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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Sunday I took my ShowStopper back into Cicruit City for a warranty replacement. This is the third time I've done this. Each unit has lasted for a few months before starting to show classic signs of a bad disk drive.


Thank goodness I played the odds and got the extended warranty (I typically don't).


Now I know stuff happens, disks die, etc. But this is getting a bit old. I have to say CC and Panasonic have been good and have given me no trouble with the replacements (although it does take several weeks each time).


The obvious suspect is heat. But I don't have the back on the entertainment center (to allow extra air-flow). The ShowStopper sets on top of a Tivo (that doesn't have such problems) and I've also played with placing an extra little fan on top of the ShowStopper to up the air-flow even more (and yes it makes a BIG difference in the temperature of the case).


Each time they've sent me a different (refurb I assume) unit so it's not something about a particular box.


I don't know, perhaps I'm just not ment to own both brands... :confused:


I wonder how long CC is going to continue to exchange these before they just give me my money back or something else? :eek:


Anyway, in a few weeks I should have my fourth unit in hand. Other than prayer, anyone got any ideas on what I might try THIS time to keep the thing running?
 

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By my calculation you will be receiving your forth Showstopper. Forth time can be the charm as well!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by Mikeyboy
By my calculation you will be receiving your forth Showstopper
True, forth unit, THIRD exchange. ;)
 

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You seem to have been struggling with the biggest design flawa of the Showstopper line of PVRs, IMHO. Heat dissipation IS a problem with these units.


I've had my SS2000 since October of 2000.


Originally, I had mine sitting on top of the stereo cabinet with nothing above it but about 6 feet of space between it and the ceilling. The unit was warm to the touch but never really hot.


Then, we decided to get the entertainment center that was part of the negotiations with my wife ... You can get the 36" TV, if you also get the Entertainment Center I want ... The Showstopper ended up in an open compartment of one of the towers sitting on top of the RCA DBS receiver that it controls. The RCA creates NO heat, there is about one foot of clearance above the Showstopper, and the front is completely open. Even in this configuration, the Showstopper gets hot starting with the left front of the unit (where the power supply is) then depending on the room temparature and general air flow in the room, the heat spreads towards the left rear where the hard disk is. The heat buildup is pretty significant even with the front of the compartment completely open.


So what I had to do was to put 2 fans on the unit - both external:


Fan 1 is a small 2" unit attached with double sided tape to the slotted vents in the left rear side of the unit and it sucks the air out.


Fan 2 is about a 4.5" fan sitting in the corner of the compartment where the unit sits and blows the air out over the corner of the RCA and Panny towards the front.


Both fans are external units powered by DC adapters plugged into the wall outlet.


With this configuration, I have been able to keep the heat down to a level where you feel the top of the unit is pretty warm over the power supply, but the area over the hard drive is nice and cool to the touch.


I check the temparature of the top of the Showstopper every day with my hand just like my parents used to when I was a little rug rat. If it feels that it's running a bit high, I try to increase the airflow somehow (ceilling fan).


This brings up the question, "What are we supposed to do when we're going to be gone for a week or more?" Well, we did that a while back and putting a fan on the floor in front of the compartment where the Showstopper sits took care of that problem.


I quess the bottom line is the Showstopper needs 3 things to live a long life: 1) Airflow, 2) Airflow, 3) Airflow.


I think I've heard Mikeboy say this before.


Good luck with number 4.


Roberb
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by Roberb
Fan 1 is a small 2" unit attached with double sided tape to the slotted vents in the left rear side of the unit and it sucks the air out.
I've only been using one fan. It's a 2" with a wall-wart like you suggested sitting over the vents on the left rear. I've tried it in both the blow (in) and suck (out) configurations and I found the case was cooler when it was blowing in (which is VERY counter-intuitive to me). I also tried covering the other vents when it was sucking (out) hoping to improve the flow of air inside the box. But that didn't seem to help much and I was afraid that if the fan died and most of the venting covered it would burst into flames... :eek:


Without the fan, the case over the power supply was hot to the touch (wouldn't want to leave your hand there too long). With the fan it's hardly warm. I'd think that would be good enough, but who knows.


