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Channel Master TV CM 7400 HD DVR - OTA, Clear QAM, Internet Content - Page 57

post #1681 of 1996
I had seen the post 1582 (bad experience about firmware version 1.0.97) before I asked my question.
Had anyone had good experience about firmware version 1.0.97?
post #1682 of 1996
Without putting too fine a point on it, let me say that the CM-7400 is the worst piece of electronic junk that I have ever owned. I sent Channel Master the following summary of my experiences. I also included detail for them (but not here - it's just too long). The unit has many other problems that I have not documented, at least not yet. This summary relates only to recording programs off the antenna and with the standard guide (being in Canada, I can't get the so-called "enhanced guide"). Nor have I discussed anything related to an Internet connection because I have not connected it to the Internet.


SUMMARY

This unit is of very poor quality. It does not perform as advertised. Summary of some of the problems with it:

1. The tuners are substandard. Severe pixelation of even quite strong signals makes many programs difficult to watch (or unwatchable) whereas the same signals are perfect on other devices. Mediocre signals are usually unwatchable on the CM-7400 while the same mediocre signals produce perfect pictures on other devices.

2. The clock has a couple of issues. When you set it to “automatic”, it is not reliable if you put the unit on “stand-by”. When you set to “manual”, it is not reliable – period.

3. Seemingly related to the clock (but not necessarily), the unit sometimes needs to be force rebooted (not from the restart screen but by holding the power button or, on occasion, by actually unplugging the unit).

4. General comments on the software: It is a dog’s breakfast. It is unreliable and ranges from being just annoying to bizarre. It behaves so poorly that I am dumbfounded that Channel Master has the audacity to actually release it in its present form. When I was a systems programmer, I would have been fired for even writing, let alone releasing, this kind of mess. More specific comments follow.

5. The unit periodically reboots itself spontaneously. When this happens, there is no apparent reason for a reboot and if it happens to be recording something at the time, that program will be gone. (This may explain some of the missing programs or programs that start partway through the telecast – see subsequent points.)

6. The software periodically goes into a loop (indicated by the “spinning asterisk”). Very occasionally, something breaks the loop but, most of the time, if you get the spinning asterisk for any longer than a few seconds, it will not recover. Reboot is required (and, since you can’t get to the restart screen, you have to force it by holding the power button or by unplugging the unit).

7. The software freezes from time to time. It doesn’t matter what you are doing; you may be perusing the guide or the list of recorded programs, trying to delete a program, or even just trying to change channels or move the highlight within a screen. If you have the patience to wait anywhere from about 20 seconds to a minute or two, it usually recovers but this is frustrating to the point of being infuriating.

8. Recording is not reliable. On occasion, the recording of a program will start late and/or finish early resulting in only a partial program on the hard drive (even when the clock is correct).

9. If you leave the unit in standby mode (which I wouldn’t recommend, by the way), you might not be able to turn it on again (nor will a scheduled recording turn it on). Even holding the power button to reboot might not work – unplugging it is sometimes the only way (this could be either a hardware problem or a software problem).

10. Sometimes, the Recorded Programs screen says that a program is being recorded (indicated by the “R” in a red circle) when it isn’t actually recording anything (part of the program might be there but it won’t be complete). That indication will stay there for days if you let it. You also cannot delete it – a “delete program” option is not there. The only way I have found to delete such a (partial) program is to play it and skip to the end, where it gives you the option to delete it.

11. The software will, on occasion, change the recording time of a program and even the channel number to be recorded. I have actually had a couple of instances when a wholesale change of channel numbers occurred (both in the scheduled recordings and in the DVR recordings’ list of programs that had already been recorded).

12. There have been instances when the guide would not update for certain channels unless you tuned the unit to those channels.

13. Sometimes, a manually scheduled program will pick up the real program’s name from the guide; other times, the program is just tagged as “Manual” with only the time and channel noted. This is hit and miss (and a label of “Manual” is not very user friendly).

14. Occasionally, two unrelated manually recorded programs will be grouped together. It would appear that the only things they have in common are the recording time of day and, perhaps, a common channel. But they will have been recorded on different days and are completely different programs (say, one on a Thursday evening at 20:00 and the other on a Saturday evening at 20:00). Such programs will sometimes appear grouped together in the DVR recordings list.

