Motorola DCX3200 Review


The Motorola DCX3200 is a compact, affordable, HDTV Cablebox priced under $200, but with the low price come some disappointing limitations.

At 10.5” wide, 3” high and 10.5 inches deep this compact cablebox will fit almost anywhere, above the TV, below the TV, behind the TV, in the equipment rack , shelf or cabinet just make sure to leave enough space for ventilation! (more on that in a minute).

The DCX cable boxes replace motorola’s aging DCT product line and with the new DCX model series comes a faster processor, larger memory and optional MoCA® networking capabilities.  The processor speed and memory are noticably faster,  the guide, menus, video on demand and other features load 20-60% faster than the older DCT boxes.

The DCX 3200 is Black in color and has a power button, USB port and digital readout on the front.  On the back you’ll find an RF cable input, HDMI, Component Video (YPbPr), S-video and RCA Composite Video Outputs along with RCA L/R, Coaxial, Toslink audio outputs.  There is a 3.5MM jack input for IR Control a 1394 Firewire 400 port, a USB2 port and a RJ45 ethernet jack.  The DCX3200 also is M-Card ready and supports an M-Card interface.  In order to reduce heat and keep the chassis as small as possible the power supply is external.

Note: There is NO RF output on the DCX3200 cable box, the TV you are connecting MUST have either a Digital input or composite or S-Video input.

The DCX3200 is capable of several resolution outputs including 480i/p,  720i/p and 1080i/p.  Depending on the broadcast signal,  the cable box will automatically adjust the proper output signal based on the cable connection and resolution capabilities of the TV you have connect to the cablebox.

On the audio side the Motorola DCX3200 decodes all popular digital audio formats including, Dolby Digital 5.1, AC3, PCM and Dolby 5.1 Prologic digital audio.

We tested out the Motorola DCX3200 cable box connected to the Shaw Cable network and found the set top box to be an excellent performer.  As mentioned the guide and menus loaded quickly and the picture quality was excellent at all levels of resolution.

Limitations:
Any high definition cablebox priced under $200 is bound to have some limitations and the Motorola DCX3200 has several.

Most of the limitations of the Motorola DCX3200 could be eliminated if the first problem “Networking” was enabled.

Networking – MoCA®:
MoCA® is a networking platform similar to ethernet for computers which will allow Cableboxes to communicate with each other through the coaxial cable wires currently running in your home and will enable features like “PVR Anywhere” and “Follow Me TV” and “Remote Programming”.  While all these features and more are built into the Motorola DCX3200 cablebox they are dependent on your cable service provider and currently ALL Cable providers (Shaw, Time Warner, Comcast) have disabled this innovative feature on the DCX3200.  Perhaps sometime in the future these features will become available however we could not get a timeline from any of the cable companies we contacted so for now the Motorla DCX3200 is a basic HDTV cable box and that’s it.

Dual Tuner and PVR: The motorola DCX3200 has only one tuner and NO PVR or PVR expandability or networking (at this time).  Although there are firewire, USB and RJ45 jacks on the back of the DCX3200 these ports cannot be used to connect an external hard drive and convert the DCX3200 into a PVR,  I repeat the DCX3200 cannot be converted into a PVR (the Motorola DCX3300 and 3400 have PVR capabilities).   Once MoCA® becomes available dual tuner and PVR convertibility will not be such a big deal, however in the intern, until you can network your cable boxes and have “Follow Me TV” and “PVR Anywhere” the option of NOT being able to hook up an external hard drive and convert the 3200 into a PRV is very disappointing.

Cons:
While the Motorola DCX series of HDTV Set-top boxes are definitely an improvement over the aging DCT series there are still some things we wished Motorola would have included which other HDTV providers have on their set-top boxes.

1- UHF Remote Control: UHF remote controls have existing in the satellite industry for
more than 30 years. UHF, assign able remote controls are necessary
when more than one cable box is housed in the same equipment rack or when
a single PVR is used throughout the house as a media center or hub.  A harmony
remote is almost a must with a Motorola Cable Box until MoCa® is enabled.

