Comcast Upgrades Motorola HD-DVRs, Adds Better Organization and New Features

From Matt Whitlock's Mind Over Matt'er at TechLore.com

I noticed this morning that my Comcast DCT-3416 Dual Tuner HD-DVR wasn't displaying its clock, something I rely on when playing with my daughter in the living room before starting work. Upon further investigation I discovered that none of the advanced functions of the DVR were available - no guide, no DVR menu, not even the menu. I got a picture and could change channels, but that was about it.

I ultimately thought the internal hard drive failed (even though I could hear it spinning), which would explain some of the behavior I was seeing. I unplugged it a few times, let it reboot, and nothing. "Time to call Comcast," I thought... though that's certainly not something I ever look forward to. 

About 20 minutes later I was getting ready to pick up the phone, and then noticed the clock had returned. To my surprise, all of the features had re-appeared. The DVR, the Guide, and everything else, but with new features and enhancements.  [[break]]

I've seen Comcast upgrade their cable boxes before, though usually with very minor upgrades. The worst was the "improvement" that added an advertisement at the bottom of my guide (I still hate that). This time, however, the differences are obvious... and useful!

For starters, the DVR menu has changed. Along with My Recordings and Scheduled Recordings tab, they've added some options to make finding shows and setting recordings. The "Manage DVR" section grabbed my attention, which is now where the Series Priority section lives, but also includes a full DVR history and a new "Clean Up" mode.

Clean Up mode allows you to select and delete multiple things at the same time, and inevitably solves a problem that has always driven me crazy about their DVRs.   

In fact, one of the more significant changes is how the DVR area presents shows. Rather than toss out every episode recorded as it's own line, the DVR now combines shows with like titles into folders, which really makes finding things easier. This list is still sortable by title, date, and channel.  A wonderful improvement, although now it does add an extra click to start up a show when there is more than one recorded. 

The guide looks the same, although since the upgrade I have not seen any advertisments at the bottom of the screen. Even before they didn't always show up, but I'm crossing my fingers that they're gone for good. 

I'm not sure if this is new or something I didn't notice before (I haven't taken a trip into the setup menu for some time), but I now see the option to set up a favorites list.  I'd prefer the option to only see the channels I subscribe to in the guide rather than "everything," but if I can accomplish the same feat using a favorites list, I'll still be happy.

I can't say if this upgrade is only for Comcast, or if it already exisits on other providers. Either way, I'm pretty stoked that it's gotten a little bit nicer. Still no where near as nice as a TiVo or Windows Media Center DVR (something I'll be building in the near future to replace the Motorola DVR), but I can honestly say that this upgrade has moved how I grade the Comcast DVR from F to D-. It's now just below average... but at least it's no longer a complete failure. 

Matt Whitlock - TechLore.com
More from Mind Over Matt'er at TechLore.com

Comments

Hope's picture

This upgrade caused ALL my series recordings to be deleted. Not the items already recorded, but the scheduled recordings...all...gone.
Comcast is telling me that someone must have deleted them manually in my home. The DVR history shows that all my series recordings were deleted at 01/27/10 at 2am. Yes, they are trying to tell me that I or someone in my home deleted all series recordings simultaneously on 2 DVRS at 2am.
Genius!

Louise's picture

I have been having multiple problems since the

Cord's picture

The fastforward and reverse feature sucks now.
I can no longer fast forward and the stop when past the commercials. First of all, it is slower to respond so that I go further than I had wanted to go and secondly, a new feature is that it 'backs up' some from where you tried to stop. I think the point of the 'back up ' feature is to place the cursor or start point right at the end of a commercial but I have noticed that I often end up 2 to 4 commercials back from the beginning of the next part of the show. Then I try to fast forward again and I go to far. Then I go to far backwards. Then too far forward, Then to far backwards then I scream and throw stuff and then my wife fast forwards as slowly as possible while I watch the ice melt in my drink and finally I can watch my movie again. It SUCKS!

Comcast says I am imagining things.
I made them send a tech out and he said they get a ton of calls about that.
Unfortunately, he did not know how to fix it.

I have started looking into getting TIVO instead. It will end up costing me more but this problem is a deal breaker for me. I HATE HATE HATE it.

Matt Whitlock's picture

Hi Cord,

If you have the means, I'd of course go with the TiVo over this thing. Light years difference, but TiVo certainly has an up front cost.

As far as fast forwarding and rewinding, I agree it's not implemented well. That said, I rarely use the fast forward and rewind function. If you pick up a programmable learning remote that supports direct IR code input, there's a hidden code to use a 30 second skip feature. With that and with the instant replay button, it's much, much nicer.

