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95 of 105 people found the following review helpful
on January 24, 2003
I've been thinking about getting a Tivo or ReplayTV for about a year and finally got a ReplayTV 5040. Here's my opinion:
Price: With two $50 mail-in rebates my final cost was $199. This is a lot of technology for $199!
Quality: The box is well built and solid. There's a big fan to keep it cool. The choices of inputs and outputs is complete. You can fit this device into any home threater system any way you want. I have a 36" HDTV and have this connected using S-video. I tried composite video and it was slightly worse. I didn't try the component video outputs.
Setup: Setup was easy but did take a while over a cable modem connection. During the setup it seemed to update the operating system which took about 25 minutes. Total setup was about 40 minutes. I don't know how long it would take over the built-in modem.
Recording: The programming guide is easy to use and setting things to record is straight forward. I only record at high quality so I only get about 10 hours of recording time.
Picture Quality: The picture is acceptable but not as good as the direct feed to the TV. When you watch a show throught the ReplayTV you are ALWAYS watching the recorded version. There is about a 1 second delay between the "live" picture throught the ReplayTV and the "live" feed from the cable company. This is what allows you to pause and rewind a live TV show. Because you're watching a recorded version of the show and the recording is digitized and compressed the picture quality is slightly worse than the original. I find the colors to be a little washed out.
Customer Support: EXCELLENT! I was worried about calling tech support when the IR Blaster couldn't change the single digit channels on my cable box but was pleasantly surprised when my hold time was less than 2 minutes both times I had to call. The fix was simple but undocumented in the manual or on their web site. To get to the advanced settings for the IR Blaster you have to press the "Zones" button when the list of codes for your cable box appears on the screen. This lets you set certain properties of the IR Blaster like the minimum number of digits to send to the cable box. It was sending a "2" for channel 2 and I needed it to send an "02". Bumping the minimum digits to 2 fixed the problem. I also got a tip from their tech to put all zeros in the delay boxes to speed up channel changing which is fairly slow. Changing the delays to "0000" helps slightly.
I like this better than Tivo. This thing is light years ahead of an old VCR!
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on March 11, 2003
Hi everyone. I had hoped that when I bought my ReplayTV 5040 that it would work fine. BUZZZ-wrong answer. It died on me about 6 weeks after I bought it. (Infinite reboot problem) Alright, no big deal, I'll just send it back. On January 27th I called technical support and after some troubleshooting and it was determined that I had to send it in. I was told that I would have a new unit 10 days after they got my unit. I sent it in and UPS delivered it to ReplayTV on January 31st. It was delivered at 10:09 AM and signed for by "Cooper."

Two weeks later I sent an email to technical support asking for a status report. No response. Two more days went by and I sent another email to which they replied with this cryptic quote: "Your RMA is in process and will be fulfilled as soon as possible." Not very helpful.
After patiently waiting for nearly a month, on or around February 27th I decided that I should try to give someone a call, so I called in and they had no record of my unit or even me! The guy finally said he would have to put me on hold. I held for over 30 minutes and then got sent into his voice mail. I immediately called back and had to tell my story all over again. The new person I talked to was very polite, found my information and said she would "escalate my case." Great, I thought, finally! After more discussion she said I should have my unit very soon. I told her that I would like a confirmation email when the unit was shipped.
March 6th rolls around and I still have not heard anything from anyone at SonicBlue so I called in again. This time I got a man who was sorry to hear about my case after I told him the story. This time he gave me a case number and told me the he would "escalate" my case to the supervisory level. I told him that I though that had already been done! He told me that it should now get some high level action. I ask him to send me an email when the unit has been shipped.
Today is March 11th and I since I haven't received an email, I decide to call tech support and see if they can give me a status report. I happen to talk to the same woman that I spoke to on February 27th. She apologizes to me and says that my case has been "escalated to a higher level" and that she will check with her supervisor for the status. After about 10 minutes she gets back on the phone and tells me that her supervisor told her that the unit should have been shipped, but that they don't know for sure. (At this point I am taking everything they say with a grain of salt!) She suggests that I call back in two days and they should be able to tell me for sure if the unit has shipped.
That is where things stand right now. I can't say that I can give any advice based on this report, but I thought people should be aware of the situation.
Epilogue: The day after I posted the above review I had an email exchange with other people at SonicBlue and they sent me a new unit 2nd day FedEx. Once I got to the right people they were very responsive.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on November 22, 2002
It may sound dramatic, but my ReplayTV has changed my relationship with television completely.
First, the ability to pause live TV is amazing. When the phone rings, we pause the show, answer the call, and then resume. Nothing missed! An interesting point to discuss with my wife? Pause and talk. You'll wonder how you lived without it.
