Anchorage, AK - HDTV - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 549 Old 08-23-2003, 06:03 PM - Thread Starter
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Any local HD in Anchorage yet? I may be relocating there.
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post #2 of 549 Old 09-14-2003, 10:48 PM
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No regular broadcasts, but at least one station is testing at low power from the Hillside. Try channel 22.
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post #3 of 549 Old 12-02-2003, 12:38 PM
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GCI Cable will begin carrying HDTV December 30, 2003. This is for Anchorage and Mat-Su only at this time. GCI has started sending flyers to customers in these areas.

Initially only BravoHD and ShowtimeHD will be carried, although most available satellite HD services will transition in through first and second quarters 2004. When the local broadcasters have converted to DTV, GCI will carry them as well. Look for this to happen summer 2004.

What makes this possible is the elimination of most analog channels. Therefore Digital cable boxes will be required for all service. This conversion has been happening for several months in Anchorage, and has already been done in the valley. The basic digital converter is a DCT-1000 series GI/Motorola, this is not HD capable. However, GCI will be offering an upgraded converter for an additional $5/month, and this is where it gets exciting.

The upgraded converter is a Set Top Box capable of HD and DVR, Digital Video Recording. I beleive this indicates it will be the Motorola DCT-6208. Much information is available on this unit in the HDTV Hardware section, although I don't think any large cable system has deployed it yet. GCI will be one of the first, it sounds like.

I will be sure to post more information as soon as I have one of the new converters.
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post #4 of 549 Old 12-30-2003, 06:02 PM
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I talked to KTVA Channel 11 today... They will not be broadcasting a digital signal until summer 2004. antennaweb.org has them listed as broadcasting on channel 28 since 09-03. They still do not have the new broadcast tower up yet.

No HD Superbowl this year

Cheers
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post #5 of 549 Old 01-03-2004, 01:51 PM
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Macro,
Where did you get the $5/mo pricing from. I got a flyer from GCI stating that the motorola 6208 will cost $9.99/mo and $14.99/mo (without additional subscription packages). This seems like a bit much for just 2 channels (one of which you must have a separate subscription to). I'd be very interested in this if there were more HD channels available. Do you have some inside info on when more channels will be available? I might be talked into this deal if I knew that more channels were coming soon.

Of course, having a DVR capable of HD recording is probably worth the money. I remember reading something about this unit being capable of being a "DVR server" for other cable boxes. Am I out to lunch on this because I can't seem to find any info now on that capability?
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post #6 of 549 Old 01-06-2004, 02:52 PM
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Borg,

MaCro is talking about a 5$ more a month from the cost of the present digital cable STBs, assuming you have one of the qualifing packages.

This month, GCI Cable raised the price of the analog cable STBs to 5$ a month. Funny how for the past year, GCI has told me that they could not offer HD content until all the analog STBs are gone.

Like you, I am waiting until they have a real HD offering before getting a HD STB.

Never heard of a DVR server, you can find more info on the DCT6208 on the Motorola web site: http://broadband.motorola.com/dvr/dct6208.asp

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post #7 of 549 Old 01-06-2004, 08:27 PM
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Right...that makes sense. That's a good price for a DVR ... and even better for one that records HD.

I talked to GCI yesterday about that motorola and apparently they've recalled all the units for the time being. The customer service rep didn't know why and also didn't know when it would be out again. She said she couldn't offer me one due to the recall. I'm curious to know why they were recalled.
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post #8 of 549 Old 01-09-2004, 02:05 PM
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Update...
I found out that the recall is due to a glitch that will erase the drive every 8 days or so. They say the new unit will be here 1 march...
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post #9 of 549 Old 01-16-2004, 02:29 AM
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Borg,

That is interesting news. I have the box and have not been contacted by GCI about the recall? Is it truly a recall, or are they just halting new subscribers I wonder.

I have some recorded content that I will leave on the drive and see what happens. I am out of town all next week and will chime in on this thread with what happens - it will be well over 8 days on the drive by then.

