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Official AVS Motorola DCX series HD DVR Topic! - Page 147

post #4381 of 4764
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikemelinda2000 View Post

Jerbo: As I understand it the ARC simply allows one HDMI to accomplish two things - carry a video signal from the AVR to the TV and an audio signal from the TV to the AVR.
Both solutions to the problem require an HDMI cable between the DCX and the HDTV that we wouldn’t have to run if we were able to use our equipment as it is designed.
True, but you would just run that HDMI cable from the DCX to the AVR anyway. So no extra HDMI cable is required.

Quote:
One solution uses a digital optical cable to deliver audio to the AVR from the DCX and the other solution gets audio from the DCX to the AVR via one HDMI cable from the DCX to the HDTV and then another HDMI cable from the HDTV to the AVR.
But you would be running an HDMI cable from the AVR to the TV anyway for other sources. So you are eliminating the separate audio cable and not adding any additional HDMI cables.

Quote:
Assuming it doesn’t, if you have your audio out connection on the TV connected to your AVR, that would work too I think.
Yes, if your TV has a digital 5.1 output that might work too if you don't have ARC, and you can still use CEC to control the AVR/TV on/off from the TV.

The important thing here is probably not the number of cables (who really cares about 1 cable more or less?). The important thing is to eliminate the Native problem without having to worry about the order you turn components on and off.
post #4382 of 4764
Quote:
Originally Posted by gregr View Post

The important thing is to eliminate the Native problem without having to worry about the order you turn components on and off.

Agreed. Unfortunately, no matter what, it can't be done by making the connections the way God intended.
post #4383 of 4764
Quote:
Originally Posted by DSperber View Post

Doubtful to impossible, would be my guesses.
...The non-M boxes do not have these MOCA adapters on their coax connections, I would guess.

Sounds good to me! Thanks for the response.
post #4384 of 4764
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikemelinda2000 View Post

Jerbo: As I understand it the ARC simply allows one HDMI to accomplish two things - carry a video signal from the AVR to the TV and an audio signal from the TV to the AVR.
Both solutions to the problem require an HDMI cable between the DCX and the HDTV that we wouldn’t have to run if we were able to use our equipment as it is designed. One solution uses a digital optical cable to deliver audio to the AVR from the DCX and the other solution gets audio from the DCX to the AVR via one HDMI cable from the DCX to the HDTV and then another HDMI cable from the HDTV to the AVR. Your TV has to support ARC to do it though and my guess is that you are the type of guy that would have noticed if one of the TV’s HDMI inputs is so labeled. Assuming it doesn’t, if you have your audio out connection on the TV connected to your AVR, that would work too I think.
GIVE UP! LOL

Exactly on all fronts. I was pretty sure my TV did not have ARC and I have verified it does not. frown.gif BUT, yes, the TV does have an optical out -- and here's the real good news for me -- I already have it connected to my AVR (altho I do not remember hooking it up, it's there!). So that will effectively do the same as the ARC.

I'll be honest, while it is true that I am irritated things don't "just work the way it was intended to work", it's more than that for me. The REAL issue is that due to space constraints I have my HEAVY Bravia sitting on top of a HEAVY audio cabinet and it is quite cumbersome to access the back of the AVR to reconnect wires. Thus when my old DCT cable box died unexpectedly while I was with the fam in Disney World for 2 weeks and I got the replacement, I was simply not "expecting" to have to undertake the hassle of reconnecting equipment to acheive what I already had with my old DCT box. (Hooking up the new cable box was not problematic because I had all those wires easily accessible thus was easily able to just swap the connections from old box to new box).

Therefore, it's great for me that I already have the "wiring" solution with the digital optical cable already running from my TV into my AVR. It's true I've still gotta re-route the HDMI out from the DCX to the TV by removing the end currently connected to the AVR, but I can do this without moving any equipment. And, since I have the optical digital audio already hooked into my AVR, I could EASILY disconnect it from the TV optical outand instead connect it to the DCX's optical output jack IF any of you smart folks here in this forum think that is a preferable or superior connection vs. running the optical out of the TV. Presumably, since we are talking about a digital bitstream, the two connections should be identical and thus I'll just go with what I've already got.

I also agree not messing with the power on/off sequences is better, at least in terms of simplicity in original setup.

