My husband and I love our Comcast Cable equipment and recently went on a mission to see if we could expand our storage on our DVR. We were successful in doing that, and my husband also found other interesting features that we are now using. Since the Fall TV shows are upon us, we thought that maybe others would be interested in our experience. Here are his words…
We recently upgraded my Comcast DVR to the Motorola DCX3400 series set top box. Our biggest issue with the DCH3416 DVR was the limited amount of storage for saving programs. We weren’t sure how much additional storage it had, only that it probably had more, so we went for it. I had Comcast mail me the box rather than try to get it from our local store. It came with the self installation start up instructions. It was easy enough to install and you have to call Comcast to activate the new cable box serial number. You have to make sure they deactivate your old serial number or else your new box won’t be recognized fully and you won’t be able to get On Demand.
We had a couple issues but got through them. The next thing you need to be aware of is that the online guide takes forever to download. I’m talking up to 48 hours to fully populate out to 10 days. While it is doing this we experienced a lot of lag time when using the remote and getting the DCX3400 to respond. Also we had a couple cases where the box locked up totally and wouldn’t respond to any commands from the remote and you couldn’t even press power off on the box. It had to be unplugged and start all over loading the guide. Once the guide loaded, things settled down and the lag time was much reduced and we had no more lock ups. My suspicion is that for a brand new, uninitialized box, Comcast is downloading not only the guide but upgrades to the software which is why it is so dismally slow and quirky the first couple days.
The good new is that the picture quality was great and we determined that the unit had a 320 GB hard drive. You can determine this from a number on the bottom of the DCX3400. It is a number like DCX3400 A385/000/320 where 320 is the size of the hard drive. I think the DCX3400 comes in 250 and 320 GB flavors and the DCX3400-M has a 500 GB hard drive.
We determined that with our 320 GB the rate of storage for HD programs was consistently running at 1% utilization for each 30 minutes of HD recording. This would result in about 50 hours of HD recording which was awesome compared to the 20 hours of HD we had before. After a couple weeks of using the DCX3400, the recording utilization remains consistent.
The next thing we were interested in was the 30-second fast forward feature which many folks had on their older light grey remotes. The DCX3400 we got came with a darker charcoal grey remote. People on the web were complaining that the old programming of the 30-second skip would not work on this remote. I researched many web sites and forums and finally used the instructions below which 100% definitely worked on the dark grey remote.
1) Select Aux button
2) Hold Setup – 2 flashes
3) Enter 01376 – 2 flashes
1) Select Aux button
2) Hold SETUP – 2 flashes
3) Type 994 – 2 flashes
4) Tap SETUP
5) Enter 00173
6) Tap CABLE, then the button you want to use (yellow triangle is good) – 2 flashes
Make sure you hit the CABLE button in step 6 before the triangle key.
Now, when you are playing a recording and hit the yellow triangle the recording will instantly skip 30 seconds forward. Its not like it fast forwards, it instantly jumps forward which will be super helpful skipping commercials.
If you were using the Aux for some other device, you will need to reprogram it for that device. I was not using the Aux for anything so I just followed the instructions. What I ran into was that when I hit the All On button, it would send two commands to the cable box so if I was turning everything off, the cable would turn off, the TV would turn off but then the Aux button would send a signal to the DVR again which turned it back on again.
I think that mucking with the Aux to program the 30-second skip, activates it in such a way that it now sends signals to the cable box whereas before it wouldn’t. The simple solution for this was to reprogram the Aux key to some valid device that I knew I didn’t have.
The next thing I wanted was the 15-second back feature. Again, I read all the information I could find on the web and saw one place that said you could follow the exact same instructions for the 30-second skip shown above but use code 00179 in step 5. I did not try this because by dumb luck I was able to determine that on my remote, the button to the left of the “MyDVR” button, which is a little circular arrow going counter clockwise, jumps back 15 seconds. Oddly enough, the documentation that came with the remote control clearly states that this button jumps back a few seconds. We never realized this, but it works and I confirmed that it jumps back 15 seconds.
My last and only issue, after two weeks of living with the DCX3400, is that there is a lag time between the remote and the box. Its not that the command is received and eventually responds. Its like the DVR doesn’t accept the IR signal for some reason. I have two identical DCX3400’s and remotes and I confirmed that both remotes behave the same, so its not the remote. The other thing is it varies greatly when the lags occur. Sometimes, the remote and DVR respond instantly to every command as fast as you can press the buttons. Other times its like molasses and you have to hit a key 5-6 times before it finally responds. I’ll say that it seems to lag mostly at night, during prime time, but I can’t say that it never lags during the day. It seems to be totally sporadic and random. I would really like to understand what is going on there.
Overall, having the additional space is well worth the hassle of intermittent lagging. I’m hoping at some point Comcast will upgrade the software in the box and fix this issue.