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Using True Visions Hd Set-Top Box As Pvr With Esata Harddisk


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The True Visions magazine for March 2012 contains this page (attached) which says, if I have translated it correctly, that you can convert the new HD set-top box to a PVR by connecting it via eSATA to an external hard disk and paying THB99 per month.

The small print at the bottom both recommends and specifies as compulsory a 2.5” Seagate or Western Digital drive between 500GB and 1TB.

Have I translated correctly?

Has anyone got this working?

Are these specific drives compulsory or would a (cheaper) 3.5” eSATA HDD do the job?

Do you have to format the drive as EXT3 or does it work with NTFS? Or does it format the drive itself at first use?

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After reading uour post I tried it out with a cheap eSata Disc (Verbatim 500MB). Hit the PVR button on the remote and was asked if I wanted to format the disk..The formatting took a couple of minutes but no message of success or failure. Then wanted to record: seems I have first to 'register' with TrueVision: probably the 99 Bath you mentioned. Crucial info TrueVision 'wisely' omitted but nobody spoke of it when promoting the new HD Box.

They also show you some recommended HD brands . I would prefer they would tell me if the HD in plugged in and formatted is accepted.

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Colin, you are luckier than me as I am still waiting for the March magazine. However this info is also in the HD Box Handbook which should have come with the box, with the addition of a statement to the effect that usage of any other hard drive would invalidate the True warranty! WD do a range of this type of hard drive for a PVR and larger ones are available which I would assume would still be acceptable.

I have now phoned True twice and e-mailed them once to ask who can supply me with an approved hard drive and they don't know! Just try an electronics store they suggested, having spent the best part of two days investigating outlets in Lopburi and Saraburi, they are just not available - plenty of external hard drives for PCs but none suitable for use as a PVR file storer.

True are really peeing me off, They delivered and installed my boxes at the start of March and when I asked to be connected for PVR they explained that the software for Satellite transmission would not be available until 16/03, and I would need to purchase a hard disc for about 4,000 THB before I could use this service.

I signed up for the service in December and was offered free equipment replacement, + free months free viewing, no other info was offered until after the installation. They took away one PVR and one standard box and replaced them with two standard HD boxes - that could be converted to PVRs. This is not a like for like free replacement however you look at it and to make matters worse my DVD recorder which I have been using for nearly five years on the second box apparently cannot be connected to the HD box. Overnight I went from having the ability to record two programmes simultaneously to having no recording ability at all. If I want to watch early morning Champions League football I have to stay up most of the night!

If anyone can suggest a source for these External Hard Drives I would be very grateful. I live in Mual Lek, Saraburi but can easily drive to Korat or get the minivan up to Bangkok.

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Peter,

Sounds like this is more complicated than I was expecting - I should have known it was too good to be true. You say "They took away one PVR and one standard box" - does this mean you already had an operational PVR with an internal HDD? Like a Skybox in th UK which is my only experience of a PVR?

I have never had a PVR or requested one. True came and changed my set-top box for an HD set-top box at their instigation, PVRs were never mentioned. I did get excited when I found the PVR menus, but as the functions were all disabled, I did not investigate any further, so I never saw the section of the User Guide you refer to. I have read it now! Then, I saw the magazine page and posted on here to see if anyone has got it working before I buy an eSATA HDD.

I have never seen an external HDD with a power input socket like the one on the back of the set-top box; all the ones I have seen have a separate power supply that is plugged into the mains. Perhaps this is a feature of 2.5" HDDs (presumably designed for laptops); all the ones I have used have been 3.5".

I have Googled the three HDDs specified in the user guide, the only result I could find in Bangkok is http://www.shop4thai.../product/24359/ for the Seagate one which says "This product is obsoleted".

You have obviously looked into this in more detail than I have, do you know the minimum contract period for the PVR service? If I can have it switched on for one month for 99 baht I will try it with an old 3.5" SATA HDD and my eSATA docking station, but I am reluctant to either spend 4,000 baht on a eSATA HDD (if I could find one) or to pay for a year's PVR service which might not work.

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Peter,

Sounds like this is more complicated than I was expecting - I should have known it was too good to be true.  You say "They took away one PVR and one standard box" - does this mean you already had an operational PVR with an internal HDD?  Like a Skybox in th UK which is my only experience of a PVR?

I have never had a PVR or requested one.  True came and changed my set-top box for an HD set-top box at their instigation, PVRs were never mentioned.  I did get excited when I found the PVR menus, but as the functions were all disabled, I did not investigate any further, so I never saw the section of the User Guide you refer to.  I have read it now!  Then, I saw the magazine page and posted on here to see if anyone has got it working before I buy an eSATA HDD.