If you're interested in my impression so far here it is:

No DVI of Firewire enabled (at least on my box). That is disappointing for several reasons, one of which was I was hoping to record HD to my JVC D-VHS via Firewire. A rumor I heard was that GCI was afraid of copyright issues, but I think that is kind of iffy as an excuse. Yes I have read about firmware this and firmware that to turn the stuff on in the future, but if you look hard enough out there, these features are turned on with other cable companies now.

The HD material so far is limited. Bravo has more than Showtime, but tends to be boring material. At least half of what Showtime is showing is upconverted and looks bad.

I swear there is a sound sync issue with dialog mainly on the HD material. I've tried tweaking my receiver every which way, but either it gets worse or I bring it back to a point where it is hard to tell, but my brain is definitely telling me something is wrong.

The TV guide is better than the regular digital box IMHO.

The PVR works as advertised including the "pausing" of live TV, I guess it remains to be seen if my stuff gets deleted. I did have one issue though where I was recording a show and the TV guide times were out of sync with real time and the recording stopped prematurely.

The SD material looks pretty good especially in the digital domain, the analog stuff (below the upper 50's) is as good as the old analog box which isn't saying much. GCI tends to blame that on the broadcasters.

The box is actually quite noisy. Although no fan is visible, part of the noise has to be from one. This noise is constant, could be the rotation of the hard drive I suppose, but there are so many quiet drives out there it seems silly to have one you can hear so well in this type of unit. The hard drive also makes quite a lot of head noise when it is in use such as recording or playback. Again there are quiet drives out there?

The supplied remote is the same generic piece of crap they give you with the basic digital box. It is pre-programmed to handle all the PVR stuff though, so no hassle there. No backlight is a problem. This remote will be morphed into my Pronto, so not a biggie for me.

The unit has inputs on the front for, video, audio, usb and a smart card reader, but no explanation on how to use them. In fact the user manual has notes on all these options with the disclaimer that they might not be supported (including the Firewire, USB, DVI, and Ethernet on the back of the unit).

Which leads me to the user manual. Two words: fire starter.

Whew, that was a mouthful!
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post #10 of 549 Old 01-16-2004, 10:24 AM
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Doug,

First off, welcome to the forum -- very nice first post! It's good to have some more Alaskans on here.

Thanks for the review; nice work. It sounds like Motorola needs to do some work on their product yet. I'm suprised about the noise; What would you compare the noise to? I have an HTPC and projector in my HT, both of which make noise but are fairly quiet -- only noticable when there is no other sound around.

You may be right about GCI. The second CS rep I spoke with seemed to know what they were talking about...but then again my experience with GCI is that rarely do they know what they are talking about. Did you try calling them about it?

On another note, it's sad that this motorola box isn't everything it's cracked up to be, because it's likely that this is all we'll see for HD up here for a while. I wish we had a say in which brand GCI uses...
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post #11 of 549 Old 01-24-2004, 05:02 PM
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Okay, I'm back. I checked my stored recordings - still there. But thats moot because waiting for me in my mail was a letter from GCI. The letter is to inform me of issues with the unit and a recall by Motorola. They give me several options including keeping the current unit the new ones arrive in about 90 days (date of letter Jan 14).

The issues according to the letter are:

Automatic power resets approximate every 8-10 days (FYI - approximate typo actually in the letter), resulting in loss of TV Guide Interactive Data (TBA) and any programming currently being recorded

And

Occasional freezing of the guide

I have experienced none of these so far?

The envelope included a nice color glossy multi-fold TV Guide Quick Reference Guide customized for the 6200 series units (although the remote pictured in the guide is not what GCI gives you).

As for the noise, it's hard to equate the level. The constant sound is like a hair dryer on low as heard though a door? Since none of my gear made much sound in the past, maybe I'm just being picky? I'm guessing eventually it will just become part of the din of everyday noise.

Doug
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post #12 of 549 Old 01-26-2004, 12:24 AM
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So am I the only one watching D22 over-the-air in Anchorage? There is now a D22-1 and D22-2 where channel 2 is used for testing of music-only. Took me a little fiddling and a software update to get my MyHD-120 to recognize the subchannel properly.

