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The Sony HD300 Is Here - First Impressions  

post #1 of 697
Thread Starter 
Tonight, I was able to purchase one of two available SAT HD-300 from Video Audio center in Santa Monica. Ironically, this is the same retailer that informed me this tuner would not be available until February.

First...the user interface remains virtually unchanged from the HD200. The same menu bar, the same number grid for selecting custom channels and the same information banner.

Second...the remote is identical to the 200 with the exception that it is RF capable. The remote from the HD200 will, in fact, operate the HD300 button for button in IR mode.

Third...the guide is noticeably faster. BUT, when you call up the guide it always defaults to "All Channels". There seems to be no preference that will allow you to change the default to "Custom" or "Favorite" or any other of the several guide view options. You can quickly jump ahead days at a time and move forward or backward in 6 hour increments. I only played with the search function for a moment but then the unit crashed and reset (more on that later).

Fourth...SD aspect control, with the exception of the new "Cine Zoom" is again, identical with the HD200. You are presented with "Standard", "Wide", "Zoom" "Panorama" and finally the new "Cine Zoom". "Cine Zoom" in it's first position appears identical to "Wide" and then provides 15 incremental zoom steps locked to that same wide aspect. I'll have to play with this feature further but my initial reaction was, "who cares."

HD aspect control gives you 3 options..."Standard", "Wide" and "Shrink". For the many who have complained about ESPN-HD, the shrink option does a remarkably good job of returning the picture to a normal aspect. Once you change stations, the picture returns to "Standard".

Fifth...Picture quality seemed slightly better than the HD200 in both SD and HD. I have a G90 on a 96" screen with a Faroudja 5000 set to line double the 1080i component output from the tuner. The picture seemed smoother with colors slightly more saturated. I don't have any way of A/B testing the two receivers so I'm hesitant to get into any more detail regarding what are purely subjective evaluations.

Now, the bad news (and a little of the good). The unit did crash within 90 minutes of starting up. As I mentioned, I was in the guide and attempting to use the new search function when suddenly--black. The unit did recover on it's own followed by the obligatory channel search. Now here's the (somewhat) good news...after the reboot, all the custom channels held to the selections I had originally made. The only difference was that all the off-air locals, including the DirecTV locals which I had turned-off, were back. It was fairly easy to just un-select the these stations. I would certainly hope that this is not going to happen with the frequency of this tuner's predecessors but at least it was a MUCH quicker recovery.

To use a comparison from software parlance, the HD300 seems to be a little less than a full version upgrade. The addition of HD aspect controls is very welcome and the speed of the user interface seems much more responsive and many will appreciate the native output. That said, the problems with the guide far outweigh the features they've added. There is still no firewire output, still no real learning remote. And, it apparently still crashes.
post #2 of 697
sweeney,

Quote:
HD aspect control gives you 3 options..."Standard", "Wide" and "Shrink". For the many who have complained about ESPN-HD, the shrink option does a remarkably good job of returning the picture to a normal aspect. Once you change stations, the picture returns to "Standard".
Thanks for your report on the HD300.

How do standard and wide differ on HD channels?

And are these aspect controls available through the SD output? That is, when you use one of the above aspect modes, do you also see the same output through the simultaneous s-video output? Or do you have access to different modes when viewing through s-video? I am curious whether it is possible to output HD channels as 16:9 480i anamorphic through s-video -- so as to record widescreen content with a Tivo.
post #3 of 697
Thanks for the report.

How is the OTA tuner sensitivity? Does it deal with multipath better, etc? Any insight you can give is greatly appreciated.
post #4 of 697
According to the instruction manual for the LG LSS3200A the tuner uses the same 4th generation technology used in the SAT520 so I wouldn't expect too much of an improvement, if any. This differs from LG's press release in January when they talked about the forthcoming STB claiming it will have a new high gain ATSC tuner. Guess that high gain tuner will come in the next version!!!!

More crashing, huh. Will they ever get it right? Now the waiting game begins for another firmware upgrade. Jferg, talk to your boys writing this firmware code please and get them working on this guide crash.

Sweeney, can you reproduce the crash with ease or is it random?


Quote:
Originally posted by GenoV
Thanks for the report.

How is the OTA tuner sensitivity? Does it deal with multipath better, etc? Any insight you can give is greatly appreciated.
post #5 of 697
Crashing..

