Speaker by Various Artists

15

The Freeviewer Diaries (3)

by Freeviewers 2

This week I fleetingly suffered some existential angst about being the owner of this Freeview DVR. I mean what’s it all for? Also we don’t have many luxury items in our house and I consider the DVR to be one. In trying to justify it, I have come to the conclusion that is improving our existing electronic-ware. Also instead of encouraging me to watch more TV, it’s actually helping me be more selective in my viewing.

This was a week for getting to watch some of the things I’ve recorded (I keep wanting to type ‘taped’). For example New Artland neo-nana knitting, and The Good Word and its bookish goodness. I want to watch the show about Te Papa on TVNZ 7 but the one time I hunted for it, I couldn’t see it on the EPG. I will try again and also program in Talk Talk and The Gravy. This all means instead of just veging in front of whatever is on, I can watch something more ‘edifying’.

We did have a small glitch with the daylight saving change-over. One nice feature of this unit is that if you leave it on standby, it will still record your programmes. However I found that it will not update itself to daylight savings time in this mode. This meant that last Sunday we got Everybody Loves Raymond recorded rather than the news. As soon as we powered it on, the problem rectified itself though.

I did try out the 3 USB ports (2 hosts and 1 slave) but found no use for them apart from unit software upgrades. It also has a serial port for this purpose, yet the manual states the unit will update itself anyway. It would be very useful to be able to play things via the USB port and also access the Homecast’s HDD this way. We have our system configured just now with a laptop hooked up to the TV, which you can do some of these things through (its currently our DVD player as well). But if we took that away and reconnected our old DVD recorder (it’s an either/or situation) the USB functionality would be great. Actually this brings me to another point. It would be good if there were some inputs on the DVR, as running the VCR and/or DVD through it would be handy. I am guessing this is only an issue because the rest of our gear is older. I just think it would be more flexible with this functionality.

I am still a bit anxious about the DVR and its greatness, but hey who wants to miss Jacquelyn Greenbank’s knitted deer?

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Well four weeks or so with our Freeview recorder and I really love it. I have managed to watch all sorts of programs when I get a minute, rather than having to be ‘on the spot’. I can’t rave enough about the recording features and just Freeview itself. I thought for my final post I’d talk about the key things I like about the DVR and Freeview and also a few of the quirky, annoying things

Even with a crappy old CRT TV, the Freeview DVR has been awesome splendid. Our VHF reception issues were instantly solved, and the extra channels are really good.

I am very taken with the Freeveiw channels TVNZ6 and especially TVNZ7 which has things I really love watching. New Artland is a highlight and no more watching it on the ‘net and sucking up broadband for me. TV3+1 seemed pointless for a start but I have used it if I’ve missed something or forgotten to record it.

I possibly don’t use the EPG as much as I could. The best feature is the series record though. This has meant that for the last month I have hardly missed an episode of anything I actually like to watch. It’s almost like programming your own TV channel (which sounds like an ad for some other product but its true!).

Odd, quirky things have been the remote suddenly ceasing to work – with either a complete power down of the DVR required or just a flick into standby and back to fix it. Also sometimes the series record just stops doing its thing. The remote – even with extender in place seems fickle. My main bug bear is the advert skip functionality. I simply can’t work it accurately either on skip or using fast forward and end up getting very annoyed going backwards and forwards. Mind you that could be because our screen is quite small and hard to read just how far/fast you are skipping. I guess advertisers will be happy though. Also, I would have liked to be able to interact with the unit via the serial or USB ports. Maybe a future software update will allow this?

Over all I am very happy with this unit. Although we are not the heaviest TV viewers, the DVR has simplified our pick and choose approach. I sort of wonder how it would all work if you had Sky as well but it’s not an issue for us. The DVR certainly gets thumbs up in our household.

Pauline Dawson: Homecast HT9200DTR

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Added:

Joanna McLeod, Zinwell ZMT-640PVR

If I was a cleverer person, I would have installed my freeview decoder in my bedroom. After all, there are aerial cables in here. But instead I put it in the lounge for everyone to enjoy - which means that when I'm hiding out in my room I don't get to enjoy it myself. Stupid me. So the shows that I want to watch are piling up on the hard drive while I cuddle my laptop instead, getting spoilers for Shortland Street on Twitter when everyone was all "OMG SHANTI NO!". 

It's handy then that when you watch a show it changes colour on the playlist so you know you've already seen it. I am also enjoying that if you stop a programme halfway through, it will start playing again from where you stopped when you come back to it. The problem though is there's not really very many shows worth watching on these days. The Battlestar episodes are piling up waiting for an afternoon when I have a full attention span, I'm still enjoying The Riches, but apart from that, it's really just Shortland Street, The Daily Show and the news headlines that I'm interested in. Oh, and Top Chef and ANTM. But the networks are taking far too long to bring on the good shows, so I'm getting my Community, Glee, Parks & Recreation and Dollhouse fixes elsewhere. It would be awesome if I was able to plug a portable hardrive into the Freeview box to view them, but I don't think I can. I'm not sure why it has a USB port then. I have yet to discover a use for it. Perhaps I will next week. But now I must go remember to hit the EPG button and make sure I get Season Two of the Jacquie Brown Show recorded, because she is brilliant and I want to have her awkward babies.

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