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ReplayTV RTV5532 320-Hour Digital Video Recorder

ReplayTV RTV5532 320-Hour Digital Video Recorder

List Price: $799.99
Your Price: $554.99
Product Info Reviews

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Rating: 3 stars
Summary: customer service is weak
works fine most of the time - customer service is poor though. our cable company changed channels a month ago and replay tv still hasn't updated their systems even after 2 emails to customer service, a phone call, and a fax....

Rating: 3 stars
Summary: 29 Days
Review: 29 Days.. that is how long our 80 hour replay tv unit lasted. Set it up on April 9 and on May 8th we came home to find it stuck on the 'Please wait one moment' screen. Since the 8th was a Saturday, ReplayTv's customer support was not open. After extensive research on the internet we believed the problem to be hard drive failure, and apparently fairly common. On Monday a call to ReplayTv's support group confirmed it was HD failure and we were told to return it to the point of purchase (Amazon.com in our case)

We had already signed up for the lifetime subscription. In order to get a refund you must submit to Replay proof that the item was sent back. Amazon's return system is automated, and since it was 1 day out of the 30 day return time (from waiting the weekend) I couldn't print the shipping label from the Amazon website. A call to amazon fixed that.. but the whole refund process took several weeks for both companies, numerous phone calls and was a huge hassle.

After having the unit for a month we were really hooked, and I can honestly say it changed the way we watched tv. It was great to be able to sit down and watch the things we enjoyed, without being subject to what was on at the moment. So when it broke, it was very frustrating to not only be without the unit, but to have lost all of the shows that were on the drive.

Outside of this problem we had some difficulties setting the unit up, that to this day we still don't know what the problem was. Calling customer support was of no help. They were clearly going through a script, that had no relationship to the problem we were having.

Once up and running, we found it very easy to use and reliable, although the search function was limited. The best example I can think of is that a search for 'Law and Order' did not turn up all or even most instances - and there is no '&' on the onscreen keyboard. Searches must exactly match the title in the listing and keyword or partial matches are not possible.

We spent alot of time reviewing and comparing different units prior to making this purchase. Picture quality was very important - the picture on even the low and middle settings is very good. Also important too us was that Replay units have component video (and composite and S-video) where Tivo only has S-video and composite. Replay's have built in ethernet (you need to buy an adapter for Tivo), and until recently Tivo charged for the 'Home media option' which has always been free on Replay.

Personally, I was upset that the unit didn't even last 30 days and that this was a common problem. One that you can cure yourself by hacking it, but it voids the warranty, which I couldn't justify because the warranty wasn't up. Add to that the lousy customer service and their lousy hours. So we are going to try a Tivo unit.. the selling point for us being that for $150 they will replace the unit if it breaks after the warranty period, they have better support hours and the some of the user features are better. We will miss the component video though :)

Rating: 1 stars
Summary: minus 5 stars!
Review: As the title suggests, I am less than thrilled with my ReplayTV 5504. In fact, after just 35 days with the product I have terminated the $12.95/month Replay service agreement and am looking for a good guide on how to "hack" the Replay unit (so that it can be used as a standalone DVR). This is BY FAR the worst consumer electronic device I have ever owned. To give you a bit of context, most of my friends refer to me a an electronics "geek."

The first 5504 I bought on the Amazon site worked for about 3 weeks before it froze up and refused to come on. Because there are no external controls on the 5500 DVRs (other than the off/on switch -- which, by-the-way, is not a real off/on switch) all interaction with the unit is via the TV interface and remote unit (if the remote dies, your screwed). And since both the TV and remote interfaces are very poorly designed, it is almost impossible to figure out what's wrong with either unit when they malfunction. Note, it doesn't have to be this way! After all, the Replay is really just a PC in VCR clothing. It would be a simple matter to have added some diagnostic functionality to the embedded operating system it runs on.

After the 5504 stopped working I spent an hour on the phone to India. I knew the unit was kaput, but the tech insisted that we go through a series of bone-headed checks (none of which produced any result other than a blank screen). Finally the tech decided that I qualified for a new unit -- but here's the catch -- only if I agreed to gave him a credit card number, just in case I didn't return the broken unit. Well, it's now two weeks later and the new unit has finally arrived (they must have sent it via covered wagon). But after just two days this new unit has also started to malfunction -- at first refusing to pass-through the video signal from my cable to the TV and then eventually with the very annoying (and helpful) default Replay screen "Wait one moment..." (which turned out to be the longest moment in history). Needless to say, now twice burned I will not bother asking for a third 5504. As I said above, I have now canceled my Replay service and will now either try to make this thing work as a stand-alone DVR or if that doesn't work, I'll rip out the hard drive and use it in a computer.

