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Jan
31

Time Warner Rolling Out Whole-House DVR

Samsung_h3272 While Raleigh was awash in NHL festivities, most may have missed one of the true, life-changing exhibits at the NHL Fan Fair. It appears that the reign of terror by Scientific Atlanta’s cable boxes may be coming to an end.

While Time Warner Cable’s demonstration of Samsung’s active-shutter 3D technology was impressive, it was the presence of the Samsung SMT-H3272 (.PDF) that was most exciting. The device is a tru2way multi-room DVR that will allow customers to share recorded content among all TV’s in the house. The unit has 500GB of storage, which is about 4X to 6X the storage of the currently deployed DVRs by TWC.

Users will likely be excited, too, by the group functionality of the SMT-H3272. If a second unit is added to the house, the cumulative amount of shared storage and tuners goes to 1 TB GB and 4, respectively. As many as 8 of these devices can be used for a total of 4TB GB (1,000 hours of HD, 4,000 hours of SD) and 16 simultaneous tuners (watch/record 16 channels at the same time).

Users will not have to add tuners and storage to extend the experience throughout the house, however. A more inexpensive thin client will also be available, offering simple extension of recorded TV. (Tuner support in the clients was not mentioned, however I surmise that each will have 1 tuner, much like a current standard cable box).

Because the entire system works on MOCA technology, no additional wiring is needed. It works with existing coax cabling (that black wire connected to your TV).

The system will not support 30 second commercial skipping or offloading of content, but will support OnDemand services, Look Back, Caller ID, and other existing features.

The Whole-House DVR system is currently available as part of the SignatureHome package , stand-alone rollout is anticipated in mid February. Pricing is not available, but nobody will be sad to see the phase-out of the Scientific Atlanta 8300HDC, the worst consumer electronics device ever brought to market.

18 Comments

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  • tito Said:

    i think you got your GB and your TB mixed up in the third paragraph. otherwise theyíve made phenomenal leaps in compression technology.

  • Dana Said:

    Thanks, tito!

    I just swapped my 1TB drive in my Media Center for a 2TB drive and love it. I know it is sad to say, but we were actually feeling a bit constrained with the 1TB

  • Tony Said:

    Dana, I went by Time Warner today and swapped out a SA box for a Samsung. They only had the SMT-H3270ís in stock. Same operating system but runs much smoother with less lag.

  • Dana Said:

    Alright! That sounds like a big upgrade, Tony.

  • Joe Seale Said:

    @Dana Do you use the Signature package? Thoughts? Iíve been holding out for the AT&T offering to be available.

  • Dana Said:

    Joe,
    No. I have an HTPC running Windows Media Center along with 4 extenders (by Linksys and DLink). It has a Ceton 4-tuner CableCard card as well as an Avermedia analog and QAM tuner. What that all means is that we can watch and/or record on 6 channels at once, and we can watch anything recorded (SD or HD) from any room in the house. We can stop a recorded show in one room and go to another to finish watching it. Finally, unprotected content (anything recorded on something below 100) can be offloaded to my DroidX and watched during lunch somewhere. There are a ton of other little features. I love it, but it isnít for the faint of heart. It is complicated and unstable, and they donít make the extenders anymore. XBox360 is the only available extender, but a strange choice for the kitchen, for example.

    Iím really hoping this Samsung unit is steady-eddy. Iíve heard that some of the Samsung DVRs deployed last year (donít know the model number) were also unstable. I really think that hardware is 90% of TWCís problem.

  • Joe Seale Said:

    @Dana Holy AV Club, Batman! Youíve got quite the set-up.

  • Tom Grelinger Said:

    This is the only place that I saw that TWC planned to roll out Whole House DVR standalone in February. Does anyone else have sources that indicate this will happen? We have honestly been holding off getting Signature Home when the only thing that we really wanted was the Whole House DVR (we already have 2 HD DVRs).

  • Dana Said:

    Other sources? This is gogoraleigh, baby. Consider this story: broken!

