Which Freeview PVR?

Discussion in 'Digital TV & Video Players & Recorders' started by ItsMikeE, Sep 5, 2004.

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  1. ItsMikeE

    ItsMikeE
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    I want to buy a combined Freeview and hard disk recorder.
    I have read various threads which make comments about what will happen after the next software update, but as some of the posts are quite old it is hard to work out what the state of play is today.

    So, the short list seems to be
    1) Humax PVR-8000T
    2) Pace Puma/Twin
    3) Fusion FVRT100

    I know that the Humax only has one tuner, and I would prefer two.

    Which of these are stable on latest software?
    Do any run very hot or noisy?
    Do the Pace and the Fusion now allow you to watch the same program as you are recording on the latest software?
    Do all have the same EPG functions?
    Is the Thomson out yet, and if so how does it compare?
    Any others that I have not included?

    Thanks in advance

    Mike
     
  2. Ang

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    Yes, the Thomson DHD4000 came out just before the Fusion, so you can add it to your list. Thomson and Fusion are both supposed to be releasing an OTA update this month. Fusion have stated that it will allow then allow watching a program while it is being recorded. I don't think Thomson will be doing this. I don't know much about the Pace, other than the disk is half the size (only 10 hours recording) and my impression is there have been a lot of problems with software. I'm very happy with the Fusion, but I suggest you wait a week or two until Fusion and Thomson put out their OTA updates and see how things are looking then - If there are problems, you are sure to hear about them. I've read a bit about the Humax, and it sounds like the recent OTA update had some nice enhancements, but also caused a couple fairly major problems. So that's why I say at this point, wait a bit... however, I am reasonably assured that if any problems occur due to an OTA update from Fusion, they will sort it out ASAP. And there is always the possibility that even though they are intending an update, it gets delayed... so how long do you wait? I'll let you know when the update happens.
     
  3. ItsMikeE

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    So what are the problems caused by the latest Humax update?
    Are any of them stable and with full functionality?

    I am leaning towards the Humax, but have one query which might change my mind:
    I know you cannot record two channels at once (being a single-tuner model), but can you watch an old recording and record another channel simultaneously?
     
  4. MartinImber

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    With the Twin Watch A and record B, watch A some time after recording A - ie slide a whole evening up 1/2 hour.
     
  5. Ang

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    From what I have read, the Humax does not allow watching a previous recording while a new recording is in progress. It's a bit of a mystery why this is, as the previous recording would not be using the tuner. With the Fusion and Thomson, you can watch a previous recording while TWO (dual) new recordings are in progress, so why can't you, with the Humax, watch a previous recording while ONE (single) new recording is in progress.

    I don't know the specifics of the problems caused by the new update. One has something do with recordings being done in mono, and the another has something to do with recordings not stopping when they should and filling up the disk. Humax owners, please don't shoot me if I'm wrong, but by all means, do correct me if I'm wrong! I read with interest about Humax because they are generally considered to be more stable than the others.

    The Fusion has very few bugs. In fact I can't think of one off hand and I've had it since June.
     
  6. ItsMikeE

    ItsMikeE
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    So you are happy with the Fusion, and presumably it is stable.
    How about noise and heat?

     
  7. Ang

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    The Fusion is very stable. Lets hope I'm still saying that after the OTA update!

    I don't notice the noise at all. It is sitting on top of my TV, not enclosed in a cabinet. Some people do report that it is too noisy for them though.

    It is luke warm on the bottom. It runs quite hot if you never put it in standby. I only know this because when I first got it, I never put it in standby. This was a habit based on old unreliable digiboxes.
     
  8. Spok

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    In answer to the original question...

    I think the Pace Twin is extremely well designed, a lot of thought seems to have gone into it.

    Apart from the minor software bugs (they all have them in one form or another) which are slowly being ironed out, its only drawback is not being able to record two channels at once.

    The Pace does, however, let you set repeating events, in a multutude of different combinations, including a number of 'episodes' of a programme. The Thompson and Fusion do not. Every event has to be set individually.

    The Pace doesn't insist on putting 'scene markers' down every five minutes before you can watch anything, taking ages to do it, as the Thompson and Fusion do. You are free to put your own markers down at any place and any time.