15. If you schedule a manual recording of a series (say, Monday-Friday or every Saturday), you cannot delete one of the scheduled recording times. Say you want to skip recording one day’s show for whatever reason, you can’t. Furthermore, you can’t even delete the entire series. You must first change the recording frequency to “one-time only”; then you can delete it.

16. If you schedule a recording from the standard guide, a bogus message that the hard drive will be full occurs.

17. Sometimes, scheduled recordings just don’t happen. The schedule contains the program but when you check the DVR recordings list after the fact, it just isn’t there. (This could be caused by one of those spontaneous reboots happening while the program was being recorded.)

18. On occasion, the playback of a recorded program will start to hesitate. This is not a missing signal problem or pixelation; the playback goes for a few seconds, freezes, resumes, freezes again, etc. While this is in progress, the unit is completely unresponsive to any commands from the remote – you just have to wait for it to correct itself. If you replay the same portion of the program, no hesitation occurs.

19. These units run unbelievably hot – even when put in standby mode. This should be unnecessary. Some warmth can be expected, of course; however, components with lower operating temperatures should be investigated or these units will literally burn themselves out to an early death.



I also included a Wishlist for them but my main "wish" is that they make the unit useable. At the moment, it isn't.
post #1683 of 1996
How do you record TV programs?
I like a simple-to-use PVR.
post #1684 of 1996
According to that report above it's POS.
post #1685 of 1996
Quote:
Originally Posted by bermguy View Post

19. These units run unbelievably hot – even when put in standby mode. This should be unnecessary. Some warmth can be expected, of course; however, components with lower operating temperatures should be investigated or these units will literally burn themselves out to an early death.
I can't help but wonder if many of your problems are heat related failures. You may have the unit racked in such a way as to cause overheating. Have you tried to take steps to cool the units operating temperature -- i.e. put it on a laptop cooler.
post #1686 of 1996
Quote:
Originally Posted by albertkao View Post

How do you record TV programs?
I like a simple-to-use PVR.
I use the 7400's predecessor, the CM-7000PAL to record OTA. It's proven very reliable and easy to use over the past three years with no significant issues. I love it.
post #1687 of 1996
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelson View Post

I can't help but wonder if many of your problems are heat related failures. You may have the unit racked in such a way as to cause overheating. Have you tried to take steps to cool the units operating temperature -- i.e. put it on a laptop cooler.

Perhaps I am being a bit brutal but I have just had a couple of very brutal days with this thing. That summary documents events that have occurred over the past five months. Yesterday and today have been particularly bad and so my blood is up.

I have already had the unit replaced once and the newer one is at least as bad as or possibly even worse than the first one. I am running the most recent release of firmware (1.0.97). As I mentioned in my first post, I can't use the enhanced guide because it's not available in Canada. The fact that there is nothing else out there that will do what the CM-7400 is supposed to do without a subscription fee is the only reason I am keeping it (Channel Master offered to give me a refund, which is to their credit. They also almost offered to send me another unit but very quickly withdrew that offer). They told me that they haven't had any complaints about the device but, perusing this and other forums indicates that that just isn't true. When it works, it works very well but it just isn't reliable. Over the past week or so, I have to reboot it two or three times a day because, almost every time I turn on the TV, it goes into a loop (or is already pooched - it won't respond to commands from the remote, it's not recording even though the display says "rEC", it goes into a loop, etc.). Most of the problems should be fixable with better soft/firmware. I even offered to connect with their software team to detail the problems that I have seen and offer recommendations (I am a former Systems Programmer, so I am familiar with software design). I would like to see the machine work well. Sometimes it does but sometimes it's no better than a boat anchor (hmm, there's that brutality again).

Because its behaviour has been deteriorating, I have speculated that some programmer might have used self-modifying code. While that can sometimes save a lot of programming time and code, it can be dangerous, even with experienced programmers - you have to "put it back the way it was" (to paraphrase the ladies of Dogpatch). Reinstalling the firmware would fix that, at least temporarily. I tried that but it won't let me overlay the existing firmware because it is at the same level. What I will have to do is offload programs that have already been recorded onto another hard drive, reset the unit to its factory settings (if I recall, you can do that - but it clears the hard drive), then reinstall (a new copy of) the firmware.