The ability to schedule automatic recording of all the TV shows I watch, and to have them actually recorded reliably (which is more than I can say for my VCR) has given me complete freedom to enjoy TV on my own terms.
Let me say that my wife and I watch a lot of TV, we just plain have a lot of shows that we enjoy watching. And Replay allows me to watch my shows when I want them, how I want them, no matter what the network schedules may throw at me. Like the Simpsons? Schedule your Replay to keep the last five syndicated episodes at the ready whenever you feel like a laugh. Enjoy the late night shows but can't stay up? Program it to record the shows while you're asleep and watch them in the morning. You can even set up a manual recording that will just record the monologues! And of course it will record all your favorite daily and weekly shows, even if they're on a special day or change time slots. Even set up categories in order to keep your shows organized. Even if you don't spend a lot of time watching TV, wouldn't it be nice to have something recorded that you actually want to watch when you have time? Don't be a slave to the TV Guide again! (BTW- The program guide on the Replay is a huge improvement if you are used to the cable TV box electronic guide).
One of the best things about the Replay over your VCR is that you can watch a show that's already been recorded while it's recording something else. That means that you're no longer stuck waiting for something to finish recording in order to watch something. You can even watch a show that's recording from the beginning! You can come home halfway into recording "Friends", and watch it from the beginning while it records the rest of the show!
And that's where the ReplayTV excels: When you watch a recorded show (or even live TV that you've paused for at least 5 minutes), the Replay will automatically skip the commercials! Sure, you can turn off the skip if you want to see them. But it's just a thing of beauty when screen goes blank going to commercial, and then all of a sudden the program continues where it left off! When someone asks "did you see the commercial where....", you can smugly say "nope" :*)
If you watch TV in more than one room, you can get a second unit and connect them together. You can actually watch a show on one Replay that was recorded on another. And if your friends or family have a ReplayTV, you can actually send a show or even your home videos from your unit to theirs over the internet. All you need is their Replay ID and hit "Send" and off it goes. It's not instantaneous though, even a half-hour show can take hours to transfer. But it's a lot faster and easier than mailing a videotape.
The other choices in this market are good don't get me wrong, I own a TiVo as well. But like I said: Once you've seen Commercial Skip, In-Home Video Sharing,, and Internet Video Sharing in operation, you'll never go back. The TiVo is now in the guest bedroom...
And Sonicblue is continuously working on improving the software, adding new features and functions. It just keeps getting better.
This thing is worth every penny.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2002
Replay has created a new way to watch TV! Its hard to imagine ever watching a show the old way. I used to have to watch what was on between 9pm and 11pm but not anymore. Now I have lots of show recorded automatically everyday that I want to see, and I can watch them when I have the time!! I even uploaded 1.5 gigs of digital pictures from my pc to the Replay 5000 and I am amazed at the quality when viewed on my 36" Sony XBR. You can even create a folder of pictures to use as the pause screens. I hooked it up via my cable modem to download the updates, and that also allows me to send or receive shows via the internet. The Commercial Skip (CA) works about 97% of the time, which really blew me away. I had figured it wouldn't work very well, so I am very pleasently suprised. I am considering ordering another Replay so I can record two show simultaneously and also take advantage of streaming from one box to the other. Say watch a show in the living room or bedroom thats been recorded in the tv room. The CA feature alone blows the competition away. All the other features are just icing on the cake. I would rate this a 10+ after using it for almost 3 weeks. (I would rate myself as difficult to impress)
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on December 5, 2002
I was skeptical when I first heard about ReplayTV but had to give it a shot. Four units later, I'm not sure how I ever watched television before. With ReplayTV you are in complete control of what you watch and when you watch it. In a nutshell:
Phone interruptions: Hit pause and resume when you want.
Missed something: Back up and watch it again - normal speed or slow motion
Hate commercials: They're gone in your recorded shows thanks to Commercial Advance. Is it perfect? No. It misses a few but it catches about 95% or more.
Love commercials: Just turn Commercial Advance off.
Scheduling: Couldn't be easier. Bring up the channel guide, hit record, you're done. You'll never miss a show again.
Share shows between multiple units: Have more than one unit and a home network. Record on one unit and watch on another even while someone is watching something else on the other unit.
Screen Saver and Slide Show: Upload your digital pictures to your ReplayTV to have a personal screen saver or slide show. A great way to organize and view all those pictures.
I've become so addicted to both pause and instant replay that I find myself trying to do the same to the radio in my car.
This just scratches the surface of what you can do. There's a lot more waiting for you.
Is ReplayTV perfect? Not yet but SONICblue appears to be quickly fixing minor glitches.
Is ReplayTV the perfect way to watch TV? Absolutely. It's perfection!