Here's one final question -- as with gregr, most of this stuff is related to a wife who is not techno-savvy and thus I have gone to great lengths to invest in and program a universal remote control with macros to automatically turn components on/off, select inputs, adjust sound settings, etc. To make this work seamlessly and dummy-proof it for the Mrs., I make extensive use of "discrete" codes. All of which to say, since there is NO discrete on/off for the DCX, IF I want to just leave the cable box "always ON", and assuming I have the HDMI running straight to TV from DCX, will I be able to "retain native" on the DCX without ever having to fiddle with the format button or user setup menu? Obviously I turn my TV off when not in use, so the HDMI handshake will be re-negotiated everytime the TV is powered on or off. So, is it OK if I just leave my DCX box "always on", then? As I said, the reason for this is to keep my universal remote macros in sync and given that the DCX box is actually used in a multi-room setup (in family room via HDMI and in basement via Component Video+stereo audio). With 2 different remotes interfacing with the cable box, there is no way I know of to keep all the macros in sync with the various power on/off states of all my devices without discrete codes. Fortunately, everything else in my system has discrete codes, so up to this point I've been covered.
post #4385 of 4764
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerbo View Post

So, is it OK if I just leave my DCX box "always on", then?

I think most people do. I always have.

Insofar as the audio is concerned - whatever is easiest, if the results sound good to you, then that is the right way to go.

I have not lost any of my settings since - well, since I ran the HDMI cable from the DCX to the TV instead of the AVR.

I note that you have a 3501 - M. Does it have that model number on the front of it? How wide is it?
post #4386 of 4764
I haven't been here in a long time, so please bear that in mind.

Our Motorola DCT3416 is on its last legs (we've had it for several years now). Once all recordings on it are watched, we will be exchanging it for a new DVR. I am assuming we will probably get a DCX model.

I am nervous about getting a DCX, despite the larger recording capacity, because of what I've heard about the boxes. My biggest concern is the possibility of recordings being unwatchable (i.e. you only get a blank screen when playing them back). I've heard that it is a software issue, that replacing the DVR (what Comcast would do if you complained to them) will not resolve the problem. I've never encountered this problem with our DCT unit, and I sincerely hope it doesn't happen with whatever new box we got from Comcast.

What I'd like to know is:

1. Is the blank recording problem still around?

2. If so, how often can I expect to encounter this problem? Does it affect everyone with a DCX?

3. It seems there is more than one DCX model out there. Is one model more susceptible to the issue, or are they all the same?

4. Are there any other issues I need to be aware of? (I already know about issues when connecting to an AVR - that will not apply in our setup.)

Thanks in advance.
post #4387 of 4764
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikemelinda2000 View Post

I note that you have a 3501 - M. Does it have that model number on the front of it? How wide is it?

No -- at the very bottom right of the front it says "RNG200N". There is a sticker on the bottom of the box, and that is where it says DCX3501-M. I did a google search using those two terms and found out that RNG200N is just Comcast's branding and applies equally to boxes made by Moto, Cisco, or Pace. The "N" is what makes it capable of the anyroom DVR (the MoCa thing somebody noted above). RNG = Residential Network gateway. So RNG200N + Motorola branded = DCX3501-M.

It's NOT wide at all compared to my old DCT 3416. The DCX3501-M is like maybe 12-18 inches wide? I'm not home to give you an exact measurement, but my old DCT was pretty much the same width as my AVR (maybe a tad bit less) but basically in my A/V cabinet with standard shelf widths it went almost all the way from left to right. the DCX is much less in width (left to right) and depth (front to back). In fact, when I got it I thought it looked like an inferior box and was PISSED. I thought they had replaced my (relatively sleek-looking) DCT box with a piece of crap older model. It wasn't until I started researching it that I realized i had a brand new box that many people now want, but which is relatively hard to come by in some areas.

From motorola website: Dimensions 12.6 in W x 8.75 in D x 2.56 in H

Link: http://www.motorola.com/staticfiles/Video-Solutions/Products/Video-CPE/All-Digital-Set-Tops/DCX3501-M/_Documents/_Static_Files/365-095-14357%20x.2_US-EN.pdf
post #4388 of 4764
Quote:
Originally Posted by dvdmth View Post

I haven't been here in a long time, so please bear that in mind.
Our Motorola DCT3416 is on its last legs (we've had it for several years now). Once all recordings on it are watched, we will be exchanging it for a new DVR. I am assuming we will probably get a DCX model.
I am nervous about getting a DCX, despite the larger recording capacity, because of what I've heard about the boxes. My biggest concern is the possibility of recordings being unwatchable (i.e. you only get a blank screen when playing them back). I've heard that it is a software issue, that replacing the DVR (what Comcast would do if you complained to them) will not resolve the problem. I've never encountered this problem with our DCT unit, and I sincerely hope it doesn't happen with whatever new box we got from Comcast.
What I'd like to know is:
1. Is the blank recording problem still around?
2. If so, how often can I expect to encounter this problem? Does it affect everyone with a DCX?
3. It seems there is more than one DCX model out there. Is one model more susceptible to the issue, or are they all the same?
4. Are there any other issues I need to be aware of? (I already know about issues when connecting to an AVR - that will not apply in our setup.)
Thanks in advance.
1. Yes, the blank recording problem is still around.
2. I personally think that the frequency of encountering the problem depends on your viewing and recording habits. My problems usually occur on nights when I am both recording a lot of series and watching other recordings (and skipping forward and backward while watching) at the same time. For me, Sunday nights are my biggest problem nights.
3. I've had multiple DCX models (but not the 3501), and I've had problems with all of them with the current software level.
4. I don't know of any other issues that specifically affect the DCX, but others might.
post #4389 of 4764
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerbo View Post


From motorola website: Dimensions 12.6 in W x 8.75 in D x 2.56 in H

Thanks that was most helpful and provided needed impetus to do a better job of searching the motorola website. And the inclusion of your sticker info answers all my questions.

