Motorola DCX3400 PVR Cable Box Review

The Motorola DCX 3400 HDTV PVR set top box is a dual tuner cable box with a built in 500GB hard drive.

The DCX 3400 is a lot faster than the previous DCT Series cable boxes thanks to increased processor power, additional flash and S-DRAM.  The new DCX 3400 set-top boxes also decodes both MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 AVC services while the DCT predecessor only handles MPEG-2.  This means that the DCX3400 will support for both 2-D and 3-D TV, Dolby Digital and Digital PLUS audio and automatic video formatting for 480i/p all the way up to 1080i/p via HDMI.

The built is 500GB Hard drive is a great improvement over the 160GB hard drive found in the previous DCT models and will allow you to record 60-80 hours of HD content.  If that’s not enough space for you the DCX 3400 has an eSata port which will allow you to connect an external 1TB eSata Hard Drive expanding the recording capacity to 200-240 hours of HD recording.

Now here’s your money saving tip!  While Shaw, Future Shop and Best Buy all sell dedicated, branded 1TB hard drives labeled PVR Expander’s for $150-$200 dollars what they don’t tell you is that these so called PVR Expander hard drives are just Western Digital Branded drives and that any external eSata hard drive enclosure which has a Western Digital brand hard drive enclosed will work and interface with a Shaw/Motorola digital cable box.

This means you don’t have to buy the special “PVR Expander Hard Drive” at a premium price but any Western Digital External Drive with an eSata port will also work and cost substantially less.  We tested an $85 dollar,  MicroNet 1TB Fantom External drive with an eSata port and 1TB Western Digital HD installed inside and it worked perfectly with both the Shaw/Motorola DCT and newer DCX series of HDTV digital cable boxes.  We saved 45-100% over the cost of the specially branded PVR Expander.  We haven’t tested it yet but we’re wondering if a 2TB Micronet eSata external drive will also work?  We expect it will however a word of caution … the larger the hard drive the more likely it is to fail especially when using it in a PVR application where it will be continuously recorded and re-recorded over and over again.

The last feature included in the new Motorola DCX 3400 PVR is the one we’re most excited about but hasn’t been activated yet and that’s the optional MoCA® Home Network Interface which will allow Motorola DCX Series set-top boxes to communicate with each other for PVR anywhere and follow me TV services through existing coaxial cabling.

The new Motorola DCX Cable boxes will eventually be able to offer networking through existing home coaxial cabling to allow you to watch your DVR in any room on another DCX series MoCA® equipped set-top box.  You may not have hear of MoCA® yet but you will be hearing it more and more in the coming months.  MoCA® stands for “Multimedia over Coax Alliance” and it is a new technology and protocol which will allow MoCA® enabled devices to communicate with each other in a local area network over coaxial cable at similar speeds to what currently exists with Cat5 and Cat6 lan networks. Because there is so much existing coaxial wiring installed throughout the world and wireless bandwidth is limited and expensive MoCA® is the technology that is going to propel IP to the next level.  Shaw is in the process of upgrading their network to full digital and once complete sometime next year we expect Shaw to eventually roll out the MoCA® capabilities on Motorola DCX set-top boxes.Front Panel:
The dimensions of the Motorola DCX3400 are 15” wide x 9” deep and 2.2” high.  The housing is black with a shinny black front with soft touch buttons and 4 character blue digital display.  Blue and red LED’s light up to indicate power, message, data, home, lan and video output format.  We like the full feature front panel soft touch control buttons which include direct buttons for Menu, guide, format, channel up and down, and GUI – up, down, left, right and select buttons in addition to the power button.  There is a concealed IR receiver and USB type A port also on the front of the cable box.

Rear Panel:
The rear panel contains an F-connector for cable input plus and HDMI 1.3 output port, YPbPr component video jacks, composite video out RCA, L/R analog RCA output with variable volume control, Optical S/PDIF digital audio outputs both coax and toslink, USB Type a Port, Firewire IEEE-1294 port, 10/100 ethernet jack an eSata port and a 3.5MM external IR input jack.  There is NO RF output.

While both HDMI and Component video outputs work at the same time time, the HDMI resolution takes priority so if you plan on using both outputs to feed two different displays then both displays must have the same resolution capabilities otherwise the HDMI display will only work and the component video display will not sync if it is a lower resolution than the HDMI display.

Important note if your planning on using this the Motorola DCX3400 in your bedroom.   This cable box contains a cooling fan which operates periodically and does generate some noise which usually is not noticeable in most rooms however when placing the unit in the bedroom the fan noise may be audible when trying to sleep therefore we recommend the DCX 3200 cable box for bedroom installations.  The DCX 3200 does not have a cooling fan – see review elsewhere on our blog.

While the Motorola DCX series of HDTV Set-top boxes are definitely an improvement over the ageing DCT series there are still some things we wished Motorola would have included in this new cable box 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 Shaw Cable box.

2 – Caller ID:  both Bell and Telus set-top boxes support on-screen caller id display.
This feature is more than 20 years on Bell satellite receivers and is simple
and easy to implement yet Shaw cable boxes continue to ignore this useful feature

3 – Network – Media Center – Hub:  As the Telus slogan says “The Future is Friendly” well
the future is NOW!  Telus already offers “Follow Me TV” and “PVR Anywhere”
while built in support for MoCA® is great,  Shaw you really need to activate this
feature and soon!  The tech savvy public is ready for Networked PVR’s

4 – Online Programming:  Once again both Telus and Bell 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.

Shaw continues to be one of the most reliable providers of HDTV programming and distribution.  As you can seen their new Motorola cable boxes are a great improvement over previous product offerings but there are still a lot of features and options missing from the Shaw hardware line-up offered by other providers.

There is no, one best HDTV content provider or method of transmission.  Each content provider and method of transmission has it’s pros and cons the challenge is to find the right fit for your needs.  As systems integrators at DJ’s Sound City we design systems with your needs in mind, if you’re uncertain as to which content provider or equipment is right for you give us a call and we’d be happy to help you out.

A note to our American and International readers – Cableboxes are like cell phones in order to work they need to be connected to a network – in this case a cable company.  This equipment review was for the Motorola DCX3400 cable box connected to the Shaw cable system in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.  Some features and configurations may be different depending on the cable service provide – ie Comcast, Viacom, AT&T, Cox, Time Warner etc…  We recommend you check with your local cable company as to the features offered and hard drive sizes included with their equipment as the same cable box model number may have a different size hard drive installed and some features may be deactivated by the cable service provider.

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70 Responses to Motorola DCX3400 PVR Cable Box Review

  1. ray kuemper says:

    how does the usb port on the front of the dcx3400 series work?what is its function?ccan i put a memory stick in it and veiw it on my tv? hhhhhhhelp

    • djsedm says:

      The USB port on the front of the DCX3400 will in most cases serve NO Function from a consumer/user standpoint. This port is used for diagnostics and programming by the cable service provider or manufacturer, it has no consumer function to it other than a USB power port.

      The manufacturer Motorola makes these cable boxes and programs them to the specifications of each cable company. At this time we do not know of any cable service provider allowing functionality from the front or rear USB port other than for their service and maintenance, at some time in the future they may upgrade the software operating system to enable use for the USB Port but for now the only use would be to provide 5V power, so sorry but your memory stick will not work.

  2. oscar a. says:

    I don’t like it that when I’m watching HD chanels, and then when I switch to regular cable, my TV stalls and trys to detect the feed/format and for a couple of seconds, the screen goes black. and the format changes automatically. How can I make the format not change and stay on one format only, so that my TV doesn’t go black and change, just cause the cable box decides to change?

  3. Jarrett says:

    My dad’s tv does the same stall when changing standard to hd channels. His tv is an LG, I have a sharp and do not have that problem, was told that it was because I had hooked up through component video. Is this true, I would like to get this new moto cable box pvr and hook it up through the hdmi, but not if it will cause a delay.

  4. djsedm says:

    You were told correctly, the reason you do not have Problems with your Sharp Flat Panel is because you have it connected to the Analog RBG Component Video Inputs and Not the HDMI Inputs.

    A common misunderstanding among consumers fueled by misinformation by Retail Sales persons is that HDMI is innately superior to Component Video when in many cases it is Not.

    HDMI is primarily a convenience cable with looks similar to a USB Plug on a computer and carries both digital audio and video on one convenient cable with one jack to plug in. Component video cables require three cables for the video signal, Red, Blue and Green as well as two cables for the audio signal Right and Left or a single Toslink or Coax digital cable for audio. With one cable clearly HDMI is more convenient to hook up and leaves little room of error and wrong connections. One of the strongest benefits of Component Video is that it a single direction analog cable and carries only video signal information on it with NO Copy Protection or Digital Rights Management information.

