The available DVR controls, believe it or not, vary somewhat based on your
cable provider. My provider allows for all the standard controls, including
Pause, Stop, and three speeds of Fast Forward and Rewind. However, there is no
Slow Motion available on my unit. There is a Skip Back that goes in 10
second increments, and a Skip forward, which has tragically been locked into
15 minute intervals. One thing I really miss about my old DISH network DVR
is the 30 second skip ahead feature. The fact that my provider has
locked the skip-ahead button to 15 minute increments is quite frustrating,
but what you can do,
however, is Fast Forward instead.
One of the
great features that Digeo added to the 3.2 software release is that the
system automatically compensates for the inevitable delay in dropping out of
Fast Forward. Furthermore, the amount it compensates is based on the fast
forward speed you are using. For example, if you want to skip part of a
program that you are not interested in, you choose whatever speed for Fast Forward
that you want. As it scans forward,
you wait for the part that you want. Without this compensation feature,
you would normally have to stop and rewind a bit because you probably
overshot the mark. But with the Moxie, once you press Play, the system
smartly skips back for you, and more often than not, it hits the mark
exactly. In other words, you don't have to anticipate the spot you want it
to start playing again. You just wait until you see it, press Play, and it
stops a few seconds before the place where you actually pressed the button.
It is almost eerie how accurate this is.
Live television includes all of the same functions.
If you press Record while watching live programming, the Moxi will record as
much of the program as it has buffered. A nice touch is that all of your
controls work even when you are navigating through the menus and the live
feed is playing in the small window in the upper right.
The Find and Record menu is where you can search for programs, modify
series recording options, see what is scheduled to record, and what has been
The Search utility is actually quite useful. You can search by
keyword, title, or category. In the title search screen, a list of all
available programs appears, accompanied by a keypad for text entry. As you
type letters, the system automatically pares down the list based on your
typing. This speeds up searching immensely. In the keyword search screen,
you enter a search term, and the system returns hits it thinks match your
keyword. This is hit or miss, as some of the results are puzzling. Searching
by category is very much the same as selecting a category in the main
screen, except that there are more options from which to choose here.
The Series Option screen lets you view and modify
settings for your recurring programs. This would be akin to Tivo’s Season
Pass feature. There are several options you can configure. You can set the
priority for your series, in case the system has to resolve a programming
conflict. You can delete series. You can see the upcoming instances of the
program. This is also where you can set whether to record first-run episodes
only or any instance of the show, how long to keep the program before
deletion, and whether to start or end on time. This is much like the options
you have from the main interface.
All in all, the DVR portion of the BMC-9012 with
Moxi is quite feature-rich, if quirky in some respects. After a few weeks of
use, the interface becomes pretty familiar, and you will be recording and
watching shows with ease!
On-Demand Video Services
Video On-Demand is a service which allows you to start a program with the
touch of a button rather than waiting for it to begin on a schedule. Many
on-demand solutions actually download available content to a local hard
drive in the background or over night. The Moxi system streams the video
directly from a central server at your cable company’s data center. This
service is therefore going to vary by cable provider, as is the available
content. Most of the premium movie channels offer their monthly catalog for
On-Demand viewing, as well as some back catalog of their shows. This service
is included with my regular subscription to those premium channels.
also a healthy listing of pay-per-view content that includes many new
releases for the price of a rental from your local video store (without the
late fees or the need to get in the car and return the movie). You have most of
the same DVR controls, so it truly is more like renting a movie than
traditional pay-per-view. The only part I found a bit frustrating with this
service was the limited amount of widescreen content. I almost never want to view a film if it is not shown in its original
aspect ratio. This eliminates a lot of the available movies, as a majority
of them are Pan & Scan. Of course, HD on-demand content is nowhere to be
found. I doubt we will se much of that until newer MPEG-4 compression
techniques make it technically more feasible.
Ticker & Games
is an included informational Ticker which, when selected, appears at the
bottom of the screen. You can scroll through information such as Weather,
Sports, News, Business, Entertainment, and more. There are also games
available, such as Blackjack, Video Poker, Checkers, and more. I find the
ticker information somewhat useful. It is nice to be able to get a quick
weather forecast or sports score. The games are another matter entirely. My
suggestion to the cable providers is scrap the games and use the bandwidth
for more HD On-Demand channels. My suggestion to you is if you truly want to
play solitaire or blackjack, use your computer! Playing checkers with a
remote control just doesn’t provide an engaging experience.
