If you want to cut the cord and get rid of your cable TV bill – here is a good option.
Instead of buying the $200 digital TV solution that an expert in the field recommended, I thought I’d give this $35.00 solution a try.
The extras you will need are AA batteries, an antenna, a HDMI cable and either a USB stick or external hard drive.
Once you connect everything up and set your TV to the correct HDMI port, then all you have to do is power it up.
The Setup Menu will show up and you only have three choices – the Language, the Country and then the Channel Search.
I used a 16gb SanDisk thumb drive to try out the record function. It was as simple as pressing the Record button on the remote. You will have to format it to NTFS so that you can record the larger files necessary. I did this on my computer.
It records files in a MTS format. I’d prefer MP4 for smaller files. VLC will play MTS files.
You can play from the iView USB thumb drive and the picture quality is Excellent!
Problem? When I took the USB drive out when the iView was on and plugged it into the computer, the file disappeared. To get this to work, I had to turn off the iView and then take out the USB drive. Then I could see the video I had recorded. 30 minutes was approximately 2.7 gb. You can reduce the size using Handbrake if you want.
I also tested a WD Elements 2TB drive and it worked fine without any extra power supply. I do understand that some thumb drives and external hard drives don’t work or might need external power. The ones I tried worked fine.
The remote is a bit complicated, (47 buttons) so it will take some study to figure out everything. It also seems like many times I have to hit the button more than once. Other people have complained about this and suggest pointing directly at the box.
Audio – the volume seems a bit low. There is a volume button, but it doesn’t seem to do much. I have to turn up my TV to the highest volume.
To record a program that is on today, you click on the EPG button on the remote and then scroll down to the show you want and click on OK. For some reason they call this a Book. You can also make this record on a Daily or Weekly basis. I haven’t tried this feature, but will in the future. You can only schedule programs that are on today.
When I tested the Program feature, it started recording just a bit late and missed the first 30 seconds of a show. You can however tell it to start a minute early.
To get to the recordings, and possibly change your settings, you click on
Menu – EPG – Info (Book List)
Overall I’m happy – especially for the price of $35.00
Problems – Suggestions
I’d like to see a more responsive remote and possibly have one which lights up – to see the buttons better in a dark room.
The type in the manual is smallish, so I went online to download the manual and their website had a number of bad links – the Manual and Customer Service links don’t work.
They do have a phone number to call 866-599-9888
You can theoretically get the Manual, but you have to go to the Firmware link, and even then, it doesn’t have a link for my particular model, but an older one – 3500STB – and then the file is not there! Not good.
Not sure why I have to turn off the iView to unplug my hard drive, but I did.
This is obviously not as sophisticated as a Tivo, but there is no monthly costly and seems to work well for me.
The protection plan you can buy via Amazon is only $3.95 for two years.
FIRMWARE – Do Not Update !!!! – Jan 2015
Do NOT download this firmware if your 3500STBII Converter Box has a CH 3/4 switch behind it. You own a converter box that was released in a new batch that has a different chip piece that is not compatible with the box. If you do install this firmware your box will automatically shut completely off and it will not be able to turn on. Please be patient, a new firmware is being currently tested that will be compatible with your box soon.
Another thing I don’t like is the orange/red light which is very bright when the unit is turned on. I might have to get some tape to cover it up.
Below is everything that comes with the unit.