is saved. Notes on how the info is saved in shadow files (.NAV) matched to the recording files and then indexed in the "record" file are in the PHD-VRX thread.

7. Edit recorded program name:
- You CAN set a "display name," and edit it, for recordings made by the PHD-VRX and having the shadow .NAV file. It is a tag name, though, visible only in Media Player. If you want to copy files off with a computer, you'd better note the actual file name (also shown when the file is in preview mode or in the time-line bar) to identify it on the computer - which can't use the shadow files. You can't use a "display name" for imported recordings, or if you've copied a native recording to another drive, deleted the original, and copied it back. Deleting via Media Player also destroys the shadow .NAV file and its index entry in the "record" file.

Thanks for all your work, Videobruce!
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post #482 of 532 Old 06-09-2014, 04:04 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the input. Unfortunately, since I don't use this as a DVR, just as a tuner (something it does very well), most of that I can't comment on.

The dual tuner mode is great, but apparently not so to integrate the two together as one in the Guide like it is in most other machines that have more than one tuner. But, none of those have separate inputs that allow switching between Air and Cable with the ability to have two channel tables for each tuner. No free ride for either scenario. frown.gif
It seems, across the board, including the mighty TiVo, the processor than was chosen for most, if not all of these was not up to the task. That and the lack of enough and/or faster memory. Trying to have these do too many things (marketing) over doing a few things correctly didn't help either.

Lastly, processor & SoC manufactures who are overly concerned about someone else getting inside their product, apparently shot themselves in the foot by not releasing enough of the code so programmers could do a better job at fixing the problems.
Perfect example; Wireless routers, namely ones that run open source firmware and openly advertise that they do so. Tomato & DD-WR are almost household names when it comes to this subject.
Once underground, now in the limelight. What would you bet it has greatly helped sales of these compatible routers by doing so?

Too bad that can't happen here.

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post #483 of 532 Old 06-13-2014, 11:10 AM
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Ed, PBS is not required for PSIP time to work. In the US all full-power stations must use PSIP, and most low-power stations use it as well. It's reasonable to assume Canada is similar. (If a station broadcasts an EPG, or has different virtual and RF channel numbers, it definitely broadcasts PSIP.)

So most of your stations will be broadcasting the time of day. Of course, some may not broadcast the correct time, but most should be fine. You'll just have to tune to each station and see what time it has. (If you find any stations broadcasting an incorrect time, you can try to notify the station's engineer of the problem; (s)he should be able to correct it easily.)

As for the Homeworx, $70 does sound a bit pricey for this box even in Canada. And the lack of a manual time option is one of its biggest drawbacks. (And it doesn't have the Atlantic or Newfoundland time zones if you happen to live there.) But for OTA use, PSIP time is usually accurate enough. (Of course there are a few exceptions as noted above.)
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post #484 of 532 Old 06-27-2014, 01:09 PM
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Time setting features on the PHD-VRX

So, JHBrandt - how do we get the PHD-VRX to use the PSIP time to work? While the table lists "NT / PSIP Man," as options, the PHD-VRX manual and web site do not say anything about PSIP data usage, which is why I questioned the table entry.

If we simply set the system to automatic time setting, and it doesn't find a PBS signal, will it look for the PSIP time? On which channel? I can't find any setting for this. My early experiments with auto time-setting simply did nothing, and I don't want to experiment more now as it's such a pain of trial-and-error to get decent alignment with the minutes.

Sure wish I could figure out exactly what action sets the manual time to the beginning of the minute. Since I think it best to set the system to 15 seconds before the proper time (as there's the nasty 15 second delay before recording when switching channels, and it does NOT start 15 seconds early), that's a good compromise for programs starting on time, too.

Needless to day, back-to-back programs on the same tuner but different channels make "padding" impractical.
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post #485 of 532 Old 06-27-2014, 02:36 PM - Thread Starter
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It doesn't have to be PBS. If you check the Auto update, it should do just that. As far as which station, I assume the first one it sees. After that, I don't know if it uses the same station for updates, nor how often it does so.

You could power down (power switch or remove plug), then power back up with no RF connection on either tuner, place the tuner on whatever station you want on one tuner, then re-connect just the RF input for that tuner and see what happens. It should update within a few seconds.