Same size as my “m-less” 3501. I have had it for a year now without a lick of problem (except of course the loss of user setting thing).

Tomorrow is my turn in the barrel with Comcast - installation of Any Room DVR. I fear that they will arrive with a DCX3400-M as a replacement for my 3501. With my new found ability to search the moto site I now know that the DCX3400-M is 2.5 inches wider than the 3501. It is going to spoil the symmetry. More importantly, it appears it has a much smaller hard drive.

I’m losing altitude here.
post #4390 of 4764
Quote:
Originally Posted by crossbeaux View Post

1. Yes, the blank recording problem is still around.
2. I personally think that the frequency of encountering the problem depends on your viewing and recording habits. My problems usually occur on nights when I am both recording a lot of series and watching other recordings (and skipping forward and backward while watching) at the same time. For me, Sunday nights are my biggest problem nights.
3. I've had multiple DCX models (but not the 3501), and I've had problems with all of them with the current software level.
4. I don't know of any other issues that specifically affect the DCX, but others might.

Thanks for the reply. What you say doesn't make me feel any better about this. Comcast makes it sound like the problem is rare, but I have a hard time believing them from what I'm reading here and elsewhere.

We primarily record sports, and a lot gets recorded on Saturdays (college football) and Sundays (NFL). If any of these sporting events are lost because of a longstanding software bug, there will be hell to pay. By what you're saying, I guess I'd be stupid to even try out the new box.

I want as much feedback on this as I can get. Hoe often does this problem actually occur, on average? Once a week? Once a month? Once a day? Once every, say, 50 recordings?
post #4391 of 4764
Quote:
Originally Posted by dvdmth View Post

Thanks for the reply. What you say doesn't make me feel any better about this. Comcast makes it sound like the problem is rare, but I have a hard time believing them from what I'm reading here and elsewhere.
We primarily record sports, and a lot gets recorded on Saturdays (college football) and Sundays (NFL). If any of these sporting events are lost because of a longstanding software bug, there will be hell to pay. By what you're saying, I guess I'd be stupid to even try out the new box.
I want as much feedback on this as I can get. Hoe often does this problem actually occur, on average? Once a week? Once a month? Once a day? Once every, say, 50 recordings?
I'm not saying you shouldn't try the new box. As much as I'm PO'd at Comcast for the perpetuation of this most basic and worst possible problems (a DVR not reliably recording), I wouldn't turn my 500G box in for a 160G. When I know I'm doing a lot of "suspect" activity with the box (recording and watching at the same time), I now check the tuners when new recordings start (the red light goes on) by swapping tuners to make sure that both are displaying pictures and sound. If one of them isn't, I delete the recording, which usually returns the picture, and start the recording again. Where I have problems is on Sunday evenings, for example, when I watch and record, and then forget to check things and go to bed. Next morning there might be a blank recording or two (not always, but probably averaging one time a month). The trouble is, these things don't seem to be reliably reproduceable. For me, some Sundays record fine, despite all my "suspect" behavior. Other days, the problem occurs. If I could produce a scenario in which I always get a black screen recording, I could confront Comcast with this and make them address it.
post #4392 of 4764
In Oakland we are on our 3rd DCX3400m. It is the only box we have there. Got first one over a year ago. I haven't been able to figure out what conditions trigger the "black screen feature". There are times when it will happen 2 or 3 out of 10 recordings in a week. Haven't seen it now in Oakland in a few weeks. On Comcast.
In Florida, (also Comcast), we had two old (6412 and 6416) boxes. One died about 3 months ago. They told my wife they would mail out a "new" model. Turned out they shipped another of their OLD models. Rather than hook it up, I physically took it back to one of their offices and asked if they had the 3400 or 3501. They had a 3501!!! We got it just as the Olympics started. The old boxes would have been useless for the Olympics because of their limited capacity. Haven't really used it long enough - only in use there 2-3 weeks. (Been in Okld the last few weeks.) No problems - yet.
These newer models weren't available in Fl. until a few months ago.

FYI - there must be some minor diff. in the 3501 boxes. When I went to pick up the 3501, she brought one out, and then realized I was on the Miami system, not the adjacent system in Broward County. She took it back to the store room and brought out a diff. 3501 box and said she hadn't noticed which system I was on at first.
post #4393 of 4764
Quote:
Originally Posted by snidely View Post

The old boxes would have been perfect for the Olympics because they reliably record 100% of the time and you can swap out their small hard drive with a 1 TB hard drive.