    An HDMI cable is a bi-directional cable which requires a communication between the Display Panel, Reciever , Cablebox or DVD and confirmation of display type, audio type and source type before the signal is allowed to flow through and be decoded by the audio or video display. This HAND SHAKE is due to something called HDCP which stands for high-bandwidth digital copy protection and this HDCP is used as an authentication protocol and occurs each time you connect a digital device (cable box, DVD, receiver, computer etc…) to a HDMI equipped video display.

    The HDCP authentication protocol goes something like this – The cablebox sends a signal to the TV via HDMI and Says “I’m a motorola DCX3400 cable box transmitting a show at 1080P resolution”, the TV then responds “I’m an LG PK3750 LCD Display capable of receiving a maximum screen resolution of 1080P”. The cable box receives this info and then says “OK I’ll send you the TV show at 1080P get ready here it comes” The TV then responds “OK I’ll set my resolution for 1080P go ahead and send be the digital video stream” Once all these communications occur the TV set’s itself up to receive 1080P video and the cablebox set’s itself up to send 1080P video – both sync – the handshake is complete and presto you get a picture on your Flat Panel TV at 1080P connected by HDMI.

    Now as long as the transmitting signal resolution stays the same at 1080P both the cable box and TV remain synced however if you change the cable box channel to a NON HD Channel or a HD Channel transmitting in a different resolution or a different source such as a DVD player the HDMI, HDCP Handshake, authentication protocol and then approval and SYNCing needs to occur all over again which is why you see the blue or black screen for a few moments at the Display and Cable Box or DVD player communicate with each other to determine the new resolution and display and transmission requirements.

    For example let’s say the HDCP handshake occurred and you are watching a TV program on your Flat Panel display in 1080P then you decide to change the channel to a program in Standard Definition 480i. If the TV is connected by HDMI the HDCP handshake and authentication process begins, The cable box sends a signal to the TV to say “I’m a motorola DCX3400 transmitting a show in 4:3 format in 480i resolution” The Flat panel TV then sends a message back “Wait a minute I’m not ready for that stream, I am currently set up to receive signals at 1080P 16:9 and I will have to change my setting before I can display your video stream” The cable box then responds – OK I’ll wait – let me know when you’re ready” After a few seconds and a blue or black screen the TV then sends a signal back to the cablebox saying “OK I’m ready, I have adjusted my screen size to 4:3 and resolution to 480i go ahead and send me that video stream now”, the cable box then say OK I received your authentication key and I’m going to send you the video stream now” and once the HDCP is completed and authentication approved, the signals between the TV and cable box sync and presto the video stream is sent and displayed in 480i 4:3 format on your flat panel TV.

    Of course the two components don’t speak English and the conversation occurs digitally but in layman’s terms that’s what occurs each time you connect audio or video components together by HDMI cabling. An no matter what the brand of Television or Display if you are connecting it by HDMI or DVI this HDCP handshake, authentication must occur and sync before a picture or audio appears or is heard on the display. There are other issues specific to Syncing with Samsung TV’s and Motorola cable boxes I won’t go into here since they do not relate to your question specifically, your answer is YES if you connect any device – motorola cable box, shaw cable box, bell satellite reciever, telus optik TV or DVD player to any brand of Flat Panel display via HDMI, the two units will have to handshake and sync via HDCP protocols and authentication keys and when that process is going on you will lose picture until verified and sync occurs.

    Since analog connections are not bi-directional and do not communicate, carry or contain HDCP digital copy protection, displays to not have to communicate or verify with the cable box copy protection and simply receive the signal via the Component video cable and then SYNC it and decode it at the maximum resolution based on the single sent from the source, this occurs almost instantaneously and there is usually no loss in picture unless the signal being sent is outside the parameters of the display.
    Because component video connections do not carry any HDCP digital copy protection, most commercial and multi-display installations use Component video for distribution. The one exception to this is Video Walls and Matrix video displays and digital signage which usually used DVI connections.

    The motorola DCX3400 has both HDMI and Component video outputs so the choice is yours. If you wish to avoid the HDCP digital copy protection and handshake and sync issues and display delays you may wish to connect the cable box to your TV with the component video cables. Connecting the display by HDMI will result in temporary loss in picture and sound each time you change between channels with different resolutions due to HDCP and that’s just the way HDMI works.

    The motorola DCX3400 is and excellent cable box and has many improvements over previous models so don’t let the HDMI HDCP affect your decision. If you wish to avoid the HDCP just hook up via component video as you are currently doing now and everything will work the same as it is now however the cable box will have a faster processor and larger hard drive.

    Good luck and Thanks for Reading

  5. how can i get to the recorded shows on the box? and download it somehow to my computer?

    • djsedm says:

      The simple answer is you can’t. All recordings on the PVR Hard Drive are copy protected and the HDMI output also carries DRM within the data which means you cannot store, transfer, copy or edit PVR recordings contained on the internal hard drive. Some PVR’s allow you to connect an external eSata or USB drive to increase the storage capacity however you cannot view PVR recordings made on an external hard drive on another cablebox either because during formatting of the external drive and recording to the external drive copyright protection code is written to pair the Hard Drive to the specific PVR and only that PVR. Trying to use the Hard Drive with another cablebox will result in a message this drive is unreadable would you like to format it – which of course will erase all the recording contained on it!.

      Depending on your cable provider some PVR’s and recordings will only work if connected to the cable outlet with a live connection to the cable company. Some users have tried to disconnect their PVR and take it with them camping for example to play back the recording on the hard drive. Much to their disappointment they find out that the PVR will not allow them to access their recordings without being connected to the cable companies network. A similar problem can occur if you disconnect your cablebox and take it over to a buddy’s place to watch PVR recordings on his TV at a different location. Depending on the cable service provider this often does not work either because even though the Cable Box is connected to the cable companies network – it is located on a different address, location or node of the network, this informs the cable company that the cable box is no longer located at it’s HOME network location and hence once again the recordings are blocked from access. Most PVR’s encode their recordings with DRM which requires a key code from the cable company to obtain access to the PVR hard drive and then a second key code to authorize playback.

      There is one solution which may work for some Digital Cable TV programs but does not work for Pay Per View Movies or Events and that is to connect a Stand Alone Digital Video Recorder or Recordable DVD Recorder to the Component Video outputs of your PVR. Instead of recording directly to the PVR’s Hard Drive you can record to the external Recordable DVD Player/Recorder – live real time. This works with most network Television programs but once again will not work with movies or other DRM protected content.

      DRM and Copy Protection is now built into all HDMI deceives to thwart the illegal copying, transfer and distribution of copy protected content.

  6. Rob says:

    By far the best information I have found on this PVR. I receive mine in 3 days and was researching information on this model. Thank you.
    I do have one question. You mentioned Samsung a couple times and I came to the assumption that there are other issues pertaining to the relationship to Samsung TV’s and this device. Would this information be found on another post? I have a 42″ HD Samsung 1080p and am now concerned that I may have issues. Could you point me in the right direction?
    Thanks again for the information (*throws HDMI cable out)

    • djsedm says:

      Chances are you shouldn’t have any problem with your Samsung TV. The problem referred to in the post is just a minor glitch and appears on some Samsung series 3-5 TV models. Samsung is now producing series 6-9 TV models and we haven’t heard if the newer models exhibit the same problem.

      The syncing problem is mainly caused by the guide on Shaw Cable boxes being Standard 4×3 definition while the programming is in 16:9 – 1080p format. As mentioned in the post some Samsung TV’s have a hard time syncing from an HDTV 16:9 channel or recording when switching from the guide or when initially watching a non-hd channel and they switching to an HD format. If this does happen – you’ll get a message that says something like “Format not supported” the quick and easy fix is to go to an HD channel, wait for the TV to sync and then launch the guide or PVR program and you’ll have no problem. Kind of annoying and it doesn’t happen all the time but the if it did happen at least you know there’s nothing wrong with your TV or cable box it’s just a small idiosyncrasy with some Samsung TV’s.

      Enjoy you’re new cable box and thanks for reading Techtipsandtoys!

