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16,623 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Background, Issues & Main components;
Almost two years after I started what became the "speculation" thread, ePVision has released their long awaited DVR. I won't repeat the details of the DVR since most are in the first two pages of the old thread here;
Then, their original designed was different. The enclosure and no doubt the electronics has changed. The new versions main processor chip has only been out for a year, being used in Goldstar (LG) and Sony TV's. From what I and others have posted, it appears this might of been the wrong choice due to the complexities of this. Considering the apparent market for this chip was TV's, with the DVR function being 2nd, I believe this has caused many of the firmware problems. IOW's they might of bitten off more than they can chew.
These SoC (System On a Chip) so called "solutions" sound good on paper, but in reality, I feel there is too much packed in a single component.
I must say, this is not and never will be a TiVo. If you are use to that platform, you will be disappointed with this. While this does have features TiVo does not, it wasn't designed to complete. I feel it does have promise if you can deal with the shortcomings.There some similarities with this and other recent DVR's, some not so good and others, better.
The hardware has been ready for some time, but there were problems with the firmware. Last minute 'bugs' appeared, many that were not known to them until I pointed them out. What I was told, fixing one sometimes created another elsewhere since so many items are interrelated. I had an agreement with ePVision to privately test one of these DVR's back in March of 2012, giving my word it would be on the QT. This was without a user manual of any kind other than that 'Quick start guide' on their web site. I found some aspects easy to grasp, but many more not so due to a much different user interface. Also, I haven't had any real experience with Linux or ext2 device formatting.
The long promised pay Guide which was initially available through Schedules Direct through a firmware update was removed due to the lack of communication between ePVision & Schedules Direct. 
Quote:January 16th 2014
ePVision is not supported!
It has come to our attention that a commercial DVR manufacturer is offering our guide data service. Schedules Direct is only licensed to provide data to non-commercial applications. Use of SD with ePVision and other commercial products (with a few granted exceptions) is not permitted. 

November 2013, the 2nd version of this unit replaces the original, adding the number "2" at the end of the model number: PHD-VRX2. There is also a revised owners manual for both available.
The VRX2 brochure is here;

The VRX2 owners manual is here;

The VRX version is here;
Changes are as follows:
1. the HDMI audio issue has been solved by a hardware change,
2. The front panel has been redesigned,
3. The power switch has been removed,
4. The display is now red and located in the center of the front panel,
5. The function button strip (buttons) has been moved to the right side,
6. The internal power supplied has been redesigned,
7. Those three openings on the rear panel that were for component outs have been removed.

Laundry list of concerns;
Like any consumer device, there will always be "issues" that need and should be "fixed".  Many have been addressed, but many have not, which is uncalled for at this late date.
I believe this has a lot of promise, if most of the problems would get addressed. 
I have been complying a list of issues, as I have from the spring of 2012, when I received a test unit.  More potential members that contact them to re-enforce what has been brought up, the better the chances they will see these are valid. Special tanks to HDTV1080p for adding his list to mine regarding the audio issues.
The current "Laundry List" of concerns is here (post 2344);
Menu not as friendly as it could and should be, but far better than TiVo's grade school interface;
One of my long standing gripes is the menu. Something that would, or should be somewhat easy to fix has gone ignored. Take a look at this thread started by boneless6220 comparing the older (but current) 208 tuner with this. especially the screen shots of that menu. Not quite as "pretty" as this, but surely more than acceptable. A much easier menu to navigate due to using text instead of "cutesy" icons that you have to guess at. 
For the record, back last January 2012, this was posted;
Quote:Hi Bruce,
Thanks for your email today and this one!
Regarding your questions:
We actually are not just some engineers doing our designs in the oversea location by ourselves. In fact, all our key engineers worked for US design firms, US side TV manufacturers and EPG companies for many years (10 years+ at least). We are really good what we are.
Again, many thanks for your comments and even for today’s email.
Support Team, Allen

Now, compare that with this derogatory e-mail sent from ePVision back in June 2012 (post 363). Then note the reaction from forum members;

Main System Components;
Main microprocessor: Broadcom/ATI BCM35230 (this replaces the older ATI 243 that is used in their Media Switcher):
40nm-fabricated SoC (system-on-chip)
MIPS Technologies dual-core CPU and GPU running at more than 1,400 DMIPS;
video processing up to 120Hz with frame rate conversion, de-interlacing and super resolution;
integrated wireless connectivity and support for worldwide broadcast standards;
decoder support for, among others, OpenGL ES 2.0 and Adobe Flash.
SoC also incorporates the Freespace MotionEngine embedded platform from Hillcrest Labs that reads the output from of a wand remote if configured.
I was unable to find any block diagram for this chip. If anyone has such, please PM me.
Broadcom BCM35230
Full HD 1080p Connected DTV SoC Solution
The BCM35230 is the third DivX Plus HD Certified digital TV solution from Broadcom, following the recent certifications for the BCM3549 and BCM3556 DTV platforms.
Broadcom’s next generation connected DTV platform features a high powered dual core CPU, graphics processing unit and industry leading video processing with frame rate conversion, deinterlacing and super resolution to enhance the viewing experience on Internet, broadcast and Blu-ray content.
The BCM35230 full high definition (HD) connected digital television (DTV) system-on-a-chip (SoC) solution features advanced picture quality enhancements including 120Hz functionality, frame rate conversion, motion compensation, and back-end enhancements for a high quality viewing experience.
This next generation connected DTV platform combines a high level of integration with best-in-class picture quality, enabling TV manufacturers to reduce overall system cost and improve picture quality from a single chip design.
Supporting 1080p60 input and up to 1080p120 output capabilities, the BCM35230 SoC solution includes new options for accessing video content on a TV through the Internet or a consumer's own in-home network, as well as connected services, dynamic applications and interactive content.
MIPS Technologies dual core CPU and graphics processing unit (GPU) with 1400+ DMIPS
Video processing with advanced functionality including 120Hz, frame rate conversion, de-interlacing and super resolution to enhance the viewing experience with Internet, broadcast and/or Blu-ray content
Integrated connectivity and support for worldwide broadcast standards that provides a cost effective global platform for Internet TV
40 nanometer design that includes advanced video and audio decoders and excellent connected TV support such as OpenGL® ES 2.0 for Flash 10
Supporting memory is supplied by Samsung (2x2Gb SDRAM) and Toshiba (8Gb of NAND flash storage).
This also incorporates the Freespace MotionEngine embedded platform from Hillcrest Labs that can read the output from a TV wand type remote that LG & Sony are using.
Sony and LG both turned to Hillcrest Labs last year for help with their motion-control remotes, and now it seems the company is looking to spread its love more generically. Hillcrest has inked a deal with Broadcom to make a pair of Bluetooth chips that integrate the Freespace MotionEngine, the Broadcom BCM35230 digital TV system-on-a-chip (SoC) and BCM20730 single-chip.

U11: AMD 218T316ZLA12GX IF demod - MP3/4 player (Unable to find anything on this chip. If anyone can PM me.)
Tuners: Nutune FA 2317 w/ Infineon TUA6037F 3 band tuner w/ IF AGC amp
U603: Hynix HY27UF084G2B flash memory
U400 & 401: Nanya NT5CB128M16BP-D1 2Gb DDR3 memory
U7: Thine THC63LVD1024 LVDS (low voltage differential signaling) HDMI receiver
U3: Explore EP936E HDMI 1.3 transmitter, now replaced by a iTE chip
U1: reserved for HDMI pass thru to component out



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16,623 Posts
Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
ext2 formatting in a Linux kernel.

