FEEDBACK TO THE FCC: FireWire Problems with Cable STB's - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 192 Old 02-24-2006, 10:38 AM - Thread Starter
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POSTED FOR HD RECORDING COMMUNITY FEEDBACK TO THE FCCC


FireWire Problems with STBs

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This is James Snider, Executive Director of the 1394 Trade Association. I will be visiting the FCC in mid March to let them know about problems with 1394 in STBs (i.e. the failure of cable operators to provide functional 1394 ports). Have you tried to get a working 1394 port on a STB and met with problems? I would like to take some real life stories into the FCC concerning problems.

jsnider@1394ta.org

Murray Kerdman
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post #2 of 192 Old 02-24-2006, 03:42 PM
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More specifically, many people who tried to get FireWire in an HD STB have approached me. Their experiences have been very frustrating. Call center personnel do not know what FireWire/1394 is. Ordering 1394 in a STB takes a lot of persistence. When the STB is delivered, it either does not have 1394 or the port is dead and the installer says he cannot activate it. This is a violation of the FCC mandate.

I will be visiting the cable and STB companies and the FCC over the next several weeks. I need to reference real life experiences. The more information you provide me, the better:
Cable Provider
Date of the event (month and year)
STB make/model
TV (age and make/model)
Any other devices you are connecting via 1394
Your name and City

If you would prefer to remain anonymous, that is OK. Even general information is useful in establishing trends.

Also, if your experiences with 1394 in the STB have been painless, let me know about that as well. I need an accurate picture of the situation.

Thank you,

James Snider
1394 Trade Association

James Snider
1394 Trade Association
jsnider@1394ta.org
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post #3 of 192 Old 02-24-2006, 08:23 PM
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post #4 of 192 Old 02-25-2006, 08:38 AM
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Unfortunately, I'm in Canada, so we're not under the FCC's jurisdiction, but could you please take your case up to Industry Canada and the CRTC? I'm also angry that we have absolutely NO firewire options (the STBs' ports aren't active and they won't provide cablecards to allow me to use the port on my digital TV).
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post #5 of 192 Old 02-25-2006, 08:45 AM
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Email sent.

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post #6 of 192 Old 03-01-2006, 07:38 PM
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I just re-signed up with Cox and am having an HD-DVR mailed to me tomorrow. I'll let you know what the status of my firewire connectivity is. (Crossing fingers)

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic"-Arthur C. Clarke
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post #7 of 192 Old 03-02-2006, 09:36 AM
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Thanks. I am eager to hear how things work out. I am getting a fair number of emails to my corporate account on this topic. Some STBs are working great. Some work great 98% of the time. Some do not work at all and people are getting stone walled. I am looking for all information I can collect on this topic.

Thanks again,

James Snider
1394 Trade Association
jsnider@1394ta.org

James Snider
1394 Trade Association
jsnider@1394ta.org
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post #8 of 192 Old 03-02-2006, 10:00 AM
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I have a SA 3250HD STB, a Mits WS65869 HDTV, and a Mits HS1100U DVCR. If I connect the DVCR directly to the firewire ports on the SA 3250HD, I can make digital recordings. I must manually start the DVCR.

If add the Mits HDTV into the firewire chain, I cannot make DVCR recordings like above, nor can I display the live firewire output of the STB on the HDTV, nor I can I make DVCR recordings of the SA 3250HD under control of the HDTV. The HDTV does discover both the DVCR and STB.

If I just connect the HDTV and the SA 3250HD STB (No DVCR) I still cannot reliably display the firewire output of the STB on the HDTV, even though the HDTV does discover the STB. Ninety-nine percent of the time I just get a blue (video muted) screen.

I've heard that this problem occurs due to a incaompatiblity between the Mits HDTV and SA 3250HD having to do with the handling of the Emergency Broadcast System. Apparently what's supposed to happen when EBS is activated is that someone watching a firewire signal out of the STB would be advised to switch to analog, and the firewire would be muted, but when the 3250 is firewire connected to a Mits HDTV this muting takes place all the time.