  7. Eric says:

    Can you please tell me how to hook up the external hard drive? I just changed over to co cast from directtv and got 2 motorola dcx-3400-m hd-dvr receivers, when I plug in my western digital 1TB external Esata hard drive absolutely nothing happens, is there a way to get into bios or something to turn on this port? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    • djsedm says:

      You didn’t mention if the 1TB external hard drives you are connecting to the Motorola DSC3400’s are virgin, blank, brand new hard drives or if they were previously used with your Direct TV satellite receivers.

      There are no bios settings on the motorola boxes and the hard drive should just be plug and play if the hard drive is BLANK, EMPTY and formatted in FAT 32 windows format. If you have a blank, formatted drive all you need to do is plug it into the esata port and the Motorla DCX3400 will see it and a pop up screen will ask you if you wish to format the drive for use with the cable box.

      If you are using hard drives which were formatted to another cablebox or satellite system and have data on them then the motorola cable box will not recognize the hard drive since it has data on it and boot up and copy protection associated with your previous direct TV satellite receiver. In order for your Hard Drives to work you will need to connect them to a computer (Windows or Mac) and erase and reformat them in FAT32, Then when you connect the blank HD to the motorola DCX3400 the pop up screen will appear and you will be able to format the blank drive to the cable box.

      The same thing holds true when you are trying to swap hard drives between different cable boxes. You cannot swap hard drives between cable boxes either even if they are both motorola DCX3400’s. Some users with 2 or more motorola cable boxes think they can record programs onto one hard drive and then disconnect that hard drive and connect it to another cable box or bring it over to a friends house who has a motorola DCX3400 and then play the programs and movies off the hard drive – It won’t work.
      Copy protection is written to each hard drive directory identifying the hard drive and parent “Matched” cable box. This hard drive will then only work with the cable box it was formatted on and cannot be swapped between cable boxes. This is to prevent unauthorized viewing of programs at different locations, to prevent copying and to prevent watching shows not authorized for broadcast in specific area.

      So in summary – use a brand new virgin drive or erase and reformat your drive in FAT32 format and then connect it to your motorola cable box and realize that you will only be able to use that drive with that specific cable box.

      Good luck

  8. Wayne says:

    Your description of HDMI handshaking was a good read. I have a problem with my 3400 where the output resolution changes to 720p from 1080i when I turn off my Onkyo A/V amp. I think I am saving the setup correctly by pressing MENU with the power off, making changes and pressing MENU again. I tried to get a response from Shaw but they cut me off during my call and I didn’t want to wait on hold for another half hour. Is this a handshaking issue as well? Would going ‘back’ to component fix the problem?

    • djsedm says:

      It’s difficult to diagnose the problem fully without additional information however based on what you described – Yes you have a handshaking or syncing issue. The Onkyo AV Receiver is handling the HDMI handshake and when you turn the power off on the amp the HDMI loses the previous handshake and resorts to 720P until a new sync or handshake occurs when you re-power up your receiver. HDMI is an active powered signal and carries a 5V power with it to keep the handshake alive at all times. Most new receivers keep this voltage going through the HDMI ports even when the receiver is turned off while some receivers especially older ones do not keep voltage through the HDMI ports when shut off. The same thing happens to HDMI switches and HDMI amplifiers or splitters – they have to be powered up in order to keep the HDMI handshake properly synced. One solution might be to keep your Onkyo amp/receiver powered up all the time that should correct the problem. The best solution is to go back to Component Video if you can. HDMI is largely a convenience cable like USB for computers, 1 cable handles everything audio and video and there’s only one way to plug it in so you can’t hook it up wrong. Component video is the preferred method of transmitting HDTV in commercial applications mainly because their are no copy protection or handshake issues involved with component video. I would recommend going back to component video which I’m certain would solve your problem.

      As a side note, I am assuming the display you are hooking the 3400 up to is capable of 1080i signal and not just 720P. If your display is only capable of 720P or your TV monitor’s native resolution is 720P then the 3400 box will always resort to 720P when no power is present. Also if you change the channel or the programming content changes on the same channel from 1080i to 720P then your resolution will also change regardless of the method of connection. I’ve had clients who go to sleep watching a 1080i show and then wake up in the morning and watch the news which is only broadcast in 720P and wonder why the display changed resolutions. There was no problem the content the client was watching when they went to bed was broadcast in 1080i and the news in 720P that’s all..

      Hope I helped – Good Luck!

      • Wayne says:

        Your comments made me remember that I had HDMI control turned off. When I turned it on, it made no difference, other than my amp would light up ‘HDMI thru’ when turned off. My amp is a 2010 (TX-NR1008) model so I would have hoped that HDMI would be working properly. I guess not. I connected the 3400 to my amp with component and optical and as you said, and everything works as it should now. I ‘was’ a believer in the ‘everything digital’ concept. I was hoping for the the best quality picture without analog connections. I can’t tell the difference between component into my amp which converts it to HDMI for my TV and straight HDMI through.

        I disagree with your comment that HDMI is like USB, other than the one cable idea. I have used USB since it came out and that technology never has given me as much trouble as HDMI, even under Windows 98!. All the numerous HDMI standards and parameter settings in each device are FAR more confusing than getting the ‘old’ cables plugged in correctly. USB under Windows 7 never needs attention. Just plug something it in and it works. If that was the goal of HDMI, they failed miserably.

        Thanks again for your help.

      • djsedm says:

        Wayne, Glad you got your problem fixed and thanks for your comments on HDMI

        Actually we DO AGREE my comments on HDMI being like USB is exactly how you phrased it – “One Cable Idea”.

        HDMI – High Definition Multimedia Interface: evolved from Component Video and DVI (Digital Video Interface). Component video came out first and allowed consumer monitors to display High Definition programming. Shortly after Component Video DVI was born on the consumer side which allowed true Digital Signals to be transmitted from PC’s to digital monitors improving the performance of VGA (which is similar to component video). Both video transmission methods were “Video Only” and required a second cable or cables to carry the audio signal. Analog signals were carried by RCA audio cables, or 3.5mm mini jack cables while digital audio was carried by Coaxial or Toslink cables. The complexity of separate cables for audio and video signals and analog and digital signals made hooking up HDTV monitors a nightmare for the average consumer and created varies difficulties for equipment manufacturers to make A/V amplifiers, receivers and switches all work with the myriad of connections options.

        Enter HDMI – HDMI was supposed to solve all the inter-connectivity issues related to Component Video, DVI, RCA, 3.5mm mini jack, Coaxial and Toslink audio and video connections. The goal of HDMI was to combine digital audio and video connections into a single cable – similar to the largely successful widely adopted USB interface in the consumer interface. When developing the HDMI standard all was well till the movie industry entered the picture and decided that HDMI must carry various forms of copy guard protection within the specs of the cable. Previous to HDMI copy guard was handled by the format VHS, Beta, CD, DVD and Blu-ray discs and tapes all had various forms of copy protection encoded on them, Macro-Vision was one of the more popular methods of copy guard encryption. The recording and movie industry wasn’t happen with the software forms of encryption which were largely defeated and wanted a more robust hardware solution which eventually became part of the HDMI spec and that’s were the problems with HDMI began.

        HDMI unlike DVI and Component video is a bi-direction communication cable which means it not only sends signals to the TV, Monitor or AV Receiver but needs to receive signals back from these devices in order to sync or handshake and allow the transmission to continue. HDMI is meant to be a point to point transmission method and anything you put in between the sending equipment ie Cable Box or Blu-ray player and the receiving unit ie TV or Monitor will interfere with the handshake or syncing and potentially create problems.

        The best way to overcome HAND SHAKING issues is to connect your source, blu-ray player or cable box directly to your TV and then the output of your TV back to the audio of your receiver. This allows your TV to do the switching instead of your receiver and thus minimizes the handshake/sync issues with HDMI.

        The second major problem with HDMI is that it is a “Living Spec” and future versions are not necessarily compatible with previous versions. USB is a standard spec and each version of USB is fixed and final. There are now three versions of the USB spec, 1,2 and USB 3. Each version of the spec is backward compatible with the previous spec the only difference is the data transfer speed will slow down to the lowest common denominator in the chain, thus if you are connecting a USB 3 hard drive to a USB 1 or 2 port on a computer, it will work however you will only get USB 1 or 2 data speeds and not USB 3.

        The same is not true for HDMI which is a growing source of many HDMI problems today and will continue to become an even bigger problem in the future. HDMI as stated is a living spec and is subject to change all the time. HDMI started as HDMI 1.1 then 1.2 followed by 1.3 and most recently 1.4. Most of today’s HDMI components are equipped with Ethernet or Wifi ability to allow firmware downloads to upgrade the HDMI spec to current standards within each version however most equipment won’t allow you to upgrade from HDMI 1.1 to 1.4 for example. If you have an HDMI 1.3 piece of equipment it will stay HDMI 1.3 and firmware upgrades will only continue to update the 1.3 spec and not upgrade to 1.4 or above since 1.4 requires different hardware aswell, similar to a motherboard or processor upgrade.

