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Old 11-09-2005, 01:30 PM   #1 (Print)
ebonovic
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A Review of the R15

---------
The Setup:
This is the general setup for the testing enviornment, unless noted otherwise...

Dish:
Phase-III sent to a combination of 4 spliters, which feed two 4x8 multiswitches.

TV:
Simple 26" TV at first (I will eventauly try it on the Plasma, but.... can't do it now)

Video and Image Captures:
Via a Sony TRV-20 MINI-DV camcorder.
I plan to just record everything going on via the Analog outputs..
I am capturing them via Pinnacle and then stills generated from Virtual Dub.
Most video streams will be DiVX encoded, or MPEG-1

----
While doing this review... found out a nice "limitation" of the forum software... You are only allowed so many IMG tags... ... Now I know...

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Last edited by ebonovic : 11-10-2005 at 01:49 AM.
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Old 11-09-2005, 01:31 PM   #2 (Print)
ebonovic
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Some Thank You's

First:
Thank you to Robert at ValueElectronics (www.valueelectronics.com)
For obtaining this unit, hot of the truck and getting it out...
Here's to hoping the review does your effort to both me and the forum, justice.

Second:
Doug (DSWALLOW), Dan Collins, and Bill (Billy66) for offering web hosting space.
I hope not to over tax your servers with video, images, and other things...
But without their help... This review would just be plain text...
as my hosting sites maxed out pretty quickly when doing the R10 review.

Thirdly:
You the forum... I have been around this place now for nearly 5 years...
I have learned alot, been corrected a lot, and hopefuly returned the knowledge the best I could.
And for what ever reason, you all have been waiting for this....
And paritally using it to spend YOUR money on... So, I hope to offer the best I can.
This also includes the mods, for letting me post something that is going to cause their servers to go bonkers for a few days...

Lastly:
My family, and my wife in particular.
She has no idea on what it means to me, that I can do these sorts of things...
And what impact it does to her... Hey hon... The DVR has been changed... time to learn a new one..
So thanks to them... *** sniff ***

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Last edited by ebonovic : 11-09-2005 at 03:49 PM. Reason: Added Content
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Old 11-09-2005, 01:32 PM   #3 (Print)
ebonovic
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The insides and outsides

Well.... Here We go...

The outerbox:

Small Size Image
Full Size Image

The Front Of the Box:

Small Size Image
Full Size Image

The Front USB Port:
Small Size Image
Full Size Image

The Front Access Card Slot:
Small Size Image
Full Size Image

The Front Contol Center:
Small Size Image
Full Size Image

The Back:

Small Size Image
Full Size Image

The Back Connectors:
Small Size Image
Full Size Image

The Back Power/Fan:
Small Size Image
Full Size Image

The Inside:

Small Size Image
Full Size Image

The Inside HDD:
Small Size Image
Full Size Image

The Inside Power Supply:
Small Size Image
Full Size Image

The Inside Connectors:
Small Size Image
Full Size Image

The Inside Front:
Small Size Image
Full Size Image

The Accessory Bag:
Small Size Image
Full Size Image

The Access Card:
Small Size Image
Full Size Image

-----------------------
Comments:
-----------------------

The R15 is "built" with higher quality then the R10.
When reviewing the R10, it was thin sheet metal, self taping screws, and just felt cheap.
The R15... Solid... Standard computer case screws (5 of them), easy to remove top (real easy).
Weight just feels right for this component too...

HDD: Segate 160gb Hard Drive...
For kicks, I tried to RMA it... just like the R10.. These are OEM drives, and they won't let you RMA them.
There doesn't appear any room to "add" a second hard drive... even with an elaborate bracket.. but I will leave that to the upgrade people.

There is an RF Antenna port... BUT.. There was no RF Antenna in the accessory bag, and the remote given is the standard DTV IR remote (with generic "Duracell clones")

Access card is a new one.. I have not seen this one before.. Has the "Rethink TV logo on it. There is no indicator of what type of card it is...

