Bell ExpressVu 9200: Can’t stop playback without stopping recording

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Bell Satellite
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.

6 Responses to “Bell ExpressVu 9200: Can’t stop playback without stopping recording”

  1. BSide says:

    Yeah, that is pretty lame. Tivo of course, doesn’t have this problem. Neither does the comcast HD DVR, although it’s a terrible device in many other ways.

    And hey, Pierre Igot has a blog! Hi Pierre, long time no talk. Glad to see you’re still tracking the Prince stuff as

  2. Pierre Igot says:

    Hi Ben :). In truth, Pierre Igot has had a blog for quite a while now :-). It covers mostly Mac and tech issues, but also music and movies and stuff. And of course, I am still a huge Prince fan…

    As for the Bell ExpressVu 9200, what can I say? We don’t really have a choice here in Canada. It’s pretty much take it or leave when it comes to PVR technology. Which doesn’t stop me from blogging about it, of course.

  3. apeman says:

    Hi Pierre –

    As a shortcut to stop PVR playback and watch the event live you can press the “View TV” button on the remote control.

    If you do not want to jump to the live event, you can always hit “swap” which will throw you over to the other tuner (In Single Mode). This is what I do. And like you pointed out, you can always punch in a channel number.

    But I totally agree with the pressing of the stop button, it would be trivial to add that ability.

    Cheers! – apeman

  4. Pierre Igot says:

    apeman: Yes, I am aware of the “workarounds.” I just don’t find them very elegant. There should be a clear distinction in the UI (including the remote) between playback and recording.

  5. erazmus says:

    It sounds like you’ve got some issues with the 9200 PVR (looking at some of your previous posts). I’ve got two real big issues. I just purchased one of these units, and the biggest problem is stuttering playback of recorded shows. I’m not the only one experiencing it either. I blogged a link to a discussion forum with a bunch of people with the same problem. Also, there’s still no sign of the much-promised name-based recording feature.

  6. Pierre Igot says:

    I am afraid I too am experiencing the stuttering playback. I still plan to write a post about it… 

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