        So here in lies the biggest problem with HDMI moving forward, now with 4 different versions of the HDMI spec, and each version NOT necessarily backward compatible with the previous version, consumer audio and video integration has not evolved into a nightmare 10 times worse than could ever have been imagined with Component Video or DVI, Sure back in those days you had to deal with 3 or 5 separate cables but they all worked with any TV, Monitor, Receiver or Cablebox. Now fast forward to today where you might have a 3D blu-ray player with an HDMI 1.4 spec, a X-box or video game console with a 1.2 spec and Monitor with a HDMI 1.3 spec and an AV receiver with a 1.1 Spec. Now plug all the easy 1 connection HDMI cables into the receiver and guess what – NOTHING WORKS! The HDMI switching in the receiver is based on 1.1 HDMI Spec and all the components are 1.2 and above. In this scenario the only way to make this work is to connect all the video sources directly to the TV which is HDMI 1.3 and then the audio from the TV to the receiver. Use the TV for switching and you should be OK except when playing 3D content and here’s why.

        So first off we have HDMI components with various different HDMI spec versions 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 and 1.4 now here’s another complication – THE CABLES,, there are now various different HDMI cable specs from HDMI 1.1 to HDMI 1.4. While most cables today are HDMI 1.3 and are backward compatible to HDMI 1.1 and 1.2 they may not work with HDMI 1.4 devices.

        Wholly Crap what a mess you say – EXACTLY!

        I laugh when uninformed consumers wish to debate with me that HDMI is a superior interface to either DVI or Component Video. Sure it’s easier to plug in on cable rather than five and sure full digital signal is faster than analog to digital conversion BUT the resolution at the end of the day with most components regardless of the transmission method is exactly the same. 720P is 720p and 1080P is 1080P regardless of how the information is transferred the pixel count and information displayed on the TV monitor or screen and the audio played through the speakers is exactly the same – the only difference is HDMI carries with it copy protection while component and DVI do not.

        I should note that some blu-ray players restrict output on their units to 1080i when using component video and 1080P only when connected by HDMI. This is not a technological problem but an engineering choice once again brought about by the content providers (movie industry) to restrict 1080P output to HDMI copy protected devices only.

        The bottom line is if you are planning on using HDMI make sure all your equipment is connected to the internet to allow firmware updates to the HDMI spec and be prepared to upgrade your AV receiver every couple of years to the latest HDMI spec if you are planning on using your AV receiver to do the switching of your HDMI components.

        Lastly I should note you may have noticed that most new A/V receivers are only being made with one or two component video ports, the same with TV’s. Unfortunately component video is being phased out and it’s rumored that most A/V equipment by 2014 will only be made with HDMI interfaces, many blu-ray players today only have HDMI output.

        My old Yamaha A/V receiver has 5 component video inputs and outputs and I’m hanging onto it!

  9. Tom Freeburg says:

    I don’t know if this discussion is closed or not but I’ll give it a try.
    I have a DCX3400m supplied by my local cable company. It initially would not accept an external HD but after a few months, my cable company informed me that the port had been activated. I plugged in a 500gb Western Digital drive and every thing looked fine. But I later discovered that the multi-room feature of the DCX3400 would not recognize anything that was recorded on the external drive. In other words – when I record a show or movie and the recording is put on the external drive – I can watch it on the DCX itself but I am unable to watch it from the multi-room satellite STB’s.
    Of course – the techs at the cable co can not give me any solutions to the problem.

    • djsedm says:

      Tom – Your Motorola DCX-3400 and other boxes are working properly the problem is in the firmware programming of the DCX-3400 and DCX3200 boxes.

      Each cable company programs the features of the cable box they wish to offer. For example when you first received your DCX-3400 the external hard drive feature was turned off and then later the cable company decided to open up this feature and presto your External hard drive is working fine with the DCX-3400.

      The same thing applies to the PVR anywhere feature you are using on the DCX-3400 the cable company (i assume it’s Comcast) has enabled that feature (our cable company Shaw cable does not allow that feature at this time so you’re lucky!)

      The problem you are having is a Directory Issue in the internal firmware programming of the DCX3400 and DCX3200 boxes. While your cable company has enabled PVR anywhere feature they have restricted it to the internal hard drive directory on the external DCX3200 boxes. Only the DCX 3400’s firm ware has been upgraded to look for other Hard Drives and directories via USB or esata. Your 3400 can see the extra HD and directory while the 3200 receivers are programmed just to look for the main directory which is the internal hard drive inside the DCX-3400.

      The cable company techs or service may be reluctant to help you simply because they’re is no simple or easy solution – it requires a FIRMWARE Upgrade to the DCX-3200 boxes allowing them to LOOK for other HD and directories.

      Since your DCX-3200 boxes are seeing the internal Hard Drive on the Motorola DCX-3400 your network (either ethernet or MOCA) is working correctly however as I said the only directory programmed to search for and play back video is the internal HD on the DCX3400.

      Tom you’re lucky your cable company even offers PVR Anywhere or Multi-Room PVR many cable companies using the Motorola boxes do not enable this feature (I don’t know why?)

      The only two things you can do is call, email, tweet or mail a letter to your cable company asking them to upgrade the firmware in your motorola cable boxes to allow you to access the external hard drive connected to the DCX3400 and patiently wait for a firmware update.

      The second thing would be to confirm with another cable customer who also has a DCX3400 and DCX3200 and see if his system will recognize and playback the second external hard drive, if his/her DCX-3200 will playback from the external Hard Drive then the problem isn’t that the cable company hasn’t enabled the feature or firmware upgrade the problem is with your specific DCX3400 set to box – in which case you need to repair or replace it.

      Those are the only 2 solutions I can offer, most likely scenario 1 – the cable company has restricted PVR anywhere to the internal HD directory on the DCX3400

      Scenario 2 only applies if you know of someone who has the external drive working and playing back on a remote DCX3200 in which case your DCX3400 is hooped!

      Good Luck and thanks for reading TechTipsandToys.

  10. Tom says:

    Thanks for your quick reply. My cable company is not Comcast – It’s a small cable and phone coop in SC called HTC — (Horry Telephone Cooperative)

    I suspect that this is some sort of quirk in the firm ware that has not yet been addressed by Motorola. The cable company has always been very quick to upgrade both their equipment & the associated firmware as it becomes available. They also seem to go out of their way to satisfy their customers – this was my main reason for choosing HTC when we moved down to SC.

    You bring up a good point that I had not considered – it could be the firmware of the DCX 3200 boxes rather that the 3400 DVR box. I will question the cable techs about this possibility the next time I speak to them.

    Thanks again for the quick reply.

  11. Keith says:

    my dcx 3400 makes a loud clunking noise like an 80s computer. It sounds like a helicopter noise kinda like dunka dunka dunaka and it is a really annoying. Is this normal? If so i will have to switch to another service provider because the noise is too loud for a bedroom which is what I wanted this product for.

    • djsedm says:

      No that’s not normal – most likely cause is the Hard Drive is going bad and about to fail. If you have any recordings on the PVR i suggest you watch them soon, if the hard drive fails you will lose them all. The second problem could be the cooling fan is failing or dirty or both. You don’t necessarily have to switch to a different service provider just call your current cable company up and let them know of the problem – if it’s the hard drive or fan chances are they’ll repair it for free or minimal charge if your a good paying cable customer.

      You should know that ALL set top boxes whether Cable, Satellite or Telephone company boxes with built in PVR – recorders will have a cooling fan and hard drive built into the integrated units. Even when these units are working normally they’re still to loud for most people when it comes to sleeping in the bedroom. The fan will turn on and off periodically throughout the night causing a whirring noise while the hard drive will make a clicking noise or muted spinning noise from time to time during the night especially if you are recording a program at night. There is no way to get around this noise with a PVR set top box with built in recorder and hard drive.

      You have two options for a set top box in the bedroom

      1 – Non DVR box – the first option is to choose a non-dvr set top box from your provider. These boxes are convection cooled and do not have cooling fans or noisy hard drives – of course they don’t record either.