As you are hopefully aware of, there is no internal hard drive with this DVR. To keep costs down, only two external USB 2 ports are provided.
Also, whatever HDD you choose, using your USB interface enclosure, you are able to format the drive to either ext2 or NTFS. BUT, performance using the 3rd party NTFS drivers they choose is poor. So much so, you are only able to record one program at a time! ext2 has no such limitation. There is literally almost a 5x increase in performance from NTFS and ext2 according to the internal speed test utility. Utter breakup trying to record two programs in NTFS are rock solid using ext2, even when watching a recorded program.

I have run numerous internal speed tests and drives formatted to NTFS only achieve a 4-6MB/s transfer speed, while ext2 formatted drives will achieve 20 to 26 MB/s (26MB/s seems to be the limit of the system, not the drives). ePVision states a need for at least 19MB/s to record two programs at once. Remember, there are two tuners. When I was testing a NTFS formatted drive while recording a single program, playback of another recording didn't seem to bother recording. There was no breakup, unlike when both tuners were recording. Odd that a playback reading of the drive doesn't impact recording, but a 2nd write to the drive does.

Please note the following;
I recently tried a WD AV-GP type HDD designed for media recorders, namely TiVo. It is one of their "Green" drive series with a slower rotational speed (5400 vs 7200 rpm) and a dampened actuator arm to reduce noise, heat and power consumption. For TiVo it works and is required, for this it doesn't.
Instead of the 21-26 MB/sec speed tests, I only got 16-18 MB/s which is below the apparent requirement. Recording two programs at one time takes a hit. Not as bad as a drive formatted to NTFS, but basically unacceptable with skips & breakups every minute or so. I also found another issue, but not sure if it was the drive or the interface that I used. Deleting those recordings took around 4-5 times longer, but they were never completely deleted. Verified on a PC, the entries were still there though file size was reported as 'zero'.

Initially, the internal disk formatting function never worked, even with two different drives on my test unit. After numerous tries with the shipped firmware, then the 1st updated firmware, it never worked. I gave up on wasting time trying to use this. Instead, I used EaseUS Partition Master with little or no issues.
After numerous requests for specifics on the procedure, it was finally stated that this should be either off or in standby, then powered up to use the utility. Later on, it was then mentioned that with a newer firmware some changes were made. Still no specifics. One owner later found the drive had to be already formatted to use the utility. Apparently, it was/is assumed that everyone only uses these 'packaged' enclosures with HDD's installed that are already formatted. Even with the recent release of the owners manual, there is still nothing about not using 'bare' drives.

If you use a bare drive (virgin), it has to be initialized or partitioned first. I don't believe formatting is the issue, it just has to be seen by the DVR and bare drives are not seen, just like they aren't seen within Windows

Aside from that, the utility provides no visible estimate display on how long this will take or how far into the process you are like most PC formatting programs seem to have.
I strongly recommend not using the internal utility.


EaseUS Partition Master;
Instead, go here and download this free program to format your drive to ext2 (or NTFS if you wish).

The program works great, it's fairly easy to use and since it allows you to at least see a ext2 formatted drive within Windows (though you still can't access it) it can be used to replace M$'s utilities for any formatting. Unlike ePVisions internal buggy program, this will least give you an idea how far into the operation you are. Actually, Allen has already mentioned using this, apparently he found it before I did. There are only two functions that are not enabled, neither are of any importance here. It's not a trial program.

Mini Tool Partition Wizard (excellent tool; free & pay);

Ext2 Installable File System For Windows;
Both of these allow reading ext2 drives within Windows with the additional drivers installed

Drivers only;Quote:Read & Write Ext2 & Ext3 files from Windows
By Andrea Helaine, eHow Contributor | updated April 16, 2012

EXT2 and EXT3 are two Linux file systems, which is the system used by the Linux operating system to organize files on the hard drive. Windows uses the proprietary NTFS file system and cannot naively access EXT2 and 3 files systems. In order to have access to Linux files systems, you will have to install drivers to allow Windows to see them.

1 Go to sourceforge.net/projects/ext2fsd/files/ and click the blue "Ext2fsd" link.
2 Click on the 0.48 on the top of the page as of late 2010; your version number may be different.
3 Click on "ExtFsd-X.XX.exe" (where X.XX is the version number) and save the file on your desktop.
4 Double click on the file you just downloaded to start the installation process.
5 Click "Next" twice in the Ext2Fsd install window.
6 Select "Make Ext2Fsd automatically start when system boots" if you want the driver to load when the operating system starts.
7 Select "Enable write support for Ext2 partitions" if you want to be able to write in the Linux partition. You can always read the partition with the option chosen here.
8 Select "Enable force writing Ext 3 partitions" if you want to be able to write on Ext3 partitions.
9 Click "Next" to finish the installation process.
10 Reboot the computer when prompted.
11 Go to the "Start" menu and select "All Programs," then "Ext2Fsd" and then "Ext2Fsd Volume Manager." Your Linux partitions will be visible with their Ext2 or Ext3 labels.
12 Double click on the partition you want to mount and assign it a letter to be able to access it from Windows.
13 Go to "Start" and click on "Computer" to have access to the Ext2 or 3 partition(s).
Tips & Warnings
You can choose any free letter you want.
Writing on Linux partitions can be dangerous as the driver does not update the journal entry of the partition. After writing on a Ext3 partition you might be required to let the Linux operating system check the partition next time you access the drive from Linux.
When you have several hard drives with Ext partitions, do not use the same letter to mount them even if you do not mount them at the same time. Choosing the same letter could confuse Windows and produce writing errors on the drive.

A more advanced program with separate drivers is here.;
http://www.fs-driver.org/Quote:It installs a pure kernel mode file system driver Ext2fs.sys, which actually extends the Windows operating system to include the Ext2 file system. Since it is executed on the same software layer at the Windows NT operating system core like all of the native file system drivers of Windows (for instance NTFS, FASTFAT, or CDFS for Joliet/ISO CD-ROMs), all applications can access directly to Ext2 volumes. Ext2 volumes get drive letters (for instance O:). Files, and directories of an Ext2 volume appear in file dialogs of all applications. There is no need to copy files from or to Ext2 volumes in order to work with them.

Here is a excellent post from a new member 'Ed Bear' regarding specifics of the file system used;

VideoReDo for editing recordings in your PC;

This program seems to be one of the most popular video editing/authoring programs around. There are three versions. Their TVSuite & TVSuite H264 seem to be the best choices. Questionable if the addition of the H264 capability would be worth the additional cost for this application;

Here is their forum with a number of "How To" Guides;

Two most popular video editing forums are here;

Playback programs for your Windows PC;

VLC Player is a very popular program since it will play most every type of file, but will not play these recordings (unfortunately).
KM Player (interestingly it is from Korea) is suppose to play these back, but I had problems with memory errors locking up the program. During the install process there is the ability of unchecking certain options that add toolbars and/or other add-ons which I did uncheck when I tried it (as I do with any program with similar 'extras'). Unfortunately, every time I opened the program, an annoying "Unable to find member" message appears (having to do with one option I did not allow) which was annoying.
Media Player Classic, This is the older version of this open source program, but found that after a few seconds it would freeze, then it completely crashed the O/S. (I run XP Pro which may be part of the issue)

But, there is a newer "Media Player Classic-Home Cinema" version which is over a year newer that works fine. No idea why one crashes and the other runs fine, but here is the site and program.
The current version is 1.63;
This surely is a good choice. It's also open source, not connected to M$. (I surely would never recommend it if it was M$). It has a option under "Properties" to read the details of the file you are playing which could be of help to troubleshoot. If anyone finds another suited program, please post.

