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Sony DHG-HDD250/500: Official Thread - Page 12

post #331 of 29213
Thanks, GBrock! I sent you a PM.

Sony has historically been good about building discrete codes into their equipment, even though they do not include buttons for them on their remotes. You would think they would publish common files containing the codes so we could all have easy access to them. I'll bet there are discrete codes for plenty of other functions on the DVR.

Heck, even LG published codes for the 3410A DVR before it was available. Well, maybe the Sony is just too new, and codes will appear later.
post #332 of 29213
Observations on the HDD500, in no particular order:

It's interesting that the unit performs a timer recording without actually "turning on". The record light appears in the display and the recording is done internally. This was disconcerting at first, since it's handy to be able to glance at the display and see that the proper channel is recording. You can, however, turn the unit on to get the channel display, and turn it back off without affecting the recording. Very cool.

The menu system (both Sony and TVGOS) seems rather cumbersome. It takes too many key presses to do almost anything and the response seems sloooow. It gets the job done, but takes some getting used to. The Sony menus won't be used that much after the initial setup is refined. The Guide menus will have to be dealt with.

The Favorites function is terrible. I'll just set up macros on my MX-700 remote.

The adjustable FF, REW, Replay, Advance and chapter marks are great.

The Guide is working as it should with no problems for OTA and cable. I have a CableCARD coming on Wednesday. We'll see how that goes.

One has to hope that there won't be any Guide problems, since there is no way to set the clock manually. No Guide = no clock = doorstop.

Overall, the unit seems to work, a welcome "feature" after my experience with the LG 3410A (three of them). Of course, more time is needed to observe the Sony's behavior.

One major concern: The HD picture through HDMI with DVI adapter may be a problem. I've always preferred component connections over DVI with any of the four tuners I've had, but DVI was nevertheless very, very good. Not so here. I'm no expert, but the picture seems washed out. Blacks are not as black. You can get away with this on sports programs that are well lit, but a couple of typical primetime "dark" HDTV programs did not look so good. The LG's DVI output was much better.

I have not tried the Sony's component outputs yet. My setup realy calls for using the DVI on the Sony as opposed to the DVI on my Comcast 6412. But maybe I'll switch after I get the CableCARD and the dust settles. Or perhaps an HDMI>DVI cable without an adapter might help?

This is especially disturbing since the HDD500 is connected to a Sony XBR plasma. This should eliminate any problems between devices form different manufacturers. The picture settings that work great for several other devices using DVI and component inputs just don't look as good with the HDD500. I'm experimenting with different picture settings on the plasma, so we'll see if I can find a solution. I don't think this is a deal-breaker, but I have not yet spent enough time investigating the problem.
post #333 of 29213
I received my HDD250 this weekend. Within 12 hours of first powerup, it had received guide data for the first two days (I live in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area). I was pleasantly surprised not to have guide problems, since my VHF reception is lousy and I figured our main analog PBS station TPT-2 would be transmitting the Gemstar data. The guide initially listed the channels in a seemingly random order, but it was easy to reorganize them using the onscreen interface.

Using the component outputs (I have no HDMI equipment yet), I'd say the picture is nearly as good as that from my Samsung T165. Without adjusting my TV in between, the picture from the HDD250 is very slightly more washed out and cooler than the Samsung's. A slight adjustment of the TV's picture controls should fix this. I will evaluate the picture more critically over the next week once I have things calibrated.

My wife loves the program guide and ease of use.

One feature that seems to be missing is a "Previous Channel" button. The Samsung box had one, and it was handy.

My unit came with a "Coming Soon To DVD" trailer reel preloaded in the recordings area. (Gotta love that Sony/Columbia Pictures synergy...)

Some interesting technical info gleaned from the user manual: the HDD250/HDD500 units run a MontaVista Linux kernel on a 300 MHz MIPS 4KEc processor with 128 MB of DDR SDRAM (183 MHz bus) and 32 MB of flash. The hard drives use an xfs filesystem. The manual also mentions the use of GNU Privacy Guard, binutils, busybox, gcc, libgcc, libc, libstd++, libm, libpng and Freetype2.

