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Discussion Starter #1
Background: Much of this was edited, updated, and tested from the SA3250HD/SA8000HD posts by AVS Member 'vegggas'. Others were added from personal experience and suggestions, with literary license taken.

Suggested Links to SA8300HD threads/sites that may be of further interest:
Additional Items of Interest

Xnappo's SATA Expansion Databases. Tracks compatibility issues between SA8300HD/HDC (and compatible units like the 8240 series) and various SATA drives/enclosures:How To Determine Software Being Used. Look at the A-B-C button labels at the bottom of the IPG (Interactive Program Guide) to determine which software is being used:
[B]A         B         C[/B]
[B]SARA[/B]                     Browse By       Date            [[I]curved backarrow[/I]]
[B]Passport Echo[/B]         Time            Theme           Search
[B]Passport (non-DVR)[/B]  Time            Theme           Title
[B]Navigator[/B]              Access Menu     Find Shows      [[I]no label[/I]]
Hot Topic Of The DayTIPS & TRICKS (separated in the following categories):
  • Setup

    Setup Wizard

    Change Default Format

    Removing Bars On SD Channels

    Reverts To 480i
  • Settings

    General Settings Option Info

    Audio Out Using HDMI Connection

    Display Format Summary

    Audio Range Settings

    Auto Shut-off Workaround
  • Recording Options

    Extend Recording Time

    Change Recording Time

    Recordings With Manually Set/Altered Start Times

    "Save Time" and "Until I Erase" Options

    Checking Status Of Current Recording

    Lost or Missing Recordings

    Blank Recordings

    Place-Holders For Future Recordings (1.88.x.x)

    Potential Recording Conflicts

  • Playback Controls

    Slow Motion Mode

    Frame Advance Mode

    Fast Forward/Rewind

    Mimic Tivo Jump-Back

    Resume Playback
  • Diagnostics

    Diagnostic Mode

    Disappearing Diagnostic Window

    Finding SARA Software Version


    Forced Reboot (without unplugging unit)

    Hard Reboot

    Last Resort (Reformat)

    Total Reset

    HDD Defrag

    V/H Resolution Information

    Memory Info

    Signal Levels

    SDV Diagnostics
  • Miscellaneous

    Clearing Pop-up Windows

    Program Distribution

    Viewing A Third Program

    Macro - Automate Remote Turn On

    Anamorphic DVDs

    New Features - 1.88.x.x

    New Features - 1.89.x.x

    Bug(s) Fixed in 1.89.x.x

    Bug(s) Remaining after 1.89.x.x
Setup Wizard. UG-3 Instructions for Advanced Setup Wizard to choose TV type and resolutions, done after the box has received it's initial download from your cableco.
  1. Using Power button on unit (not remote), turn off power, then press both GUIDE/INFO at same time.
  2. Choose Easy or Advanced setup - Easy selects 1080i output only - Advanced provides options for TV type (4x3 or 16x9) and user selected outputs.
  3. Follow instructions on the screen. Read instructions carefully. If screen goes blank, it is trying to display a resolution not supported by TV - disable resolution.
Change Default Format. Default format can be changed without going through Setup Wizard:
  1. Press/hold Select until Mail LED lights.
  2. Press Vol Down (-) button - display changes to "HdSr" (HD Screen Resolution)
  3. Press Ch Up (+) for 480i
  4. Press Ch Down (-) for 480p
  5. Press Vol Down (-) for 720p
  6. Press Vol Up (+) for 1080i

Note: Does not appear to work using remote.

Removing Bars On SD Channels. Factory default displays side bars on non-HD channels. Toggling zoom modes eliminates them, but this often cuts much of image. Adding resolutions allows TV to stretch images and avoid uneven phosphor wear (burn-in). Use Setup Wizard to enable resolutions other than 1080i. Also set picture format to Pass-Through (press Settings twice, scroll to Set:picture Format, select Pass-Through).
  • With box OFF and TV ON, press Info /Guide (on box) together, then follow on-screen directions to enable 480i and others. Cable passes 720p (ABC, FOX, ESPN), 1080i (all other HD channels), 480i (SD channels), and 480p (music channels). If you do not see difference between 1080i/720p, enable only one to minimize reformatting while channel surfing. Note: The 480i/p Widescreen options allow 8300 to stretch image. Do not enable if you use TV to stretch image.
Reverts To 480i. If your setup reverts to 480i and a reboot doesn't resolve the problem, refer to Post #10 in This Thread .

General Settings Option Info. After pressing Settings twice, scroll to any General Setting option and simply press Info for description/other information.

Audio Out Using HDMI Connection. UG-2 HDMI connection will automatically select 2 channel stereo if TV does not support Dolby Digital (DD). In order to restore DD audio to receiver, change automatic setting. Press Settings twice and scroll to Audio: Digital Out. Change setting from HDMI to Dolby Digital. This will force DD audio to HDMI, as well as digital/optical audio outs.

Display Format Summary. UG-5/6 Press Settings twice, then scroll to Set: Picture Format.
  • Fixed - Displays all content at whatever resolution you selected in Setup Wizard.
  • Pass Through - Passes input signal through with no change unless you disable a resolution. For example 480i in - 480i out, 720P in - 720P out, 720p disabled - 1080i out, etc.
  • Auto HDMI/DVI - If you use HDMI, this option replaces Pass Through option. Resolution is automatically formatted to scan rate supported by TV.
  • UpConvert 1 - All 480i/480P signals converted to 480P. All 720P/1080i signals converted to 1080i.
  • UpConvert 2 - All 480i/480P signals converted to 480P. All 720P/1080i signals converted to 720P.
Audio Range Settings. Audio Range options are for Dolby Digital output signals and refer to digital "Dynamic Range".
  • Wide Dynamic Range will render audio that will go from faintest audio level of a whisper at an extremely low level to thundering boom at ear-shattering levels giving great impact to action movies, but calls for good audio setup to properly hear normal dialog without blasting speakers during loud scenes.
  • Narrow Dynamic Range keeps lower volumes at higher level while muting higher level sounds to lower level. Whispered dialog is not much quieter than explosion and all sound levels are "Narrowed" to a certain level.
  • Normal Dynamic Range basically splits difference.