ScottP's picture

The fast forward issue where it backs up really annoys me. I am also having a problem when fast forwarding at the highest speed, the fast forward is not at a consistent speed. It goes fast, then slows down, fast, then slows down.

I called Comcast, and they said this was a new feature. I asked how to turn off this

D53's picture

I have also noticed the 15-second "rewind" when I fast-forward. I really dislike it. However, even more annoying is that I can't seem to record on one tune and watch a program on another. Has anyone noticed this? It is especially apparent when I have a pre-set recording and then turn my tv on. In this case, I receive no audio or video signal. When I try to turn off the dvr, it gives me 2 choices: turn off and lose the recording or return to the dvr to its current state, which results in no audio or video output from the second tuner. I have a Motorla DCH 6416 dvr.

Has anyone else noticed this?

Brian Matthews's picture

I have the same problem with the FF and RW. It jumps 15 to 30 seconds when I stop the FF and hit play. I watch a ton of sports and used to be able to stop it on a dime. Now it jumps backwards when I FF it. Does anyone know if Comcast is going to come out with a software fix for this? It's very annoying. One thing I noticed is that if I use the 1 speed, the slowest, it doesn't jump around. I thought it was my DVR when this first started, but I have 2 of them and I noticed they both do the same thing. It all started when the software upgrade took effect.

ScottP's picture

Comcast considers this an excellent new feature. It is actually based on similiar functionality to Tivo. I think the problem is, it backs up to far. (When on the highest FF speed) I also used to stop on a dime. I still FF at full speed, and basically watch the show after the commercial for a little bit, then stop. I am getting better at this, so my stop is close to where I need to be.

Bottom line, this is NOT an improvement...

Brian Matthews's picture

As a sports fan, this glitch with the Comcast DVR was really ruining the DVR experience. But I found a great workaround, at least for my brand of DVR, a Motorola DCT-6412. A hack to get your remote to skip 30 seconds ahead. It works on both of my DVR(s). My 2nd one needed new batteries after this hack wouldn't work. I tried it several times with no luck and re-read the page and decided to try new batteries as a last resort. The hack then worked first try. A lot of you may already know about this hack, but it solves the problem with the jerking at the end of a FF. And thanks to the guy who figured this out and shared it with me/us. Hint; use the help button to set the 30 second skip, the help button doesn't work for anything else and it's easily found on the remote.

http://forum.ecoustics.com/bbs/messages/34579/516181.html

Louise's picture

I believe that Comcast threw this very poorly programmed product out without ever testing it. Comcast continues to show its complete disregard for the consumer. I believe the rewind and fast forward are completely unmanageable. When I use FF1 it just completely freezes. It again failed to record a program when I set two programs to play and I was viewing another recording. I plan to look into other providers.

D53's picture

Glad to hear I'm not the only one experiencing difficulties. What model number is your DVR? Perhaps these problems are specific to one DVR model, such as the Motorola DCH 6416.

Brian Matthews's picture

Louise?

Comcast's DVR should allow you to record 2 shows at once, as long as you're watching one of them. The second tuner would be turned to the station of the show you're not watching. If this isn't working for you, then you either have a bad DVR or bad wiring. I have had 2 DVR(s) from Comcast for several years and they work fine. I can actually record 2 shows at once and watch a 3rd show by switching inputs on my TV and using my TV tuner. But you need a splitter on the back of your TV to do this. Or you could switch to a different tuner and just watch over the air TV while you record 2 shows. Call Comcast and complain. This DVR should work for you as long as the signal strength is OK and as long as you don't have a faulty DVR. What we're complaining about here is the software, not the hardware.

Louise's picture

Prior to the change in the software I was able to view one recording while recording two other programs. Now this only works half the time. It is the software, not the equipment.

Brian Matthews's picture

The DVR from Comcast only has 2 tuners. It's always been able to record 2 shows at once, but you either have to be watching one of the channels or watching nothing at all. Like I said, I can record 2 shows and watch a third, but only if I switch over to my TV tuner and use the TV remote to change channels. And that's with a splitter on the back of the TV. I really would like to know how you could possibly record 2 stations and watch a third with only 2 tuners.

Louise's picture

Have been doing it since I got my Comcast DVR. Have no splitter. Am not switching over to my TV tuner. I am not an engineer so I can't tell you why it works, but it does. Recorded two programs and watched a pre-recorded show last night.

