Category Archives: ReplayTV

Why Java sucks!

OK, I’m sure I’m going to step on some toes with this post and the title is bound to draw some flaming comments from Java nuts… oh well…
As I had noted before, I love my ReplayTV.
Best of all, I love DVArchive!
DVArchive allows me to use my data server on my home network to store shows.
Now I’ve already upgraded my ReplayTV‘s from 40 hours to 640 hours, but using my 3 TB data server to store shows just adds that much more kick to it don’t you think.
Anyway, I had been using the 3.1 version of DVArchive (released July 19th, 2004) until recently.
My motto with equipment running in a closed environment such as my network for the ReplayTV‘s and DVArchive, is simply the age old saying: "If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!".
As a result, even though the stupid Java tray icon kept telling me there were newer versions of Java to download and install, I just ignored it.  Why should I install it… everything works…
Now this is why I say Java sucks… the other day, DVArchive simply refused to launch after a reboot.  I have it setup to startup automatically after a reboot.  It turned out that Java was now getting a little cocky and was demanding to install the latest version to upgrade my 1.4.xx version to 1.6.xx.  Huh?  Since when does a software company tell me what I can and cannot run on my machine?!
After I calmed down from the insult of being forced to download the new Java WHICH I DID NOT WANT, I relented as not having my DVArchive was quite simply not an option.  So I proceeded to download the newest version of Java and install it.  Reboot my machine and (you know where I’m going with this don’t you! ) what do you know… now my DVArchive STILL won’t launch!
Luckily for me, there was a new version (3.2) of DVArchive that was released on July 12th, 2006 which does support the newer versions of Java.  It can be downloaded here.  What made me mad was the fact that Java simply refused to run the 1.4 version any longer until I installed the 1.6 version.  It makes no sense and that is why I say Java sucks!
OK, let the flaming begin…

Posted by on August 12, 2006 in ReplayTV


TiVo kills lifetime subscription model

It is clear that the future of DVR is bright.
Given this, TiVo has now take a new direction which is nothing but BAD NEWS for users.
TiVo is now effectively killing the "Lifetime Subscription" model under the guise of user not having to pay for hardware.  The article is located here: 

Why is this a bad thing?
Let’s look at the math…
You could have bought the 80 hour TiVo with a lifetime subscription for around $300.00.
You can buy an 80 hour TiVo with no subscription for around $150.00.
Under the new model, the same model can be on either a 1, 2 or 3 year deal.
If you already own a TiVo, your subscription cost is $12.95/month.
Under the 3 year deal, you don’t pay for the TiVo and only pay $16.95/month for the subscription.
Under the 2 year deal you pay $18.95/month and the 1 year deal $19.95/month.
The 3 and 2 year deals both result in a "hardware" cost (new subscription cost – old subscription cost) over the life of the contract of $144.00.  The 1 year deal has a hardware cost of $84.00.
So, it’s clear that TiVo gets their money back for the hardware no matter what.
Additionally they get their subscription fees for the period.
Now what happens after 3 years?
Humans are creatures of habit.  Furthermore, humans hate change.  So, after 3 years of using TiVo, what makes you think these users will switch to ReplayTV, a Cable or Satelite DVR or even more appropriately, a Media Center PC?
Just ask anyone who’s tried convincing their wives to switch over to a Media Center PC from TiVo.  Talk about Mission Impossible!
And that’s exactly what TiVo is counting on.
Media Center is growing exponentially and TiVo is making the move to grab as many subscribers now before Media Center works out the kinks and becomes more user friendly and the masses realize that you don’t have to pay a subscription for Media Center.
The sad thing is that after 3 years, compared to a lifetime subscription model, TiVo is making pure profit and the end user is simply loosing all the way.
There aren’t many TiVo’s left with lifetime subscriptions and I prefer ReplayTV myself anyway, but if you absolutely have to have a TiVo, make sure you get the lifetime subscription model.
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 13, 2006 in ReplayTV


Upgrade ReplayTV 5504 from 40 hours to 640 hours!

