Western Digital WG1S5000 My DVR Expander Hard Drive Page 2

A week after marrying the Expander to the Scientific Atlanta DVR, I pulled the power cords on both and switched the Expander to the TiVo HD DVR. (I'll say more about what happens when you divorce drives under the Performance section.) Again, both the DVR and Expander must be completely powered off before connecting them. It took TiVo a few minutes to boot up. The TiVo service then sent me an Important Message. Subject: External Storage Device Detected. I clicked on Yes. Set up external storage device. I was warned that whatever was on the device will be erased, the process would take several minutes, and the DVR would then automatically restart. As a safety measure, I was instructed to press the THUMBS DOWN button three times, then ENTER to proceed. TiVo went dark on my TV screen, but five minutes later it was back. I immediately went to the settings menu. Before adding the Expander, TiVo HD offered a recording capacity of up to 20 HD hours or 184 SD hours. Now, I was showing a capacity of up to 86 HD hours or 810 SD hours. (Note: TiVo HD's internal drive is 160GB; TiVo Series 3's is 250GB.) I was in for a shock, though, when I tried to play the shows recorded by TiVo before I had connected the Expander. Journeyman didn't play. It was listed, but there was nothing there. Same with Pieces of April, which I had paid to download from Amazon Unbox but hadn't yet watched. Before going into full panic mode, I did the only thing I knew how to do: I pulled the electrical cord and rebooted TiVo again. A few minutes later, I returned to the screen of allegedly recorded programs, and . . . they all played as they should. Disaster averted!

Performance Unlike adding a computer drive, there's no letter designation for the Expander as in Drive 'D' or 'F.' My DVR Expander simply grows the overall storage capacity, and a viewer can't tell where programs are being saved. According to Western Digital, each program is partially stored on both drives. This makes for a kind of seamless integration, which is fine unless you disconnect the Expander as I did in order to try it with my other DVR. As I discovered, every program recorded on the Scientific Atlanta DVR before I connected the Expander was still there after I removed it. Every program recorded after I'd connected it was gone. Of course, most people will connect the Expander to one DVR and that will be that. As I recorded more and more shows with the Expander, I found absolutely no difference in performance versus using each DVR with its internal drive alone. Cosmetically, the black Expander sat unobtrusively on my rack with two concentric amber rings always lit on its front panel. The top vents were warm but not hot. The unit has no fan and was quiet.

Bottom Line Western Digital's My DVR Expander is easy to install, and once it's in place you simply forget about it. That said, the Expander goes a long way in solving the common DVR problem of running out of space &mdash particularly acute for HDTV-lovers with dual tuners.

You might feel reluctant to buy an expansion drive to use exclusively with a DVR you rent (as in the SA boxes), but to me spending $200 to double or triple your DVR capacity represents a fraction of what you're likely to already spend annually on digital cable including a handful of premium channels. Considering that - with the possible exception of some satellite services - there's more high-def content (movies, sports, nature programs, dramatic series, sitcoms, and concerts) available from cable than from any other source, why wouldn't you want to keep as much of that paid content available at your fingertips for as long as possible?

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