Brian Matthews's picture

Oh, Ok, I see what you're saying. Sorry, I misunderstood. Record 2 shows at once and watch a show already recorded on the DVR. Yeah, a test on both of my DVR(s) shows that it works. I never tried this before. I'll try it again a few times in the next couple of days and see if it works every time.

Brian Matthews's picture

Latest update on watching a recorded show while recording 2 shows at once.

It's worked every time on both of my DVR(s). I recorded a prime time show last night (dancing with the stars, for my wife) and she watched it after I set up the recorder to record 2 other shows. Both shows recorded. Meanwhile, I set up my other DVR to record 2 shows this afternoon and I watched a baseball game I already had recorded on the DVR. Both of those shows also recorded in their entirety.

The only thing I can think of in your situation is either a bad DVR or bad wiring. If it works some of the time, it should work every time. I would call Comcast and TELL them to either fix it, at NO charge, or you'll switch providers. It's amazing what lengths they will go to to retain customers. With my high speed internet, 2 DVR(s) and my cable package, I'm supposed to pay over $160.00 per month. Every six months I call them up and threaten to go to Dish or WOW cable and they find a way to lower my bill to $125.00 per month. It's a hassle calling them, but it's worth it in the long run. If I were you, I would tell them you're paying for a service you're not receiving. They'll jump through hoops to fix your problem. Just my 2¢ worth. : )

Matt Whitlock's picture

@bobo - If it's a show that's playing now, you hit the red record button to begin recording. It's that simple.

kg47's picture

My Motorola DVR DCH3416 (just "upgraded" from my MOXI 48 hrs ago) cannot fast forward or rewind without skipping to the very beginning/end of the program. After pressing the forward button, it will advance for a variable number of seconds, and then jump to the very end of the program. This leaves me borderline homicidal when trying to watch sports and then glimpsing the final score while trying to forward through 1st quarter commercials.

This happens at all speeds, and happens regardless of using the arrow fast forward buttons or the navigational buttons. Anyone else getting this problem?

Cartman's picture

I was wondering how I can pull of the shows I have DVR'ed on these boxes, i am about to turn in my old DVR box and i do want to lose any of the programs that i have recorded, i mean all that time and planning is gonna go down the toilet if you know what i mean, so dose anyone know how to do this, i have been searching the internet and i have found noting that really helps or works,plus it would be nice to have a way to dump my DVR when it becomes full as well, so i do not want lose anything!!!and it is mostly educational stuff for my kids so they can have it on DVD and go watch it in their ROOM!!!
Thanks Everyone

And if you do have an answer for me could it please be a step by step iam not the brightest if you know what i mean!!!LOL!!!

Brian Matthews's picture

Depending on which DVR you have, there are many different guides. I've never tried this but it sounds like it works for most people. Let us know if it works for you.

http://replayguide.sourceforge.net/dct6412/

skoda's picture

To Cartman,
I've been told you cannot copy off of Comcast's DVR onto another Comcast DVR before you exchange it. They have also told me I can't record on VCR's and DVD recorders, but you can. Buy a DVD "RECORDER" and copy off all your stuf anytime you want to. Problem is you'll have to learn how to use it, but after a while you'll pick it up.
"Skoda"

ramblinknight's picture

Comcast now allows users to program their DVR online. This is also available via the iPhone and very useful.

MichelleFuego's picture

My DVR just upgraded last night.

unfortunately it seems like it still has a bit of glitches, such as it takes a very long time to change the channel

Also, my clock hasn't come back on my display box. It just says the channel and not the time. Anyone know how I can get the clock back onto the display box?

JimMo's picture

According to Comcast, there is a new HD-DVR with 500GB of storage. Supposedly, you only have to have the Digital package to get this. I called in today to order one and was told that the new HD-DVR was it was only available as an anyroom dvr and would have to pay $19 a month for it. Since I have two TVs and two dvrs, this would increase my cost from $20 a month to $38. I'd have to replace both dvrs, according to the customer service rep. Kinda stinks!

Ehric's picture

It's AWESOME!!!!
Once you get used to it, that is.
Regarding the FFWD and REW issues people are facing, that's because they haven't figured out how awesome it is yet. I hated it as well at first, but realized today that it's truly remarkable. When watching a show, while you go into ultra fast FFWD, Once it's gone through all the commercials, and has started FFWD'ing through your show, DON'T hit REW!!! Instead hit play, and you'll notice that it kicks you back to the beginning where the commercial just ended!!!! Unbelievable!!! Trust me on this; it's RAD!!!

JimMo's picture

To follow up on my comment on July 30, I visited my local Comcast Service Center to find out first hand about the new HD-DVR. My first surprise was the number of people in line in the middle of the week. They all seemed to have equipment in hand going in and nothing going out. I asked one of the people in line and she said that she was cancelling her service - too expensive in todays market. The line continued til my turn and then afterward.