OK, I said I was going to chronicle my ReplayTV upgrade adventure turning my 40 hour unit into a 640 hour unit.
The 5504 unit has a 40 GB hard drive and what I’ll be doing is adding two 320 GB drives instead.
  1. A ReplayTV unit.  I bought a 5504 which is the cheapest unit available.  Technical specs can be found here:
  2. Two huge hard drives.  I decided to go with the WD3200JB from Western Digital.  At press time they sold from the WD Store for $135.99.  Technical specs can be found here:
  3. Hard drive mounting bracket.  This MUST be a set top box bracket though.  Drive rails won’t do.  Because the 5500 series only comes with a single drive, there is no bracket to mount the second drive.  There is plenty of space for it, but there is no bracket.
  4. Y power cable splitter.  These can be picked up at any computer store.  Again, since the current design is for a single drive only, we need a splitter to power the second drive.
  5. Two connector IDE data cable.  If you bought the hard drives "white box" then you’ll need to get this cable extra.  If you bought them "retail box" then they will come with the cable supplied.
  6. Phillips head screw driver for opening the cover and mounting the bracket.
  7. A drill & drill bit for drilling the mounting points for the new bracket.
  8. Some nuts & bolts to hold the bracket and new drive in place.





Before we start, I have to point out the following…



Also, since we are working with computer and electronic components, be sure to ground yourself before commencing…


Now with that out of the way, here’s the play by play of the upgrade… enjoy!