    With the Pace you can start watching a recording any time after it has started. You can't with the Thompson or Fusion. You would be amazed at how useful this facility is.

    With the Pace you can 'resume' watching any partly watched programme in the library, or, if the doorbell rings, you just press 'Stop' and then press 'Play' to pick up where you left off. You can't do that with the Thompson or Fusion.

    The Pace doesn't insist on reserving disk space for programmes yet to be recorded, so that you end up with the silly situation of it saying 'Disk Full' when you have not yet recorded anything. The Pace makes the sensible assumption that you will be deleting programmes as you go along and you are left in full control.

    The Pace has a 'Skip 60s', either forwards or back. I want to thank which ever Pace designer thought of that one. It is invaluable for skipping the hated adverts and trailers, and saving us countless hours of time in the process.

    In everyday use, when all you want to do is record and watch television or radio, the Pace wins hands down.

    I would get yourself a Pace Twin and spend the money you will save on upgrading it to bigger harddrive. We did.


    Spok. ;)
     
  9. Ang

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    That's all very impressive, but not entirely accurate. For example, it takes very little time to create the 5 minute scenes. I do agree that the 5 minute scenes are pretty pointless, but the tone of your post is so negative! For me, to be able to record two things at once far outweighs the rest of your listed features put together. It's a matter of personal preference... I'm not sure why there is so much bashing of competitive machines! And don't forget, most if not all of your list is software controlled, so could be included in a future OTA update. I agree, some of them would be wonderful! :thumbsup:
     
  10. Ang

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    I'm curious, what happens if you don't delete programs before the recording comes up - does it just fail? I prefer to know beforehand so that I can decide what to get rid of before setting to record. Usually the new recording is more important than the old, but which old one should go? It sounds like Sky+ will automatically delete old recordings if the disk fills - I definitely wouldn't want that. It's just what you get used to I suppose, but one person's feature is another person's problem.

    These are only even noticed because the disk space in these machines is too little. Yes, the Fusion has twice the capacity of the Pace, but it is still not enough. I have to shuffle quite a lot, especially in the summer when I'm watching less, but want to save my favourite shows until I have time to watch them.
     
  11. Spok

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    Ang,

    Sorry if my previous post sounded negative, I thought I was being helpful to a prospective purchaser who was asking for an opinion.

    I would be interested to know the where else (apart from the 5 minute scene thing which, when it happens to each and every recording, would be very irritating) I have been inaccurate in my previous post.

    Sky+ will automatically delete the oldest recording(s) on the drive in order to make space for new ones. This can be switched off in a menu.

    The Pace does not intervene at all in this way, but it does keep you fully informed about how much disk space you have left at any one time. It will record and record until the disk is full, then stop. It is up to the user to make sure there is sufficient space for new recordings, which I prefer because it suits the way we use our machine.

    We regularly sit down on a Friday evening with the Radio Times and set all the timer events for the coming week, by picking the programmes off the EPG. We like to 'set it and forget it'. This often means that we will set up events that, in total, would exceed the available disk space if nothing was deleted. Obviously, though, we will watch programmes during the week and delete as we go, so the 'disk full' situation never arises.

    If our machine were to reserve disk space as timer events were set up, we would find that we could only set up some of the timer events for the coming week. The rest could only be set up after programmes had been watched and disk space released. For us, that would be inconvenient.

    A friend of mine has the Thompson machine and I have had a good look at it. The five minute scene thing would certainly annoy us, but it doesn't seem to bother my friend. And it doesn't seem to bother you, which is great.

    We thought long and hard before buying a machine that did not record two channels at once. After over a year with the Pace, we have found we have needed it only once or twice. On those occasions we have recorded the second programme on to VHS.

    I forgot to mention another couple of great (IMO) design features of the Pace that the other two do not have...

    In a menu you can set an amount of time that is automatically added to the front and end of recordings, to catch early starters and late runners. We have chosen an extra 1 minute on the front and an extra five minutes on the end. With out this facility we would constantly be adjusting timer events, as they are added, to do this.

