I've joined the ReplayTV Collective.

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Patrick Sun, Jan 24, 2003.

  1. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    Got a Panasonic ShowStopper 2000 yesterday and set up and had it do some recording for me almost right away.

    It was pretty easy to set up (as long as you could stand the modem download time - that's what PIP is for on your TV, I suppose).

    The low quality setting (highest record time) was a bit worse than normal VHS, and just below good VCD/MPEG1 video. But just for time-shifting shows that I don't watch live in HDTV, it's a decent trade-off.

    I'm still sitting on a Sonic Blue 5040 (going back and forth on the lifetime activation for a unit that will cost me around $170 after rebates and before taxes and activation fees), but I think I'll go ahead and open it and hook it up into the HT setup as well. (Anyone know if the SS 2000 remote has different codes than the 5040 remote codes?)

    My other option is to go for another ShowStopper 2000. But having a bit of old and new in terms of RTVs appeals to me at the moment.
     
  2. Brian Ruth

    Brian Ruth Supporting Actor

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    Patrick:

    Does the ShowStopper have component outputs?

    How much is the monthly fee?
     
  3. David Judah

    David Judah Screenwriter

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    I just picked up a 5040 last week. The funny thing is that it was my wife who suggested we get a PVR after seeing a Tivo ad(she has no interest in our gear at all, except for her DVD player in the bedroom).

    I saw some of Parker's posts about Replay, so after a little investigation, I got one. Now I know what people are saying that you'll wonder how you lived without it. The ability to pause live TV, have a quick access guide, commercial advance, and search for programming via keywords have really been useful.

    The high quality mode was a little less than I expected, but it certainly looks better than VHS on my 55" TV off a cable feed(I took my VCR out of that room the first day I got my TV and saw the picture). I'm a little disappointed that the progressive component out is not truly progressive for recorded shows, but hopefully they'll offer it in the future once Sonic Blue gets their financial situation worked out.

    Anyways, Patrick, it looks like we have both been assimilated into the collective and I like it. Are you sure you want to do a lifetime subscription though just in case things go sour with SB? I don't know how much stock to put in the rumors that are flying around, but I figured it was worth the risk since they are dirt cheap after rebates.

    It's definitely a cool unit with alot of possibilities.

    DJ
     
  4. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    Brian, the Showstopper came out in 2000 and it does not have component outputs (only s-video and composite video outputs and analog left/right audio outputs). The main attractive thing about the Showstoppers is that the lifetime subscription to the programming guide was built into its price (MSRP for the 30 hour model was $599.99). Nowadays, the Showstopper (30 hour) goes for around $250-$350 on Ebay. Basically the $250 lifetime subscription is what can be recouped from these units as long as they are in good working condition. And they can work as manual PVRs (programmed like VCRs).

    The indecision on the newer 5040 (or 4xxx/5xxx models) w/r/t the lifetime subscription activation or going the monthly route can be a little daunting.

    There's 2 forms of activation checks that are done each time your RTV connects to get the programming data:

    Continued Activation - check to see if the unit is allowed to continued to operate (based on its monthly/lifetime subscription being paid up in full for the month or lifetime).

    Service Activation - check to see if the unit is allowed to have program guide info downloaded into it.

    Once these 4xxx/5xxx models have the lifetime subscriptions activated on the unit (it's done by a command signal from Sonic Blue once you pay the $250 and are connected to their site, the command signal changes something on the motherboard - most likely some firmware, which makes it so that the lifetime subscription units don't need to check for the continued activation status anymore (and will remain in operation for its lifetime), while the monthly units do check for continued activation each time it connects (and if you don't pay, the unit quits working and becomes a doorstop within a month).

    Both types of units (monthly/lifetime) check for service activation for the programming guide info, and as long as your unit's serial number is in their database, you'll get the program guide info downloaded into the unit. The 4xxx/5xxx models will work with the programming guides, and if the program guide service goes belly-up, then you can at least use them as a manual PVR (program them like you would a VCR) if they are paid up lifetime subscription models. Otherwise, you could be stuck with a doorstop going the monthly route.

    In the event your lifetime 4xxx/5xxx unit requires repair work, it's best to send it back into Sonic Blue in case they need to swap out motherboards, which would require Sonic Blue to do some adjustments in their database to allow for the new motherboard to retain its lifetime activation status.

    If you bought an extended warranty at Best Buy/Circuit City/etc, they would only cover the repairs for the unit (because that's what you bought from them, not the lifetime subscription), but if the motherboard had to be replaced, you most likely will lose your lifetime activation fee from Sonic Blue if SB doesn't do the repairs (it's been a bone of contention between the retailers and Sonic Blue as to transferring the lifetime activation when units go down).

    So buy an extended warranty on these newer units knowing that if you do a lifetime activation on a unit, the life time activation isn't covered under extended warranty if the motherboard/unit has to be replaced. If you buy a unit from Sonic Blue itself, and get service from SB, then you are in a better position to retain lifetime activation if repairs are done be SB because SB can transfer the lifetime activation in-house. They aren't as willing to do so out-of-house for fear of fraud and providing lifetime activation to more units that haven't been paid for if their serial numbers slip through their database.

    Anyhow, the question on going monthly or lifetime on the newer 4xxx/5xxx unit has to do with your aversity to the level of risk of SB going under within 2 years (keeping the program guide service on going). Some see going monthly like paying rent with no investment potential, or hedging their bets in case SB does go under. Some see going lifetime as buying a house with some initial investment for the use of the unit for its lifetime, or being optimistic that SB will be around for at least 25 months. So it's up to your level of risk as to going monthly or lifetime.

    You could try monthly for a while and then switch to lifetime, but you don't get credit for any monthly payments up until that decision to go lifetime.
     
  5. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    It seems the low channels from my cable TV feed (channels 2-6) are pretty yucky videowise. Unfortunately that's ABC, FOX, and NBC within that small band of channels. I recorded a show on channel 9 (CBS) last night, and the video quality was near my VCR's video quality, so I may have to do some hi-quality on low channels, and stay with low-quality on the higher channels for my particular setup.
     
  6. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    Well, I went ahead and unpacked the 5040 and installed it into my HT setup. I hooked up the component video to the 2nd component video inputs on my HDTV. Can't say it looks all that great, but the source isn't that hot, but it does relieve one of my A/V inputs on my pre-pro, so it's actually a good option for me at the moment. Got the ethernet hookup working, it download the channel guide rather painlessly and I was up and running pretty quickly. Made a list of the shows I wanted it to record and it was recorded 3 Dead Zone episode and Alias (though I doubt it got it all due to the late start and inadequate padding on my part).
     

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