Abundant OTA television is what makes this country different from all others. Lets keep it this way.
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post #486 of 532 Old 06-27-2014, 03:38 PM
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Setting the clock doesn't work the same way now as it did in the analogue days. You no longer retrieve clock data from a specific network, such as PBS. Every station sends its own clock data, which means each station can offer a conflicting opinion of what the current time is. Some DVRs will let you pick which station you want to use for the time, others try to average out the times sent by all stations, and still others let the clock reset every time you change channels. I have no idea if the VRX uses one of these methods or handles its clock differently, but I would not recommend trying to set your clock from PSIP. It's notoriously unreliable and may cause you to miss recordings.
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post #487 of 532 Old 06-29-2014, 01:41 PM
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Anyone know anything about Vonnic? I see no mention of it on this thread.
http://www.amazon.com/Vonnic-DVR-C11.../dp/B009D90JFA

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post #488 of 532 Old 06-29-2014, 02:40 PM
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Quote:
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Anyone know anything about Vonnic? I see no mention of it on this thread.
http://www.amazon.com/Vonnic-DVR-C11.../dp/B009D90JFA
Seems to be for security, not TV use - records 4 security cameras.
That's the trouble, they're both called "DVR's". So I get that a lot when I'm searching for them online.
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post #489 of 532 Old 06-29-2014, 04:07 PM
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Ah, sorry.

Of all the units we know about, do any actually decode and display closed captioning on playback?

I know many keep the track when recording, but most(?) HDTVs will not decode closed captions from anything but their own tuner or standard def connections.

Edit: I do want to point out that many of the devices listed as having closed captions on playback in the chart on the first page only support CC if you are using an RF cable or RCA composite connection. If you want to use HDMI, you will not have captions. That means a much worse image.

Since pretty much any recorder will preserve captions when recording, I suggest that a device should only be considered to have CC in playback if it has a built in CC decoder that it uses to overlay the captions on the video before sending it to a display.

It's bad enough most manufacturers are misleading in this respect this thread should be a bit more informative.
I can tell you that all the Funai built Philips/Magnavox SD DVR/DVDr units are like this and the iView/Homeworx devices. It's why I'm still looking.
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post #490 of 532 Old 06-30-2014, 03:24 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
this thread should be a bit more informative.
The only way to be sure is through ownership. If no ones posts this, it remains speculation. CC use though used, it is not mainstream.

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post #491 of 532 Old 07-02-2014, 02:17 PM
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Having just realized that I'll be needing to return CM's DVR+ because its tuner is not ideally securing 3 important channels that I can adequately obtain (watchable) direct to the TV's tuner, I'm back in the market for a DVR solution. I had mistakenly not considered the tuner as a factor in the decision-making process, but I clearly need to in this somewhat challenging location.

What available OTA DVR's are known to have very good tuners?

Please, this is not intended to be a knock on CM's DVR+, which I otherwise really like. By some if not most accounts, CM's tuner/s of choice are fine with most customers...

Thanks much.
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post #492 of 532 Old 07-02-2014, 02:21 PM
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Question

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Originally Posted by TonyB1966 View Post
Having just realized that I'll be needing to return CM's DVR+ because its tuner is not ideally securing 3 important channels that I can adequately obtain (watchable) direct to the TV's tuner, I'm back in the market for a DVR solution. I had mistakenly not considered the tuner as a factor in the decision-making process, but I clearly need to in this somewhat challenging location.

What available OTA DVR's are known to have very good tuners?

Please, this is not intended to be a knock on CM's DVR+, which I otherwise really like. By some if not most accounts, CM's tuner/s of choice are fine with most customers...

Thanks much.
I thought CM's DVRs have good tuners?
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post #493 of 532 Old 07-02-2014, 02:31 PM - Thread Starter
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What are you comparing this to? Do you have another tuner that receives these stations with no issue?
Have you considered re-working your antenna setup? There is always room for improvement.
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post #494 of 532 Old 07-02-2014, 02:33 PM
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I thought CM's DVRs have good tuners?
My question: What available OTA DVR's are known to have very good tuners? Not just good. Sorry, I couldn't refrain, lol.

It's all relative, I would think. Compared to my Samsung TV's, it's not good though, securing on average 5 or so fewer channels. A couple that it does obtain are not watchable, breaking-up every few seconds. Direct to the TV, moments later, watchable with no issues and have an SNR of about 20 to 21. Back through the DVR+, breaking-up again...

The last page in the DVR+ thread has some details and my testing / experiences, which I'll spare everyone here.