    You can record a programme you are watching live by just pressing the 'Record' button. And there is a 'Clip' button which will record for a certain length of time (depending on what has been set in a menu) then stop. We have ours set to 15 minutes, but it could be set to 30 or 60 or whatever. Also, repeated pressings will add another amount (depending on what is set) to the recording. So, in our case, to record half an hour we would press the clip button twice.

    I think all the other 'advantages' of the Pace far outweigh the missing dual recording facility. But that is just my opinion, of course.


    Spok.
     
  12. 12 promises

    12 promises
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    guess what , i have a thomson dhd4000 and bought it after going through two pace boxes in a period of 6 months. both pace boxes constantly froze,stuttered,and when recording from the timer/epg refused to shut-down.the only way to stop the machine is to disconnect at the power supply which then erases the recording(s) just made!!! lets look at the thomson;as the hard drive fills up.......you can reduce the size of the recording by comressing it . those little 5 minute thumbnails are not mandatory,the machine advises that they are available and if you wish to create them, your choice.if someone interrupts my viewing i can always hit the pause button no big hardship there then. buffering (live pause) the machine allows you to watch the programme being recorded with a time delay this is very akin to the pace. if a weeks recording of programmes is desired the 7 day epg gives all the info on screen and two button touches for each programme which you require to record is all thats needed. i really could go on like this for a while cos iv got the manual in front of me. the point is ; i didnt just go round and have a look at my mates bit of kit, ive actually owned and operated both!! it is quite obvious that both machines have pluses and minuses and its each to his/her own. it seems that when someone likes a thing they tend to lose all objectivity,and become tunnel-visioned. i myself loved the pace box when it worked but eventually gave up after the second one due to frustration and empty promises from the pace people. the thomson does not have as good a tuner (s) as the pace in my opinion but so far is a lot more reliable. i hope this of help and i hope ive been fairly objective about both machines.if anyone wants to get in touch to discuss the pros and cons of both, please feel free.
     
  13. MAW

    MAW
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    I'm another pace user and recommender. I sell them, but could equally sell almost any freeview box. I choose the pace myself, having found reports of it's unreliability grossly exadgerated. Granted, the april software was not too good, but the latest release has made my box stable again. I always download the latest, as I'm a custom installer, and I am the beta tester for my client base. I will be ringing round to get them all to upgrade when the latest release is re-broadcast, it simply works. The best freeview PVR on the market, no question.
     
  14. Ang

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    It's things that aren't necessarily factually wrong, but give an impression that there is no way to accomplish the same on the Fusion/Thomson. For example, your description of Stop and Resume. That is, I agree, better than how the Fusion does it - I have been caught out a couple times by pressing stop instead of pause. Funnily enough, that's when the 5 minute markers are very useful!!! But the way you worded it made it sound like we have nothing similar, whereas we do... use the pause button, or we can generate a scene, which is what I tend to do. It's not as slick as the Pace in that respect, but it's not difficult either, and the same thing is accomplished.

    I think I reacted a bit strongly to your post, but I'm a bit wound up at the moment because I see people asking for advice in forums, and both Pace and Humax owners seem to want to bash the Fusion and Thomson... For example, it's very typical for someone to say I particularly need dual tuner, and you'll still get Humax owners saying the 8000T is the only real option. I don't get it... That is not helping the person who asked the question. The reason I didn't buy the Pace is because 10 hours was not enough for me. The reason I didn't buy the Humax is because I wanted dual tuner. Those are very factual, objective reasons, and they're not negotiable for me. So I waited many many months for what was right for me, and I'm happy with the Fusion.
     
  15. ItsMikeE

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    Its interesting how many people in this (and other) forums seem keen to justify their own choice.
    Not surprisingly most people do not have experience of more than one.
    I have discovered that I know a couple of people who own the Pace Twin and both are very happy with it.
    I am capable of changing the hard disk, but am concerned about the warranty.
    I saw one description of putting a second disk on top of the first, which might get round the warranty problem.
    I have not made a final decision yet, but am now leaning towards the Pace.

    Thanks for all your comments.
     
