Our run as cord-cutters has come to an end after several years though it wasn’t by choice; the apartment complex where we live has made a fee mandatory that includes the cost of cable and since there’s no point paying for cable and not using it we decided to cut some of the online streaming services that we’ve been using and get a DVR from our cable provider.
Living as cord-cutters for over six years worked great but that’s a post for another time.
I opted to get an X1 DVR from Comcast so we could record shows (we chose to drop Hulu and HBO) that we would have watched via Hulu as well as some other series that we’ve been purchasing through iTunes over the years.
After the initial setup it seemed to work great but a few hours later I discovered that using the guide and other menus was very sluggish to the point that it was nearly unuseable. In addition, the broadcast video was frequently distored and the audio either dropped out intermittently or completely disappeared. To make it even more frustrating the HD Camcast box on a TV in another room relies on the functionality of the DVR, so it also exhibited the same symptoms.
I tried changing some video quality settings and a few other options but nothing made cleared up the problem. Frustrated, I scheduled to have Comcast come by later in the week to check out the gear.
But later that night I changed two things and at least one of them solved the problem completely.
I replaced the HDMI cable on the device though I doubt that was the problem. More likely it was one detail I haven’t mentioned yet, but was most likely the cause of the problem.
You see, I had the device in a cabinet, just like my Xbox. I think that the DVR is extremely sensitive to heat and even though it wasn’t obvious that there was enough heat build-up in the cabinet to affect the unit, and despite the cabinet having some ventilation, the unit itself seems to lack a fan (at least I haven’t heard one yet) and simply couldn’t tolerate any heat.
Suspecting this might be the problem I moved the DVR outside of the cabinet. A little while later it was operating normally and hasn’t displayed those symptoms since.
So if you have one of these Comcast DVRs and experience this behavior AND it’s currently in a cabinet you may need to move it. It was only by luck that I had enough room to place it on top of the cabinet with the TV and in a position where it will be difficult (at least for now) for our two year old to reach the power button on the DVR.