--hourglass (PM me if you need name/address)
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post #9 of 192 Old 03-02-2006, 03:40 PM
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James,
Could you post a summary of problems between those that work and those that don't?

I'm under the impression that the majority of those that work are connected directly to a 5c compliant device such as a D-VHS machine. These should all be able to record a live stream. Many will have problems making a COPY of a recording already on the drive.

I'm also under the impression that the majority of those that DO NOT work are connected to non- 5c compliant devices, such as PC's, etc.

vegggas
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post #10 of 192 Old 03-02-2006, 04:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vegggas View Post

I'm under the impression that the majority of those that work are connected directly to a 5c compliant device such as a D-VHS machine. These should all be able to record a live stream. Many will have problems making a COPY of a recording already on the drive.

Your understanding is my experience to a tee. I sent an email to Mr. Snider in response to his request and here is his response:
Quote:


I am a bit surprised that you can move Premium content from the DVR
to the DVCR.
There should be a "move" function (standard in 5C) which will let you
move the content from one storage device to another (and erase it
from the first device) but it should not permit you to have two
copies (on on the DVR and one on the DVCR). That, at least, is how
Comcast thinks it works.

So based on what you are saying, this is the intention and my DVR is working properly if I can record a live stream? That seems to conform with what Mr. Snider said.
You probably know from following this forum that some members, most notably Phototone in Arkansas, can archive recordings on their drive with no problem. I have had some luck recording from the hard drive to DVHS, but I haven't yet gotten a glitch-free recording. I think Snider got the 98 percent figure from my email to him. Of course it's that 2 percent that makes the recording worthless depending on what it is.
Edit: I forgot to add that I am having a problem recording ANYTHING on the drive, 5C and nonpremium content. I could accept it if I can't archive 5C material off the drive, but shouldn't I be able to archive nonpremium content? I mean, of course, the ability to make glitch-free recordings.
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post #11 of 192 Old 03-02-2006, 06:06 PM
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First, I will say that I don't really know what I'm talking about, but have technical reasoning. That said, this is how I see it.

D-VHS 1394 recording a live stream comes straight from the input demuxer and decoder of the Multiple Program Streams of a given QAM carrier. The internal signal is then routed out the 1394 jack and also to the rest of the circuitry for the STB to process.

D-VHS 1394 recording a DVR recorded stream, is already demuxed and being sent through the decoder and STB processing and then the 1394 circuitry is attempting to output the stream. This may or may not cause problems.

If 5c is set to copy once, the content will always be prohibited from copying from the DVR to a D-VHS. There may at some time be a menu item for MOVING digital content from DVR to D-VHS, but nothing that I know of exists yet. Setting individual streams to the varying 5c schemes may be problematic if the modulator hardware sets the flag for all streams the same. This is why some cable companies are all copy once, or copy freely, etc.

The 8300 works exactly like the 3250 in that you can record a live stream and that was the build process all along and the way it was supposed to work. The DVR storage was a different build model, but due to 5c copy protection schemes for the hard drive, the cable co's have had to enforce and set the 5c rules on the STB where they previously may have not - That means no PC recording should be working on the DVR, where it used to work on the 3250 since PC's are not 5c compliant.

In those locations where you can still record to a PC, the cable co has not figured it out yet or set the flags correctly, or something like that. Eventually, there should be better provisions to move or copy content from one device to another, but that was not the original intent of the STB.

vegggas
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post #12 of 192 Old 03-02-2006, 10:59 PM
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Well, I received my Cox HD-DVR and it is an older PhaseII Moto 6412 with DVI. The firewire output appears to be functioning correctly, allowing recording of the program without triggering the dreaded 480i downconvert message on my JVC 5U. I was one of the first customers of Cox in Hampton Roads, Va to have an HD-DVR which allowed archiving to D-VHS. At first i was experiencing a lot of picture freezups and audio dropouts, which may have been primarilly the fault of the JVC 30K I had at the time. Recordings were fee of any copy restrictions (I could make copies of copies) Things became a bit more stable until a software update turned on the 5C copy never flag. I was forced to downgrade to the non-DVR Moto 6200 HD reciever and needed to use a Radio Shack VCR controller to turn the VCR on since timer recording was not supported with the firewire input. When the Phase III Moto with HDMI came out, I decided to give it a try and it allowed archiving to D-VHS, but only copy-once. I would like to give the new 6416 a try, mainly for the larger hard drive, but I still havent seen it confirmed on these forums that it has active firewire output. My other option for firewire recording is an LG 3412 OTA-HD PVR, which allows for gorgeous HD recordings but is a bug-infested POS which i need to have sent in for service because the TV Guide screen keeps freezing up.

