Spent a week using the Scientific Atlanta 8300HD.

Discussion in 'DirecTV TiVo Powered PVRs & Receivers' started by gfb107, Sep 22, 2005.

  1. gfb107

    gfb107 New Member

    Jul 16, 2001
    Cary, NC, USA


    I just got back from a week-long visit at my parent's house. They've recently moved, and DirecTV couldn't figure out how to run all the cables they wanted (two different technicians tried, and then their supervisor, and they still couldn't get it).

    As a result, my parents are now Adelphia cable subscribers, and have the SA Explorer 8300HD as their PVR. I got a chance to spend some time using it, thought I would document my impressions. I'm a DTiVo (and HD-DTiVo) user.

    • Only one cable needed for multi-tuner support
    • Supports HD
    • When setting up a repeating recording (i.e. Season Pass), you can limit it to a particular time-slot. Handy for shows with notoriously bad guide data.
    • Don't have to purchase the hardware.
    • Don't need an antenna to get locals in HD

    Indifferent (to me)
    • PIP support
    • 1/4 screen live picture when in Guide/Menu (actually, this is bad, see below).
    • The provided remote is a universal remote

    • The box belongs to the cable company, so you can't open it up and increase the recording capacity.
    • Higher monthly fees (you must subscribe to digital cable, you rent the box for a fee, and you pay a fee for the DVR service (for each DVR).
    • You can't get HD locals that aren't offered by the cable company, even if they are available OTA. For my parents, only CBS and FOX are available in HD from Adelphia, even though NBC, ABC, UPN, PBS, and WB are also available OTA.
    • Way too many buttons on the remote. The A, B, and C buttons are only used in the menus. I like how TiVo just uses on-screen prompts which you can navigate with the arrow keys and press Select/OK. If I have to use the A, B, or C buttons, I have to take my fingers away from the navigation keys. Why have dedicated Page+/Page- keys (which are placed horizontally next to each other on the remote. Ughh.) instead of just change the meaning of the CH+/CH- keys when in the guide or a menu screen? Oh, the CH+/CH- keys are still active, so if you press them, not only does the channel change, but you are dumped out of the menu/guide to Live TV
    • Because of the 1/4 screen live picture in the guide/menu screens, there are only 5 lines available for the guide/menu itself (as opposed 8 with TiVo).
    • Searching for programs by title. You only get to select the first letter (but you have to scroll vertically to find it, only 5 letter visible at a time), then you have to scroll through the list to find the program you want (but only 5 are listed at a time). I set up a recording on "Phil of the Future" for my kids, and after setting the first letter to P, I had to scroll through five screens of "Paid Advertising" and then a handful more before I got to the program I wanted to record.
    • Not keeping track of what you've done. Every time you press List to see the available recordings, it goes back and selects the oldest recording, rather than the last recording you selected. You have to navigate through the list (only 5 visible at a time) to find your recording.
      It only remembers one, the most recent, "resume-point", where you stopped watching a recording. If you stop watching a recording part-way through, then someone else watches a different recording, your resume-point is lost and you have to fast-forward from the beggining to get back to where you were watching.
    • No tick-marks on the progress bar, so you can't jump ahead in larger time increments. You have to fast forward. This is a pain when it's lost your resume-point.
    • Watching a recording "behind live". I was watching a program (from the List or recordings) that was still being recorded. I was well behind live, may 2/3 or the way through a 2 hour movie. When the scheduled end-of-recording time came, the darn thing jumped to Live TV. WTF? I thought that was bad, but just pressed List to go find the recording I was watching. The 'current' recording was the oldest one, so I had to scroll (only 5 programs at a time) to the one I had been watching. Ugh! Once I found the program, I discovered that it hadn't saved my resume-point, so I had to fast forward through 1:20 of the recording. There are no tick marks to jump to, so that took longer too. Really frustrating.
    • No auto-jump back when fast-forwarding, so you have to press instant-replay or rewind a bit.