Program to read video and audio file formats from Digimetrics called MediaInfo;
http://mediainfo.sourceforge.net/enQuote:The MediaInfo data display includes:
Container: format, profile, commercial name of the format, duration, overall bit rate, writing application and library, title, author, director, album, track number, date, duration...
Video: format, codec id, aspect, frame rate, bit rate, color space, chroma subsampling, bit depth, scan type, scan order...
Audio: format, codec id, sample rate, channels, bit depth, language, bit rate...
Text: format, codec id, language of subtitle...
Chapters: count of chapters, list of chapters.

MediaInfo analyticals include:
Container: MPEG-4, QuickTime, Matroska, AVI, MPEG-PS (including unprotected DVD), MPEG-TS (including unprotected Blu-ray), MXF, GXF, LXF, WMV, FLV, Real...
Tags: Id3v1, Id3v2, Vorbis comments, APE tags...
Video: MPEG-1/2 Video, H.263, MPEG-4 Visual (including DivX, XviD), H.264/AVC, Dirac...
Audio: MPEG Audio (including MP3), AC3, DTS, AAC, Dolby E, AES3, FLAC...


16,623 Posts
Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)

To re-quote a e-mail I received some time ago regarding hardware design, namely my concern about overheating & the resulting lockups;
1. For unit temperature, there are some facts here

a. Our China manufacturer is listed as one the top 10 set top box manufacturers in China, which is very famous in this business. Before they can produce our products, the first priority is to do I think they called "life-time cycle burning tests", which relates to heat testing. If it can't pass it, they won't bother to do our job. The units are all passed!
b. This main chip is Broadcom/ATI chip and is not like Taiwanese video chip makers. For us, we are too small to Broadcom and Broadcom they are selling millions this chip to TV manufacturers like LG, Toshiba and etc. for high-end large screen (47" above) LED TVs. They use the same chip on their main TV chassis boards mounted on the back side small room of TV without fan. It is ok!
c. For these many years, video SOC become smaller and more complicated. You can imagine, that will be definitely running very hot and very quickly so the new technology from these big chip vendors make these chips standing in high temperature 24/7 without any issues. Otherwise, you can imagine those TV screen will have huge return rate, which is not in this case.
d. In our side in Anaheim CA, we have also been constantly running PHD-VRX units for many months already. Not a single unit damaged or dead, And of course no related to heat issue. The crash or lock up issue your mentioned is mainly related to software portion and is not hardware issue based on our knowledge and finding.
e. For Channel Master unit, you should know internal HDD is also another heat source. The constant head spinning and chips also get hot inside a small concealed space of the HDD is definitely a big heat source plus their board. When put together and using external power supply, you can imagine the unit is really getting hot. For our unit, we have no internal HDD and plenty space for air circulation. The heat is really not an issue for the unit here.

With a internal HDD, I would like to see additional ventilation slots in the top cover. I did add a 1.5" fan but even slowing it down by adding a resistor, it was too noisy probably due to the metal case amplifying the vibration so I removed it. As of this edit date, I have had no thermal problems with the internal drive and no additional cooling. This has been operated on and off for almost a year.

Power consumption & boot time;
Good news. When in 'Standby' is less than 2 watts. When powered up, around 15 watts. With a USB powered 2.5" HDD attached, consumption is around 22 watts. Boot up time is less than 30 seconds, a far cry from the overrated TiVo.

Now for the "what's inside".
The enclosure's top cover is held on by five screws, easily removed. No cotter pins. needed. The case can scratch easily, so watch where you place the cover if you open it up and what you place on top (if any). There are vents on each side and the top. There is no fan. From my testing and theirs, there doesn't seem to be any issues due to thermal lockups like the CM DVR has.

I have taken IR thermometer measurements directly off of the major components and the highest temperature I recorded was 190 degrees F (80 degree ambient room temperature). This was the main Broadcom processors heat sink. Second hottest component was one of the two main memory chips at 150 degrees.F. That was with my added internal HDD with the cover in place after a hour of dual tuner recording. It's a little high, but as stated I have no known problems related to heat.

Note, on the rear panel view, there were cutouts for the missing component input, but the current V2 does not have these. This is a shame since the board already has provision for this chip and jack panel. Also note, the large available space across from the power supply.
Below the serial number is the MAC address of the Ethernet port. On the 1st closeup pic, notice the missing U1 for component out.

The newer "2" version has a hardware change that solves the HDMI audio problem. Also, the three cutouts for the component out on the rear panel are now gone.






16,623 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Adding an internal hard drive and USB speed tests:

Adding internal drive;

What was more than obvious to me is the ease of installing an internal 2.5" HDD. It's too bad they didn't provide provision for this.

Using one of those missing component ports, I removed the cutout. The USB cable I purchased, with the mini 5 pin USB connector for the drive fit nicely through that opening.

The Rosewill external enclosure was a snap (literally) to use with no screws needed to secure the lid closed. I took pieces of double sided, sticky foam tape to secure the smooth sided enclosure to the chassis of the DVR as shown. Leaving the top cover off, the drive slides into the fixed connector board with no cable to attach. This was initially suppose to be a temporary experiment, but it has worked better than I expected. I didn't want to drill holes for some type of bracket due to the thin nature of the case since I didn't know how well this would work out.

I watched placement of the enclosure on the chassis so not to interfere with the power supply with that USB cable sticking out. I can still slide out the drive w/o lifting the base of the enclosure.

I purposely used only three small pieces of double sided foam tape from 3M, being concerned about future removal of the case. After shipping the DVR back to ePVision and the return trip, I tried to remove the HDD case from the bottom chassis of the DVR, but couldn't. In spite of clueless comments from ePVision regarding how I mounted this, the enclosure case was and still is very secure!

The new version lacks these these cutouts You can (carefully) drill a hole (7/16" should work) to pass the smaller USB mini connector through just above the HDMI output. If you do, be sure to reattach the top cover with at least two screws to the back first before drilling, so as to secure the back panel from flexing (bending in) when you drill. Also, use a drill stop since you don't want the bit to drive too far into the cabinet. Another option, if you don't want to drill is to remove the VGA port circuit board and use that opening for the cable. (see attachment)

Power limitations & cable length (this only applies to 2.5" enclosures & drives);

I used a 2' cable to connect the mounted HDD enclosure to the rear USB port. I found no issue of the port powering the drive until I tried to extend the cable length. Apparently, it is very critical when one extends the cable as to what HDD is being used and the gauge of the conductors used for power in the cable. Just adding a 6' (not 12 or 15') extension cable or swapping the existing 2' for a similar 6' cable (Mini 5pin to USB A) caused the drive not to spin up.

There is some discussion here in this thread at this site;

This quote seems to sum it up;
The device (at least sometimes) needs more than 500mA. This USB port in question is providing more than 500mA (thus exceeding the specs); but probably only barely enough for your device. In this case cable length (and quality) can matter. I have an external USB drive which shows about the same behavior: Works fine on some USB ports with any cable, on some only with a short cable, on some not at all (or only with a split cable which draws additional power from a second USB port) – user12889 Jan 10 '11

I tested voltages under the following conditions (all cables were the smallest 28 gauge):

DVR port no load - 5.04v

DVR port under load - 4.93v (4.83 was the lowest voltage measured). Both ports showed the same voltage under load even if the other port was not used)

End of 22 Mini 5 pin jumper - 4.84v

Above with a 6' A-B extension - 4.77v

End of 6' Mini 5 pin jumper - 4.68v

Note the voltage drop from a 2' to a 6' 'jumper' that causes the failure. Also note the difference between using the 2' jumper with and w/o the 6' extension (that also caused a failure).