These are not specific numbers, but think of it something like this when setting the volume level to about 33% for same scene. Using Narrow Dynamic Range, whisper might be 45db and explosion 85db. Using Wide Dynamic Range setting, whisper might now be 15db and explosion 105db.

Auto Shut-off Workaround. Auto Shut-off feature can be defeated by setting General Settings/Timer: Turn Off option and setting Timer: Wake-up option for 1 minute later to keep unit on virtually 24/7. Useful if 8300HD is connected to Replay TV or other devices that rely on 8300HD for channel change, etc.

Recording Options.
Extend Recording Time. UG-21 Extend recording time of recording currently in progress by:
  1. Press LIST.
  2. Press "A" to switch to Scheduled Recordings list.
  3. Find in-progress recording program (it will be highlighted in RED).
  4. Press SELECT to access options.
  5. Change End time to desired time.
  6. Press the "A" to accept changes.

This is particularly useful for extending time for sporting events that may run over.

Change Recording Times. UG-21 Recording times can be changed by editing Start/End times when scheduling recording or any time before recording begins. This is useful to avoid scheduling conflicts caused by networks who think beginning programs early or ending them late hooks viewers. However, there is a problem whereby contents of buffer is incorrectly added to beginning of recording whose start time has been changed. The problem only occurs if you happen to be tuned to same channel prior to start of recording.

"Save Time" and "Until I Erase" Options. "Save Time" and "Until I Erase" are separate options designed for different purposes.
  • The term "Save Time" is misleading and has little to do with how "long" programs will be saved, especially when it comes to available space and "Auto Erase". It simply gives one the option to record 1-5 or All episodes of a given program and oldest will be erased when selected option starts recording, etc. This is the case wheher or not Auto Erase is turned On.
  • However, if "Auto Erase" is turned On, oldest recordings (not just the oldest episodes of a given program) will be erased regardless of "Save Time" settings. If all are tagged "Until I Erase", further recording stops and message is displayed indicating drive is full.
Checking Status Of Current Recording. You can use PIP to check status of a program currently being recorded. Recording program will be displayed in PIP window. If you are watching program being recorded while recording a second program, second program will be displayed in PIP window.

Lost or Missing Recordings. Most of us probably schedule several All or New episode recordings when fall season starts and then forget about them. However, the success of these scheduled recordings depends enirely on the title of the program matching the title when the recording was scheduled. Oftentimes, the title in the IPG changes, sometimes as often as weekly, and that can wreak havoc with your schedule. While it's impossible to attribute every lost or missing recording to a title change, it seems worthwhile to periodically check your scheduled recordings list against IPG to make sure recordings are highlighted properly.

Blank Recordings. Sometimes recording may appear to be blank when attempting playback:
  • If you get blank screen, try selecting another recording from list, begin playback of that recording, and then re-select original recording. If it still doesn't play properly, try a hard" reboot before giving up and deleting recording.
  • If you get Playback Channel screen, try a "hard" reboot before giving up and deleting recording.
Place-Holders For Future Recordings. The 8300HD sets place-holders to keep track of future recordings for recurring scheduled recordings (weekly or less frequent). These are set as soon as recording starts and are scheduled for 7 (1.89.x.x) or 9 (1.88.x.x) days out. Unfortunately, these place-holders, especially those in 1.88.x.x, can make things look incorrect when viewing highlighted items in IPG looking for potential conflicts or just reviewing upcoming recordings. An example:
  • Justice on FOX airs weekly on Monday nights at 8:00 pm. When regularly scheduled recording starts, new place-holder is set for next episode, but it is dated for following Wednesday and will appear as such in Scheduled Recordings list. It is easily identified as a place-holder. When you press INFO, you get an empty display window.
  • Criminal Minds on CBS and Lost on ABC both air weekly on Wednesday nights at 8:00 pm and when you view the IPG, both of these are highlighted for recording.
  • Nothing is scheduled to record on FOX on Wednesday nights at 8:00 pm, so nothing should be highlighted. However, if you check further, you will see that whatever airs at 8:00 pm is also highlighted (MLB Post-Game as of this posting).
  • Even though this appears to be incorrect, is it only highlighted because of place-holder for Justice and not because anything will actually get recorded. It does not need to be cancelled.
  • In my test, place-holders are reset for correct day once next episode appears in IPG, usually after nightly IPG update. Others have had them reset shortly after mid-night, while still others have them wait to reset until the actual day of recording.
  • It's important to note to be careful when reviewing IPG and Scheduled Recordings list for upcoming recordings, all may not be as it appears and you may inadvertently cancel recordings that are not erroneous.
Potential Recording Conflicts. There have been reports that "old" scheduled recordings of programs no longer on might cause 8300HD to get confused at some point. This can result in lost recordings or inability to set up new recordings for same timeslot. This can be minimized by cleaning out old scheduled recordings for shows that are no longer on. Also, see previous item before inadvertently deleting potential place-holders.

Auto-Erase. The Auto Erase function should work on programs recorded AFTER it is turned on and for those programs originally recorded without the "Until I Delete" option. Previously recorded programs that were recorded without those two options should not be auto deleted even after you manually change the save time settings (except for the amount of days you set it to) because they were flagged to not be Auto Erased as space is needed.

In summary, to use the feature:

1) Turn ON Auto Erase.

2) Change Save Time for Future Recordings to something other than "Until I Erase".

You should also clean out your recordings so that you have a decent amount of working space for the above rule. If you only have 5% space left, and try to start using the feature it's not going to work because you would only have up to 5% of available working space to begin with (hint 5% is not even enough to record 1 hour of HD). Programs originally recorded with those settings will comply with the rules.

Playback Controls
Slow Motion Mode. UG-14 While viewing a recorded program, press Play 2nd time to enter Slow Motion mode.

Frame Advance Mode. UG-14 While viewing a recorded program, press Pause, FF/REW now become Frame Advance.

Fast Forward/Rewind. UG-13 Pressing FF/REW starts desired action. You can press them up to 4 times to increase the speed; 4x, 10x, 30x, and 128x.

