Category Archives: Home Theater

Move your DVR files to another drive with Active Disk Image

So – many of you out there are in the same predicament that I am in….  you have a DVR loaned to you from your cable company, and you have an external SATA (eSATA) drive attached to expand your storage.  In my case, Time Warner is my provider and I have an Explorer 8300HD.  Thankfully, Time Warner leaves the eSATA port on the 8300HD enabled, so you can buy yourself a nice SATA hard drive, a cheap eSATA case, and then assemble it and hook it to your DVR to instantly expand your storage.

When I first read that this was a possibility, I built a relatively benign 250GB external drive to hook up.  I wanted to test to make sure that it really worked without dumping a lot of dough in the event it either didn’t work at all, or didn’t work right.

So I originally purchased a Western Digital Caviar Blue 250GB 3.5″ SATA 3.0Gb/s Drive, and an Antec MX-1 External Enclosure and a cheap eSATA cable.  The Antec has a decent appearance, is reasonably priced, and it includes a nice mechanism for keeping the drive cool and happy.   Once the products arrived, I dropped the hard drive into the case, shut the power off on my DVR (disconnected from the wall – the normal power button just puts it in standby), and plugged in the eSATA cable to the DVR and the Antec.

To make sure that the drive was recognized, I powered the Antec first, then I plugged the DVR back in.  Much to my suprise, the DVR booted up and instantly recognized the Antec as supplemental storage.  I happily began using the DVR as you normally would – and then ran into an issue…..

I ran out of space.  Even worse, I had many shows on my DVR that I didn’t want to lose – but I really needed a bigger drive.

Ordering a new drive is no problem.  Replacing the 250 with a bigger drive also isn’t a problem.  Backup of the data, however, IS a problem.  I shut everything down and decided that I would try to use something like Norton Ghost to make an image of the disk, and then would move the image on to the new drive.

Big problem – the file format is proprietary.  Plug the drive into a computer, and it simply shows up blank, unformatted, uninitialized, etc – the “status” depends on what app you use.

So I started to look all around the net.  I knew that somewhere out there had to be a product similar to Ghost that would just do a bit-by-bit dupe of a drive.  After many frustrating

hours of searching, I seemed to have found it.  Called Active@ Disk Image, it looked like the perfect product.  Seems like it will do normal “Ghost” type functions where you can back up known formats to images, restore images, etc – but more importantly – it had a “Clone” feature that looked like it was exactly what I wanted – a bit-by-bit clone of a disk regardless of format.

So, I got a copy.  I will do a full writeup in a future article complete with screenshots, but let me just tell you that it made a very simple task of taking the data from my 250GB drive and cloning it on to a Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB 3.5″ SATA 3.0Gb/s Drive.  I knew the copy was good, Active@ Disk Image seemed like a very solid product – but I really wondered if it would work.  Once the copy finished, I put the 1TB drive into the Antec enclosure, plugged everything in, and Viola – guess what – all of my shows were still there, and the amount of available space had tripled.

Look for the full writeup in a future post, but in the meantime – if you’re looking to dupe any drive of an unknown format – give this software a shot.  They even have a free trial where you can try it out.

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Samsung LED TV – Samsung, STOP misleading with your advertising!

So, admittedly, I’m a bit of a technology geek…  I enjoy reading about new technology, watching how that technology gets applied, and watching how new technology starts out inaccessible to the masses, but eventually ends up in the most mundane devices in your home.

AMOLED and other flavors of OLED technology are included in these technologies that I have been watching.  Only a couple of short years ago – Sonly launched the first OLED television – an 11″ screen that was aesthetically appealing, with a stunning picture, and a price tag north of $10,000 USD.  Now, in 2009 – we have cell phones that are coming with AMOLED screens (The google Nexus One, the Samsung Impression (AT&T)) – meaning that OLED displays are already showing in low cost consumer devices.

Knowing that Samsung is considered one of the pioneers in this field (According to wikipedia, they produce 1 in every 2 OLED displays sold today) – one would assume that the new LED TV’s that they are advertising are neatly fitted into this category, and mark the start of the transition of this awesome new technology into everyone’s home.

Well… if you assumed that, like i did, you’d be wrong.  It started last winter when they started a huge marketing push for their new LED TV’s.  If you watch NFL football, you would have seen these ads all over – because “Samsung LED TV” was one of the sponsors of the NFL broadcasts.  Initially, when I saw these ads, I was excited.  Then I saw retailers like newegg.com – one of the sites I purchase from nearly constantly, creating NEW CATEGORIES in their home theater top level category for LED TV’s….  Browse that category, and sure enough – all of these new Samsung sets appear there.

So what’s the problem??  Well – the problem is that these are not LED TV’s at all.  They are simply LED backlit LCD’s – another emerging technology that is becoming very common place rather than the flourescent backlit LCD’s of yore.  For example, most netbooks with 10.1″ displays are LED backlit, the new iMac and Macbook’s are LED backlit, increasing numbers of laptops are LED backlit – but these manufacturers are not falsely advertising these products using the name of an emerging technology.

Now, let me say, although it does not sound like it, I am a HUGE samsung fan.  I have samsung LCDs on all of my desktop computers, I supported and used the blackjack phones until the iPhone came out, and I currently have a Samsung LED-DLP TV that I love (although they are not making it anymore which is a shame).  I’m also a huge newegg.com fan.  This deceptive advertising, however, has me a little peeved.  Just yesterday, I was at our local pizza shop having a pie (Enrico’s, for all of you Central Ohio peeps) – and I overheard a conversation where a guy was telling his buddy at the table next to me how his LED TV was technologically superior to his buddies LCD TV.  I felt like saying “You’re an idiot” – but guess what – I refrained, because not only does Samsung mislead – so do the retailers.

I’m sure that the total DOLT at best buy who sold him his TV probably didn’t read any of the specs on the set and basically told this dude it was OLED.  Another pet peeve of mine are the idiots at consumer electronics stores that shouldn’t be selling toasters, let alone PC’s and Home Theater components… but thats another story for another blog post.

The moral of the story?  READ THE DAMNED SPECS – don’t just buy the hype.  Sure, the new Samsung TV’s are beautiful and I’d love to have one.  Additionally, I would easily buy one of the new sets over an older flourescent backlit model simply due to the longevity that LED could provide.  Perfect example of how you should be an educated consumer when you’re spending that kind of money, and how you should research what you’re getting rather than letting someone else tell you what you’re getting.

Update 1/10/10 – LG and several other manufacturers have started selling LED backlit LCD TVs now to compete with this new line of Samsung TVs.  Visiting their websites, I have noticed that everyone EXCEPT Samsung are correctly calling these LED Backlit LCD TVs or LED-LCD TVs.  The most important part is that it still contains LCD in the name.  LED is too easily confused with OLED and Samsung really needs to stop this.

Update 1/11/10 – after a little research, I found that the UK’s truth in advertising group (The ASA) Has requested Samsung Pull their ads for the very reason I mentioned above…. click here for the story on cnet.

Update 2/1/10 – After a long note that I sent directly to Newegg.com, I’ve noticed that they are now correctly lists these TV’s as LED-LCD..  nice work, NewEgg – I’m now a fan again. 😉  Good to see you listen to customers.

 

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