Try it and you'll never go back.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on June 7, 2003
I purchasesd a 5040 Replay TV in December, 2002. The company's service is anyone's worst nightmare--on the line for hours to try to solve problems with an incompetent and ill trained service crew; at least once per week the connection to the update "freezes", which requires unplugging everything; you cannot contact the company except through their poorly trained staff at the 800 numbers. Do not respond faxes; email is only standard response with check boxes--if your problem does not fit a preconcieved idea of what a problems should be--forget it. Buying this product is asking for trouble--it is fitting that they went into bankruptcy.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on April 2, 2003
I've had my replayTV for a few weeks now connected to my cable-TV.
Here are my impressions:
What I like with ReplayTV:
- Works great. Revolutionizes TV watching.
- Skips most commercials on major networks -- really nice!
- 30-second forward skip, to jump through commercials that weren't skipped.
-...BR>- Ethernet port allows me to download shows I wasn't able to watch onto my PC, and burn them as a VCD to see them later.
- Nice user interface.
- Nice channel guide.
- Appears to be the best DVR for the money.
What could be better:
- Changing channels when viewing TV through the replayTV takes 5 seconds.
- System response lags a little -- I'm used to appliances that respond immediately.
- Can only record 1 show at a time -- I would be willing to pay a little more money to have a system with 2 or 3 tuners.
- When you've programmed several shows that overlap, it's difficult to tell which ones will get recorded and which ones won't. It's even more difficult to understand how to change their priority.
- Can't specify to record only new shows, and not re-runs.
- The progressive video output doesn't work with my JVC TV (although that may just be due to the TV)
- Doesn't always detect commercials on all channels.
- The system is finicky. If it works, it works great, but it clearly has bugs. It occasionally fails to connect at night with the phone line (this is discussed in many user groups), and has crashed a few times.
Features I found useless:
- Storing and displaying pictures -- really too slow to be useable.
- The 5 (!) different video outputs on the rear of the device -- why do I care?
- The digital audio output -- which supposedly sounds just like the normal audio outputs.
- Sharing shows over the internet with other users -- it just takes too long to be practical.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on November 23, 2002
I have had a ReplayTV since the first model that only recorded 6 hours! Even then, it only took a couple of weeks and how I watched TV changed.
I no longer cared when things were on; I watched them when I wanted to. If I wanted to watch a one-hour program while it aired, I purposly waited 15 minutes to start so I could skip the commercials and finish on time. The seven-second "instant replay" button is GREAT when you run into one of those, "what did he say?" situations. The only problem with using it so much is that I keep reaching for it on the radio in the car!
I now have a 5040 and it is even better! Skipping commercials 30 seconds at a time was easy, but the 5040 skips them for you automatically! Granted, it is not 100% accurate but for me it runs about 85-90%. It doesn't take long to get accustomed to seeing a program fade to black for commercial then fade back up on the program!
Give it a try . . . believe me, in just a couple of weeks, you'll wonder how you ever watched TV without it!
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on January 8, 2003
The swooshing air and sci-fi sound of their on-hold music is very familiar to me. I purchased this system as a gift. The first time it had been returned and the system would not allow setup. That was returned. The second time there was a modem problem. I sat on hold for a minimum of 8 hours during the course of 4-5 phone calls. This is not an exagerration. The customer service representatives could not answer the questions, had trouble communicating effictively, and were, at times, rude. Ultimately, they promised to call us back in 24 hours with an answer. This was 2 weeks ago. No phone call yet. Numerous emails to their customer support staff also have gone unanswered. Customer service representatives acknowledge that a complaint department exists but refused to give a phone number, email address or mailing address.
Does the system work? Perhaps, but I will never know because I will never again purchase any device manufactured by the SONICBlue company. Very rarely do you need customer service with the availability of online help services, but sometimes that occasion rears its ugly head. If this happens to you, don't expect any support from these people.
Ultimately, it all boiled down to a yes/no question. They never answered it. Emails remain unanswered, phone calls remain unreturned. These people are unprofessional and ill-prepared. Purchase something else.
-William Kline
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 15, 2003
I am disappointed with the unit. It has several glaring problems. The most notable is that the fan on the unit runs all the time. And it is not quiet. We have it in our bedroom and even inside an amoire with the doors closed I can hear it. It is really loud with the doors open. This is with the unit off and hard drive spun down! I fail to see the wisdom in this. Second, there is a USB 1.1 port specified on the specs on the web site. This is a lie. There is no USB port on the machine. There is a USB jack that is dead. Their excuse is that it is basically a future port. I wasted fifty bucks on a USB wireless adapter to connect the machine wirelessly to my home network. Finally, it is slower than my old Panasonic Showstopper 2000 at loading channels. Otherwise I am pleased with the features. But these are GLARING PROBLEMS. Be advised. Do your research
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