The EpVision PHD-VRX final review (at least I hope it is my final review) Part 3 of 3
Major firmware updates needed
1. The PHD-VRX cannot use the NTFS file system to record HD quality channels since the PHD-VRX limits the transfer speed to 6MB/s instead of 26MB/s. This is the most popular file system to use with a Windows PC and this issue should be fixed.
a. If for some reason the NTFS file system cannot be fully supported on the PHD-VRX then the exFAT file system would be a good alternative since all Microsoft operating systems from Windows XP thru Windows 7 supports exFAT file system.
2. Offer a native video option so the picture control settings can be disabled in the PHD-VRX. Satellite receivers and Cable boxes do not require picture adjustment menus.
3. Firmware update needed for the pause feature when AC3 is used: The PHD-VRX when playing back previous recorded TV programs will work fine with HDMI and optical when the audio is set to PCM (HDMI is variable PCM only and the optical is fixed PCM). The problem occurs when the optical output is set for “AC3” while watching a recording. When the pause button is pushed on the remote the picture will instantly pause but the problem is the audio will take another 5 seconds before it pauses. Then when one pushes the pause button again the picture will instantly start moving again but the audio will take around 5 seconds before it starts up again.
4. When the time shift feature is activated on the PHD-VRX and the consumer has the “AC3” option turned on for the optical output the audio will be completely lost in the live viewing mode but not in the time shift recordings. Consumers are forced to use HDMI which is only PCM or to change the optical audio option from “AC3” to “PCM” in order for the time shift feature to work properly. This needs to be fixed in a firmware update.
5. AC3 menu option when turned on messes up the quality and smooth scanning of the fast scan feature: Watching a previous recorded program on the PHD-VRX requires the use of the Media Player menu option. The problem I ran into with the PHD-VRX is its ability to fast forward up to 32 times speed is not working correctly when the “AC3” audio option is turned on in the menu. It did not matter if I was recording two 1080i programs at once or just plain old recording nothing. The previous recorded program feature had some major issues with scanning while the “AC3” option is turned on. I tested the feature on a 1080i recoding that was over 11 hours and 15 minutes long. Now the backward scanning appeared to work just fine most of the time with 2X, 4X, 8X, 16X and 32X scanning. The backward scan offers no audio scanning but it was so much more smoother and faster compared to the forward scanning when the “AC3” audio option was tuned on. Now the fast forward scanning was slower and most likely the reason is that it appears to pause and to try and capture the AC3 audio stream once and awhile when in 2X, 4X, 8X, 16X, and 32X speed. The 2X speed forward offered the best audio option with AC3 but the faster one goes with the scanning forward the audio is captured less, and the 32X speed offers no hearable audio. Also once and awhile the graphics menu would get messed up for the direction of the arrow for a few seconds when switching from forward to backward scan while the “AC3” option was turned on. Now if the consumer turns off the “AC3” option in the menu to “PCM” the scanning forward up to 32X speed is nice and smooth but with no audio at all while scanning forward. The rewind and fast forward feature was very fast way to jump through a program that is several hours long with brief screen freezes in that mode to give some an ideal where they are. Pushing the fast forward or rewind button briefly jumps the program 20 seconds forward or backward. This issue needs fixed with the “AC3” audio causing the fast scan forward to be choppy.
6. The time shift feature needs a firmware update: There should be an option in the menu to turn the time shift feature on 24 X 7 instead of having to manually activate it. On HD DVR satellite boxes and HD DVR cable boxes the time shift feature is automatically activated as soon as one flips to a new channel and runs 24 x 7. It would be ideal if the PHD-VRX would automatically have the option to do the same and have the time shift run 24 x 7 like other HD DVR’s do. At the very minimum the time shift feature if not running 24 x 7 should start running as soon as the consumer presses the pause button on the remote.
7. A 24fps and 60fps menu option would be ideal feature to have on the PHD-VRX. Those with older 1080P displays that do not support 24Hz would then be able to allow the PHD-VRX to do a 3:2 pulldown for native 1080p/24 VUDU programs (VUDU is planned in the future). Also it would be a nice feature to have the PHD-VRX be able to do a reverse 3:2 pulldown for film based programs and upconvert SD and HD film based programs to 1080p/24 instead of 1080p/60. Video based programs would be outputted at 1080p/60Hz. The current system information screen does not mention if the 1080P signal being output is 60HZ or 24HZ. That information added to the System information screen would be ideal.
8. An option in the channel data base menu could be created for customers to disable the second electronic program guide and second channel database for those consumers that only have one signal source (only cable TV or only ATSC broadcast, but not both). This would solve many of the complaints about having two program guides. If the signal source is exactly the same for digital channels then there does not need to be two electronic program guides and two channel databases. This would be an easy fix.
9. The dual signal source is where the consumer has one tuner setup for cable TV channels and one for ATSC broadcast channels. The dual signal source situation is when the programming would become more complicated. The cable TV QAM channels could be integrated with the ATSC broadcast channels by creating a channel database and electronic program guide that combines the two tuners. The ATSC channels would have one color in the electronic program guide while the QAM cable channels another color in the electronic program guide. Then the consumer could flip channels from both the cable system and ATSC antenna system without having to toggle back and forth between the two tuners.