      2 – Telus TV Remote Terminal or Shaw Gateway Portal: if PVR is a must then the only viable option is Telus TV Remote Terminal or Shaw Gateway Portal. Both the Telus Tv and Shaw Gateway offer PVR anywhere feature. With these systems the noisy fan cooled hard drive box is located elsewhere in the home either in your main TV watching area like a media room, living or family room or in the case of the Shaw Gateway usually your utility room. The Portal or Remote Terminal box in the bedroom does not contain a hard drive or cooling fan so it is quite. The remote terminal or portal box receives streaming video from the PVR box which is located outside the bedroom elsewhere in the house. With these type of systems you still get PVR access however since the hard drive is in another room you don’t have the noise associated with it. There is a price to pay with either the Shaw Gateway or Telus TV remote systems. These systems require you to purchase a minimum of 2 boxes in the case of Telus or 3 components in the case of the Shaw gateway. Each of these systems will run you between $500 – $800 dollars in equipment. In the case of Telus some equipment is free if you sign a three year rental agreement. Shaw’s equipment is available for either easy pay (monthly payments to own) or outright purchase. Once you begin to buy into a system which ever your choose you’re going to be tied to that system for at least a couple of years due to the high cost of equipment ownership so do your research and make sure you really like the system your choosing.

      Both Telus Optik TV and Shaw Gateway systems have their pros and cons and there is no one best system for everybody. Each person has unique needs and preferences which will determine which system is best for them.

      Of course there is one more option which we didn’t talk about and that is the possibility of relocating the DCX3400 receiver into another room like a closet and then running the HDMI or component cable and infrared repeater cable back to the TV. Another option would be to use an infrared repeater or Harmony UHF RF remote control to control the remotely located cablebox. Of course if you’re going to locate the cable box in another room or closet it goes without saying you’re going to require electrical power near by which may be an option for some but not for others.

      Good luck!

  12. Randy says:

    The info you have shared on the DCX3400 is excellent!
    I’m operating my Denon AVR’s via web pages & would like to do the same thing with the Motorola receivers. I purchased 2 DCX3400M receivers from Shaw & want to know if they can be controlled via their Ethernet connections?.
    Thanks for your help.

    • djsedm says:

      While technically the ethernet jacks on the Motorola cable boxes are capable of networking with other cable boxes and potentially network control and access SHAW CABLE has not enabled the ethernet jack on their version of the Motorola DCX series cable boxes therefore the short answer is NO you cannot control the Shaw Cable Boxes via ethernet.

      The Motorola DCX series of cable boxes are actually very advanced and capable of many more features that SHAW has not turned on or enabled. The cable boxes have the potential of PVR anywhere – to allow you to start and stop recordings from other DCX networked cable boxes. The DCX series also has MOCA which would allow netowrking of cable boxes via COAXIAL CABLE or ETHERNET as mentioned in the article. Lastly remote access is available on the Motorla DCX Series of cable boxes however for some reason SHAW has not turned on or enabled ANY of These FEATURES.

      Several cable companies in the USA use the same Motorola DCX series cable boxes and have iPhone and iPad apps to control them, PVR anywhere and remote internet programming and access. Some cable companies even have iPhone and iPad streaming but once again Shaw has not turned on these features.

      Shaw has concentrated their marketing efforts on the New Shaw Gateway box which has a higher resolution GUI and technically higher capacity and more flexibility then the Motorola DCX format – the only problem is the real life experience with the Shaw Gateway is falling far short of the expectations and marketing hype. Shaw believes the Gateway is a better looking and featured product to compete against Telus Optik TV and future offerings from Bell – but truth be told the Motorola DCX series is a war horse and although not as pretty as the Gateway (Gui wise) is far more reliable then the problematic Gateway.

      I’ve heard rumors that Shaw will be updating the Motorola DCX boxes to offer PVR anywhere and perhaps a Shaw remote app. I should say I’ve been hearing these rumors for months now and still have not seen any movement or hint of new features on the motorola product line from Shaw. I thought for certain they’d do something before Christmas but it looks like they’re going to keep trying to get the Gateway off the ground at least for another 6 months before conceding that it is a flawed product and look to enhance their Motorola customer base.

      I’m with you Randy as a Shaw customer myself and systems integrator, I too wish they had networking enabled on the Motorola DCX series of cable boxes.

      Christmas is coming ! Santa are you listening? How about Shaw – Can you hear us!

      • Randy says:

        Thanks for your rapid response. I really appreciate it.
        I’ll leave some milk out for Santa Shaw er I mean Santa Claus & hopefully we see some of these great features become enabled.
        Thanks again.

  13. Stan Chraminski says:

    When I plug in external speakers via the audio out ports on 3400 box, the mute button won’t work on them. Any way to enable this? I am plugged into TV via HDMI cable. Should I go back to regular video and audio connections like previous posts?

    • djsedm says:

      Stan – I’m uncertain as to how everything is connected with your system since there would be multiple Mute Buttons involved in this scenario. There’s the mute on the cable box, a mute on the TV and a mute on the stereo receiver.

      To complicate matters more the remote provided by most cable providers is also programmable and can be set up to allow the cablebox, TV set or audio receiver to control volume and ‘Muting’.

      Depending on your configuration that means there are a minimum of 27 different wiring setup configuration so the answer to your question is not a simple one.

      My best guess without seeing your setup is that the audio controls, including the muting button on your cable remote box remote control is programmed for either your TV or Receiver and when you’re pressing the muting button on the remote it is Not muting the cablebox output (or at least the HDMI digital output) but rather trying to mute the speakers on the TV or receiver. This then leads me to the assumption that either the mute button is not programmed right for your TV or receiver or that one of these components is not configured correctly. Of course without seeing your remote control, cabling and wiring set up this is only a most likely guess based on average most common set up and may not apply to your situation at all.

      Start by troubleshooting the mute button on the remote and make sure it is controlling the component you want it to ie: cable box, TV or receiver

      Wish I could be more help – good luck.

  14. don humphrey says:

    how do you select higher than 480 resolution when using a HDMI cable, mine only allows me to choose between 481i & 480p

    • don humphrey says:

      sorry that’s 480i or 480p when I press the format button, how do I get higher (my TV goes up to about 1080)

      • djsedm says:

        Hi Don,

        I’m not certain which city you’re in so the channel guide numbers I will refer to are for Edmonton and may be different in your area.

        Regular Standard Definition Channels are broadcast in 480i or 480p, some programs on the HDTV channels are also broadcast in 480i or 480p. This means that if the native broadcast is in 480i or 480p you the cable box the cable box will only send the signal out at the original native resolution – it can’t send it out at 1080i or 1080p because the broadcast feed is only 480P or maybe even less in the case of standard definition.

        In order to get 720P or 1080i or 1080p resolution you have to be on a channel that is broadcasting in 1080i or 1080p. If you are watching a channel in 1080i or 1080p for example the format button will allow you do down convert or down scale it to 720 or 480 to allow playback on older HDTV sets. Same for example you have an older HDTV set which is only 720P compatible, feeding it a 1080P signal may result in no image since it cannot sync with the resolution being output by the cable box. In this case you would need to change the format button to 720P.

        Most new 720P HDTV flat panels have automatic scaling capability in them so they will down scale a 1080P signal to 720 within the TV itself, however older 720P HDTV’s and some projectors do not have scaling capability and cannot display 1080P which is why there is a format button so you can match the cablebox resolution to your flat panel display.

        If you are in Edmonton the STANDARD DEFINITION Cable Channels are channels 2-199. The HDTV Channels in Edmonton can be found on channels 200 and 300s.

        For example TSN Channel 20 in Edmonton is STANDARD Definition and is broadcast at 480P however TSN HD is Channel 219 and is broadcast between 480 and 1080p depending on the programing. Hockey games for example are usually 1080i.

        If you are watching standard definition channels you will only be able to watch them in 480i or 480p which is most likely what you’re doing.

        There are some basic HDTV channels included in Shaw’s digital programming however many HDTV channels require an additional subscription and cost additional monthly fees.

        Give Shaw a call and make sure you have subscribed to an HDTV programming package. Find out what channels are broadcast in HD by using the on screen programming guide.

        I hope that helps

  15. don humphrey says:

    Thank you, it was changing by it’s self I just didn’t notice.
    I was hoping that was the cause of my real problem with this pvr which is that the picture now is “jumpy”, it’s hard to explain but a couple of examples would be while watching football when the camera pans across the field the lines on the field kind of start/stop rather than cross the screen smoothly, same with the glass supports on a hockey game as the camera follows the players. It’s also very noticable on the ticker at the bottom of the screen on news programs, the text does not flow smoothly across the screen.
    To be sure it wasn’t a problem with the HDMI side of things I used a co-ax cable from the box to the TV and it still does it hooked up that way as well. I called Shaw and they blamed my TV saying it was a cheepie (it’s about 1 year old Hysense 32″ LCD).
    Please help, I can’t watch the World Juniors this way!!! 🙂

  16. Sergio says:

    I read about some handshaking /blank screens when the HDMI cable is used. Try a component one.