It seems that I need to make tuner capability more of a priority than others. Curious as to what DVR's have been getting "high marks" in this area...

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post #495 of 532 Old 07-02-2014, 02:41 PM
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What are you comparing this to? Do you have another tuner that receives these stations with no issue?
Have you considered re-working your antenna setup? There is always room for improvement.
Thanks for chiming-in videobruce.

Simply compared to the TV's tuner.

The two antennas (ClearStream 4 & ANT751), on a single mast, with combiner / preamp (RCA) is about most I can do, given the constraints. That said, I achieved what I wanted reception-wise the past couple of weeks, so felt that I can now proceed with a DVR purchase. If the reception of the desired channels would have continued, I'd be a happy camper, but did not, thus my inquiry. It seems that I need to make my DVR selection more tuner-centric. The DVR+ has all that I was looking for though....
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post #496 of 532 Old 07-02-2014, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by TonyB1966 View Post
What available OTA DVR's are known to have very good tuners? Not just good. Sorry, I couldn't refrain, lol.

It's all relative, I would think.
You just asked and answered your own question. There is no standard objective measurement system against which to rate tuners, so there's no way to know whether one tuner will perform better than another in your environment. I find the tuners in my TViX 6620 to be quite good, but I've never compared them against those in the DVR+.
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post #497 of 532 Old 07-02-2014, 02:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DoctorM View Post
Ah, sorry.

Of all the units we know about, do any actually decode and display closed captioning on playback?

I know many keep the track when recording, but most(?) HDTVs will not decode closed captions from anything but their own tuner or standard def connections.

Edit: I do want to point out that many of the devices listed as having closed captions on playback in the chart on the first page only support CC if you are using an RF cable or RCA composite connection. If you want to use HDMI, you will not have captions. That means a much worse image.

Since pretty much any recorder will preserve captions when recording, I suggest that a device should only be considered to have CC in playback if it has a built in CC decoder that it uses to overlay the captions on the video before sending it to a display.

It's bad enough most manufacturers are misleading in this respect this thread should be a bit more informative.
I can tell you that all the Funai built Philips/Magnavox SD DVR/DVDr units are like this and the iView/Homeworx devices. It's why I'm still looking.
The DTVPal (aka CM-7000Pal) DVR has a built-in CC decoder and will do this on both live and recorded programs.

The Homeworx has a built-in CC decoder too, but it only works on live programs. Stupid firmware bug, I guess. At least I can't think of any other reason why it doesn't work on recordings. (DD 5.1 doesn't work on recordings either, but at least there's a rather simple workaround. I haven't found a workaround for the CC bug.) The data is in the recording, as is shown by the composite/RF outputs, where the captions are converted to the old line 21 format - but of course the video is also reduced to SD

Not sure about other DVRs; these are the only two I own. I think the TViX 6620 has a built-in decoder too; maybe Aleron Ives, who owns one, will chime in.
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post #498 of 532 Old 07-02-2014, 03:04 PM
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The single-tuner Philips HDR5710 and 5750 record and display CC, even over HDMI.
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post #499 of 532 Old 07-02-2014, 03:04 PM
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Originally Posted by JHBrandt View Post
The DTVPal (aka CM-7000Pal) DVR has a built-in CC decoder and will do this on both live and recorded programs...
I can confirm this too with my DTV Pal DVR since I am mostly deaf and have bad hearings. However, I prefer to use my CRT TV's CCs for easier reading.
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post #500 of 532 Old 07-02-2014, 04:05 PM
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You just asked and answered your own question. There is no standard objective measurement system against which to rate tuners, so there's no way to know whether one tuner will perform better than another in your environment. I find the tuners in my TViX 6620 to be quite good, but I've never compared them against those in the DVR+.
Indeed. Would be nice to know of experiences where DVR tuners that have improved upon fringe channels. It seems that I'll need to try different DVR's to see which one will get the desired channels that I'm able to obtain with the TV's tuner, or ideally better, but at this point, just the same is perfectly fine.

Wow, while composing this, I got a call from Steven at CM, remembering our earlier conversation, he approached the engineers there and they'd like to set-up some time with me to discuss the issue I'm experiencing and see what, if anything, can be done. He said that I shouldn't worry about the 30 day return period during this process. Wow, really impressed with CM's response!

