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
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