2 – Caller ID: both Bell/Dish Network and Telus set-top boxes support on-screen caller id display.
This feature is more than 15 years on Bell/Dish Network satellite receivers and is simple
and easy to implement yet Motorola cable boxes continue to ignore this useful feature

3 – Online Programming: Once again both Telus and Bell/Dish Network and Direct TV set-top boxes have the
capability to be programmed On-Line via the internet or smart phone apps.
It would have been great to see similar features on these new DCX series
cable boxes.

Heat Problems Reported:
Although the Motorola DCX-3200 is fairly new some users have already begun to report overheating problems with these units.  Unlike the PVR cableboxes which have an internal cooling fan the DCX3200 cablebox relies on convention cooling and has only a heatsink and No Fan.  If the cable box begins to overheat the picture begins to pixelate and break up.  Pixellation is not always caused by heat sometimes pixellation is caused by the cable signal coming to the unit.  If you experience frequent pixellation and picture breakup, feel the cablebox to see if it’s warm or HOT to the touch,  if so odds are the box is overheating.  Consider moving the cable box to another location (for example out in the open instead of inside a cabinet).

Heat Reducing Tip:
One ingenious way to reduce the heat and help keep the DCX3200 cool is to install a USB powered cooling fan.  The fan can plug into the rear USB port on the DCX3200.  There are several different types of USB powered cooling fans available and this trick really works!

Summary:

We like the small compact size, the Black chassis color and the myriad of Digital and Analog outputs on the DCX3200 however we are very disappointed that the MoCA® networking feature is not enabled at this time which severally limits the functionality of the cablebox.

Until the MoCA® feature is enabled we cannot recommend the Motorola DCX3200 cable box at this time however we would recommend the Motorola DCX3300 or DCX3400 models both of which are PVR ready or PVR enabled for only slightly more money than the price of the DCX3200.

As systems integrators at DJ’s Sound City we design systems with your needs in mind, if you’re uncertain as to which equipment is right for you give us a call and we’d be happy to help you out.

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20 Responses to Motorola DCX3200 Review

  1. Hello
    I purchased this “box” for the sole purpose of ‘claiming’ the audio signal from the optical output. This digital format would then be presented to my AVR system, (SONY 1000ESD Preamp) for enhanced mucic quality from SHAW music channels. In practise the signal seems to be saturated with a complex HDMI format , resulting in no discernable music!! I subsequently reverted to a older DCT2524 box with similar results. I know the optical input to my SONY is working. What is the problem? how can I fix this?? Kind Regards, Lawrence

    • djsedm says:

      It’s difficult to diagnose your problem without seeing all the components, equipment and wiring but I’ll try to give you a couple of ideas.

      First off you’re right, I’m pretty sure your coaxial input on your Sony 1000ESD is most likely working so let’s look elsewhere for the problem.

      I’m uncertain as to what you mean exactly by “Claiming the audio signal” but I’m going to assume once again you intend to PLAY the music out of the Shaw Cable Box and NOT Record IT!

      1.) Cable: This is obvious and I’m sure you’ve tried swapping different coaxial cables however it you haven’t that’s the first place to start. Test the cable and input between sources and make sure BOTH are operating fine.

      2.) Dual Sources Connected – HDMI & Coaxial: You referred to COAXIAL and HDMI in your problem description and I’m unclear if you have BOTH OUTPUTS Connected. If you have BOTH the HDMI Output Connected to your TV Set and the Coaxial Output connected to your receiver that will not work since you have two separate, discrete outputs connected to two different sources. The HDMI output contains audio and so does the Coaxial Output, secondly BOTH these outputs contain COPY PROTECTION, the consumer Coaxial output has ACP (Audio Copyright Protection) while the HDMI output has HDCP “High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection” both these systems are different and require different protocols to operate properly. Also because of DRM ‘Digital Rights Managment’ only one digital source can be connected to the Shaw Receiver’s digital output. If you are using HDMI then only the HDMI Output can be connected since both the audio and video are carried by that output and cable. If you are using COAXIAL DIGITAL AUDIO OUTPUT (SPDIF) then you must use the COMPONENT VIDEO OUTPUT to connect to your TV. The HDCP and ACP copy protection will only allow you to connect to one digital output. If you are connecting your TV by HDMI and Receiver by SPDIF – it will not work.