  1. Setup and activate your ReplayTV unit.  The idea is to upgrade a working unit, so you will need to setup your unit following the instructions that shipped with the unit.
  2. Power down your ReplayTV unit.  Allow the system 30 seconds to spin down the hard drive.  Ensure you disconnect the unit power cord before proceeding!
  3. Remove ReplayTV unit cover.  The cover has 10 small Phillips head screws that hold the cover in place.  There is 3 on each side and 4 on the back.  To the top left at the back is the warranty seal and as I pointed out, even though it is very easy to open the cover without actually "breaking" the seal, simply opening the cover, voids the manufacturer’s warranty.  Once the cover has been removed, you should see a nice clean unit thus:
  4. Carefully disconnect the IDE on board connector.  Be careful not to disconnect any of the connectors to the side which has wire running accross the drive to the front of the unit.  The connector is on the green motherboard thus:    
  5. Disonnect the power connector on the PSU thus:
  6. Disconnect the hard drive power cord and the hard drive IDE connector.  The power cord can now be set asside, but the IDE data cable is tightly nestled under the drive mounting bracket, so just let it be for the time being thus:
  7. Remove the 4 Phillips head screws holding the drive mounting bracket in place.  With the cable connectors out of the way, you should now have easy access to all 4 the screws.
  8. Remove the drive bracket and drive.  The bracket is mounted on some extending mounting points so you need to lift the bracket slightly to get it loose from the mounting points.  Be sure not to disturb the cables connected and running over the top of the bracket and drive.  Once free, gently slide the drive and the IDE data cable out to the side.
  9. Remove the drive from the drive bracket.  The drive is held by 4 Phillips head screws on the sides.  Remove them and remove the drive.
  10. At this point you will need an existing Windows system.  In my case I used a Windows XP computer, but a Windows 2000 computer will also work.
  11. Download the latest version of RTVPatch from Sourceforge.  I used version 2.5.3.  It can be downloaded here:
  12. Shut down the Windows computer.
  13. Pull the power plug from the back of the computer.
  14. Open the computer case, taking care to be propperly grounded before proceeding.
  15. Plug the dual connector IDE data cable into the motherboard’s secondary IDE port.
  16. Plug the primary (on the tip of the cable) data connector into the 40 GB drive from the ReplayTV.
  17. Plug the secondary (middle of the cable) data connector into the first 320 GB drive.  Some people will recommend setting jumpters, but the 40 GB drive already has its jumpers set for Master while the 320 GB drive by default has its jumper set to Cable Select (CS).  These settings should work just fine, but in case it does not, set the 320 GB drive’s jumper to Slave.
  18. Plug power connectors to both hard drives.
  19. Connect the power cable to the back of the computer.
  20. Boot up the computer.
  21. Ensure the BIOS detects the drives correctly.  The ReplayTV drive should detect as Secondary Master at 40 GB and the new drive as Secondary Slave at 320 GB thus:
  22. Locate the copy of RTVPatch you downloaded previously and run it.  Windows XP will give you some warning, but just confirm and start the application.
  23. Ensure RTVPatch identifies the drives correctly.  Once RTVPatch starts up, it should identify three drives in the system.  If you have more drives, more will be listed and identified, but the key is that your computer’s boot (and any other Windows drives in the system) should be listed as "May be PC Disk".  The ReplayTV drive should be listed in the Status column as "ReplayTV 4xxx/5xxx Disk".
  24. Change the Photo partition size.  If you don’t wish to change the size, just keep the No change option.
  25. Set the source.  Select the ReplayTV drive in the DriveID column and click the Set button to set the Source drive value.
  26. Set the target.  Select the new drive in the DriveID column and click the Set button to set the Target drive value.  Upon completion, the values should be set thus:
  27. Backup the source by clicking the Backup Source Drive button.  RTVPatch will give you a File Save As dialog window allowing you to choose the location of the backup file.  The file will be saved with a .rtv file extension and should be around 500 MB in size.
  28. Copy the drive by clicking the Copy System Partition button.  RTVPatch will copy the drive.  This process may take some time to complete.  RTVPatch will popup a warning dialog.  If the drives are not indicated correctly on this dialog, do NOT click the Yes button thus:
  29. Once the copy process completes, RTVPatch should show the 320 GB drive as a ReplayTV disk by both the icon in the DriveID column and the value in the Status column showing a value of "ReplayTV 4xxx/5xxx Disk" thus:
  30. Patch the target drive to make it bootable by clicking the Patch Target Drive button.  RTVPatch will give you a warning.  Simply click the Yes button thus:
  31. Next RTVPatch will ask you if you wish to preserve your shows.  Since we started with an empty unit, just click the No button thus:
  32. Next RTVPatch will ask you if you wish to preserve your photos.  Again, since the unit is empty, you can just clikc the No button thus:
  33. End the RTVPatch session by clicking the Exit button.
  34. Shut down your computer, allowing 30 seconds for drive spin down and ensuring propper grounding as per usual.
  35. Swap drives and repeat.  Remove the 320 GB drive and replace it with the second 320 GB drive.  Now repeat the process to duplicate the second drive as well.  The step of backing up the source drive should be skipped.  Also skip the steps to PATCH the second drive.  We do not want the second drive to be bootable so it will not be patched!
  36. When you click the Exit button after duplication is complete, RTVPatch will ask you if you wish to apply the patch.  Simply click the No button.  This is IMPORTANT!  DO NOT APPLY THE PATCH TO THE SECOND DRIVE!!!
  37. Shut down your computer again allowing 30 seconds for spin down and using propper grounding.
  38. Swap the 40 GB hard drive out for the first 320 GB hard drive.
  39. Start your computer and startup RTVPatch again.  The system should correctly identify two ReplayTV disks in the system, each at 320 GB.
  40. Check the Dual-drive system radio button thus:
  41. RTVPatch will give you a warning that it is about to create a two drive system.  Click the Yes button thus:
  42. Once the patch has been applied, shut down your compter.
  43. Remove the two drives, close your computer as before and we’re ready to install the drive set into the ReplayTV unit.  Ensure that you know which drive is the boot drive!  I did this by mounting the drive that the boot patch was applied to on the original 40 GB drive’s bracket.

Posted by on February 9, 2006 in ReplayTV


ReplayTV RULES!!!