Regarding the USB port- I suspect the primary reason it's there is to permit upgrading the firmware by copying files from a USB flash drive. But this week I'll try plugging an external hard drive into the port and see if anything happens.

So far, I am pretty pleased with the HDD250, especially at the price I paid (just under $600).
post #334 of 29213
I am thinking of getting one of these, but I heard the dss companies (dishnet, and directv) plan to go to mpeg4 in a year 1/2. Will OTA broadcast switch the mpeg4 as well in the near future?
post #335 of 29213
I got my HDD250 on Friday and am also in the Mpls/St. Paul area. I'd echo many of the comments here. The tuner on the HDD250 seems to be a tiny bit weaker than what I am have in my Hitachi RPTV , but I probably just need to move the antenna around a bit (just a Zenith Silver Sensor sitting in the basement right now).

I didn't have time over the weekend to do much fiddling around - currently using the HDMI/DVI converter, but I may go with the component outs instead. It'll be interesting to see how an A/B comparison with my original setup looks.

With a receiver that only has two optical audio ins, I wish this unit had a digi coax out, but I guess its time for a new DVD player (with a digi coax out). Or one of the optical to coax converters, but that seems like overkill. Also will be interested to see if the Harmony remote has the HDD250 in its list yet.

I paid about $50 more than you did, but so far am quite happy with the promise of this unit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Fontana View Post

I received my HDD250 this weekend. Within 12 hours of first powerup, it had received guide data for the first two days (I live in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area). I was pleasantly surprised not to have guide problems, since my VHF reception is lousy and I figured our main analog PBS station TPT-2 would be transmitting the Gemstar data. The guide initially listed the channels in a seemingly random order, but it was easy to reorganize them using the onscreen interface.

Using the component outputs (I have no HDMI equipment yet), I'd say the picture is nearly as good as that from my Samsung T165. Without adjusting my TV in between, the picture from the HDD250 is very slightly more washed out and cooler than the Samsung's. A slight adjustment of the TV's picture controls should fix this. I will evaluate the picture more critically over the next week once I have things calibrated.

My wife loves the program guide and ease of use.

One feature that seems to be missing is a "Previous Channel" button. The Samsung box had one, and it was handy.

My unit came with a "Coming Soon To DVD" trailer reel preloaded in the recordings area. (Gotta love that Sony/Columbia Pictures synergy...)

Some interesting technical info gleaned from the user manual: the HDD250/HDD500 units run a MontaVista Linux kernel on a 300 MHz MIPS 4KEc processor with 128 MB of DDR SDRAM (183 MHz bus) and 32 MB of flash. The hard drives use an xfs filesystem. The manual also mentions the use of GNU Privacy Guard, binutils, busybox, gcc, libgcc, libc, libstd++, libm, libpng and Freetype2.

Regarding the USB port- I suspect the primary reason it's there is to permit upgrading the firmware by copying files from a USB flash drive. But this week I'll try plugging an external hard drive into the port and see if anything happens.

So far, I am pretty pleased with the HDD250, especially at the price I paid (just under $600).
post #336 of 29213
Hey, gang,

Got my unit (the DHGHDD500) directly from Sony last week, but I waited a few days to plug it in with the birth of my new daughter and all (woo hoo!). Mine seems to have a later firmware that most of you (the DVR, not my baby daughter) - It's 1.2.06 - not sure what (if anything) is different.

For my part, Over-The-Air in NYC with a roof antenna less than 2 miles line of sight from the ESB, auto-channel set-up went well detecting all the analog and digital signals I expected with a bonus or two (who knew there was a new analog "channel 6" in NYC?). One digital channel (5.2 UPN - WWOR) comes in terribly and it was fine on a Samsung SIR-T151. Very choppy, jerky video and audio on the Sony. Signal strength is supposedly 83% to 88% - need to look into this. The other channels seem to be coming in fine. Need to wait until prime time to get some decent HD source material. The clock was set within about an hour of plugging it in, and station logos appear as well. 6 hours off hasn't been enough time to set up the guide but I expect this to be OK within a day or so since I am strictly OTA and it found the clock signal quickly.

I will let you guys know my impressions. Full review on the Web site probably some time in July after I've had a chance to put it through its paces.