      3 – Further to the copy protection problems ACP copy protection built into the consumer SPDIF Coaxial audio output can sense if the component you are connecting to is a single source or the multiple source, if the connection is direct or through another component and lastly and most importantly if the Receiver, Amplifier or Pre-Amplifier has a digital record output feature. I’m unfamiliar with your Sony 1000ESD Preamp however if it has a digital audio record monitor output – the ACP in the SPDIF output will not allow the audio to play properly through your Pre-Amp. This feature is built into all consumer electronics to prevent the making of digital to digital unauthorized copies.

      All digital cableboxes have HDCP and ACP built into them to prevent users from digitally recording the audio or video output and thus making unauthorized copies.

      The Sony 1000ESD Preamp is a great unit and precedes HDMI. Most new receivers and amplifiers employ HDMI inputs and switching capabilities and do not have record output monitors or loops – there function is strictly input switching and playback. Also most consumer electronics equipment will only allow you to connect a single source via a single Digital output either HDMI or SPDIF.

      I’m uncertain if this explanation will solve your issue for you or give you a better understanding of what “Might” be happening, but without looking at your system and more information that’s the “Best” guess I can make from the information your provided.

      Good Luck and Thanks for Reading Techtipsandtoys

  2. Lawrence Lambert says:

    No audio from optical output of either a Motorola DCX3200 or a DCT2524. Just found your reply thanks. Not sure if there is a solution. I even purchased a Monarchy NM-24 , high end DAC, optical input to tube output and plugged it into the Motorola boxes in turn. No other devices connected and still no audio. Surely there is a black box solution??
    Most grateful to hear from you.
    Cheers
    Lawrence

    • djsedm says:

      If there is a digital record output loop on the PreAmp then then due to copy protection the digital signal will not be transmitted properly to prevent digital duplication.

      There is no black-box solution to bypass the digital copy guard built into the Shaw/Motorola cable boxes the only other solution would be to use the analog outputs.

  3. richard beasley says:

    on DCX 3200 have a clock as when i turn off the box thier is nothing some boxs have a clock in the window

    • djsedm says:

      The DCX cables boxes can be programmed to display either a clock, the channel number or nothing on the front LED Display. The display works only while the unit is POWERED ON therefore if you want the clock to be displayed on the front of your DCX3200 you need to go into your settings menu and select – Cable Box Setup then select FRONT LED Display and then you will have the option to select Current Channel or Current Time, if you want the front display to show the time select Current Time then exit out of the setup menu and the front of your DCX receiver will show the time when the power is on. The LED front display turns off when the power is off so if you wish to have the time displayed you will need to keep the receiver/cable box power on.

      Power On: Keeping the power on does not harm the cable box unit and in fact is preferred to powering the unit on and off since it will maintain and update the guide and keep all programming up to date. In some installations (enclosed cabinet) heat is an issue and if proper ventilation is not available then we do recommend turning the power on and off to lower the cabinet and component temperatures otherwise leaving the power on won’t do any damage.

      In most of our commercial installations the power is left ON on most cable boxes, satellite receivers and other components – the only components which are turned on and off are the power amplifiers.

  4. Michael Bennet says:

    help! I’ve spent most of the day messing with this apparatus.. I now have sound but no picture, I have an old analog televison with cable and a vcr. I have the cable (from the wall hooked in to Motorola dcx3200) RCA cables RED YELLOW WHITE hooked in to both Motorola and tv..video in and audio corresponding input/output everything has been rebooted. VCR is on and connected to TV. SOOOOOOOOOO now what?

    • djsedm says:

      Did you call your cable company to ACTIVATE and ENROLL the cablebox?

      It sounds like your cables are connected properly however in order for the cablebox to WORK it needs to be ENROLLED and ACTIVATED by your cable service provider. Without activation – even the on screen menu won’t display anything.

      A cablebox is basically a streaming computer box, before it is activated it does not contain any programming data or information on it. You can’t just hook it up and plug it in to a cable plug, even if you have cable TV already to your home the cable box MAC address needs to be added to your billing account, then MAC address of the box then needs to be activated by the cable company and added to the node on the network that goes to your house, after that the programming guide applicable to your area is downloaded and the software is updated telling the cable box which cable channels you have subscribed too and which ones it should display.

      Cable boxes are not like DVD players that work right out of the box PLUG n PLAY – then first need to be activated.

