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TimeWarner HD-DVR (Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8000HD) rev..

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Anonymous
September 11, 2004 9:26:11 PM

Archived from groups: alt.tv.tech.hdtv (More info?)

TimeWarner Cable in Houston began offering HD-DVR service last month,
I finally got around to picking up my box so I thought I'd write a
review for those curious.

Picking up the box.

TimeWarner Houston has outlets placed around the city where their
customers can walk in and exchange equipment without a service fee.
Friday I stopped by with my Motorola DCT6200 HD box under arm ready to
exchange for a DVR capable HD box. When I arrived I was rather
suprised to find a line of about 15 people most of which I would find
were there for the same purpose as I. A wall of brown boxes labeled
"Scientific Atlanta" were stacked behind the counter. When it came my
turn I ask "so it looks like the DVR boxes are popular". She responded
"We're providing exchange for about 200 DVR boxes a day at this
location" (wow), the box was handed to me sealed along with a new
remote and a "getting started guide". I was happy to see that
TimeWarner has elected to issue Scentific Atlanta 8000HD boxes for all
their DVR customers (at slightly over $800 per box, this is no small
investment for TWC). If you live in Houston this really is a great
deal (especially if you're already paying for Digital Cable).

HOOKUP

The box had to boot up, perform a download and then be activated.
Thankfully this was all automated (except for a phone call to
activate). Within 10 minutes I was good to go.


PICTURE QUALITY

Once the box was functional, the first thing I did was check out the
HD channels. For those not familiar with DVRs they all cache what they
display, so what you're watching is actually from a recording (moments
earlier). On ReplayTV and Tivo devices there is a noticable quality
difference when watching televison though the DVR and when in bypass
mode. I was curious how this would effect the quality of the HD. After
a close look I've come to the conclusion that the Scentific Atlanta
Exporer 8000HD box does not provide the same quality of HD image as
the Motorola DCT6200. I suspect this is because of the content
caching, but since I can't prove that I won't make the claim. I will
say the quality is very good and not enough to make me take the box
back and request the DCT6200, it's just the HD content looks more like
an anamorphic DVD than HD and I suspect the box is not really
recording in true HD resolution. Can anyone confirm if this is the
case?

For Standard Definition content, the box does a fantastic job. One
thing I hated about my ReplayTV is that, even on it's highest quality
the playback looks pixelated and washed on my HD set. Not so with the
8000HD! Playback of SD content looks identical to live TV and it all
goods very good, especially when upconversion is applied.

OPTIONS AND FEATURES

The box has a 1080i upconverter built-in. The Motorola DCT6200 also
offered this, but the upconverter in the Motorola box was noticable
inferior to the 1080i upconverter built into my Hitachi set, so I
disabled this feature on the old box. On 8000HD I am very impressed
with the upconversion quality.

16:9-4:3 options: On the DCT6200 I was able to watch HD content in
16:9 and when I changed to a non-HD channel the box would broadcast
out in 4:3 native allowing me to use one of the many stretch/zoom
modes on my HD set. In a very STUPID move (sorry, sometimes the word
has its place) the engineers at Scentific Atlanta decided to design
their box so that all HD content sent though component and DVI output
is delivered at 16:9 ratio (with your choice of grey or black side
bars). The box also offers two levels of zoom on 16:9 content (16:9
stetch.. the ugly kind where heads become melons and ZOOM which cuts
off about 2 inches on the top and bottom). What's more frustrating is
that in the 8000HD menu there is an option for "pass-though" that, by
description I believe should do exactly what I want, but it doesn't
work that way.

To remedy this problem I intent to add an s-video cable into the mix
and switch to the s-video input for non-HD viewing, so this isn't a
big problem.

The menu system is very stright-forward and acceptable. It's not as
featured as the ReplayTV menu (unfortunatley no quick skip or
commerical bypass options), no search driven menu guide, but it will
do. The ability to record two shows at once (and watch a third :) ) is
essential. This is something that all DVRs desperately need and next
to the HD compatibilty this is what makes the 8000HD stand out as the
DVR to have.