  16. tomleeeee

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    Hold on for the new Panasonic tuc box, the TUCTH100. It's got 2 freeview tuners, top up tv card slot and an 80 gb HD. Got a humax 8000T at the moment which is alright. Some of the menus are a bit annoying and the remotes a bit yuck but it's alright. I'll upgrade to the Panny once i get my 20% staff discount! :D
     
  17. SL Boy

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    I have just bought the Thomson box. First reaction is it looks a good product but the top left side gets very hot whether its on or in standby mode. Is this normal?
     
  18. ItsMikeE

    ItsMikeE
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    Do you know what the price will be? And the release date?
     
  19. tomleeeee

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    We're not sure as to what the price is going to be yet, but my boss seems to think it'll be about £300. But no doubt you'll be able to get it off the net for £220 or less. As for the release date, we're getting them in next week! Oooh! :D
     
  20. Spok

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    I am sorry, 12 promises, that you had so much trouble with your Pace Twins. We have never had that much trouble with ours. I know different users have had different problems. We had a problem where, on playing a programme from the library, the machine would go straight into 'Pause' and you had to press 'Stop' and 'Play' a few times to get it to run. I know of no one else, either personally or on these forums, who had the same 'bug'. Others have had it freeze when fading to black. We have never had that. Maybe it is down to the size of drive installed. Ours is an 80GB, four times the original.

    I may not own a Thompson box, but I do know a lot about it, and the others. I like to keep up with changes in the market and with the new kit that comes along. These forums are also very helpful in this respect. Here is something, 12promises, you will not find in your manual: Press the 'Mute' button on your Thompson remote control. Then select '2x speed forward'. Then press the 'Mute' button again. What do you hear? Sound at 2x speed! You could do the same for half or quater speed, when you will get slow motion sound. It also works going backwards. Amazing!

    I really do think that there has been very little thought given to the design of the Thompson/Fusion PVRs. What, for example, were the designers thinking about when they decided not to include repeating timer events? Even the most basic VHS cassette decks have repeating timer events. In everyday use this makes a big difference.

    I did a quick calculation. Over the next thirteen weeks our Pace will record 247 programmes automatically, and without any further human intervention after the initial setting up, using repeating timer events. Some will be 'Weekdays', some will be 'Weekly' and some will be 'Forever'. You could also have 'Daily' events if you wanted. Some of those repeating timer events will have been programmed to record a set number of episodes, as the Radio Times helpfully gives the current episode number and the number of episodes in a series, in the form - '1/8' or '5/15' etc. next to the programme title.

    At the end of the series, the timer event is automatically deleted from the list. The only ones we will need to set up each week will be the 'Once' off events, such as films or the odd documentary, or whatever. With the Thompson as it is at the moment, each of those 247 timer events would need to be set individually. That's a lot of key presses and a lot of remembering to do it in the first place. The EPG is only useful for the next seven days, so you could not do it all in one go.

    "So what", I hear you shouting. Well, Imagine a new building society opening up in the high street saying that you would have to set up each of your regular payments individually every time they were due, instead just a few standing orders. Think of the time wasted. Think of a digital alarm clock that needed to be set each and every night, even though you want waking at exactly the same time every morning.

    Which brings me to another design problem. If you want to add (you cannot edit events because of a bug) a manual timer event on the Thompson, you find you can only scroll through the start time, a minute at a time, and with no wrap around. Wouldn't it be far easier to just type a time in? Also, you have to enter a duration rather than a stop time.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but if you turn the creation of the five minute scenes off you then cannot create scenes manually either. It's all or nothing. This makes life very difficult if you are putting a scene in to remind you where you have watched up to. Your scene would get lost amongst all the other five minute scenes. Is that true?

    The last OTA software download has made the Pace rock solid now, and there is another due on September 20th. If you are capable of upgrading the HD and do not have a need for dual recording it is a good choice.

    I have tried to be as accurate and objective as possible here about the two machines. I hope it helps those thinking about buying a PVR. I would be interested to see the new Panasonic when it arrives.


    Spok. :)
     
  21. MAW

    MAW
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    The panasonic sounds like the 1st serious competitor for the Pace. It's something to be welcomed, I look fwd to playing with one, s'pose I'll have to buy one. 80gig sounds good, not been keeping up with this very well as we are frantically busy, but I know I can rely on you guys to keep me up to date!
     