If you can't tell from the pictures, the input F-RG6 ports are all color coded... So that will help you help others with installs.

The power supply cord is a Triangle design, looks just like the one from the R10.

Well that is about it for the insides and outsides...
Time to go fire it up...

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Last edited by ebonovic : 11-11-2005 at 09:35 AM.
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Old 11-09-2005, 01:32 PM   #4 (Print)
ebonovic
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Initial Setup

Setup

Just Like TiVo
As soon as you plug the power in, the unit starts to fire up.
I would show you some of the first few screens but.....

First Surprise.... Copy protection, right out of the gate
My camcorder stoped recording... Why: On the LCD display of my camcorder: COPY INHIBIT
I have this connected via the Analog outputs... I guess the Macrovision kicks in, even with the startup screens...
First time in 5 years of capturing video with that camera, I saw that message...
Oh well...

Guide Setup...
Nearly identical to DTivo setup... Here are the screen shots:
Screen 01 - Pick Language
Screen 02 - General Information
Screen 03 - General Information
Screen 04 - Dish Type Selection
Screen 05 - Zip Code Selection
Screen 06 - Point Dish
Screen 07 - Dish Checklist
Screen 08 - All Transponder Signal List
Screen 09 - BAR Style Transponder Strenght
Screen 10 - Transponder List for a different SAT
Screen 11 - Setup Confirmed
Screen 12 - Downloading Advanced Program Guide Data
Screen 13 - Completed


Standard stuff...
The transponder check screen was pretty cool. It rolled through all the transponders and listed all the strength. You could menu click to the next screen, instead of waiting for them.
The Advanced Guide Data download, took about 2 minutes.

NO PHONE CALL DURING SETUP... IN FACT, NO PHONE CALL AT ALL AS OF THIS WRITING

------------------------------

Another Surpirse
While I was seting up my remote (see below)...
The UNIT abrubtly shut off... Scared me half to wits as my TV jumped to a snow screen, before it knocked out the sound.
I though the unit had died (it is plugged into a UPS)...
No warning, no menu option, no nothing... JUST BOOM----------

Software Update
Downloading Software.... please wait.
New Software Found: 1/1/20 55/0003/1044/01/0119

Here is a picture, the VIDEO capture didn't work as for the same reason above: Copy prohibited
Download Picture: Small
Download Picture: Full


The software download took about 5-10 minutes to complete.

Once it was done:
You have to repeate Guided Setup...
Without any phone calls, it takes about 3 minute tops to do the guided setup... So that is not so bad.


Remote Setup:
Remote Screen Shot

It is a scroll through to find your code method...
One tip... Going with the navigation buttons, it takes for ever.
After trying a few things, I found that the Channel Up and Down will scroll and entire page.

To set the code: Typical Universal remote: Hold Mute, Select... Blink Blink; 5 digit code... you are done.

Activation
Note to DirecTV: If you are reading this... Please put an option into your phone menu... "If you are activating equipment, press #"

Called DirecTV..
Talked to Travis (the first time)...
Earl: I would like to activate a new reciever...
Travis: Is this a replacement, or an addition
Earl: Addition
Travis/Earl: Access Card... Serial #.... RID....
Travis: Model
Earl: R15
Traivs: OOOOOOHHHH That is one of the new ones... they are really nice, I want one..
[/Pickup tounge from floor.... was not expecting that]

Activated... Got the channels... Hung Up.
Started to play with the unit... DVR Services not active.
Waited for about 5 minutes, called back...

The person on the phone (couldn't remember his name).
He removed the reciever and re-activated it... worked fine after that.
OnLine bill reads: DirecTV_DVRService_TIVO

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Last edited by ebonovic : 11-10-2005 at 12:29 AM.
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Old 11-09-2005, 01:33 PM   #5 (Print)
ebonovic
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General Usage

First impressions.....
This is not your mother's TiVo...
It is VERY different, from a GUI point of view...

