Sunday, September 23, 2007

Time-Warner Cable HD-DVR Service Review

So, as some of you may know, the new season of ER is starting on this upcoming Thursday. Neela (Parminder Nagra) is brought into the E.R. with very severe injuries after having been trampled at an anti-war rally.

Needless to say I want to try to see this in HD.

Now, I suppose I could have taken a look around for a stand-alone HD tuner to go with my wicked ancient 27" Zenith tube HDTV that didn't even come with an internal ATSC tuner, but I thought I would call Time-Warner and see what they could set me up with.

I must have hit them on a good day because they hit me up with a Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8300 HD-DVR, Cinemax for a year, and "RoadRunner Turbo" (currently clocking at 7.6 Mbps through SpeedTest.Net) for a year for only $2/mo. more than what I was paying for "cable ready" and the "regular" RoadRunner.

Now, mind you, like I said, I have an ANCIENT Zenith 27" tube HDTV. No HDMI port. So, basically what I have to do is run a set of component cables from the Scientific Atlanta box to my HD component ports and then run a separate set of composite cables so I can watch SD without a case of "tunnel vision".

Now, you want to talk about something REALLY frustrating - at first I couldn't get the HD side to work at all. I switched over to the analog lines and got customer service on the phone and told them I couldn't get the HD lines to work. Now, Time-Warner's customer service has improved tremendously of late. I put in one of those "call back" requests and they called back in about six minutes. They walked me through the "Settings" menu and, sure enough, this Scientific Atlanta box was pumping 480i through my HD lines and my Zenith can't handle 480i through the HD lines. The Scientific Atlanta box DID however have a 480p setting and 480p is DA BOMB on a small 4 X 3 HDTV. UNFORTUNATELY the damn thing has NO autodetect mechanism. Unless you go into "Settings" and DISABLE the 1080i, what happens is that if you're watching an SD channel, all four sides of top, bottom, left, and right are cut off - and then God forbid what's on the SD channel is in wide screen.

But what was really bizarre about this particular installation is that it took a LONG time for all the software to download properly. When I first connected the box it rebooted TWICE right from the get-go. If you disconnect the box from the AC line and then reconnect it, it goes through this wicked bizarre 5+ minute reboot process where the front of the box says "OCAP" and the screen starts prattling on about the fact that it's running Java.

Well, of course if Java is involved you KNOW you probably have some powerful capabilities involved but at the price of the thing being SLOW.

Now, mind you, the fellow at the Time-Warner office who gave me the box warned me something to the effect it might take a full 24 hours for the program guide to load all the way, but he didn't really mention much about the software taking so long to download.

Next problem was that the thing didn't seem to realize it was a DVR at first. The program guide actually did come up pretty quickly, but when I went to set it to record Star Trek: Remastered last night, there were no commands to "record" - only "set reminder". The "record" command didn't come up until about an hour later.

Pausing live TV didn't work at first either. They actually set me up with an appointment for one of their tech's to come out and look at that one. But, again, within an hour or so, that function started working as well.

The Star Trek: Remastered episode DID record last night. It was Conscience of the King, which I think has been on already, but it demonstrated that the DVR worked. Of course I had to record an hour or so on either side of the scheduled times because, although the show was not (wait for it, Dean) JIP'ed as it was so many times last season, it rolled VERY late due to a ball game of some sort running late earlier in the evening.

When I started playing back Conscience of the King I didn't get the little scroll bar that said how much was left of the show - rather some erroneous program guide information. Very strange.

I called Time-Warner customer service again about 4pm this afternoon.

I suppose as evidence of how much everyone was wrapped up in the variuos football games, they answered my call IMMEDIATELY.

I nearly fainted.

I asked the young lady (no, I have no idea if she was "exotic" or anything at all about her sexual habits, Dean) on the other end of the phone if she could fix it so the "progress bar" would come up on something I was watching on the DVR.

She had me disconnect and re-connect the box again.

About five minutes later everything appeared to be working properly.