I include a photo of the common USB connectors. The one, 2nd from the left is a "Mini B 5 pin" used with these smaller 2.5" external enclosures. Monoprice has them;

Note, on the last attachment, I placed a piece of that tape as a spacer at the end of the enclosure to keep the drive from sliding off the connector since the upper portion of the enclosure wasn't attached (no, it's not the neatest job, but it was very secure). Also note the path I used for the cable below the two ribbon cables running above that cable. The new version will not have those cut-outs for the missing components outputs.




USB Speed tests;

Thanks to morc258, NirSoft has a nice utility for speed testing most USB storage devices connected to your PC. This is not just limited to just doing speed tests.;


I have found two SATA hard drives (500GB & 1TB) in an external external show 30 MB/s write and 33 MB/s read throughput speeds. The program creates a temporary 75 Mb file on the device, then deletes it to preform the test. Repeated testing will produce similar results. This is a 'run in place', very small program that does not get 'installed'. Testing memory sticks show a much slower response. Writes between 2.5 MB/s and 5 MB/s. Read speeds between 12.5 MB/s and 20 MB/s with the two sticks I have.

Below are results of my two SATA drives. Left is a Seagate 1TB 7200prm 3.5", right is a Hitachi 640MB 5000rpm 2.5". There is considerable difference in the write speed of both. Where the larger (higher rpm) drive is around 32MB/s, the smaller (slower) drive is only 10-11MB/s.


There is also an internal USB speed test that will show approximate transfer speeds from your device (drive or stick). Common results for a NTFS formatted drive is 5-6 MB/s and for a ext2 formatted drive, 21-26 MB/s. According to HDTV1080p, if you are recording, there is a problem running the speed test as one interferes with the other causing broken video and incorrect readings. Also, placing the tuner on a empty analog channel will produce higher results.


clarified internal HDD modification with the new version

16,623 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Two USB ports, two HDD's; one for each purpose.

1. "Flash drives" should not be used to record HDTV due to the size of each recording, the slower transfer speed and the cost per GB is substantially higher than a HDD.

2. The NTFS file format should not be used to format drives for this DVR due to limitations of the drivers they choose to use within the DVR. Instead ext2 is the preferred file system. All one needs are add on ext2 drivers for a Windows based PC.

What can be easily done is to install a smaller (500GB-640GB) 2.5" internal drive as as a short term storage media for recordings you only plan on watching once. Then add a larger 1TB or 2TB external 3.5" drive and enclosure for recording you want to archive. 2TB is the limit with the current firmware. There is a better and less expensive selection of full size drives than there is for Laptop drives.

IOW's, typical 'watch once' recordings go on the internal, whole season series that you want to keep, go on the external drive that you can move to your Windows PC to edit or anything else you want to do since the recordings are not encrypted.

The way the DVR ports work is, the first drive connected will be recognized by the DVR as the recording device. A message box pops up asking you if you want to open Media Player anytime a drive is connected and when you boot with a drive attached (this can now be defeated since it is annoying). If you have two drives connected, the message box that pops up will ask you to choose "usba" or usbb". 'a' being the 1st drive recognized, 'b' being the 2nd. "B" is for playback only.

You can 'hot plug' or 'hot swap' drives back and forth without placing the DVR in standby. This means, disconnect the internal drive (since the cable runs out the back) and connect the external, larger HDD in it's place. Same goes for USB memory sticks. That's all. Remember, 3.5" drives will need their own power supply. Only smaller, less power hungry 2.5" laptop drives can be powered off the internal PS.

If you aren't aware of how one of these USB 'Y' adapter cables work, the 2nd connector that is not in-line with the cable is only for additional power. If you plug only that plug in, there is no data path. The drive will power up, but won't be seen. Each USB port supplies 500ma of current (per USB spec). Many drives need more, namely one amp (1,000ma) that a single port can't supply. I have not found the need for the 2nd port with this Toshiba drive I have even though the drive is spec'd for 1,000ma.. This will of course depend on the drive you choose.

Choices & suggestions for hard drive(s);

If you use a 2.5" HDD, the internal 5v of their USB buss will power that drive (and enclosure) with no issue. At least with what I have it does. No separate PS is needed (see next post). If you choose to use a larger capacity 3.5" drive, a separate PS will be needed. I believe the current trend of these newer DVR's is using smaller laptop drives due to space, power and heat issues. of course, there is no free ride. If you want a 2TB, 3.5" is the way to go.

There are two ways to purchase what you will need. Either separates, which I prefer, since you control both choices, independent of each other (just as building your own PC). No 'packaged' deal with inferior, cheaper components.

what is now termed "external hard drives" which is incorrect and misleading. Why? Simply, the hard drive itself in just that. Not internal, not external. The enclosure determines this. The proper term should be "externally enclosed hard drive".

Be aware, some of these, all in one so called "external hard drives", the drive itself is not easily removable. If the drive dies, the case is toast also. Not something I would want. The following should help your choices for each size and configuration;

Suggestions for 2.5" HDD's;

2.5" enclosures (w/o PS. These should come with a USB 'Y' cable);

Sugestions for 3.5" HDD's;

3.5" enclosures; (w/PS)


revised links

16,623 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Basic description of functions;

Not having a user manual presented some unnecessary challenges and a lot of wasted time trying to figure out functions that I shouldn't of had to. Many aspects I could figure out eventually, others were not so obvious. Many aspects of this DVR that are different from others I have had experience with. Not knowing what to expect when an action is performed was a major stumbling block. Did I do it correctly or was it the DVR??

It should be noted, inputs can not be recorded from.

There is a composite output, but the GUI menu will not be available, making it mostly useless other than as a output to a DVD recorder or VCR.

Since there is (unfortunately) no component out, that leaves only HDMI. There are (now) only 720p and 1080p output resolution choices. 480p has been removed that the original firmware had. No 480i, 480p or 1080i. Anyone with a 1080i TV will have to revert to 720p.

There are two power like controls on the front panel. One is a mechanical power button that removes power from the power supply, just like pulling the AC plug. The other is a 'Standby' button placing the unit in a actual standby state unlike some DVR power hogs like TiVo. Please note this is not just turning off the output and dimming the display, it actually powers down most of the DVR, requiring a 30 second boot-up time to resume operation. The mechanical button should be on the rear panel since it causes the clock to loose time, (but retains everything else). On the plus side, you do not have to unplug the unit if there comes a need to completely remove power from the device because of a lockup. I do have occasional lockups during some rapid button presses. Placing it in standby and returning usually solves those.

Also note, unlike some DVR's the HDD does indeed spin down, but only while in standby! You can hear it spin up when you hit Standby, and spin down when you return to standby. This use to spin down while 'on', but does not anymore. Later firmware updates changed this. This was surely not a welcome change!

Further note, this DVR does not automatically continuously record like many other DVR's do as in timeshifting/full time replay capability. It does have a "timeshifting" option to record from five to 240 minutes, allowing you to look back on a 'live' broadcast to replay something you missed or just want to see again. The default setting is just five minutes. It has to be placed in this mode. This is available in the 'Quick' menu or in the Main Record menu.

While in standby, the display on the front panel shows the time and a red LED, it can't be turned off. When on, it shows the channel number and a green LED unless it is recording, then it shows that same red LED and either "rEC -1", "rEC -2" or "rEC 1-2" for the tuner(s) in use. This makes it easy to see what the machine is doing and which tuner is in use. This was through my insistence, since as delivered there was no easy way to know which tuner was recording.

It will also show "Play" when in Media Player, "boot" when booting, 'no-ch' before any channel scan is done and 'update' while flashing the firmware.

