Originally Posted by videobruce
And just think, a certain narrow minded elitist here complained that I spent too much time on these Chineese DVR's when I made the comparison thread.
I must say that the iView 3500 boxes I own have proved to be among the most frustrating yet most fun appliances I ever threw my TV pennies at. I have never seen any piece of A/V hardware receive so many firmware upgrades in such a short span of time, and the interior layout afforded plenty of room for hardware tinkering.
I had a half-dozen 2.5" SATA drives of various make in my drawer that I pulled from defunct laptops, so this afforded me a reasonable way to experiment with compatibility. I started with a self-contained 1 TB WD Passport USB 2.0 drive, and I was happy with the performance until the USB cable got knocked about a few times (thanks to the vulnerable front-panel USB port on the 3500), and I found myself doing an undesirable amount of cable-wiggling to renew the connection. This never seemed to last very long.
By this time I had purchased a second unit, and for this one I attached one of the 160 GB laptop drives mounted inside a Sargent USB enclosure. Worked great for a while, then it too suffered from the dreaded "USB device removed" bug. Pinching the USB cable's plug with a pair of pliers seemed to help for a time, but eventually the problem would resurface.
Finally I performed the same surgery that LJD51 did on the iView's USB board, but in my case I actually removed the port from the front panel, cleaned the connectors well, made sure everything was good and snug, then wrapped the connection in electrical tape. Then I tucked the drive, enclosure and all, inside the unit and closed the box. I quit using the WD Passport drive on my original unit and repeated the hack with a 40 GB SATA drive (again in a Sargent enclosure). This 3500 is only used for occasional time-shifting so I did not need a large drive.
So far both units have been rock-solid for many days, and they got moved around plenty from the time they were reassembled. With the connectors and cables taped down the flaky USB seems to have been cured (not to mention the space saved on my shelves). My practice is to leave both iViews in standby mode, and they have faithfully kicked on and recorded all my scheduled programs. If the boxes continue to perform this way I will wear a satisfied smile for a long time for having attempted such an easy mod. The drives cost me nothing thanks to recycling, and the enclosures (cables included) were less than $5 each with shipping.
$80 and a bit of creativity gives me the ability to record two channels at the same time (in separate locations). No fancy Rovio or Tivo 2-week scheduling, but for the savings I do not miss it. The iView may not be for the person who expects everything to just work out of the box, but for me the little guy has proved to be a good bit of fun and really fills the bill.