Fixed that for ya.
post #4394 of 4764
Quote:
Originally Posted by crossbeaux View Post

I'm not saying you shouldn't try the new box. As much as I'm PO'd at Comcast for the perpetuation of this most basic and worst possible problems (a DVR not reliably recording), I wouldn't turn my 500G box in for a 160G. When I know I'm doing a lot of "suspect" activity with the box (recording and watching at the same time), I now check the tuners when new recordings start (the red light goes on) by swapping tuners to make sure that both are displaying pictures and sound. If one of them isn't, I delete the recording, which usually returns the picture, and start the recording again. Where I have problems is on Sunday evenings, for example, when I watch and record, and then forget to check things and go to bed. Next morning there might be a blank recording or two (not always, but probably averaging one time a month). The trouble is, these things don't seem to be reliably reproduceable. For me, some Sundays record fine, despite all my "suspect" behavior. Other days, the problem occurs. If I could produce a scenario in which I always get a black screen recording, I could confront Comcast with this and make them address it.

If there are any DCT's or DCH's available when we make the swap, I'm definitely going with the older model. Though we'd like more space with this unit, reliability is far more important.
Quote:
Originally Posted by snidely View Post

In Oakland we are on our 3rd DCX3400m. It is the only box we have there. Got first one over a year ago. I haven't been able to figure out what conditions trigger the "black screen feature". There are times when it will happen 2 or 3 out of 10 recordings in a week. Haven't seen it now in Oakland in a few weeks. On Comcast.
In Florida, (also Comcast), we had two old (6412 and 6416) boxes. One died about 3 months ago. They told my wife they would mail out a "new" model. Turned out they shipped another of their OLD models. Rather than hook it up, I physically took it back to one of their offices and asked if they had the 3400 or 3501. They had a 3501!!! We got it just as the Olympics started. The old boxes would have been useless for the Olympics because of their limited capacity. Haven't really used it long enough - only in use there 2-3 weeks. (Been in Okld the last few weeks.) No problems - yet.
These newer models weren't available in Fl. until a few months ago.
FYI - there must be some minor diff. in the 3501 boxes. When I went to pick up the 3501, she brought one out, and then realized I was on the Miami system, not the adjacent system in Broward County. She took it back to the store room and brought out a diff. 3501 box and said she hadn't noticed which system I was on at first.

This post makes me wonder if the 3501's might be more reliable than the 3400's. Can anyone expand on this?
post #4395 of 4764
Quote:
Originally Posted by dvdmth View Post

This post makes me wonder if the 3501's might be more reliable than the 3400's. Can anyone expand on this?
No 3501's in my neighborhood, but that's the rumor. I would swap for one if I could get it and it worked with AnyRoom.
post #4396 of 4764
I would wager my left nut that the 3501 is no more reliable at recording than the rest of the DCX line.

Anybody that wants 100% reliable recording + 1 TB of DVR recording space should be looking to get a DCH or DCT model and, for a nominal fee, replacing the puny hard drive with a preformatted 1 TB drive.

And, for a much more nominal fee (a couple tens of dollars) you can use your own 1 TB hard drive if you're prepared to spend a couple of hours setting the hard drive up. Details are in the "DCT6412 hard drive upgrade?" thread.
Edited by TNO821 - 9/13/12 at 9:11pm
post #4397 of 4764
Quote:
Originally Posted by crossbeaux View Post

I'm not saying you shouldn't try the new box. As much as I'm PO'd at Comcast for the perpetuation of this most basic and worst possible problems (a DVR not reliably recording), I wouldn't turn my 500G box in for a 160G. When I know I'm doing a lot of "suspect" activity with the box (recording and watching at the same time), I now check the tuners when new recordings start (the red light goes on) by swapping tuners to make sure that both are displaying pictures and sound. If one of them isn't, I delete the recording, which usually returns the picture, and start the recording again. Where I have problems is on Sunday evenings, for example, when I watch and record, and then forget to check things and go to bed. Next morning there might be a blank recording or two (not always, but probably averaging one time a month). The trouble is, these things don't seem to be reliably reproduceable. For me, some Sundays record fine, despite all my "suspect" behavior. Other days, the problem occurs. If I could produce a scenario in which I always get a black screen recording, I could confront Comcast with this and make them address it.

I haven't reproduced the issue on demand either, but I also believe there are certain actions that lead to these problems. I think watching a program from the DVR or On Demand at the time that a new recording is scheduled to start is one problem scenario. In general I have becoming fearful of multitasking operations, especially when both tuners are being recorded to.

I think the handshaking operation that occurs when starting up a system may also be a problem scenario if recordings are in progress.