Mimic Tivo Jump-Back. UG-14 Tivo users have gotten used to how it 'jumps back' a few seconds when you hit Play after fast forwarding. You can mimic this behavior by hitting Replay, button with curved arrow on it, instead of Play. This will bounce you back 8 seconds and resume normal speed from there.
  • One caveat. Next time you press FF, you will be given "next" FF speed, rather than FF1. If you were using FF2, hit Replay, watch some of show, and then hit FF, you will get FF3 instead of FF1. A better way might be to press Play and then immediately press Replay.
  • Another way to mimic this action is by pressing Pause instead of Play to stop fast forwarding. This way, when you hit Rewind to back up to precise place to restart program, it will remain paused instead of immediately starting to play again.
Resume Playback. If you Pause, Stop, or simply tune to another channel while viewing a recording, you can resume playback from where you left off by simply tuning back to Playback Channel and pressing Play as long as you have not viewed another recording in meantime.

Diagnostic Mode. There are two ways to enter Diagnostic Mode:
  1. Press and hold Select on front of unit until Mail light starts to flash, then press INFO.
  2. Press and hold Pause on remote until Mail light starts to flash (around 10-15 seconds), then press Page Up (-). On some remotes, Page (+) might need to be used instead.
Disappearing Diagnostic Window. Enter Diagnostic Mode (see above item). Change transparency of screens by pressing Select on front of box or "B" on remote. It goes from 100% opaque to about 50% opaque to about 5% opaque. You can then use Page Up/Down on remote to cycle through screens. This is useful when changing channels, noting signal levels/PQ, or trying to see levels fluctuate as glitches occur.

Finding SARA Software Version. Enter Diagnostic Mode (see above item) and scroll through screens until you find one entitled "Software Versions" or "Component Information". Version number on one of those pages will be in a format similar to Also, there are a number of different naming conventions being used and only one is really accurate in sense that PTV OS version number can differentiate SARA versions across platforms. For example, both SA8000HD and SA8300HD run SARA However, SA8000HD runs PTV OS whereas SA8300HD runs PTV OS This probably doesn't mean much in big scheme of things and is offered only for information when viewing diagnostics screens.

Reboot. Unplug power cord for 5 or more seconds and then plug it back in.

Forced Reboot (without unplugging unit). On front of box, press/hold both VOL+ and VOL- , then press INFO.

Hard Reboot. Hard Reboot will refresh all available software and modules on system, as well as clear out memory cache. IPG and other data may take up to 30 minutes or more to fully download.
  1. Turn off 8300 and wait 5 or more seconds.
  2. Unplug power cord from 8300 and wait 5 or more seconds.
  3. If you are resetting an external drive too, unplug it's power cord at this point and wait 5 or more seconds, then plug power cord back into external drive and wait 5 or more seconds.
  4. Press and hold Power on 8300 front panel. While Power is depressed, plug 8300 power cord back in. Continue to hold Power until 8300 display says "boot" and/or begins to cycle a few times (usually about 15 seconds).

NOTE: Hard Reboot will resolve MANY issues with not only external drives, but memory issues too. You should WAIT until the reboot is completely finished before powering up. It usually takes about 5 - 10 min, depending on your application and IPG data. Best way to determine when the download is finished is to watch the front panel indicators. On the front panel, where the : (colon) seperates the hours and minutes, the bottom " . " dot will appear after all OS firmware has been loaded. An STB getting a download or initializing will be blank. Leave STB alone until dot appears.

Last Resort (Reformat). If for some reason you can't get STB to do what you want and you've rebooted it by unplugging it, etc., this is a "last resort" item - say just before taking unit back, you can try reformatting the HDD. The format operation resets all data on the DVR, including all recordings, preferences and scheduled recordings. It is a "factory fresh" reset.

When doing the format procedure, there are times where it won't always "take" and will have to be redone again. The procedure is to get the mail light blinking from the remote control by holding down the pause button. Once blinking do not press anything else except the page down (page -) button on the remote three times while watching the display. The display should say something like HDD-1 and then HDD-2 or HDD-F. Once on the setting you want (typically the third press) leave it alone and put the remote down. In a few minutes, the DVR will reboot and reformat on it's own. Once complete in about 10 to 15 minutes (depending on RDC and FDC signal level quality) the unit will be available to be turned on, but it's best to leave it off and come back at a later time after it has completely downloaded all of the guide data and info.
  1. Press and hold PAUSE until Mail led is lit.
  2. Press PAGE down or (-), and then press LIST three times.
  3. Turn box off. When turned back on, formatting will begin.
Total Reset. From AVS - vegggas:
  1. I don't think this is common knowledge, but it could save many users a lot of grief. Most failed units can be revived with total reset performed by user, depending on failure type. Instead of replacing unit and losing your shows, try this trick as last (or first) resort. This is known to reset unit no longer displaying Video, unable to lock on to one/both tuners, unable to read Hard Drive, or no longer able to get a download (display counting or hunting).
  2. Complete reset can be done by removing power and all connections for an extended amount of time. This means remove power cable, coax cable(s), eSATA cable, everything, so it can fully discharge capacitors and memory. This can take anywhere from 4 - 24 hours (although it MIGHT work in less than 30 Min), so pick a time that you are not going to be using unit, like overnight and while at work.
  3. After leaving it disconnected overnight, repower it (but don't turn it on) with just the basic connections (no eSATA) and let it sit until it gets a full download, which could take a long time. Basic OS download should be complete once you see time, or dot (depending on your settings), appear on front panel, usually within 3-7 minutes. IPG may take up to an hour, but unit could be turned on at this point.
  4. If it works, unpower unit and reconnect as normal, consider yourself lucky you didn't have to swap it out.
  5. BTW, leaving unit off while repowering and downloading is always a good idea and should be done whenver you may reboot unit. Powering on while downloading OS can result in early fragmentation of memory and erratic results.
HDD Defrag. To defrag drive:
  1. Set unit's MAIN/PIP channels to non-bufferable channels, such as music channel, so that drive is not being used.
  2. Wait a few moments to verify hard disk activity stops (listen).
  3. Press Power on front to turn the unit off, then wait.
  4. Drive should start defragging after about 5 minutes of inactivity.

