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ePVision PHD-VRX & VRX2 Owners Thread - Page 8

post #211 of 2203
Quote:
Originally Posted by Superfluous View Post

Question: Is TIVO also an over the air tuner? Can I plug in an antenna and get uncompressed OTA local channels like the PHD? If yes, why buy the EPVision over a TIVO?
edit: it looks like there's a subscription.

Yes, Yes, and I don't know. You will get more Tivo information on the Tivo Premiere Thread.

The Tivo package can be more expensive or cheaper. Everyone has their opinions and statistics.

I have a Tivo and a bunch of other stuff.

You asked the same question three days ago. No responses?

I figure there are two type of devices: not-free and fee-free. For HD the VRX is comparable to the CM7400. Not-free is comparible to the TiVo and ... I don't know.

If you have a big panel at 240Hz then maybe that TV thread would be a better source of data.
Edited by JoeKustra - 6/21/12 at 10:32am
post #212 of 2203
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeKustra View Post

Do you feel your question was answered?

It sounds like there is not a way to schedule a recording for once-a-week. :-(
post #213 of 2203
Quote:
Originally Posted by MajorCS View Post

It sounds like there is not a way to schedule a recording for once-a-week. :-(

That's what I though also. But it's only a firmware update away.
post #214 of 2203
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeKustra View Post

That's what I though also. But it's only a firmware update away.

Just like the DHG not "missing" data.. Just a firmware upgrade away . . . biggrin.gif
post #215 of 2203
Quote:
Originally Posted by WS65711 View Post

Just like the DHG not "missing" data.. Just a firmware upgrade away . . . biggrin.gif

I'm trying to be nice.
post #216 of 2203
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeKustra View Post

I'm trying to be nice.
I went to the source (those guys are very responsive):

Thank you for your email. For manual and program recording, we now have “Weekly” option as you mentioned on our next firmware release. We are currently testing it. And we will notify you once the new firmware is released (should be very soon). Thank you very much again and sorry for the inconvenience.


Sales Team, Allen
ePVision.com
post #217 of 2203
There's a DVR software developer that responds to user feedback and adds desirable features to firmware updates? It's a miracle! biggrin.gif Maybe there's hope for solving all of these problems yet (and perhaps even in a timely fashion).
post #218 of 2203
Can anyone give it a rating out of 10 for this DVR,I sold one of my sonicview 8000HD and waiting for this one,but somehow this units seems buggy,not really sure if it is worth U$250(I'm in canada).thanks in advance.
post #219 of 2203
Thread Starter 
Quote:
There's a DVR software developer that responds to user feedback and adds desirable features to firmware updates?
Some. Just so you know,ePVision should be reading this thread by now. Judging by his response, he is since I just added the missing "Weekly" recording issue to my latest revised list of 30 or so, and sent it to him yesterday. wink.gif.
Edited by videobruce - 6/22/12 at 5:54am
post #220 of 2203
How is the functionality vs a TIVO? Is it only better in terms of not paying a monthly fee?
post #221 of 2203
There should be a sticky in this forum about the difference between TiVo and everything else, so we can stop answering this question. wink.gif

Like all subscrption-free DVRs, the VRX records based on timers. There is no name-based recording, no comprehensive schedule, no season pass feature, and no monthly fee as a result. Almost all non-TiVo DVRs are essentially VCRs that record to a hard drive instead of magnetic tape. Most have extra features, but the core functionality remains the same.
post #222 of 2203
Quote:
Originally Posted by Superfluous View Post

Question: Can I plug in an antenna and get uncompressed OTA local channels like the PHD? 

 

You can get OTA channels like you would with the PHD, but they won't be uncompressed using either one, because OTA isn't uncompressed.

post #223 of 2203
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rammitinski View Post

You can get OTA channels like you would with the PHD, but they won't be uncompressed using either one, because OTA isn't uncompressed.

I think Superfluous meant "less compressed", the best quality TV signal available to the average Joe. Without further compression or signal degradation by the CableCo or SatelliteCo.
post #224 of 2203
Since this device is so new, I'll bet Logitech doesn't have it in their database for their Harmony remotes.
post #225 of 2203
Quick review after 2 hours of playing with it

Delivery : fast and efficient, even faster than advertised ( I am in CND)
Packaging : well done although no stuffing in the outside box, but the inside one had a nice protection, the ``fragile`` tag was a nice touch
Image quality : as mentioned before, horrible with initial settings but with the brightness and contrast adjustments on the phd and end adjustments on my plasma thp5810uka at 720p, I managed to get something good, still needs some work
Image color : seems like the electronics needed 2 hours to break-in as the colors are noticeably better than out of the box even once the brightness and contrast adjusted ( maybe I am wrong or my mind is playing games)
Image stability : PQ looked very good on still shots but somewhat fuzzy on fast moving pan (I am comparing to my trusted Digitalstream HD1150)
Tuner sensitivity and co-channel separation : far better than my HD1150, overall I am getting 4 channels extra ( 2 news and 2 that usually are temperamental that are now rock solid)
Remote : sluggish, and needs to be directly pointed at the tuner, hopefully a driver update will help but I doubt

Overall : I am very happy with this purchase and am enjoying my new channels, I hope the driver updates will improve this product and make it even better

Question : does anyone know how or plan to diy a spdif coax, since I have a hifi dac and optical is of no use for me
post #226 of 2203
I am using tuner one for my ota antenna coax...is that ok or should one use tuner 2....or perhaps it does not matter?

Dc
post #227 of 2203
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Image color : seems like the electronics needed 2 hours to break-in as the colors are noticeably better than out of the box even once the brightness and contrast adjusted ( maybe I am wrong or my mind is playing games)
Mind games. wink.gif
Quote:
Remote : sluggish, and needs to be directly pointed at the tuner,
The 205 tuner is the same way, specific about aiming. Firmware won't help that.
Quote:
Question : does anyone know how or plan to diy a spdif coax, since I have a hifi dac and optical is of no use for me
You have a 'sink' (receiver) that only has coaxial audio in and no optical? I would guess some type of adapter. (The "sink" is a term more for HDMI)


lutherpstr;
Have you read post #7?
post #228 of 2203
Yes my DAC does not carry optical in, only coax and I don't want to use an external converter in between, sometimes you can take the signal feed and instead of supplying it to the optical bracket you can re-route it to a coax one by avoiding the +5v
post #229 of 2203
Disclaimer: I have spent several hours reading the old speculation thread and this new thread on the PHD-VRX. I appreciate all the in depth technical reviews and comments that videobruce posted. Some of the items I mention in the following review once and awhile might bring up issues that have already been mentioned by videobruce and others. I have tried to keep my review less technical and more for the average consumer since videobruce did an outstanding job at the beginning of this thread on the technical side.
Edited by HDTV1080P24 - 6/23/12 at 5:01pm
post #230 of 2203
EpVision PHD-VRX is the best subscription free ATSC/QAM tuner box that I have every used so far

This review does not cover the recording feature since I have not tested that feature out yet (requires external USB drive to record)

Also this PHD-VRX product is not perfect and needs a firmware update to better handle video and audio signals (see part 2 review comments under video and audio)

The following are brief comparisons between the TIVO Premiere XL and EpVision PHD-VRX

For almost a decade I have had experience using several different ATSC tuners that are subscription free. External standalone ATSC tuners with and without QAM, ATSC tuners built into D-VHS, and ATSC/QAM TV tuners built into a TV. I am also very familiar with Digital HD DVR cable boxes like Motorola and others. Plus I have used Direct TV HD DVR’s before like the HR-21 PRO.

High-end products like the Tivo Premiere and Tivo Premiere XL will allow recording of both over the air ATSC channels and encrypted cable channels with a CableCard. I have heard many times that TIVO is very easy product to use that automatically maps channels into the program guide. I have no doubt that the TIVO box is the best way to go for quality, and possible in the future I might purchase a TIVO box.

The reason I purchased the EpVision PHD-VRX dual tuner box instead of a TIVO is because a minimum of 99% of my TV watching is Blu-ray discs since Blu-ray offers the best picture and sound quality for the consumer. My other family members in the house rent Version FIOS HD DVR’s with a subscription to many 1080i premium channels like HBO and Showtime. For me purchasing a TIVO would be a waste of money since I would not use or watch all the channels on it. Instead, when I want to watch a movie I can go rent a Blu-ray at Red box for $1.50 that will offer me 1080P quality video with 5.1-7.1 lossless audio that is bit for bit the same as the audio studio master.

Also looking at the TIVO it costs $249.99 for a new Premiere XL + $499.99 for a lifetime subscription + for the QAM tuner program guide to work another $47.88 a year needs to be paid to Verizon for the CableCard rental. So I am looking at a minimum of $797.86 for my first year with the TIVO Premiere XL. If I am going to pay around $800 for the TIVO then I would also want to get a high-end 7,200 RPM 2TB hard drive with an external hard drive case for around $200. So the real cost after the first year of the TIVO Premiere XL is around $1,000. Plus another $47.88 every single year needs to be paid for the CableCard rental from Verizon FIOS (The CableCards are nice since they unencrypt the cable channels one is paying for and they automatically setup a channel map with electronic program guide). The real negative thing about the TIVO is that after I pay $1,000 for it I still will not be able to access all the channels and features that the Verizon Motorola HD DVR offers. The TIVO does not work with Verizon FIOS video on demand, on screen Caller ID, and GUI. If TIVO would come out with a new TIVO that is 100% compatible with Verizon FIOS and other cable companies video on demand and GUI’s then I would most likely purchase a TIVO. I also refuse to rent a HD DVR cable box from Verizon FIOS and prefer to own my own equipment.