I have also speculated that some of the problems might be due to heat (despite the fact that Channel Master issued a letter saying that heat is not a problem). I have moved the unit from its original location (inside an open cabinet, i.e., a cabinet with no doors) to a potentially cooler spot and put it on thicker blocks (I had it on ½" blocks, now it's on 1" blocks). It is still very hot but not as hot as it was. That might help. Putting a fan on it might help as well but these are things that a customer should not have to do. Surely they could produce a unit that is better ventilated (this unit has a few vent holes in the side but they are clearly inadequate for the level of heat generated). This should not be a customer responsibility.

In any case, I have to make changes one at a time to help isolate the problem(s). I have moved the unit to a potentially cooler location. I'll run with that for a while. If I still have the same problems, I will go ahead with resetting the firmware.

Just to give you an idea of its reliability today: I had eight programs scheduled for recording today (technically, yesterday now). It got three. (Part of that is experimentation - I don't normally record that many programs in one day.) I had to reboot it at least twice.

Two of the eight programs were scheduled for times after I had moved the device - it got one of them. I will continue to monitor this.

On the plus side, there were two occasions when I turned on the TV and didn't have to reboot the CM-7400.
post #1688 of 1996
Quote:
Originally Posted by bermguy View Post

Perhaps I am being a bit brutal but I have just had a couple of very brutal days with this thing...

As an experiment, have you tried rolling back the firmware to the previous 1.0.81.1 version? One user here, pcnetwrx, reported that he had some major issues and clock problems with firmware version 1.0.97. After rolling back the firmware to the previous version, the DVR was much more usable for him. He posted a link to the previous firmware version 1.0.81.1 in his posting #1582 in this thread.

One interesting thing that I have noticed is that you can now download the older/previous firmware version 1.0.81.1 directly from the Channel Master Update page. Previously you could only download the latest version 1.0.97 from that page. Version 1.0.81.1 was listed there previously but there was no longer a link to download it once version 1.0.97 was posted.

One has to wonder if Channel Master is receiving so many complaints about its version 1.0.97 firmware that they decided to re-post the older version on their website as a "temporary" fix. Luckily the CM-7400 allows rolling back the firmware to a previous version. Other DVRs, including the Dish DTVPal DVR, will not allow the end-user/customer to do that.
post #1689 of 1996
Quote:
This unit is of very poor quality. It does not perform as advertised.
Now, that's a surprise. rolleyes.gif

bermguy;
I haven't followed this that closely, but all of that seems to me way out of the ordinary. It almost makes the PHD-VRX look good (if that is possible). Either you have a lemon and/or as stated, it's another heat issue.
Remove the cover and see what happens. Very simple test.
post #1690 of 1996
I am in the process of getting my money back for this boat anchor. You have to open the top and place the CM7400 on a laptop fan? Come on. The tuners in this thing are 50% worse than those in my flat screen Panasonic. Signals keep dropping off, even the strong ones. My OTA goes directly into my Panasonic TV now. No firmware will ever cure this poorly designed steel box. I have tried the newest version as well as the previous version.
Edited by Bigpajan - 9/5/12 at 4:53am
post #1691 of 1996
Quote:
Originally Posted by bermguy View Post

Perhaps I am being a bit brutal but I have just had a couple of very brutal days with this thing. . . . its behaviour has been deteriorating . . . . I have to make changes one at a time to help isolate the problem(s). I have moved the unit to a potentially cooler location. I'll run with that for a while. If I still have the same problems, I will go ahead with resetting the firmware.
I understand your frustration and your need to change one variable at a time to isolate the problem, but heat related damage is cumulative and irreversible. If the units functions have been steadily deteriorating, I am less likely to suspect self-modifying code and more likely to suspect progressive heat failure.

Because heat can destroy electronics, I would encourage you to initially be extreme -- pop off the cover, as videobruce indicated, and put a fan on it to give it maximum cooling and see if that makes a difference. You could also roll back the firmware a version, as per trp2525, but get the temperature under control first.