      Inside your cablebox packaging should have been an information sheet and phone number or web URL to call or visit to activate your HDTV cable box. You should be aware that most cable service providers charge more money for HDTV channels and specialty channels in HD so you will probably have to pay more than your are currently paying to enable HDTV on your new cable box.

      Look through your packaging for the activation information or call your cable companies customer service or tech support line – they will be able to walk you through activating your box.

      Once activated it may take several hours for the guide to update and all your channels to appear, and once activated the on screen menu and setup and controls menu will be visible on your TV screen

      Good Luck and enjoy your new cable box!

  5. Squirrel says:

    What is the USB connection for? Can I watch mp4 from a USB memory stick? Can I plug in a USB wireless adaptor? How would I configure the said and wap settings?

    • djsedm says:

      The USB Connection on the front and back of the DCX3200 are NOT useable for consumer or end user purposes or applications. These USB ports are used for diagnostic and programming purposes by your cable company and that’s all.

      You cannot watch mp4 or any other files from a memory stick using the USB port on the Motorola Cable box. These boxes do not stream or decode data from external sources only from the data stream provided by your cable service provider.

  6. Squirrel says:

    Dang spellcheck … I meant ssid and wpa

    • djsedm says:

      The motorola DCX3200 will only stream encrypted content provided by your cable service provider, the USB port is used as a service port and has no consumer function.

      You cannot plug in a USB Wi-Fi dongle into this port and therefore there is no SSID or WPA.

      The streaming media sent to this cablebox by your cable service provider is done so strictly and solely by COAXIAL CABLE and not by any other means (USB, ethernet or other)

      The media streams sent to ALL Cableboxes are encoded and encrypted and can only be played back on cable box provided by the cable service provider in your area. Each cable company uses it’s own encryption and therefore you cannot buy and cable box from one cable service provider and then use it on another cable company’s network even though they would BOTH be the same Model Motorola DCX3200. A Comcast Motorola DCX3200 will not work on the Shaw Cable network in Canada for example.

      Cable boxes are not just generic streaming media devices they have are designed to be used only on the private network of a specific cable company and that’s it.

  7. Ryan says:

    hey i just bought this HD box thing for my new 60″ 3d tv, is this thing only for cable tv or is it for satielit to? thanks.

  8. tino says:

    Does anyone knows how to do actual repairs on dcx3200 p1

  9. K. Vizurraga says:

    Does anyone know of a wall mounting system or brackets that will allow me to hang the DCX3200 in a vertical position flat against the wall either above, below or next to a wall mounted TV?

  10. Can you please provide more details about where to place the usb fan. Thank you.

  11. Hank says:

    Will the box still be able to communicate with the controller if it is located behind the wall mounted TV and is not visible?

    • djsedm says:

      YES! … Depending how you mount the box behind the TV. There are two basic options for mounting a cablebox behind a TV

      1 – Mount the cablebox behind the TV near the outside left or right side edge of the TV with the display and IR receiver window facing the outside edges of the TV. IR signals are generally strong enough and bounce across various walls and surfaces to find their way to the IR window on the cable box behind the TV. The cable box does not have to be fully exposed, however the less obstructed it is the more sensitive and better the range of the IR. When you mount the cable box pointing on the left or right side of the TV – it is important when you are using the remote that you point it to the side of the TV that the cable box is mounted on and not at the center of the TV. Why have installed hundreds of cableboxes this way in both residential and commercial locations.

      2 – If the first method does not work, most Motorola cableboxes come with an external IR Receiver bug or button. Look in your cablebox receiver box for a little red IR receiver bug about the diameter of a penny and about 1/2″ thick with a 10′ cord attached to a 3.5mm mini jack. This is a remote IR receiver and is used when you mount a cablebox inside a cabinet, closet or perhaps even behind a wall in another room and wish to control it with the IR remote. The 3.5mm plug goes into the External IR jack on the back side of the cable box and allows you to STICK the IR bug/button somewhere on the TV or wall where it will be able to receive IR commands from the remote control. It is important to know that when using the IR Bug the IR receiver on the cablebox itself is disabled and will not work. IR commands will only be received by pointing the remote at the external IR receiver bug.

      Both these methods work it will depending on your installation which method will work best for you.

      Good Luck

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