So since 99% of my TV watching is Blu-ray disc the EpVision PHD-VRX will meet my needs. At a costs of $229.95 it is ideal to use with a high-end monitor like the Pioneer PRO-101FD. If I decide to record I can get a top of the line 2TB 7,200 RPM hard drive with external hard drive enclosure for around $200. So my final cost will be $429.95 maximum for the PHD-VRX (there are cheaper 2TB USB hard drive options and $150 or lower is also possible for the hard drive).
Hands on review of the EpVision PHD-VRX starts here


On June 11th 2012 I received the EpVision PHD-VRX. List price was $229.95 plus I had a $20 coupon which brought the unit down to $209.95 + $18.68 for shipping. I missed out on the $30 coupon code. The $229.95 EpVision PHD-VRX is now available for $199.95 + shipping for those that have a $30 off coupon code from their email newsletter (coupon expires on June 30th 2012).

Firmware used for this review: When I received my PHD-VRX it came with firmware version VRX.242.18.10 already installed. That is the latest firmware available. One disappointment with this product is that a firmware update cannot be installed over the Internet using the onscreen menus. Current firmware updates require a USB flash drive. The EpVision programmers should write a firmware update that allows consumers to automatically or manually get firmware updates over the Internet just like a Blu-ray player does.

Packing comments: The unit was packed well and double boxed. The colorfully retail display box was very attractive. The retail box says it’s a “Full HD 1080p Dual Tuner Digital HDTV Recorder Receiver and Media Center Box”. At this time there is no native 1080P content available. The 480i ATSC/QAM SD and 720P-1080i HD channels are upconverted to 1080P. The YouTube SD and HD videos have no option in the menu to play at 1080P. As far as I can tell this PHD-VRX does not play native 1080P YouTube videos since there is no 1080P selection when playing a HD YouTube video. Perhaps in the future 1080P VUDU or 1080P Netflix might become available. It also says on the front and rear of the retail box in big bold letters “Watch and Record Free HDTV!!” If this product becomes available in retail stores then there should be small print that says that a USB hard drive or high-end USB flash drive is required to activate the record feature.

When I opened the retail box the PHD-VRX came with a HDMI cable, remote control, batteries, and a Quick Start Guide. The full product manual will be offered free on line in a PDF version once the company finishes creating it. In the mean time consumers can download 5 different manuals on the product so far:

PHD-VRX Quick Start Guide

PHD-VRX Recording Features Guide

PHD-VRX Timeshifting Features Guide

PHD-VRX Remote Control IR Codes

PHD-VRX Firmware instructions

Direct website for ordering

I was disappointed with the plastic protective wrap that covered the entire black case of the PHD-VRX unit. It took me like 5 to 10 minutes to remove it. I almost did not see the thin plastic that covers the black case including the vents on the unit. When peeling off the plastic the plastic did not come off in one piece but 20 or 30 little pieces. Some of the plastic got stock in the vents and I used a special technique and soft plastic tool to get the plastic residue and small pieces of plastic out of the vents. I am surprised they shipped the unit with a thin piece of plastic that covers the vents. Hopefully future units will not have that plastic coating on the entire top cover and sides. I know the reason for the plastic is to protect the case from being scratched but there are other shipping materials one can use instead of a big sheet of plastic that is hard to peel off.

Rear panel comments: (click here for rear panel picture): My EpVision PHD-VRX that I purchased has all the exact same inputs and outputs that are found in the companies rear panel stock picture but my unit looked slightly different in the rear (My unit had an area that component video outputs were designed to be installed but for cost cutting reasons no component video outputs were installed) . The EpVision PHD-VRX was designed for consumers that have modern HD displays with a HDMI or DVI input. If one owns a display with a HDMI or DVI input then the EpVision PHD-VRX is an ideal product. An older DVI display requires a HDMI to DVI adapter. There is no component video output or S-Video output for legacy analog displays. In addition the 480i composite output is simultaneously active with the 1080P HDMI output. The 480i output does not show any onscreen graphics which makes it ideal for someone to connect an old legacy VHS recorder to record onto a video tape without having to worry about any onscreen menus showing up on the recording. Since the 480i composite output shows no menus or onscreen graphics at all it also makes this unit not usable for someone that only owns a legacy 480i TV set. This product is only recommended for those consumers that have a display with a HDMI or DVI input since a display with 480i composite video inputs will not be able to display the onscreen menus under the current firmware version.

So the only outputs of the PHD-VRX is the HDMI, 480i composite video, 5.1 Dolby Digital optical output, and left and right analog stereo. The inputs on the unit are HDMI, component video input, 480i composite input, left and right analog stereo input, VGA video input with VGA audio input, 2 RF inputs, 2 USB, and 1 100Mbps Ethernet jack(also support legacy 10Mbps). The only inputs that can be used for recording are the 2 RF inputs. The HDMI input and all the other analog inputs are not recordable inputs. The purpose of the video inputs is to use the PHD-VRX as a upscaling video source switcher for those consumers that do not own an A/V receiver with HDMI video upscaling.

I was slightly disappointed that the power cord is not detachable on the PHD-VRX. Most modern electronics like Blu-ray players, A/V receivers, and TV’s use a detachable power cord that can be replaced if damaged. If the power cord in the future becomes damaged on the PHD-VRX then the box needs to be sent back to the factory to be repaired or if the unit is out of warranty consumers that are experienced with soldering irons and electronics can open the unit up and install a new power cord.

Outstanding tuner quality and easy to use menus: When I plugged in the PHD-VRX I discovered it had very easy to use menus. The PHD-VRX automatically set the time to the exact time soon after I gave it my time zone information. The first tuner is the best quality since it offers NTSC/ATSC/QAM. The second tuner is a lower cost tuner that only offers ATSC/QAM. This PHD-VRX also has 4 channel map memories. Tuner 1 has one over the air channel map memory that will scan between channels 2-69 looking for both analog NTSC and ATSC digital channels. Tuner number 1 can also be setup to scan cable channels 1-135 looking for both analog NTSC and QAM digital channels (Two channel maps for tuner 1). Tuner 2 has one over the air channel map memory that will scan between channels 2-69 looking for only digital ATSC channels. Tuner 2 can also be setup to scan for cable channels 1-135 looking for only digital QAM channels (Two channel map memories for tuner 2). Where I live in the United States I was unable to use or test the NTSC section of tuner 1 since 100% of my local over the air broadcasts are ATSC digital. In fact 100% of all full power TV stations in the United States use ATSC digital now. Only in some areas of the USA one might be able to find a low power NTSC TV channel. Also when scanning for ATSC channels in the USA channels 2-69 do not need to be scanned since spectrum frequencies were taken away from the broadcasters. Now only ATSC channels 7-51 is used in the USA for over the air broadcasts. The PHD-VRX might be used in Canada or Mexico where analog and digital channels between 2-69 might be available (Canada is mostly ATSC now but might use the full channel spectrum of 2-69). Also since I subscribe to Verizon FIOS they use 100% digital QAM which makes it impossible for me to test the NTSC tuner unless I subscribe to my second cable provider in the city I live in which is Comcast. Comcast and a few other cable companies still have some analog NTSC cable Channels. In the future cable companies will be switching to 100% QAM like Verizon. Also more and more cable companies in the years to come will start switching from MPEG-2 to MPEG-4 to increase virtual channel bandwidth. Verizon FIOS does not use MPEG-4 yet. The PHD-VRX like all other subscription free boxes on the market only supports MPEG-2 channels. ATSC over the air channels are 100% MPEG-2 with up to 5.1 Dolby Digital. If one lives in an area that has a cable company that uses in the clear MPEG-4 channels then they will not be able to use the PHD-VRX to watch those in the clear MPEG-4 QAM channels. I know of no consumer tuners on the market that support MPEG-4 QAM channels yet.

The unique exclusive features of the PHD-VRX: The PHD-VRX has two RF inputs that allow consumers to switch back and forth between over the air broadcasts and cable TV programs. It should be noted that this PHD-VRX does not support a CableCard option like the TIVO models. What this means is that digital QAM cable channels received by this unit are limited to in the in the clear unencrypted channels. You will not be able to watch premium movie channels like HBO and Showtime and on most cable systems, you will be limited to the same channels that an outdoor antenna receives like NBC, CBS, FOX, ABC, etc. In the earlier years back around 2005 most consumers did not have QAM tuners and cable companies transmitted many in the clear channels including some premium channels. Times have changed and cable companies are encrypting almost all MPEG-2 QAM channels except for local SD and HD channels. In the future possible cable companies in the years to come could start encrypting 100% of all channels including local SD and HD channels. If that day comes then the value of this PHD-VRX product will be cut in half since it would no longer be able to be used on a cable system (That day might never happen but it is a possibility depending on the plans of the cable companies nationwide).

How to use the two RF inputs: These two RF inputs do not have any built in A/B switch so one cannot assign both over the air broadcasts signals and cable signals to the exact same tuner at once.

1. For consumers that want to connect the PHD-VRX to both a TV antenna and cable TV: If you have Verizon FIOS which uses 100% digital QAM and 100% of all your over the air channels are digital ATSC then it will not matter what RF input you use. On the other hand if you live in an area that has a low power NTSC channel then you should connect your TV antenna to RF input 1 and Verizon FIOS should be connected to RF input number 2. If your cable company is not 100% digital QAM (offers some analog NTSC channels) then you should connect the cable signal to RF input number 1 and the outdoor antenna to RF input number 2. In most dual signal setups the cable signal being connected to RF input 1 is ideal and the antenna should be connected to RF input number 2.