Overall, for $7.50 a month I'm actually saving money by ditching my
ReplayTV ($12.50/month). Highly recommended.








Scientific Atlanta 8000HD
Anonymous
September 12, 2004 1:47:03 AM

Archived from groups: alt.tv.tech.hdtv (More info?)

JDeats wrote:

> TimeWarner Cable in Houston began offering HD-DVR service last month,
> I finally got around to picking up my box so I thought I'd write a
> review for those curious.
>
> Picking up the box.
>
> TimeWarner Houston has outlets placed around the city where their
> customers can walk in and exchange equipment without a service fee.
> Friday I stopped by with my Motorola DCT6200 HD box under arm ready to
> exchange for a DVR capable HD box. When I arrived I was rather
> suprised to find a line of about 15 people most of which I would find
> were there for the same purpose as I. A wall of brown boxes labeled
> "Scientific Atlanta" were stacked behind the counter. When it came my
> turn I ask "so it looks like the DVR boxes are popular". She responded
> "We're providing exchange for about 200 DVR boxes a day at this
> location" (wow), the box was handed to me sealed along with a new
> remote and a "getting started guide". I was happy to see that
> TimeWarner has elected to issue Scentific Atlanta 8000HD boxes for all
> their DVR customers (at slightly over $800 per box, this is no small
> investment for TWC). If you live in Houston this really is a great
> deal (especially if you're already paying for Digital Cable).
>
> HOOKUP
>
> The box had to boot up, perform a download and then be activated.
> Thankfully this was all automated (except for a phone call to
> activate). Within 10 minutes I was good to go.
>
>
> PICTURE QUALITY
>
> Once the box was functional, the first thing I did was check out the
> HD channels. For those not familiar with DVRs they all cache what they
> display, so what you're watching is actually from a recording (moments
> earlier). On ReplayTV and Tivo devices there is a noticable quality
> difference when watching televison though the DVR and when in bypass
> mode. I was curious how this would effect the quality of the HD. After
> a close look I've come to the conclusion that the Scentific Atlanta
> Exporer 8000HD box does not provide the same quality of HD image as
> the Motorola DCT6200. I suspect this is because of the content
> caching, but since I can't prove that I won't make the claim. I will
> say the quality is very good and not enough to make me take the box
> back and request the DCT6200, it's just the HD content looks more like
> an anamorphic DVD than HD and I suspect the box is not really
> recording in true HD resolution. Can anyone confirm if this is the
> case?
>
> For Standard Definition content, the box does a fantastic job. One
> thing I hated about my ReplayTV is that, even on it's highest quality
> the playback looks pixelated and washed on my HD set. Not so with the
> 8000HD! Playback of SD content looks identical to live TV and it all
> goods very good, especially when upconversion is applied.
>
> OPTIONS AND FEATURES
>
> The box has a 1080i upconverter built-in. The Motorola DCT6200 also
> offered this, but the upconverter in the Motorola box was noticable
> inferior to the 1080i upconverter built into my Hitachi set, so I
> disabled this feature on the old box. On 8000HD I am very impressed
> with the upconversion quality.
>
> 16:9-4:3 options: On the DCT6200 I was able to watch HD content in
> 16:9 and when I changed to a non-HD channel the box would broadcast
> out in 4:3 native allowing me to use one of the many stretch/zoom
> modes on my HD set. In a very STUPID move (sorry, sometimes the word
> has its place) the engineers at Scentific Atlanta decided to design
> their box so that all HD content sent though component and DVI output
> is delivered at 16:9 ratio (with your choice of grey or black side
> bars). The box also offers two levels of zoom on 16:9 content (16:9
> stetch.. the ugly kind where heads become melons and ZOOM which cuts
> off about 2 inches on the top and bottom). What's more frustrating is
> that in the 8000HD menu there is an option for "pass-though" that, by
> description I believe should do exactly what I want, but it doesn't
> work that way.
>
> To remedy this problem I intent to add an s-video cable into the mix
> and switch to the s-video input for non-HD viewing, so this isn't a
> big problem.
>
> The menu system is very stright-forward and acceptable. It's not as
> featured as the ReplayTV menu (unfortunatley no quick skip or
> commerical bypass options), no search driven menu guide, but it will
> do. The ability to record two shows at once (and watch a third :) ) is
> essential. This is something that all DVRs desperately need and next
> to the HD compatibilty this is what makes the 8000HD stand out as the
> DVR to have.
>
> Overall, for $7.50 a month I'm actually saving money by ditching my
> ReplayTV ($12.50/month). Highly recommended.
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> Scientific Atlanta 8000HD
I recently got the same box from Charter cable (Massachusetts).I love
this box.I can't see any degradation in PQ using it.I also can't see
and worsening in PQ when playing an HD program from memory.

