Bronze MemberUsername: Filetester
Deep down, Up there Canada
Post Number: 22
All right, when I wanted to buy a good PVR, I had this dilemma and could not decide if I should buy the viewsat pvr7000 or the sonicview pvr1000. So I looked at the past history and bought the viewsat pvr7000 because of their excellent support in the past. I played with the viewsat pvr7000 for a few weeks and then decided to buy the sonicview pvr1000. Now, I have both PVR receivers; Sonicview PVR1000 and Viewsat PVR7000.
I decided to compared them and write a review about my experience to make it a little bit easier for others so they dont have to go through the same dilemma I went through.
This thread is not to bash anybody or any brand. This is just my honest opinion on comparing these two PVRs, since I got them both sitting side by side and I have been playing with them over a month now.
OK, they are both good receivers. Both new to the market and a little bit buggy, but I hope the bugs will be fixed soon. So far I am receiving great support from Sonicview and Viewsat coders both.
I like the Sonicview pvr1000 much better than the viewsat pvr7000, for following reasons:
Viewsat has shown a great support in the past for their STBs. Sonicview still to prove that their support can be as good as viewsat. So far every time a fix was needed, sonicview has provided a fix for their pvr1000 few days earlier than viewsat for their PVR7000. So far they have beat viewsat with the PVR fixes. So lets hope sonicview will continue with their excellent support in the future. Only time can tell us.
The picture quality on the Sonicview pvr1000 is waaayyy better than viewsat pvr7000. If you have a small TV, you may not see the difference, but I can see a big difference on my 61" HDTV. The picture quality is the second most important thing to me (number 1 is support) and honestly, I was not happy with viewsat PQ. I have a big screen HD TV and I am using good quality component cables, but still I see a lot of pixilation on the viewsat. I love the picture quality on the sonicview pvr, crystal clear picture.
The audio is great in both receivers. They both provide true AC3 dolby digital audio.
The EPG on sonicview is much better than viewsat. First of all it updates faster than viewsat and it can update while the STB is in standby mode. Currently you get only 3 days EPG on viewsat, but sonicview gives you 7 solid days of EPG. Looking at the sonicview guide screen you can see three hours of information, while viewsat shows only 2 hours of information on the screen.
The viewsats remote control was driving me nuts. It is big and you have to point the remote directly at the STB to get it to work. But with sonicview, you can point the remote at any where in the room and it still works fine. The sonicview remote has been built ergonomically; it is smaller than viewsat and fits very nicely in your hand. The keys have been placed perfectly in the right place. I love the sonicview remote. They did a great job on that.
The viewsat hard disk tray has been placed nicely on the front of the stb, where you can remote it easily by taking the tray out on the front of the STB. While with the sonicview you have to open the box to install the HDD. So it makes it a little bit harder to add/remove/replace the HDD on the sonicview. But I bought a big (400GB) HDD for each STB and haven't had the need to remove the HDD on either STB. It may not a big deal at all, but I like the HDD tray design on viewsat better than sonicview. They both work with IDE HDD 7200RPM anything from 80GB to 2TB. Currently Sonicview has a HDD standby option, but viewsat does not. The HDD runs very hot and people are afraid of burning their HDD and STB.
You can schedule your programs to be recorded automatically through the reservation menu option, daily/weekly, or chose it on the EPG and push the red button to schedule automatic recording. You can use a USB cable to connect your STB to the PC. You can NOT mount the HDD on your PC since neither use FAT32/NTFS. I miss this option. When I connect my pansat 6000HXC to my PC, it automatically mounts the drive and I can see and transfer everything back and fort between PC & HDD; it even allows me to play a movie directly from the PVRs HDD to my PC through the USB cable. I miss this a lot on both these PVRs and I hope the coder will provide such option in the future. Anyway both PVRs require separate software to connect your PC to the PVR/HDD and transfer the files. Currently the file transfer is a little bit slower in the sonicview compared to viewsat, but with sonicview, once the file is transferred, you can watch it on your PC. While, with viewsat you have to spend more time on converting it to a useable format, before you can do anything with the file. Since the pq on the viewsat is poor, the picture quality on recorded program is the same or even worse. The picture quality of recorded programs on sonicview is much better than viewsats recorded programs. Currently Sonicview has a bug which causes the picture and audio to get out of sync, if you have the DD audio turned on (stereo audio is ok). They both have MP3 playback options and also picture slide shows (I have not played with them much yet, so I wont comment on that). They both have dual tuners, which means you can record 2 programs simultaneously and at the same time watch a earlier recorded program. Very nice.
The viewsat box is much bigger than the sonicview box in size. The viewsats LCD is yellow/amber color and the glass on the front is like a mirror which makes it very hard to read. While the sonicview LCD is in a cool blue color (which matches my other devices) and glass is clear and it is easy to read. Also on the sonicview the LCD displays what channel you are watching and if the name it too big to fit, then it scrolls it across. Both receivers LCD display when you are play/ff/rew, but viewsats LCD does NOT display REC when the receiver is recording a program.
Sonicview Hardware has an Ethernet port and two additional USB ports called Host. These ports are not enabled yet, but I am guessing that the Ethernet will be used for file transfer through FTP and the Host USB ports will be used for external drives (just guessing, I wish they would provide more information on these ports, I guess we have to wait and see). As far as the CPU and momory and other components go you can read that in detail on the manufacturing website.
As mentioned above, they are both new to the market and have some bugs. I am sure the coders are working hard to resolve these issues as soon as possible. As for the graphical interface, I like sonicviews GUI much better than viewsat. It is a fancy 256 color GUI. The sonicviews menu is very user friendly and very easy to navigate through while the viewsats menu is very confusing in my opinion; for example the option to upgrade your receiver (to the new bin) is under Record Services' which doesnt make sense to me. It really took me less than 10 minutes to setup and configure the sonicview pvr1000, but the viewsat took me much longer to setup and scan all the sats. The sonicview scan process is extremely fast; less than 5 minutes to blind scan 3 sats fº. Also it is much faster to flash the sonicview compared to viewsat (using the USB port). But Viewsat has a nice option, that allows the user to see and chose from a list of bin files on the HDD, which is missing in sonicview. I like this option and I hope the sonicview coders would add this in the near future. Another nice thing that I love about the sonicview is that you can chose the state and city you live in and it finds and sorts your local channel for you, so there is no need to re-arrange your channels. But if you wish to rearrange the channels your way, channel master supports the sonicview pvr1000 already, but not the viewsat pvr7000 yet; Hopefully it will be added soon. Keep in mind you can use the files for regular STBs since these PVRs have dual tuners. Another nice thing I like about the sonicview is that, when you push the signal button on your remote (or when you are in the antenna setting menu) the GUI draws a very helpful graph that shows you the signal strength as the time goes by. I think this is very useful when you try to setup your antenna.
Both STBs are very nice boxes and well worth the money. They cost about the same price both around $380. As mentioned earlier both boxes are new and a little buggy, but we have seen great support from viewsat coders as well as from the sonicview coders. As for the PVRs the sonicview fix has been released couple of days earlier than the viewsat pvr. Well so far I like the sonicview pvr1000 much better than the viewsat pvr7000. I hope the support of sonicview coders for their pvr1000 continues to be as great as it has been in the past and they will fix all existing bugs and also enable the Ethernet and USB host ports to take advantage of the great hardware that appear to have a lot of potential for future improvement.
Please feel free to e-mail us with any further questions of concerns.