All entries for Saturday 04 February 2006

February 04, 2006

TVDrive trial day two– probably fixed

A Telewest engineer came by at 3pm today, took one look at my TVdrive box, and exclaimed in awe that he’d never seen one of these boxes before. He’s apparently been on the software course, but isn’t scheduled to do the installation course for another two weeks. Still, he set to with a will, and soon had the smart card swapped. The box immediately cheered up, and seems to be mostly OK now; notwithstanding the loss of channel information, which I understand to be country-wide right now (the TW service desk asked us to call back in a couple of hours if the problem still existed, just to be on the safe side).

So, time to have a proper look at this beast (wish I had a cross-over cable, but let’s start with the obvious stuff).

  • All my favourites have gone (as expected) :(
  • User interface is very similar to that of the normal Telewest box: same colour scheme, same buttons on the remote, same method for getting to a list of programs.
New bits:
  1. You get an eight day programme guide
  2. There’s a set of new buttons on the remote to do with TV Drive, which include the recognisable Play/Pause, Fast Forward, Stop, Record, and Rewind ones; also an intriguing button with a bent arrow on it, which jumps you back 7 seconds.
  3. At the top of all of the menu screens, there is a useful little sliding bar indicating how many hours of recording time you have free. The maximum amount you can record is 80 hours.
  4. You can allegedly move recorded shows to your computer’s hard drive (need to test). EDIT: not possible except by playing the show, and feeding the output from the TV Drive box to a PC with a TV card in it. But you still get pretty decent quality that way.
  5. There are three tuners, so you can watch one programme while recording two others. I’m not sure if you can also record the first programme (need to test). EDIT: no, you can’t.
  6. You can set TV Drive to record a whole series in one action, and even go on to specify if there are any specific episodes which you do not wish to record.
  7. You can set the box to record all programmes with padding at the beginning and end, to reduce the chances of missing the punchline etc if the end time changes and the programme guide does not pick it up.
  8. If you try to set too many programmes to record at the same time, the box will warn you at the start of the programme which is going to actually cause the clash; if you’re not there, it will take a decision on what to record based on your preferences (you can choose whether series episodes, programmes or manual recordings take top or second priority).
  9. Live TV recording can be controlled by the same remote buttons which control playback; as soon as you pause live TV, or hit the ‘replay last 7 seconds’ button, you are said to be in ‘DelayTV’, as opposed to ‘LiveTV’. You can get up to 90 mins of delay (i.e. you can pause for 90 mins, or rewind for 90 mins- but see ‘Thoughts so far’ below).
Thoughts so far:
  1. The help is via little videos. They’re not too irritating, but it is inconvenient to have to watch the whole thing when I’m just looking for a single tip or fact.
  2. The box looks quite stylish.
  3. DelayTV only works relative to the channel you’re on; as soon as you change channel, it will start to record for you, but you can’t go back to recordings from the channel you were on previously, or recordings from the channel you’re on from before the time you started watching it.
  4. It’s VERY slow. Especially moving between menu screens. Even changing channel is irritatingly sluggish. I suspect that this has something to do with the automatic recording of live TV.
  5. Why not give us an option to turn off the helpful instructions in the TV Guide? They use up two lines of the display, and there’s already enough on the screen (there is now an extra line used up to indicate which day you’re looking at, which is useful, but I know how to set a reminder, record a show, and return to the previous menu!).
  6. EDIT: the ethernet port is not live; apparently the firmware is not set to recognise it. Bother.

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