Over all GUI
The "Cartoony" interface that people gave TiVo a bad rap for, is gone.
There is a VERY faint "dong" when you do something wrong in the GUI. Other than that, there is no audio feedback.
You just here the program that is playing on the active tuner.

The GUI is very "textual" in it's look... It is White on Blue, and I have not found a menu option to change it.

The Guide
See Scheduler for Screen shots and some more details. I will eventually post a video file.

Well... you want to know... It is faster, kinda.
If you want scroll up and down amongst the channels, it is definently faster...
But left to right... (changing the time window), it is not all that fast, and very similar to the R10.

One thing to note: When you push the GUIDE Button, you are taken first to a Filter Selection Screen
First Screen after Guide Button Click
Then after you select your filter, you go to the Guide.

There are some modes in the Guide, that I haven't screen shotted yet... but it will return lists of programs in a vertical column.

Guide does have a Red and Green button option to jump + or - 12 hours


Menu and GUI Hangups
The GUI does HANG a bit...
not as much as the DTivos do, but they do hang...
(I mean hang, but doesn't look like it is responding to the remote)

RW/FF/Playback
For a screen shot, see the latest DTV-DVR commercial
I will provide some in the next few days with a video file as well.....

There are 4 RW/FF increments, 4X seems to be nearly a 3 minute jump every second it is activated.
Have figured out the others yet. There is a slight auto-rollback like the TiVos, but I haven't pinpointed it exact increment yet.

In general, the RW/FF motion is not as smooth as the DTivos. For now, I am going reserve final judgement till after the unit has been on for a few days.

While in RW/FF mode, the "Center Eye" of the front panel, rotates in the direction you are going... CounterClockwise for RW and Clockwise for FF. And it's rotation speed changes based on what X speed you are going at.


OFF Buttons
There is an OFF button... Both on the Remote and the face of the unit.
It appears to be identical to the old STANDBY button.
Recordings continue, and so does the LIVE buffer.


Channels you recieve

You have three options:
All Channels (which you can't adjust),
Custom 1
Custom 2
In Custom 1 & 2, you can select your channels that you want to see in your guide...

MIX Channels
Kid MIX Channel
The newer MIX channels work as advertised....
Kinda intresting, but good to know that they work.

Record 2 and Play A Previously Recorded
Yes.. It does work

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Last edited by ebonovic : 11-10-2005 at 05:30 PM.
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Old 11-09-2005, 01:34 PM   #6 (Print)
ebonovic
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Scheduling and Conflict Management

The Scheduler:

Setting Up a Season Pass:
There are two ways:
Quick way: In the Guide, hit the R button once for a single record. Hit it twice for a "automatic" recording.
Single Click first program
Single Click 2nd program

Longer and more detail way:
From the guide, hit the INFO button when you are on the program you want.
There is a RECORD option on the left. Navigate and select it.
When there you can select your record option... but there are TWO TABS for the recording options.
The first tab is just the How Long To Keep, and start and end adjustments.
First/Default Record Screen

There is a second tab.. (You can get to it via the navigation control, or hit the RED or GREEN button to toggle)
In the second tab, you can chose two more options: First Run/Rerun/All And Keep 1,2,3,4,5,All episodes
Extended Record Option Screen

Conflict management:
Well this is a nice feature... When you have a conflict when scheduling a recording, you get a choice of which other recording to cancel...
Cancel #1 or Cancel #2
Conflict Selector
I don't have a screen image for this, but if you have a show that has a 2nd erroring, it will give a 4th option, to "Record next available showing"

Change Channel Warnings
Change Channel

If you have TWO scheduled recordings at one time...
5 Minutes prior to the recordings to start, you will get the dialog box asking if it is okay to change the channel for the recording.
If you hit OKAY... IT IMMEDIATELY changes the channel on the LIVE TV buffer.