When the DVR is in 'Standby' with a recording scheduled, there is a 45-50 second period to power up, then spin up to begin recording. IOW's if a program is scheduled for 9:00pm, the actual recording (assuming the clock is set correctly) won't begin until 9:00:45pm. The workaround for this is to advance the clock by one minute so every recording doesn't have to be change. The only downside is you may loose the end credits. You could also adjust the start time for every recording, but that is more cumbersome.

With the most recent firmware update, manual recording creation is directly accessible from the remote. Below is the new "Record Schedule Timer";


The front panel will display which tuners are being used when a recording is in progress. The color of the new model is now red, not orange as it shows below;


added comment regarding the change in the displays color on the new model

16,623 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Initial setup;

Important notes regarding tuner setup;

1. RF input 1; Both tuners are identical, but only RF 1 has the analog enabled. If you have cable TV, use that input since there are no OTA analog stations anymore (other than low power).

2. RF input 2 (assuming you have both CATV & OTA) should be used for OTA (antenna) unless you have low power analog station(s) in your area you are interested in. If you only have one or the other source, use a splitter to feed both inputs.
Benefit? Separates give the flexibility of using different channel table (OTA or CATV) for each input. If your use is just OTA which most will probably use this for (due to the lack of analog channel recording ability), you will have to add a splitter. Now some may think that will drop my signal. Yes, it will, but how is that different than having an internal splitter doing the same thing to feed both tuners? An argument could be to add a internal amp to make up for the loss, but that can introduce overload problems if you are in a strong signal area. Besides, you loose the dual capability of OTA & CATV.

The other benefit, thanks to HDTV1080P24 for an great idea (that I never thought of) is addressing the problem of stations from multiple directions requiring re-orientating your antenna.
Use two antennas, one for each input. One for stations in one general direction and the other for stations in a opposite direction. Other then the requirement of a 2nd antenna, the only down side of this is you won't be able to record two programs at the same time from stations in the same direction.

3. The 'TV' button the remote provides a method of switching tuners without going into the main menu. (The labeling of the inputs is below the F fitting, very hard to see). Note the serial number & MAC address above RF 1. The 'Input' button also switches through the tuners since it considers each tuner a input. The inputs can be custom labeled to any term you want. Unused inputs can be skipped.

4. There are four separate tuner memories! Each RF input has separate memories for OTA and CATV even after you assign each input it's purpose in the initial setup procedure. I stumbled across this by accident. Go into Menu/Channel/Tuner and switch functions. Then go and enter some known, active physical channel in that band. It will show up in the appropriate channel list.
Benefit? You have a summer cottage, vacation home, travel to relatives in another part of the state or other state with a different cable system. That would allow two different channel lists on the same input without doing a re-scan or using the 'Find Channel' function.

Signal Indicator;

As with most all tuners, there is a signal and/or quality indicator. This has the typical "5 bar" indicator. It's crude, but it does show in real time (with a slight delay) signal condition. One and two bars are red. Three is yellow and four and five are green.



Manually entering whole channel numbers instead of doing a full scan.

You can save time and reduce the number of stations to remove that you aren't interested in and/or encrypted CATV channels that were not 'skipped', if you know the physical channel numbers. If you can't find that information, you can do a full scan and then look through the physical channel numbers using the "Find Channel" function, one at a time and take note of the virtual numbers within that single physical channel. This feature is a carry over from their original 205 tuner and something all tuners should have.

Procedure as follows (You can also just enter a whole channel number in. That by itself should enter a active station in the list.);

The initial setup has a typical on screen 'wizard' procedure that you can cancel after initial settings up to tuner assignment. "no ch" appears on the units display if no scan has been done.

1. Exit the initial process at the "Start Scan" screen. It's easier if you set this up outside that wizard especially if you are connected to a CATV system and/or have numerous duplicated OTA channels (stations) or ones you just aren't interested in.

2. You are in Tuner one. Confirm this by pressing "0" noting the box that pops up. Go into the main menu to Channel/Tuner. Change it to "Cable" if you have CATV services. If you are OTA only, you can skip this step,

3. Exit the menu, start entering the physical channel numbers for each channel you want included in whole numbers and press 'select'. No dots or dashes are required. The tuner will ID the station and all of it's virtual channels and enter those in the channel list.

4. Toggle the "TV" button on the remote to switch tuners and assign the 2nd tuner as in step two in the Menu, repeat step three,

5. If there are conflicts between virtual & physical station numbers, you will have to use the "Find Channel" menu function to enter those numbers in separately,

6. After you have gone through all your physical channels, go to Menu/Master List, using the 'Red' button on the bottom left of the remote, 'skip' any sub channels you don't want. Exit and confirm everything is there that you want or can receive. Re-position your antenna if needed to add stations from other directions.

This also applies to analog and don't forget doing this in the other tuner.

Some stations, especially on CATV systems might not have their call letters shown. The DVR allows adding or editing call letters via a edit option by pressing the green button on the remote. After entering the name, press the blue button to save (not shown in last attachment).

While in the channel editor, pressing the red button on the remote places a check mark (if there is none) making it an active channel. Pressing that button again removes the check mark, skipping that channel.






revised comments about tuner & input flexibility

16,623 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Picture Control

A feature from their Media Switcher, is the ability to 'tweak' each input separately to brightness, contrast, color, tint etc. The default settings produces a very dark, highly contrasted image. So much so, it is mostly unwatchable. It was attempted to be addressed once, but it seems there is a problem tweaking the internal defaults to a point it produces other 'glitches' elsewhere so it was left as is. This seems to be a hardware limitation from a apparent bad mismatch of components.

Since the settings are remembered for each input, once changed, there should be no problem.
The default setting for brightness is '0', that needs to be raised to '16'.

The default setting for contrast is '95'. This needs to be reduced to '70'

These can be accessed either in the main menu under 'Picture/Picture Settings' or from the 'Quick Menu' under 'Picture'. I have confirmed on a 2nd monitor this is the case and those adjusted settings to be mostly correct with a possible variance of a couple of points either way depending on your monitor and eye.

'Color Temperature' has no real noticeable effect. 'Dynamic Contrast' does (which is actually gamma) , but not normally noticeable except with test patterns, namely a cross hatch gray scale and the color decoder check. Clipping and running together of the individual 'steps' of both the gray scale and the color decoder levels will happen with the default settings.

(Patterns were generated with a Sencore VP-403C RF generator.)

Note, due to the shortcoming of TV screen photos and digital cameras, the gray scale was not actually clipped in those lower black 'steps'. On the other hand, the color decoder attachment does show two of the green steps merged and four of the blue as it did in person. This was a compromised setting I found.

Any settings changed while in the 'Tuner' mode, will not 'stick' when entering the Video or Photo category in Media Player. There is no issue in the new "Recordings" category. You have to nudge (by increasing or decreasing by one number) each setting that was changed from the default to take effect. If you exit, then return, you have to repeat the process.

Further note, the 3rd photo shows the recommended settings, the 2nd last photo, settings shown are different from the recommended and 'Color Enhancement' was removed, since it had no effect.



Aspect control/View Mode;

There are seven 'View Modes' which are basically different aspect ratios and zooms. The default setting is Auto. Turn it off. Choose the 'Normal' setting, which is misnamed. This achieves 1:1 pixel mapping as in no overscan. This should work for everything except;

1. CATV channels that are are SD versions of OTA HD channels where you would have to 'stretch' the image to fill the width of your screen like the original HD image would be.

2. SD sub channels Which most are).

For those use the "Direct" choice, which is also misnamed. If you do a lot od sub channel recording and don't mind the overscan, just use Direct.


Hidden image impairments: false contouring (aka banding).