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post #13 of 192 Old 03-03-2006, 06:39 AM
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So far, I am able to make a D-VHS dub from my 6412 DVR recordings. There are no problems if the DVR recording is good. I have had some problems at times with the DVR not making a good recording (incomplete, or freezes during playback) using the scheduler in the 6412. I think this may be happening when the cable company sends an update during, or before the recording on the DVR is scheduled to start, or perhaps during the recording.
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post #14 of 192 Old 03-03-2006, 01:00 PM
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Sorry for hijcaking this thread ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by foxfan View Post

Unfortunately, I'm in Canada, so we're not under the FCC's jurisdiction, but could you please take your case up to Industry Canada and the CRTC? I'm also angry that we have absolutely NO firewire options (the STBs' ports aren't active and they won't provide cablecards to allow me to use the port on my digital TV).

Foxfan,

It turns out that firewire ports are active for:
Eastlink, Rogers Atlantic, Cogeco & Shaw. All these operators are, coincidentally, using Motorola hardware.

Firewire ports do not work for Rogers Ontario and Videotron (Quebec) customers. Both operators are using Scientific Atlanta gear.

So the two largest markets in Canada appear to be SOL. ...
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post #15 of 192 Old 03-04-2006, 05:54 AM
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The SA8300 HD-DVR I have locks up my 30K and 40K via firewire. They cannot talk to each other. But the 8300 works OK with the Mitsubishi 2K.

Today I will try a brand new JVC 5U with the DVR and pray it works properly.

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post #16 of 192 Old 03-04-2006, 09:55 AM
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I have no trouble whatsoever recording the live stream from my Motorola QIP6416 (Verizon FiOS cable box) to either my 30K or 40K DVCR. I cannot record from the DVR portion of the 6416 to either DVCR. Well, I can record but the audio is out of sync and the picture freezes. A tape recorded from the DVR to the 40K will not play on the 30K, either premium or regular content. As far as I know, this is the proper operation of my unit and I can definitely live with it. Case closed for me.
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post #17 of 192 Old 03-04-2006, 10:11 AM
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You have Motorola equipment, therefore you can make it work. Motorola kicks arse. Big time.

SA sucks.

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post #18 of 192 Old 03-04-2006, 02:29 PM
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Well, thats bad news, billodom. I was thinking of trading in the 6412 for the 6416, but no recording from timeshifted DVR programs would be a deal-breaker for me, Something doesnt sound right about your situation. Did you try re-setting the unit? If it allows recording of live programs it should work for both.
Matt-
Good luck with the 5U! I found it to be much more stable than my 30K, with fewer audio/video anomalies and a better picture via HDMI.

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post #19 of 192 Old 03-05-2006, 04:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shugazer9 View Post

Well, thats bad news, billodom. I was thinking of trading in the 6412 for the 6416, but no recording from timeshifted DVR programs would be a deal-breaker for me, Something doesnt sound right about your situation. Did you try re-setting the unit? If it allows recording of live programs it should work for both.

Case reopened
According to the FireWire rep (James Snider), he says that the copy on your DVR counts as one. Therefore, you would not be able to copy it again to your DVCR. Referring of course to premium content. This gibes with what vegggas said earlier:
Quote:


I'm under the impression that the majority of those that work are connected directly to a 5c compliant device such as a D-VHS machine. These should all be able to record a live stream. Many will have problems making a COPY of a recording already on the drive.