I finally reached the head of the line and was told that there is a HD-DVR as I thought and that I could exchange at no cost. They were temporarily out of stock and now I am waiting for a call when they get some more in.

Maan's picture

we need to make a complaints to comcast regarding this matter. The fast forward and rewind is so annoying and frustrating!! They think that feature is cool. You cant really pinpoint exactly what you want to watch! Comcast said it was their upgrade.. Well, their firmware totally Sucks!!

JimMo's picture

With regards to the fast forward (I can't say that this is true for rewind as I haven't tested it), after hitting fast forward, immediately put your finger on the "7 second" rewind. When you see the program that you are watching appear again, press the "7 second" rewind. This will put you either at the end of the last commercial or the very beginning of the program. Really beats hitting stop then rewind.

JimMo's picture

Regarding the 500gb HD-DVR, you can swap out your 160gb DVR for a 240 or 320gb DVR, depending on which version that your local Comcast office is carrying. The new DVR is smaller, lighter, and puts out less heat. My wife didn't really want to upgrade her DVR but since this is a newer model, I got it anyway for her. BTW, the is no additional charge for the 240 or 320gb models.

JimMo's picture

To get the clock instead of the channel, press the Menu button twice. Go to setup and select Cable Box Setup. The first option is LED Display. Change from Channel to Time. Now, the channel will show up when you first turn on your box or change channels, then it will switch to time and stay there even when the box is turned off.

Brian Matthews's picture

Jimbo Wrote;

"Regarding the 500gb HD-DVR, you can swap out your 160gb DVR for a 240 or 320gb DVR, depending on which version that your local Comcast office is carrying. The new DVR is smaller, lighter, and puts out less heat. My wife didn't really want to upgrade her DVR but since this is a newer model, I got it anyway for her. BTW, the is no additional charge for the 240 or 320gb models."

My questions are;

How do I tell how big my HD is on my DVR? By the model number? If so, what are the model numbers on the larger sized HD DVRs?

Thanks for the information, it's too bad Comcast doesn't let their customers know about these choices. : )

Brian Matthews's picture

Jimbo wrote;

"With regards to the fast forward (I can't say that this is true for rewind as I haven't tested it), after hitting fast forward, immediately put your finger on the "7 second" rewind. When you see the program that you are watching appear again, press the "7 second" rewind. This will put you either at the end of the last commercial or the very beginning of the program. Really beats hitting stop then rewind."

Either you have a different remote, or I don't know about the 7 second button. Where is it located on the remote?

JimMo's picture

As far as I know, the hard drive size is part of the model number. When I got the DVR boxes from Comcast, the service rep looked on the back of the box to tell me which hard drive was in the box.

The 7 second button is just to the left of the "My DVR" button.

Mark Shapiro's picture

Since the upgrade a month or so ago, I cannot fast forward or rewind without going to the start of the whole recording, if I press these buttons while the show is recording.

If I set it to record channel 2 from 6 to 10, and start watching channel 2 at
7, it starts at 6. But it's a rerun, so I fast forward to 6:30, then it plays at 6. SO frustrating.

foxmulder241's picture

The thing I hate most about the Comcast DVR is that if I only want to record a segment of a show it automatically goes back to the beginning of the show, so if i only want a five minute segment and it's 20 mins into the show I have to record the full 20 minutes before it, I also don't like the fact that it cuts off the last minute of a show if you decide to manual record it.

As soon as I get $499 it bye bye comcast DVR hello TIVO

foxmulder241's picture

The thing I hate most about the Comcast DVR is that if I only want to record a segment of a show it automatically goes back to the beginning of the show, so if I only want a five minute segment and it's 20 minutes into the show I have to record the full 20 minutes before it, I also don't like the fact that it cuts off the last minute of a show if you decide to manual record it as there is no way extend the record time if you hit the record button manually and I don't like there is no way to set the timer manually.

Comcast could take a lesson on DVRs from Dishnetwork, Dish's hardware might be a piece of junk but their software for their DVRs is allot better

As soon as I get $499 it bye bye comcast DVR hello TIVO

Ed in Chicago's picture

The updated fast forward / rewind 'feature' is truly annoying.
I miss the old functionality.

For those of you looking for a workaround, the only thing that seems to work is this:

Press your fast-forward or rewind,
then when you get to the spot you want to resume playback,
instead of hitting the PLAY button, try hitting the PAUSE button first.
Then press the PLAY button.

