Thursday, 18 December 2008

Foxsat HDR DVR first impressions updated

Had a few failed recordings for 'unknown reason'.

However no severe crashes or lockups just yet, unlike my new Pace SkyHD box which has locked up yet again.

Usability is awkward compared to TiVo or ReplayTV, but the Foxsat is slightly preferable to SkyHD.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Friday, 5 December 2008

SkyHD and Foxsat HDR functionality wishlists

Both SkyHD and Foxsat HDR:
1. Ability to add proper wishlists by actor, director,producer, keywords, title with not/and/or functions. These to be tailored over all channels or just one channel
2. Auto Prioritiser of series links and wishlists in event of clashes
3. Improved metadata so series links persist more than a month if there is a break, (in fact persist for years unless cancelled)
4. Series links for EVERY programme on every channel
5. Fully adjustable Overshoot compensation when fast forwarding
9. Full web based interface so every function can be controlled across the internet
10. One month EPG which is cached locally so runs faster
13. Menus and EPG can be accessed without losing live pause, live pause is NEVER lost except on reboot
14. Dynamic buffer for live pause which uses available spare disk space like ReplayTV in 1998 or FetchTV in 2008
15. Programmes you don't want in Planner or Anytime are remembered and never recorded again unless told otherwise (global blocklist)
16. Quick way to delete when viewing has finished
19. Ability to assign different remote codes for each Sky box so you can have multiple boxes in the same room without clashing
20. Ethernet enabled to add multi-room sharing of video to PC or other Sky boxes (mp3 and pictures would also be nice)
21. View upcoming episodes functionality over all channels
22. Unlimited favourites (up to 500 channels, 100 groups as there are now 10,000+ satellite channels), full flexibility with favourites
23. Integration with Vista/MCE DVB-S
24. Display of full recording history and scheduled items in seperate menus
25. Display of all active series links and wishlists and order of priority
26. When you press record in live TV gives you the option to record the buffer as well to get the start of the programme if available
27. All preferences and settings can be stored over the internet so can be restored in event of box failure
28. Option to record in HD whenever possible - so if you accidently record or schedule an SD version it will automatically record the HD version instead, or let you know when the next HD version of a programme will be shown next
This can be a global, per channel or per series option.
29. Better clash resolution - will tell you which of the clashing programmes are repeated within the next month, so you can pick the one which doesn't get repeated. This should be customisable to work with a prioritiser as well so clashes can be automatically resolved
30. Ability to pad any programme by any amount (1minute to 12 hours) at any time, even when programme has already started
31. Save until options for each programme in planner or Anytime - so
Save until - disk space needed, 1 day, 2 day, 3days, until I delete, until I watch
32. Series links and wishlists have customisable default Save Until options, and keep 'x' number of episodes

37. Undelete
38. Share show suggestions with friends
39. Display messages (i.e. put the oven on I'm home in 15 minutes)
40. Connect with Digiguide, Amazon and other online guides/reviews and allow setting of season passes/series links/wishlists
41. Proper and quality metadata for radio shows, which can also have series links/wishlists which can also be prioritised, padded etc.
42. User customisation of onscreen graphics and logos
43. Option to not (or only) record signed programmes (this requires quality metadata)
44. Buffer/live pause intact on both tuners so when you switch between them you don't lose your place,Better buffer control- don't lose buffer when changing menus (USA DVRs can do this)
45. When attached to HD display show EPG in HD so we can see more text and in better quality- user definable fonts, text sizes, option for scrolling text on long episode titles etc..
46. Full Wap enabled interface (for low-tech mobile phones or people who don't want to pay high GPRS charges)
47. Full FTP
48. Connect to email,weather, traffic,news, ebay watch lists and other rss feeds, podcasts, tivocasts, youtube
49. Connect to other Sky+ or FoxsatHDR boxes to resolve any conflicts and allow operation of remote Sky+ or FoxsatHDR boxes from your current one
50. Caller ID recognisation and link to your phone address book
51. Ability to send emails with diagnostics, hard drive failure possibility, modem failure alerts, scheduled to-do-list of programmes and report why any programmes failed to record
52. Customisable background music for EPG (load your own mp3 or radio channel)
53. Display list and Auto-detection of duplicate recordings (especially if also in Anytime), and option to detect and remove duplicates - I don't need the same programme in Anytime that I already have in my planner
54. In event of unresolved conflicts, auto-scheduling of the next repeat available
55. Profiles of all settings for each user, with user logons. Option to show/hide programmes dependent on profile
56. Ability to group together wishlists and series links by a name and also set validity and expiry dates

57: Full EPG series links for Radio channels, with interface to recommendations from Radio Times and other internet radio channels
58. Play at 101% to 120% speed with sound and pitch shift correct so I can watch a 60 minute show in about 50 minutes (useful for the wife's soaps)
59. Easily identify signed and dubbed programmes, and to include/exclude from series links, wishlists etc..
60. Open programmable interface so 3rd party developers may introduce controlled modular pug-ins -e.g. to link with home automation software
61. Full RS232 control
62. Connection to online VOD companies via ethernet e.g. Amazon unbox to purchase any programmes not available on Sky
63. option to automatically hide all channels in EPG you do not subscribe to
64. Remote or RS232 or web enabled reset/reboot
65. Option to record in SD instead of HD wherever possible for space-saving reasons (e.g. kids cartoons can be in SD instead of from SkyOneHD where they would eat up more disk space)
66. In event of an unresolved conflict, schedule programme to automatically record on any other DVR on your network, e.g second FoxsatHDR, Dreambox, SkyHD box, Sky+, TiVo, MCE
67. Add a 'Related series' function to every programme where you can quickly set a wishlist or series link for a related show e.g. when you bring up Doctor Who there is a related option which will show Torchwood and Sarah Jane Adventures and the Weakest Link Doctor Who special and give you the chance to record those as well
68. Option to auto-record series link and all 'related' or 'spin-off' shows
69. Option to auto-record series links and wishlists by year and/or season number e.g. I only want seasons 3 to 6 of '24' and season 2 and 3 of 'Lost'
70. Display Season and episode number in format SxEy e.g. S5E2 by title in EPG so it is obvious which show I should watch next as they might be broadcast out-of-order
71 Global blocklist to prevent recording episodes you dont want to be picked up by series links or wishlists
72.Fully customisable text and menu order in menu system so you can rename titles and identify boxes e.g. SkyHD Living Room, SkyHD bedroom
75. Option to display only HD programmes on any channel which has mixed mode e.g. Sky1HD, SkyArts HD, ITVHD, C4HD