  • Kurvelle Said:

    I just ordered my stand alone whole house DVR today. They guy I talked to said it just lauched yesterday. Iím in Charleston, SC. I currently have 1 HD DVR and 2 HD boxes, Iím swapping them out for 1 main player and 2 play backs and itís only costing me about $9 more per month.

  • Dana Said:

    Wow! If they are stable, thatís a good use of $9. Good luck!

  • Craig Said:

    Just got ours installed today. I havenít been home to experience yet but info from phone conversation w/ phone support yesterday and field tech today isÖ

    You can get one Ďwhole house dvrí and multiple playback only STBs. Or you can get multiple Ďwhole house dvrís.

    Each WHDVR has 2 tuners and 500GB of storage.

    We went w/ 2 WHDVRs. Show list is supposed to be aggregate of whatís on both. Can view shows from either on either. Only per unit restriction is delete. You have to be on the box that the content is on in order to delete it.

    So, combined we have 4 tuners and 1TB of storage. (and a higher monthly bill and a freakiní $50 install fee :(

  • Dana Said:

    Thanks for the report, Craig! Did you have to have a truck roll? (and hence the $50 fee?) Can you schedule recordings from the playback-only STBs? If you stop playback of Recorded TV, can you go to another TV in the house and resume from that point? When you have watched a channel for 20 minutes and you press record, does all of that 20-minute buffer get included in the recording? I assume that you got new playback-only STBís, right? Are there component inputs on the new DVR and STB, or is it HDMI only? Finally, when you playback content recorded on the other DVR, does it immediately stream, or does it have to buffer a sizable amount/all of the show before playing back?

  • Craig Said:

    Apparently the tech visit is required b/c they have to put a filter on the line outside of your house. This keeps the inter-dvr traffic in your house. If filter wasnít applied your DVRs would talk to your neighbors. I donít have a playback-only STB, we got 2 WHDVRs. But you canít sched. recordings from one to the other. That is, if Iím in my bedroom, I canít schedule something to record on the living room DVR. However, the scheduling via web works pretty well. http://dvr.timewarnercable.com

    I donít think you can just pause live playback on one then pick it up on the other. Has to be recorded (not just buffered). As you say though, you can hit record then go to the other room and pick it up. And yes, if you have content in buffer and hit record the buffered is included in the recording, assuming is same show. Just like before.

    The boxes have all of the usual connections, not just HDMI.

    Viewing what it recording on the other is near instant. No waiting.

    A few other things that occurred to me after my first postÖ

    1. the guide/show list/navigator is all the same as before, though it is more responsive. I hope that is due to faster processor and not just b/c the hdds are basically empty

    2. before I said that the only thing that was box specific was the ability to delete. Thatís not the case. Series recordings and % full and other things are box specific. A more true statement is that the only thing that is *not* box specific is the list of recorded shows.

    3. the WHDVRs are branded as cisco; explorer 8642HDC

  • Dana Said:

    Thanks so much for the info, Craig. That all makes sense.
    I assume that when you go to http://dvr.timewarnercable.com you see two DVRs displayed and you select which one you want to program?

  • Craig Johnson Said:

    That is correct. They are initially listed by their MAC address but you can customize the labeling once you figure out which is which. I did that by looking at Ďscheduled recordingsí info on web interface and reminding myself what I had scheduled on each when in front of them. The MAC is likely listed on the back of the box but Iím lazy like that ūüėČ

  • Void Said:

    We have 4 WH DVR units, multiple problems, had a total of 8 boxes in two months. They claim the box doesnít support HDMI output with most TVís, but Iíve seen problems with both HDMI output on 3 different vendors HD TVís as well as multiple problems with the dang Component outputÖ. I donít have any issues with non-TW HDMI working with my HD TVís.

  • Anonymous Said:

    Strange, because HDMI is a strict spec. standard. When you connect the HDMI cable, is the screen black, is there a message, or nonsense? Any audio coming through?

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