I have never seen an external HDD with a power input socket like the one on the back of the set-top box; all the ones I have seen have a separate power supply that is plugged into the mains.  Perhaps this is a feature of 2.5" HDDs (presumably designed for laptops); all the ones I have used have been 3.5".

I have Googled the three HDDs specified in the user guide, the only result I could find in Bangkok is http://www.shop4thai.../product/24359/ for the Seagate one which says "This product is obsoleted".

You have obviously looked into this in more detail than I have, do you know the minimum contract period for the PVR service?  If I can have it switched on for one month for 99 baht I will try it with an old 3.5" SATA HDD and my eSATA docking station, but I am reluctant to either spend 4,000 baht on a eSATA HDD (if I could find one) or to pay for a year's PVR service which might not work.

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Colin,

Thanks for the further info. Yes I had the original type of True PVR and in essence it was similar to the Sky+ Box. My Sky box in the UK had two internal hard drives whilst the True box had only one.

It was unreliable from before the start, the installers couldn't get it to work and unbeknown to me at the time they took it away and "repaired" it instead of replacing it with a fresh box, which I thought they were arranging. After a while it would "record" programmes, take up space on the hard disc which couldn't be played back - so you thought you had a recorded programme until you tried to view it. It would also record programmes but whilst you were playing them back they would freeze, sometimes only the picture, the sound carried on! I could find no way to replay the recording once it had "frozen".

I had many conversations with True and it became obvious that they were aware of these problems and had a few little tricks, like rebooting the PVR, that gave some relief for a short time but had no real answers. Once I was instructed to take it to their agents in Saraburi and they fiddled with it. They said it was OK but that the HD was too full. When I got it back home I checked that all my recordings were still there and then looked at HD props and it was only 52% full, I had run my Sky box at 100% and never had this type of problem.

It is my thought that one of the reasons they pushed the HD through and offered incentives was that they too were disillusioned with the original PVR.

Regarding trialling your own hard disc you would need to check with True on the period of notice that they require. I suspect the minimum that you could have is two months, when they changed the Platinum package I downgraded to Gold and I believe that I had to give just one months notice.

Western Digital would be my favoured brand as I have had good service from their external hard drives, their website gives details of the model listed by True and explains the difference between this and a HD for a PC - mainly that it is designed to run 24/7 365 days p.a.

Hope this is of some help. I must persist in tracking the HDs down. Maybe the situation has been exacerbated by the flooding as the WD factory was badly hit.

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Colin,

My quote is now posted, it has taken about 30 hours to get it on the board, I typed it am yesterday and I just couldn't post it until a few minutes ago - oh the joys of computing. Today I hav e visit my electrical goods supplier in Pak Chong and he is making big efforts to find a source for one of the recommended hard drives. I will report progress as it happens.

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Peter,

Many thanks for all the information. I nearly bought one of those PVRs but IIRC they were 16,000 baht, which was just too much for me. Your experience makes me really glad I didn't. This being Thailand and True, I don't suppose they refunded any of your money merely because it didn't work?

Keep us posted if you manage to find a disk. Another thing that seems strange is that it is a Samsung box, but they don't recomend any Samsung disks. Maybe Samsung don't make DVR style disks.

Good hunting!

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Another thing that seems strange is that it is a Samsung box, but they don't recomend any Samsung disks. Maybe Samsung don't make DVR style disks.

Good hunting!

I seriously doubt that the brand of disk matters, as long as it is eSATA

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It appears now that Truevisions is now offering for sale a 500 gig harddrive accessory for a special price of only 4,780 baht. It will give you 84 hours of high def and 340 standard. Doesn't sound like such a special price to me...this is now mentioned on the truevisions hd plus web page.

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Today I have contacted True Visions in Bangkok again. Yes, a Hard Disc is now available for the HD box for 4,700 THB, but it is only available from 2 places in Bangkok, one being True Visions HO. However I was informed that the HD was priced at 3,490 THB if you were replacing the original True PVR.

They are still advertising FREE equipment replacement but it will cost me 3,490 to replace the True equipment I returned to them!

They are going to get their local agent (Saraburi) to contact me when they have stock. I shall continue to investigate other options.

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FWIW, I am using a Seagate external eSATA drive but it's not one of the approved models. The HD settop box will ask upon insertion if you want to continue using this drive and if you answer yes then full PVR functionality is allowed. (I have subscribed to the THB99 add-on). So far so good, searching and playback is very quick and smooth.

As an aside, prior to using the Hard Drive and subscribing to the device you can plug a regular thumb drive and use it as an "ad-hoc" recorder. I was using an 8GB Sandisk drive which would allow me to record several hours of programming. The drawbacks are:

1) it's not a true PVR, you can only record what you are currently watching - useful if you halfway through a late night movie and want to go to sleep

2) the data throughput on a thumb drive is slow so HD movies may clip the sound every once in a while

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