2. For consumers that only have cable TV or only have a TV antenna (one signal source): There is no built in signal splitter for the PHD-VRX so an external splitter needs to be used if one wants to use both tuners. Connecting an external 75 ohm TV splitter will allow one to use both tuners.

3. Using two cable systems with the PHD-VRX: Some consumers and businesses subscribe to two separate cable companies for Internet and TV as a backup in case one provider has an outage. If one has Verizon FIOS then the PHD-VRX should be connected to RF input 2 since Verizon FIOS is 100% digital QAM. If your second Cable provider offers some NTSC channels like Comcast then RF input 1 should be used so one can receive both the NTSC and QAM channels.

4. Using two separate TV antennas pointed in different directions with the PHD-VRX. All my TV antenna setups I have used have a rotor that allows the outdoor or indoor attic antenna to be turned 360 degrees. Some consumers might prefer using a combination of antenna configurations like outdoor antennas or indoor antennas pointed in different directions. Sometimes the way signals travel there are special needs some people have. If one lives in an area that is 100% digital ATSC for broadcasts then it should not matter which RF input one uses unless tuner number 1 is better quality then tuner number 2 when it comes to weak ATSC channels. The only listed advantage of tuner number 1 is that it supports NTSC. If one receives a low power NTSC channel then RF input number 1 should be used for the antenna pointed toward that station.

PHD-VRX tuner quality and channel mapping qualities are excellent: The PHD-VRX channel scanning speed for ATSC and QAM is very fast and accurate. It found several ATSC channels and several Verizon FIOS QAM channels in my area. With tuner 1 connected to my TV antenna it pulled in a few more channels compared to any other tuner I have owned before. Weak ATSC channels that use to have digital artifacts, had a perfect digital picture and one could not tell the signal was weak since the picture and sound was rock solid. Of course extremely weak fringe channels became unwatchable when the signal dropped to low. Tuner number two connected to Verizon FIOS 100% QAM network detected all the digital QAM channels plus the QAM tuner was the best I have seen since it mapped the channels better than any other subscription free QAM tuner yet. 99% of the QAM channels I am able to view are all local HD and SD. Around 1% are a few channels that are unique basic cable channels. With a push of the “TV” button on the remote I am able to toggle back and forth between tuner 1 and tuner 2 within 1-2 seconds. The channel changing for both ATSC and QAM is one of the fastest tuners I have used (Perhaps if I was recording a HD program on one tuner it might slow things down a little, but I have not connected an external USB 2TB hard drive yet for recording). A bar graph with signal strength can be seen for the channel that one is currently watching by pushing the “INFO” button on the remote. In the main menu under “Settings” then “System info” A “Signal Quality” number can be seen for the channel one is on. Two negatives about this screen is that it does not auto refresh and the signal meter number is in increments of 5. My favorite signal meters are the ATSC tuners that show a signal number between 0-100 that auto refreshes which makes it much easier to adjust a TV antenna. I hope that a firmware update will improve the signal meter on the PHD-VRX.

ATSC channel data inside the program guide: Using tuner 1 for the TV antenna I am pulling in many TV stations. All stations in my area are 100% ATSC digital. Every channel was assigned a virtual channel number and also the channel name appears in the program guide. Also every channel has a program title information and almost all channels have detailed descriptions of the programs that are coming soon. Some channels only list 12 hours or less of detailed program descriptions while other channels I am getting up to 3 days worth of detailed program data. This process is all automatic and nothing needs to be done to receive this data. This includes ION channel detailed program descriptions showing up that some people have trouble with.

QAM channel data inside the program guide while using Verizon FIOS: Since the PHD-VRX does not use a CableCard (which requires a subscription), the channel mapping like all free subscription tuners will map the channels differently than a digital cable box like TIVO or Motorola. The channel numbers will be different on the PHD-VRX when compared to the digital cable box one rents from their cable company. A channel scan on the tuner 2 connected to Verizon FIOS produced results very similar to the ATSC program guide on tuner 1. Around 80% of the local QAM in the clear channels have the exact same channel number assigned to them as the ATSC tuner (Many are local 720P and 1080i HD channels). Also the channels are automatically labeled in the program guide with program title information and detailed program descriptions for those channels. This includes ION channel detailed program descriptions showing up that some people have trouble with. Verizon FIOS MPEG-2 local channels are bit for bit the same as the local ATSC master broadcast (some cable companies over compress channels since they are low on bandwidth). There were around 20% of the SD channels that the PHD-VRX could not find a channel name, program title, or detailed description. The channel name issue is no big deal since the PHD-VRX will allow one to manually label the channel numbers. My Pioneer A/V receiver allows me use a USB keyboard to name inputs so I decided to try a USB keyboard on the PHD-VRX. The PHD-VRX saw the USB keyboard when I plugged it in but the mapping for the keyboard buttons did not match up with the letters on the keyboard. So I unplugged the USB keyboard and used the wireless remote control to name the QAM channels. The QAM tuner scan is not perfect. There were some QAM channels I needed to delete since they were encrypted since the channel would show a 100% black screen. No QAM tuner is perfect and they all normally add a few extra channels that need to be deleted. I noticed under the master channel list it also lists several hundreds of channels that it has deleted from the channel lineup and program guide because the channel is encrypted. This PHD-VRX does not support encrypted programs since it has no Cable Card capability. Adding and deleting channels from the “Master List” is very easy, pressing the red “Skip” button the channel can be toggled on and off within the “Master List”. Also the “Master list” allows the in the clear channels to be viewed so that one does not have to toggle back and forth between the TV program and menu while manually adjusting which channels to delete or add. Another nice feature is the “Find Chanel” option that allows one to manually scan a RF channel and then the system software within a few seconds will add the new set of virtual digital channels if the channels exist. Find a channel is useful since one does not have to do a completley new channel scan. Video inputs and tuners can also be deleted and disabled from the main menu.

Close Captioning feature: The close captioning feature built into this PHD-VRX box worked for all ATSC and QAM channels that were close captioning encoded. With a simple double click of the “CC” button on the remote the close captioning feature will be activated. If one goes in to the main menu there is almost endless options for close captioning. From making the text super large, background color, font style, text color, and many more close captioning features that I have never seen before in a tuner box.

AUDIO button on remote: Pressing the “AUDIO” button on the remote will bring up the digital audio selection for the channel one is on. The audio button on the remote when pressed will display the Dolby Digital audio information available for the channel. If the audio information is unavailable from the channel provider then “Unknown AC3” will be displayed on the screen. If the audio information is only English then “eng” or some other similar name will be displayed. If the channel offers Spanish or French then pressing the “AUDIO” button on the remote will allow one to toggle to the second audio channel. For example when the audio was outputting English 5.1 Dolby Digital or English 2.0 Dolby Digital, toggling the “AUDIO” button to the Spanish mode offered a Spanish track in 2.0 Dolby Digital or Spanish 1.0 Dolby Digital depending on what is being sent by the broadcaster. It all depends on the channel one is watching. Both ATSC and Verizon FIOS QAM channels had Spanish audio available on some channels.

LOCKS feature: The “Locks” feature in the main menu allowed me to set a PIN lock that prevents one from doing a master factory reset of the entire PHD-VRX, lock out channels, and the option to disable all the buttons on the PHD-VRX accept for the master power switch on the far left. Locking out all the buttons on the front would be ideal for some one that wants to record. Once a PIN is setup that PIN can be changed to another PIN but in order to disable the PIN feature completely, a complete factory reset on the PHD-VRX is needed. To do a factory reset one has to remember there PIN number. If one sets the PIN number, one does not want to forget it since they cannot do a factory reset without the PIN number. After a factory reset the buttons on the PHD-VRX were still disabled and I had to setup a new PIN number in order to get into the “Locks” menu to enable the buttons on the PHD-VRX. A factory reset should return the “Front Panel Lock” option back to “off” instead of “on” but it does not. What is interesting is when the “Front Panel Lock” option is turned on if one power cycles the PHX-VRX using the master power switch on the far left it will reset the “Front Panel lock” option to off without the need for a PIN number.

VUDU Button: Currently the VUDU feature is not available yet. A future firmware update might offer 1080P VUDU. Then true native 1080P material will be able to be played threw the PHD-VRX.

NET Button: If the PHD-VRX is connected to your Internet service then YouTube videos can be played by pressing the “NET” button on the remote. The “NET” button will allow SD and HD YouTube videos to be played and the interface is very fast. There is no menu option to select 1080P YouTube resolution so the YouTube videos might just be native 480i/p upconverts or native 720P quality. Hopefully a future firmware update will offer a 1080P native YouTube resolution menu selection like one finds on Internet Explorer.

Ethernet port: The Sony PS3 supports 1Gbps networking speed but according to the PHD-VRX documentation it only handles up to 100Mbps networking speed. Verizon FIOS now offers internet speeds up to 300Mbps. It’s too bad the Ethernet jack is not 1Gbps on the PHD-VRX. This is a hardware limitation that cannot be improved with a software update.
Edited by HDTV1080P24 - 6/23/12 at 10:17pm
post #231 of 2203
Part two review on the PHD-VRX


Major issues that need to be fixed with a firmware update


1. Video quality issues: The PHD-VRX can only output 720P and 1080P with the HDMI output. If one owns an older EDTV with a 480i/p DVI input they would not be able to use this PHD-VRX product at all. The PHD-VRX should offer a firmware update to offer native source direct resolution, 480i, 480p, and 1080i over HDMI. Some consumers own A/V receivers and projectors with 4K scaling capability and a native source direct option on the PHD-VRX would be ideal for videophiles. Also the 1080P output should support 1080P at both 24fps and 60fps with a menu option. Right now there is no menu selection to select 24fps or 60fps on the PHD-VRX. For older 1080P displays 60Hz needs to be supported by having the box add 3:2 pulldown. For newer displays the PHD-VRX should have a 1080p/24 output mode. I verified that the PHD-VRX supports 1080p/24 inputs over HDMI using a Blu-ray player on the HDMI input. The 1080p/24 output from the OPPO BDP-93 was in 24fps force mode while playing a native 1080p/24 Blu-ray movie. System information on the PHD-VRX reported that 1080P/24 was received. The native feature should bypass the video processor completely and delivery the source direct pure bitstream. I did not like the picture control adjustments and wish I could feed a native channel directly to my Pioneer PRO-101FD monitor. I could not get the “Direct” picture menu option to work at all. That menu option needs to be fixed.