Later,

-Chris
post #337 of 29213
Quote:


price I paid (just under $600).

Where?
post #338 of 29213
Quick update: TV Guide listings are live after about 2.5 days - days 1, 2 and 8. GUI is pretty good but channel order is whack. Highlighted an HD show on tonight and hit the record button - all set to record. Big improvement over manual timer programming.

One thing I find exceedingly odd on this unit is that I can't find a "zoom" aspect mode for SD signals that are letterboxed to expand them to full screen w/o distortion. PBS HD is still not online OTA with any real power and they broadcast quite a bit of letterboxed content in SD. It would be nice to have a quick 16:9 zoom mode on the Sony to expand letterboxed content to fill the screen. Will keep digging...

More later...

-CB
post #339 of 29213
Chris,

Unfortunately, there is no Zoom for HD, only Expand and Squeeze. I can't imagine why Sony did not include this, since all of their TV's have it. I like to zoom in on digital SD to get rid of the black bars on my plasma without distorting the picture. Oh, well. Also annoying is that the two existing modes are temporary and go away when you switch channels.

At least I solved my poor HD picture (via DVI) problem with some adjustments in a previously useless picture mode of my Sony plasma. It seems apparent, though, that blacks are just not as black as they should be.

The Guide has filled in completely and flawlessly over the last week.

Comcast should be here this morning with a CableCARD. We'll see how that works.

It seems that manufacturers of HD tuners and DVR's start their designs from square one. That is, they throw out all they have learned from previous devices (VCR's, TV's, etc.) about usability, convenience features, and the many little details that make for a great user experience. It's like they forgot everything and now we have to suffer through the learning process all over again. Very strange.

The many good points of the HDD500 do outweigh the oddities. This DVR is far better than the LG DVR (if you don't need firewire or RGB). The Sony has so far performed without errors or failures.
post #340 of 29213
This is interesting: When scheduling a recording on the Sony, you can select a recording quality option including HQ plus some VHS-ish terms like EP, LP, SLP. The manual doesn't seem to cover this... I assume this setting (even though it can be changed) is ignored for hard disk recording of DTV broadcasts and only affects hard disk recording of analog broadcasts as well as recording of ANY broadcast to an external VCR. I can't figure out why Sony included the latter feature... who would bother using an analog VHS deck instead of the onboard hard drive recording?
post #341 of 29213
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Fontana View Post

This is interesting: When scheduling a recording on the Sony, you can select a recording quality option including HQ plus some VHS-ish terms like EP, LP, SLP. The manual doesn't seem to cover this... I assume this setting (even though it can be changed) is ignored for hard disk recording of DTV broadcasts and only affects hard disk recording of analog broadcasts as well as recording of ANY broadcast to an external VCR. I can't figure out why Sony included the latter feature... who would bother using an analog VHS deck instead of the onboard hard drive recording?

Page 71 in the manual talks about it. It maybe different since I'm using the PDF version. It basically states that it sets the quality for analog recordings.

Alan
post #342 of 29213
Oh, you're right. Thanks, Alan.

DVR alert of the day- ABC is broadcasting TOY STORY in HD tomorrow evening.
post #343 of 29213
Where did you get the HDD250 for such a great price Mark?
post #344 of 29213
Omigosh, what a terrible day with Comcast. After arriving well past the appointed time, the tech showed up with a Comcast DVR under his arm instead of a CableCARD. So he went back to his office and returned with the card.

He gave up after an hour and a half of trying th get the card to download channels. This consisted mainly of looking confused and making lots of phone calls to people who could not help him. I heard a supervisor say that the card should work automatically because they have the serial number in their system. Nothing.

After the tech left, I called several times. One person in the tech department thought she knew how to correct the problem, but didn't explain, just said to wait about 5 minutes. Of course nothing happened. Later calls resulted in tech sending me to sales "because they can authorize more stuff". The sales rep said "Huh?"

Another rep said the CableCARD would not work because I also have a Comcast DVR. What?