    That's all I can remember right now.
  2. Mark W

    Mark W Member

    Dec 6, 2001
    CT, USA
    I had this box too. That jump to live bug is maddening. Also, although it can record two things at once, you can't switch to watching the second one. There is no way to toggle between tuners. It was kind of a crappy unit, but it recorded HD with no antenna needed for $0 up front! I hear the Motorola 6412s that some cable companies use are much better.
  3. sbrown23

    sbrown23 New Member

    Aug 25, 2004
    I agree with all of what you said. In addition to the negatives, I must mention:

    - The WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor) was nil with this box. She ABSOLUTLEY hated the interface (as did I) in comparison with the Tivo. Several actions were not intuitive. This was not a knee-jerk reaction either, we kept the box about three weeks figuring we'd get used to it. Nope. It just sucks flat out.

    - Fonts and colors are ugly. No effort was made on the part of SA to clean up the interface and make it pretty. And yes, that does matter.

    - It was also louder than our Tivo

    - No functionality remotely similar to TTG, HMO, or Media Center network capabilities

    The SA 8300HD box is poo in my opinion. It's just a crying shame that stupid Tivo and Microsoft are lagging so severely with Cable HD recording options. :(
  4. gfb107

    gfb107 New Member

    Jul 16, 2001
    Cary, NC, USA
    I didn't actually try it, but I think it could be done using the PIP functions. First turn on PIP, then swap main and PIP, then turn off PIP. Much harder than just using the down arrow.
  5. gfb107

    gfb107 New Member

    Jul 16, 2001
    Cary, NC, USA


    Well, for the majority of DTiVo owners (but not forum readers), DTiVos don't have that either. And neither does the HD-DTiVo.
  6. RMSko

    RMSko Active Member

    Sep 4, 2001
    Does the HD TiVo remember more than one resume point? If so, how is that done (I've had the unit over a year and never realized that).
  7. sbrown23

    sbrown23 New Member

    Aug 25, 2004
    I dunno about HD Tivo, but my Series 2 Tivo remembers the resume points of any of my programs, even if others were watched in between.
  8. RMSko

    RMSko Active Member

    Sep 4, 2001
    I think they all do that, what I'm wondering is whether the TiVo can remember more than one resume point on one recorded show, i.e., if I watch the show and stop in the middle and my son watches a show and stops at a different place, can we each set our own resume point? The post above seems to indicate that the TiVo can, but I've never seen how this can be done.
  9. gfb107

    gfb107 New Member

    Jul 16, 2001
    Cary, NC, USA
    TiVo keeps one resume point per recording.
    It's totally transparent. Any time you stop watching a recording before the end (You press the Guide, Live TV, List, Menu, or even left arrow), TiVo remembers where you were in the recording. Then when you come back to watch it again, it'll automatically resume playing at that point.

    It also remembers where you were in navgiating the menus, including Now Showing. That's really handy as well.
  10. ddockery

    ddockery New Member

    Dec 26, 2001
    Bloomington, IL
    As far as i know you only have 1 resume point per show. The complaint about the cable box was that only 1 show at a time can have a resume point, whereas every show on the TiVo could have one at the same time.
  11. Billy66

    Billy66 Again with shoelaces

    Dec 15, 2003
    I remember when it didn't. They actually gave the feature a name when they introduced it in TiVo Version 1.3. They called it the "Virtual Pause". What a PITA before that.
  12. vstone

    vstone Active Member

    May 11, 2002
    If you have the Sara software, yoiu can add a Maxtor Quickview Extender drive to expand capacity. I'm not familiar with the search by name function, so maybe you have the passport software.

    The 8300HD is designed as a media server. You can download the instructions on how to do it from SA, but I don't think any cable company has enabled it. If you go into the mode to check the software version, you can even page to where it lists the media server stuff.

