Mini-Review: Expressvu External Hard Drive 9242 HD PVR

One of the most anticipated feature, at least for me, on the 9242 HD PVR was the addition of an external hard drive. When Expressvu made the 9242 HD PVR available in Canada, the hours were lower than the original version with 30 hours vs 50 hours(Dishnet). But unlike Dishnet, the feature is being offered via a firmware upgrade(v182) to anyone without the need to call to activate it. The maximum size is 750GB.

My mini-review

I used an old internal 200GB(Barracuda 7200.7 model ST3200822A IDE) and a kit to convert the hard drive for external use. It's just 2 cables: one to power the hard drive and the other for the IDE to USB2. So, no external enclosure is being used. Of course, it's better to use one with an enclosure.

I first plugged the external hard drive(EHD) in USB 2 on the back of the 9242 HD PVR.

-Went into the 9242 HD PVR


Press the MENU button on your remote, then press 4 for the Multimedia option.

How to get to Multimedia Screen

You can then access the External Hard Drive by choosing Option #3 (External USB Device/External Hard Drive) on the Multimedia screen. The External Hard Drive must be connected to select it.

External Hard Drive

From the External Hard Drive menu, you have 2 options:

  • Select Manage Recordings to see a list of programs stored on the EHD.

  • Select Archive Recordings to transfer PVR events from the My Recordings list to the EHD.

- I was prompted 2 times to format the drive since it will erase everything on it.

- The formating started and then I lost the picture(snow on TV) and lastly, the 9242 HD PVR rebooted. The process took only a few minutes.

Once formatted, my 200gig gave me 26 hours in HD and 200 hours in SD.

I archived a 16 minute HD show and it took an estimated 3m15s(menu) to copy to the hard drive. The show was then deleted from the 9242 HD PVR menu. I went into the main PVR menu and it was indeed deleted. For now, I'm not sure if I like this or not.

The first choice in the PVR list was the external hard drive. So, I selected it and my recording was there. By default, you can't play the archived show. You must select it if you want to play it from the hard drive. You can also select many programs at the same time to restore or delete them. That, I can understand.

My 16 minute show used 59 minutes on the hard drive(HD: 25h 1min). The Time Left counter is not perfect for now.

I decided to play it from the EHD. I could resume or start over the show. When I stopped the show, I was in the External Hard Drive menu and not the PVR menu from where I came from initially.

I disconnect the drive and was shown a message on screen about that fact. I had to press Ok.

Since I have a second 9242 HD PVR(only renting them), I wanted to know if my recording was going to work on the other receiver. In preparation, I had recorded a 17 minutes HD program. So, when I connected the EHD, I was greeted with message(Manage recordings) that the EHD was to be used for one TV at a time. I was able to playback my first recording.

I archived a second show from the second receiver to EHD. This time, it took 7min to copy it the 17min show. On the first try, I pressed on the View TV and my drive was disconnected at 50-60%. I had to unplugged the EHD from the receiver to recognized it again. Even then, it said the TV was in used when I tried to playback things from it. I turn off the receiver a few times. I finally tried again but I did not watched the TV this time. I did this a 2-3 times.

But since I did not write the first message, I reconnected the EHD to the first receiver and got this:
The attached USB storage device is currently configured for use with another Bell TV receiver. USB storage devices may only be used with one receiver at a time. To use this device with this receiver, all existing events will be deleted. Do you want to delete all existing events?

I'm not sure if that was the message I got because it reformatted the EHD, again, while the other times I was able to access both programs on EHD. The message was similar. This could be a bug or a time limited feature. For example, if a person had 5-6 EHD containing many movies, shows, sports, events ... and the receiver was not working, the person would not have to loose all the recordings on the other EHD. Hopefully, a client won't have a series of lemon receivers causing to loose all recordings. I had 4-5 5100 receivers during the last 7 years. The 5800 is more robust even if it's the hard drive that's bigger.

And no, you can't view the content on your computer. It's a proprietary formating and encrypted. If it was going to be accessible, the MPAA would had been calling for the termination of that feature the first second that Dishnet had launched it last year.


So, if you have a hard drive drive laying around, test to see if it work for you but try it with stuff you have already seen. That's a good way to recycle hard drives. ;)

Overall, it's a good new feature with some "possible" bugs. Only time and usage will give us the limitation on this new feature. Back when I had my first 5100, I often called them for suggestion and bugs(many).

Edit 2008-08-08: According to here, since I connected the EHD to my computer, it formated it the next time it was connected to the receiver.

Edit 2008-08-10: Archiving 2 HD movies(4h08) was possible while switching to TV mode. It took about 1h15 to copy them.

Edit 2008-08-11: I had to return the 9242 HD PVR(Error 061). I had the same error the same morning and only had to unplugged it for 3 minutes after talking to the tech(level 1). Tonight, this tips did not work thus I lost all the recordings. So, the tech(Level 2) had no choice to send me a new one.

Edit 2008-08-15: When I installed the replacement 9242 HD PVR, I tried to play the 2 recordings on it. I could see them but had trouble playing them(jumping video) from the EHD and even restoring to the new 9242 HD PVR would ahd taken 3+ hours for a 2 hours movies. Since my EHD was old and "only" 200GB, I decided to buy LaCie 750GB for $129 from Futureshop. Now, I have: HD 100hrs and SD: 750hrs. I will be recording stuff to archive them.

Review: Expressvu External Hard Drive 9242 HD PVR (Part 2)

Review: Expressvu External Hard Drive 9242 HD PVR (Part 3)

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I am always curious on why we have so many formats on the pc for photos and movie files, eg jpeg - png, mpg - mpeg - avi etc. You mentioned that you can't view the content on your computer. Do you know what format the content is on the EHD?

Why many formats? Because new optimization allow them to squeeze more in a smaller file for example while keeping a similar quality.

Just purchased a new 9241. Front USB jack will power my EHD but the rear USB will not. Any thoughts why the output voltage would be different?


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