    NOTE: Process can take several hours to all day and will restart if content is deleted or power down sequence is repeated. For maximum efficiency, consider turning off unit, then do a front panel soft reboot (VOL-, VOL +, INFO) and leave unit powered off until you hear it go into defrag mode. Then just leave it off while you go to work, to bed, etc.
V/H Resolution Information. If you are using SA8300HD/SA8000HD, diagnostic page 30 shows MPEG decoder input vertical/horizontal resolutions from cable company.

Memory Info. Memory Map for 8300:
  • Flash = 512Kb
  • Application Dram = 64Mb
  • Media Dram = 32Mb [SD versons have 16Mb Media decoding Dram]
  • Mpeg Encoding Dram = 16Mb
  • Non-Volatile Memory = 8Kb

Cab files for all recordings are stored in NVM, along with all other settings/preferences. Use of Favorites, among other settings, uses most of this memory. Hard reboot reads off drive and/or account memory to refresh NVM, whereas pulling power plug alone, does not. This is simplistic explanation, not gospel. Cable operators may also have ability to use some of Media Dram for overlay technologies when application dram is too full, thus reducing overall PQ.

Signal Levels. General info regarding diagnostic pages and signal level data displayed:
  • ANSI SCTE 40 2004 "Digital Cable Network Interface Standard" establishes "acceptable" levels. Free download from SCTE Website .
  • Digital QAM carrier, STB Input Level: -12 to +15 dBmV for 256QAM and -15 to +15 dBmV for 64QAM.

    Minimum S/N: 33 dB for 256QAM, 27 dB for 64 QAM and 43 dB for Analog. [Also known as C/(N+I).]
  • FDC QPSK carrier, STB Input Level: -15 to +15 dBmV

    Minimum S/N: 20 dB
  • RDC QPSK reverse carrier, STB Output Level: +25 dBmV to +53 dBmV. (+85 to +113 dBuV is specified in referenced ANSI SCTE 55-2 2002.) Since return loss back to neighborhood node will vary depending on where you are in power divider/amplifier chain, RDC value will be automatically adjusted for more/less equal strength as received at node. If RDC is at MAX, it may have run out of oomph....
  • CURRENT FDC (Forward Data Channel) refers to I-N channel used to download software and program guide info to unit.

    Level: Should be -15 to +15 dBmV

    S/N: Should be 20 dB or more
  • CURRENT RDC (Reverse Data Channel) refers to I-N channel used to send user's PPV/On-Demand and other commands back to node.

    Power: Varies depending on where you are in cable power amplifier/divider chain

    Delay: Signal Propagation Delay from unit to node (Q: One-way or Round-Trip?)
  • CURRENT QAM refers to currently tuned video channel:

    Level: Should be -12 to +15 dBmV for QAM256

    S/N: Should be 33 dB (or more) for QAM256 [This is more important than level]

    Seconds: How long channel has been tuned.

    Corr Bytes: How many bytes were detected in error and corrected since first tuned

    Uncor Blks: How many data blocks that failed parity check, but could not be corrected.

    Errs Avg/Inst: Average and Instantaneous Bit (byte? block?) Error Rates.
SDV Diagnostics. For those interested in how SDV appears in the diag screens, new versions of the SARA firmware have some SDV specific screens:

Page 37 - Switched Digital Video

Page 38 - SDV MINI Carousel

Page 39 - SDV Session Info

Page 39 seems to display the most data of interest so far. Here is how some of the fields behave with different channel types:

Fixed QAM/analog:

Name-Status: SDV61444-Ready

SamSvcld/Type: /Broadcast

Act Time: n/a

SDV Freq: 0MHz

SDV Channel:

Name-Status: SDV61444-Pending (until lock), then -Ready

SamSvcld/Type: /Switched

Act Time:

SDV Freq: Changes depending on SDV pool that gets assigned

Once you check the data for a few channels, you begin to figure out which QAM frequencies are assigned to the SDV pool and can identify them quite easily from the data on page 1.

Clearing Pop-up Windows. UG-18 You can get rid of pop-up windows by pressing Exit.

Program Distribution. 8300HD has 2 tuners and 2 outputs that may be used at same time. Archive To VCR option uses Composite/S-Video connection to "archive" recorded program to VCR/DVD. However, it can also be used to "view" downconverted recorded program on alternate TV while viewing different live/recorded program on main TV or recording two other programs on 8300HD. Also, depending on software version/cableco, 8300HD may be similarly connected to one device via HDMI and another device via Component to view same recorded/live program on different TVs at same time. Component/HDMI no longer work for some, but Composite/S-Video still work with Archive To VCR option for everyone.

Viewing A Third Program. No matter how many tuners 8300HD has, there are times when they are simply not enough. There is nothing to keep you from hooking up an antenna to ANT input on TV and switching to that input to view third program, to keep you from splitting your cable and running 2nd line to TV, or to keep you from running 2nd line to VCR and then to TV to view/record 3rd program.

Macro - Automate Remote Turn On. To automate remote turn-on and stay on whatever channel you previously had on (instead of a dedicated turn-on channel) without using the power button, go to General Settings/Viewer:power On option. In list of Power On channels, select Last Channel. Now, no matter how you choose to turn unit on (except when using a dedicated wake up timer), it will go to last channel viewed. If you want to set an easy macro, make sure General Settings/Set:power-On Keys option is set to Power/Numeric. Then in macro, choose non-existing channel (such as "000") to turn on unit, it will turn on, but not change channels.

NOTE: Some software versions may react differently when entering non-existing channel number. In these instances, some folks have had success by entering channel number followed by "Last" to tune to previous channel.

Also, those of you with on/off issues, there are more tricks you can do. Someone mentioned that they can't use channel "0" because it changes to "1", and another says that the guide comes up whenever it's powered on. Use the "EXIT" button to clear commands before they are used. Example: to power on, macro in channel "0" with single press of "0", then press Exit. The channel never changes and the guide data is quickly erased too. The "EXIT" button clears all on-screen graphics and aborts commands any time it's used.