    Also, pressing the menu key in the box and using the arrows/Enter keys is possible to change some things too. (Like show the time instead of the channel # in the front)

  17. Terry Gardiner says:

    Hi I just purchased the DCX 3400. My TV is a 1080p plasma. When I did the setup I was online with Shaw in Vancouver. It seemed that the picture was not as sharp as with my old STB. The tech support guy had me press the menu button and where the resolution section was had me change it from 1080i ( there did not seem to be a 1080p option) to 720p. He stated that Shaw only broadcasts in 720p anyway so the 1080i option was not required. It did not change the sharpness so I changed it back. My question is, in many of your postings you mention a 1080p signal. Does Shaw broadcast in 1080p in Edmonton?

    • djsedm says:

      I am not a Shaw employee or affiliated with Shaw therefore cannot speak directly or officially for Shaw however I can tell you that I am watching the Vancouver Edmonton hockey game tonight on Sportsnet HD and the Format icon on my DCX3400 reads 1080i.

      As far as 1080p is concern my postings indicate the the EQUIPMENT IS CAPABLE of receiving, decoding and displaying 1080P signals therefore if your cable provider broadcasts such programming then the Motorola DCX3400 is capable of decoding and displaying the video stream.

      Not all programming on HD channels is broadcast in 1080i, in fact MOST HD programming in Canada is 720p and some programs are streamed in only 480p and some in 1080i, I am not aware of any 1080p broadcast programming from any source (satellite, internet, optik tv, cable). The hockey game tonight on SportsNet West HD is 1080i however early today SportsNet Connected was only 480P. Bluray is the only programming source for 1080p when connected by HDMI and 720p when connected by component video.

      I am intrigued by your comment and reference that your old STB was sharper or clearer than your new one? The STB merely decodes the signal streamed by your cable provider to the maximum resolution of the box therefore both boxes should look identical when streaming the same program on the same cable channel through the same source HDMI or Component Video. The previous older Motorola DCT series and PACE boxes would have receive the SAME signal from SHAW as your new DCX box therefore the resolution and “SHARPNESS” should be identical? No if you’re comparing different HD Channels and programming that’s a different story since each channel can be broadcast in different resolutions therefore it is reasonable to see differences between HD channels since one may be in 480P another in 720P and yet another in 1080i. This is normal since various HD programming is shot in different resolutions.

      I gave my neighbor a call tonight who has Telus Optik TV and asked him to check the resolution of the hockey game tonight on Telus Optik – it’s 1080i also just like Shaw here in Edmonton or at least that’s what both our STB read as the format.

      Curious? what was the make and model of your old STB that you feel was giving your higher resolution and Sharper picture? Please write back and let us know.

  18. Terry Gardiner says:

    Thanks for your fast response, on further review now that I have used the STB for a coupe of days it appears that my first impressions were incorrect.I have viewed a few shows since installation that appear to be as sharp as the old one. My old box was the Motorola DCT6416 which worked well but was the hard drive was too small. I did find it strange that the Shaw tech guy stated that their max was 720p but, overall I am satisfied with the results. I had Telus at my place in Whistler and I just switched to Shaw. Shaw is the better provider IMHO. Thanks again!

  19. amy says:

    You may or may not be able to help me, however, I will try!…My cable company gave me the Motorola DCX3501-M DVR abt a month ago when I went in to exchange my old DVR for various problems…I have had more problems out of this one so far then the whole time I had the old. Anyway…after talking to cable company techs…several times!!!…I got it up and running (they had to reboot it and several other things)…Early this morning, it just shut off by itself….I turned it back on manually and the clock on the front display went to 00:00 and then shut back off….nothing. My cable and DVR came back on eventually, but my front display has not come back. I have no time…channel. No red light letting me know if something is recording. I know these are small things, but I had them before and want them back…I just dread calling the cable company again…they are such a pain….Can you help??????

    • djsedm says:

      The things you are referring aren’t small things – they are a key part of the operating system. I can’t speculate as to what caused the display to stop working – there are too many variables however I do not believe there is anything you can do from an end user perspective to Fix or Restore the front panel display based on the information you are provided.

      Sorry I can’t help you out with this one – you’re going to have to call the dreaded Cable Company and most likely get a new set top box.

  20. beetle403 says:

    I just upgraded from a DCT2500 to a DCX3400 on my Shaw cable connection to a Sony KP-43T75 SD TV. Everything is working well except that the new Universal Electronics remote 1056B03 that came with the DCX3400, after being setup with Sony code 0000, won’t control the PIP functions such as SWAP. The older remote still works just fine in this regard. Is there something that needs to be done to the new remote to make it compatible with the older TV?

  21. Greg R says:

    Great Info.
    Well, it seems the only way to get recorded materal out is via the component out of the DCX3400. Is there a DVR or blue ray recorder with component inputs to record from the DCX 3400?

    • djsedm says:

      There are no blu-ray recorders with component video inputs, you may find an older DVD recorder on ebay which would still have component video inputs however you will also have to deal with Macrovision copyguard or some other type of encryption on PPV recordings. Broadcast programming would record fine however most movies will have encryption built into them during broadcast.

      I used to have a DVD recorder which could record for a Motorola DCT cablebox however most movies and some broadcast shows would fade in and out and the audio would drop in and out due to copyguard.

      • Greg R says:

        Well, I’m mostly interested in recording non PPV material. I’m so sick of the copyguard stuff. I have no intention of stealing or re-distributing. material. I just want to keep the shows I really like to view anytime I wish and to have it readily available without searching or storing DVD’s
        Ok, I guess the next best option is S-video, don’t mind if its SD. I can continue using my existing PC base recording with S-video.

        Can you comment on the IEEE 1394? Where does that fit in? My TV has that but am currently using HDMI (after reading this article, I may switch to compoent).

      • Jim Johnson says:

        My Shaw Motorola DCX3400-M freezes often and has to be reset. This really bugs my spouse. The Shaw techie says the box has a “glitch” and proposes replacing it. However this solution entails losing everything I’ve recorded on the 3400. I want to save those videos. Shaw disables the firewire output port on the box and encrypts any output signal CCI 0×02 encryption. Is there any way I can play a video on the box and record it with a DVD recorder and burn to a disk? If I did manage to record it to a disk, could I then use software to remove the CCI encryption?
        Can anybody help?

      • djsedm says:

        Jim there is no way to remove, transfer or copy the recordings from the hard drive of your original DVR. This is not something exclusive to Shaw all cable companies PVR’s are lock down with various forms of copy protection, encryption, DRM and safeguards to prevent illegal copying recordings. I’ve had some people tell me that they have successfully removed the HD from the old PVR and put it into an external enclosure which they were also to access through the USB jack on a new PVR. I have also had people tell me that this cannot be done and doesn’t work because the file structure cannot be read. Personally I tried using recordings made on an external PVR Expander with a different PVR and the other PVR wouldn’t recognize the PVR Expander and wanted to erase and reformat it for use on the New PVR.

  22. Greg R says:

    I ordered a Western Digital eSATA PVR and hooked it up, but my DCX3400 doesn’t reconize it. I power off the DCX, hooked up the eSATA data cable and powered up my PVR external hard drive, then powered on the DCX. I was expecting to see some kind of on-screen prompt but didn’t see any.I checked with my service provider to make sure the option was enabled for my DCX and was told that it was. Any ideas?

    • djsedm says:

      While the PVR expander functionality of your Motorola DCX3400 ‘May be’ function the eSata Port may not be initialized or used.

      We always use the USB Port and it always works on our installations.

      I suggest using the USB Port rather than the eSata Port odds are it PVR Expander capability is activated in your cablebox firmware the USB Hard Drvie will be recognized by the system and then a be initialized and formatted by the DCX3400

      Another solution would be to try a different hard drive and of course in order to rule out an issue with the connecting cables a second eSata or USB Cable would be helpful especially if you know for certain the connecting USB or eSata cable works on another device.

      A couple of other things – your hard drive needs to be formatted in Windows FAT32 format

      Give these things a try and let us know how you made out.

      Good Luck.

