February 22nd, 2006 • 3:46 pm
This is a rather fundamental user interface problem that, as far as I am aware, exists with all PVR ExpressVu receivers. One of the conveniences offered by a PVR (as opposed to a VCR) is that you can start watching a show while it’s still in the process of being recorded.
But somehow the designers of these PVR machines seem to have failed to realize that you might want to start watching a show that is still being recorded and then stop watching it while it is still being recorded, without actually wanting to stop the recording.
Let’s say you have a show that is being recorded, and you turn the receiver on and select the show and click on the “Start Over” button to start playing the show from the beginning (while the rest of the show is still being recorded). Then after five minutes, while the show is still being recorded, you decide you want to watch the rest later. What do you do then?
The natural thing to do is to press the Stop button on the remote. But if you do that, the Bell ExpressVu receiver makes no difference between stopping the playback and stopping the actual recording (which is still in progress). Consequently it asks you if you are sure that you want to stop recording the show!
Of course you don’t. But then the only options given are “Yes,” “No,” and “Cancel.” What the difference is between “No” and “Cancel,” I do not know. As far as I can tell, they both do the same thing, i.e. return you to the playback, which then continues.
In other words, you have no obvious way to stop the playback. You have to use a workaround. You can, for example, go back to the list of recorded events (while the playback continues), select the (currently playing) event again (which, on the 9200, has a big green triangle next to it) and then click on “View” instead of “Start Over,” which will stop the playback from the beginning and actually show you what is currently happening and being recorded.
Unfortunately, for sports events where you really do not want to know the score, so as not to ruin the experience, this is not an option. So what do you do then?
With the 9200, thankfully, you can at least turn off the machine while it’s still recording, without interrupting the recording process. Turning the PVR off effectively stops the playback. But it’s a pretty crude approach!
With the 9200, you can also select another channel, because the 9200 has two tuners and lets you watch another channel while something is being recorded on a different channel. But again, switching to a different channel is not an intuitive way to stop the playback process.
So there are workarounds, but they are all non-intuitive. For such a basic function, this is rather disappointing. You’d think that the engineers that design PVR units and the software used to run them would test these things with focus groups and get sufficient feedback. Apparently not.