76. Support for 1.5TB drives and larger e.g. Rx8500 50TB-Enterprise Giga Storage Solution -
77. Option for Series links/season passes preserved during major channel changes e.g change in frequency or re-branding
78. Option to display expired EPG data, so you know what youve just missed and can see which episode should be coming up next as sometimes the next episode isn't in the EPG yet, and also makes it easier to find a programme and set series links/season passes
87. Option to record automatically the SD version of an HD version if there isn't enough space left to record the HD version but there is enough space to record the SD version, or if the HD programme is no longer available in HD e.g. Foxsat HDR fails to record S|D version if HD version on ITVHD is no longer shown in HD but is shown in SD.
88. Super slick search like the new TiVo one :
89. The auto-standby should be customisable, just like a Windows PC.
So you can set Mon-Fri 8am-5pm off except bank holidays etc..

Sky HD:
6. 30 second adjustable skip forward
7. Anytime only uses spare unused disk space
8. Anytime is customisable by user preferences so programmes are tailored to each user
11. Option to turn off PIP
12. EPG can be accessed even when both tuners in use
17. Direct delete facility for Anytime
18. Anytime programmes are only deleted when out of disk space
73. Ability to record 2 and watch another channel if on same transponder (like Foxsat HDR)
74. Ability to use just one cable to record 2 channels if on same transponder (like Foxsat HDR)
75. EPG overlaid over live TV option with transparency settings
76. Vary anytime space usage: Reclaim lost space when anytime not in use
77. Customisable anytime similar to TiVo suggestions
78. Limit which channels Anytime can record from
79. ability to hide/remove unwanted channels in EPG
80. Ability to use full EPG and menus when 2 recordings are in progress
81. make epg slicker to navigate - at end of 7 day epg show 'NO more guide data' on background instead of annoying message box etc...
82. manually tune channels
83. Support for music services like TiVo series 2 and 3 e.g. add Last.FM, napster, rhapsody etc.
Foxsat HDR:
IMPORTANT: ability to delete FAST and at ANY TIME
Scheduled recordings more clearly marked in different colour in EPG -like Media Centre
Auto-delete facility like SkyHD,TiVo,ReplayTV and most other DVRs

Better integration with non-Freesat mode e.g.manual record mode/timers, integration within Freesat EPG (but with only now/next data of course -be nice if they could get proper data like TiVo has)

Ability to pause/FF/rewind while EPG is overlaid

Remote re-designed to add skip to start and skip to end buttons and also seperate dedicated slow-motion button (like TiVo)

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Foxsat HDR DVR first impressions

Well it's now arrived thanks to Argos.
It's not in the same league as TiVo, but is probably our next best thing here in the UK.
The software is reasonable, visual design is OK, and hardware-wise it is fantastic.

Great alternative to SkyHD
Can record two channels, sometimes you can watch a third
Suggests whether you want to record a programme in HD when available
Slim quiet hardware, fast loading EPG (though slow compared to a well setup Windows Media Centre)
No blue screen or failed recordings after 3 days
Low power consumption on standby

Not as good as TiVo EPG/PVR-wise (conflict resolution, EPG detail, season pass/link prioritisation, networking)
Can't mix/match Freesat and manual tune modes
You LOSE all schedules and recording to-do list when you switch to or from manual tune mode!
I had a problem switching to another tuner whilst recording Apparitions last night.
Live buffer also failed to rewind while recording New Statesman

Cons due to other restrictions:
EPG limited to only 7 days and only in Freesat mode
Freesat EPG not as complete and detailed as TiVo (e.g. Bloomberg, CNN, Phoenix CCTV9 etc..)
Cannot archive BBCHD yet due to copyright restrictions
ITVHD not a full channel, stereo only
No C4 HD yet

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Sunday, 23 November 2008

New Smart-e SNX888 HDMI matrix Cat5 switch

This looks great and will be out around Feb 09 - seems more functional than the Avatrix HD matrix Cat5 switch which does not seem as HDMI-friendly.

Effectively 16 in and 8 out true matrix switch with IR routing -great job Smart-e, and it's made in the UK!

Unfortunately SkyHD boxes still don't output 5.1 over HDMI so you'll still need an extra cable if you want to distribute it, though Smart-e uses single Cat5/6/7/8 so it should make our lives easier with a lot less cables and clutter.

URC MRF250 IR lead and SkyHD box

These seem a bit temperamental - it might be an IR flooding issue. The placement of the IR lead eye seems to have to be very precise, even though I have removed the cover of the SkyHD box to allow maximum reception and cooling.

Upgrading Pace SkyHD without security screwdriver

I've found a way to undo the security screw on the Pace SkyHD box -yay!

Foxsat HDR DVR

The Humax Foxsat HDR will be out soon. I hope to upgrade it to 1.5TB, but we'll start with 1TB first.

I know it won't be as good as TiVo but sadly we don't have a HD TiVo in the UK :(