Anamorphic DVDs.

First some background. Basically, Anamorphic DVDs are SD DVDs that have wide screen image "Squeezed" rather than recorded in letterbox format (where upper/lower black bars are wasted). This results in DVD with more resolution. While some DVD recorders/formats support inclusion of anamorphic (16:9) flag, you do not really need flag if you can view DVDs in "stretch" mode. If DVD recorder does have ability to set this flag, then "stretch" will automatically occur in DVD player.

To make this work you need to get SA8300HD to "squeeze" images. 8300HD will do this on Composite/S-Video outputs when in SD mode. Once in SD mode, Zoom button (usually #) on remote will go to "Stretch 480i" mode. This results in 16:9 image being squeezed into 4:3 space so you can record it. It is recommended you use S-Video connection on 8300 for these recordings. Note: when 8300HD is in SD mode, Component outputs will be magenta in color - so you need to be watching what you are doing through DVD recorder output.

  1. With TV tuned to 8300 input, turn 8300 off.
  2. Press both Guide/Info on front panel of 8300.
  3. Setup Wizard will come up - Simply press "A" to go into SD mode.
  4. Do Hard Reboot (described earlier).
  5. Select program to be recorded and make sure DVD recorder is ready to record.
  6. Start DVD recorder, play program on 8300, and press "#" once to get into Stretch (actually Squeeze) mode.
  7. When done and ready to return 8300 to regular HD operation, go through Setup Wizard again. This time press "B" to set up HD mode with desired resolutions and then do a Hard Reboot again.

Note: The Hard Reboot steps were needed with because 8300 would randomly drop out of SD mode, go back to normal letterboxed mode, and then come on in SD mode when turned on next day. Hard Reboot with desired mode (SD or HD) seems to force 8300 to remember correct mode. This does not apply to 1.89.x.x or later software.

New Features - 1.88.x.x (May not be applicable to every cableco)
  • Enhanced HDD Spin Down - After 15 minutes of inactivity between 1:00am and 1:15am, the HDD will spin-down without powering off the STB, and a screen saver with an MSO configurable logo/graphic will be displayed while the HDD is spun-down. If an external SATA HDD is attached to the DVR, it will also spin down when the internal HDD spins down.
  • Currently Recording Option - When the user selects a currently recording program from the Recorded List, DVR will always display a Currently Recording Program Options screen with “Play from beginning” as the default highlighted option.
  • Kick Out To Live - Let's say you schedule the recording of a program and go out for dinner. When you get home, you begin watching the recorded program from the beginning while the rest is still recording. When the recording ends, you are no longer 'kicked out' of your viewing.
  • Live Or Time Shifted Video Indicator – Added the API for indicating whether user is watching Live or time-shifted video.
  • Activated Front Panel AUX Input - Front panel auxiliary input is activated.
  • Macrovision On AUX Input – Turned on the macrovision protection on AUX input.
  • Return To Live Button - While watching a DVR recording playback, pressing the LIVE remote button will tune the last Live TV channel that was previously viewed.
  • 4th FFWD/REW Speed – Adds a 4th fast forward and rewind trick mode speed at 128x. A fourth arrow will be displayed on the trick mode banner for each direction.
  • Broadcast Flag – Broadcast flag is activated.
  • 1394 Support On 8300HD – 1394 port is active on 8300 HD boxes.
  • Improved Picture Quality With "Copy to VCR" Recording - This was inadvertently broken in version 1.87.19a and then inadvertently fixed in version 1.87.27, which was not widely released. Most users are probably seeing it with version 1.88.x.x, so it has been included in ths list even though it is not a new feature.

New Features - 1.89.x.x (May not be applicable to every cableco)
  • Support for Daylight Savings Time (DST)
  • Second line of text now includes show's rating if available.
  • Categories (Talk Shows, Sci-Fi) are now shown in description details.
  • NEW Flag now displayed in IPG (displays on date/time line in Menu and on last line of Program Description). Note: requires Tribune Data Version 2, otherwise all programs may be listed as NEW.
  • Memory management improvements coupled with application server settings to prevent loss of IPG data and improve 3rd party app loading.
  • Switched Digital Video (SDV) support.
  • Recording future-dated episodes provides options for those wanting to record episodes other than First Run, but not all rerun episodes:

    On this channel this day in this time slot

    On this channel at any time

    On this channel any day in this time slot
  • Program description is now available with Info button while watching recorded program instead of only showing Playback channel. Note: Cableco option.
  • If you block a rating, lets say PG-13, then all references anywhere in system to any program with PG-13 rating says "Title Blocked" until you enter four-digit code to unlock system.
  • DAY UP and DAY DOWN buttons on remote (if you have them) are fully operational.
  • If you enter channel number that doesn't exist, rather than flashing ??? in channel number field and then doing nothing, it instead switches to next channel above channel you requested.
  • Enhanced Channel Maps.
  • MPEG Splicing API on all DVR boxes to support Liberate “On Ramp/OCAP".
  • High Resolution screens on 8300. Note: Not recommended for deployment at this time.
  • Fix for On-Demand Quick button.
  • EAS fixes within ATI drivers.