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post #501 of 532 Old 07-02-2014, 05:16 PM
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^^^ if you had a CM-7000 CECB(SD tuner only) it would be interesting to see how well it preformed in your case. I have several and they are able to pull in and lock onto channels that no other tuners I have can. The Zeinth/Insignia CECB is also quite good and actually better for multipath but I suppose neither is relevant for your DVR quest, but it would be interesting how they stacked up to the CM+.
Note it's also been speculated that a dual tuner or even quad tuner DVR may be worse than a single channel device because the signal would need to be split 2 or even 4 ways internally, one for each tuner. I guess they could make up for this with a internal distribution type amplifier but I'm not sure they do.
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post #502 of 532 Old 07-02-2014, 06:06 PM
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I think the TViX 6620 has a built-in decoder too; maybe Aleron Ives, who owns one, will chime in.
The TViX also records in slightly modified TS format, so the captions are present in the files, but it cannot display them on either live or recorded content. The only benefit it has over the Homeworx is that if you extract the captions with CCExtractor and place them as an SRT file in the same directory as the recording and with the same name, you can display the captions that way. It's also possible to display embedded text captions, e.g. SRT inside MKV, but I haven't been able to get VobSubs to work.

This seems to be a common problem with DVRs designed overseas, as their designers don't anticipate the CC requirements in North America.
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post #503 of 532 Old 07-02-2014, 09:30 PM
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I thought the DTVPal/Channel Masters were discontinued. Is there really a current version available?
@wajo - Good to know. I've sort of ignored the new HD Funai units because they're sealed overpriced uni-tasking boxes.
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post #504 of 532 Old 07-03-2014, 07:33 AM
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There is not. You would have to buy a DTVPal or CM-7000Pal used. (They do pop up quite often on eBay.) And of course AVSForum would probably be your only source of support.

So to summarize CC support:
Pals & new HD Funais - Yes; Live and Recordings
TViX - No (Recordings supported with extra PC-based work)
Homeworx - Live only
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post #505 of 532 Old 07-03-2014, 07:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aleron Ives View Post
The TViX ... cannot display [closed captions] on either live or recorded content.

This seems to be a common problem with DVRs designed overseas, as their designers don't anticipate the CC requirements in North America.
I genuinely don't understand this. Are there no hearing-impaired folk in Asia?
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post #506 of 532 Old 07-03-2014, 07:41 AM
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I genuinely don't understand this. Are there no hearing-impaired folk in Asia?
More like they don't care and don't follow FCC rules?
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post #507 of 532 Old 07-03-2014, 08:26 AM
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Originally Posted by TonyB1966 View Post
Indeed. Would be nice to know of experiences where DVR tuners that have improved upon fringe channels. It seems that I'll need to try different DVR's to see which one will get the desired channels that I'm able to obtain with the TV's tuner, or ideally better, but at this point, just the same is perfectly fine.

Wow, while composing this, I got a call from Steven at CM, remembering our earlier conversation, he approached the engineers there and they'd like to set-up some time with me to discuss the issue I'm experiencing and see what, if anything, can be done. He said that I shouldn't worry about the 30 day return period during this process. Wow, really impressed with CM's response!
There's not a great deal of variation between DTV tuners but there is some. I can tell you that the tuners in my DTVPal and CM-7000Pal (I have one of each) are a bit better than the tuner in the Homeworx. The HW tuner seems both less sensitive and more susceptible to adjacent-channel interference, so it has trouble with very weak signals such as low-power stations, particularly ones next to strong ones.

Depending on the tuner's specific issue, sometimes a different antenna or a low-noise amp can help. The DVR+ may not have the best tuners, but CM does have a good selection of antennas and amps. Since the CM-7400 also had a reportedly weak tuner, it makes one wonder if CM intentionally chooses DVRs with weak tuners to boost their antenna sales (They must have messed up with the CM-7000Pal and its good tuners.)
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post #508 of 532 Old 07-03-2014, 08:41 AM
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Note it's also been speculated that a dual tuner or even quad tuner DVR may be worse than a single channel device because the signal would need to be split 2 or even 4 ways internally, one for each tuner. I guess they could make up for this with a internal distribution type amplifier but I'm not sure they do.
I haven't looked at their circuitry, but I think the Pals do this, since there's no evident insertion loss: adding a Pal between my antenna and my TV's RF input doesn't cause my TV to lose even the weakest channels, even when the Pal is recording (the Pal does have to be in standby to pass the RF input through, though).