From my initial comparisons, I didn't see any major differences between this and my other sources on my other TV's. I thought I may have noticed a artifact issue (false contouring), but I sort of dismissed it. Using my Sencore HD generator to confirm levels with and w/o the DVR inline using the HDMI input, I have confirmed the overall video is dark and contrasty. Better known as 'torch mode' on many TV's.

Using three different TV's (one DLP, the other PC monitors), I now can confirm a substantial problem of false contouring in programs that are normally 'darker' than most. This is especially noticeable in dark scenes & shadows. I took a series of screen shots from CSI NY and "Office" since it so blatantly displayed the effect. So much so, I did a A-B comparison between the output of this DVR and my Sony DVR, both using HDMI (apples to apples). This was 'live', not a recording. Where I saw a very slight amount of false contouring with the output of the Sony DVR, with this DVR it was horrible. To a point of being unwatchable.

I have further looked at other programming including Letterman and Dr. Oz. Both exhibited the problem, namely dark areas & shadows with mens suit coats. I was able to do a comparison of Letterman from the local CBS affiliate and from Toronto on the Omni affiliate, both at the same time with the same episode. To my surprise what was apparent from the CBS affiliate, was not apparent from Omni. I then have to conclude data/bit rates have to come into play here. If so, I then have to also conclude the chipset is not very tolerant of lower data/bit rates. Funny, Canada having a better 'feed' than in the US. The following four examples reflect what I saw on Letterman and dark clothing & shadows.

Viewing the same program (Letterman) from two different sources; my local Buffalo CBS affiliate and the Toronto CFMT CBS affiliate (if that is what it is called there), I find with a higher bitrate the problem almost disappears. Where on the US station it is noticeable, on the Canadian it is almost gone. The bit rate difference between the two is around 3MB/s I believe. So, it appears that this chip(set) has a low tolerance for lower bitrates unless someone else can come up with another (better) explanation.

This problem is not always noticeable. It appears to be a combination of programming that is 'dark', not not just dark scenes, but 'dark' as in what use to be called low setup in NTSC. Black levels being too low (crushed), so much so, you have to raise the brightness control of either the DVR or your TV excessively to watch it. Now add nighttime or just dark room scenes and toss in some shadows and you wind up with the following.

I believe the default 'dark, highly contrasted settings might be design to cover up this problem.


I have just repeated the problem with another program viewing it on a new 24" Asus PC monitor (replacing a 24" Dell). Look at the guys jackets in the darker areas and you will see the issue;


revised aspect control choices

16,623 Posts
Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Recording, The Guide & Media Player;

Below is the new 'Record Option' box that pops up when you press the 'Rec' button allowing 'padding' of the start & end times along with the frequency of recording (daily, weekly etc.);

Upcoming Recordings Schedule where you can check on existing future recordings. On the right shows the "Upcoming Recordings Schedule" with the additional "Recordings Quick List" at the bottom with the last three completed recordings;

Glitches with concurring recordings;

There is a 'bug' when you have repeating recordings (weekly for example) that are scheduled to record but do not. EdBear seemed to have found where the problem is and the solution;
After a full power-down (and not reliably) the PHD-VRX may still show the program listing with all your programmed events, but not start them when they come due.
You do NOT have to delete and re-enter all the events! Just scroll through them, open each one, toggle the ACTIVE box OFF and then ON again, and click [UPDATE]. They will then record. Still a PITA, but less of a pain than re-entering.
WARNING: You MUST make all entries and changes to programs while the appropriate tuner is active! This IS a blatant bug - if you leave Tuner1 selected and scroll through, doing anything to the Tuner2 events will cause some of them to change stations!:(
So, set Tuner1 active, scroll through and toggle all Tuner1 events, then set Tuner2 active and toggle all its events.
Problems deleting certain recordings;

Ed Bear has this to add when another user had problems deleting certain recordings;
If I stop a recording by using the stop (square) button and then answering "Yes" to the "Are you sure?" question, it terminates normally and can be accessed from the RECORD or VIDEO menus, and deleted from RECORD.

If the system crashes or is powered down suddenly, the .NAV file and "record" file entries will not be correctly created. In this case, you will have to use a Linux-file-system-capable computer to delete them unless you reformat the drive. It's also a good idea to run a file system check (fsck on Linux systems) after a crash.

Media files created on other devices and loaded via USB or copying to the main recording drive will have various degees of compatibility with the PHD-VRX's playback. None will index as smoothly as native PHD-VRX files, which have extra index and subtitle information in an accompanying .NAV file linked to the .MPG file by an entry in the hidden file named "record."

It's pretty much impossible to predict what will play on the PHD-VRX, or how well; some won't FastForward or Rewind; some have no sound; most will at least play and pause. Some that generate an "incompatible file" message still play perfectly. Most .AVI files take a while to re-synch sound after using FF/RW. Many .MKV files appear with no sound. File resolution greater than or less than the PHD-VRX's seems completely uncorrelated with whether they will play or not.

ePivision uses a commercial decoder chip to play non-native files. If anyone's found ANY device or software that plays EVERY file variation out there, please tell us! The multiplicity of formats, sub-formats, container formats, sound formats, sub-title formats and resolutions makes it a crap shoot. The improper support of many formats by many file creation software choices makes it worse.
The Guide using PSIP data;

1. There are two independent Guides, one for each tuner. Each operates separately. There is no connection, or sharing of data between the two even if it is the same station. This is my number one 'issue' with this DVR. One has to bounce back & forth between tuners to program each individually.
2. There no ability to save/store/remember data from any station. This is the same problem other DVR's, TV's & tuners with program guides have that rely on PSIP data. Moving from one to the next channel entry will take a few seconds for the data to load from the station, depending on the amount of data present (number of entries and number of days). When you scroll to the next channel, then return, that same data has to be reloaded, it is not saved. Very time consuming. Unfortunately, there is no current workaround other than writing down what you are interested in as a reminder.
3. You can only see one stations listings for a specific time slot at once.
4. While in the Guide to schedule recordings, any station that has any data at all, the only thing you can change is advancing start the program earlier and/or ending the program later. You can't start the program later or end the program early, unless you do a full manual record entry.
5. With the latest firmware, you have the ability to switch between tuners within the Guide, but this doesn't change any of the above, there are still dual listings.

Program data is station dependent. The FCC requirement only requires 12 hours of programming, which to me isn't much. Add the fact many MSO's (CATV operators) do not pass any data (probably purposely) so don't expect listings on CATV systems unless you are lucky.


A pay Guide using a 3rd party service

One of the biggest shortcomings of just about all of these DVR's except TiVo and now the new Channel Master DVR+ is the lack of a reliable source for program data. Unlike TiVo where it is mandatory (just to have a working DVR), this is only an option and you deal with the 3rd party directly, which as far as I'm concerned the way it should be. Instead of going through the manufacture/importer/dealer, you deal with the service provider. Unfortunately, this apparently can't happen here due to legalities from the content providers. Greed and selfishness, what else? (it's mine and you can't have it unless you pay through the nose for it)

The discussion around another source for guide data started back in June 0f 2012 when VideoGrabber posted this;
http://www.avsforum.com/t/1414002/e...-now-with-optional-pay-guide/90#post_22130929Quote:SchedulesDirect provides a data service for $25 per year (per household) that could populate any market you'd like. I used it myself for a year (before I got SageTV, with its own Guide info), and it worked quite well.

Five posts later, member DB100 put a program together for displaying this data on his PC.

Unlike program info that is from each TV station that supplies it (not all do), using a single source for programming is a real treat if you have never used it. Instead of waiting for each stations limited listings to load, everything is there for all stations (that the service has data for) for a full weeks (baring any quirks).