I finally wound up with a tech supervisor who actually tried to talk me out of having two DVR's "because I don't need them". He kept insisting I had the Sony connected to the Comcast 6412! Unbelievable. Meanwhile, he was the first guy to actually make a note of the info from the CableCARD Pairing screen in the Sony. He insisted he had to make another appointment for a tech to come out. Like 8 hours of this today wasn't enough.

The upshot is that I get no cable channels with the card inserted. All non-scrambled channels reappear when I remove the card. This must be a Comcast problem, not Sony, I think.
post #345 of 29213
For the HDD250 at $577+$22 FedEx Ground shipping, try Sammans Electronics. The Sony units are not up yet on their website, but they carry them. They have put a few up on eBay at that price and would probably offer the same deal if you contact them directly. My unit was shipped double-boxed and factory sealed the day after I placed the order.
post #346 of 29213
HELP!! I need a reality check.

Continuing the CableCARD saga ---

My CableCARD receives no channels from Comcast. (If I remove the card, I get all the unscrambled channels.)

Comcast now says that a CableCARD device will not work when connected to the same TV as a Comcast 6412 DVR. I explained that each device functions separately on a different TV input. They said I CAN have the two devices work properly in the same home on different TV's. What? The same incoming cable is split to the 6412 and the HDD500 either way. What's the difference which TV it's connected to?

Anyway, I asked them to prove what they are saying. I unplugged the 6412 and disconnected it from the system. They sent information to the CableCARD. Of course, nothing happened and no channels are present.

So another service call is scheduled for Friday. I've asked them to check the card info/programming in their system, but they refuse, saying that all this is tied to the card serial number (which is correct in their system).

I've talked to CSR's, supervisors and managers in different offices. No results. And I can't seem to get any higher in the chain or even to a different area, like maybe the guy who programs the cards or their systems. All I get is people saying the card should work automatically upon insertion or implying an incompatibility with the Sony.

BTW, the Network Status screen in the Sony has a "Hunt" button. Selecting this results in a short search and a screen that says "Success! Network provider found." So it appears the card is aware of the Comcast network, and Comcast is failing to send the data to me.

Can any of you offer specific advice as to what to say to Comcast or what procedure your installer folllowed to get a problem card working? This is really, REALLY frustrating.

Any input will be appreciated.
post #347 of 29213
Can you record HD and watch analog at the same time and vise versa?
post #348 of 29213
Philly, sure doesn't sound like a problem with the the HDD500. We use comcast and a cablecard and didn't encounter that problem. Is it possible you have a bum card?

Also, you are of course right that you should be able to hook up your 6412 and hdd500 at the same time. In fact the comcast guy who installed my hd suggested that I could do just that.
post #349 of 29213
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spahrkee View Post

Philly, sure doesn't sound like a problem with the the HDD500. We use comcast and a cablecard and didn't encounter that problem. Is it possible you have a bum card?

Also, you are of course right that you should be able to hook up your 6412 and hdd500 at the same time. In fact the comcast guy who installed my hd suggested that I could do just that.

Thanks for the reality check. I was getting worried about Comcast brainwashing techniques. Actually, a search revealed that Comcast people are apparently trained to say these things and discourage CableCARD use. Most of the CSR's don't understand this stuff anyway, so they believe the BS they are fed.

An installer is coming again this afternoon. He is supposed to exchange the CableCARD, just in case it's bad. I'm pretty sure though that this will be more wasted time and that Comcast is failing to authorize the card properly. But a new card is worth a shot. The problem is that, even when an individual tries to help, they always say I have to wait 10 minutes or wait an hour for their "fix" to take effect. When it doesn't, you can't ever reach the same person and have to start all over again --- and again and again.

Looking forward to another Comcast service call...
post #350 of 29213
Hey, guys, it might be helpful if you could share a little information from your CableCARD menu screens in the Sony. Comcast still can't get my card to work. Here is some suspicious info I have in various screens:

In the CableCARD Status screen:
--- Download Status:
----- Segments left to download: 0
----- State: Wait to start

In the Conditional Access screen:
--- CA Disabled
--- Compnent PIDs: (all zeroes on two lines)
--- Host Validation: Unknown 00
--- Copy Protection Key: Disabled

The installer thought some of this implied that the card is incorrectly programmed or partially disabled, but he didn't really know. (There were notes all over my account at Comcast for him to bring more CableCARDs, but of course none of this was on his work order. Comcast is full of idiots.)