All you ever hear is Tivo this and Tivo that…
Well, I’ve been a dinosour when it comes to making the move to DVR.
I resisted the urge to get a DVR for a long, long time.
Finally, I decided it would be nice to be able to grab some of the Super Bowl highlight shows that runs on NFL Network (Channel 212 on DirecTV) from time to time.
With consulting, you never know when you’ll have time to watch anything so its hard to commit to watching any particular show.
The idea of telling the DVR to record the entire season of 24 with a single press of a button and then be able to watch it when I actually do get time, was compelling enough to push me into taking the leap…
OK, so I’m getting a DVR… now which one do I get?
There’s the one that DirecTV is now pushing themselves.
There’s Windows XP Media Center Edition which, as a committed gadget geek would be ideal for me right?
Then there’s the one everyone knows… Tivo… and of course there’s the one that started it all… ReplayTV.
So many choices…
OK, the DVR from DirecTV was very basic and I didn’t feel like having to upgrade my satelite receiver, so that eliminated that choice.
MCE was certainly compelling, but believe it or not, I felt I had more than enough tech gadgets and I didn’t feel like having to "tweak" my DVR as well especially since my wife would be using it as well.  Usability would have to be a top priority.  I also didn’t want to spend the money on a license for MCE.  Basically, I wanted to just be another consumer getting something that just worked!
So that left me with Tivo and ReplayTV.  I started comparing them.  Everyone said Tivo was really easy to use.  I must be because it took the lion’s share of the DVR market so quickly even though ReplayTV was the original DVR.  (Many think Tivo invented DVR, just like the Video iPod which is leading everyone to believe Apple invented portable video players, when in fact it is not true.)
As I compared the two, I started homing in on what I considered to be most important to me.  In the end, there both matched up evenly, but there were two features that swung the pendulum into ReplayTV‘s favor.
  1. Unlimited pause/rewind time.
  2. Network enabled.

Well almost unlimited pause/rewind.  Fact is you’re only limited by the amount of space on the unit as to how long you can pause or how far back you can rewind.  I was very happy to get home late one night, go to bed and then rewind to 9 PM the night before to watch a program I forgot to schedule for recording!  With Tivo you can only pause or rewind for something like 2 hours.  At least that was the number when I researched it.  That means if you have the 5504 model with the standard 40 hour hard drive, you can pause live TV for 40 hours.  You could pause your show, go out for the evening and the resume tomorrow morning!  Sweet!


Now you may be thinking… what’s the big deal about being network enabled…  Let me tell you… it IS a BIG DEAL!  By having the unit be network enabled, a whole world of possiblity opens up.  First thing is that it gives you the ability to stream shows from other ReplayTV‘s on your network.  It’s not a big deal, but if you’re watching TV football in the living room and then for whatever reason you have to change where you’re watching from to another room, you simply pause the show and go to the other room from where you can then resume your show.  Nice.  Of course it gets better… the network ability allows you to schedule recordings on another unit if it conflicts with a recording on the current unit.  Sweet.  Now here’s the best part of all…  You can stream shows from another unit.  So if you recorded a show on the bedroom unit, you can watch it on the living room unit.


Big deal?  Enter DVArchive!  Now DVArchive changes EVERYTHING!  Why?

DVArchive is a little Java app that you install on any computer on your network.  When you run DVArchive it essentially makes your computer look like another ReplayTV unit on the network.  Now you can’t record on the DVArchive unit, but you can certainly stream from it!  Now me, with my 1.5 TB (that’s right TERRABYTE!) storage server really can use that!  I simply download shows from the ReplayTV unit to the DVArchive and then I can simply stream my shows from there!  SWEET!!!


Now I’m about to embark on upgrading one of my 5504 units from 40 hours of recording time to 640 hours!  I will detail that in here later!


Like I said, Tivo can’t touch my ReplayTV!





Posted by on January 21, 2006 in ReplayTV