This does not occur when you only have 1 recording scheduled.
I do still need to test, when I have 1 recording ACTIVE, and 1 recording scheduled for the next slot.

Menu To Get To Schedule Items
Quick Menu

To Do List and History
There is a To Do List and History, just like there is in the TiVo products
ToDo List
History

Prioritizing
Prioritizing Screen
At this point it appears all new "Automatic" recordings, default to the #1 prioritzation slot.
Luckly, you can re-prioritize them... And it moves VERY quickly. There was no "Please Wait" dialogs.
But then again, at the time of this test... I only had 4 "ARs"

Padding Options
NO reverse padding: aka.. NO start late, or End Early options
Standard pads: 1,5, 10, 15, 30, 60, 90, 180 adjustments

Find By Title
Find By Title
After find a show, it is about three clicks to get to the point where you can setup an "Automatic Recording"

Find By Keyword/Person/Channel
So far I have only tried BY Keyword...
It works very similar to Wishlists... One difference, you can only select 1 Category for the program (Such as Age->Children)... With TiVos you where able to have 2 Categories (Age-Children & ShowType->Series)

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Last edited by ebonovic : 11-10-2005 at 07:37 AM.
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Old 11-09-2005, 09:44 PM   #7 (Print)
DesignDawg
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ebonovic
First impressions.....

This is not your mother's TiVo... It is VERY different, from a GUI point of view...

THANK. GOD.
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Old 11-10-2005, 06:39 PM   #8 (Print)
GAM
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Earl, did you find a way to bypass the filter when you go to the guide?
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Old 11-11-2005, 03:25 PM   #9 (Print)
drewmotz
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Quote:
[
Channels you recieve

You have three options:
All Channels (which you can't adjust),
Custom 1
Custom 2
In Custom 1 & 2, you can select your channels that you want to see in your guide...



Here you indicate three list options with the "All channels" list not being adjustable. Custom 1 and 2 list can be adjusted..., I presume only manually adjusted, or is there an automatic "only channels I receive" search function provided? Would be nice if it was.

Does this also mean that either the the Custom 1 or Custom 2 list, (whichever is selected) becomes the "Channels I Receive" lists where only these are searched through for wishlists programs etc?

Isn't there a "Favorites" type list that only affects what channels appear in the guide, but not the channels that are searched through?
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Old 11-10-2005, 02:31 AM   #10 (Print)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ebonovic
First Surprise.... Copy protection, right out of the gate
My camcorder stoped recording... Why: On the LCD display of my camcorder: COPY INHIBIT
I have this connected via the Analog outputs... I guess the Macrovision kicks in, even with the startup screens...


No sale here.

I bet the price of used DirecTiVo's on ebay skyrockets.

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Old 11-10-2005, 02:32 AM   #11 (Print)
DesignDawg
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arcady
No sale here.

I bet the price of used DirecTiVo's on ebay skyrockets.

I'll take that action any day of the week. Plummets, I say.
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Old 11-10-2005, 08:09 AM   #12 (Print)
lorick
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I really hope you will be able to just "drop in" a new hard drive as mentioned in another thread. Expanding the drive size is an important "feature" in my mind.

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Old 11-10-2005, 10:40 AM   #13 (Print)
Kevin L
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arcady
No sale here.

I bet the price of used DirecTiVo's on ebay skyrockets.
Why?? How much you want to bet?

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Old 11-10-2005, 09:25 AM   #14 (Print)
eengert
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ebonovic
NO PHONE CALL DURING SETUP... IN FACT, NO PHONE CALL AT ALL AS OF THIS WRITING



SWEET! Landlineless people rejoice! No trips to the neighbors.
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Old 11-10-2005, 12:43 PM   #15 (Print)
BobCamp1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eengert
SWEET! Landlineless people rejoice! No trips to the neighbors.