For anyone doing FireWire captures, disconnecting FireWire seems to frequently introduce problems, so avoid disconnecting a capture device while a DVR recording is taking place.

Honestly, I almost never have problems because I avoid the types of actions above and take steps to ensure that my wife does the same, but these boxes definitely have some bugs that can lead to trouble. (I have the DCX-3400-M for Comcast AnyRoom).
post #4398 of 4764
Quote:
Originally Posted by crossbeaux View Post

No 3501's in my neighborhood, but that's the rumor. I would swap for one if I could get it and it worked with AnyRoom.
What possible reason do you have for thinking that the same (obviously software/firmware) bug doesn't exist on the 3501? Believe me, it's not magically immune and Google (formerly Motorola Mobility) has demonstrated zero proficiency in nailing these DCX issues (I doubt the capable engineers they once had still work for them.)

And I'm not trying to beat up on Google. But the reality is that, with how businesses operate today, it doesn't take many key people walking out the door for there to be massive institutional knowledge loss. And good luck getting a different (even talented) engineer to ramp up on what was done before (and the reasons why) and fix the issues without causing a whole lot of new ones. Regression testing's a b*tch, which is why I'm writing off the whole DCX line.
Edited by TNO821 - 9/13/12 at 6:40pm
post #4399 of 4764
Quote:
Originally Posted by crossbeaux View Post

No 3501's in my neighborhood, but that's the rumor. I would swap for one if I could get it and it worked with AnyRoom.

I don't recall any posts in this thread about the black screen problem w. the 3501. The 3501 doesn't appear to have been out as long - so there are fewer of them in users hands. As solid as the OLD boxes are - they are OLD - and I wouldn't want to bother. It would be similar to trying to upgrade your old car with a more efficient engine only to have the transmission go out. I don't think there are any new DCT/DCH boxes still being produced. They do "refurbish" old ones.
post #4400 of 4764
Quote:
Originally Posted by TNO821 View Post

Anybody that wants 100% reliable recording + 1 TB of DVR recording space should be looking to get a DCH or DCT model and, for a nominal fee, replacing the puny hard drive with a preformatted 1 TB drive.
And, for a much more nominal fee (a couple tens of dollars) you can use your own 1 TB hard drive if you're prepared to spend a couple of hours setting the hard drive up. Details are in the "DCT6412 hard drive upgrade?" thread.
Not to mention that the older DCT and DCH have essentially 100% "working firewire interfaces", if you're inclined to want to transcribe 100% bit-perfect HDTV from DVR to PC (for copy-freely content, assuming you have a 32-bit Windows environment) or from DVR to DVHS tape (for both copy-freely and copy-protected, assuming you own a DVHS VCR and blank DVHS tapes).

Or, for truly 100% reliable recordings as well as numerous other giant advantages, if you're computer-savvy you can "build your own" (e.g. as described generally in this other post). Replacing the DVR's rented from cable system providers (be they single-room or multi-room/whole-house) with your own whole-house HTPC system (based around Windows 7 and Windows Media Center, distributing live/recorded content to other extender/HDTV locations around your home through your home LAN network and router), that's the way to go.

You're essentially unlimited in storage capacity (e.g. I have 5GB allocated, with a 2GB drive for "current recordings" and 3GB on other drives for "copy/storage/playback of previously recorded programs from the primary location"), and virtually unlimited in tuners (e.g. I have a dual-tuner Hauppauge HVR-2250 for OTA/ATSC recording from my roof antenna, and an internal 4-tuner Ceton InfiniTV M-Card device for recording copy-freely and copy-once contents from TWC/LA, for a total of 6 tuners managed by Windows Media Center). With the Ceton drivers and WMC you can actually have up to three 4-tuner cards, i.e. 12 cablecard-enabled tuners.

WMC is essentially bullet-proof DVR software which is more sophisticated than iGuide, and exhibits none of the annoying bugs found in the iGuide software on the Motorola boxes... especially the newer models.

Just sayin'.
post #4401 of 4764
Quote:
Originally Posted by DSperber View Post

You're essentially unlimited in storage capacity (e.g. I have 5GB allocated, with a 2GB drive for "current recordings" and 3GB on other drives for "copy/storage/playback of previously recorded programs from the primary location"), and virtually unlimited in tuners (e.g. I have a dual-tuner Hauppauge HVR-2250 for OTA/ATSC recording from my roof antenna, and an internal 4-tuner Ceton InfiniTV M-Card device for recording copy-freely and copy-once contents from TWC/LA, for a total of 6 tuners managed by Windows Media Center). With the Ceton drivers and WMC you can actually have up to three 4-tuner cards, i.e. 12 cablecard-enabled tuners.
WMC is essentially bullet-proof DVR software which is more sophisticated than iGuide, and exhibits none of the annoying bugs found in the iGuide software on the Motorola boxes... especially the newer models.
Just sayin'.
I assume you mean 5TB, 2TB, and 3TB drives. Otherwise, not so much space.

