It's Here - The First HDTV PVR - Zenith HDR230! - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 664 Old 05-20-2003, 10:50 PM - Thread Starter
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LAS VEGAS April 7, 2003 -- Combining a hard drive and latest-generation digital television (DTV) reception technology, Zenith Electronics Corporation’s new HDTV personal video recorder (PVR) represents both a versatile, cost-effective program storage solution for DTV broadcasters and a much-needed feature that will drive more consumers to purchase over-the-air DTV receivers.

Zenith, a wholly owned subsidiary of LG Electronics Inc., is demonstrating the high-definition PVR — the world’s first set-top box to offer both ATSC DTV tuning and hard disc storage — at the 2003 National Association of Broadcasters convention, which opens here today and runs through April 10.

The HDR230 HDTV Receiver/Personal Video Recorder combines Zenith’s newest-generation ATSC terrestrial tuner with an 80-gigabyte hard disc recorder — allowing storage and playback of more than eight hours of HDTV programming — for an irresistible marriage of performance and convenience.

Features include basic on-screen navigation using a PSIP-based electronic program guide, Dolby Digital® recording, live pause, variable rate trick play, a variety of fast- and slow-motion capabilities, record file management, aspect ratio control and high connectivity via RGB, Component, S-Video and A/V outputs. The HDR230 will be available in May at a suggested price of $999.

Along with the rest of Zenith’s digital set-top lineup, the HDR230 HDTV personal video recorder builds on the success of its high-definition receivers in delivering DTV signals to the company’s growing family of plasma, LCD, rear-projection and direct-view HDTV monitors. The new models also capitalize on Zenith’s leadership as developer of the VSB (vestigial sideband) digital trans-mission system, a central element of the FCC-approved ATSC DTV Standard.

Other set-top ATSC receivers on display at the NAB show include Zenith’s HD-SAT520 DIRECTV® High-Definition Receiver/Advanced HDTV Tuner and HDV420 Advanced Terrestrial HDTV Tuner, available now at suggested prices of $699 and $399, respectively.

Zenith Electronics Corporation, based in Lincolnshire, Ill., is a long-time leader in consumer electronics and primary developer of digital high-definition television (HDTV) technology. Zenith invented the VSB digital transmission system adopted by the Federal Communications Commission as part of the ATSC DTV Standard. To assist broadcasters in the rollout of digital television service, Zenith offers a full line of digital broadcast products, including ATSC modulators, demodulators, transcoders and receivers. Visit Zenith on the World Wide Web at www.zenith.com.



I just got one in today and recorded about 5 hours of OTA HD. Played back
and deleted one and it seems to hold together. The tuner is even more
sensitive than the HD-420. The OTA auto clock and schedule works. Now
if all the stations would start filling in their schedules with real info, it would
be nicer. The unit displays the frequency and format of each subchannel.
So it's easy to see 1080i on 6-1 and 480i on 6-2. ABC shows 720p + 480i.
The only complaint is that NTSC channels are not passed to the HD
output. You still have to use the RF out to TV's RF in to see the analog on
an antenna input. But NTSC is supposed to die, and who watches that
old stuff anyway.

There is over 200 on backorder still, but the shipping has begun.

Nick
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post #2 of 664 Old 05-20-2003, 11:13 PM
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I'll start another thread on this topic in this forum since the units have started shipping. To wit: how do we add more hard disk space to this unit?
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post #3 of 664 Old 05-20-2003, 11:17 PM
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Now that the Zenith HDR230 HD PVR has started shipping and people have started receiving their units (http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...32#post2238932), does anyone know how to add more disk space to this unit?
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post #4 of 664 Old 05-21-2003, 12:22 AM
 
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I saw in another thread, that Korean customers have reported they just swapped the 80GB hard disk out with a 120GB unit and it automatically formatted the new disk for 50% more space. They didn't mention using a larger hard disk so perhaps thats the largest it will support.
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post #5 of 664 Old 05-21-2003, 08:37 AM
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Question for those who now have the Zenith:

1) Can you watch a show you recorded previously while it is recording a current show?

2) Can you watch the beginning of a show while still recording the end of it?

These are two key features of Tivo and Replay and I was curious if they had implemented them.

The MyHD doesn't do either of these. So if you're recording a show, you need to patiently wait until it is done in order to watch the show or watch some other show.