Then again, perhaps it's just Tivo gremlins sneaking up at night and beating on the ShowStopper... :rolleyes:
 

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Brett, it looks like you have decent airflow on the unit with the fan. What are the specific symptoms that your Showstoppers seem to suffer from?


Roberb
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by Roberb
What are the specific symptoms that your Showstoppers seem to suffer from?
Well, the first thing we typically notice is that it starts taking longer to respond when we push a button on the remote. It just isn't as "snappy" in it's response to commands.


Next, we start seeing short pauses or freezes during the playback of a show. The picture/sound will freeze for a few seconds and then continue (perhaps skipping a few seconds of the show).


Next comes the lock-ups. Again, typically during playback the picture will freeze and the unit is locked. It will no longer respond to any commands and requires a power-cycle to clear. Of course by this time the delays mentioned above are frequent and longer.


On this last unit I noticed one more thing: it was failing most every daily call. It would download the schedule data and (if I remember this right) would say something about downloading softare and sometime after that the call would fail with a network error or something like that.


Eventually the system degrades to the point that you can't watch or do anything between long or infinite (locked-up) delays.
 

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Hi I'm having similar problems. The Showstopper is sitting on the top deck of our entertainment center, and the top is a bit warm. But the problem is that the remote control response is slow. And now the unit is frozen, as I type, I can't access the channel guide, replay guide, etc, I can' even turn the unit off!!. Is it okay to pull the plug from the back of the unit to turn it off, then let sit for a minute or two and plug it back in, or will that cause damage to the unit?
 

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If the unit is frozen and you have no other recourse, pull the plug. Sometimes mine will lock up for 45 seconds or so and then go back to normal, and it would be bad if I pulled the plug then.


However, if you're sitting there for hours and its still locked, yank that cord. Worst comes to worst, you'll lose some shows and you might have to do a factory reset, but it will work again.
 

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the only thing I'm worried about is it's the drive or something, which is upgraded to 120 hours, so no more warranty. And yeah it's been stuck like this for about 25min now.
 

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well I tried holding the power button on the unit for a couple seconds, and it rebooted, and is working now. The area above the hd, and ps was a bit hot, but not too hot, wonder if i should get a little fan for it...
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by bkc56
Sunday I took my ShowStopper back into Cicruit City for a warranty replacement. This is the third time I've done this. Each unit has lasted for a few months before starting to show classic signs of a bad disk drive.
Following up on my own thread here...


I got a call today from the CC repair center. They "authorized an exchange". So, for whatever reason, the "vendor" (Panasonic) decided to not fix my unit (which was probably just a dead disk drive).


It sounds good (I get a new unit) but it ain't so. First, CC doesn't carry the older 4000 units anymore. They'll exchange for a 4500 but it's a bigger unit (more hours) and the best they'll do is split the difference in price with me. Not great, but for a bigger disk it's worth consideration. But...


The 4500's don't come with the service bundled in. Sonic Blue will not transfer my service from a 4000 to a 4500 (I called and asked), And CC sure ain't gonna pay for it.


My other option is a refund (store credit) of the original purchase price ($250 for an open-box) plus a refund of the un-used part of my service agreement.


So, I guess it's time to pick up our first DVD player, and my days as a ReplayTV owner are drawing to a close. :(
 

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Well, I think everyone's been fair to you, even though it totally sucks to be in the position you were in... If I were you, go for a 4500 and be incredibly happy :D
 

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bkc56,


I would fight this a little more if I were you, but you have a few things mixed up:


First off, it sounds like you have an old Showstopper (model #HS-2000, if I'm not mistaken). The 4000 model is a huge step forward in technology. The 4500 are about the same as a 4000, except you pay the activation fee up front with a 4000.


Secondly, CC (nor any other vendors I know) ever carried 4000s. You had to buy them directly from Sonic-Blue.