2. Major audio problem with HDMI (This is a big issue): The PHD-VRX converts all audio streams to 2.0 PCM over HDMI. When a channel contains 5.1 Dolby Digital the PHD-VRX will send 2.0 PCM instead. There absolutely needs to be a menu audio option that allows 5.1 Dolby Digital audio from ATSC and QAM channels to be streamed over the HDMI output so that consumers can use this product with a modern A/V receiver that allows HDMI switching. On a Digital HD cable box and Digital HD satellite receiver 5.1 Dolby Digital is always sent over HDMI when connected to a A/V receiver. Also the old brite-View BV-980H ATSC/QAM tuner passed 5.1 Dolby Digital over HDMI. The way the PHD-VRX firmware is setup now the HDMI output is designed for consumers that plan on plugging the box directly into their HDTV using a HDMI connection. Also the volume control was designed to only work for HDMI and not optical. The optical audio output is fixed volume level when turned on, and offers AC3 bitstream or 2.0 PCM. It is very ridiculous that there is not a menu option to allow the HDMI output to pass 2.0 and 5.1 Dolby Digital (bitstream AC3). I even plugged my OPPO BDP-93 into the PHD-VRX HDMI input just too see what it would do. The HDMI input is an active input and not passive. The 5.1 PCM and the 7.1 DTS HD-Master audio tracks from the Blu-ray player were converted to 2.0 PCM by the PHD-VRX. I almost returned this product when I found out the PHD-VRX does not pass native 2.0 and 5.1 Dolby Digital over the HDMI output. The work around was to run optical into the Pioneer Elite VSX-33 A/V receiver. Then I had to program the Pioneer to take the video from the HDMI output and the audio from the optical output. The optical output will pass 2.0 PCM or native AC3 (1.0-5.1 Dolby Digital) depending on the menu settings in the PHD-VRX. Some A/V receivers on the market might not be able to combine HDMI video with optical audio. I am lucky my Pioneer A/V receiver had the feature or I would have returned the PHD-VRX. This is a major issue for consumers with A/V receivers with HDMI inputs, the box needs to be able to pass AC3 over HDMI. Also the volume level is a lot lower over 2.0 PCM HDMI when compare to 2.0 PCM optical (The HDMI volume on the PHD-VRX was turned all the way up).

Minor firmware updates that EpVision programmers might want to consider working on


1. Electronic program guide: It would be nice to have one program guide that integrates the cable channels from one tuner and the over the air broadcasts channels from the other tuner into one program guide. Instead the PHD-VRX has two program guides. In some ways, I like having two separate program guides since most the channels coming in from the TV antenna are exactly the same as the ones coming in from the cable TV system. If a future firmware update would every combine the two program guides into one then they need to make sure the program guide clearly marks what channels are from which signal source. For example Direct TV owners can purchase an external dual tuner ATSC tuner that connects to a dual satellite tuner HD DVR. Sometimes the same exact station can be received by satellite, so the Direct TV program guide will clearly mark which channels are from the ATSC tuner and which channels are from the satellite tuners. TIVO also has a program guide that integrates cable and ATSC channels. If one started to record programs, the ideal setup would be to have one program guide for both tuners instead of two separate program guides. For example tuner 1 could have a different color for the channel numbers then tuner 2 if the PHD-VRX is pulling in two separate signal sources. Of course if tuner 1 and 2 are receiving the same signal source then they would need to be the same color and label in the program guide. If Direct TV and TIVO can integrate ATSC channels into one program guide so could EpVision with a software update.

2. Automatic firmware update option: The ability of the PHD-VRX to be able to automatically and manually install firmware updates over the Internet would be ideal. Right now USB flash drives is the only method for firmware updates.

3. Offer manual channel map creation: One can now name the names of the channels manually. It would be neat if there were an option to manually configure the virtual channel number. If I could assign any virtual channel number to a RF channel I could create my own channel mapping system that would allow the channels to match up with a Digital cable box one rents from the cable company.

4. Open source Linux firmware update: It would be awesome if consumers could write their own Linux code so the operating system and overall product could be customized by those consumers that have programming knowledge and experience. This might also be a bad ideal since poorly written code could crash the unit and turn it into a paper weight.

5. Add USB keyboard mapping firmware update: Currently while using a USB keyboard the keyboard buttons did not match up with the letters on the keyboard. Using a keyboard for channel labeling and for YouTube would be a nice feature.

6. Onscreen graphics option update for 480i composite video: In option in the menu to turn on the on screen menu graphics for 480i composite output might generate more product sells for those consumers with old CRT TV’s and displays that only have a composite input.

7. Make an improved signal meter screen: My favorite signal meters are the ATSC tuners that show a signal number between 0-100 that auto refreshes which makes it much easier to adjust a TV antenna with rotor. I hope that a firmware update will improve the signal meter on the PHD-VRX.

8. Under the Master Channel list mark the ones that are encrypted: I have seen some QAM tuners have the ability to label with the word “Encrypted” in their master channel list for the QAM channels that are encrypted. This would be a nice feature to add so that consumer when editing the channel list can ignore the encrypted channels that this PHD-VRX is not capable to receive.

9. The Locks feature needs a software improvement: After a factory reset the buttons on the PHD-VRX were still disabled and I had to setup a new PIN number in order to get into the “Locks” menu to enable the buttons on the PHD-VRX. A factory reset should return the “Front Panel Lock” option back to “off” instead of “on”, but it does not. What is interesting is when the “Front Panel Lock” option is turned “on” if one power cycles the PHX-VRX using the master power switch on the far left it will reset the “Front Panel lock” option to “off” without the need for a PIN number.

10. Offer a firmware update that supports 3TB and larger USB drives: According to the documentation up to 2TB USB drives are supported. Maybe a future firmware update will allow larger external hard drives.

11. Will not pass lossless audio from the HDMI output when Blu-ray player connected: This is a minor issue since most people that own a Blu-ray player will run it directly into a A/V receiver and not the PHD-VRX HDMI input. It would be ideal if the PHD-VRX would have a passive/active output mode that would pass lossless audio bitstream formats like 5.1-7.1 PCM, DTS-HD Master audio, Dolby True HD. Right now the PHD-VRX converts 5.1-7.1 PCM and DTS Master audio to 2.0 PCM over HDMI.