Your system sounds great. If you're ever in Portland, OR, come on over and set one up for me. smile.gif As I've often lamented, 30 years ago I knew everything there was to know about PCs. Now I know almost nothing.
post #4402 of 4764
Quote:
Originally Posted by TNO821 View Post

What possible reason do you have for thinking that the same (obviously software/firmware) bug doesn't exist on the 3501? Believe me, it's not magically immune and Google (formerly Motorola Mobility) has demonstrated zero proficiency in nailing these DCX issues (I doubt the capable engineers they once had still work for them.)
My only reasoning is that no one has reported having black screen problems with the 3501 boxes. I continue to believe that the problem with these boxes is software, because the black screen issues began with the release of the A.28 software (when we got folders, etc). And I thought my previous DCT box experienced the same problem too. But others here have convinced me that the older boxes don't have the issue. So perhaps the newer, 3501 doesn't either. Maybe wishful thinking on my part.
post #4403 of 4764
Quote:
Originally Posted by crossbeaux View Post

My only reasoning is that no one has reported having black screen problems with the 3501 boxes. I continue to believe that the problem with these boxes is software, because the black screen issues began with the release of the A.28 software (when we got folders, etc). And I thought my previous DCT box experienced the same problem too. But others here have convinced me that the older boxes don't have the issue. So perhaps the newer, 3501 doesn't either. Maybe wishful thinking on my part.

I remember when we first got the A28 software on our DCT3416. I nearly turned in our DVR then, because for about a week it was pretty unstable. There were a few recordings that simply didn't record (not the black screen issue - they just didn't appear in the list of recordings). According to the DVR history, a "hardware failure" was responsible. The box also generated an on-screen display about a command not being processed - this display showed up regularly, even at times when nothing was pressed on the remote. Then, about a week after getting the software, the DVR rebooted itself overnight (not sure if it was in response to a signal from the cable system or if it reset itself on its own), and ever since then it has been rock solid with the new software...until about a month ago.

Now our DCT3416 is showing signs it's on the verge of kicking the bucket. It's rebooting frequently, and we've also had to call Comcast on three occasions to send a signal to the box to get it to boot up properly (on each occasion the front panel displayed a "0"). We have a pretty big backlog of recordings (mostly in SD because of the low capacity), so it will be another few days before we're fully caught up and can exchange the box. This is why I am asking about the DCX's to see if it's worth the pain. From what I'm reading, it sounds like I shouldn't bother until at least the next software update, whenever that will be.
post #4404 of 4764
Quote:
Originally Posted by crossbeaux View Post

I assume you mean 5TB, 2TB, and 3TB drives. Otherwise, not so much space.
Windows Media Center supports only one single primary recording folder, so you put it somewhere on some drive. Ideally it should go on a fairly large drive, with a fair amount of space. My most recent drive upgrade relocated this folder to a 2TB drive, and after partitioning and copying other things that had to be on it I started with about 1.5GB of free space. That was consumed very quickly during the Olympics when I was recording three channels of HD at around 16 hours per day for each channel.

But WMC and Windows 7 support an unlimited number of additional separate folders on one or more drives which can be added to the "Recorded TV Library" (initially defined as that one-and-only primary recording folder at a minimum, but it can be extended to include as many other folders as you want, on that same drive or as many other drives as you want). So as much storage space as you care to have and make available for playback-only of previously recorded programs, that's how much capacity you can build for yourself. The primary folder limits your current ongoing immediate recording capacity, but if pressed for space you can simply move any recording to any of the other locations to free up new recording capacity while not losing that previous recording. The entire "Recorded TV Library" contents are shown when you look at your "Recorded TV" list in WMC.

So the numbers I gave reflect the net total sum of the "free" storage space I'd added up from the multiple external folder/drive locations I have defined as part of the "Recorded TV Library". I don't actually use any individual drives larger than 2TB yet (there's an issue with WinXP compatiblity), neither internal nor external. But someday perhaps.

Quote:
Your system sounds great. If you're ever in Portland, OR, come on over and set one up for me. smile.gif As I've often lamented, 30 years ago I knew everything there was to know about PCs. Now I know almost nothing.
I'd love to. It's just a matter of assembling all of the prerequisite hardware and Ethernet infrastructure in your house if you don't already have the required pieces, and typically that only requires a dollar investment and waiting for things (like your TV tuner cards) to arrive. You figure out where your HTPC will go, make sure you have proper (a) Ethernet cable to the gigabit router, and (b) proper coax cable from your cable provider, and you're pretty much ready to start. If you need to replace your router and/or run new Ethernet cable to your remote locations where you have HDTV's, you need to do that.