I'm not sure which model 4500 they had, but you may want to go that route. You can get a 4504 for approximately $350 minus all the rebates and stuff, but you would still need to pay SB the $250 activation. If you can get CC to give you a 4504 in exchange, it would be well worth (it my opinion) to pony up the other $250 for activation. You will be getting a brand new unit that is much better then an old Showstopper.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by Ace987
First off, it sounds like you have an old Showstopper (model #HS-2000, if I'm not mistaken).
You're right, my error. Is there a FAQ or site somewhere that spells out just what the differences are between the older 2000 series and the 4500 series (I don't care about the broad-band connection stuff or program sharring, what else was changed/improved?)?
Quote:
You can get a 4504 for approximately $350 minus all the rebates and stuff, but you would still need to pay SB the $250 activation.
That seems a bit optimistic price-wise. SB lists the 4504 at $400 (new price this month). CC said it was $450 (the old price). Since it would be an "upgrade", the store manager said he's split the price difference. So the credit on my dead unit plus $100 would get me the 4505. If I could get him to use the new price, that would save me another $25 but I don't know how hard I'd want to fight for that. I should be able to use the $50 rebate on top of that price.


So I think my out-of-pocket would be $300 to get an activated 4504 (which is on top of the $250 I originally paid for the ShowStopper). $550 seems like kind of a lot of money.


Based on my (poor) experience with the previous unit, I'd be inclined to get the extended service which is another $60 for three years.


Given that I have a working Tivo (it's not like I have nothing right now) I'm not sure it's worth that to get a second PVR up and running (for $250 I could activate my "spare" Tivo as a second).


Too many things to think about, my brain hurts... :rolleyes:
 

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Well, I'm not aware of any FAQs that states the differences between the Showstopper and 4XXX, but since I own both, heres the main points.

- Commercial skipping (probably the best new feature)

- Ability to download guides via you own ISP using a network(much more reliable then the modem).

- 12 day instead of 7 day guide.

- Quicker (Exploring through menues and guides are quite a bit faster).

- Virtually unlimited storare space using DVAcheive and your computer.


Of course $550 is quite a bit of money since you already have a few Tivos. If you can talk the manager out of a 4504 to try one out, you may like it. But if he's only going to give you $250 in store credit and you already have some Tivos, then a DVD player is a nice thing to get instead.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by Ace987
- Commercial skipping (probably the best new feature)

- Ability to download guides via you own ISP using a network(much more reliable then the modem).

- 12 day instead of 7 day guide.

- Quicker (Exploring through menues and guides are quite a bit faster).

- Virtually unlimited storare space using DVAcheive and your computer.
The commercial skip would be nice (although I've gotten pretty fast with Tivo's 30-sec skip). As I mentioned the network/program-sharing stuff doesn't do me any good.


I've been to the SB web-site and read the 4500 user-manual. In several ways it's catching up with Tivo features. In some ways it's passed Tivo. Of course I can't evaluate the user-interface unless I can find one on display somewhere (haven't seen 'em yet).


I do have one question perhaps someone here can answer. I have vague memories that Replay's equivalent of "Season Pass" (record every episode of a given program) had some limits in how far it would look. As I remember, it would "see" the program if it started an hour early/late, but it wouldn't see it if it was on a different day (like CSI is doing a lot this summer). I also remember a problem if the show was on twice in one evening (like Enterprise has been doing). As I remember the fix was to not use the record-every-episode and instead do a record based on a title search.


Has this issue been addressed with the 4500's?
 

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Quote:
As I remember, it would "see" the program if it started an hour early/late, but it wouldn't see it if it was on a different day (like CSI is doing a lot this summer).
The default record now is to look on every night of the week at that timeslot and adjacent ones, so all CSIs would be caught if you have set enough guaranteed space for them. You can also tell it to only look on certain days if you know for sure that a show will be repeating on days other than its normal timeslot.

Quote:
I also remember a problem if the show was on twice in one evening (like Enterprise has been doing).
For this you can either pad the show to record an extra hour afterwards or set up a second record for the other timeslot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by heathriel For this you can either pad the show to record an extra hour afterwards or set up a second record for the other timeslot.
Which means I have to check every week to see if any of my shows will have back-to-back episodes and then adjust the programming to catch it. That sort of defeats some of the value of having a system to "automatically" find and record shows for me.


Anyway, the decision got made for me based on simple economics. Sunday's insert from Circuit City showed 120G drives on sale for $100. So taking all my costs (both past, current out-of-pocket, and including any rebates currently available) my choice was (both with lifetime service):


* 40 hour 4504 for about $550


* 140 hour TIvo for about $350 (plus I've still got $130+ in store credit).


With the fall season coming, those extra hours will be useful as we buffer to many shows in to little time. ;)
 
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