I will grant that I should be able to copy/move non-5c content from my DVR to my DVCR, but the QIP6416 is making no distinction. I have reported this to my cable provider, Verizon.
As I mentioned earlier, Phototone is the only member I know of who has had success moving content from his DVR to his DVCR and he even qualified his "success" above.
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post #20 of 192 Old 03-05-2006, 11:32 AM
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I have the following equipment/cable service:

Wide Open West (WOW)
SA8300 cable/DVR combo box
Sony KDS-R50XBR1 TV
JVC HMDA5U DVHS VCR

I connected all of these devices with firewire cables. The TV recognizes the VCR but not the cable box. The VCR does not recognize the cable box. I contacted WOW and they said that the firewire port on the cable box is not active and that they will do nothing about it. I contacted the FCC who also said that they will do nothing about it.
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post #21 of 192 Old 03-05-2006, 08:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shugazer9 View Post

...no recording from timeshifted DVR programs would be a deal-breaker for me, Something doesnt sound right about your situation. Did you try re-setting the unit? If it allows recording of live programs it should work for both.

Okay, let's try this one more time
Just when I was about to give up on being able to record from the hard drive to either of my DVCRs (30K and 40K), I may have spoken too soon. Apparently I will have to do more experimenting. I dumped both Bubble and Live on the Sunset Strip from the hard drive of my cable STB to my 40K. Today I watched part of the tape on my 30K and it seemed fine. I actually watched Bubble in its entirety on my 40K and there were three or four "glitches," where the picture froze for a split second and then came back. Anyone care to opine if the 5C flag counts content on the hard drive as one copy? I could see it either way. Color me confused
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post #22 of 192 Old 03-05-2006, 08:09 PM
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It is my understanding that the D-VHS copy is the copy-once. The resulting tape is copy-protected. It was very rare indeed for me to get a totally glitch-free recording with my JVC 30K. My 5U is better, but the occasional tiling/hiccups occur. It is still worth it- HD on D-VHS still stomps all over DVD.

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post #23 of 192 Old 03-06-2006, 01:38 PM
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It has been my understanding that the DVR recording is for "time shifting" and should not be considered the "copy once" copy, as the recordings on the DVR are not permanent, and get erased when new material is recorded. Of course you can "force save" a recording, but for HD the DVR quickly fills up. I can confirm that the D-VHS dub IS COPY PROTECTED and will not allow another dub (from D-VHS tape) to be made in either HD or downconverted SD.

My box does not automatically erase content when it is dub'd to D-VHS.

I personally would be really "torked" if I had to record only "live" to D-VHS, as many of the movies and programs I want are on at inconvenient times for me.
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post #24 of 192 Old 03-06-2006, 06:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phototone View Post

It has been my understanding that the DVR recording is for "time shifting" and should not be considered the "copy once" copy, as the recordings on the DVR are not permanent, and get erased when new material is recorded.

I personally would be really "torked" if I had to record only "live" to D-VHS, as many of the movies and programs I want are on at inconvenient times for me.

So you think you can have YOUR copy on YOUR DVR, and ALSO make a PERFECT COPY to GIVE AWAY or SELL Unlimited copies From the DVR's Hard Drive onto D-VHS???!!! With that implementation, you could sell perfect copies off your hard drive an unlimited number of times. This shouold ONLY apply to content lableled "copy freely" .
That is NOT the way the implementation is supposed to work. It is supposed to be to record a single stream during a live broadcast, just like every other STB with Firewire (i.e. 3250) would do. Your D-VHS is still a VCR, set it to record at the time you want, just like you would do with the 3250 or equivelent Moto or Samsung box.
The alternative implementation would be to MOVE the content from the DVR to the D-VHS, but there are technical issues with the architecture for that to happen any time soon. If things ARE working for you right now in the above scenario, enjoy it while it lasts.

vegggas
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post #25 of 192 Old 03-06-2006, 07:36 PM
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I wonder what a "proper" implementation of 5C would do if it were asked to record to both the DVR hard drive (for short term conveneince) and live to DVCR via firewire (for personal archive) simultaneously, on a copy-once program.
--hourglass
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post #26 of 192 Old 03-06-2006, 10:56 PM
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There are flawed devices where this exact thing is exploited to achieve copy-free material, but I don't know much about it.
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post #27 of 192 Old 03-07-2006, 06:11 AM
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The proper thing would be for the DVR to send the material to D-VHS and when it is done, delete it. But that would require actual thinking on the part of Scientific Atlanta and other companies and they are not capable of thinking or coming up with software that works.

