Update: In hopes of competing with Bell’s new Fibe TV service being offered in Ontario and Quebec, Rogers has introduced the Nextbox 3.0. You can read more about it in a recent article on my blog by clicking here.
The Next Box was introduced by Rogers a couple of months ago and is now standard issue rental and purchase equipment for the cable provider. The new Personal Video Recorder (PVR) is basically the old Scientific Atlanta/Cisco 8642 model rebranded as the Next Box. Along with the rebranding comes new capabilities like the ability to access recordings on the DVR throughout your home with other Next Box terminals.
At the same time that the Next Box was introduced, Rogers also launched a new Interactive Programming Guide (IPG) which is being rolled out to new and older 8642 DVR’s. The new IPG brings along with it some enhancements, the most notable being a full screen HD programming guide. Gone are the black bands along each side of the screen, no doubt a welcome change to all those people with large HD TV’s. There are a number of other changes that may not be so popular especially to those used to the old IPG that has been in place and improved over a number of years.
After living with the Next Box and new IPG for a couple of weeks it is clear that this is still a work in progress and leaves a lot to be desired. Should you go out and upgrade that old 8300 and get a new 8642 with the new IPG? Well you can make your own decision after reading the list of our personal Likes and Dislikes below.
What we like:
- You can schedule recordings of either a single episode or an entire series, these are identified differently in your Scheduled Recording as well as on the Guide.
- You can now record a series with back-to-back episodes, something that was not possible with the old IPG.
- In a similar manner to a computer’s file management system, your Recorded List is organized into folders.
What we don’t like:
- The new system hesitates a lot, not only when going from one program to another in your recorded list but also when you are flipping through the Guide.
- You can’t edit the end time when you are recording Live TV, this is especially annoying if you want to add a minute or two at the end of a program.
- While recording programs, user choices and flexibility have been taken away and replaced by very regimented menu. An example of this is that you can only adjust starting or ending times by 5 min, 15 min, 30 min, 1 hr or 3 hr.
- For those of you who like to create Manual Recordings you have to press the “Menu” Button on the remote and then follow a series of menus. Channel selection starts at 1 and you can only increase by one channel at a time. The start time is from the time you view the menu, then in 15 minute increments. You can only backup once, but ONLY if you have been watching that channel for more than 15 min. As for end time, it’s in 15 minute increments as well.
Some more general comments on the functioning of the IPG are:
- Did I mention that it hesitates a lot, well it does, a lot.
- There is no longer a frame by frame advance in forward or reverse directions.
- During playback you can’t skip to end of program.
- You can no longer perform a quick search of the Guide by Title, instead you are required to use the alphabetic search function accessed by pressing * on your Remote.
- There is no longer an identification of the song title on the music channels.
- While watching a show being recorded, you can no longer pause it while changing channels.
- While watching a recorded program you used to be able to quickly skip through it in 15 minute intervals, this option is no longer available.
Overall, there are hardly any improvements, and what has been improved, isn’t even close to making up for the huge steps backwards. Our recommendation; don’t get the Next Box and new IPG yet, you should keep your Last Box.