      • Tom says:

        There is another issue that you should be aware of when you do get the box to recognize the external drive.. If you are using the DCX as a multiple room DVR, the external drive will not be recognized by the satellite boxes – only the DCX itself will recognize it. I have been told by my cable supplier that Motorola is aware of this problem and are trying to solve it.

  23. Greg Ray says:

    Thanks for the info. I have connected the PVR expander to a computer via USB to verify that it works and is formatted Fat32. I tried to connect it to the DCX via USB using the same cable I used to connect to the computer but it still is not recognized I called WD and the tech said that he could not find the DCX on the compatibility list for my expander. So finally, I called my service provider to make sure the USB and eSATA ports were activated and they said it was. The only thing left is to try a different eSATA cable or try a different DCX short of calling Motorola directly. I really appreciate the quick responses and suggestions. I think I will go to my Service Provider (Comcast) to see if another DVR will recognize it.

  24. Greg Ray says:

    UPDATE: Thanks to you replies, but I just found out after numerous calls and digging deep, that COMCAST does not enable either the eSATA or USB ports on the DCX3400 or any of the other models they provide their customers. Looks like I’ll be searching for another service provider. BTW, they did offer the 3400M which has a 500 MB HD. That does not really help me because I already have material recorded that could not be transferred to the new larger HD. Very frustrating. Again, I want to thank you for your help. This is a great source of technical info that COMCAST doesn’t seem to know about.

  25. Greg Ray says:

    I was wondering if you know if it is possible to replace the internal hard drive on the DCX3400 with a larger one? I would guess that depends on the BIOS used in the DCX. I have no problem with installing a hard drive. Would you know the largest size HD the DCX will recognize?

  26. Lucinda Dockins says:

    There is a lot of good information here, but I have a simple question that wasn’t addressed. We just got a new DVR box from Comcast. Model: DCT Unit ID: 000-10904-28821-238. We just wanted to know what the memory capacity for recording shows on this model is. How many hours of recorded shows will it hold? The older model we had didn’t have much of a memory.

    • djsedm says:

      Each cable company orders their DVR units from Motorola built to spec therefore the Hard Drive sizes can vary. Most cable companies install 250-500BG HD’s in there DVRs, years ago the common size was 150-200GB. Interesting that you refer to Comcast supplying you a NEW DCT series DVR, these units are at least 2-3 years old since the DCX series replaced them back in 2011 up here in Canada and even earlier in the USA. Most DCT and DCX series DVRs have USB ports on the rear which enable you to add up to 1TB external HD to expand your recording and storage. Once again some cable companies turn the USB port off or do not allow external HD’s to be connected. Lastly I should say that even the same cable company (Comcast for example) can have several different variations of the SAME MODEL of cable box with different features and storage sizes available depending on the REGION or the NETWORK set up within a specific region.

      • Lucinda Dockins says:

        Thanks for the answer. When I say “new”, it was new to us. The old one was one of the first ones in our area. This newer model works a lot better than the other one, so we’re happy, for now. Guess I’ll have to call our local company here and ask them what the memory is for this model in our area.

  27. Randy Bruce says:

    When I use the PVR to watch a recorded program and I pause or rewind the program, it won’t start at the exact spot I stopped it at like the 6416 model I had before. Is there a problem with the machine or operator error? Thanks

  28. Randy Bruce says:

    I forgot to say that the machine I have now is a DCX 3400 model.

  29. Arlino says:

    My DCX3400 recently stopped showing images on the screen. The sound still works and I can see the Cable Channel guide. Also, recorded programs have the same problem.
    Any thoughts?

    • djsedm says:

      When you say you can see the cable guide, can you also see the menu and navigate to PVR Recordings, Settings, Guide ETC … in other words if I understand you right you can see the menu, guides etc and navigate to them however when you click on the guide to view a channel or click on a PVR recording to view it you get sound but not picture? Correct?

  30. djsedm says:

    Did you call your cable provider and tell them to RE-HIT your box? The next step would be to call your cable company and tell them to RE-Hit your box, it sounds like something is wrong with your encryption/Mpeg4 decoding. Call your call company get them to re-hit your box and it should work fine after that.

  31. Dean says:

    I see Greg Ray asked about the max capacity of the internal hard drive for the DCX3400 but didn’t get an answer to that one question, of the many he asked.

    I have a DCX3400-M from Shaw, and the internal hard drive is starting to fail. I’d like to put a clean FAT32 formatted 1 TB drive in, instead of the failing 500 GB drive. Would the system likely recognize the new drive and format it properly?

    Would it be better to try attaching it as an external drive vis eSATA or USB first, have the DCX format it, then swap it into the internal slot?

    Also, I haven’t cracked open my DCX3400-M yet, but I’ve read that they were equipped with Seagate 500 GB drives, 5900 rpm ST3500414CS 500 GB to be specific. Do I have to replace the internal drive with a Seagate or will a WD Green work as well?

    Thanks for your excellent responses to everyone. This is the best source of info I’ve found anywhere.

    • djsedm says:

      Most Shaw DCX3400’s came with 500 GB Hard Drives, but this is a choice of the Cable Co. Motorola, now Arris will install whatever size drive inside the DCX specified by the cable operator. I’ve heard of DCX’s with only 250 GB drives in them.

      With regard to external storage – most WD or Seagate drives will work for additional so you shouldn’t have a problem there however if you format the drive first as an external drive and then insert it into the DCX as the primary drive the DCX may not recognize it as the primary drive due to the file structure.

      The only thing you could do is try installing a virgin drive first as the primary and if that doesn’t work, install the original back in and try formatting you’re new 1TB as an external drive and then reinstall it as the primary and see what happens.

      Most cable companies will repair or replace the internal hard drive Free of Charge or for a nominal Fee if you are a cable subscriber. You may want to call Shaw first, chances are they may just replace the drive or you’re entire cablebox with a new one.

      If you decide to replace the internal drive let us know your experience so we can share it with the rest of the community.

      Good Luck!

      • Jim Johnson says:

        I also have a Shaw DCX3400 that occasionally squares up. Shaw will replace it with a DCX3410 for free, but there’s a big drawback. You’ll lose anything that you’ve recorded on the drive. You can’t copy it to another drive because the firewire port Is blocked. Even if you could access it and transfer the recorded content to another drive, it’s encrypted. So good luck on retaining your content. If they wanted, they could easily transfer the content to a new hard drive. Or I could do it myself if they just open up the firewire port and turn off the encryption setting. Any suggestion?

      • Tom says:

        Is it possible to keep the original box long enough to watch any shows that you have recorded and use the new box to record new shows. Example: new box connected to cable and HDMI 1 and old box just connected to HDMI 2.

  32. djsedm says:

    Jim your comments are all correct – there is no way to retain the recorded content on the internal hard drive of the Shaw Motorola/Arris DCX3400.

    As you commented the firewire port is disabled to prevent unauthorized duplication of recordings – there is no way around this and Shaw’s not doing it purpose, the content creators and programming rights holders mandate the cable companies to disable this port in order to carry and broadcast their content. Most broadcast rights agreements allow you to make and retain a digital recording of a show on the original HD of the DVR however they do not allow you to transfer, duplicate, rebroadcast or redistribute digital recordings from the HD on your PVR.

    Copy protection and DRM (digital rights management) is a pain for law abiding users but a necessity in the digital age to insure the content creators rights are protected.

    Unlocking the firewire port would be nice for situations such as you describe, but the unfortunate result would be rampant illegal copying and distribution of copyrighted broadcasts and shows and that’s something hollywood is not going to ever do.

    • Jim Johnson says:

      Yes, but if cable companies are mandated by content creators and programming-rights holders to disable the fire wire port, why is it that in the US they are prevented by the courts from doing so? For the most part, Canadian cable companies display material from those same creators and programmer- rights holders. Why are Canadian cable companies allowed to purposefully limit the usefulness of equipment that was purchased by an end user with the understanding that any recorded material will be accessible as long as it’s in the user’s possession and not distributed to any other user?

      Obviously Shaw could temporarily remove the block to the port, change the encryption setting, copy the content to a new hard drive and install it in the same machine. Then they could turn the encryption back on and disable the fire wire port again. That way, they could be assured that the recorded content would not be accessible with any other device. I would be satisfied if they even charged for that service.

      As I previously said, my DCX3400 box occasionally squares up. A Shaw technician’s diagnosis is that it “has a glitch.” They will replace the box with a DCX3510 for free, but then I will not be able to view any of the host of classic movies, football games or political events that I’ve recorded with the expectation of having then accessible in perpetuity. If the box has “a glitch” in it, it’s a good bet that one day it will be squaring up for good. And I will have lost any chance of ever viewing the material again.