I'm less sure about the Homeworx. My impression is that it does amplify the signal, because analog signals actually improve in quality when the HW is inserted. Unfortunately, digital signals get worse, so my best guess is that the HW also includes an amp, but it's not a very good one.

In fact a poor internal amp may be the true cause of its apparently weaker tuner. Be interesting to see if there's a way to modify the HW to bypass that amp and see if the tuner sensitivity improves....
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post #509 of 532 Old 07-03-2014, 09:32 AM
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There's not a great deal of variation between DTV tuners but there is some. I can tell you that the tuners in my DTVPal and CM-7000Pal (I have one of each) are a bit better than the tuner in the Homeworx. The HW tuner seems both less sensitive and more susceptible to adjacent-channel interference, so it has trouble with very weak signals such as low-power stations, particularly ones next to strong ones.

Depending on the tuner's specific issue, sometimes a different antenna or a low-noise amp can help. The DVR+ may not have the best tuners, but CM does have a good selection of antennas and amps. Since the CM-7400 also had a reportedly weak tuner, it makes one wonder if CM intentionally chooses DVRs with weak tuners to boost their antenna sales (They must have messed up with the CM-7000Pal and its good tuners.)
I appreciate your thoughts, thank you.

Maybe CM felt that this flagship DVR+ didn't need their best tuner. By most accounts / articles, it's considered pricey at $250. I didn't and don't feel that way though. As I said in the DVR+ thread, using HDMI 1.2 and USB 2.0 seems to indicate to me that there was a concerted effort to keep costs down; knowing they might get some grief regarding pricing. For a unit just released for sale months ago, the use of those dated standards (HDMI 1.2 has been around 8+ years and USB 2.0 over a decade) might explain the tuner of choice too. I'm not up enough on tech at the moment, but I wonder how many 2014 released gadgets (TV's, AVR's, DVD players, etc) have HDMI 1.2 and USB 2.0. I would guess very few to none.

That all said, the use of those older standards doesn't seem to compromise the intended functionality of the DVR+, so a smart move on CM's part, with the initial experimentation of sorts (first DVR offering). I'm simply stating that this logical mentality, if consistent, might also apply to tuner selection...

I have not experience with the CM-7000, but from what you share and others, it is highly regarded for its tuner. In the DVR+ thread:

"Not to my knowledge.
Just for the record......
Prior to purchasing the DVR+, I contacted CM regarding tuner capabilities. I was told initially that the tuners used in the DVR+ were as good or better than their own CM-7000 DTA box (the gold standard, in my opinion, for tuner performance).
Although the DVR+ is somewhat decent in this area (I'm being generous!), it doesn't meet or exceed the performance I was told to anticipate!
In speaking with another representative at CM, I was told that the original person gave me wrong information and that I shouldn't expect the same (or certainly better) from the DVR+.
Complete contradiction!
They tell you one thing to sell you on the unit and another once you own it!
.....Way to go, CM!"

Channel Master DVR+ Owners Thread

I guess it's not exactly popular and / or easy to be swapping tuners in these devices?
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post #510 of 532 Old 07-03-2014, 09:45 AM
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Originally Posted by TonyB1966 View Post
I appreciate your thoughts, thank you.



I have not experience with the CM-7000, but from what you share and others, it is highly regarded for its tuner. In the DVR+ thread:

"Not to my knowledge.
Just for the record......
Prior to purchasing the DVR+, I contacted CM regarding tuner capabilities. I was told initially that the tuners used in the DVR+ were as good or better than their own CM-7000 DTA box (the gold standard, in my opinion, for tuner performance).
Although the DVR+ is somewhat decent in this area (I'm being generous!), it doesn't meet or exceed the performance I was told to anticipate!
In speaking with another representative at CM, I was told that the original person gave me wrong information and that I shouldn't expect the same (or certainly better) from the DVR+.
Complete contradiction!
They tell you one thing to sell you on the unit and another once you own it!
.....Way to go, CM!"

Channel Master DVR+ Owners Thread

I guess it's not exactly popular and / or easy to be swapping tuners in these devices?

Your quote and link point to a "not exactly popular" member. I can't think of anyone with more posts deleted by moderators than your source.


But, on topic, specifications of tuners would only be helpful if all manufacturers would publish them for comparison. About the only items that sell with specs are receivers/AVR's and speakers.
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