    If you tell it to record a show only in this time period, it will record shows in this time period on other nights as well. It also will not pick up an hour show if it has a special 2 hour version.
  13. gfb107

    gfb107 New Member

    Jul 16, 2001
    Cary, NC, USA
    I thought that was only the SA Explorer 8300HD MR-DVR.
  14. HiDefGator

    HiDefGator New Member

    Oct 12, 2004
    That's a pretty small list of complaints. They all seem easily fixable in a single software update to me. If a cable company can produce a box with such a short list of annoyances then maybe DirecTV can make one we will like.
  15. gfb107

    gfb107 New Member

    Jul 16, 2001
    Cary, NC, USA
    As my manager used to say, "It's just a SMOP!". SMOP = Small Matter Of Programming. That didn't make us programmers very happy!

    All of these issues could be fixed in a single software update. But they haven't been. And just like DirecTV and TiVo, even if Scientific Atlanta releases a newer, improved version of the software, that doesn't mean that Adelphia will release it to their customers.

    This is already the case, where the 8300HD supports connection of an external SATA drive to increase the recording capacity, but the cable companies haven't enabled that function. Much like HMO on the DTiVos.

    There is a clear difference in focus of the UI. The TiVo UI is clearly focused on time-shifting. The 8300HD is focused on watching live, with DVR function added on the side.
  16. Thos19

    Thos19 Member

    Dec 31, 2002
    Rockland, MA
    Is there a way to download shows through TyTools, etc? I have a regular TiVo which I have networked for downloading shows. I know this is Adlephia's box, so I wouldn't be hacking it, but what about with the external hard drive option?

  17. mattack

    mattack Well-Known Member

    Apr 9, 2001
    Devil's Advocate: Yeah, and so does a free space indicator, daisy-chainable Tivos (including possibly master/slave kinds of relationships) to have essentially the equivalent of multiple tuners with multiple boxes, negative padding, etc..

    (As a person with lifetime subscriptions on my standalone Tivos, these are all features I would pay a one time fee for.)
  18. BLeonard

    BLeonard It Could Happen!

    Nov 19, 1999
    I bought an HD TV recently so I got the Bright House version of this box for my HD recordings. I kept my two Tivos connected as well. While I miss the Tivo Interface I must admit I am slowly adapting to the Bright House box as I am using it more than the Tivos because I prefer the HD picture. I'm also finding out it can do things I initially didn't think it could do. For instance it CAN skip to tick marks. You have to fast forward and then press the right arrow (or scan backwards and the left arrow). I don't think that's documented anywhere. I've just had to figure things out on my own.

    My biggest complaint is there is normally only a few days of data in it unless I select the guide and then page through the days to force it to load more data and even then about the most I can get is 6 to 7 days. I find myself using the Tivo to search for programs and then jumping back to the cable box to set it to record the show.
  19. sanker

    sanker New Member

    Sep 3, 2003
    I've had the 8300hd since the end of July.
    Good thread here:

    here is my original thread in tivocommunity:

    I got it to tape my Bruins in HD (no NESN in HD on D* so that meant a jump to Adelphia).

    Had D*Tivo for 6 years...

    I agree with all the complaints except the storage part. I added 400g for ~$360 (seagate drive [5 years warranty], enclosure, cable) and zero hassle. The biggest problems are
    •jump to live at end of recording WTF!?!?!?
    •no ticks (bLeonard, I don't think I understand your fast forward then click right arrow)
    •no season pass manager.

    •really is nice is the ZERO delay in going to list
    •$360 to have 560g of hd recording

    So, if D* had NESN to tape the Bruins and I would have spent the extra $$ to get the HD Tivo. That's another $700. Pretty painful, but TIVO has it hands down in ui and WAF.
  20. verdugan

    verdugan Well-Known Member

    Sep 9, 2003
    Sacramento, CA
    I had this box with Cablevision. They fixed that bug back in May or June. Hopefully a fix will be coming to your system/area soon.

    At the time I stopped service (july) a few people had reported being able to add external hard drives. If I remember correctly, it was just plug n play.

    I'd still take a HD tivo over it anyday. I'd take the 8300HD over a SD Tivo b/c of the HD part.

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