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Review of LG 50PC1DR

 
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na9d
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2006 7:24 am    Post subject: Review of LG 50PC1DR Reply with quote

Well, I've had a few days now to play around with my 50" LG Plasma with built in HD-DVR so I thought I'd take a few minutes and write about my experience with it so far. In case you don't know, I bought the LD 50PC1DR almost 3 weeks ago. It's a 50" Plasma TV with built in ATSC OTA and Digital CATV tuner. It has a built in HD-DVR with a 160 Gig hard drive. It will store about 15 hours of HD video and about 150 hours of SD video. The TV features a TV Guide provided by the Gemstar service. The built-in DVR is free.

Mechanics:

The DVR HD is easily accessible on the back of the set. There's a small ventilated panel that can be easily removed that will allow direct access to the hard drive. I think it would be relatively easy to install a larger drive but I've not done so yet as I am sure it would violate my warranty. The software for the built in DVR is built into the TV and not on the drive. There is a format hard drive option in the TV firmware so you should just be able to slap in a drive and format it and you'll be good to go.

Functionality:

It is FANTASTIC to be able to record shows in full HD quality and also preserve the Dolby Digital sound characteristics. The TV has an optical out port so you run that to your receiver.

The DVR functionality is easy to use. It has replay and skip ahead buttons. The replay button skips back about 5 to 8 seconds. The skip ahead button takes you forward about 20 seconds. Not quite enough to skip a whole commercial but it works OK. The TV features a timeshift function that allows you to pause live TV just like the Replay does. And it of course supports recording full shows as well.

A neat feature of the DVR is a progress bar you can bring up. You can then graphically see where you are in the recording and you can then use the remotes arrow keys to quickly move through different show segments. Segments are marked in 15 minute increments.

Shows are accessed from a menu where you can actually see clips of the particular shows playing as preview icons. There is a way that you can select which segment of the recorded file you can use as a preview. Additionally, you can create folders for show files and store them in individual folders rather than just at a top level.

Show recordings can be scheduled manually or from the built-in TV guide. When using the guide you have the ability to record a show once, regularly (sorta like a daily option) or weekly. At this point I don't know if the DVR will adjust itself if a shows time slot changes. I am sure I will see that later at some point. The TV guide will also show whether a particular show is in HD. It also has specific icons for one time, weekly or daily shows.

The guide itself is OK. What is frustrating is that when it first comes over, the channels come over in no particular order. It is literally random. You can then arrange the channel listing any way you want, but when working with a couple hundred CATV channels, it is a pain. Also, since the TV has a built in digital cable tuner, it will tune all digital cable channels (including HD ones) w/o a cable box. But it needs a cablecard. I am waiting for Comcast to install mine. It will be installed on October 9th. So right now, I can access the HD broadcast channels and my normal cable channels but no real other digital cable content. Beyond the quirk with the guide listing order it seems to work OK. One thing to be aware of is that the guide listing ONLY works with OTA and CATV sources. It will NOT provide listing services for Satellite. So if you have a Satellite receiver, the DVR functionality of the TV is very limited.

Manual recordings can be set up as well. This could work if you are using a satellite receiver. But this is the part about the set that blows. You can ONLY record from either the OTA antenna input, the CATV antenna input or what are called the AV inputs. The AV inputs are composite or S-Video and regular audio. You CANNOT record from the sets component video or HDMI inputs! I think they do this to prevent people from recording off DVDs, etc. in full quality. It's a pain.

The other headache is that the TV will not record content that is deemed as copy protected. It supports flags in content and will not record certain shows. I've not run into problems on this yet.

The TV has dual NTSC tuners so if you are recording a standard channel you can watch any other content as well. However, if you are recording a DTV channel you cannot watch another DTV channel unless you move to the other antenna input (ie: you can record a DTV OTA channel and watch a DTV (HD) cable channel but you can't record and watch two DTV channels on the same antenna input). By default when changing inputs, the recorded item shows up in a PIP display whcih can be turned off. Of course, you can switch to any of the other inputs (AV inputs, component inputs or HDMI inputs) and continue to record.

A couple of annoying quirks is that if you stop a recording you cannot continue from where you left off. Additionally, when watching a recorded show and a new recording starts, the set will all of a sudden switch to the recording that just started. So then you have to go back to the show menu and pick the show you were watching, start from the beginning and navigate to where you were. Kind of a pain. And when finishing a recording the set pops up a window for a few seconds that says the recording finished. Mildly annoying when watching a show.

And the most frustrating and annoying feature of all: NO AUTOMATIC COMMERCIAL ADVANCE!! I never realized how much I like the ACA feature of my Replays until I now use a DVR w/o it. It's a pain manually skipping 20 seconds each time to get through commercial breaks.

