Being part of a household that watches approximately an hour of television a week, at most, I’ve mostly ignored all the shiny new Australian digital TV channels showing the same old crud with the same overbearing ads and deliberate schedule slippage to render any recordings unusable. In the words of the TV executive, “We’re not in the business of letting people not watch ads.”

All of a sudden a deadline emerged, mid-July, the Tour de France, this year SBS will be broadcasting their coverage on SBS2 — their digital channel. Much head-scratching occurred, reviews were perused, some catalogues were read. What do we want? We’ve got a wide-screen TV, albeit CRT, but the venerable still does the job. A digital receiver, yes. A hard-disk recorder, yes. Access on the home network? Backup copies of our other data? Photo store?

The LaCie cinema looked attractive, certainly physically attractive, but very expensive and reviews tend to indicate that they’ve got noisy fans. Back to the studying of the literature….

DViCO TVIX HD M-6500A, what a mouthful of letters and numbers, but the specs looked OK, the reviews sound good, the price seemed reasonable. Thank you Mr Rudd, I’ll be spending that stimulus of yours, yet more money flowing from Australia to Asia, Korea this time, http://www.tvix.co.kr/ to be exact. EYO technologies in Sydney helped lighten my wallet, no less than three progress emails to tell me the steps my order was taking along the way and then 24 hours later the box is at the door.

First impressions? as always; the good, the bad and the ugly.

Neither good, bad nor ugly, but to quote the immortal words — as the actress said to the bishop — “Its a lot smaller than I expected.” It looked physically bigger in the images and I lazily didn’t measure out the dimensions that it said on the brochure.

Neither the hard disk nor the HD tuner was installed in the main unit, but installation is dead simple and they slot together without screws or any other fasteners. So far so good….

The HDTV receiver was trivially easy to setup, the display rock-solid and far better than our analogue TV reception — and the antenna cable it is plugged into simply vanishes into the wall and I’ve no idea what on the roof it is attached to, or where the antenna points.

Manuals? As with most consumer electronics now you don’t get one, just a CD and you’re on your own to go and print the 68 pages yourself.

Now for the ugly, the on-screen display is woeful on our TV screen. I almost gave myself a headache navigating through the menus and setting the system up. Not sure if it just simply isn’t designed to work with an analogue TV — but if that’s the case then don’t sell it as something that is! The on-screen display of the TV itself is fine, as is the menus from the DVD/VCR and the old X-box, but with the 6500A you’d better have the manual in front of you to help guess what the words and numbers are.

The bad? Wifi support only with a third-party USB dongle plugged in the back — a dongle I haven’t got yet — and I couldn’t get the wired network to work. Connects easily enough as an external USB drive which let me transfer all this year’s photos, all my old scanned APS photos, and a handful of DivX videos for testing. The JPEG software simply cannot handle two-thirds of my photos, I’ve no idea if they’re too big, or if the EXIF and/or IPTC headers confuse it, but the majority of my photos simply display a black screen, timeout and move on to the next photo that simply displays a black screen. No problems viewing them on websites or under Windows, Mac OS or Linux, just on a media player that can’t display media….

To finish, I suspect that the user interface to setting up scheduled daily recordings is going to be difficult. Appears to be more of a media player with TV and recorder functionality tacked on over the top, and I’m starting to have my doubts….

Revisited:

  • : Watching the first recording of the prologue of Le Tour, all is well until we get to the first ad break. Press the fast-forward, 2x — then again — 4x, 8x… wait for the ad to pass, press Pause/Play and it jumps back to before the ad-break we’ve just fast-forwarded through! What the? Try again, this time the pause button won’t work until we’re well into the next part of the coverage, but once again play sends us back to before the ad-break!

    Trying other button combinations, the “Up” and “Down” arrows are meant to jump 15 seconds forwards and backwards, they show a graphic on the screen saying that this is what they’re doing, but they both jump about 5 minutes backwards through the coverage!

    The manual(s) are of absolutely no help, pathetic Engrish, and the only mention of the functions of the remote is “navigation buttons” with no indication of how to use them or what each button does.

    Come on, a this software isn’t even beta-test software, it DOES NOT WORK, this is not a commercially viable product!

    Summary: As a consumer product the DViCO TVIX HD M-6500A is unusable crap.

  • : OK, I’ve updated the firmware to 1.3.137 and things are a little bit better — but only a little. Instead of being totally unusable it is now only mostly irritating. Fast-forward now seems to go 2x, 8x, 32x and exiting from fast-forward to play usually goes to where it should — although it still sometimes leaps backwards five, ten or fifteen minutes! The up and down arrows still show the jump forwards/jump backwards graphics and this time they sometimes do what they say, although most of the time the forward button does nothing and the backwards one goes back more than the ten or fifteen seconds it says.

    Summary: As a consumer product the DViCO TVIX HD M-6500A is half-usable crap.