Brett
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post #6 of 664 Old 05-21-2003, 09:13 AM
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I also want to know how the pause function works. From what I read in the review in Sound and Vision magazine it sounds like when you press the pause button (actually there is a different name for it) it starts recording. When you come back later and want to continue watching your show it sounded to me like you can't just "un-pause" it and resume watching the show where you left off. It sounds like you have to finish recording the entire show and then watch the portion you recorded later. If this is true it's a MAJOR drawback for me.

All the other PVR's that I'm aware of let you press pause, walk away for 10 minutes and then just hit "play" to resume watching your show. I ordered the 230 today from J&R because it's the only way I can record HD right now. I tried the JVC 30000 but my Samsung T165 wouldn't pass the CBS signal through the Firewire to the JVC so I couldn't record CBS. I was going to wait for the new HD Tivo but I wasn't sure if it was just a DirecTV device or OTA or both.

One more question- can you add a second hard drive or replace the orginal with a larger one?

If the pause feature on the Zenith works like a "true" pause it should suit my needs for now even if I'm stuck with a whimpy 80GB drive.

If J&R actually has these in stock and ships me one I'll post my experiences with it as soon as I get it.
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post #7 of 664 Old 05-21-2003, 10:01 AM
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Nick:

S&V reported a "bug" permanentl displaying time on the screen. Do you see this?

TIAFYR
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post #8 of 664 Old 05-21-2003, 04:11 PM
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Does anybody know if a Dish 5000 + modulator can be connected to this receiver (instead of, or in addition to, the OTA signals)

Thanks,
Santiago
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post #9 of 664 Old 05-21-2003, 07:02 PM
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which thread?
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post #10 of 664 Old 05-21-2003, 07:34 PM
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Also, what format is the content stored in? Can the drive be pulled out and put in a firewire/IDE bay to archive? For that matter - can one take the ribbon cable of a firewire/IDE bay device and add it to the existing cable to read while it is still connected to the PVR? Computer hardware gurus - any thoughts?
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post #11 of 664 Old 05-21-2003, 08:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by cymro
Nick:

S&V reported a "bug" permanentl displaying time on the screen. Do you see this?

TIAFYR
Ditto! This would be a deal breaker for me!

Alex
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post #12 of 664 Old 05-21-2003, 09:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by navarros
Does anybody know if a Dish 5000 + modulator can be connected to this receiver (instead of, or in addition to, the OTA signals)
The modulator outputs 8 VSB, right? It's for use with a television with a OTA tuner. If so, it should work--it'd be like tuning any OTA signal. People have been using them with HD tuner cards on PCs to record stuff.

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post #13 of 664 Old 05-22-2003, 07:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by michaeltscott
The modulator outputs 8 VSB, right? It's for use with a television with a OTA tuner. If so, it should work--it'd be like tuning any OTA signal. People have been using them with HD tuner cards on PCs to record stuff.
What about having both the modulator and an antenna connected to teh zenith? I am doing that with the Samsung 165 with no problem (it has double coax input). Does the zenith have it too?

Thanks,
Santiago
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post #14 of 664 Old 05-22-2003, 02:05 PM
 
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In that other thread those questions were answered with NO. You can upgrade to a bigger drive but you can't read it with a computer.

The thread with comments regarding upgrading the hard drive, etc is:
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...hreadid=237796
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post #15 of 664 Old 05-22-2003, 05:24 PM
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Okay...I now have my own Zenith HDR230, as well -- purchased from the first few units that Value Electronics ("DTV TiVo Dealer") got. I'm really looking forward to the boost that this will give for my HD television viewing -- the inability to timeshift programs and skip through commercials was the major reason that I tended to miss a lot of programs. I wish I could have had it in time for the "Hitler" series, though.

Anyway...my observations, and the answers to some questions that have been raised:

1..It was easy to set up -- I just unplugged the old tuner and swapped the cables over to the Zenith. Power it on, allow about two minutes for it to search for channels, and that is it. Total duration of the setup -- about five minutes.

1. Tuner sensitivity is at least the equal of the Toshiba DST3000 that I was using -- I can get everything on the Zenith that I could get on the Toshiba. It might be better, but I have no way of verifying that right now since I was able to receive almost every digital channel in DFW already.

3. Picture quality is good -- comparable to the Toshiba, except that the color is slightly less saturated.

4. It's possible to pause and rewing live TV programs by utilizing the "timeshift" function -- so simultaneous record and play is possible. Strangely, Zenith doesn't let you record one program while playing back another.