The only two (minor) complaints I have with this box are:
1)there's often (but not always) an annoying delay in command response
when changing stations,etc.
2)when playing back an HD program,there's usually a short period
of "stuttering" audio.
Anonymous
September 12, 2004 6:00:09 PM

Archived from groups: alt.tv.tech.hdtv (More info?)

This is a follow up to my original post. In that post I note a flaw
where the box forces the grey and black side bars and upconverts
everything to 1080i or 720p circumventing the aspect ratio options
native to the HDTV. In that post I mentioned that I would be adding an
s-video cable to the mix to solve this problem.

Unfortunately the s-video out does not work! In fact all the outputs
are disabled except for component video, this list includes: composite
(RCA) out, coax/cable out, S-Video out, DVI digital out, IEEE
1394/FireWire out.

TimeWarner Cable support has confirmed this is "by design" behavior
and can not be changed.

To remedy the problem of note being able to use native aspect ratios
you have to access the service menu on the box and go into Advanced
settings to force 480i output. Then select Pass-Through for video
settings option.

To access the Advanced setting for the 8000HD box:

1. Power off the box
2. On the box hold down INFO AND GUIDE at the same time.

-Jeremy


jeremy@pdq.net (JDeats) wrote in message news:<b0738dc6.0409111626.4568437@posting.google.com>...
> TimeWarner Cable in Houston began offering HD-DVR service last month,
> I finally got around to picking up my box so I thought I'd write a
> review for those curious.
>
> Picking up the box.
>
> TimeWarner Houston has outlets placed around the city where their
> customers can walk in and exchange equipment without a service fee.
> Friday I stopped by with my Motorola DCT6200 HD box under arm ready to
> exchange for a DVR capable HD box. When I arrived I was rather
> suprised to find a line of about 15 people most of which I would find
> were there for the same purpose as I. A wall of brown boxes labeled
> "Scientific Atlanta" were stacked behind the counter. When it came my
> turn I ask "so it looks like the DVR boxes are popular". She responded
> "We're providing exchange for about 200 DVR boxes a day at this
> location" (wow), the box was handed to me sealed along with a new
> remote and a "getting started guide". I was happy to see that
> TimeWarner has elected to issue Scentific Atlanta 8000HD boxes for all
> their DVR customers (at slightly over $800 per box, this is no small
> investment for TWC). If you live in Houston this really is a great
> deal (especially if you're already paying for Digital Cable).
>
> HOOKUP
>
> The box had to boot up, perform a download and then be activated.
> Thankfully this was all automated (except for a phone call to
> activate). Within 10 minutes I was good to go.
>
>
> PICTURE QUALITY
>
> Once the box was functional, the first thing I did was check out the
> HD channels. For those not familiar with DVRs they all cache what they
> display, so what you're watching is actually from a recording (moments
> earlier). On ReplayTV and Tivo devices there is a noticable quality
> difference when watching televison though the DVR and when in bypass
> mode. I was curious how this would effect the quality of the HD. After
> a close look I've come to the conclusion that the Scentific Atlanta
> Exporer 8000HD box does not provide the same quality of HD image as
> the Motorola DCT6200. I suspect this is because of the content
> caching, but since I can't prove that I won't make the claim. I will
> say the quality is very good and not enough to make me take the box
> back and request the DCT6200, it's just the HD content looks more like