Anyway, thanks for any help/info. I've got to train the Comcast people!
post #351 of 29213
Can anyone post the keystroke sequence to get into the service menu on these boxes? Earlier posters mentioned they had managed to get in by accident, so it can't be too hard...
post #352 of 29213
Sorry, this is to get into the LG2410A diagnostics......


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Fontana View Post

Can anyone post the keystroke sequence to get into the service menu on these boxes? Earlier posters mentioned they had managed to get in by accident, so it can't be too hard...


Mark,

You need to go into the guide, select the "messages" tab from the top options and select the option that displays your TVGUIDE s/n information.

Enter 753159852 and the guide diagnostic menus pop up. I don't think there's much useful info but you could ask someone (email?) from Gemstart or LG what the screens mean.
post #353 of 29213
Quote:
Originally Posted by ay221 View Post

Can you record HD and watch analog at the same time and vise versa?

Yes and no. The Sony treats analog and HD signals more or less the same in terms of recording and playback. You can record SD and watch previously recorded HD and vice versa, but if you're recording, you can't watch any other LIVE channels (SD or HD) because it treats both the SD and HD tuners as one and does not let you select any other channel while recording.

Hope that helps.

-CB
post #354 of 29213
Yes it does, thanks.
post #355 of 29213
A poster above said:

One has to hope that there won't be any Guide problems, since there is no way to set the clock manually. No Guide = no clock = doorstop.

And from http://www.crutchfieldadvisor.com/IS...me/tvgos2.html :

Keep in mind, even if your unit can't get programming information for TV Guide On Screen, it will still be able to control most major brands of cable boxes and will likely have alternative ways to set recordings, such as VCR Plus+®.

So what does that mean for folks out here in remote areas if the TV Guide doesn't work for us, or we don't have a host station feeding the information? Can we program the thing just like a VCR -- on at 8 p.m. recording Channel 23, for example, or are we just out of luck? Crutchfield says we likely will have alternative ways . . . I'm sorry, but for their aggressive $799 price, likely doesn't do it for me.

Doug
post #356 of 29213
giantcycle,

The clock can be set manually on certain DVR's, like the LG 3410A, if the guide does not function. Manual recordings can be set. The Sony, although manual recordings can be set, depends on the clock being set by the TV Guide. So far I have had no problem downloading guide and clock info in Chicago. With no guide, the clock seems to default to some pre-programmed time when you start the unit for the first time. I suppose you could calculate the offset from the real time to set recordings, but what a pain that would be.

Your Crutchfield link is a general guide that does not refer to any specific DVR. It repeatedly mentions problems with cable boxes (especially the Moto 6000 series) and DVR's, but this is from the Sony manual:

"It is not recommended to connect the RF output of a cable set-top box, satellite receiver or other device to your HD DVR."

The only inputs are RF for OTA and cable. I'm not sure why anyone would want to connect a cable box to the Sony, anyway. Simply split your incoming cable, one line to the Sony and one line to your cable box. The idea is to have a SEPARATE tuner so you can multitask. With The Sony, you will get all your unscrambled cable channels and, if you can get CableCARD to work, the same premium channels you get through your cable box. Record one thing, watch another. Excellent!

If you buy the Sony, you should make sure you can return it if you find that the guide is unavailable in your area.
post #357 of 29213
If you manually set a time on the unit it show up as "unknown" as the title description in the recording options and on the front display panel. This also can be a problem if you are going to keep the recordings. I don't know if you can change the "unknown" to what the title should be.
post #358 of 29213
No, there is no way to edit the titles on the Sony HDD.
post #359 of 29213
Anything I record on ABC HD Toy Story, Tarzan, etc. It show up as the title in the recording tab but displays "unknown" on the front panel...
post #360 of 29213
"It is not recommended to connect the RF output of a cable set-top box, satellite receiver or other device to your HD DVR."


What is the reason for this not recommended? I was planning on hooking up a dss box output to thte input of the sony for the ability to pause live tv. Is this possible? If it can interpret the station as analog, it should work. Right?
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