Bug(s) Fixed in 1.89.x.x (Not all-inclusive)
  • Turns On In 480i Mode - If General Settings/Viewer: Power On is set to HD channel or Last Channel (if that was HD), unit used to be in 480i mode when you turned it on. If you then tuned to an SD channel and back, it changed to correct HD mode. However, this could be minimized by setting Power On option to SD channel. It used to then power up in correct mode and change to HD when you tune dto HD channel. Another workaround was too simply cycle through zoom modes using "#". You no longer have to do either.
  • Start From Beginning/Kick Out To Live - If you select a recording in progress from Recorded List, you get Start From Beginning option. If you select this, you can watch recording through to end without getting "kicked out to live" when live program ends. However, if you now simply tune to desired program and rewind to beginning, you no longer get "kicked out to live" when program ends.
  • Padding Start/Stop Times - Start/Stop times for scheduled recordings set for more often than "once a week" can be altered. However, any changes had to be made while scheduling those recordings. Once scheduled, they had to be cancelled and rescheduled with desired changes. Now changes are saved without need to cancel/reschedule.
Bug(s) Remaining after 1.89.x.x (Not all-inclusive)
  • Start/Stop times for scheduled recordings set for more often than "once a week" can be altered and changes saved. However, changes for weekly or less frequent recordings are only applied to next scheduled recording and not saved for future recordings.
  • When switching from live TV to previously recorded program, channel indicator does not change to Playback channel number, it remains where it was before switching. Might cause some confusion.
  • Issue not resolved (same as before): When you are in FF mode and hit Replay, then hit FF again, you go to next higher FF step instead of FF1. When you are in top step FF and hit Instant Replay, then hit FF again, you go to Play instead of FF1.
  • When Auto-erase is on, "NOT ENOUGH SPACE" screen may be shown.
  • Cancelling changes during editing may remove program from Series recording list.
  • Unit display and channel banner indicate recording in progress, but program may not be listed in Recording List.
  • "NOT ENOUGH SPACE" overlay does not display when editing future recording and disk is full.
  • Wake-Up Timer uses incorrect duration during HDD Spin-Down.
  • End time of scheduled recording not extended past end of program.
  • After firmware upgrade, video may be output via Composite when unit is off. Simple reboot will fix this.

New Features - (From Cablevision user - May not be applicable to every cableco)
  • Multiple bookmarks so you can resume any recording from where you left off.
  • Recorded show info when hitting the info button during playback.
  • Jumps back when you hit play while fast forwarding in speeds 3 and 4.

10,426 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
(Copied from bgooch's post in a TWC Thread)

Operators Think Out Loud on What They'll Roll Out

By Linda Haugsted -- Multichannel News, 5/14/2007

Las Vegas As the nation's cable operators move inexorably toward implementation of new interactive services using the Open Cable Application Platform, cable executives say they are still unclear on what key applications they would like to run utilizing the standard.

They are sure, though, they want to deliver enhanced TV services that end users can exploit with the same ease as watching analog television. And they want OCAP application developers to know that.

We see a lot of companies with cool applications, but we have limited resources, Mike Hayashi, senior VP of advanced technology and engineering at Time Warner Cable, said during a panel session at The Cable Show. I just want an application that runs!

The wish lists of other major operators: Comcast wants applications that work across all set-top boxes, said James Mumma, director of iTV product development; and Cox Communications would like programs that are simple to run and can be integrated across platforms, said Chris Bowick, Cox CTO and senior VP of engineering. Those integrated programs would allow Cox to make video, voice and data products more meaningful, stickier to subscribers, while making customers lives' simpler, Bowick added.

The executives made their comments to application developers during a panel on OCAP deployment Sunday at The Cable Show.

CableLabs and the NCTA put a major emphasis on OCAP here, scheduling 11 educational sessions on the topic Sunday and Monday. This session, on MSOs' OCAP objectives, was moderated by Leslie Ellis.

Some interactive products are already in consumer homes. Bright House Networks customers in Tampa and Orlando now look to their televisions for caller IDs when they hear the phone ring, as an example. That application, along with others in the field, will be ported to run on OCAP set-tops and digital TV sets, said Arthur Orduña, senior vice president of policy and product for Bright House parent Advance/Newhouse Communications.

Every time they look at that TV, the product reminds consumers they subscribe to Bright House because we do cool stuff, said Orduña.

We need you to work together to tell us what OCAP can do, Orduña told developers. My job is to be amazed by your creativity I've yet to see a push-the-envelope app.

The operators represented on the panel are making strides in OCAP equipment and software deployment. Cox is trialing OCAP Onramp technology, providing enhanced services in two markets with Java programs to legacy set-top hardware, according to Bowick. The trial will expand to five markets by the end of the year with a goal of national deployment in 2008.

Bowick said Cox is close to delivery of video mosaics, games and caller ID on TV with call disposition (sending calls to another number).

Cox is also working on an interactive version of the Music Choice digital music service.

Seventy percent of Time Warner's customers are served with Scientific Atlanta set-tops, while about 30% use Motorola hardware, Hayashi said, so the company is focusing on OCAP capability using the SA hardware first. This week, Cox takes delivery of SA OCAP-compatible DVRs, he said. After July 1, the company's purchases will all be OCAP capable.

Comcast is doing OCAP technical trials in Denver; Philadelphia; Union City, N.J., and Boston using multiple architectures, said Mumma. Those test results will be used to spring board us into other markets later this year.

One thing OCAP capability isn't likely to prompt: Internet browsing via the TV. Even with cable modems embedded in boxes and set-top gateways in place, web browsing doesn't seem like a business, executives said.

Cable companies will more likely use the interactive communication capability to improve communications over their own networks, they said.

The executives said the biggest opportunities for program developers are bound applications enhanced content bound to currently showing television programming, for instance and in creating programs that break down silos so applications can link various products in the bundle.


Nets: Make OCAP Happen

By Todd Spangler -- Multichannel News, 5/14/2007

Las Vegas Three top TV programming executives said cable operators have been slow off the mark in deploying a standardized platform for interactive television, making it impossible to launch applications on any sort of scale.

The hope is that the industry is now serious about adopting CableLabs' OpenCable Application Platform, which would provide a common middleware for programmers and advertisers.

We want the operators to raise their hands and say, 'We'll make [OCAP] happen,' said Albert Cheng, executive vice president of digital media for the Disney ABC Television Group, at a panel discussion at The Cable Show here.

The pace of OCAP deployments has been slower than we'd like it to be, The Weather Channel CEO Debora Wilson said, though she noted that operators have had a lot on their plate, including the move to add more HD programming.

Added Wilson, We as programmers support OCAP because it allows us to publish and deploy broadly. Otherwise, you have a really difficult, and probably impossible, environment to program content and advertising against.

Cable has been working on OCAP for at least eight years and operators still have yet to move beyond limited market trials on the technology. Recently the industry pledged to widely roll out the technology by the third quarter of 2008.