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post #28 of 192 Old 03-07-2006, 07:09 AM
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I just got my DVHS deck working, and got a good copy(I thinK) of an HD program off the hard drive of my DVR. It was recorded on ESPNHD, copy-once flag. It did not delete from my hard drive, since I captured it in real time.

It was a very specific series of steps, and very touchy/quirky as to what you could hook up. I had to connect the cable box into the TOP of the DVHS deck's 1394 inputs, and the TV to the BOTTOM jack. I also had to reset my TV by unplugging it, somehow the firewire inputs on it got messed up, as did the digital and HD channels on the tv tuner, would not display.

DVHS Deck: Mits 1100u
Cable Box: Motorola 6412 PII - Comcast
TV: Samsung DLP HLR-5667W, about 9 months old

But I have had success. Thankfully my signal is pretty strong, and I don't have any error counts, so I believe I am getting perfect recordings. Using Maxell DF-300 tapes from tapewarehouse.com

There is someone out here who got it to work(seems rare, I know)
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post #29 of 192 Old 03-07-2006, 04:44 PM
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It was a nightmare to get the 3250HD from Time Warner Cable in Milwaukee last April. Two months and 30+ calls before I got one and it had nothing to do with the calls. A TWC employee from a local message board helped arrange for the delivery, without their help I never would have received it.The 5C flags are often screwed up. Presently, they have now placed "Copy Once" on everything including local channels. The cablebox usually must be reset almost everytime I want to use my D-VHS. It is running Passport software. The FCC only provides email contact for the issues which are rarely responded to. Who are we supposed to contact at the FCC?
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post #30 of 192 Old 03-08-2006, 02:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vegggas View Post

So you think you can have YOUR copy on YOUR DVR, and ALSO make a PERFECT COPY to GIVE AWAY or SELL Unlimited copies From the DVR's Hard Drive onto D-VHS???!!! With that implementation, you could sell perfect copies off your hard drive an unlimited number of times. This shouold ONLY apply to content lableled "copy freely" .
That is NOT the way the implementation is supposed to work. It is supposed to be to record a single stream during a live broadcast, just like every other STB with Firewire (i.e. 3250) would do. Your D-VHS is still a VCR, set it to record at the time you want, just like you would do with the 3250 or equivelent Moto or Samsung box.
The alternative implementation would be to MOVE the content from the DVR to the D-VHS, but there are technical issues with the architecture for that to happen any time soon. If things ARE working for you right now in the above scenario, enjoy it while it lasts.

vegggas

Copy once is meant to prevent copies of copies, not to prevent someone from making multiple copies of "copy once" programs. Someone with multiple non-DVR STBs and multiple D-VHS machines could already make copies to give away or sell, and shows that are broadcast more than once could be copied more than one time already for the same purpose. Yes, being able to record multiple copies from one DVR recording makes it easier, but just because I CAN break the law a little bit easier doesn't mean I DO. Having the ability to record onto D-VHS from my DVR allows for much better editing onto tape of what I want to keep, and allows me to check my recordings before clearing the DVR. Also, my D-VHS by itself can't record timed programs over firewire, I'd need a separate timer to do that (which must be a pain for the non-DVR STB users with D-VHS). the DVR hard drive is far too small to keep much HD for time-shifting, so I do use D-VHS more for that purpose than archiving for a permanent collection. Given that the industry sees us all as potential criminals, I wouldn't be surprised to see some further limits on copying and I am enjoying it while I can, but I reject the implication that DVR recording to D-VHS defeats the purpose of copy once when my D-VHS copies cannot be copied.

Comcast (Berkeley, CA)
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