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I've come across an interesting phenomenon (well, it's interesting to me) with the Panasonic DMR-E85H and the TV Guide OnScreen system, and the introduction of an additional component to the mix (in this case, an RCA television) with EPG capability. To make the following long story (which I'll type up anyways) a short one, I'll sum it up like this: two separate TV Guide EPG receivers, each on either branch of a cable splitter: is there some reason the TV Guide OnScreen system should _not_ work separately and independently with each??


Things have been going mostly swimmingly for a couple of months - Comcast's Motorola digital cable box has had no problem being controlled by the Panasonic's G-link, and the Motorola happily passes EPG data to it. And while I've had a couple things bite me here and there which I wish hadn't, it largely works as advertised. All along, the television (an RCA 27" CRT-type with "Guide+" capability - the same kind of EPG data system which runs the "TV Guide On Screen" System) has been accepting without complaint input from three different sources: Panasonic's output on its component terminals, my old DVD player's output on its S-Video terminal, and the Panasonic's RF "passthru" output on its RF input terminal.


Prompted by a radical drop in signal quality about a week ago, which took Comcast a week to resolve, I at one point in my troubleshooting put Comcast's cable directly onto the RCA TV, in order to omit all my other electric toys and cables from the equation as potential signal-killing culprits in the apartment. I then enabled the TV's EPG system (I've used the TV for a year+ and never enabled the EPG on purpose - I use it as a passive monitor). That all worked swimmingly well, and Comcast eventually did a great job fixing the problems I was having - it wasn't my fault at all. So when I put the system back together, I decided to reconfig just a wee bit: I put a splitter onto the Comcast cable coming in from the outside world, and put one splitter output directly to the RCA television's RF input; and the other spliitter output to where the Comcast cable used to go directly: Comcast's Motorola box (and, down the chain, my Panasonic, etc.).


So far, so good. Things are working great. I can leave the DMR-E85H powered OFF and surf 95% of my favorite basic-cable channels directly on the RCA TV; I don't have to worry about memorizing a new set of numbers because the RCA TV is using the Guide+ system. I don't have to power up the Panasonic to just watch three hours of C-SPAN. Great stuff. I'm happy. Except...


NOW, the Panasonic's EPG keeps losing the channel sequence I set. But it doesn't exactly "lose" it - it goes to the same specific channel sequence as is used by default on the RCA TV: the local ABC affiliate first, followed by the local FOX affiliate, etc. It's not "random". It's one of 7 local channel lineup sequences which the DMR-E85H's EPG setup has historically detected after resets, but which I have not used except on the RCA TV. And finally, the Panasonic now starts its "global" channel-search scan at the ABC affiliate.


Fortunately, this new phantom "reset"-like behavior doesn't turn OFF any channels I have set ON on the Panasonic, or vice versa, and I'm VERY happy that it doesn't actually remap the numbers certain channels occupy. It also doesn't kill my list of scheduled recordings. (Whew!) But it does change the channel sequence to this strange config which seems to be in line with what the RCA TV uses. Now, anyone here who has used the Panasonic's incredibly time-consuming interface to redo the TV Guide system's channel sequence knows that it's not fun and it's the least appealing task one has to endure after a Panasonic reset. (Even less appealing than recalling from memory all the scheduled programs which got zapped. Oy!)


In the end, I wish this wouldn't happen. It's not a dealbreaker for me, though. I will keep this configuration, and unless some other disaster is introduced in the coming week, I will just live with this ghost coming into my apartment and scrambling my Panasonic channel sequence on me. (naturally, if he or she starts remapping my channels, the deal is off.)


But here's the question: do I fundamentally not understand something about how the EPG, cable TV, or the splitter (a simple, $8 Philips-brand 75-ohm splitter from K-Mart) work? Going by this experience, an EPG device in a neighboring apartment should be able to affect my Panasonic settings, right? Or is the EPG system "addressable" on addressable cable systems? Do EPG receivers also act as some kind of server, communicating with each other in peer-to-peer fashion? I guess I wouldn't be quite so surprised now if the DMR-E85H and the RCA TV were each hooked up directly to the splitter, but the DMR-E85H is in effect "behind" the Motorola cable box (and, I assumed, taking in data from individual channels which feed it down). The Motorola cable box is between the Panasonic and the rest of the world - it's not like some raw device just sitting there. I'm stumped.
 
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