I'm hoping KYES soon starts testing broadcasts of its actual analog content soon -- even if it is only 480p.

I even picked up analog channel 29 -- up on Mt. Susitna -- with my SilverSensor antenna, although it isn't intended for such reception.

Now I just need a big omni-directional antenna...oh and some other TV stations to get their acts together.
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post #13 of 549 Old 01-26-2004, 06:45 PM
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Roginator...

If there were more HD OTA in the Anchorage area I would probably put down the bucks for a OTA HD STB. The meager GCI offering can not get me to bite yet.

My home theater is in the lower level of my split-level home. Would I need the antenna in my attic for the digital ota signal or would one of those tabletop antennas work below ground?

Just seems like a lot of money to spend for one HD channel, would probably be nice to show and tell the HD video, but would just probably make me more upset over the local stations dragging their feet in getting us HD content of the major networks.

Cheers
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post #14 of 549 Old 01-26-2004, 08:37 PM
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Roginator-

I probably can't even get a signal up here in eagle river. Do you know where the antenna is? What kind of programming are you watching on 22?

I too am waiting for things to settle a bit (especially the prices) before I spend a lot of $ on a HD STB. The GCI HD-DVR offering seemed like a good deal; no upfront $ and only $10/mo more. Even if there is only 2 HD channels, the DVR alone is worth the $10. Plus, with no commitment, I could return it if something better came along. Too bad they are having problems with the unit -- or I'd have one right now.

geoworm - if you're looking to demo HD content, and you have a HTPC, try the new windows media 9 HD clips.
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post #15 of 549 Old 01-27-2004, 12:26 AM
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Borg,

I was going to paste the link to the KYES DTV site, but as I am a newbie on this forum it won't let me until after 5 posts. So lets get creative. The main website address is achieved by using www, their call letters - KYES, and of course a dot com, and then you want to append /dtv/index.html to that web address.

Everything you want to know about KYES and DTV is there. I don't think you will receive it in Eagle River.

Doug
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post #16 of 549 Old 01-27-2004, 10:39 AM
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Here's the link... http://www.kyes.com/dtv/index.html

If GCI had offered HDNET with their initial HD offering... I would had signed up for the HD service.

My Home Theater is a work in progress. My equip rack is 10 meters from the projector, so I think that is too long for a DVI cable to a HTPC. Maybe in the future...

At present, I'm just waiting for GCI to offer more HD content. Must be time for more phone calls to nag them.

Cheers
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post #17 of 549 Old 01-28-2004, 12:30 AM
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Eventually, KYES may end up broadcasting HDTV from their current site in Eagle River. They've had legal problems with the site owners in the past doing any kind of modifications.

Heck, If he just kept broadcasting from his roof on the Hillside I'd be happy. I have a nice clear view of it and signal strength is ok now using just 20 watts!

If anyone else is watching, have you checked out the digital music subchannel?
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post #18 of 549 Old 01-30-2004, 09:35 AM
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Quote:


Originally posted by dougrw
Borg,

I was going to paste the link to the KYES DTV site, but as I am a newbie on this forum it won't let me until after 5 posts. So lets get creative. The main website address is achieved by using www, their call letters - KYES, and of course a dot com, and then you want to append /dtv/index.html to that web address.

Everything you want to know about KYES and DTV is there. I don't think you will receive it in Eagle River.

Doug

Thanks.
I definitely won't receive it until they broadcast up here in ER. I wonder if Anchorage will be able to pick it up then...
The KYES owner/operator would be a good person to have on this forum...anyone know him?

Quote:


My Home Theater is a work in progress. My equip rack is 10 meters from the projector, so I think that is too long for a DVI cable to a HTPC. Maybe in the future...

Yes, that is a bit long for DVI. You probably don't want to settle for VGA either. HDMI sounds promising for long runs....now we just need video cards to support it.
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post #19 of 549 Old 02-02-2004, 11:34 PM
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I see from one of the links on the KYES site that FOX in Anchorage is supposedly going to start broadcasting HDTV on March 1, 2004.