In conclusion this EpVision PHD-VRX tuner overall quality setup and selection is the best subscription free ATSC/QAM tuner box that I have every used. I have seen ATSC/QAM boxes from electronic companies with many more serious problems when it comes to tuner quality and performance. The dual RF input option for the TV antenna and cable TV option is only available for older TIVO boxes and the new PHD-VRX. The 2 RF inputs with 4 channel map memories is the biggest advantage of this product over the competition. Using the EpVision PHD-VRX as a tuner I found the product to be extremely stable with no lock ups. The wireless remote needs to be pointed directly at the PHD-VRX and I wish it had better range. One of the major weakness is that the PHD-VRX does not offer a CablecCard slot for the encrypted programs one might want to subscribe too in the future. That’s one area the TIVO boxes are more attractive. If EpVision fixes the two major video and audio issues with a firmware update that I mentioned in the review then this will be an excellent product for around $199.95 ($229.95 list price). Plus the ability to play YouTube videos is a bonus feature with the possibility for VUDU in the future (All modern Blu-ray players for around $75 and under also offer streaming services). This product is not for everyone. A TIVO box is the ultimate for ease of use and support. The PHD-VRX is for someone that only watches local in the clear ATSC and/or QAM channels and wants no monthly subscription fee. It should be noted that I have not plugged in a 2TB external hard drive to test how the product performs as a 2 tuner HD-DVR. There might be all kinds of issues recording on this unit.
Edited by HDTV1080P24 - 6/23/12 at 7:50pm
post #232 of 2203
Thread Starter 
I think I've just been upstaged. redface.gif
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The EpVision programmers should write a firmware update that allows consumers to automatically or manually get firmware updates over the Internet
Nice, but considering everything else that is wrong with this, having on their website is fine with me.
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The full product manual will be offered free on line in a PDF version once the company finishes creating it.
I've had this three months with NO manual as I already stated. Try to figure all of this out w/o one. wink.gif
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I was disappointed with the plastic protective wrap that covered the entire black case of the PHD-VRX unit.
Mine didn't have this. This is very surprising. Maybe someone read my comment on how easily the case is to scratch?
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My EpVision PHD-VRX that I purchased has all the exact same inputs and outputs that are found in the companies rear panel stock picture but my unit looked slightly different in the rear (My unit had an area that component video outputs were designed to be installed but for cost cutting reasons no component video outputs were installed) .
This was stated in my earlier posts.
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The 480i output does not show any onscreen graphics
Also stated and I believe it was in their specs somewhere. I guess this would only be for someone wanting to record to a VCR or DVD recorder.
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The purpose of the video inputs is to use the PHD-VRX as a upscaling video source switcher for those consumers that do not own an A/V receiver with HDMI video upscaling.
I commented on this since much of this unit is based on their Media Switcher.
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I was slightly disappointed that the power cord is not detachable on the PHD-VRX.
But, at least it isn't a 'brick'. wink.gif
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This PHD-VRX also has 4 channel map memories. Tuner 1 has one over the air channel map memory that will scan between channels 2-69 looking for both analog NTSC and ATSC digital channels. Tuner number 1 can also be setup to scan cable channels 1-135 looking for both analog NTSC and QAM digital channels (Two channel maps for tuner 1). Tuner 2 has one over the air channel map memory that will scan between channels 2-69 looking for only digital ATSC channels. Tuner 2 can also be setup to scan for cable channels 1-135 looking for only digital QAM channels (Two channel map memories for tuner 2).
As posted and I discovered by accident.
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Using two separate TV antennas pointed in different directions with the PHD-VRX.
You got me here. I never thought of this aspect, especially since it apples where I live. Excellent point!
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The channel changing for both ATSC and QAM is one of the fastest tuners I have used
I might have to disagree with you here, but admittedly, I have never timed any. remember, this does not 'timeshift' continuously like many other DVR's (TiVo & Sony for starters) so that along will speed things up somewhat.
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A bar graph with signal strength can be seen for the channel that one is currently watching by pushing the “INFO” button on the remote. In the main menu under “Settings” then “System info” A “Signal Quality” number can be seen for the channel one is on. Two negatives about this screen is that it does not auto refresh and the signal meter number is in increments of 5.
I've yet to see a 'decent' indicator for signal quality.
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The QAM tuner scan is not perfect. There were some QAM channels I needed to delete since they were encrypted since the channel would show a 100% black screen. No QAM tuner is perfect and they all normally add a few extra channels that need to be deleted. I noticed under the master channel list it also lists several hundreds of channels that it has deleted from the channel lineup and program guide because the channel is encrypted...........Another nice feature is the “Find Chanel” option that allows one to manually scan a RF channel and then the system software within a few seconds will add the new set of virtual digital channels if the channels exist. Find a channel is useful since one does not have to do a completley new channel scan.
This is why I suggested NOT to do a scan, rather, use the "Find Channel" function to enter the physical channels in one at a time (as long as you know your physical channel numbers).
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The PHD-VRX can only output 720P and 1080P with the HDMI output.
This was changed in the latest firmware as it use to do 480p. Not a good idea.
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I did not like the picture control adjustments and wish I could feed a native channel directly to my Pioneer PRO-101FD monitor. I could not get the “Direct” picture menu option to work at all.
Not having mu unit here, I don't recall this function.
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The PHD-VRX converts all audio streams to 2.0 PCM over HDMI. When a channel contains 5.1 Dolby Digital the PHD-VRX will send 2.0 PCM instead.
I never tested this since I was mostly concerned about video (hence my handle). redface.gif
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Also the volume control was designed to only work for HDMI and not optical.
Well that answers why the audio controls have no effect. I've only asked that three times so far with no response.
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The work around was to run optical into the Pioneer Elite VSX-33 A/V receiver.
I only use HDMI for video, audio stays on a separate path (optical or coaxial).
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It would be nice to have one program guide that integrates the cable channels from one tuner and the over the air broadcasts channels from the other tuner into one program guide.
As far as I know, the Guide has been and still is their number one problem, I believe it was the major reason the release was held up.
I have already strongly suggested to combine tuners into one Guide more than once. Jumping back and forth is ridiculous.
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It would be awesome if consumers could write their own Linux code
This has already been suggested and partially discussed in this thread by a couple of advanced members. No one has really stepped forward yet.
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Under the Master Channel list mark the ones that are encrypted:
Encrypted channels won't have any channel label (though so do a few unencrypted).
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One of the major weakness is that the PHD-VRX does not offer a CablecCard slot for the encrypted programs one might want to subscribe too in the future.
This has been brought so many times starting two years ago when this was announced. Since it would be a major, expensive upgrade, I seriously doubt anyone will ever see it from a small company as this.
Edited by videobruce - 6/23/12 at 8:31pm
post #233 of 2203
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Originally Posted by videobruce View Post

I think I've just been upstaged. redface.gif
I will print all of that out and comment on specifics.
Yours has component outputs?? biggrin.gif

It has an area for component outputs labeled on the metal plate but the outputs are not physically there. So no it does not. smile.gif
post #234 of 2203
Outstanding review. Thank you.
post #235 of 2203
HDTV1080P24---

I don't know what colors you used for your post, but the attached picture shows what it looks like to those of us using the "Dark" skin . . .

375

I guess I would agree with you 100% . . . This is a BIG issue........
post #236 of 2203
Quote:
Originally Posted by WS65711 View Post

HDTV1080P24---
I don't know what colors you used for your post, but the attached picture shows what it looks like to those of us using the "Dark" skin . . .
375
I guess I would agree with you 100% . . . This is a BIG issue........

I am sorry you are having trouble reading the post. Since I did spend so much time writing it I posted it on another website also as a backup. 99.9% of the post is normal black letters copied and pasted from Microsoft Word.
post #237 of 2203
Thread Starter 
WS65711;
One of the 1st things I did with the new format is to loose that black background! Do this under Preferences. wink.gif
post #238 of 2203
Ok... well I'll just quote the whole enchilada here to make it readable for the Dark Skin users . . .
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Originally Posted by HDTV1080P24 View Post

EpVision PHD-VRX is the best subscription free ATSC/QAM tuner box that I have every used so far

This review does not cover the recording feature since I have not tested that feature out yet (requires external USB drive to record)

Also this PHD-VRX product is not perfect and needs a firmware update to better handle video and audio signals (see part 2 review comments under video and audio)

The following are brief comparisons between the TIVO Premiere XL+ and EpVision PHD-VRX

For almost a decade I have had experience using several different ATSC tuners that are subscription free. External standalone ATSC tuners with and without QAM, ATSC tuners built into D-VHS, and ATSC/QAM TV tuners built into a TV. I am also very familiar with Digital HD DVR cable boxes like Motorola and others. Plus I have used Direct TV HD DVR’s before like the HR-21 PRO.

High-end products like the Tivo Premiere and Tivo Premiere XL will allow recording of both over the air ATSC channels and encrypted cable channels with a CableCard. I have heard many times that TIVO is very easy product to use that automatically maps channels into the program guide. I have no doubt that the TIVO box is the best way to go for quality, and possible in the future I might purchase a TIVO box.

The reason I purchased the EpVision PHD-VRX dual tuner box instead of a TIVO is because a minimum of 99% of my TV watching is Blu-ray discs since Blu-ray offers the best picture and sound quality for the consumer. My other family members in the house rent Version FIOS HD DVR’s with a subscription to many 1080i premium channels like HBO and Showtime. For me purchasing a TIVO would be a waste of money since I would not use or watch all the channels on it. Instead, when I want to watch a movie I can go rent a Blu-ray at Red box for $1.50 that will offer me 1080P quality video with 5.1-7.1 lossless audio that is bit for bit the same as the audio studio master.

Also looking at the TIVO it costs $249.99 for a new Premiere XL + $499.99 for a lifetime subscription + for the QAM tuner program guide to work another $47.88 a year needs to be paid to Verizon for the CableCard rental. So I am looking at a minimum of $797.86 for my first year with the TIVO Premiere XL+. If I am going to pay around $800 for the TIVO then I would also want to get a high-end 7,200 RPM 2TB hard drive with an external hard drive case for around $200. So the real cost after the first year of the TIVO Premiere XL is around $1,000. Plus another $47.88 every single year needs to be paid for the CableCard rental from Verizon FIOS (The CableCards are nice since they unencrypt the cable channels one is paying for and they automatically setup a channel map with electronic program guide). The real negative thing about the TIVO is that after I pay $1,000 for it I still will not be able to access all the channels and features that the Verizon Motorola HD DVR offers. The TIVO does not work with Verizon FIOS video on demand, on screen Caller ID, and GUI. If TIVO would come out with a new TIVO that is 100% compatible with Verizon FIOS and other cable companies video on demand and GUI’s then I would most likely purchase a TIVO. I also refuse to rent a HD DVR cable box from Verizon FIOS and prefer to own my own equipment.

So since 99% of my TV watching is Blu-ray disc the EpVision PHD-VRX will meet my needs. At a costs of $229.95 it is ideal to use with a high-end monitor like the Pioneer PRO-101FD. If I decide to record I can get a top of the line 2TB 7,200 RPM hard drive with external hard drive enclosure for around $200. So my final cost will be $429.95 maximum for the PHD-VRX (there are cheaper 2TB USB hard drive options and $150 or lower is also possible for the hard drive).
Hands on review of the EpVision PHD-VRX starts here


On June 11th 2012 I received the EpVision PHD-VRX. List price was $229.95 plus I had a $20 coupon which brought the unit down to $209.95 + $18.68 for shipping. I missed out on the $30 coupon code. The $229.95 EpVision PHD-VRX is now available for $199.95 + shipping for those that have a $30 off coupon code from their email newsletter (coupon expires on June 30th 2012).

Firmware used for this review: When I received my PHD-VRX it came with firmware version VRX.242.18.10 already installed. That is the latest firmware available. One disappointment with this product is that a firmware update cannot be installed over the Internet using the onscreen menus. Current firmware updates require a USB flash drive. The EpVision programmers should write a firmware update that allows consumers to automatically or manually get firmware updates over the Internet just like a Blu-ray player does.