5. The clock can be set either automatically or manually. So if local stations send bad time information via their PSIP, it can be bypassed by setting the clock manually. That means that this unit won't have the Samsung SIR-T165 had with stations sending out the wrong time information.

6. Regarding the question of whether the timer "bug" can be removed from the screen during record and playback (an issue mentioned in the "Sound & Video" review -- hitting the "exit" button makes it go away. Alas, the instruction manual doesn't actually say this, so I figured that out just by playing with buttons until I could make the indicator go away.
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post #16 of 664 Old 05-22-2003, 07:40 PM
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Can you copy to DVHS tape via firewire?

Dave
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post #17 of 664 Old 05-22-2003, 07:44 PM
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Hi Thomas

Thanks for the observations. Very helpful for those of us who can't wait to get our own 230. Mine was shipped yesterday.

Quote:
4. It's possible to pause and rewing live TV programs by utilizing the "timeshift" function -- so simultaneous record and play is possible.
I still don't quite understand this. Sorry. I guess the review in S&V has me worried. Are you able to press pause ("timeshift"), wait 15 minutes, come back and hit play (or un-pause or whatever) and then continue watching at the point you pressed pause? In other words are you just watching the program 15 minutes behind the "live" program? This is how my Tivo worked. It allowed me to pause TV for a period of time and then un-pause and watch the recorded show and eventually catch up to the live show by fast forwarding through commercials. Does the HDR230 work this way?

Brian
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post #18 of 664 Old 05-22-2003, 10:55 PM
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Let's see...one question at a time:

1. Dave, there's no firewire, so no archiving D-VHS. The Zenith is for timeshifting, not saving programs.

2. Brian, unlike a TiVo, the Zenith is not always buffering what you're watching onto the hard drive. You activate the buffering function by pressing the "timeshift" button, at which point the Zenith does start storing onto the harddrive from that point forward. You can hit the pause button at that point to stop the broadcast and just restart it when you sit down again -- or you can hit "timeshift" and walk away with the program playing, and then come back and back the program back up to the point where you started the "timeshift" function. So it does work similar to a TiVo, except that you need to activate the "timeshift" function before it starts buffering the program to hard drive.
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post #19 of 664 Old 05-23-2003, 01:40 AM
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Interesting that the drive swap alone was allegedly enough. That means all the "software" is in firmware. A Tivo, by contrast, has lots of stuff on the hard drive that is needed for it to work. Of course, it's a bit more complex a device too.

There is no difference in HDMI cables. If you can see the picture without visible dropouts or sparklies, the cable is working at 100%. No other cable will display a better version of that picture. You're simply wrong if you think there is a better digital cable than one that is already working. (Oh, and plasma didn't die because of logistics problems, nor does OLED ship in big boxes because it comes from Korea.)
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post #20 of 664 Old 05-23-2003, 07:08 AM
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Thanks

I can sleep at night now until mine comes :)

I hope the hard drive upgrade ends up being easy. I've read that it's simply a matter of replacing the drive. That sounds a little too easy to me but I want to add a big drive as soon as I learn how.
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post #21 of 664 Old 05-23-2003, 03:39 PM
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Quote:
Strangely, Zenith doesn't let you record one program while playing back another.
ACK!!!

I have completely lost all interest in this beast.
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post #22 of 664 Old 05-23-2003, 03:53 PM
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> I hope the hard drive upgrade ends up being easy. I've read that it's simply a matter of replacing the drive. That sounds a little too easy to me but I want to add a big drive as soon as I learn how.

I'd be inclined to wait until the warranty expires before I start mucking around with the innards to change out the hard drive. After all, we are dealing with a very new product in a very new product category, and I certainly don't want to void the warranty in the event that Zenith comes up with some software upgrades or whatever.
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post #23 of 664 Old 05-23-2003, 11:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Sorry for not getting back in here earlier, but I was busy.
The time stamp stays on the screen a minute, or it's removed by pressing
the EXIT button. I did not play with timeshift yet, I just record and play
back so far. The unit uses a PowerPC and PSOS I believe. The PowerPC
has some built in serial rs-232 if my memory is serving me right. Maybe not
as fast as firewire, but in a pinch will do. PSOS may not be something I'm
willing to put up with. The recording time does seem to be a little bit off,
where my 3 hours ended up being 144 minutes.
All in all it's still reliable and fun to use.

Nick
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post #24 of 664 Old 05-24-2003, 06:27 AM
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PSOS?