Does anyone know what the model is of the NEW comcast dual tuner DVR that you can set the DVR from the internet?

JimMo's picture

To keep from recording the previous 20 minutes or so, briefly switch to another channel (during a commercial prefered) then press "Last", which takes you back to the program you were watching. Hit "Rec" and only the program from that point on will record.

foxmulder241's picture

"To keep from recording the previous 20 minutes or so, briefly switch to another channel (during a commercial prefered) then press "Last", which takes you back to the program you were watching. Hit "Rec" and only the program from that point on will record."

Thank You, I do do that now but it's inconvenient sometimes because I sometimes I am watching the channel and it's not until the segment comes on that I decide I want it.

I like the way dishnetworks DVR works If I liked a segment and wanted to record it all I had to do was rewind it to where I wanted to start reording and it would only record from that point, plus if it would ask me if I wanted to manually stop the record or record the remainder of the program.

The only reason I switched from Dish was the hardware was junk and the DVR broke down allot and it would take forever to get a new one from them.

I have wrote comcast about my concerns and got a very polite reply(something I never would get from dish) Here's a copy of what they sent me

Dear Michael,

Thank you for contacting Comcast Cable E-mail Support.

I am happy to assist you with your concern, Michael I understand you
have a concern regarding DVR box.

Thank you for taking the time to provide us with your suggestion on how
to improve our service, Michael. I have forwarded your suggestion to the
appropriate management team for further review and action. We appreciate
your interest in making Comcast the best entertainment value possible.

On the other hand, Comcast is following the Anti-Piracy law. With
Comcast DVR box, having an external Hard Drive is not allowed.
Recordings cannot be transferred from one DVR to another DVR as well.
Recordings can be saved, however, by copying the content to VHS tapes.

When copying a recording to a VHS tape, make sure the recording is
displayed on the main TV screen for the entire time it is being copied.
If the channel is changed, or other DVR screens are displayed (such as
the menu or guide), these images will be recorded.

To copy a recording:

1. Connect RCA cables (yellow, red, white) from the VIDEO OUT and AUDIO
OUT jacks (yellow, red, white) on the set-top box to the VIDEO IN and
AUDIO IN jacks (yellow, red, white) on the VCR
2. Connect RCA cables (yellow, red, white) from the VIDEO OUT and AUDIO
OUT jacks (yellow, red, white) on the VCR to the VIDEO IN and AUDIO IN
jacks (yellow, red, white) on the TV
3. Put a tape in the VCR
4. Select a program from the list of recordings
5. Play the program from the beginning
6. Press record on the VCR - as the recording plays, it will be taped to
the VHS tape

Please note: To record high-definition programming to a VHS tape, a
high-definition VCR is required and should be hooked up via Y, Pb, Pr,
DVI or HDMI.

Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to assist you, Michael. We
appreciate that you have chosen Comcast as your service provider and we
thank you for your business.

Please do not hesitate to contact us again in the future, if you have
any further questions or concerns. You can chat with one of our Online
Customer Support Specialists 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at
http://www.comcastsupport.com/chat

Thank you for choosing Comcast.

Sincerely,

Elaine T
Comcast Customer Care Specialist

Gatorviv's picture

Has Comcast changed the DVR menu? Now when I select "MY DVR" it only shows my recorded shows and no options. How do we see what our programmed recordings are?

arf's picture

I'm having the same issue gatorviv. I can't see scheduled recordings or create a manual recording. I can only see my shows I've already recorded.

Brian Matthews's picture

I would call Comcast. I had a problem with my remote control responding very slowly. I couldn't even switch to a 2 digit channel, like 28, before it would lock up on the 2 and change to channel 2. I was going to go to their office and exchange my remote. But I called first and the rep said it was a box problem. She told me to unplug it and reset it. It worked, much to my amazement. Try this and give it time to refresh your guide list. It's a quick fix attempt that might save you a hassle.

christoff's picture

my stupid room mate deleted something on my dvr..its cool..i can roll with the punches, he only problem is that i cannot remember what it was..and they are playing the silent game..all i want to know is what it is..there are many ways to view it so im not concerned with watching it on the dvr...i just want to know what the heck it was...i checked the dvr history in the mangage my dvr section...but i recorded taht program 8-9 months ago and event hough it was deleted today by my roommate, the dvr history will not show it cuz they only show stuff that you recorded recently and deleted recently...technically....when you go into dvr history..the programs are listed by record date and they are only for recent records.....how do i figure out what it was...??????? i dont care about undeleting it, i just want the basic program info in heading!!!!!!!!

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