Packing comments: The unit was packed well and double boxed. The colorfully retail display box was very attractive. The retail box says it’s a “Full HD 1080p Dual Tuner Digital HDTV Recorder Receiver and Media Center Box”. At this time there is no native 1080P content available. The 480i ATSC/QAM SD and 720P-1080i HD channels are upconverted to 1080P. The YouTube SD and HD videos have no option in the menu to play at 1080P. As far as I can tell this PHD-VRX does not play native 1080P YouTube videos since there is no 1080P selection when playing a HD YouTube video. Perhaps in the future 1080P VUDU or 1080P Netflix might become available. It also says on the front and rear of the retail box in big bold letters “Watch and Record Free HDTV!!” If this product becomes available in retail stores then there should be small print that says that a USB hard drive or high-end USB flash drive is required to activate the record feature.

When I opened the retail box the PHD-VRX came with a HDMI cable, remote control, batteries, and a Quick Start Guide. The full product manual will be offered free on line in a PDF version once the company finishes creating it. In the mean time consumers can download 5 different manuals on the product so far:

PHD-VRX Quick Start Guide

PHD-VRX Recording Features Guide

PHD-VRX Timeshifting Features Guide

PHD-VRX Remote Control IR Codes

PHD-VRX Firmware instructions

Direct website for ordering

I was disappointed with the plastic protective wrap that covered the entire black case of the PHD-VRX unit. It took me like 5 to 10 minutes to remove it. I almost did not see the thin plastic that covers the black case including the vents on the unit. When peeling off the plastic the plastic did not come off in one piece but 20 or 30 little pieces. Some of the plastic got stock in the vents and I used a special technique and soft plastic tool to get the plastic residue and small pieces of plastic out of the vents. I am surprised they shipped the unit with a thin piece of plastic that covers the vents. Hopefully future units will not have that plastic coating on the entire top cover and sides. I know the reason for the plastic is to protect the case from being scratched but there are other shipping materials one can use instead of a big sheet of plastic that is hard to peel off.

Rear panel comments: (click here for rear panel picture): My EpVision PHD-VRX that I purchased has all the exact same inputs and outputs that are found in the companies rear panel stock picture but my unit looked slightly different in the rear (My unit had an area that component video outputs were designed to be installed but for cost cutting reasons no component video outputs were installed) . The EpVision PHD-VRX was designed for consumers that have modern HD displays with a HDMI or DVI input. If one owns a display with a HDMI or DVI input then the EpVision PHD-VRX is an ideal product. An older DVI display requires a HDMI to DVI adapter. There is no component video output or S-Video output for legacy analog displays. In addition the 480i composite output is simultaneously active with the 1080P HDMI output. The 480i output does not show any onscreen graphics which makes it ideal for someone to connect an old legacy VHS recorder to record onto a video tape without having to worry about any onscreen menus showing up on the recording. Since the 480i composite output shows no menus or onscreen graphics at all it also makes this unit not usable for someone that only owns a legacy 480i TV set. This product is only recommended for those consumers that have a display with a HDMI or DVI input since a display with 480i composite video inputs will not be able to display the onscreen menus under the current firmware version.

So the only outputs of the PHD-VRX is the HDMI, 480i composite video, 5.1 Dolby Digital optical output, and left and right analog stereo. The inputs on the unit are HDMI, component video input, 480i composite input, left and right analog stereo input, VGA video input with VGA audio input, 2 RF inputs, 2 USB, and 1 100Mbps Ethernet jack(also support legacy 10Mbps). The only inputs that can be used for recording are the 2 RF inputs. The HDMI input and all the other analog inputs are not recordable inputs. The purpose of the video inputs is to use the PHD-VRX as a upscaling video source switcher for those consumers that do not own an A/V receiver with HDMI video upscaling.

I was slightly disappointed that the power cord is not detachable on the PHD-VRX. Most modern electronics like Blu-ray players, A/V receivers, and TV’s use a detachable power cord that can be replaced if damaged. If the power cord in the future becomes damaged on the PHD-VRX then the box needs to be sent back to the factory to be repaired or if the unit is out of warranty consumers that are experienced with soldering irons and electronics can open the unit up and install a new power cord.

Outstanding tuner quality and easy to use menus: When I plugged in the PHD-VRX I discovered it had very easy to use menus. The PHD-VRX automatically set the time to the exact time soon after I gave it my time zone information. The first tuner is the best quality since it offers NTSC/ATSC/QAM. The second tuner is a lower cost tuner that only offers ATSC/QAM. This PHD-VRX also has 4 channel map memories. Tuner 1 has one over the air channel map memory that will scan between channels 2-69 looking for both analog NTSC and ATSC digital channels. Tuner number 1 can also be setup to scan cable channels 1-135 looking for both analog NTSC and QAM digital channels (Two channel maps for tuner 1). Tuner 2 has one over the air channel map memory that will scan between channels 2-69 looking for only digital ATSC channels. Tuner 2 can also be setup to scan for cable channels 1-135 looking for only digital QAM channels (Two channel map memories for tuner 2). Where I live in the United States I was unable to use or test the NTSC section of tuner 1 since 100% of my local over the air broadcasts are ATSC digital. In fact 100% of all full power TV stations in the United States use ATSC digital now. Only in some areas of the USA one might be able to find a low power NTSC TV channel. Also when scanning for ATSC channels in the USA channels 2-69 do not need to be scanned since spectrum frequencies were taken away from the broadcasters. Now only ATSC channels 7-51 is used in the USA for over the air broadcasts. The PHD-VRX might be used in Canada or Mexico where analog and digital channels between 2-69 might be available (Canada is mostly ATSC now but might use the full channel spectrum of 2-69). Also since I subscribe to Verizon FIOS they use 100% digital QAM which makes it impossible for me to test the NTSC tuner unless I subscribe to my second cable provider in the city I live in which is Comcast. Comcast and a few other cable companies still have some analog NTSC cable Channels. In the future cable companies will be switching to 100% QAM like Verizon. Also more and more cable companies in the years to come will start switching from MPEG-2 to MPEG-4 to increase virtual channel bandwidth. Verizon FIOS does not use MPEG-4 yet. The PHD-VRX like all other subscription free boxes on the market only supports MPEG-2 channels. ATSC over the air channels are 100% MPEG-2 with up to 5.1 Dolby Digital. If one lives in an area that has a cable company that uses in the clear MPEG-4 channels then they will not be able to use the PHD-VRX to watch those in the clear MPEG-4 QAM channels. I know of no consumer tuners on the market that support MPEG-4 QAM channels yet.

The unique exclusive features of the PHD-VRX: The PHD-VRX has two RF inputs that allow consumers to switch back and forth between over the air broadcasts and cable TV programs. It should be noted that this PHD-VRX does not support a CableCard option like the TIVO models. What this means is that digital QAM cable channels received by this unit are limited to in the in the clear unencrypted channels. You will not be able to watch premium movie channels like HBO and Showtime and on most cable systems, you will be limited to the same channels that an outdoor antenna receives like NBC, CBS, FOX, ABC, etc. In the earlier years back around 2005 most consumers did not have QAM tuners and cable companies transmitted many in the clear channels including some premium channels. Times have changed and cable companies are encrypting almost all MPEG-2 QAM channels except for local SD and HD channels. In the future possible cable companies in the years to come could start encrypting 100% of all channels including local SD and HD channels. If that day comes then the value of this PHD-VRX product will be cut in half since it would no longer be able to be used on a cable system (That day might never happen but it is a possibility depending on the plans of the cable companies nationwide).

How to use the two RF inputs: These two RF inputs do not have any built in A/B switch so one cannot assign both over the air broadcasts signals and cable signals to the exact same tuner at once.

1. For consumers that want to connect the PHD-VRX to both a TV antenna and cable TV: If you have Verizon FIOS which uses 100% digital QAM and 100% of all your over the air channels are digital ATSC then it will not matter what RF input you use. On the other hand if you live in an area that has a low power NTSC channel then you should connect your TV antenna to RF input 1 and Verizon FIOS should be connected to RF input number 2. If your cable company is not 100% digital QAM (offers some analog NTSC channels) then you should connect the cable signal to RF input number 1 and the outdoor antenna to RF input number 2. In most dual signal setups the cable signal being connected to RF input 1 is ideal and the antenna should be connected to RF input number 2.

2. For consumers that only have cable TV or only have a TV antenna (one signal source): There is no built in signal splitter for the PHD-VRX so an external splitter needs to be used if one wants to use both tuners. Connecting an external 75 ohm TV splitter will allow one to use both tuners.

3. Using two cable systems with the PHD-VRX: Some consumers and businesses subscribe to two separate cable companies for Internet and TV as a backup in case one provider has an outage. If one has Verizon FIOS then the PHD-VRX should be connected to RF input 2 since Verizon FIOS is 100% digital QAM. If your second Cable provider offers some NTSC channels like Comcast then RF input 1 should be used so one can receive both the NTSC and QAM channels.

4. Using two separate TV antennas pointed in different directions with the PHD-VRX. All my TV antenna setups I have used have a rotor that allows the outdoor or indoor attic antenna to be turned 360 degrees. Some consumers might prefer using a combination of antenna configurations like outdoor antennas or indoor antennas pointed in different directions. Sometimes the way signals travel there are special needs some people have. If one lives in an area that is 100% digital ATSC for broadcasts then it should not matter which RF input one uses unless tuner number 1 is better quality then tuner number 2 when it comes to weak ATSC channels. The only listed advantage of tuner number 1 is that it supports NTSC. If one receives a low power NTSC channel then RF input number 1 should be used for the antenna pointed toward that station.