Alex
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post #25 of 664 Old 05-24-2003, 08:15 AM
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I received my HDR230 from J&R (quick return around, thanks) and I have the following observations:

It's ain't no TiVo! But it is better then what I had (Sony HD100).

It's more like a VCR with a hard disk than a PVR.

My biggest complaint is you can't watch something you're already recorded while recording something else. When it's recording you can't do anything -- no pause, no channel change, no rewind -- which is just like a VCR. If you are watching something previously recorded and it needs to start recording it asks if you want to record. If you say OK it remembers your current point in the recording, switches to live TV and starts recording.

The timeshift function is more like a PVR. And I've found you can watch one program while recording a second program with it! Unlike TiVo's 30-minute buffer you have to press timeshift at the beginning of the live program to start recording a "clip". At this point you can hit pause, rewind, fast forward, advance to the beginning, jump to the end, etc. There appears to be no limit on the length of the timeshift other than disk space. And you can CHANGE CHANNELS. This lets you watch the start of one program while recording the second program (on another channel) -- that is if they are scheduled back to back and you have the disk space.

There is no disk space management. When disk is full it stops recording (like a VCR).

Of the eight DTV channels in Atlanta only WB is sending PSIP guide data.

The picture quality is identical to my Sony HD100 -- perhaps better as the HD100 lacks some contrast and the HDR230 has richer colors.

It seems more sensitive than my HD100. Before rotating my antenna I was not picking up PAX on my HD100 ("searching for digital signal") but the HDR230 had a clean picture with a signal in the low "normal" range.

There are no "bugs" on the screen. All channel banners, time lines, recording indicators, etc. can be turned off by pressing "exit".

Fast forward or rewind at 50x speed on 1080i recordings is great but it does not "jump" back a few seconds like TiVo's over shoot correction.

There is no fan that I could see. Temperature is warm to the touch about like my HD100 (with a fan).

Pressing the "power" puts it in standby and powers down the hard disk.

I have not opened the case to check on upgradability.
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post #26 of 664 Old 05-24-2003, 08:41 AM
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Great information! Thanks.

Is the recorded picture quality as good as the live signal? The review in S&V said it was but that review didn't instill much confidence. Mine arrives next Thursday.
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post #27 of 664 Old 05-24-2003, 08:44 AM
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Based on what you've said would it make sense to always fire up the Timeshift function? I think I would always want to be able to pause, back up, etc and it sounds like Timeshift is the only way to do that.
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post #28 of 664 Old 05-24-2003, 09:51 AM
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Recorded picture quality is identical to live picture quality. I think it just writes the digital stream to the hard disk. I did a comparison of the HD-100 and the HDR230 time shifted by 2 seconds to be able to jump back and forth between the two and I saw no difference.
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post #29 of 664 Old 05-24-2003, 10:00 AM
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I'll confirm that playback quality is identical to the original broadcast -- but that's expected on a unit that just records the digital data stream to hard disk.

> The recording time does seem to be a little bit off, where my 3 hours ended up being 144 minutes.

I've noticed that the "available time" indicator seems to top out at around 8:13 or so, even though the hard disk can hold closer to 9 hours. I assume that this glitch occurs because the original Korean model had a 40 GB hard drive and shorter recording time -- but it means that you have to record a bit over 30 minutes of programming before the available time indication with start dropping.

For those who don't have this unit, I think that it is worth noting that even as those of us who have them nit-pick its capability, this is still a more convenient and versatile option than anything else available. How so:

1. It is the only one-piece HD recording solution on the market.
2. It is the only non-HTPC based recorder that allows playing back a program while it is still recording.
3. Unlike the Samsung SIR-T165, it offers a workaround (manual time set) if your local stations are transmitting the wrong time.
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post #30 of 664 Old 05-24-2003, 10:10 AM
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I just don't get these small hard drives. Hard drives are not that expensive. Recording time is a big deal for a lot of people. I assume most buyers would pay an extra $50 to have 20 hours of recording time rather than 8. It's hard to believe the Korean model has a 40GB drive. Where do they even find those drives? Are they still being made? Sheesh.

I don't want to sound too critical because I've waited a long time to record HD and I'm glad Zenith stepped up to the plate. I think the new Zenith will work great until the HDTivo or 921 come out. The JVC 30000 I had did 4 hours of HD on tape. The Zenith 230 does twice as much as the 30000 but it still isn't much.

I just wish the Zenith would have come with a 200GB drive. 200GB drives are no big deal today.
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