10. Consumers that hit the power button on the remote by mistake while recording would like the following firmware update. There needs to be a firmware update that pops up with a message that says “You cannot place the PHD-VRX in standby mode while you are recording”. The PHD-VRX firmware needs to be changed so that the PHD-VRX properly shuts down the recording before entering the standby mode. This would greatly prevent the PHD-VRX from locking up and getting stuck in the booting mode.
11. The “Recorded Shows” menu feature is currently a useless feature that should be completely re-written by the EpVision programmers. When a user selects the “Recorded Shows” option it should only show the TV programs that are available for the USB hard drive that is currently connected and not a complete history of programs that exist on USB drives that are not even connected. Also the “Recorded Shows” menu feature should be interfaced in with the Video Media Player so that a button can be pressed to watch the TV program from the “Recorded Shows” menu option. Also when one deletes a TV program from the “Recorded Shows” menu it should delete the program from the USB hard drive and not just the history.
Minor firmware updates needed
1. Make tuner 1 and tuner 2 operate exactly the same way while channel surfing:Consumers will get confused if on one tuner they can type 65 on the remote to get to digital channel 65.1 and on the other tuner they need to type 65.1. A software update would be able to fix this issue. The problem is tuner number 2 software works different since typing in channel number 65 will cause the box to get locked in a scan mode and the only way to get it out of that mode is to push the channel up or down button.
2. The Digital Preference feature does not always work for some channels: When Spanish is selected under Digital Preferences the PHD-VRX on some channels that were broadcasting in 2.0 or 1.0 Spanish Dolby Digital automatically switched to Spanish. Also once and a awhile the PHD-VRX would have a glitch and not flip to the Spanish audio track even for channels it worked for a few minutes before while channel surfing. This feature needs to be improved for accuracy with a firmware update.
3. The ability to playback recorded programs that are Close Caption encoded would be ideal. There is no menu option in the PHD-VRX to turn on the Close Captioning feature when a recorded program is played back. So even if the Close Captioning data might be recorded in the MPEG-2 transport file system if there is no menu option to turn it on then that is bad for the consumers that want Close Captioning.
4. The ability to record up to 3 audio tracks at once would be nice for some people (being able to record all the audio tracks offered on that channel would be ideal). The current menu selection does not allow the toggling of the audio track options when playback a recording.
5. Consider offering a firmware update that would add support for 3TB hard drives.
6. There should be a firmware update that fixes these speed test issues. When a consumer tries to run a speed test while recording a TV program there should be a message that pops up on the screen that says something like “USB Speed test is not available, please stop your recordings first”. This will prevent recordings from being messed up. Also the speed test accuracy needs to be improved since running the program on a digital channel can mess up the results by 1-3MB/s.
7. Add program title with channel description information during channel changes: On Direct TV HD DVR’s and on Digital Cable boxes when one changes the channel they are able to see the channel number with program title and program description briefly appearing on the screen for a few seconds. Currently the PHD-VRX only shows the channel number data when flipping the channel. Adding the ability to see the program title and description along with the channel number would be a nice feature.
8. A software update to change the USB port labeling to match the back panel labeling would be a simple firmware fix. The problem with the “Select Device” menu selection screen is that the USB ports are labeled as “USB:usba” and “USB:usbb”. The big question is which USB port is number 1 and which is number 2 (On the back panel the ports are labeled as “USB1” and “USB2”).
9. To make things simple for the consumer the PHD-VRX should pop up with a message that says “This program is already being recorded” when the consumer hits the record button for a channel that they are already recording. Currently when hitting the record button the message box says “NOT AVAILABLE” if the channel is already being recorded.
10. The ability to view and schedule future recordings on other channels when using the electronic program guide should be possible when recording two programs at once but instead the PHD-VRX is unable retrieve that program data from other channels while recording. The recordings needs to be stopped in order for the electronic program guide to be fully functional again. Then for the tuner that does not have a recording occurring one can look at the program guide with program titles and descriptions.
11. A firmware update would be ideal to allow the favorite lists menus too be combined so one could have a favorite list that contained channels from both tuner 1 and tuner 2.
12. One feature that I do not like is that every time I power up the PHD-VRX out of standby it displays the following message “USB device was connected to TV. Do you want to open Media Player?”. That option box should only be designed to pop up when one plugs in a new USB drive and not when one power cycles the PHD-VRX out of the standby mode.
13. There needs to be a firmware update that would automatically power up the PHD-VRX 1 minute before the scheduled recording is suppose to start so that 35 seconds of the beginning of the program is not missed.
14. A firmware update should be issued to fix the file size information for recorded shows in the PHD-VRX media player. There have been many times the Media Player lists the incorrect size of a file when comparing the exact same file on a Windows PC. Also it would be nice to be able to rename the file name of the recordings on the PHD-VRX, currently one needs to plug the USB drive into a Windows PC in order to rename the file name.
Edited by HDTV1080P24 - 7/2/12 at 7:53am