In the absence of a common ITV platform, programmers have been doing more work with interactive video applications on the Internet, as they race to keep up with the YouTubes of the world to find new ways to engage the next generation of viewers.

We're competing with folks who can take our content, unpaid for, and take it wherever they want and do whatever they want with it, NBC Universal chief digital officer George Kliavkoff said. With interactive TV, we need to figure out how to make the experience better for the consumer, and there's not a lot of time to get it perfect.

The Weather Channel has developed an OCAP-based application, which allows a viewer to see weather information for different areas and see what programs are coming up on the network. But today, Wilson said, there aren't many cable operators that have OCAP-enabled set-tops or headends to run such an application. We have to have the ability to deploy, she said. That's a fundamental, sort of gatekeeping thing.

ABC developed a prototype of an OCAP application for the show Lost, which provided a trivia game that viewers could play during the show. However, Cheng said, We didn't think this would be a great viewer experience. People are so used to the 10-foot application; it was more distracting and less entertaining.

Cheng said with ITV applications, ABC is leaning away from content and toward ads. We really feel the advertising opportunity is greater, he said. We've focused on delivering a better message for [advertising] clients.


OCAP Inches Closer to Reality

05/14/07 (Broadcasting and Cable)

More than any new-product release, the biggest news from last week's NCTA show in Las Vegas concerned vendors' and operators' showing steady progress in rolling out standard technologies. This new development should allow cable to offer more hi-def and on-demand content, deliver targeted advertising, and explore new interactive programming applications.

One such technology is the long-percolating OpenCable Application Platform (OCAP) standard that allows programmers to deploy interactive applications across a variety of set-top platforms. OCAP, an extremely popular topic on the show floor, is the byproduct of a government-mandated initiative to make set-tops a retail product by standardizing various functions.

OCAP will put common software, or "middleware," in digital set-tops, allowing Java developers to create an application that will then run on any set-top. It will also run on new "digital-cable'ready" TVs that include slots for CableCARD'the removable security technology'allowing interactive applications to be delivered without a set-top at all.

With OCAP, programmers and operators no longer have to create customized applications for each set-top in order to provide simple interactivity, such as graphic overlays that feature targeted advertising, polling applications, or links to weather and traffic information.

"We're happy about OCAP because it rationalizes the fractured platform environment," says Weather Channel President Debora Wilson, who demonstrated an OCAP application that would let viewers call up detailed local weather information, as well as access current conditions for up to 40,000 cities.

In the long run, the Java development community could foster richer applications that leverage the power of the two-way plant, giving operators a leg up on satellite. Several panel speakers referred to creating a "killer app" for the set-top that would be the equivalent of a ringtone for a cellphone.

"The potential next year is for a big network to build an application and have it on 10 million or 15 million boxes, for the same cost as putting it on 100,000," says Patrick Donoghue, VP of ITV product management for Time Warner Cable.

While the industry believes in OCAP's potential, it isn't rushing it to the market. Time Warner Cable is further ahead than other operators in deploying OCAP, because Scientific-Atlanta, which supplies some 70% of its set-tops, is ahead of Motorola in supporting OCAP. Time Warner Cable has taken delivery of some S-A, OCAP-enabled DVRs, says Senior VP of Advanced Technology Mike Hayashi, and is already releasing select Samsung OCAP-enabled HD set-tops. By July 2007, he expects Time Warner systems to be OCAP-capable on the S-A platform.

Even though the industry has been developing the OCAP technology for 10 years, Hayashi cautions that "OCAP is still early." Actually running a new OCAP application on the S-A platform would require significant testing, he says.

"One issue is the performance of OCAP integration," he says. "If [an application] showed up today, we would be concerned about performance, how much memory it takes up, etc. We want the same flexibility analog TV had."

Advance/Newhouse Communications is on a similar OCAP-pace to Time Warner, says Arthur Orduna, senior VP of policy and product, because the vast majority of its set-tops are S-A boxes. Cox, which has about a 50/50 split between Motorola and S-A boxes, has been working with a transitional step to OCAP called OnRamp, a Java-based application standard that is transferable to OCAP boxes, says Chief Technology Officer Chris Bowick. Cox is also testing OCAP in two markets.

"We'll have a national footprint in the first half of '08," says Bowick.

Comcast, with a high percentage of Motorola set-tops, has OCAP trials in several markets, but it won't roll out until early 2008, says James Mumma, director of video product development. For the near term, it is working with the Enhanced TV standard, also known as "EBIF," or "Enhanced Binary Interchange Format," to enable interactive applications. EBIF can work on legacy set-tops, such as the widely deployed Motorola DCT-2000 set-top; Tandberg Television was demonstrating such functionality'a T-commerce application with Home Shopping Network on a DCT-2000'in its booth.

"We're invested in EBIF," Mumma says. "It runs on a low-end set-top box, which is key as we put together a product plan and a roadmap [to OCAP].


1,018 Posts
I tried hitting pause, I was within 15 minutes of live action, the show ended, and I got kicked out. Am I missing something? This one doesn't seem to work.

Skip To End 2. Another option. If you happen to be watching the clock and you know the recording is about to end, simply press Pause and wait for the recording to end. Once the clock ticks, you can press Play and view from the point where you paused. NOTE: You *might* have to be inside the buffer for this to work though. (DravenStone)

10,426 Posts
Discussion Starter #4

Originally posted by trekkerj
I tried hitting pause, I was within 15 minutes of live action, the show ended, and I got kicked out. Am I missing something? This one doesn't seem to work.

Thanks for mentioning it. I guess I'll have to do some personal testing on this and see if there are other limits besides the buffer. How close to the end of the 'live' program did you pause? A minute? Two? What software are you using? SARA

2,633 Posts
I assume that some of your information is specific to SARA, so I edited the title. If I am wrong, let me know and I will undo my edits.

Thanks for putting this information together.

10,426 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
That's a good point, thanks. Most of the credit still goes to vegggas. All I did was take his work and update it for the 8300 because he still doesn't have it yet in Las Vegas. I'm sure once he gets it, he'll discover even more goodies.