ATTENTION -- note that unlike the TIVO the Replay 5500 series DVR WILL NOT work at all unless you subscribe to their service. So while the initial price of the 5504 is an enticing $149, the real price is closer to $450 when you factor in the $299 subscription service.

Rating: 1 stars
Summary: I wouldn't buy it again
Review: Before we bought our Replay TV we called and inquired about it before we decided to make the purchase. We asked the salesperson at Replay TV what the warranty on the product was. She told us it was one year. Ok that sounds good. Six months after we bought the unit and purchased the lifetime subscription our unit started malfunctioning. It began tying up our phone line so when someone would call us the phone would ring on their end and then go into a busy signal. It would never ring on our end. After a week fighting with our local telephone company we figured out the problem was with our Replay TV. We then noticed that it hadn't updated the channel guide in quite some time. We called and spoke to Replay TV on six different occasions. Only one person was helpful. We tried everything possible to remedy the situation on our end. We even did a factory restore. We were then told we would have to send the unit in for repair. No problem we're still under warranty, right? No, what the original salesperson failed to tell us was that the unit is only covered entirely for 90 days, the 1 year warranty is for parts. They tell us we have to send the unit in (in the original box) with all original material (cords, manual, etc.), the original receipt, and $49.99 for labor. If you don't have all the original stuff including box and receipt they charge you 15% of the unit price. Excuse me? The best part is they don't fix your actual unit, they send you a refurbished one. One that someone else sent in that they fix and send out to you. I have to pay $49.99 for this? When the saleslady misled me on the "1 year warranty"? I asked then if the year warranty would start back over then for this refurbished unit that they are sending me. Their answer: "Well no. Why would it?" First off they mislead you about the warranty, then they send you a refurbished unit (one that has had its own malfunctions that they "fixed"), and they expect you to pay $49.99 for all this and even more if you don't have all the original stuff? I don't know many people that would keep the box after 6 months. I know I don't have the receipt. This is totally ridiculous and they seem to think this is normal business practice that consumers should just accept. Well, I don't accept it and I don't accept the fact that no one at their call center speaks English. 5 out of the 6 people I spoke to at the call center couldn't understand me and I couldn't understand them. I realize that companies are moving their operations over seas, but don't they think their employees should be able to communicate with customers calling in with problems? I have spoken to friends who have a Replay TV and they have all had problems with their units as well. Out of the 5 people I know that have a Replay TV 5 of them have had problems with their unit. I don't think this is acceptable. I hope people take the time to read this and know what you're getting yourself into if you buy a Replay TV.

Rating: 1 stars
Summary: Support is horrible product does not work as advertised
Review: I am a networking professional. This box has serious issues with performance over a network. The technical support staff is the worst I have ever had the displeasure of contacting.

I was pretty committed to trying to make this unit work as advertised, so much so that I contacted the VP of IT at sonic blue. He farmed my call out to an employee working out of his home in Oregon.

Regardless, the tech from Oregon could not provide solutions. I hope the president reads this review; though I doubt he will care, judging by the plethora of negative reviews here. Advice to new parent company, clean house and install Six Sigma.

Rating: 5 stars
Summary: I feel this is the DVR to have, you can easily download file
Review: I bought my dad this DVR, almost a year ago. He is totally addicted to it. The reason I bought a replay TV is because of the ability to run a simple software package that allows you to transfer from replay TV to your computer. That alone made it worth it for me, another bonus is the ability to upgrade the hard drive, which is completely simple. (Though it does avoid warranty, cracking the unit open). So by the cheapest smallest hard drive version and an upgrade yourself as you can get 250 GB hard drives for less than $150.

Go here to get the software to transfer video
it is a great software package!

Go here to learn how to upgrade your hard drive
I went from a 40 GB hard drive to a 250 GB hard drive. Took me about 45 minutes from start to finish super easy.

This and what made me choose replay TV over TiVo, I know TiVo is adding a few new features that allow you to transfer videos, but I'm not sure where it will stand.

