ExpressVu ups the ante with a multi-TV HD-PVR that can record up to 30 hours of high-definition programming.
The new 9242 HD-PVR Plus satellite receiver replaces the older 9200 HD-PVR Plus in ExpressVu’s HD line-up. Here are the specs for the new system:
- Record up to 30 hours of HD programming, or 200 hours of standard definition (SD) programming (320 GB)
- MPEG2 and MPEG4 compatibility (currently all programming on ExpressVu is MPEG2, but as new content becomes available, it will take advantage of the MPEG4 standard)
- Record 2 different programs while simultaneously watching a third (pre-recorded) show
- Playback SD or HD programs on the primary TV, while a secondary TV can independently watch SD programs or down-converted HD programs
- Includes two remotes: an IR unit for the main TV, and a UHF-Pro remote that can control the receiver from any room in the house, even through walls.
- Supports caller-ID (you can see a caller’s identification on your TV if you have this feature on your home phone line)
- 9-day Electronic Program Guide (EPG) that lets you browse available shows while watching the current program in a Picture-in-Picture (PIP) window
- Name-based show recording with the option of recording the show once, multiple times per week, the entire series or just new episodes.
- Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound (requires a compatible TV or home theatre receiver)
- High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) for a pure digital pathway between the receiver and the HDTV
- USB 2.0 and Ethernet connectivity
- Composite and s-video outputs for TV1
The 9200 was already a very capable PVR with many features I’ve come to rely on. The 9242 builds on this feature set with some notable enhancements including a favourites list exclusively for HD programming and the ability to output your primary TV signal via s-video and composite video in addition to HDMI, which will make connecting a second recording device like a VCR or DVD recorder much easier.
It’s also worth noting that the 9242 sports both USB 2.0 and Ethernet ports. And while ExpressVu is remaining mum on what these new ports will be used for – they say they’re for "future services" – we can take some educated guesses as to the direction in which they might be headed…
The USB 2.0 ports could allow you to connect external storage devices like flash drives or hard drives, which could increase the PVR’s recording capacity dramatically, and inexpensively. In an ideal world, the receiver would let you watch other media that had been recorded from a different source e.g. a PC, or perhaps an iPod, on your primary TV.
An Ethernet port could be used to connect the receiver to a high speed internet connection. Once that connection has been established, it opens the door to a host of new options such as Slingbox-type remote viewing of the receiver’s programs on any PC with a net connection. There’s also the chance that a web-based application could be built to let you set up recordings on your PVR remotely using the same data displayed by the receiver’s EPG.
Alright, enough crystal-ball gazing.
Two last points on the 9242 that are worth mentioning:
- The black chassis. The 9200′s silver garb seemed hip and stylish 2 years ago when most of the flat-panel TV’s were sporting this colour scheme, but let’s face it, black is definitely the new black.
- The included HDMI and component video cables. It may seem like a no-brainer, but if you had to buy these at retail they could easily set you back $100, especially if you went with a brand like Monster Cable.
If you want to pick up the new receiver as a stand-alone box, it will run you $599 at your local Bell World. It’s also available on a rental basis. Check out bell.ca for all the details.
Update – August 7, 2008: Bell has just announced the availability of expanded capacity for the 9242 via USB 2.0 external hard drives.