I have a Mitsubishi HD set top box. Have never had a problem with it and it has never crashed once in several years. And it has never had a heating problem. Seems thru the years, the set top boxes have gotten less reliable...or, certainly, no better in this aspect.
post #6 of 697
Quote:
Third...the guide is noticeably faster. BUT, when you call up the guide it always defaults to "All Channels". There seems to be no preference that will allow you to change the default to "Custom" or "Favorite" or any other of the several guide view options.
:( :( :(

Quote:
all the off-air locals, including the DirecTV locals which I had turned-off, were back
:mad: :mad: :mad:

JFerg, please tell us this isn't so. Tell us that sweeney is just missing some trick or option. Please?
post #7 of 697
Thread Starter 
Regarding the difference between standard and wide in HD, "standard" is the normal, default, 16x9 aspect ratio; "wide" is a simple stretch equivalent to what EPSN-HD is doing. You can stretch a 16x9 HD picture but why?

OTA sensitivity seems equal to the HD200--no worse or better.

I've only briefly read through the manual, but here's what I've found regarding recording through the SD output:

"The aspect ratio setting changes both the high-definition outputs (Video 1/2, S-Video, Out to TV). When using a VCR or DVR to record programming from the standard definition outputs, make sure the correct aspect ratio is selected".

I don't output to a second monitor so I can't test this, but the simple answer would seem to be that you could record a "squeezed" HD picture. Given that the tuner resets the HD aspects on channel changes, I doubt this would work as feature in timer records.

BTW, I had the opportunity to use the new "Freeze" function while watching 'The Tonight Show' last evening. Normally I would consider this feature a complete novelty but I must confess, with the new zoom and pan feature, it made watching Katherine Zeta-Jones a new experience.
post #8 of 697
Thread Starter 
...can you reproduce the crash with ease or is it random?

I didn't go back to the guide seaching after the crash. Frankly, there are 13 pages of guide instructions in the manual and I thought it best to read through it all before trying again. Before you suggest that perhaps I caused the crash through inexperience, all I did was hit "Search".

Frankly, the new "Advanced Progam Guide" seems a little overdone. These kinds of features make sense if you're using a recorder in unison with the tuner. I know many people do this but I don't, (and I suspect a majority of others don't either).

Jim
post #9 of 697
Sweeney

I didn't intend for it to sound like I thought you were responsible for the crash. Regardless you are a user and the box should not crash no matter what screen you navigate to. The firmware should be designed to handle these things gracefully, but apparently after three generations of boxes, LG cannot figure out how to improve their operating system to handle unknowns without such a harsh reaction from the STB!

You shouldn't be afraid to see if you navigate to the same screen again whether of not it crashes everytime or not. If it does a descrtiption of the steps to JFerg will help to get this fixed sooner rather than later or never!





Quote:
Originally posted by sweeney
...can you reproduce the crash with ease or is it random?

I didn't go back to the guide seaching after the crash. Frankly, there are 13 pages of guide instructions in the manual and I thought it best to read through it all before trying again. Before you suggest that perhaps I caused the crash through inexperience, all I did was hit "Search".

Frankly, the new "Advanced Progam Guide" seems a little overdone. These kinds of features make sense if you're using a recorder in unison with the tuner. I know many people do this but I don't, (and I suspect a majority of others don't either).

Jim
post #10 of 697
Is this unit also a OTA tuner and Comcast cable turner?

Will it stretch these modes?
post #11 of 697
just curious how many custom channels you can have ?
The 50 channel limit on my HD520 is ridiculously low....

Quote:
Originally posted by sweeney
[....the user interface remains virtually unchanged from the HD200. The same menu bar, the same number grid for selecting custom channels and the same information banner......[/b]
post #12 of 697
Quote:
Originally posted by JFerg
Resets WILL happen! Until you local broadcasters provide stable and correct PSIP, it WILL HAPPEN. Also, you are at the mercy of D* and any updates/changes they make to the APG. However, the new STB does have a larger NVRAM and will saved custom settings to it.
I never have a problem with resets on my Sony HD-100. My HD-200s often have problems (including one that is not connected to an antenna). Although many of the problems may very well originate from the broadcaster, the STBs need to be more forgiving and stable.
post #13 of 697
Quote:
Originally posted by avNeophyte
JFerg, please tell us this isn't so. Tell us that sweeney is just missing some trick or option. Please?
It must be user error (despite the search button reference), it could never be the equipment....
post #14 of 697
I got my HD300 hooked up

-the simultaneous output feature only applies to the S Video / composite/ RF outputs which are always on

-there is still the 'type' switch on the back to select DVI/VGA OR component- one or the other- not both

-if you have a Gefen DVI switcher: the HD300 remote causes the Gefen to switch inputs ( the Philips Tivo remote does this as well-I spoke with Gefen - they are aware of the problem)

-the remote is RF capable: the remote antenna looks like the one from the HD100 except the connector is now a mini-plug

-the access card goes in the Front of the unit behind a door: also behind the door is a little red 'reset' button- hope I will not have to use it but better than having to unplug the box
post #15 of 697
Sorry but this unit doesn't seem to be much of an upgrade from the HD200 other than the RF capability. You would think they could've at least added caller ID and lowered the price a little more.

