With the arrival of the Digital Age, Silicon Dust has a niche market: For those people who want to free themselves from cable bills, Silicon Dust created a digital tuner which can easily be added to a computer network, allowing you to have your own Personal Video Recorder. One of it’s unique features is that it is a networked appliance, so any device on the network (with the proper software) can watch videos from virtually anywhere on the planet with highspeed internet connection. It is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux.
The product does come with an installation disc for the Windows operating system. I choose to use the free open source Mythtv for Linux. Mythtv installation can be frightening. I required assistance from my friend Mike M. in the Kansas City area.
The installation went with a few hiccups, but the real challenge was just ahead. Configuration. That is more art then science. It required more thaumaturging (magic wand waving) then I would have liked. The biggest issue was that when I did the channel scans, and then ran mythfilldatabase to update the logs. Nothing happened! It turns out that you need to add the xmltv id.(see highlighted red section — xmltv id is just and index into a database that contains the channel specific information. Zap2it is the easiest to use)
After that, I was watching tv for the first time! YaY!
All good things crashed last week. The digital tuner quit working. It would NOT tune any hidef channels, either over-the-air, or cable, even though my HDTV received them fine, either way.
The true mettle of a company is revealed when there are repair issues. The problems did not surface until day 31 of a 30 day return period. I am under the manufacturer’s 1 year warranty period now. What I found out…has been challenging. There is NO telephone number to call for Tech Support. It is all done by email via Fog Creek. Silicon Dust does NOT do their own Tech Support. It is done by a 3rd party vendor. Support is very slow, arduous and painful. You can expect 1 reply / day. It could take weeks to solve a simple problem. The embedded diagnostic software, that phones home is operating system dependent: requiring the user to have Windows. For Linux users, this requirement is un-acceptable. If a product is advertised as Linux compatible, then the diagnostic software should be available native to Linux, NOT Windows.
The email Tech Support, lack of native diagnostic software, the Windows requirement, and product reliability/durability gives this product 1.9 out of 5 rating. (C-)