Some additional notes before I give you my final analysis of the unit:
• The Motorola BMC-9012 is not available for purchase in some areas. There
are some independent cable operators that allow you to purchase the unit,
however, mine is not one of them. Rental fees for the unit also vary by
carrier. In my case, the cost is $10 a month which also includes the
requisite DVR fees. All things being equal, I would rather pay $10 per month
for the rental of this unit than several hundred to use it for a couple of
years, when there will be an inevitable upgrade.
• The unit never turns off. I am not sure why they couldn’t find a way to
make the unit go into a standby mode to conserve power, but for whatever
reason, the box stays on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I suppose this is so
it can be ready to record something you have programmed, and also store
incoming messages from the cable provider, but still, there should be some
way for it to go into standby.
With the 3.2 software, Moxi users everywhere rejoiced at the addition of
Native-Mode Pass-Through. Basically, this feature allows you to select the
resolutions supported by your display, and then if the program you are
watching is in one of those resolutions, the Moxi will allow the un-scaled
signal to pass through directly to the display.
Before this feature was
added, you would have to select one resolution you wanted to output to your
display. Everything would then be scaled to that resolution. This had the
terrible result of up-scaling SD content to HD resolutions, which never
looked good. In order to get around this, you had to change the resolution
setting every time you wanted to switch between SD and HD content. I found
this to be terribly inconvenient, and basically refrained from watching any
SD content. Now, every channel is presented in its original resolution,
(i.e., ESPN HD comes through in 720p, CBS HD comes through in 1080i, etc.).
In addition, the quality of SD content has improved with the 3.2 software
What I Like
There is a lot to like about the Motorola BMC-9012 with Moxi. Of course, a
DVR by any name is an asset to any serious television time shifter. So what
unique characteristics of the Moxi did I like? The dual HD-capable tuners
are the best things about this unit. I love being able to scan through the
movie selections on HBO HD or Showtime HD without worrying about whether I
can watch something at a time I have scheduled some other channel to be
The native mode
pass-through feature is another big plus for me, as I don’t need to readjust
my settings every time I switch between HD and SD content. While this really
should have been a standard rather than a feature, I am pleased that it was addressed by the folks at Digeo. In fact, the picture and sound
from the Moxi is first rate for everything except SD channels. While the 3.2
software vastly improved the video, it is a fact of life that analog SD
up-converted to HD resolutions just won’t look that good on big screens.
I love the ability to record an entire season. This
is old hat for the Tivo folks out there, but it was a welcome new feature
for me. Even with the quirks of shows not marked correctly in the EPG
(Electronic Program Guide) data, the convenience of clicking on the show
once to record each new instance is fantastic.
I was awestruck by the On-Demand feature the first time I used it. While the
novelty has worn off, I still love the ability to see films and shows on my
schedule without going to the video store. I would love more widescreen and
HD content from the movie channels’ offerings, but am quite satisfied with
what is available now. Fortunately, HD content will just keep increasing
What I Don’t Like
The single most frustrating thing about the Moxi unit is the small hard
drive. Remember when 80 gigabytes seemed like a vast ocean of storage? Well
HD video makes it seem more like a pond. After about three or four HD movies and a
couple of HDTV shows, my Moxi is stuffed to the limit. I have to begin
deleting things often times before I am ready to. I think that an HD DVR
should have no less than 250 gigabytes of storage these days. At the very
least, Digeo should release an update that allows for external USB storage.
The fact that there is no traditional grid guide is
probably one of the biggest complaints most people have with unit. I would
agree with this, except not at the expense of the Moxi interface. I would
like to see both interfaces included with the user being able to select and
browse programming from either one. I find that there are some things better
about each. Overall, I have gotten very accustomed to using the Moxi, so it is not
the end of the world that there is no grid guide.
Finally, I will say that the amount of functionality
that has been disabled is a frustrating point. As I mentioned at the
beginning of the review, the Moxi box is still feature-packed even with many
of these things missing. I really wanted the ability to integrate the unit
into my home network, mostly so I could archive my recordings, but also so I
could stream music and video to my theater from my PC. Of course, there are
other ways to do that, including putting a PC in place, but it would be nice
to have it available from one interface. All in all, you can’t fault the
folks at Digeo for not having a lot of these features enabled. Instead,
fault your cable provider and the various industry associations that are
interested in protecting their content.
All things considered, the Moxi based Motorola BMC-9012 is the best cable
converter box I have yet used. Its capabilities far and away exceed any
features that may be missing. There are definitely some things I like better
in other units, but as a complete package, this is an excellent device. If
you are interested in an HD DVR for your cable system, go to
to see if it is available in your town. If so, make that call to your cable
provider and get one of these babies today!
- Gabriel Lowe -