Finally got my HW-180 remote today. I just now loaded V8.1 firmware onto my iView 3200, so I haven't had much time to check it yet, but I do have a few first impressions.
Once again, I'm updating this post to reflect version 5.3 vs. 5.0.
Let's start with the remote itself. The HW-180 remote is identical in size & shape to the iView 3200 remote, but the buttons are more similar to those on the HW-150 remote. The 180 remote has one more button than the 150 remote, so HomeWorX split the channel list function from OK and gave it its own button labeled "TV List." Naturally, the iView 3200 remote is more like the iView 3500 remote (except without the TV section).
The HW-150, HW-180, and iView remotes all use different code sets, so you must match your remote with the firmware you intend to use.
In some ways the iView remote is laid out better:
- The iView remote combines Play and Pause into one, saving a button.
- The iView remote uses OK for the channel list function (like the HW-150 remote), saving another button vs. the HW-180 remote.
- The iView remote lacks the HW-180 remote's "Hold" button, which AFAIK is only used to switch from preview to full-screen mode. iView uses "Schd" ("Timer" on the HW-180 remote) to switch to full-screen mode instead. That saves a third button.
- The iView remote uses the three saved buttons for additional functions: TV/Radio (mostly useless), Aspect (handy), and PVR (rather handy - goes directly to the PVR section of the USB menu).
- The iView remote more consistently places button labels above the buttons. The HW-180 remote has some labels above the buttons and some below, which is rather confusing.
- Lastly (and probably least), the iView remote uses more color than the HW-180 remote, making it a bit easier to find some buttons at a glance.
But in other ways, the HW-180 layout is better:
- The HW-180 remote has more engraved buttons (specifically, Record, Recall, Prev, & Next). To be fair, on the iView remote "Record" is solid red, but the other three don't exactly stand out.
- The HW-180 lays out the numeric digit buttons much more sensibly:
1 2 3 USB
4 5 6 -
7 8 9 0
1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8
9 0 - GoTo
If everything else were equal, I'd have a slight preference for iView's remote despite its odd numeric digit layout, but when I wrote this, it could only be used with iView's buggy firmware - that's why I was testing HomeWorX firmware on my iView in the first place!
So how does the HW-180 firmware compare? So far, with V8.1, I've only seen a few differences from V2.1:
- Obviously, it uses the HW-180 remote.
- The iView 3200's front-panel LED appears to work normally: red in standby, green when on. One slight difference: iView firmware turns the green light off if the RF input signal is lost; HW-180 firmware leaves it on.
- As expected, there is no RF out selection in the menu, since the HW-180, like the iView 3200, has a hardware channel 3/4 switch for the RF output.
- Surprisingly, V8.1 uses labels "01," "02," and "03" in the Schedule list, like V5.3 and unlike V2.1.
- The info box that comes up when you change channels has a letter "D" about 2/3 the way across the top line. I have no idea what this is supposed to mean.
V8.1 has none of the usual bugs: scheduling from the EPG, daily recordings, and closed captions during playback all work normally. But it does have an unusual
bug (at least I've never seen or heard of this before): direct entry of channel numbers seems to enter the channel number into the previous
channel instead of the current channel! So when you type in the channel number, nothing happens, but if you then press the Recall button, it changes to the channel number you just entered! Very odd. Luckily, Channel +/-, Recall, and the channel list function all work fine to change channels.
V8.1 also had one other odd bug: only two shows would appear on the EPG after changing channels with the left/right arrow buttons! But if you exited and brought the EPG back up again, the channel you changed to would fill in fully.
OK, so much for V8.1; what about V11? I quickly learned that V11 is very much like V5.3, except for using the HW-180 remote and not having an RF out option in the menu. But the iView's LED works as it did in V5.0 (green when on, orange (red+green) when off), and V8.1's weird "D" in the info box is gone again. Scheduling from the EPG and daily recordings work. Closed captions work during playback, but there are no "CC*ON" or "CC*OFF" prompts. The USB button brings up the USB menu with PVR highlighted, also as with V5.3. Direct channel entry doesn't have V8.1's odd bug; the only problem is the OK button doesn't work here - you have to use the TV list (channel list) button instead
(The OK button works correctly for other functions.)
V11 also corrects V8.1's bug when changing channels in the EPG, but occasionally the EPG in V11 will come up with one or two shows garbled. (This bug was also in V5.0 but seems to be fixed in V5.3.) If it happens just Exit and bring up the EPG again.
Every version I've tested has some trouble with closed captions when playing HD video. The high bit rate seems to overload the processor, and the captions slowly get further "behind" the actual audio. In every version I tried except V5.3, eventually some words get skipped. This doesn't seem to happen with SD video.
Every version I tested has the bug with scheduling a weekly or "once" recording across midnight. Well, to be honest I didn't test V8.1 for this bug, but since the other three all have it, I'm pretty sure V8.1 does too.
Overall impression: There's no perfect replacement firmware for the iView 3200, but any of these HomeWorX firmware versions is an improvement over iView's firmware if you don't mind spending $10 for a new remote. If you prefer the HW-150 remote, it's very close between V2.1 and V5.3. I'd probably give the nod to V5.3: I wish V2.1 brought up the USB menu with PVR preselected instead of Music, closed captions worked slightly better during playback, and the remote felt more responsive with V5.3 - but I prefer V2.1's button labels. If you prefer the HW-180 remote, I give V11 the nod over V8.1. If you have both HomeWorX remotes and no preference, or a programmable universal remote that can emulate either one, I'd give the nod to V5.3 over V11.