Recording conflicts;

This now has a "Conflict manager" to alert you to recording conflicts. This was overdue. Before all you got was a message there was a conflict. No idea what or where. Below shows the pop up screen after you try to enter a new recording that conflicts with existing recording(s).
Here are two examples of conflicts. The 1st, due to a early start time of 3:59pm, conflicts with one of the two existing programs. The 2nd conflicts due to padding an existing program. The three choices are;
1. 'Modify' (which should be called Accept, unchecks the 'Active' check boxe of the existing recordings and allows the new entry,
2. 'Back' (which should be called 'Return') returns you to the previous screen to edit the new recording,
3. 'Cancel' will cancel the new recording, leaving everything as is.


For playback, all of the access to actual recordings is only through Media Player.

With the latest firmware, hitting the yellow/orange button will bring you to the separate, newly added "Record" screen in Media Player which only lists new recordings from this DVR. Existing recordings and imported recording from a PC will only be available in the Video screen. The original "Video" screen is still available for any photos, music, other video recordings. You can also enter through the menu as before which allows returning to the main MP screen allowing entry to another screen. Under Menu, go to Media Player, then "Recordings".
2nd attachment shows a list of what is on the attached hard drive.
3rd attachment show the original "Video" screen where all recordings show, duplication the 'Record" screen.
(The file extensions are .mpg.)

Please note the following;
1. You are now able to sort the list by time, name or channel. I use Time Descending, since it places the most recent at the top of the list confirming the program was recorded.
2. Accidentally pressing the 'Exit" button will completely exit you from this mode.
3. None of the user menu items are available while in Media Player except Quick Menu which does include Picture controls.
4. If it was a manual entry, all that will show is a cryptic (hard to read) long series of numbers with the channel number and date including the full year, minutes & seconds. This now can be edited to show the proper name.
5. The deletion time of these recording depends on file size. A 120 minute program will take considerably longer than a 30 minute program to delete.
6. Drives with a lot of material, especially unusable/unreadable files will take a long time for the recorder to 'read'. Best to clean off everything that is not suitable for this Player to read, reducing the indexing time.
7. The preview window allows using the FF or Skip functions, but when you press the 'select' button, for normal full screen playback, the recording will start from the very beginning again unless you have already started to watch this recording. You will then have the option of resuming playback.

Below shows the addition of a green button for file editing. On the right is the pop up editing box that allows text, symbols & numbers to be changed;

Photo & Music Player;

I spent little time using the Photos & Music portions of MP. I don't feel these are that important, just as I don't feel You Tube is. Below are screen shots of the associated screens. Music Player works fine. It will play selections continuously, but not randomly. Photo Player is another story. This is suppose to allow playing music while in the photo section. After you set this up and choose the 1st music selection, after that finishes, it won't go on to the next selection, which makes that mostly useless.

I threw a bunch of jpg's and mp3 files together on a USB flash drive to run the test.
There are two views in Photo; List & Thumbnail. List will show 15 entries, Thumbnail will display 28 photos. It takes time for the system to scan all the photos so they can be generated as a thumbnail. The resolution of that image is very poor, but good enough to see what it is.
You have a choice of time intervals between images from 3 to 90 seconds. Unfortunately, those numbers are accurate. Example: 3 sec. is actually 7, 5 sec. is 10 and 10 sec. is 15. I'm guessing the additional time is what it takes to read the file which should of been taken into account when the times were set. You can use the right or left navigation buttons to advance each photo or go back, but there is a four second 'read' time from when you press and when it displays the image. This may vary depending on your storage device. I don't know if a HDD would be much faster.




16,623 Posts
Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Audio, U Tube, Remote, System Info screens, Firmware updating.

No, I didn't forget audio. In the room where I have been testing this, the amp only has analog stereo inputs so I can't/couldn't test the optical output. My A/V receiver in the Living room has no HDMI in, so I can't test that either.

But, I did test the optical output separately and I can report that both outputs (analog & optical) are fixed. All those settings under 'Audio' have no effect except when using HDMI. Neither does mute and volume. (Thanks to HDTV1080P24, see quote below). I split my audio & video outputs separately to the respective pieces of equipment in my living room, so all those audio settings are useless since I can't use HDMI..

A user report from HDTV1080P24, This issue has been addressed by a hardware change in the new "2" version;Quote:2. Major audio problem with HDMI (This is a big issue): The PHD-VRX converts all audio streams to 2.0 PCM over HDMI. When a channel contains 5.1 Dolby Digital the PHD-VRX will send 2.0 PCM instead. There absolutely needs to be a menu audio option that allows 5.1 Dolby Digital audio from ATSC and QAM channels to be streamed over the HDMI output so that consumers can use this product with a modern A/V receiver that allows HDMI switching. On a Digital HD cable box and Digital HD satellite receiver 5.1 Dolby Digital is always sent over HDMI when connected to a A/V receiver. Also the old brite-View BV-980H ATSC/QAM tuner passed 5.1 Dolby Digital over HDMI. The way the PHD-VRX firmware is setup now the HDMI output is designed for consumers that plan on plugging the box directly into their HDTV using a HDMI connection. Also the volume control was designed to only work for HDMI and not optical. The optical audio output is fixed volume level when turned on, and offers AC3 bitstream or 2.0 PCM. It is very ridiculous that there is not a menu option to allow the HDMI output to pass 2.0 and 5.1 Dolby Digital (bitstream AC3). I even plugged my OPPO BDP-93 into the PHD-VRX HDMI input just too see what it would do. The HDMI input is an active input and not passive. The 5.1 PCM and the 7.1 DTS HD-Master audio tracks from the Blu-ray player were converted to 2.0 PCM by the PHD-VRX. I almost returned this product when I found out the PHD-VRX does not pass native 2.0 and 5.1 Dolby Digital over the HDMI output. The work around was to run optical into the Pioneer Elite VSX-33 A/V receiver. Then I had to program the Pioneer to take the video from the HDMI output and the audio from the optical output. The optical output will pass 2.0 PCM or native AC3 (1.0-5.1 Dolby Digital) depending on the menu settings in the PHD-VRX. Some A/V receivers on the market might not be able to combine HDMI video with optical audio. I am lucky my Pioneer A/V receiver had the feature or I would have returned the PHD-VRX. This is a major issue for consumers with A/V receivers with HDMI inputs, the box needs to be able to pass AC3 over HDMI. Also the volume level is a lot lower over 2.0 PCM HDMI when compare to 2.0 PCM optical (The HDMI volume on the PHD-VRX was turned all the way up).

U Tube & Vudu:
A previous e-mail from Allen regarding these services;Quote:Ethernet jack is working. As we talked before, if user needs precision date/time reference, they can connect Ethernet jack to internet. Unit will go out find NTP time. Also, press "NET" remote key, unit will find YouTube for you. However, currently Vudu is still under developing. Also, unit works local home network or with TVersity video media server program running on PC, you can use the unit to go out to find some video or movies from TVersity (http://tversity.com/screenshots/).

That 'Net' button is the access to U Tube. The user interface lacks the convenience of a mouse & keyboard so typing text for searches is a slow process. Unlike the actual DVR portion, aspect selection has no effect. Videos are always full height and 4x3 even if they are 16x9. There is no stretch or zoom available. There is no way to record as far as I know.
The Vudu feature/function is not enabled.

The "GoTo" button is mis-labeled. It is a Return or Back button returning to the previous menu item. This is an apparent hold over from their 'Media Switcher'. They are introducing a newer, slightly redesigned remote this spring that fixes that issue. I don't use that remote. It's too small and I prefer to program a learning remote instead. Also, the PIP is not enabled.
Fast forward & rewind now goes up to 256x, but the sample rate is very low, even at 2x. It's more of a sample frame every xx seconds or minutes depending on speed. Part of the problem is the interaction when the audio out is set to AC# (default).