For each remote HDTV you will need a "media center extender", which can be an Xbox. Or, it can be a Linksys DMA2100 extender which is no longer made but you can still buy them. Or, it can be a new Echo extender which is just nearing availability from Ceton (they're about to enter beta on it). But you need an extender at each HDTV, to be fed via Ethernet from your network and which feeds your HDTV via HDMI.

After that, you need to have a Windows 7 PC (of modest strength is all that's really needed) which will become your HTPC and be on 24/7 in all likelihood and thus drawing electrical power all the time. So you try to configure it so that its power usage is probably between 150-300 watts, which is considerably more than a standard DVR will draw so it needs to be figured into your true "monthly cost". The Win7 machine can be dedicated to WMC (which makes things easy) or you can just re-purpose one of your existing machines to be your HTPC, if that works and if it's reliable and stable. A UPS at that location really is a necessity, to protect you during power surges and outages, so that you don't lose your DVR capability.

You give back your DVRs (probably $18-$20 each) and replacing them all you rent a single an M-Card ($2/month). That M-Card goes into the Ceton 4-tuner TV card, and supports all 4 of its tuners. If you want more than 4 tuners for your cable needs in your household (remembering 1 tuner is needed for any recording that is occurring, as well as for anyone watching "live TV") you can add a second 4-tuner card. If you want to record OTA/ATSC for local networks from your roof antenna (typically the picture quality is superior than what gets re-transmitted by the cable system for these same networks) you can get a 2-tuner Hauppauge HVR-2250. Or, you don't need to if it's not part of your plan.

Note that all of these TV tuner cards have drivers/software that can also support SDV cable system infrastructures which are becoming more and more common as a bandwidth-limit solution while still providing an ever-growing list of HD channels, which require Tuning Adapters as the magic. I'm lucky in my TWC/LA (former Comcast) location, where the existing Motorola infrastructure was sufficiently modern and updated so that SDV/TA was not required for my area. I have TWC coax going directly into my Ceton card, with no tuning adapter involved. Others are not so lucky, but the Ceton hardware supports it if you have it.


Anyway, I inspired my nephew in Chicago to do just this in his house. He'd originally gone with uVerse from AT&T, and was so disappointed that he threw them out and went with Comcast. Then he went with HD HomeRun boxes (on the network) for his TV tuners, instead of the internal Hauppauge and Ceton tuner cards I use in my HTPC. He has one HD HomeRun box (for OTA/ATSC) and two HD HomeRun Prime boxes (for cable), feeding his HTPC via network connectivity which is in another location in his house. That's why gigabit networking is required, because sending all of these HDTV programs from the tuners to the HTPC simultaneously takes bandwidth. Note that this is not an issue if the TV tuner cards are internal to the HTPC, although delivering live/recorded content from HTPC to your remote extender/HDTV locations simultaneously still takes bandwidth.

Anyway, my nephew has four Xbox's/HDTV's around his house. And his wife and three young daughters have no problem using the Xbox remote to invoke Windows Media Center actions. They are now all "fully trained and fluent" using WMC, which obviously passed the "client test" for these "customers" with flying colors. In his Chicago Comcast area there are also no tuning adapters involved.

Myself, I'm not a gamer so I use three Linksys DMA2100's to support the three HDTV's in my house, with each DMA2100 having its own dedicated WMC remote designed to look like the official Microsoft WMC remote. On each of my two HTPC"s (one of which is the actual HTPC) I have WMC running, accessing the shared "Recorded TV Library" hosted by the HTPC. So I can watch copy-freely content on either Win7 machine (on its monitor) as well as all extender/HDTV locations, and I can watch copy-protected content on the HTPC as well as all extender/HDTV locations. I also have a genuine Microsoft WMC remote (and IR receiver) at each of the two PC's, so that I can control WMC on both machines via remote just as you do from your living room chair... which is obviously very convenient.

I'd love to build out such a system for you. I think you'd love it.
Edited by DSperber - 9/14/12 at 8:54am
post #4405 of 4764
I'm on Charter and I've had a 3501m for just over a year now, and have never had a black screen issue.
post #4406 of 4764
Quote:
Originally Posted by DSperber View Post

I'd love to build out such a system for you. I think you'd love it.

Roughly, what would a system like this cost to build and set up?
post #4407 of 4764
Quote:
Originally Posted by Go Hard View Post

Roughly, what would a system like this cost to build and set up?
It's up to you.

The 2-tuner OTA/ATSC Hauppauge HVR-2250 cards go for about $100 (+tax, S&H of course). You should get this if you have a roof antenna and want to get the best quality OTA recording for your local networks. Cable systems have a tendency to re-compress everything for delivery to the end-user even free local OTA broadcas networks, at least TWC/LA does, so I use this card in my setup for all ABC, CBS, FOX, CW and NBC programs. Requires a PCIe slot.

The Ceton 4-tuner internal M-Card cablecard-enabled cards go for about $200. Requires a PCIe slot. Ceton also sells a USB (external to the PC) version, if you don't want to install the internal cards in a PCIe slot).