  22. Thrutch

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    I've been waiting for the Humax PVR-9000T. Just been onto Humax UK website and its release is now 'PVR-9000T(Twin Tuner PVR) will be available around the middle of Next year', it was supposed to be end of this year. I wanted this model as it has a swappable hard drive.

    Just noticed a Humax PVR8000T80 has an 80 GB ?

    Also just visited the Fusion website and they have some tasty stuff coming out
    http://www.fusiondigitec.com/files/newsite/consumer_prods/consumerprod_frontpage.htm
     
  23. ItsMikeE

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    Just got the PACE twin.
    It has not got the latest S/W.
    Is it re-broadcast regularly?
    Or can I download it from the net? and if so, what cable do I need?
     
  24. MartinImber

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    There is another one due later this month

    The Twin is a fantastic piece of kit!

    None of the others sound quite up to it

    Repeating timer - used ALL the time
     
  25. Ang

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    Cute analogies, but setting something to record on the Fusion and the Thomson is not much of a hassle, whereas the things you are comparing it to certainly are. Who's to say we won't get some sort of series link in the future though... I'm not sure the disk sizes are large enough though... I certainly don't want the machine making a decision as to what to delete to fit the series in. Only I can decide which is the most important to keep, record, etc...

    Not quite true, if the Thomson works the same as the Fusion in this respect, and I think it does. At any point in playback, you press a button (with the Fusion it is the OK button) and you can create a scene. If you have the 5 minute scenes also, the new one is easy to spot because it will be, for example, at 31:37 minutes, whereas all others are multiples of 5... I'm sure you will say that sounds cumbersome, but it's really not.
     
  26. Spok

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    Ang,

    Only you will know if it is cumbersome, as you use it on a daily basis.

    All I can remember about 'may mates' machine is a long string of thumbnails along the bottom of the display. Say you have to stop watching a two and a half hour film with half an hour to go. You create a scene before you press 'Stop', as a 'resume' marker. When you come back to watch the last half hour, how do you find your scene again? Do you have to step past the first twenty four or so 'five minute' scene thumbnails before getting to your scene. How long does that take?

    The ten hours (20GB) that the Pace comes with is a joke. With drive prices now so low, there is no excuse. The HD on the Pace is of the 2.5 inch notebook variety, so it is more expensive to upgrade than a machine with 3.5 inch drive, and the maximum is only 100GB.

    I am sure many more manufacturers will bring out Freeview PVRs over the next few years. The designs will improve greatly with things like multiple channel simultaneous recording, DVD writers built in to archive, and gigantic HDs.


    Spok.
     
  27. Ang

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    Yes, going through the thumbnails is as you describe (although you may be able to start at the end, I haven't tried that). It doesn't take long. I'm not sure why they created the 5 minute thumbnails. I said No to creating them once, because I read that then the skip button moves forward in increments of 60 seconds (much more useful). This works but it then asks you if you want to generate the scenes every time you go into the library... so I just generated them to get rid of that question every time. The 5 minute thumbnails are pretty pointless, but it's interesting that Fusion and Thomson both did it... it's still unclear how much of the software is 4TV and how much is Fusion/Thomson - they are so similar. Maybe the imminent OTA updates will shed some light, as they say they are dealing with very different things. So to summarise, the thumbnails are useless, and hopefully a future update will get rid of them, or make them optional. It's not a big deal to work around them though. Incidently, we were supposed to get an OTA update in early September... it's not early anymore, is it!!!
     
  28. MAW

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    Obviously they are just as timely as Pace on S/W then! But Pace have made some very encouraging noises just recently, if only they would up the HDD size it would be perfect for me. Sadly I doubt it, so stuck with upgrading myself. I now have 11 20Gb discs....
     
  29. ItsMikeE

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    How much money are we talking for a replacement disk for the Pace?
    Presumably it is a laptop type disk.
    What are we talking about?
    2.5 inch disk
    What about speed?
    Is it a SCSI or IDE?
    Any recommendations?
     
  30. Ikki

    Ikki
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    Joined:
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    The Panasonic TUCTH100 (snappy name :laugh: ) is on sale for £239 at Internet TV's Direct. I don't know if they have stock yet. The HDD is shown on most sites as 40GB, I wonder if it is upgradable :rolleyes:
     

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