      My monthly Shaw bill is more than some people pay for their rent. I’m repeatedly reminded that I’m one of Shaw’s favored friends. If this is how they treat their friends, I wonder what they might do to their enemies.

  33. djsedm says:

    Jim I didn’t really want to turn this into a Digital Rights Management Debate but there are distinct differences between Canada and the US especially when it comes to Rights and Freedoms and Broadcasting.

    1 – First off the US has the Constitution and the Bill of Rights while Canada on the other hand has the Charter of Rights. These are distinctly different with the US Constitution and Bill of Rights being far more powerful than the Canadian Charter of Rights.

    2 – While the firewire port on US cableboxes is useable it is only for Broadcast Programming and still does not allow you to transfer recordings of PPV Movies, VOD (Video on Demand, and most speciality channels. Only the regular OVER the AIR Broadcast channels are mandated to be unblocked and transferable by the firewire port on US cable boxes, speciality cable channels which are not broadcast over the air, often carry encryption and DRM which prevents them from being downloaded or transferred via the Firewire Port. So in really we’re talking about shows on NBC, ABC, Fox, CBS and PBS in the US and in Canada CTV, CBC and Global. Keep in mind that ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX are the rights holders and produce their own content while up in Canada American TV shows are licensed re-broadcasters of these shows but do not own or produce the content. If the same rules were to apply in Canada then a handful of Canadian Produced Shows should be transferrable via the firewire port but that would be it.

    3 – Rights: The broadcast rights for Canada and the US are entirely different and the same rules do not apply to all. Broadcast rights are different in every country around the world. Canada has the CRTC, the US has the FCC. These regulators set the rules for what type of content is allowed into the country, where and when it can be aired and what restrictions if any are placed upon the content or the broadcasters. Further Canada has a population of 35 million roughly the same as the state of California (38 milion). The population of the US is 311 million so needless to same when the RIGHTS HOLDERS are negotiating contracts with broadcasters and regulators like the FCC, the larger the group your representing the better the terms and conditions of the contract will be.

    4 – Cable Companies Don’t Hold the Rights: Cable Companies for the most part are just middle men and don’t hold the rights to most of the programs then transmit. The cable company is like a Highway, they don’t own the trucks and cars on the road, and don’t know what’s inside the trucks and cars they simply provide the method, (highway) to get the trucks and cars from one place to the next. The Canadian Broadcasters CTV, Global and CBC dictate the rules to which the cable companies must abide. In Canada the waters are a little murky because CTV is owned by Bell and Global is part of Shaw. Rogers also owns several broadcasts TV stations. Regardless of the ownership of the various cable companies and networks – the Broadcast rights are held by and dictated to the Cable Operators by the Rights Holders which largely are Hollywood and the American Network Companies.

    5 – Shaw’s Not the Bad Guy Here: Jim, I’m a Shaw customer, just like you and I’ve had my share of good and bad experiences with Shaw but in this case Shaw’s not the culprit. I’m sure Shaw would love to provide it’s customers with a better experience by opening up the firewire port and allowing all customers to download and transfer all recordings from their PVR’s to other backup hard drives and devices … unfortunately this is not a decision made by Shaw but rather, Shaw has to play by the rules it is given by the CRTC and content providers. Likewise I’m sure Shaw would like to assist you and transferring the files from your old hard drive to your new one, on an exception basis or even as a service … this however is not possible once again due to the restrictions placed upon Shaw by the rights holders … so even if it were possible and even if there was a market for such a service or product … Shaw unfortunately could not offer such a service to it’s customers.

    Jim the real core of your problem is not with Shaw but rather the shift from analog broadcasts and physical media to Digital broadcasting and streaming media. In the old days we had VCR’s and could record and archive as many programs as we wanted. Even if the programs were broadcast with copy protection there were little black boxes we could hook up between our VCR and cable box which enabled us to record copy protected programming. Those days are gone and DRM (Digital rights management) will become ever more restrictive in the days and years ahead as we move from a physical media society into a digital streaming world. HDMI 2 and HDCP 2.2 will enable 4K transmission and Ultra High Definition (UHDTV) programming but along with it will be a new version of copy protection which will not be backwards compatible with previous HDCP specs. Likewise the method which TV, Media and programming is delivered to your home is changing and will rapidly change in the years ahead. Streaming is going to be the way digital media content will be delivered into your home and mobile devices in the future. Physical copies of media, archives and local backups will vanish and will be replaced by Cloud Storage. As long as you pay for the streaming service you will have access to your media, stop paying or change providers and you will lose all access to your previously viewed or stored content.

    In a fully Digital World we are only one Glitch, Hard Drive Failure, Server Failure, Firmware Upgrade or Lighting Strike away from losing everything. Without local backup or locally stored media … when your internet goes down so does your access to all your media and files. This is a scary thought for anyone over the age of 40 who grew up with Physical Media but ask a 20 something about it and they tell you no big deal.

    Jim – Enjoy the recorded programming on your PVR for now and embrace the reality that one day your PVR will die or the Hard Drive will crash and all your data will be lost and gone and lost forever.

  34. Brian Dailly says:

    I have a Motorola DCX 3400 and lately when it hasn’t been used for about a week, when you go to turn the unit on it won’t turn on. After unplugging it for about ten minutes it will work until you turn it off and not turn it on again for about a week, you have to go through this process again to reset it. Lately after you go through this process to get it to work after a little while the remote will not work, the unit will not respond to the remote functions. There is nothing wrong with the remote. After you do another reset the remote will work withe the unit. Could you help me with this problem, I find it very frustrating.

    • djsedm says:

      Sounds like the hard drive in your DCX3400 may be going. There is nothing wrong with your remote – the HD in your PVR probably has some bad sectors in it and when it reaches one of them it stop the PVR from working. Another problem could be a weak power supply.

      1 – My first advice is to call Shaw and have them re-hit your receiver to FLASH the memory and upgrade the firmware. They will do this automatically for you, you do not need to download anything or do anything special except for calling Shaw and asking them for a RE-Hit.

      2 – Secondly – if the DVR seems to work fine when powered up, then leave the power on ALL the TIME and do not turn your PVR off. I leave my cableboxes on all the time.

      3 – If suggestions 1 & 2 don’t help the only other suggestion would be to Call Shaw and have them replace the DVR.

  35. John Bourque says:

    In my area, Charter requires that all privately owned cable boxes connected to their service also
    use a tuning adapter issued by Charter. This has something to do with compensating for a two
    directional capability that is inherently built into the Charter issued boxes.

    To use the tuning adapter, a USB cable also has to be connected between the tuning adapter
    and the cablebox. The USB is supposed to be for required instructions and communications
    between the two units.

    Do you know if the USB ports on the DCX-3400 are capable of this kind link with such an adapter?
    If it is, are there any additional firmware or software requirements and does the cable company
    usually provide such software as part of the activation process.

    There isn’t much about the USB ports in the 3400 documentation.


    • djsedm says:

      I can’t speak directly to your question regarding Charter Communications but will speak in general terms about the USB ports on the front and rear of the DCX cable boxes.

      There is no standard configuration for the USB ports on Motorola or Arris Cable Boxes. These ports are configured to the specifications of each service provider. Most often the front mounted USB port is used for Firmware Downloads and upgrades. The rear USB port is often used to attach and external hard drive to add extra storage capability to PVR units. The USB ports can also be turned off and serve no function at all.

      Your question refers to “compensating for a two directional capability … Charter issued boxes”, ALL cable boxes are two directional, this isn’t something that is unit to Charter. The cable box is essentially a streaming computer and communicates continually back and forth with the content provider (ie Cable Company). This bi-directional communication is done via the coaxial cable (same as a DSL cable modem) and does not require a USB or other device for data transfer purposes.

      It sounds like the USB tuning adapter you are referring to would have something to do with DATA ENCRYPTION and decoding CHARTER’s data stream to work with your box. Most cable companies either have the DATA ENCRYPTION Key built into their hardware or firmware. Sometimes cable providers will use a removable M-Card as a decoder but that generally was with earlier models.

      “Do you know if the USB ports …. are capable of this kind of link …..” As discussed the USB ports on the DCX-3200 are configured to the specifications provided by the Cable Service provider. These ports will function differently between a Shaw or Comcast Cable box and a Charter Cable Box for example. There is no standard configuration and all ports are hardware and firmware configurable.

      Hope this helps you out … thanks for reading techtipsandtoys

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