While I've learned to take these dates with a grain of sand, that's only a month away!

From what I understand, FOX normally only broadcasts 480p over HDTV.
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post #20 of 549 Old 02-03-2004, 07:32 PM
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480p...
I guess it's better than nothing!
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post #21 of 549 Old 02-03-2004, 08:16 PM
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Hey folks, thought I'd drop by for an update. I received a call from GCI customer service the other day to inform me the "new" 6208's were in and did I want to come by and do an exchange or schedule a service call. I decided not to hassle with the call so I went in person.

They were very curtious and it was hassle free. I filled out a questionaire about the current service and what would be good in the future - I got a GCI beenie moose for my effort!

Got home and re-inserted the unit into my system and started poking around. I read on other threads that the 6208 needed the 7.07 (?) bios for Firewire and sure enough this box had it. I got a cable, plugged it into my JVC DVHS and my Mits automatically sensed a new 1394 device. (The JVC hooked to the Mits 1394 directly of course)

So good news, bad news, just as in other threads discussing the 6208, the images via Firewire are unwatchable - pixallation, freezing and the sort. The sound however as far as I could tell seemed fine, I suppose I could digitally record music from cable (concerts, 800 and above music channels, etc)? This used to be something those of us with Hi-Fi VCRs used to do for extra long fairly decent recordings of vinyl - if I remeber correctly, the speed of the recording, ie LP, did not effect sound because it came off the tape in linear fashion rather than helical.

Anyhoo, the new 6208 is the same in every other aspect as the old one except GCI issued a new style generic remote. I think I liked the old one better. The supplied documentation is the same, yet another fire I can start without the Daily News. There is still no explantion of how or when one might use the Audio/Video/USB/Smart Card inputs on the front. I'll admit I have not hooked anything to them yet, so perhaps an OSD pops up telling you it see's something on that input? Still you'd think the manual would explain that. Perhaps I need to go to the Moto website and do some poking around.

I recorded Die Another Day off of Showtime HD (and watched at the same time of course) - awesome is all I can say! And the recording as expected, is a carbon copy. Of course it used 24% of my recording time just for that one movie! I heard through the rumour mill that the 1394 cabability on these units was never designed for video playback, but for storage expansion - I hope that feature (if true) comes along quickly, I'll need the space.

Doug
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post #22 of 549 Old 02-04-2004, 06:14 PM
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That's good news doug. I'm on the list to get one of those 6208's....I wonder when they'll call me...
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post #23 of 549 Old 02-06-2004, 06:35 PM
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I made my monthly call to GCI today to ask when we will get more HD channels to chose from. The cust rep started reading from a script (or maybe its a memorized canned response) that all the analog boxes have to be out of service and a 100% digital cable tv network to give us more HD channels.

I then asked how we got two HD channels when there are still analog cable. She responded that GCI deleted the HBO and Showtime analog channels to make room for the two HD channels.

I asked if GCI has a time table when they will offer more HD channels and she started with that script reading again. I stopped her and asked her to directly answer the question, and she hum and hawed and finally said that it looked like October before we would get more HD channels.

I asked what HD channels GCI would be providing and she said they were taking down suggestions from all the phone calls like mine. I then suggested that they should put up an online survey on the web site. She said she would forward idea that along.

I also suggested that if they would change the BravoHD channel to ESPNHD, that I would be signing up for the HDTV box. She said that was the most popular suggestion that they have been getting.

While I was on a roll, I suggested that they just pull the plug on all analog content and she said they could do that if they could forward their help center calls to my phone. Maybe next call I will use someone else's phone number.
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post #24 of 549 Old 02-07-2004, 11:36 AM
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geoWorm,

ESPN HD was one of the channels I mentioned on the survey I completed when I swapped my 6208. I totally agree that Bravo has to go - every time I flip over to it, its Olympic Hockey or Cirque De Sole. Don't get me wrong, I like hockey as much as the next guy, but come on!

If they deleted Showtime and HBO analog to get two HD channels, then I wonder why they didn't offer Showtime and HBO HD instead of Showtime and Bravo?