Of course the customer should not have to do any of this, but since you indicated you will keep the unit why not do this simple test to see if heat is the problem and thus protect your investment.
post #1692 of 1996
Quote:
Originally Posted by bermguy View Post

Without putting too fine a point on it, let me say that the CM-7400 is the worst piece of electronic junk that I have ever owned. This summary relates only to recording programs off the antenna and with the standard guide (being in Canada, I can't get the so-called "enhanced guide"). Nor have I discussed anything related to an Internet connection because I have not connected it to the Internet.

If you are only interested in OTA it might be worth asking CM if they would allow you to trade this unit for a CM 7000Pal unit. You could try going to the DTV-Pal thread and ask readers there to give you advice depending on where you live. Be specific and you will likely find someone from your area. You might even be lucky enough to receive a good TVGOS signal in your area. That would be a great plus. This unit seems to be driving you crazy and there comes a point it is better to cut your loss. Anyway the CM 7000Pal/DTV-Pal has a superior tuner and does not seem to have the heat issues. It's only drawback is that it only works for OTA. The thread on the DTV-Pal is fabulous and the people are very helpful as well as there are many workarounds and even some helpful upgrade thoughts. Good luck... biggrin.gif
post #1693 of 1996
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigpajan View Post

I am in the process of getting my money back for this boat anchor. You have to open the top and place the CM7400 on a laptop fan? Come on. The tuners in this thing are 50% worse than those in my flat screen Panasonic. Signals keep dropping off, even the strong ones. My OTA goes directly into my Panasonic TV now. No firmware will ever cure this poorly designed steel box. I have tried the newest version as well as the previous version.

After you get your money back you might want to consider purchasing the older/discontinued Channel Master CM-7000PAL DVR and pocketing the difference in cost. (Users have reported that the tuners in the previous model function better than the tuners in the CM-7400.) You can purchase a manufacturer-refurbished/open-box CM-7000PAL DVR directly from Channel Master for $329.99 (plus shipping). There is also an eBay seller who has "more than 10 available" of the same refurbished units for $299.99 (plus $13.27 shipping). These refurbished units come with a 1-year warranty from Channel Master.
post #1694 of 1996
There isn't a way to copy recordings from the CM-7000PAL to a USB drive or computer is there?
post #1695 of 1996
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brajesh View Post

There isn't a way to copy recordings from the CM-7000PAL to a USB drive or computer is there?

No. No one has been able to decrypt the Dish file format.
post #1696 of 1996
I'm staying away from Channel Master products. The CM7000pal has it's issues as well. My installer was waiting or the upgraded CM7777 preamp. He finally got them and only a few will fire up. There is something terribly wrong with the company.
I'm using a Winegard preamp now straight into the tv. I can live without a DVR since no one knows how to make one.
post #1697 of 1996
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigpajan View Post

I can live without a DVR since no one knows how to make one.

 

Talk about throwing the baby out with the bath water. :) Since 2000 I have saved myself around 7,000 hours of commercials... 

post #1698 of 1996
Quote:
Originally Posted by dvdchance View Post

No. No one has been able to decrypt the Dish file format.

Who said it's encrypted ? All OTA channels are clear ! As its recordings.


(I'm not touching some commercial services using OTA airways - see a site http://www.rabbitears.info for more info )
post #1699 of 1996
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigpajan View Post

I'm staying away from Channel Master products. The CM7000pal has it's issues as well. My installer was waiting or the upgraded CM7777 preamp. He finally got them and only a few will fire up. There is something terribly wrong with the company.
I'm using a Winegard preamp now straight into the tv. I can live without a DVR since no one knows how to make one.