507 Posts
DoubleDAZ - I really appreciate all your info on the 8300 and especially putting it all in one place. I have a question on stretching. With my old non-recording HD cablebox - I used two connections to my TV. I used component which I use for HD broadcase and I use composite which I used for SD shows - that way I could use the TV to stretch the SD shows. My TV will not allow stretch for component connections. So can you please tell me how I would accomplish the same thing with the 8300. Thanks.

2,268 Posts
"The 8300HD has 2 tuners"

Everything looks correct, except for this above. the 8300HD has 4 tuners. 2 NTSC, 2 QAM. You may only use two of them at once, as you said. This is why you can watch analog PIP on both tuners, or digital PIP on both tuner, or you can watch analog on one tuner and digital on the other for PIP.

10,426 Posts
Discussion Starter #9

Originally posted by marchristensen
DoubleDAZ - I really appreciate all your info on the 8300 and especially putting it all in one place. I have a question on stretching. With my old non-recording HD cablebox - I used two connections to my TV. I used component which I use for HD broadcase and I use composite which I used for SD shows - that way I could use the TV to stretch the SD shows. My TV will not allow stretch for component connections. So can you please tell me how I would accomplish the same thing with the 8300. Thanks.

The 8300 has all the same connections. It has Composite (Cable) Out, S-Video Out, and Video Out. AFAIK, you should still be able to hook up your composite cable and view the SD channels. I have the S-Video hooked up to another TV input and I get a down-converted HD, as well as SD, channels just fine.

But, are you sure your Panny plasma won't allow you to stretch SD channels on the component connection? Do you have the 8300 set up with 1080i (or 720p) and 480i like Wills suggested? My Hitachi won't stretch 1080i signals on component, but it will stretch 480i.

Did you connect your composite cable and it didn't work?

10,426 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
miniz, please see my changes. I understand your point, but for the purposes of the tip, I consider each tuner a NTSC/QAM tuner. Does that make sense or should I change the whole tip?

10,426 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
Miniz - Thanks, I aim to please.

will792 - That stuff is all in the original SA8000HD Setup and User's Guide that vegggas authored. Since none of it has changed and I provide a link to his Guide, I really don't want to duplicate it. Plus, as soon as he gets his hands on an 8300, I fully expect him to author the definitive SA8300HD Setup and User's Guide. But then again, I really didn't find what you mentioned in the link you provided, so maybe I misunderstood what you are looking for. Can you cut & paste it into a new reply here and maybe I can add it then?

243 Posts

Originally posted by DoubleDAZ

will792 - That stuff is all in the original SA8000HD Setup and User's Guide that vegggas authored. Since none of it has changed and I provide a link to his Guide, I really don't want to duplicate it. Plus, as soon as he gets his hands on an 8300, I fully expect him to author the definitive SA8300HD Setup and User's Guide. But then again, I really didn't find what you mentioned in the link you provided, so maybe I misunderstood what you are looking for. Can you cut & paste it into a new reply here and maybe I can add it then?

Fixed - Displays all content at whatever resolution you selected, based on what you selected in the wizard. You force the output to a single output and the box scales to that input. Easily changed in the settings menu of the box.

Pass Through - Passes the input signal through to the output with no change, unless you disable certain resolutions. For example 480i in to 480i out, 480P in to 480P out, 1080i in to 1080i out, 720P in to 720P out. If you disable 720P, 720P in will go to 1080i out.

Auto HDMI/DVI - If you are using the HDMI port, you will see this option instead of the Pass Through option. Resolution is automatically formatted to the scan rate supported by the TV.

UpConvert 1 - All 480i and 480P signals get upconverted to 480P. All 720P and 1080i signals get upconverted to 1080i.

UpConvert 2 - All 480i and 480P signals get upconverted to 480P. All 720P and 1080i signals get converted to 720P.

10,426 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
Oh, that one.
I suppose I can add it to make it easier to find since I didn't see it on the page 2 link you provided. Check out the change and see if that's what you wanted. Thanks.

243 Posts

Originally posted by DoubleDAZ
Oh, that one.
I suppose I can add it to make it easier to find since I didn't see it on the page 2 link you provided. Check out the change and see if that's what you wanted. Thanks.

That's good.

Some people use double connection from 8300 to a TV to avoid limitations of stretch modes for 4:3 content. One connection for HD content via component and one for SD via composite/S-Video. This way you switch input on a TV for SD contents and keep stretch active for that input. Not so sure if this tip is valuable enough to be included in Tips & Tricks.


10,426 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
Will, most folks enable 480i so that when they tune to an SD channel, their TV can do the stretch. That is the whole thrust of the 'Removing Bars On SD Channels' tip. You can also infer as much from the 'Viewing a Third Program' tip. I think I'll hold off a while on that one as I'm sure it will be in vegggas' Setup and User's Guide. I did add a caveat near the Guide link that folks new to the SA8300HD should take the time to read the Guide to get a basic understanding of DVR operation, etc. See how that works for you.

243 Posts

Originally posted by DoubleDAZ
Will, most folks enable 480i so that when they tune to an SD channel, their TV can do the stretch. That is the whole thrust of the 'Removing Bars On SD Channels' tip. You can also infer as much from the 'Viewing a Third Program' tip. I think I'll hold off a while on that one as I'm sure it will be in vegggas' Setup and User's Guide. I did add a caveat near the Guide link that folks new to the SA8300HD should take the time to read the Guide to get a basic understanding of DVR operation, etc. See how that works for you.


By the way Vol+/Vol-/Info reboot works in 8300 as I had to do it twice already to fix missing DD. All of a sudden 8300 would stop sending DD to optical output.


10,426 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
Thanks, Will, I'll edit the post.

10,426 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
I've yet to figure out how to record a program while I'm already in the middle of it. Let's say I'm 15 minutes into 'Lost' and decide I want to record the entire hour. I select it from the IPG, but all I get is from that point on, not from the beginning. I thought if the program was still in the buffer that I would be able to record it from the beginning. Am I wrong or am I missing something? If this has been asked and answered in another thread, please point me in the right direction. Thanks.
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