Sunday, 31 October 2010

Time zone change predictably confused my 8320HD

As an experiment, I decided to record the repeat of Elton John: Electric Prom that aired on BBC HD at 1.15am BST this morning. Being an hour-long show, this would cross the time zone change and give a definitive answer as to how the 8320HD would handle this twice-yearly event. As a precaution, I was not simultaneously recording anything else during the scheduled recording. Here's a list of issues I came across:
  • Highlighting the programme on the EPG gave a time span of 01.15 to 01.15 in the information banner below the EPG.
  • Despite pressing the red button several times whilst highlighting the programme to schedule it to record, the red blob refused to appear next to the programme title in the EPG.
  • Going to the recording schedule page, I was then shown 8 copies of the programme to be recorded at once (one for each of my red button presses). I deleted 7 of them (they all had the "right" time of 01.15-02.15 in the list this time) and then waited for the recording itself...
  • The recording seemed to work, although when I selected it to play, the timespan shown on the banner was 00.20-01.25 (possibly wrongly mixing GMT and BST times there?). It could have been Accurate Recording adjusting the times away from their 15-minutes-past-the-hour point I guess. I didn't use the Modify option to pad the programme in case you're wondering.
  • Playback started at the 55-minute point onwards and wouldn't let me rewind before that point! My guess is that this coincided with the original end-point of 01.15 (GMT).
  • To kick the user further in the groin, the transport stream .ts file is - unnecessarily IMHO - encrypted for HD recordings, so I can't export this to VLC and see if the stream is intact or not. VLC seems to be the best at avoiding the 8320HD's "bad playback" issues (I find mplayer quits as soon as it hits a trouble point).
Conclusion: The 8320HD doesn't handle time zone changes at all well and my advice is to try to avoid recording a programme that crosses over a time zone change. Sadly, you won't be able to experiment like this again until Sunday 27th March 2011. Oh, and before you ask, I recorded the Elton John programme from BBC 2 the previous evening as well because I suspected things wouldn't go well (plus I wanted a version I could export, unlike the BBC HD version).

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Two events coming up for 8320HD users

The next week or so sees two first-time events for 8320HD users:

2.00am BST/1.00am GMT Sunday 31st October: Time zone change from BST to GMT
This will be the first UK time zone change since the 8320HD was released back in June 2010. At 2.00am BST on Sunday 31st October, the clocks will go back to 1.00am GMT - the 8320HD should do this automatically because the time is set by the Freeview TV signal, though I'm always personally wary of recording programmes when the timezone change happens! Hopefully, the change will pass peacefully and not hit a bug - we don't want a Hallowe'en horror after all.
Time zone change update: The 8320HD predictably failed to handle it properly.

7.00pm GMT Wednesday 3rd November: BBC One HD channel launches
This may well be the first new HD channel on Freeview since the 8320HD was launched. It's not clear to me if this will be picked up automatically by the box or if you'll have to do an automatic or manual re-tune to get it.   BBC One HD will be a simulcast of BBC One (SD), with any SD content upscaled to HD resolution. I'm not sure if the annoying BBC (One) HD onscreen logo will appear - ITV 1 HD use a logo to indicate native HD content for example. BBC One HD will be on Freeview channel 50 and the current BBC HD channel will move to Freeview channel 54 (minus any BBC One content). Yes, it is annoying you can't move/renumber channels on the 8320HD because surely you'd want BBC One HD on channel 1 and not 50?!
BBC One HD launch update: The 8320HD inevitably totally ignored the new channel launch and required me to re-scan all channels to pick it up (and the BBC HD move).

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Catastrophic bug with overlapping scheduled recordings

I just discovered a major bug with overlapping scheduled recordings that I've been able to reproduce several times when one programme recording starts after the other and they both overlap once the second programme recording commences.

It's documented on the bugs page and I'm looking to see if anyone has seen similar behaviour on their 8320HD, either when both scheduled recordings start simultaneously or one starts recording later than the other (and then both overlap).

I'll keep comments open until I get confirmation of both so I can ticket the bug with Fetch TV (when they deal with my 2 open tickets that have sat unanswered for days now...).

Update: Fixed by the latest beta release firmware (version 4.8.01-06)

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Please contribute to the site

OK, this is the first commentable blog post of the site and I've got my begging bowl out already. Although I will be using the world-record thread to populate some of this site, it'll be a tough task without some help from you out there. I'm looking for postings from 8320HD owners that can fill up any "static" sections of this site (see the set of navigation tabs).

So that's bugs, features you'd like to see, links to useful 8320HD info, more stuff about the latest firmware [though I've covered the release and installation process already], any rumours you've heard about future firmware or places selling the box etc. and, finally, any non-obvious things you've found out when using the 8320HD.

Please post them as a comment on this posting (which I will be heavily moderating - it's not a chat Web site :-) ) and anything useful will be copied to the appropriate tab section and a credit to the poster given on the page. I reserve the right to delete off-topic postings and eventually remove the oldest ones (or any that have been already transferred to a tab section). Also note that spam protection will quarantine any post containing URLs until I get a chance to review them and approve/reject them.

Welcome to the Unofficial Technika Smartbox 8320HD Blog

Hi there, I'm Richard Lloyd and I've just set up this Blogger site to discuss the Technika Smartbox 8320HD Freeview HD hard disk recorder, currently on sale in the UK in Tesco exclusively. It's important to note that this is an unofficial blog (yes, it's in the site title) in no way endorsed by Tesco (who own the "Technika" brand), IP Vision (who own the "Fetch TV" brand) or indeed the Freeview HD folks (wherever they are!). I'm not employed by anyone of them and don't get backhanders from them either before you ask.

What I'm intending to do is to start commentable blog posts on various subjects and also create certain information tabs such as firmware release info, where to buy the box, known bugs not fixed yet, forthcoming rumours, set of useful links and so on. The most useful suggestions from the public in the blog comments will be copied, along with a credit to the original poster, to the appropriate information tab. This keeps the tab pages "clean" and away from the rowdiness of the blog posts :-)

What I won't be doing is posting up on any other make or model of hard disk recorder - even if a Smartbox 9000HD comes out, I won't cover it (unless I buy one myself and set up a brand new 9000HD blog of course!).