The HD Homerun for OTA/ATSC (network-based tuner) is about $100. HD Homerun Prime for cable is about $150.

You can get any decent "current" Win7 machine (i3 or i5 based) with 4GB of memory and a 10/100/1000 network card and a reasonable ATI HD-family video card (if you wanted to just build a new HTPC from scratch) for not very much. You can get a Lenovo "refurb" that's really excellent for something in the $400 range, but a decent PC that you might already have (and want to enhance to be your HTPC as well) and which has sufficient spare PCIe slots available for your TV tuner card(s) will do. You might have to add an ATI video card for watching HDTV on your monitor, but something like a fanless 1GB HD5450 (reasonably low-end) should probably work, and that's only about $45. I've used a fanless 1GB HD4850 in one machine and a fanned (dual-DVI) 1GB HD5770 in my other machine, and they both are significantly more powerful than the HD5450 and they both work fine with WMC and watching HDTV on your HTPC, but they're also more expensive.

Then you need a gigabit router if you don't already have one. Something like a basic Netgear WNR3500 (which can be had used/refurb for about $50 or new for about $150) or similar will be fine.

Then you need a "media center extender" at each HDTV. If you have Xbox'es you can use them. Otherwise, a LInksys DMA2100 can be used... which are no longer made but can still be bought for $70-$100. Or, by the end of the year you'll probably be able to buy an "Echo" extender from Ceton.

Then you need CAT5 cable (at least) from the gigabit router to each extender. You need CAT6 cable from the HTPC to the gigabit router. If you use the network based HD Homerun tuners you need CAT6 from those to the gigabit router. The use of "wireless" from router to the extender is NOT recommended.

If you have a coax run to a location, and you just cannot or don't want to run an Ethernet cable to that same location, you can buy a pair of "ethernet over coax" adapters from Netsys for about $150. That will convert the coax to an Ethernet cable, providing two Ethernet jacks at each end (kind of a wired access point, like a 2-port router at each end). Mostly you'll likely just have your gigabit router plugged into one jack at one end, and have one jack at the other end go to the extender at that end. If you have a second Internet-enabled device at that other end (e.g. a smart modern BluRay player or TV) you can plug the second jack from that end's Netsys adapter into that second device, since you can support two Ethernet connections at either end.

Windows 7 is the prerequisite OS, and Windows Media Center is your DVR software. If you use XBox as your extender, its remote is also used as the WMC remote at that location. Linksys DMA2100 comes with its own media center remote. You can buy a standard [they don't make it anymore] Microsoft media center remote (including IR receiver) for use on your HTPC for about $50-$80, although I got one of mine for about $30.


The rest is just know-how.
Edited by DSperber - 9/14/12 at 3:06pm
post #4408 of 4764
After going a few weeks - black screen showed up on our Oakland 3400. Had a 6PM to 7PM recording on one channel. Another recording was to start at 7PM and run to 11PM. First recording was ok. At about 7:15 tried watching the baseball game that dis start recording at 7. The first 10 to 12 minutes were ok - nothing but black screen after that. Will see if I can turn in our 3rd 3400 for a 3501.
post #4409 of 4764
Since there is no discrete on/off for the DCX does anybody know of any way to turn on the box that could serve as a workaround and act like a discrete on? ( eg my old VCR would turn on by hitting the play button so I could ensure the power toggle never got out of sync because play + power toggle always = off). I realize I could just leave the DCX always on, which is what I will wind up doing bc I'm guessing there are no other workaounds.

The reason it matters to me is because I use a digital tuning adapter in my setup. Unfortunately the XMP remote control code protocol used by that box is also recognized by the DCX box so I've got a problem.

Now I KNOW one solution people have used for this is to get an IR repeater that plugs into the back of the DCX and just hide the DCX from the regular line of sight remote signals going to the digital tuning adapter box (DTA). Long story, but that won't work in my setup. I'm already using an RF remote base station that is NOT addressable (ie cannot be configured to send different signals to different components) and combined with my multi room / multi zone setup purchasing another IR repeater just won't accomplish what I need.

Short of buying an addressable RF base station which just isn't in the budget right now, does anybody have any ideas? I think I'm SOL. In short, I'm wondering if anybody knows of a way to get the DCX to NOT recognize the XMP remote code signals sent by the remote for the DTA box. The DTA won't recognize the Motorola 001376 code but unfortunately the DCX box recognizes both the legacy Moto codes and the new Comcast/pace XMP codes thus causing the problem. I'm guessing the answer is no, short of disassembling the DCX and physically removing the IR sensor! But just in case anybody knows another way, thought I'd ask.
post #4410 of 4764
This is probably a dumb question. How can you tell if a DCX box is a 3400 or a 3501? Is there any difference in appearance between the two models?
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