One thing to keep in mind, if you're interested in importing programs you've recorded and then editing them, sometimes they can be quirky if use Nero version 6 .0 or higher. You can import the videos in Nero vision express, and then we render them. Then you can edit them in almost any video editing package available.

Have some fun and get it done

Rating: 1 stars
Summary: Serious Quality Issues
Review: I have had a TiVo for more than a year and have been very pleased with the ease of use and quality of the guide service. The only reason I considered a ReplayTV was for the ability to do video extraction and the ease of networking the ReplayTV which is not readily performed on my Series One TiVo without spending more than the cost of a new TiVo or a ReplayTV. I have yet to get more than 10 minutes of use out of my ReplayTV 5504. While watching live TV, the picture would stutter and freeze after 5 or 10 minutes of use. A scheduled recording would be almost unwatchable due to the stuttering of the video and the audio. I spent several man-hours with tech support trying to resolve this problem. Finally, ReplayTV offered to exchange the unit. I installed the replacement unit and went through the setup screen, connected to the internet and downloaded all of the appropriate software from ReplayTV. I thought that this replacement unit would finally fulfill my expectations about ReplayTV. Imagine my disappointment when I started having essentially the same problems over and over again. Now, I can not even get the ReplayTV to set up from a cold restart. I think that ReplayTV has some serious build-quality issues with this unit. I am not an uninformed user. I have successfully installed both wired and unwired networks for myself and others. I have built my own computers for more than 10 years. The frustrating part is that some ReplayTV owners seem to be trouble-free. This may be the luck of the draw. But, what are the odds of getting two bad units in a row? If the problem is resolved, I will amend this review.

Rating: 5 stars
Summary: My VCR is now collecting dust..
Review: I have had my ReplayTV now for about 3 months. I wanted to wait a while before I posted a review. I'll start with the negatives as there aren't too many. I found it a little confusing at first when setting up a program to record. For example, if you want to set American Idol to record, you will either have to setup a "Replay Channel" that records any show with "American Idol" in the title. IF you select it to record from the program guide, it will only do repeat recordings for that time slot. It hard to explain if you have never used a ReplayTV before, but suffice to say it can be a little tricky.

The monthly fee is over priced, but then again they are in line with Tivo. The problem is you can now get a PVR from your local cable company at almost half the monthly charge. HOWEVER with ReplayTV and Tivo you can pay a one-time fee and be done with it. I opted to pay the one time fee as I hate to give the cable companies any more money.

That's it for the negatives. Everyone knows what these boxes can do. They are great for anybody that watches TV. Even if you only catch a few shows a week it's a must. No longer do you have to worry about whether or not you're missing a show, or you forgot to set the VCR.

I have NO complaints about the fan noise. I saw several complaints in a few of the reviews about the noise. Guess what folks, TIVO has a fan and a hard drive also. It's just the nature of PVR's. Regardless, I can barely hear it.

Rating: 1 stars
Summary: Unpublished Policy Change puts the screws to consumers
Review: I just ordered two Replay TV 5532 units for $2,100, with what was supposed to be 3 years of service, with an additional 3 years for $1 a month. Imagine my surprise when the units arrive, and during the registration process I am told that I can now either pay $25 a month to operate these, or register them for $600.

Apparently they changed the policy without any thought of how to handle those consumers that ordered just before the policy change. I paid the high price of the old units, and get to pay the high registration fee of the new units. Unbelieveable. After 45 minutes on hold, Replay customer support tells me that maybe I could get the first 3 years free, but they have no control over what happens to my account after that.

I should have bought Tivos.

Rating: 4 stars
Summary: Love it
Review: I only have one complaint and that is when you hook up with DishNetwork you have to make sure that your ReplayTV doesn't go to a channel that you don't subscribe to because the ReplayTV won't be able to switch away from it. But I've been able to avoid the problem and have been a big fan of it since. I have it networked with my brother's ReplayTV and we can use both to record and I can watch my brothers recorded shows through my box. Pretty cool.

Set up isn't too difficult, and barring any whacky issues you can be up and running in less than 10min.

Subscription is still cheaper than Tivo, but I don't know how long ReplayTV will be around. I'm not saying it is a bad company, I just see Tivo commercials more than ReplayTV.

I haven't had a problem with it but....I hope ReplayTV would make a change so you don't have to use the Infrared blaster to change channels on DishNetwork boxes. Hopefully they'll make a back of the box wired connection for it in the future.

I recommend this box.

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