PHD-VRX tuner quality and channel mapping qualities are excellent: The PHD-VRX channel scanning speed for ATSC and QAM is very fast and accurate. It found several ATSC channels and several Verizon FIOS QAM channels in my area. With tuner 1 connected to my TV antenna it pulled in a few more channels compared to any other tuner I have owned before. Weak ATSC channels that use to have digital artifacts, had a perfect digital picture and one could not tell the signal was weak since the picture and sound was rock solid. Of course extremely weak fringe channels became unwatchable when the signal dropped to low. Tuner number two connected to Verizon FIOS 100% QAM network detected all the digital QAM channels plus the QAM tuner was the best I have seen since it mapped the channels better than any other subscription free QAM tuner yet. 99% of the QAM channels I am able to view are all local HD and SD. Around 1% are a few channels that are unique basic cable channels. With a push of the “TV” button on the remote I am able to toggle back and forth between tuner 1 and tuner 2 within 1-2 seconds. The channel changing for both ATSC and QAM is one of the fastest tuners I have used (Perhaps if I was recording a HD program on one tuner it might slow things down a little, but I have not connected an external USB 2TB hard drive yet for recording). A bar graph with signal strength can be seen for the channel that one is currently watching by pushing the “INFO” button on the remote. In the main menu under “Settings” then “System info” A “Signal Quality” number can be seen for the channel one is on. Two negatives about this screen is that it does not auto refresh and the signal meter number is in increments of 5. My favorite signal meters are the ATSC tuners that show a signal number between 0-100 that auto refreshes which makes it much easier to adjust a TV antenna. I hope that a firmware update will improve the signal meter on the PHD-VRX.

ATSC channel data inside the program guide: Using tuner 1 for the TV antenna I am pulling in many TV stations. All stations in my area are 100% ATSC digital. Every channel was assigned a virtual channel number and also the channel name appears in the program guide. Also every channel has a program title information and almost all channels have detailed descriptions of the programs that are coming soon. Some channels only list 12 hours or less of detailed program descriptions while other channels I am getting up to 3 days worth of detailed program data. This process is all automatic and nothing needs to be done to receive this data. This includes ION channel detailed program descriptions showing up that some people have trouble with.

QAM channel data inside the program guide while using Verizon FIOS: Since the PHD-VRX does not use a CableCard (which requires a subscription), the channel mapping like all free subscription tuners will map the channels differently than a digital cable box like TIVO or Motorola. The channel numbers will be different on the PHD-VRX when compared the digital cable box one rents from their cable company. A channel scan on the tuner 2 connected to Verizon FIOS produced results very similar to the ATSC program guide on tuner 1. Around 80% of the local QAM in the clear channels have the exact same channel number assigned to them as the ATSC tuner (Many are local 720P and 1080i HD channels). Also the channels are automatically labeled in the program guide with program title information and detailed program descriptions for those channels. This includes ION channel detailed program descriptions showing up that some people have trouble with. Verizon FIOS MPEG-2 local channels are bit for bit the same as the local ATSC master broadcast (some cable companies over compress channels since they are low on bandwidth). There were around 20% of the SD channels that the PHD-VRX could not find a channel name, program title, or detailed description. The channel name issue is no big deal since the PHD-VRX will allow one to manually label the channel numbers. My Pioneer A/V receiver allows me use a USB keyboard to name inputs so I decided to try a USB keyboard on the PHD-VRX. The PHD-VRX saw the USB keyboard when I plugged it in but the mapping for the keyboard buttons did not match up with the letters on the keyboard. So I unplugged the USB keyboard and used the wireless remote control to name the QAM channels. The QAM tuner scan is not perfect. There were some QAM channels I needed to delete since they were encrypted since the channel would show a 100% black screen. No QAM tuner is perfect and they all normally add a few extra channels that need to be deleted. I noticed under the master channel list it also lists several hundreds of channels that it has deleted from the channel lineup and program guide because the channel is encrypted. This PHD-VRX does not support encrypted programs since it has no Cable Card capability. Adding and deleting channels from the “Master List” is very easy, pressing the red “Skip” button the channel can be toggled on and off within the “Master List”. Also the “Master list” allows the in the clear channels to be viewed so that one does not have to toggle back and forth between the TV program and menu while manually adjusting which channels to delete or add. Another nice feature is the “Find Chanel” option that allows one to manually scan a RF channel and then the system software within a few seconds will add the new set of virtual digital channels if the channels exist. Find a channel is useful since one does not have to do a completley new channel scan. Video inputs and tuners can also be deleted and disabled from the main menu.

Close Captioning feature: The close captioning feature built into this PHD-VRX box worked for all ATSC and QAM channels that were close captioning encoded. With a simple double click of the “CC” button on the remote the close captioning feature will be activated. If one goes in to the main menu there is almost endless options for close captioning. From making the text super large, background color, font style, text color, and many more close captioning features that I have never seen before in a tuner box.

AUDIO button on remote: Pressing the “AUDIO” button on the remote will bring up the digital audio selection for the channel one is on. The audio button on the remote when pressed will display the Dolby Digital audio information available for the channel. If the audio information is unavailable from the channel provider then “Unknown AC3” will be displayed on the screen. If the audio information is only English then “eng” or some other similar name will be displayed. If the channel offers Spanish or French then pressing the “AUDIO” button on the remote will allow one to toggle to the second audio channel. For example when the audio was outputting English 5.1 Dolby Digital or English 2.0 Dolby Digital, toggling the “AUDIO” button to the Spanish mode offered a Spanish track in 2.0 Dolby Digital or Spanish 1.0 Dolby Digital depending on what is being sent by the broadcaster. It all depends on the channel one is watching. Both ATSC and Verizon FIOS QAM channels had Spanish audio available on some channels.

LOCKS feature: The “Locks” feature in the main menu allowed me to set a PIN lock that prevents one from doing a master factory reset of the entire PHD-VRX, lock out channels, and the option to disable all the buttons on the PHD-VRX accept for the master power switch on the far left. Locking out all the buttons on the front would be ideal for some one that wants to record. Once a PIN is setup that PIN can be changed to another PIN but in order to disable the PIN feature completely, a complete factory reset on the PHD-VRX is needed. To do a factory reset one has to remember there PIN number. If one sets the PIN number, one does not want to forget it since they cannot do a factory reset without the PIN number. After a factory reset the buttons on the PHD-VRX were still disabled and I had to setup a new PIN number in order to get into the “Locks” menu to enable the buttons on the PHD-VRX. A factory reset should return the “Front Panel Lock” option back to “off” instead of “on” but it does not. What is interesting is when the “Front Panel Lock” option is turned on if one power cycles the PHX-VRX using the master power switch on the far left it will reset the “Front Panel lock” option to off without the need for a PIN number.

VUDU Button: Currently the VUDU feature is not available yet. A future firmware update might offer 1080P VUDU. Then true native 1080P material will be able to be played threw the PHD-VRX.

NET Button: If the PHD-VRX is connected to your Internet serrvice then YuuTube videos can be played by pressing the “NET” button on the remote. The “NET” button will allow SD and HD YouTube videos to be played and the interface is very fast. There is no menu option to select 1080P YouTube resolution so the YouTube videos might just be native 480i/p upconverts or native 720P quality. Hopefully a future firmware update will offer a 1080P native YouTube resolution menu selection like one finds on Internet Explorer.

Ethernet port: The Sony PS3 supports 1Gbps networking speed but according to the PHD-VRX documentation it only handles up to 100Mbps networking speed. Verizon FIOS now offers internet speeds up to 300Mbps. It’s too bad the Ethernet jack is not 1Gbps on the PHD-VRX. This is a hardware limitation that cannot be improved with a software update.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HDTV1080P24 View Post

Part two review on the PHD-VRX


Major issues that need to be fixed with a firmware update


1. Video quality issues: The PHD-VRX can only output 720P and 1080P with the HDMI output. If one owns an older EDTV with a 480i/p DVI input they would not be able to use this PHD-VRX product at all. The PHD-VRX should offer a firmware update to offer native source direct resolution, 480i, 480p, and 1080i over HDMI. Some consumers own A/V receivers and projectors with 4K scaling capability and a native source direct option on the PHD-VRX would be ideal for videophiles. Also the 1080P output should support 1080P at both 24fps and 60fps with a menu option. Right now there is no menu selection to select 24fps or 60fps on the PHD-VRX. For older 1080P displays 60Hz needs to be supported by having the box add 3:2 pulldown. For newer displays the PHD-VRX should have a 1080p/24 output mode. I verified that the PHD-VRX supports 1080p/24 inputs over HDMI using a Blu-ray player on the HDMI input. The 1080p/24 output from the OPPO BDP-93 was in 24fps force mode while playing a native 1080p/24 Blu-ray movie. System information on the PHD-VRX reported that 1080P/24 was received. The native feature should bypass the video processor completely and delivery the source direct pure bit stream. I did not like the picture control adjustments and wish I could feed a native channel directly to my Pioneer PRO-101FD monitor. I could not get the “Direct” picture menu option to work at all. That menu option needs to be fixed.