Let me tell you ... all these switches, lights, and knobs are getting downright exhausting.

Yes, I would have probably switched to DirecTV years ago but there's a nice thatch of HUGE trees between where I would have to put the dish and where the DirecTV satellites are in the sky. That and satellite-based broadband service is HELLA expensive.

Oh - also - on every single call I made to Time-Warner customer service from the first one asking how much it would be to add the HD-DVR until the last one where I had to reboot to get my progress bar working again, they put the bite on me to add their home phone service. I think on the last call they offered it to me for $35/mo. (I presume before taxes and whatnot.)

Unfortunately none of my phone jacks are close enough to any of my cable jacks to try to hook up my existing phone wires to my broadband router. Now I HAVE thought about putting a cordless base near my router and just doing it that way, but, unfortunately I DO like this idea of having a phone line that will usually work during a power outage.

I wonder if there are any competitive local phone service carriers that can actually tie in at the C.O.

But, in any case ... it was a pretty involved install, but everything does seem to be working. They just maybe need to work on some sort of way to "image" these convertors so that a person has a better "out of box" experience I tell you ...

9/26/07 Follow-Up:
The box DID reboot again this afternoon for some reason.

Looks like all the functions are working okay though - with the exception that I can't seem to find the control for "prioritizing" series recordings ...

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At September 26, 2007 at 6:30 AM, Blogger The Dean of Cincinnati said...

Why are you talking about her sexual habits?

At December 12, 2007 at 1:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you ever figure out how to prioritize series recording? It's something that I haven't been able to find that was on the old non-HD, DVR.

Another thing that's missing is the ability to set a an entire series to "Do Not Delete" status, so, for example, the HDDVR keeps all episodes of Heroe's forever. Right now, i have to select each episode AFTER it records and set it to Do Not Delete.


At December 21, 2007 at 11:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sick of Time Warner and its HD DVR. Almost 85% of the time I hit anything from the remote, it sticks or freezes. If I hit the menu button, the TvGuide button, fast fwd. or rewind, anything. It will stick or take about 30 seconds untill it understands my comand. I've tripple checked every remote battery and remote given to me, I have even swapped out 3 different HD-DVR boxes and all had the same problem.
Time Warner is asking too much money for too little HD Channels. And everytime I call with a problem they act like it is mine. 99% of their customer service reps don't speek PROPER English and are foreigners who are very hard to understand. They have yet to ever tell me when any new HD Channels are being added. Right now Direct and Dish have about 30 more channels than cable for a more reasonable price. Plus, Dish Network has the #1 rated HD-DVR.
TIME WARNER CABLE SUCKS and I'm getting Dish!!!!!!!

At June 25, 2009 at 9:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Time Warner so sucks dead donkey dick- It's like back to the wheel service and function is sooo sub-par.

Who understands the dumb commands for's like an SNL skit and I fell like a lowland gorilla reading the options...LOL...This day, in this slot, in this time period.....FUNG GOOOO...LOL The click lag is completely intolerable. The signal sucks...the green boxes are often a mangle rats nest with cable wire sticking out all over the place.

There can't be good service reps since the hardware and software sucks. The automated system is the worst and the service reps are talking pie holes of nothing with low low intelligence...LOL.

I'm too lazy to change over. Bottom line is it all sucks but dish has more channels. Dish and the other one suck too so I'll keep the worst of the worst...ahahahahah


At July 1, 2010 at 7:11 AM, Blogger Avcap DVR said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At October 25, 2010 at 4:18 AM, Blogger Adam Scott said...

really this is good products, i have used this at my office and i wall aware about my all Security System.

At January 28, 2011 at 12:25 AM, Blogger Alison said...

Time Warner and their equipment were my last straw with cable providers! I made my switch to DISH Network and now am happily viewing the most HD channels than ever and I get them all for free! HD Free for Life is their promo and it's awesome! It's way cheaper than any cable provider I've ever been with and since I work and subscribe with DISH I get up to date state of the art equipment! Love my HD DVR!


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