Philips DVDR3350H Information
I recently purchased a Philips HTS5800H system on ebay which includes the DVDR3350H dvd recorder with an 80HDD. I discovered a lot of things about this DVR during the short time that I had it and I am reporting here for others. Iâ€™ve got good news, bad news and possible really good news.
The first thing I noticed was that it seemed to be very well built and solid. After I set it up and ran the channel scan it appeared to only pick up channels 2-13. I recorded a couple of shows and the first one had no audio. I copied the good one to DVD and it acted funny on FF on other players. Pressing FF once showed the typical x2 on the screen and worked fine. Hitting it again raced through the recording by chapter (5 minutes) which ended the playpback in a few seconds. I have several players and it did it on all of them. I decided to upgrade the firmware to see if it would take care of these problems.
Hereâ€™s info on the firmware process:
To display the firmware version go the setup screen then press â€œ3â€ â€œ2â€ â€œ1â€ and â€œselectâ€ (the actual button not to be confused with â€œOKâ€ or â€œenterâ€). My version was 18.06 and the loader(DVD) version was 43.03.10. It also shows the region code here which was preset to 1.
To reset the region code, exit the setup screen and with no DVD in the tray press the â€œDVDâ€ button and then the numbers 0086000 (the last zero sets to region free). Shut off unit and power up again. Redisplay the firmware screen to check. Mine displayed something like 0xF. I didnâ€™t test if it works because everthing I own is region code 1.
Download the firmware from www.philips.com/usasupport and review the instructions on the site. The latest version is 18.10 and there are 3 files that have to be loaded separately (the last one is for the loader/DVDROM). It says you can use CD-RW but this didnâ€™t work for me. I tried several times and each time it froze the unit and I had to unplug it. Stick with finalized CD-Râ€™s. I used NERO to burn since it has all the options mentioned in the instructions.
Side notes: when it automatically powers down the tray stays open and nothing happens for a minute or two. This is normal. You will NOT be prompted for the last disk, it installs as a standalone.
After installation I rescanned the channels and it picked up all the channels that it was suppose to. I directly recorded twice and the audio was there but later I recorded two shows via the timer and again the first one had no audio. I didnâ€™t experience the problem after that so it may just be a glitch in the software. Iâ€™d be interested in knowing if this happens for others. I moved a good recording to DVD and ran into the same FF problem on two units but it worked OK on the other two. This is when I decided to contact tech support.
Donâ€™t try their online support system, thereâ€™s nobody monitoring it. All I ever got was automated responses telling me to check out their FAQ and questions/answers area. Youâ€™ll find similar info in the manual. I called them directly and explained the problem (1-888-744-5477). They asked for the serial number and said that no information was showing up because the warranty wasnâ€™t activated. Then they said if I sent them a copy of the receipt they would review it. I told them I just bought it on ebay and they said to send/forward the e-mail receipt and call back in a couple of days.
In testing the machine further I ran into a major show stopper. Screen navigation on the setup and timer screens was a major problem. It was getting â€œstuckâ€ when trying to scroll down or to the right. I tried several things like unplugging, reinstalling etc. and it was very inconsistent. Sometimes it would work, but most of the time it didnâ€™t. Other issues:
1) The time shift buffer is always on and thereâ€™s no way to turn it off. This means itâ€™s always recording when youâ€™re in tuner mode (which it defaults to every time itâ€™s turned on). It writes to a reserved area on the disk and I canâ€™t imagine itâ€™s good for the longevity of the drive.
2) The display of the time buffer information shows up every time you change channel or press play on a recorded program on the hard drive. This means it shows up A LOT, and it appears for up to 20 seconds. This information screen takes up almost a third of the entire screen. You can remove this display each time manually by pressing the info button twice, but itâ€™s really annoying.
3) You cannot copy from DVD to HDD. This could be a big show stopper for some people.
4) Erasing a disk problem. Sometimes the option was enabled in the setup menu, sometimes it wasnâ€™t. I eventually learned that you must be in tuner mode before going into the setup screen (odd!). You can also erase a single recording from the DVD menu by pressing the â€œrightâ€ button on the title, but that only works if it was originally recorded on this machine. Hereâ€™s a weird solution if you run into the erase problem. Press the â€œDVD Recâ€ button. The display screen shows status â€œinitializingâ€ and then â€œstopâ€, and then you have the option of selecting the recording mode. Press â€œsetupâ€ and the erase DVD option should be enabled.
5) Front panel display. When on, thereâ€™s a large blue LED circle thatâ€™s very bright. When recording thereâ€™s another one thatâ€™s red. This can be annoying to some, cool to others. The display of chapter and time are too close together, making it hard to read because it looks like one large number when youâ€™re playing back something longer than 1 hour.
6) You cannot merge titles together.