> an anamorphic DVD than HD and I suspect the box is not really
> recording in true HD resolution. Can anyone confirm if this is the
> case?
>
> For Standard Definition content, the box does a fantastic job. One
> thing I hated about my ReplayTV is that, even on it's highest quality
> the playback looks pixelated and washed on my HD set. Not so with the
> 8000HD! Playback of SD content looks identical to live TV and it all
> goods very good, especially when upconversion is applied.
>
> OPTIONS AND FEATURES
>
> The box has a 1080i upconverter built-in. The Motorola DCT6200 also
> offered this, but the upconverter in the Motorola box was noticable
> inferior to the 1080i upconverter built into my Hitachi set, so I
> disabled this feature on the old box. On 8000HD I am very impressed
> with the upconversion quality.
>
> 16:9-4:3 options: On the DCT6200 I was able to watch HD content in
> 16:9 and when I changed to a non-HD channel the box would broadcast
> out in 4:3 native allowing me to use one of the many stretch/zoom
> modes on my HD set. In a very STUPID move (sorry, sometimes the word
> has its place) the engineers at Scentific Atlanta decided to design
> their box so that all HD content sent though component and DVI output
> is delivered at 16:9 ratio (with your choice of grey or black side
> bars). The box also offers two levels of zoom on 16:9 content (16:9
> stetch.. the ugly kind where heads become melons and ZOOM which cuts
> off about 2 inches on the top and bottom). What's more frustrating is
> that in the 8000HD menu there is an option for "pass-though" that, by
> description I believe should do exactly what I want, but it doesn't
> work that way.
>
> To remedy this problem I intent to add an s-video cable into the mix
> and switch to the s-video input for non-HD viewing, so this isn't a
> big problem.
>
> The menu system is very stright-forward and acceptable. It's not as
> featured as the ReplayTV menu (unfortunatley no quick skip or
> commerical bypass options), no search driven menu guide, but it will
> do. The ability to record two shows at once (and watch a third :) ) is
> essential. This is something that all DVRs desperately need and next
> to the HD compatibilty this is what makes the 8000HD stand out as the
> DVR to have.
>
> Overall, for $7.50 a month I'm actually saving money by ditching my
> ReplayTV ($12.50/month). Highly recommended.
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> Scientific Atlanta 8000HD
Related resources
Anonymous
October 7, 2004 12:05:55 AM

Archived from groups: alt.tv.tech.hdtv (More info?)

> To access the Advanced setting for the 8000HD box:
>
> 1. Power off the box
> 2. On the box hold down INFO AND GUIDE at the same time.

I tried that but it didn't work.

Is there a way to turn the gray bars black?
Anonymous
December 29, 2004 8:53:53 PM

Archived from groups: alt.tv.tech.hdtv (More info?)

TWO COMMENTS:

On image quality: There is a noticeable deterioration of HD content due to
the fact that all material is "cached" on the hard disk before being
displayed, i.e. you are always watching a recording, even if you are in
"live" mode. The degradation may be less noticeable on a plasma display
than on a lrge LCD display (that's what I use).

On SD image quality as compared to Replay TV: I am surprised by the
comment on persistent pixelation on Replay TV. I have no such problem
using the component video output of my RPTV 5160. I supect the pixelation
may be due to imperfect upsamling by the HDTV you are using. With the SA
8000HD, the upsampling to 480p, 720p or 1080i can be performed by the
set-top box/DVR, eliminated the need for the HDTV to do that job.

