Tuesday, September 25, 2007

First impressions on the Moto 3416 DCT I

And by first impressions, let me specify, I mean first impressions using this particular device. I have used the Motorola 3412, 6412 and the Pace Vegas TDC-575D dual tuner DVRs on Comcast cable before. So I am painfully very familiar with the user interface and such.

I switched to the Moto 3416 from the Pace Vegas which had a very nasty bug in that it randomly froze/crashed at the end of playback of previously recorded programs. Comcast/Pace denial aside, this looked like a sneaky file system bug. But what do I know? I'm just a dumb user :-)

The Motorolas look and feel the same. The Pace Vegas is a different pizza box, but only slightly smaller. They have some differences in features and interface, hightlighted in the Pace Vegas blog.

My experience so far has been as expected. The extra hard disk space (160gb) is a nice boost going from 80gb but also a nice boost going from 120gb (33% more). It was so exciting to be able to stop playback without having to cross my fingers hoping it wouldn't crash this time (with the Pace Vegas).

At times it has the notorious remote delay, although so far it seems to have been better than the 3412/6412. But then again, I just got this one and the hard disk is barely 20% full. So I should give it some time before making any general comments on this.

No issues with On-Demand so far. Each time I was able to quickly get to On-Demand, watch or browse around and exit gracefully. Be sure to check out On-Demand, a number of series premieres are available there such as the new reimagined Bionic Woman and Journeyman. Also for SciFi fans, there are two 15-minute features on BBC America's Torchwood, along with the already aired episodes.

I noticed a couple of minor issues, twice the audio disappeared from the live tuner, but changing the channel brought it back. I believe this is a known Moto issue and it's not a big deal because I believe the recorded program has the audio intact.

The other issue I noticed was last night when watching a recording of Heroes from NBC-HD, the signal got pixelized and some fractions of a second were lost. Not sure if this was my connections, the signal, the DVR, the local station, etc, etc. I'll check with other HD programs first.

I am also going to be starting two posts that will be updated throughtout. One of them will be a daily update blog log of any issues or other observations or gossips :) The second post will be a list of how much disk space programs from different channels takeup. This will be a good reference so you can plan ahead your recordings.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The DCT 3416 I in pictures

Front view. This is what is facing you. There is the informational display and functional buttons on either side.

On the left side of the front panel display we have the four way arrow keys which behave the same way the four outer arrow keys behave on your remote control. The Up arrow for example is PLAY/PAUSE, the Down arrow is STOP, and the left and right are fast forward and fast backward.

This is the bottom left corner (sorry for the fuzzy picture)

On the right of the front panel display, we have a number of buttons, all functional. Of course it's a lot easier to use the remote, but if you happen to be right in front of the device, you can use them. It takes a little bit of getting used to for the smaller buttons. The Channel Up and Down is fairly easy to figure out :)

This is the top of the device, with the edges slightly cropped.

This is part of the bottom of the device with what appears to be a fan. This is on the front and right of center in the underbelly of this beast.

This is the center of the back of the device showing most of the inputs and outputs. You can see the S-Video out, orange SPDIF, optical SPDIF, yellow RCA video out, white and red audio out, component output, HDMI, Ethernet, USB and SATA.

This is how the Motorola DCT 3416 I looks while it is activating for the first time with Comcast Cable. Notice the Zero (0) in the leftmost position of its front panel display.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Installation and Activation of the Motorola DCT 3416

I am using Comcast Cable and this is not my first DVR! The new season is upon us so I am upgrading from the Pace Vegas standard definition dual tuner DVR to this Motorola DCT 3416 I dual tuner HD DVR. Before the Pace Vegas, I had the Motorola 6412 and 3412 DVRs as well.

Since the last time I got a new Comcast box, Comcast seems to have changed their activation procedure. You obviously still have to call their toll-free customer service and they send the activation signal, but now, during activation, the DVR turns off the picture, and shows a zero (0) on the front panel display while it activates and downloads all the essentials. Pictures of that and the DVR box coming later on!

It pretty much looks like the other Motorola DVRs like the 3412 and 6412. This not to be confused with the newer DCH model, which unfortunately wasn't available in my area.

The box has RF In and RF Out. You connect the cable from the wall to the RF In, and you can use RF Out to connect to an older TV, VCR, computer with TV card, etc. It also has a set of yellow, white and red outputs (video, and audio LR), S-Video output, compoment output, and HDMI. Also the orange audio output (SPDIF). There are USB and SATA ports as well on the device, but I do not know what functionality they have. The USB port is powered so you can for example connect a notebook cooler/chill pad if you want to keep your DVR cooler.

Welcome to the Motorola DCT 3416 I DVR User Review!

This is a user review of the Motorola DCT 3416 I DVR! This is not an expert review, but an enthusiastic user review :-) It will be updated blog style with new things posted as I discover them.

The first post will be the installation and activation post, with some pictures of the unit as well as an intro and more details! Stay tuned as it will be posted later today!