I still will be getting this unit however, since this will be a major upgrade to my DTC 100.
post #16 of 697
Let's not forget, this unit also has a 7 day guide...
post #17 of 697
the 300 also has a menu setting for DVI level:

-standard for most TV's
-Expand for most digital monitors

will have to check this out


for me the RF remote (which has several new codes) and an always active S Video/composite/RF output is a big plus-

in fairness, we need a few days and feedback from others to evaluate this new stb
post #18 of 697
Also don't forget,

-ability to control aspect ratio in 1080i so you can stretch 4x3 images that are often broadcast in 1080i. I can't stand the bars so stretching to me is prefeerrable.
-VCR control
-faster guide in addition to it being 7 days now
-simultaneous 480i output via Svideo, composite or RF

Sure I agree that caller ID would have been a nice add, my $49 RCA box has it and my wife loves it. Also I was hoping the next gen ATSC tuner would have made it into the HD300/LSS3200A. Maybe next time.....


Quote:
Originally posted by hockeynut
Sorry but this unit doesn't seem to be much of an upgrade from the HD200 other than the RF capability. You would think they could've at least added caller ID and lowered the price a little more.

I still will be getting this unit however, since this will be a major upgrade to my DTC 100.
post #19 of 697
FYI

-build date Aug 03

-firmware: (8/20/03 ) HD3 1.06.00
post #20 of 697
markrubin

If I were you I'd remove that S/N from your post for your own security. Thanks for the info...
post #21 of 697
[quote][i]Originally posted by sweeney

HD aspect control gives you 3 options..."Standard", "Wide" and "Shrink". For the many who have complained about ESPN-HD, the shrink option does a remarkably good job of returning the picture to a normal aspect.
______________________________________________________

this feature, which works on HD via DVI is significant- this may be the biggest single advantage over the HD200- I can watch Survivor over ATSC and fill the screen (expand mode) and it looks excellent: the same control on the HD200 reads: "the aspect ratio of the current program can't be changed"

my unit- on for 8 hours- no glitches...

HD_JUNKIE: Thanks
post #22 of 697
Mark,

Thats good to know--but when you change the channel to a true HD program does it auto adjust (aspect ratio) or do you have to change it manually?

Thanks.

Dave
post #23 of 697
well , so far, if you change channels it does not save the expand mode so you have to set it manually-

hard to believe there is not a way to save this setting- still looking at this
post #24 of 697
Does anyone know if the HD300's serial port works with TiVo?
post #25 of 697
Quote:
Originally posted by HD_JUNKIE
Also don't forget,

-ability to control aspect ratio in 1080i so you can stretch 4x3 images that are often broadcast in 1080i. I can't stand the bars so stretching to me is prefeerrable.
The HD 200 will allow you to stretch a 4X3 program being broadcast on a channel with a 1080i format.......but only when using component video. Does the format button on the remote now allow you to change the 1080i format and output at 480p so that a 4X3 program can be stretched using DVI?
post #26 of 697
I just reread mark's post and it appears the answer to my question is yes.:)That's good since the lack of the HD200's ability to accomplish that feat when using DVI is the reason I don't use DVI on the 200.
post #27 of 697
Is there any recording device that will capture the HD content from this receiver?

I have a Panny DMR-E50 DVD recorder as well as 2 first generation Phillips TiVos .

Thanks

Ed Forrest
post #28 of 697
The only recorder I know of that can record from any STB that does not have Firewire is a WVHS deck. These run about $4K and I think JVC is the only one making one or two models.

I'm of the opinion that the firswt D* supported HD recorder will be a TIVO device whichw ill be an integrated HD receiver and HD TIVO. Expect it sometime in early to mid 2004 for around $1K.


Quote:
Originally posted by edforrest
Is there any recording device that will capture the HD content from this receiver?

I have a Panny DMR-E50 DVD recorder as well as 2 first generation Phillips TiVos .

Thanks

Ed Forrest
post #29 of 697
For the HD300 - the analog outputs (480i) are alway on - so you could feed analog from an HD station into your DVD recorder or Tivo.
post #30 of 697
Now that the HD300s are trickling in... has anyone tested the DVI vs Component connections to a pj? I am using the DVI for my Bravo DVD player (all reports are that all analog signals are crappy on this player.)

I am interested in HDTV using component, if possible on the HD300. Or should I be looking for a DVI switcher? Are there any feature limitations on component vs DVI mode that I should be worried about?

Thanks. (I hope to have my HD300 today, but I won't have my 3lnb dish until next week. Maybe I will be able to do some ota comparisons on these outputs, but I am not sure if that is going to tell me what I want to know. Most of what I expect to watch will be on directv.)

Gary
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