7) For some reason there is an issue of short recordings being unable to play on other players (<5 minutes HQ, <10 minutes SP, etc.) This is mentioned in the manual (page 70).
8) The Remote. Rather flimsy, you can feel the upper and lower halves â€œsquishâ€ together when squezzing it. The FF/Next Chapter and Rewind/Prev Chapter options share the same buttons. Press the >> button once quickly and it advances by chapter. Hold it down and it will FFx2. Hold down again to get FFx4, etc. MAJOR design flaw. The important thing here is that you canâ€™t even fix this problem with a universal remote.
Well, after all this testing I called the support line again. To my complete shock they activated the warranty for a period of 1 year. Iâ€™m guessing itâ€™s because it was never registered. I explained the screen navigation issue and they agreed it was defective and said they would replace it with the same model if they had it in stock. If not, they would call and check before sending an upgraded model. They said they would send it out immediately and that I just need to return my unit in the same box as the replacement by applying the pre-paid postage label and then calling to schedule a pick-up. WOW! Now THATâ€™S customer service!
Since it was defective and I was going to return it, I decided to open up the unit and investigate (there was no warning/protective sticker on it).
Both the hard drive and DVDROM use standard IDE (40 pin) computer type connections. The HD was a Western Digital (80gb) and the DVDRom was labeled as a Philips without the model number. It has a normal PC type casing with the front basil and tray cover removed. Replacing this burner should be very easy. When I connected it to my laptop (using USB/IDE widget) the Nero Info Tool reported it as model# E143838. I wasnâ€™t able to find any info on this. I then connected to the hard drive and it didnâ€™t show up as being recognized (running Vista). Disk Manager showed it being mounted with the file system being â€œunknownâ€. There was no new E: drive showing up in explorer so I donâ€™t know what file structure Philips uses.
How to upgrade/replace the hard drive in the Philips DVDR3350H:
I disconnected the hard drive and reattached with a Seagate 160Gb and started up the machine. It flashed â€œPhilipsâ€ for a while and then appeared to hang. Eventually, the DVD tray opened. At this point it appears â€œstuckâ€ accepting no input commands and closing the tray will only cause it to open again a couple minutes later. The second firmware disk is what you want to put in here (the large file 3350H_37H.CUB) as it acts like a boot cd, getting you into the system temporarily. Once there you can erase/format the drive in the setup menu. After erasing you need to reload the firmware again (the 3rd disk for the loader is not necessary). Insert disk #1 and install as normal.
After the install the HDD info screen in the setup menu showed 160gb. I tested this by recording well past the 80gb point to make sure that it was going to allow it and it works fine. Youâ€™ll probably be able to upgrade this model to at least 500gb without the use of a computer. Mounting the HDD is very easy, just remove the mounting plate from the old drive and put it on the new one.
1) You can watch a recorded program on the HD or DVD while it is recording another show.
2) The video/audio quality is very good.
3) You can pre-name a title in the timer (i.e. set up timer to record 60 minutes every Sunday and the title will always be named â€œ60 Minutesâ€ ).
4) The unit seems to be very well constructed, good quality.
Four days after talking to Philips support there was a package on my doorstep. I never got called so I was guesssing that they sent the same model. SHOCK! They sent a DVDR3575H instead. These are selling for well over $200 on ebay. It has a 160gb drive, a digital/analog/qam tuner and itâ€™s 1080p with HDMI output. Because of the qam tuner Iâ€™m able to pickup all the extended cable channels from the cable company. What a deal!
When I spoke to support again they said they didnâ€™t have any 3350â€™s in stock. Iâ€™ll do another write-up on the 3575 later, but I will say that they got rid of the time shift buffer concept. Time Shift is available on demand via the remote, which is where it should be.
So, the possible really goods news is that the 3350 may be warrantied by Philips. You should call them as soon as you get it. They will need the serial number which is located on the bottom of the unit or on the registration card. When they log your call they should give you a reference number. Forward the ebay receipt to PHILIPS@CA.IBM.COM and put the reference number in the topic field along with â€œwarranty activationâ€ and call them back a couple of days later to find out if they put it on warranty. If your unit is defected maybe youâ€™ll end up with a better unit like I did. Note: the more units that are sent back raises the odds that youâ€™ll get the same model back again unless theyâ€™re are not even trying to fix them. At the very least youâ€™ll end up with a working unit and you wonâ€™t have to pay anything for shipping. If you do end up getting an upgrade make sure they include the remote at the same time if possible. Itâ€™s been over a week and Iâ€™m still waiting for mine.
Side note: The digital receiver that came in the package deal (HTS5800H) is excellent. It has itâ€™s own remote which is a good thing if you end up with another DVR. This remote has some DVD functions on it and it's supposed to work with Philips DVD players but it did not work with either DVR. The speakers are good quality but wonâ€™t blow you away, especially the subwoofer.