Monday, August 13, 2007

Skymaster DVR 7400

I purchased a Skymaster DVR 7400 digital satellite receiver with time-shift capability. In the box is the receiver itself and a plastic remote control plus the batteries for the remote as well as a user manual with instructions. The receiver appears well-built and sold from the outside. The remote is a bit on the light side of comfortable and doesn't feel pleasant in my hands. It is perfectly useable, however, so I won't complain.

Hooking the receiver up was a snap: connect the satellite feed to the satellite input and one of the two SCART outputs to the TV. There is also an S-Video output as well as an optical S/PDIF digital and RCA analog stereo audio outputs all of which I did not use.

Upon turning on the receiver it automatically found the Astra 19.2°E satellite that my dish is aligned to (this is a no-brainer since it is practically the default satellite here) and tuned in the channels. Wonderful!

The EPG (electronic program guide) implementation is strange: it seems to download all data in real-time, so that it often takes a while to actually get information. There is a hard drive in the device, so why isn't the information cached there? And while I am wondering: why is the program description slowly scrolled in a separate window automatically every 5 seconds or so instead of allowing me to scroll manually at my own pace?

The EPG is optimized to show what is on a single channel (or up to 4 different channels) for the next few hours. This works well and could be improved by a mode that shows what is on all the different channels at the same time.

It is fairly easy to program a show for recording: a simple button press and after that a confirmation is all that is required. It is less easy to see what was actually programmed afterwards, you have to scroll through pages of individual timer settings which do not seem to have the show title set reliably.

The recording seems to consistently start 2 minutes late. The only way to work around this that I could find was to manually set the start time earlier.

Playback works fine some of the time. I had one show which started skiping about 25 minutes into the recording. There where short (1-5s) pauses in playback every minute or so. After 30 minutes the receiver froze and had to be rebooted to accept any input at all from the remote. This behavior was consistently repeatable.

I had recorded the same show off the same satellite feed using the ElGato EyeTV and everything was fine. The problem was clearly not with the feed. I suspect a hardware or software bug in the receiver.

The manufacturers website did not offer any helpful advice. There was a kind offer to call a premium-rate number for support, an offer which I politely declined, as I always do. The receiver was bought as an entertainment device. I do not find bugs to be entertaining, quite on the contrary. So I gave the device back and will spend my money on something else.

2 stars out of 5.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I'd love to hear from you! Please remember to keep it civilized.