2. Major audio problem with HDMI (This is a big issue): The PHD-VRX converts all audio streams to 2.0 PCM over HDMI. When a channel contains 5.1 Dolby Digital the PHD-VRX will send 2.0 PCM instead. There absolutely needs to be a menu audio option that allows 5.1 Dolby Digital audio from ATSC and QAM channels to be streamed over the HDMI output so that consumers can use this product with a modern A/V receiver that allows HDMI switching. On a Digital HD cable box and Digital HD satellite receiver 5.1 Dolby Digital is always sent over HDMI when connected to a A/V receiver. Also the old brite-View BV-980H ATSC/QAM tuner passed 5.1 Dolby Digital over HDMI. The way the PHD-VRX firmware is setup now the HDMI output is designed for consumers that plan on plugging the box directly into their HDTV using a HDMI connection. Also the volume control was designed to only work for HDMI and not optical. The optical audio output is fixed volume level when turned on, and offers AC3 bitstream or 2.0 PCM. It is very ridiculous that there is not a menu option to allow the HDMI output to pass 2.0 and 5.1 Dolby Digital (bitstream AC3). I even plugged my OPPO BDP-93 into the PHD-VRX HDMI input just too see what it would do. The HDMI input is an active input and not passive. The 5.1 PCM and the 7.1 DTS HD-Master audio tracks from the Blu-ray player were converted to 2.0 PCM by the PHD-VRX. I almost returned this product when I found out the PHD-VRX does not pass native 2.0 and 5.1 Dolby Digital over the HDMI output. The work around was to run optical into the Pioneer Elite VSX-33 A/V receiver. Then I had to program the Pioneer to take the video from the HDMI output and the audio from the optical output. The optical output will pass 2.0 PCM or native AC3 (1.0-5.1 Dolby Digital) depending on the menu settings in the PHD-VRX. Some A/V receivers on the market might not be able to combine HDMI video with optical audio. I am lucky my Pioneer A/V receiver had the feature or I would have returned the PHD-VRX. This is a major issue for consumers with A/V receivers with HDMI inputs, the box needs to be able to pass AC3 over HDMI. Also the volume level is a lot lower over 2.0 PCM HDMI when compare to 2.0 PCM optical (The HDMI volume on the PHD-VRX was turned all the way up).

Minor firmware updates that EpVision programmers might want to consider working on


1. Electronic program guide: It would be nice to have one program guide that integrates the cable channels from one tuner and the over the air broadcasts channels from the other tuner into one program guide. Instead the PHD-VRX has two program guides. In some ways, I like having two separate program guides since most the channels coming in from the TV antenna are exactly the same as the ones coming in from the cable TV system. If a future firmware update would every combine the two program guides into one then they need to make sure the program guide clearly marks what channels are from which signal source. For example Direct TV owners can purchase an external dual tuner ATSC tuner that connects to a dual satellite tuner HD DVR. Sometimes the same exact station can be received by satellite, so the Direct TV program guide will clearly mark which channels are from the ATSC tuner and which channels are from the satellite tuners. TIVO also has a program guide that integrates cable and ATSC channels. If one started to record programs, the ideal setup would be to have one program guide for both tuners instead of two separate program guides. For example tuner 1 could have a different color for the channel numbers then tuner 2 if the PHD-VRX is pulling in two separate signal sources. Of course if tuner 1 and 2 are receiving the same signal source then they would need to be the same color and label in the program guide. If Direct TV and TIVO can integrate ATSC channels into one program guide so could EpVision with a software update.

2. Automatic firmware update option: The ability of the PHD-VRX to be able to automatically and manually install firmware updates over the Internet would be ideal. Right now USB flash drives is the only method for firmware updates.

3. Offer manual channel map creation: One can now name the names of the channels manually. It would be neat if there were an option to manually configure the virtual channel number. If I could assign any virtual channel number to a RF channel I could create my own channel mapping system that would allow the channels to match up with a Digital cable box one rents from the cable company.

4. Open source Linux firmware update: It would be awesome if consumers could write their own Linux code so the operating system and overall product could be customized by those consumers that have programming knowledge and experience. This might also be a bad ideal since poorly written code could crash the unit and turn it into a paper weight.

5. Add USB keyboard mapping firmware update: Currently while using a USB keyboard the keyboard buttons did not match up with the letters on the keyboard. Using a keyboard for channel labeling and for YouTube would be a nice feature.

6. Onscreen graphics option update for 480i composite video: In option in the menu to turn on the on screen menu graphics for 480i composite output might generate more product sells for those consumers with old CRT TV’s and displays that only have a composite input.

7. Make an improved signal meter screen: My favorite signal meters are the ATSC tuners that show a signal number between 0-100 that auto refreshes which makes it much easier to adjust a TV antenna with rotor. I hope that a firmware update will improve the signal meter on the PHD-VRX.

8. Under the Master Channel list mark the ones that are encrypted: I have seen some QAM tuners have the ability to label with the word “Encrypted” in their master channel list for the QAM channels that are encrypted. This would be a nice feature to add so that consumer when editing the channel list can ignore the encrypted channels that this PHD-VRX is not capable to receive.

9. The Locks feature needs a software improvement: After a factory reset the buttons on the PHD-VRX were still disabled and I had to setup a new PIN number in order to get into the “Locks” menu to enable the buttons on the PHD-VRX. A factory reset should return the “Front Panel Lock” option back to “off” instead of “on”, but it does not. What is interesting is when the “Front Panel Lock” option is turned “on” if one power cycles the PHX-VRX using the master power switch on the far left it will reset the “Front Panel lock” option to “off” without the need for a PIN number.

10. Offer a firmware update that supports 3TB and larger USB drives: According to the documentation up to 2TB USB drives are supported. Maybe a future firmware update will allow larger external hard drives.

11. Will not pass lossless audio from the HDMI output when Blu-ray player connected: This is a minor issue since most people that own a Blu-ray player will run it directly into a A/V receiver and not the PHD-VRX HDMI input. It would be ideal if the PHD-VRX would have a passive/active output mode that would pass lossless audio bitstream formats like 5.1-7.1 PCM, DTS-HD Master audio, Dolby True HD. Right now the PHD-VRX converts 5.1-7.1 PCM and DTS Master audio to 2.0 PCM over HDMI.

In conclusion this EpVision PHD-VRX tuner overall quality setup and selection is the best subscription free ATSC/QAM tuner box that I have every used. I have seen ATSC/QAM boxes from electronic companies with many more serious problems when it comes to tuner quality and performance. The dual RF input option for the TV antenna and cable TV option is only available for older TIVO boxes and the new PHD-VRX. The 2 RF inputs with 4 channel map memories is the biggest advantage of this product over the competition. Using the EpVision PHD-VRX as a tuner I found the product to be extremely stable with no lock ups. The wireless remote needs to be pointed directly at the PHD-VRX and I wish it had better range. One of the major weakness is that the PHD-VRX does not offer a CablecCard slot for the encrypted programs one might want to subscribe too in the future. That’s one area the TIVO boxes are more attractive. If EpVision fixes the two major video and audio issues with a firmware update that I mentioned in the review then this will be an excellent product for around $199.95 ($229.95 list price). Plus the ability to play YouTube videos is a bonus feature with the possibility for VUDU in the future (All modern Blu-ray players for around $75 and under also offer streaming services). This product is not for everyone. A TIVO box is the ultimate for ease of use and support. The PHD-VRX is for someone that only watches local in the clear ATSC and/or QAM channels and wants no monthly subscription fee. It should be noted that I have not plugged in a 2TB external hard drive to test how the product performs as a 2 tuner HD-DVR. There might be all kinds of issues recording on this unit.
post #239 of 2203
Thread Starter 
Worked fine in a white background.
post #240 of 2203
Kudos for being thorough, HDTV1080P24. biggrin.gif This may help some people decide whether the box is right for them. I found a few things of note in your review that I'll respond to:

A 7200 RPM HDD isn't necessary for a DVR, because a DVR doesn't need to perform any rapid read/write operations. If anything, a high-speed HDD is worse for DVR applications, as it will use more power, generate more heat, and potentially fail sooner than a drive that spins slower. Especially if you plan to use videobruce's internal HDD strategy, a 5400 RPM HDD would be closer to ideal.

It also probably won't be necessary to support HDD capacities above 2 TB for a while. Even current 1-2 TB drives seem fairly unreliable compared to drives with 500 GB capacity or less. HDD capacity has apparently risen faster than the technology can stably support, as high-capacity drives often have unflattering reviews on sites like Newegg. A 2 TB HDD may be convenient for storing lots of programming, but it will be much worse if it dies and takes all of that programming with it. Since the VRX uses external USB drives, it may be better to consider buying multiple 500 GB drives instead and swapping them as needed.

Regarding your comments on channel scanning, VHF 2-6 can still be used in the United States for DTV, although most stations have moved to UHF or at least VHF 7-13. I'm also not positive, but I'm fairly certain that there is no need to be concerned about cable companies encrypting local QAM channels. Doing that is illegal under FCC regulations. All basic cable packages are required to provide local channels in unencrypted form, but the provider is allowed to encrypt premium content (i.e. cable-exclusive channels).

I will also second your comment that a detailed signal strength meter is highly useful, especially if it will stay on the screen permanently while the user performs antenna adjustments. Having the signal meter disappear after a few seconds makes the adjustment process much more difficult. One feature I found beneficial on the old Zenith DTV converter boxes was that the signal meter would also beep (with faster beeping indicating a stronger signal), which made it easier to adjust the antenna by eliminating the need to also look at the screen to see the results.

Finally, I don't think there's any need for the VRX to add 2:3 pulldown for 1080p24 content, as any 60 Hz HDTV has the ability to telecine material on its own. The only benefit of having the VRX do it natively would be if the user's TV was particularly bad at it, but the technology has existed for so long that it's doubtful one box would do a better or worse job than another.

Native output modes are also discouraged over HDMI connections, because it isn't possible to change resolutions without re-establishing the HDMI link. Since HDMI includes asinine copy protection, the renegotiation often takes a second or more, which makes changing channels on a DVR take even longer than it normally would. There also is theoretically little benefit in having a native output mode, since no HDTV is capable of displaying both 720p and 1080p natively. Each set has either one resolution or the other, and the non-native resolution will have to be converted up or down to match the display's resolution. Since letting the DVR do the conversion eliminates the need to reset the HDMI connection repeatedly, it's generally more popular to do it that way instead of letting the TV up or down-convert the video itself.
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