ONE TENTATIVE EXPLANATIO OF THE "BYPASS" MODE:

Myu understanding is tha "bypass" in SA jargon means that the box will not
upsample signals and will output it to the HDTV in native format. The
resulting image quality will be better or worse than with automatic
upsampling depending on the relative performance of upsampling circuitry
in he set-top box and in the HDTV. My experience is that my Sharp LCD
display does a better job than the SA 8000. One annoying aspect of the
"bypass" mode is that there is a visible glitch when switching from HD to
SD channels as the display adjusts to differnt incoming video formats. In
any case "bypass" DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOU ARE BYPASSING THE"CAHIN" ON HTE
HARD DISK, unfortunately.

CONCLUSION: The SA 8000 HD is the only option if you want to record HD
channels, and it does a decent job of that. It also does an excellent job
of recording SD material (although in my opinion no better tha Replay TV).
The software is crude and cannot compare in features and flexibility with
Tivo or ReplayTV> If you want top HD quality, use tha 8000 HD only for
time-shifting and get an extra non-DVR HD set-top box for serious HD
watching.
Anonymous
December 29, 2004 8:55:28 PM

Archived from groups: alt.tv.tech.hdtv (More info?)

TWO COMMENTS:

On image quality: There is a noticeable deterioration of HD content due to
the fact that all material is "cached" on the hard disk before being
displayed, i.e. you are always watching a recording, even if you are in
"live" mode. The degradation may be less noticeable on a plasma display
than on a lrge LCD display (that's what I use).

On SD image quality as compared to Replay TV: I am surprised by the
comment on persistent pixelation on Replay TV. I have no such problem
using the component video output of my RPTV 5160. I supect the pixelation
may be due to imperfect upsamling by the HDTV you are using. With the SA
8000HD, the upsampling to 480p, 720p or 1080i can be performed by the
set-top box/DVR, eliminated the need for the HDTV to do that job.

ONE TENTATIVE EXPLANATIO OF THE "BYPASS" MODE:

Myu understanding is tha "bypass" in SA jargon means that the box will not
upsample signals and will output it to the HDTV in native format. The
resulting image quality will be better or worse than with automatic
upsampling depending on the relative performance of upsampling circuitry
in he set-top box and in the HDTV. My experience is that my Sharp LCD
display does a better job than the SA 8000. One annoying aspect of the
"bypass" mode is that there is a visible glitch when switching from HD to
SD channels as the display adjusts to differnt incoming video formats. In
any case "bypass" DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOU ARE BYPASSING THE"CAHIN" ON HTE
HARD DISK, unfortunately.

CONCLUSION: The SA 8000 HD is the only option if you want to record HD
channels, and it does a decent job of that. It also does an excellent job
of recording SD material (although in my opinion no better tha Replay TV).
The software is crude and cannot compare in features and flexibility with
Tivo or ReplayTV> If you want top HD quality, use tha 8000 HD only for
time-shifting and get an extra non-DVR HD set-top box for serious HD
watching.
Anonymous
December 30, 2004 8:52:00 PM

Archived from groups: alt.tv.tech.hdtv (More info?)

"GADGETNUT" <michelg@spamex.com> wrote in message
news:c38786d6c8027f8abf4c0bc5f08814d6@localhost.talkaboutvideo.com...
> On image quality: There is a noticeable deterioration of HD content due to
> the fact that all material is "cached" on the hard disk before being
> displayed, i.e. you are always watching a recording, even if you are in
> "live" mode. The degradation may be less noticeable on a plasma display
> than on a lrge LCD display (that's what I use).
==============
REad the threads on the 8000HD at the AVSforum.com HD recorders forum. It's
not the simultaneous hard-disk recording that's at fault, but, for some
cable systems, the lack of suitable firmware drivers for the ATI video-ouput
chip. Some users nationwide get fine 8000HD resolution; others, like myself,
see very soft images (only about 890 lines/PW here) but with much better
resolution with other hardware.

The hard disk, capturing the original MPEG-2 video data, should play it back
with full resolution (for cable) if the proper firmware drivers were updated
to 8000HDs lacking this driver firmware.
John
!