That right there is probably the most important feature for me. I'm stuck with landline because my Tivo won't make it's call over VoIP. I could easily save more than $5/month by switching to VoIP, which would cover the DVR's monthly service fee.
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Old 11-11-2005, 12:24 PM   #16 (Print)
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Exclamation Land Line or Not?

Quote:
Originally Posted by eengert
SWEET! Landlineless people rejoice! No trips to the neighbors.


On page 8 item 11 of the manual it states "PHONE – Connects the DIRECTV Plus Receiver to a telephone wall jack. We require a landbased
telephone connection to communicate periodically with your DIRECTV Plus Receiver."
Do you think this is the same reason a DirecTivo is required to have a land line?

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Old 11-11-2005, 07:13 PM   #17 (Print)
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Fm Earl's review:
Another Surpirse
While I was seting up my remote (see below)...
The UNIT abrubtly shut off... Scared me half to wits as my TV jumped to a snow screen, before it knocked out the sound.
I though the unit had died (it is plugged into a UPS)...
No warning, no menu option, no nothing... JUST BOOM----------

Software Update
Downloading Software.... please wait.
New Software Found: 1/1/20 55/0003/1044/01/0119




Mine is doing the same thing right now.........says new software found.......downloading.
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Old 11-16-2005, 08:45 PM   #18 (Print)
gregstud
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ebonovic
Setup

First Surprise.... Copy protection, right out of the gate
My camcorder stoped recording... Why: On the LCD display of my camcorder: COPY INHIBIT
I have this connected via the Analog outputs... I guess the Macrovision kicks in, even with the startup screens...
First time in 5 years of capturing video with that camera, I saw that message...
Oh well...


Thanks for the review Earl!

Hmmm...this is NOT a good sign. Have you tried any other copying devices (such as a DVD-recorder)? Not that I think the result will be different...but just checking. I like to record a lot of stuff to DVD (especially NFL games, etc... things that will undoubtedly NEVER make it to DVD unedited). This will make me think twice about getting an R15 vs. modding an older D*Tivo. I'm NOT a die-hard "must have a Tivo DVR" person...but being able to record shows to DVD is a major factor for me...
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Old 11-16-2005, 08:59 PM   #19 (Print)
Billy66
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gregstud
Thanks for the review Earl!

Hmmm...this is NOT a good sign. Have you tried any other copying devices (such as a DVD-recorder)? Not that I think the result will be different...but just checking. I like to record a lot of stuff to DVD (especially NFL games, etc... things that will undoubtedly NEVER make it to DVD unedited). This will make me think twice about getting an R15 vs. modding an older D*Tivo. I'm NOT a die-hard "must have a Tivo DVR" person...but being able to record shows to DVD is a major factor for me...


gregstud,

Your TiVo also respects Macrovision flags so that's not really at issue. The only place Earl has thus far encountered any MV flags was on the unit startup for some odd reason. If a show is flagged, the same thing will happen using your TiVo as the R15.

Just wanted to clarify that they are using the exact same copy protection schemes and if your recording device respects them then content flagged will not record.

Hope that helped.
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Old 11-17-2005, 06:32 AM   #20 (Print)
crunchmunch
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ebonovic
Setup

First Surprise.... Copy protection, right out of the gate
My camcorder stoped recording... Why: On the LCD display of my camcorder: COPY INHIBIT
I have this connected via the Analog outputs... I guess the Macrovision kicks in, even with the startup screens...
First time in 5 years of capturing video with that camera, I saw that message...
Oh well...


Does that mean you cannot save recordings to VCR/DVD? If this is the case, that would be a major limitation. BTW, special thanks for the review.
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Old 11-17-2005, 09:09 PM   #21 (Print)
sbmellen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ebonovic
NO PHONE CALL DURING SETUP... IN FACT, NO PHONE CALL AT ALL AS OF THIS WRITING


Hi, is this still the case with your pilot test of the R15 DirecTv DVR? I ask, because I have a DirecTv installer coming out to my house tomorrow and I have no land phone line.