I have heard that "analog must go" line in other threads regarding cable companies not providing HD content, I think there is truth to that.

As far as analog in Anchorage, I have a co-worker with an analog box still and I have been bugging her to get rid of it, however she sees no current value in switching. She only gets basic and doesn't watch much of that anyway, so the hassle is not worth it to her. I tried to impress her with digital cable box features like the TV Guide system and told her to check her bill because her analog box was now the same price as the digital, and it all fell on deaf ears. I'm not sure how GCI is going to get these people to switch without something drastic - like killing analog as you suggested!

Doug
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post #25 of 549 Old 02-07-2004, 11:52 AM
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The GCI rep I spoke with a while back gave me the impression that they will carry the local stations in HD as soon as they start HD broadcast.
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post #26 of 549 Old 02-07-2004, 12:16 PM
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Borg...

Thanks for reminding me to do my monthly calls to the local stations. I usually get less information from them. In Dec and Jan I was really bugging KTVA because the Superbowl would had been nice in HDTV. Just think how much more detail we would had with Janet's wardrobe malfunction. OK...maybe that was a bad thing to point out.

But back on topic. The locals stations still do not have their digital transmission antennas up. Back in Oct, they (all local stations) received another six month extension of the DTV deadline from the FCC. I understand there is some issue in the courts, IMHO the local stations don't have or don't want to spend the money to give us a DTV signal.

If GCI had enough digital STBs, then they could roll trucks to all locations and swap out the analog boxes. Waiting for the public to volunteer up their analog boxes will not happen until GCI sets a drop dead date.

Just think how many more HDTVs could be sold by the retail business if there was a local DTV signal. Retail business owners should be putting pressure on local politicians to get this antenna issue resolved.

Time for more coffee...

Cheers
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post #27 of 549 Old 03-03-2004, 10:50 AM
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I just got the HD-DVR box from GCI. I don't know how i lived so long without a DVR. So far I am very pleased with the performance. The box actually is $9.99/mo more and not the $5 as was previously stated in the thread. I can't speak to the HD performance yet as I need a VGA-component breakout cable for my projector. Anyone know where I can find one of these in town?
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post #28 of 549 Old 03-03-2004, 02:28 PM
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Quote:


Originally posted by Borg
I just got the HD-DVR box from GCI. I don't know how i lived so long without a DVR. So far I am very pleased with the performance. The box actually is $9.99/mo more and not the $5 as was previously stated in the thread. I can't speak to the HD performance yet as I need a VGA-component breakout cable for my projector. Anyone know where I can find one of these in town?

Which box did you get? The 6208? Is the firewire active?

Some people just need their own planet!
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post #29 of 549 Old 03-03-2004, 03:22 PM
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Borg,

Congrats on signing up! As far as your breakout is concerned, I was at Shimeks a while back talking w/Jim and he mentioned how a guy wanted to hook up HD to an RP TV that did not have component, so he was going to get him some sort of breakout for that purpose. Perhaps they could also help you in your situation?

akshark,

Not speaking on behalf of Borg, but as I posted earlier, the box GCI is supplying is the 6208 and mine had firmware version 7.07 and the firewire is active, however there are issues with picture quality at this point - blocky\\pixellated and freeze ups via firewire.
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post #30 of 549 Old 03-03-2004, 06:48 PM
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Doug,
Did you ever contact GCI about the firewire? Not that I ever follow what an operating manual says....but it does say to contact the service provider before adding any components like that. Maybe GCI needs to send some type of flash update down the wire in order to make it work properly. I'd be interested in adding an external HD for more storage -- especially for HD content.

I'll give Shimeks a call and see what they have for cables. I found one online for $10....but it's $20 shipping (the ONE bad thing about living up here).

AKshark-
As stated by Doug....

Also, there are 2 things I don't like about it:
-No 30 sec skip function (although the FF is very fast)
-The DVR menu needs to be a bit more robust...i.e. the ability to record by program title regardless of time.
Other than that it's a nice little setup.
Borg is offline  
Reply Local HDTV Info and Reception

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