CM7000-PAL is not CM, but but re-badged E* TR-50 aka DTVPAL DVR.
post #1700 of 1996
Quote:
Originally Posted by P Smith View Post

Who said it's encrypted ? All OTA channels are clear ! As its recordings.
(I'm not touching some commercial services using OTA airways - see a site http://www.rabbitears.info for more info )

I'm obviously talking about accessing the recordings from the Dish file format.
post #1701 of 1996
Quote:
Originally Posted by dvdchance View Post

I'm obviously talking about accessing the recordings from the Dish file format.
That means files system is proprietary, but recordings are not encrypted. Anyhow, the word "encrypted" wasn't right choice. wink.gif
post #1702 of 1996
Thanks to all who have commented on my experiences. There are many suggestions here and I will try to deal with them one at a time. If I miss someone, I apologise:

@trp2525 - Yes, that might be a good thing to do and I have considered it. As I mentioned, I am dealing with one thing at a time and, right now, I think that the most important thing to address is the heat issue. Thank you for your input. I might well do that a bit down the road.

@videobruce - At the moment, I have a fan on the unit but I haven't yet removed the cover. This is a good suggestion. Thank you.

@Kelson - I agree that heat is the first thing to address. I will be taking the cover off ASAP. Thank you.

@tmn1 - The retailer that I got the original CM-7400 gave me a CM-7000PAL that had been returned (for reasons other than performance) to test. I had it for a few days and it had problems that, while different from the CM-7400 problems, were just as frustrating. Actually, I can no longer remember what all the problems were but I do remember that the first program that I tried to record on it failed. In any case, I appreciate your input. And, yes, I have found this forum to be very helpful.


Some further information:

I have also posted my experiences on the Channel Master forum and I have discovered that some people have found that the power supply in the CM-7400 is not up to snuff. Some folks mentioned that they had some of the problems that I am having and replacing the power supply fixed it. I'm not sure I'm confident enough to actually do that but I can always learn.

Thank you all for your help and suggestions.
post #1703 of 1996
Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles R View Post

Talk about throwing the baby out with the bath water. smile.gif Since 2000 I have saved myself around 7,000 hours of commercials... 

I still love my Sony DHG units. Until TVGOS dies the only DVR that is better is the TiVo.
post #1704 of 1996
Quote:
Originally Posted by videobruce View Post

Remove the cover and see what happens. Very simple test.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelson View Post

Because heat can destroy electronics, I would encourage you to initially be extreme -- pop off the cover, as videobruce indicated, and put a fan on it to give it maximum cooling and see if that makes a difference.

I have taken the six screws out and lifted up the back of the cover but the front of the cover doesn't budge. As I peer in the back of the unit, it appears that the front part of the cover is held on by four plastic clamps. Can anyone suggest how to get the front part of the cover off without damaging anything? I don't want to try to force it off and break something.

Thanks for any suggestions.
post #1705 of 1996
Try wiggle the cover - it will release.
post #1706 of 1996
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeKustra View Post


I still love my Sony DHG units. Until TVGOS dies the only DVR that is better is the TiVo.

 

After six weeks or so I like WMC better than TiVo of which I used on/off for over a decade. Paid a little less than I could have purchased TiVo for and got a lot more... HD streaming, four tuners, etc.

post #1707 of 1996
Quote:
I still love my Sony DHG units. Until TVGOS dies the only DVR that is better is the TiVo.
It has the best "Grid" of everything I have seen including TiVo also!
Quote:
Paid a little less than I could have purchased TiVo for and got a lot more.
A lot more power consumption also.
post #1708 of 1996
Quote:
Originally Posted by videobruce View Post

A lot more power consumption also.

 

Not really. I'm guessing overall less than my TiVo. It uses roughly 2 watts in sleep/hibernation and 30-60 at full power. It wakes up from sleep/hibernation does its recordings and returns. It's also quieter, even more so when it's hibernating. :)

post #1709 of 1996
It's not the TiVo I was referring to. wink.gif
post #1710 of 1996
Quote:
Originally Posted by videobruce View Post

It's not the TiVo I was referring to. wink.gif

 

Nor was I... here's the stats on a more powerful model (uses more power than mine)... Same line as I was using... however I have switched models and usage is pretty much the same as before.

 

 

Gateway SX2850-33 Average watts per hour
Off (60 percent) 0.92
Sleep (10 percent) 2.24
Idle (25 percent) 40.97
Load (5 percent) 81.13
Raw kWh 166.56
EnergyStar compliant Yes
Annual energy cost $18.90
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