Back in mid-September Directv released a new version of their software. After the automatic upgrade issues with my recordings started to occur. The video and audio would drop out and essentially stopping the playback from 2 to 5 seconds. This happened so many times that it made the viewing experience of recorded content lousy. I have had no issues with watching live TV, but I seldom do anymore other than for sporting events.
In mid-October Directv released version 0x0368 of their software. This version helped considerably but the problem was still very noticeable.
I have been a Directv customer for 14 years now, but with the onslaught of Verizon FIOS marketing, the fact that I have FIOS for internet and home phone service, I was starting to think hard about switching to their TV service. The two biggest issues I have had with switching are:
- The Motorola DVR which FIOS provides is substandard and they don't allow you to add an external drive.
- If you purchase (additional cost) a Tivo DVR which provides the external drive functionality, you are stuck using one way cable cards which eliminates any pay per view or interactive feature.
Yes, FIOS could work for me, but the overall Directv experience is better and their iPhone app is a great little tool. The forums like dbstalk.com have provided very little help other than to the RBR (Red Button Reset) the DVR. This seems to help a little but you have to do it almost daily so that is not a solution. As I was planning my potential move to FIOS, I decided to call Directv customer service to see what they would suggest (I have to say I was pretty skeptical). As I explained my problem, the CS person narrowed the potential issue down to the disk and suggested I run a disk scan and report any errors.
I ran the disk scan (RBR, wait on the "just a few more moments" message, press the front panel down key and record button simultaneously until the scan message comes up). It took 16 hours to scan my 1 Terabyte external hard drive. No errors were found, but the scan clearly resolved some issues.
Last night I started watching recorded programs and although not perfect there are no audio dropouts and the video stutters are blips that do not negatively impact the viewing experience.
Bottom line this clearly a disk related issue associated with the update and probably associated with the external drive functionality which is supposedly unsupported but operational.
11/23/09: Good weekend for recorded material with only minor video and audio stutters. It was interesting that the hard drive started making quite a bit of noise again (I wonder what is going on, could it be defragmenting?), but if it makes things watchable I will live with (my DVR and HD are in a cabinet 20 feet away from my LCD panel). I may schedule another scan this week.
11/21/09: I ran another scan Wednesday night and last night watched 3 recorded shows. This seem to help quite a bit, I had 2 minor video/audio stutters on a 30 minute show. I will keep monitoring.
11/19/09: I am sorry to say that the video and audio dropouts/stutters are back when I watched 2 recorded shows last night. I had planned on running another scan and started it around 10PM last night. It is about 60% done this morning. If this does not work, I may purchase a Western Digital My DVR drive to see if that helps (I would need it anyway if I went to a Tivo/FIOS setup).
Note: BTW, I am using a special starter edition of Office 2010 (closed beta w NDA) to edit this blog post I created with Office 2007. It is funny to see the file being opened in compatibility mode.