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Digital Stream DPH1000R HDTV Recorder with Digital Tuner and 320 GB HDD (Black)

Digital Stream DPH1000R HDTV Recorder with Digital Tuner and 320 GB HDD (Black)

Manufacturer: Digital Stream America Inc
List Price: $299.00
Street Price:
Amazon.com: $249.95

Like many incipient “cord cutters,” I am gradually approaching the point where the vast wasteland of hundreds of channels of nothingness is not worth the trip. Aside for local news, special events and sports, the rest of TV is of questionable redeeming social value. However, the one TV accessory to which I have become addicted is the DVR. If I am going to “cut-the-cord,” I really don’t want to pay someone any monthly fee for the privilege of the wonderful utility of time- shifting otherwise “free” HDTV programming. Other than reconfiguring a computer dedicated for that purpose, not many (if any) moderately priced, no-fee options existed. Enter the Digital Stream DPH-1000R HD DVR. (Available on-line from $255 including shipping.)

I was given the opportunity of check out the Digital Stream DVR, and, with few exceptions, was very pleased with its performance. The unit combines a very good ATSC/NTSC/QAM tuner with a 320GB HDD, allowing up to 150 hours (SD)/38 hours (HD) recording capacity. In addition to the capability of OTA HD recording, the unit permits recording of (unscrambled) external analog SD or HD (720p or 1080i) signal sources via composite or component (Y, Pr, Pb) respectively. An HDMI interface is also provided, allowing full digital interface with 5.1 audio. No RF modulator is included, but connectors are supplied to allow RF pass-through.

In my review of the DVR, the tuner dutifully detected all 37 locally available digital program channels plus two analog channels with no multipath artifacts. (I live in a wooded area 25 miles from most local transmitters; thus, indoor antenna DTV reception is not reliable.) Audio and video quality with both OTA and recorded programming is excellent, with no detected HDD artifacts.

The disappointing aspect of this unit is the user interface (UI). It is crude, clunky, and unintuitive. There are, of course, reasons for some of this. To avoid TiVo and TV Guide patent infringements, the Digital Stream cannot use any guide information and many of the DVR “trick” features to facilitate recording scheduling and playback. So, the UI is essentially a mid-1980’s VCR interface replica replete with the same text fonts. If not for the HD capability, one could acquire a VCR with an ATSC tuner and achieve the same result.

In addition, the control response is painfully slow. Boot-up time is approximately fifteen seconds, channel change time more than three seconds, function control time more than two seconds in some instances. Further, the remote control transmitter/receiver sensitivity is very low. With new batteries it is out of gas at ten feet and is very directional.

The anemic response time tells me that the control micro is the slowest available to man. It reminds me of the first 16 bit DirecTV microcontrollers. Adding to all of this is a 24hr only clock-timer interface (no 12hr AM/PM selection), that, unless one is a pilot, makes for a lot of timer setting errors.

But, if one can overlook the inelegant UI, the DPH 1000R functions well and relatively economically delivers excellent A/V performance, and therefore, could very well ease the transition from the cord.


Posted by Ed Milbourn, October 3, 2012 7:19 AM

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About Ed Milbourn

After graduating from Purdue University with degrees in Electrical Engineering and Industrial Education in 1961 and 1963 respectively, Ed Milbourn joined the RCA Home Entertainment Division in 1963. During his thirty-eight year career with RCA (later GE and Thomson multimedia), Mr. Milbourn held the positions of Field Service Engineer, Manager of Technical Training and Manager of Sales Training. In 1987, he joined Thomson's Product Management group as Manager of Advanced Television Systems Planning, with responsibilities including Digital Television and High Definition Television Product Management. Mr. Milbourn retired from Thomson multimedia in December 2001, and is now a Consumer Electronics Industry consultant.