Finally, the TV has audio and coposite video outputs (no S-Video out) so you can record content from the internal DVR to some other source.

Anyhow, the DVR adds about $500 (maybe a little less) to the cost of the TV (over the similar LG model w/o the DVR). It's certainly worth it to have the HD-DVR functionality that allows you to record in full HD despite the limitations of the firmware. And it's nice that it's a functionality that you don't have to pay a monthly fee for.

Jon
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codemantx
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2006 9:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

so if it uses Gemstar guide data, does that mean that its network-capable? or does it dialup?

and i would inspect around where the hard drive is and see if there are any tamper labels.. if there aren't, how would they know that you put in a larger hard drive? just put the original drive away and don't use it and if something ever goes wrong, just put the original drive back in! that's what i did while my first replay was still under warranty
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KenL
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2006 11:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

codemantx wrote:
so if it uses Gemstar guide data, does that mean that its network-capable? or does it dialup?


Probably embedded TVGOS.

Been using that with my Sony HD Recorder for going on a year. I do like the guide but I wonder how gracefully Gemstar will handle analog cutoff. Lots of somewhat expensive hardware using that service which is still delivered analog.
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codemantx
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2006 12:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

KenL wrote:
Probably embedded TVGOS.

Been using that with my Sony HD Recorder for going on a year. I do like the guide but I wonder how gracefully Gemstar will handle analog cutoff. Lots of somewhat expensive hardware using that service which is still delivered analog.
i'm assuming you are using a CableCard, but Jon said that he hasn't gotten his yet. so i'm just wondering by what means the Gemstar guide data is delivered to the unit. i would think that it would have to be some kind of network connection to the internet or direct dialup. Gemstar guide data isn't delivered OTA is it? my Samsung SIR-T451 HDTV tuner it gets guide data OTA, rather unreliably, and it certainly doesn't appear to be Gemstar guide data.
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na9d
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2006 12:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gemstar guide data is delivered OTA and over CATV. It lists all my CATV channels with Comcast's channel numbers. For example, on HD, CBS-HD is something like 184 as a Comcast Channel Number. But the actual channel the TV tunes to is 116-1. I hope that when they install the cable card that all the mapping will be done and things will operate smoothly. The guide data references the Comcast channel number.

And no, there are no tamper labels by the drive! But I haven't looked close enought to see if there's any sort of internal seal that you might have to break.

Jon
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KenL
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2006 2:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

codemantx wrote:
...Gemstar guide data isn't delivered OTA is it? my Samsung SIR-T451 HDTV tuner it gets guide data OTA, rather unreliably, and it certainly doesn't appear to be Gemstar guide data.

PSIP *may* include spotty guide for some ATSC, per channel.

Gemstar TV-Guide-On-ScreenŽ on the other hand is transmitted analog OTA over a host channel. Also on cable *if* they pass thru host NTSC. It includes most cable and local listings for the entire host DMA and goes out 8 days.

However if you can't receive a local host channel (often PBS) you get nothing.
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na9d
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2006 7:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Figures it would be PBS.

Did I mention that I REALLY miss Commercial Advance? cry baby

Almost makes me want to watch it on my Replay instead.

FYI: For those of you who "Poop" (OK, OK, everyone poops, but not everyone uses Poopli ), I am still recording all the shows on the Replay as well. Except now I am recording from the HD channels and downconverting.
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nlandis
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PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2007 8:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm glad I came across this. It's now May 2007 and the 50PC1DRA can be found for under $2000 and I've been researching this as my desired model for weeks. As an avid Replay user (how can I live without Poopli?) I was concerned about a number of issues. However I now realize that what I can do is keep my Cable Box (actually, exchange it for the SciAtl HD model) AND get an additional CableCard. That way, I can record HD programs, etc. on the internal DVR and keep my current setup for all other programming.

I guess the only thing I wouldn't be able to do is record HD programming on the Replay.

I'm familiar with TV Guide listings since I currently use an ancient Mitsubishi that has an antique version of TV Guide Plus. The major issue there is that the guide listings are lost on every power outage. If you've had the LG Plasma set for a while, you probably have experienced a power outage; how does the built-in TVG deal with it?
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shadow
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PostPosted: Wed May 14, 2008 7:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How do I get into the TV firmware so I can reformat the disk?
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nlandis
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PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2008 12:48 pm    Post subject: Rerormatting disk Reply with quote

There's a setup option that allows you to reformat the hard drive.
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shadow
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PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2008 5:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can not find any options under 'MENU' then 'SETUP' that allows me to format the disk. Can you be more specific? Is this in a service mode?
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nlandis
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PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2008 9:13 pm    Post subject: HDD Format Reply with quote

If you click the MENU button, one of the options listed is called OPTION.
Go to OPTION. The bottom choice in its pull-down menu is HDD Format.

At least that's what I have on my TV.
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