Changes through firmware updates;
Skip forward and reverse is now adjustable between 20 and 120 seconds in both directions. Long welcomed and overdue. (If you hold the Skip button, it will jump ahead or back faster than trying to use the FF or Rewind.)
Orange button allows direct access to a newly created "Record" section in Media Player that is for recordings from the DVR. The original 'Video' section will be for recordings that were imported into the recorder.
Green button allows direct access to the "Upcoming Recordings List" or gives the ability to rename recordings while in Media Player,
Blue button allows direct access to the "Record Schedule Timer" instead of digging through the menu or the "Recording History" screen while in the Upcoming screen (above).

The diagrams are the breakdown & codes for the remote. This was taken from the Media Switcher tuner, the bottom two rows are different than shown here along with a few others at the top of the remote:

New optional remote;
A new optional remote control is now being offered for $13. Model number is PHD-UR58. It still suffers from the less convenient reversed arrangement of the numeric keypad on top and the transport controls at the bottom where they are harder to reach with your thumb.
The web page is here;


System Information;
There are a number of screens available through the 'Quick' menu and the main menu as follows including firmware details (Build Version).
Note; the video output resolution will always show 1080p no matter which output you have it set to.;

Firmware updating;

The firmware installation procedure has been changed and clarified from when a sample unit was sent to me for testing. It had no documentation on this at all. It wasn't clear if this should be powered down, or just placed in standby during the flash process. Also, the removal time of the USB stick was changed from when the unit went into the re-boot period, to when the boot process finishes. Usually, firmware is removed before the unit boots back up, now it's left in for the full period.
Anyways, completely power down the unit, insert USB stick, power up, wait until the process completes when the "no ch" appears in the display, then remove the stick. Text was added to the instructions relating to what was changed (something long overdue). Sorry, I don't like guessing or a discovery adventure when it comes to flashing firmware. The dozen or so flashes I have done to motherboards and televisions, I have yet had one get bricked.
The whole process takes one minute and 45 seconds.

FW versions for the original VRX on their FTP site;

8VX.54.15.07 (original shipped firmware in a smaller package and file structure)
VRX.242.16.31 (4/27/12 1st update sent to me while testing)
VRX.242.18.10 (6/3/12 1st posted update on their site)
VRX.242.19.24 (7/17/12 not posted publicly)
VRX.242.20.14 (8/6/12 with a file structure change)
VRX.242.22.22 (10/11/12)
VRX.242.23.36 (12/3/12)
VRX.243.15.24 (3/5/13)
VRX.243.19.20 (6/13/13)
VRX.243.23.31 (10/24/13)
VRX.243.25.43 (1/13/14)
VRX.243.25.43.RC1 (1/29/14)
VRX.244.22.30.test2 (9/14/14)

The latest firmware for the original VRX is here, but use it with caution it's not on their web site;


FW versions for the current VRX2 posted on their FTP site;

Do NOT use the VRX firmware on the "2" model. It will disable both the video & audio off the HDMI output. The same in reverse. Don't mix the firmware versions between the two models due to the different HDMI chips used. (Thanks to HDTV108024p)

VRX2_243_23_31 (original 'VRX2' 10/21/13)
VRX2_243_25_43_RC2 (12/12/14)
VRX2_243_25_43 (1/26/14)
VRX2_244_22_12 (8/4/14)
VRX2_244_22_30 (8/22/14)

None of the following are on their web site, so use with caution;
VRX2_244_22_30_RC1 (9/1/14)
VRX2_245_20_23_RC1_3.3 (5/20/15)
VRX2_245_21_29_RC1 Latest 6/23/15

The latest firmware on their FTP site for the VRX2 dated 6/23/15 is here (this is NOT posted on their web site, so use with caution);

The latest posted on their web site is here;

The newer firmwares have a different file structure. Originally, the first release had ten separate files. The first update change that to six files and increased overall size considerably.
Now, there are only three files: vmlinuz, usbfwu.ini, drm.bin
A pdf on the original update process is here.
The current procedure is http://www.epvision.com/HDTVSTB/Documents/PHD-VRX/PHD-VRXFirmwareUpgrade-VRX_244_22_30_test2.pdf


8,819 Posts
You posted "I have run numerous internal speed tests and drives formatted to NTFS only achieve a 4-6MB/s transfer speed, while ext2 formatted drives will achieve 23 to 26 MB/s. ePVision states a need for at least 20MB/s to record two programs at once. Remember, there are two tuners."

Since there are two rf inputs, and I only have one rf source, would this mean I need a splitter?

I guess the processor is pretty good since I have found about 18Mbs needed for HD recording on a single tuner.

19 Posts
Well, I've read Videobruce's posts and I'm not ashamed to admit it. I understood about half of what I read (I'm dumb). All I want is a DVR that can record shows, REWIND, FF and pause live TV. I don't really care too much about all the other fabulous things this unit can do. I'm a simple man.

6,588 Posts
No, you're not dumb. He has a lot of technical details and info on the unit's internals, which is fine as this is a A/V science forum, but bottom line, I care about features and functionality.

202 Posts

Assuming the delivered versions won't have theses cutouts, you can (carefully) drill a hole large enough to pass the smaller USB mini connector through just above the HDMI output.
I would look at the VGA Input hole. That small auxillary board has 2 screws and is attached with a ribbon cable, so it should be removable. This would eliminate VGA Input but that seems like a small sacrifice if you want an internal drive and no case mod.

202 Posts

U400 & 401: Nanya NT5CB128M16BP-D1 2GB DDR3 memory
That should be:

U400 & 401: Nanya NT5CB128M16BP-D1 2Gb DDR3 memory

(note lowercase b in 2Gb, ie gigabit)

Giving it 256+256=512MByte total.

U603: Hynix HY27UFO84GB2 flash memory

That should be:

U603: Hynix HY27UF084G2B flash memory

(note UFzero and ends in 2B)

This is a 4Gbit=512MByte part.

3,364 Posts
If this is primarily a DVR, then it seems like the device is unfortunately poorly implemented.

If it took this long to get to market, some of these functionality issues should really have been ironed out.

Luckily these very likely are just software issues which they can fix, if the so decide to actually do.

I take my words back on this thing being vaporware.

Good to see another option in the marketplace.

16,623 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
Most of the above has been answered in my re-re-re edited posts.
AVS and/or ePVision picked the absolutely worst time to do this.

kwg; Good eye, thanks, corrected. I thought 2GB didn't sound right.
Damn bits & bytes.

morc258; I already though about doing that (what you circled), but you still need a base for the drive. My solution for $9 seemed the best bang for the buck. The 640GB drive was $70 rebuilt.

242 Posts

Originally Posted by videobruce  /t/1414002/epvision-phd-vrx-owners-thread#post_22108039

morc258; I already though about doing that (what you circled), but you still need a base for the drive. My solution for $9 seemed the best bang for the buck. The 640GB drive was $70 rebuilt.

What are your thoughts on the SATA Trayless Hot Swap Mobile Rack ?

It would be pretty hardcore due to the fact the side of the cover would have to be cut out for the removable drives to be accessible. Having the drives inside, but removable to dock in the same type of tray at your PC would be ideal for file transfer.

Do you think they intentionally designed the board so narrow to allow a possible future model with an onboard removable drive? I was surprised how much room there was inside.

You have done a great job on this new thread. I know it must have taken extra effort with the new forum format.
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