Please tell me it will initialize and work OK without the phone line (convincing the installer is another thing, I suppose)!

When I got my standard DirecTv receiver over a year and a half ago, no phone line hook-up was ever needed and it has lived its happy little life without being connected to Ma Bell's evil little copper lines.

Thanks for your diligent work on testing out the R15!

Stephen
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Old 11-17-2005, 09:42 PM   #22 (Print)
eengert
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sbmellen
Hi, is this still the case with your pilot test of the R15 DirecTv DVR? I ask, because I have a DirecTv installer coming out to my house tomorrow and I have no land phone line.

Please tell me it will initialize and work OK without the phone line (convincing the installer is another thing, I suppose)!

When I got my standard DirecTv receiver over a year and a half ago, no phone line hook-up was ever needed and it has lived its happy little life without being connected to Ma Bell's evil little copper lines.

Thanks for your diligent work on testing out the R15!

Stephen



It will work fine without a phone line connected. I don't have a landline phone and was able to activate the receiver and DVR functions no problem.
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Old 11-11-2005, 02:38 AM   #23 (Print)
Joe Siegler
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ebonovic


FYI..

The first image link here is broken. Just getting into the review now.

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Old 11-11-2005, 09:35 AM   #24 (Print)
ebonovic
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Siegler
FYI..

The first image link here is broken. Just getting into the review now.


Thanks... Fixed that...

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Old 11-09-2005, 03:03 PM   #25 (Print)
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Hey newbie question here. And I mean this in sincerity, not smartassishness. How did Earl get to be top dog on all these initial runs of new products? I haven't followed his history enough to know the answer to that and was just curious if he had a relative or something like that?

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Old 11-09-2005, 03:31 PM   #26 (Print)
jdk
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Earl volunteered to become the unoffical "first reviewer" of the R15. After his nice review of the R10, he arranged with Robert of VE to get one of the first ones shipped out overnight.

But if anyone else odered one with overnight shipping, and can get their review online before 7PM CST, they can claim the title of "actual first review".
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Old 11-09-2005, 03:34 PM   #27 (Print)
jrinck
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While I am interested in hearing EVERYONE's opinions regarding the R15, I know that I'll be getting an in-depth and top notch analysis from Earl. I've been looking forward to his review of this for a very long time now.

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Old 11-09-2005, 06:19 PM   #28 (Print)
csigrissum
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jrinck
While I am interested in hearing EVERYONE's opinions regarding the R15, I know that I'll be getting an in-depth and top notch analysis from Earl. I've been looking forward to his review of this for a very long time now.



AMEN

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Old 11-09-2005, 06:24 PM   #29 (Print)
RS4
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Do ya s'pose he's home yet?
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Old 11-09-2005, 03:35 PM   #30 (Print)
ebonovic
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I don't know how... but I guess it just happened.
I purchased a Zenith SAT-520 (don't quote me on the model) from Robert about 2.5 years ago. And I had such a good transaction, I continued a lot of buisness with VE.

About a year ago now, Robert asked if I would like to do a review on the R10... Since they day I heard about them, I asked when they would be available.... So I did the review on it...

When the R15 was announced, it was almost like cross mail... Robert asking if I wanted to do another review, and me asking when I can order it.

Over the past few months or so, by the graces of this forum (and other forums... yikes)... some how some way, "The Review" has been talked about for a while.
I guess people liked the "Review" of the R10 (not necessary the results, but at least the contents)...

Anyone is more then welcome to do a review on it, and I am not trying to "Jockey in " for position or anything... Just right place, right time.... I hope my luck continues with the H20 and the HMC....

I also try to keep a fair mind about it to... as I am "love" with DVRing... not necessary TiVo persay.

And for the record: I wasn't the first to "review the R10"... other had it before me, and posted about it. And If I am not the first to get the R15 review done... so be it, but I still am going to do it...

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