Long-term hardware reliability of the HDR-Fox?

TonyC

Member
As per the title, I'm wondering if we have any sense yet of what the long-term reliability of the 'Fox hardware is likely to be. Is it reasonable to suppose my box will still be working in 5 years' time - or even 10? Is there some part of the hardware that seems prone to early failure?

I don't mind having to replace the hard disc if necessary, that's a reasonably straightforward job and even 2Tb drives are getting relatively cheap nowadays. But if something more "custom" failed, it could be difficult if not impossible to repair.

My old Topfield TF5800 is still going strong at 10 years, though as with nearly all TF5800s it has needed various capacitors in the power supply replaced. I'd be more than happy if the 'Fox can do as well. I'm assuming here that it won't be rendered obsolete by technological changes such as a new encoding standard.

(Background: I'm vaguely thinking about what to eventually get to replace the 'Fox, and it would be helpful to have some idea of when that might need to be done, and if getting a second-hand 'Fox as a spare could be a useful plan.)
 

Black Hole

May contain traces of nut
I have four in daily use, no problems yet (since various dates 2010-12).

Apart from the obvious fan and HDD, there is no reason to put a specific life on any individual parts. All parts have a probability of failure (expressed as MTBF) which are combined by (IIRC) geometric mean to work out the MTBF of the whole system - and then the solder joints etc have to be taking into account too. Assemblies have a "bathtub curve" of failure rate, with a peak in initial failures (infant mortality), and once those have cleared it plateaus out and then rises gradually with age. What we don't know is how long the curve is for the HDR-FOX.

The most vulnerable part is any engineering-programmed memory - not the program store as such (which can be refreshed), but anything pre-programmed which we have no access to. Electrically alterable memory elements (such as Flash) have a guaranteed lifetime of only about 10 years typically, although that is over the specified operating temperature range for the component (typically 40 deg.C, and the lifetime may extend considerably when operated at lower temperatures). The things which may be in Flash in the HDR-FOX include the bootstrap process, any hardware configuration the SoC (system-on-chip) needs, and the encryption keys. If any of that dies, the unit is pretty much unrepairable except to replace the parts from another one (unless you are Humax).

I have a spare waiting in case one of my operational units dies early. If it turns out that I don't need the spare until a unit dies late, it is entirely possible that the spare won't be functional by then anyway.
 

Ezra Pound

Well-Known Member
I think you have covered the most likely candidates, anything with moving parts, hard disk and fan, and the large capacitors, that's about it
 

NeilN

Member
I'm an ex Toppy user. In fact still have mine, but have yet to determine the exact nature of its fault (Caps done after 5 years then what looks like a mainboard failure at just over 6 years.). So I moved to the Fox T2 and never regretted it. I would recommend trying to get your hands on a second HDR FOX T2. if you can. Upgrade it to the custom firmware and you'll be a happy bunny. I have 2 off T2's and have just purchased a 2000T. I Still recommend a T2 if you can get one. As for reliability from what I have observed on this forum and my own experience, they are generally pretty reliable. Though HDD seems to be the most common point of failure starting at about 2 years old. I had the HDD in my original T2 starting to show signs of failing after 3 years. So for £40 got a replacement and successfully transferred all 400GB worth of recordings from the failing drive. To give a rough idea how good these are. I can stream HD video from any HDR to any of the other HDR's or my TV or my PC/Laptops. This was impossible to do with the toppy. And copying recordings is a doddle and by far, more extensive than the toppy was. The reason I went for the Humax was, that it has the support of this forum (equivalent to toppy.org) and like the Toppy the T2 is upgradeable from the standard manufacturers configuration. Also on a lot of recommendations from friends, a couple of which were Toppy owners who were running their toppy's alongside their HDR's.

Hope this helps
 

cdmackay

Active Member
Another ex Topper here...

I had two spare T2 Humax, although have now sold one. I got these when HumaxDirect were still selling recon ones, which seems to have dried up.

My longer-term plan is to transition to a mini-PC solution running e.g. OpenElec (disto based on XMBC/Kodi). that would be with PCI/USB tuners for DVB-T/DVB-S.

If I procrastinate long enough, perhaps simply having something that does internet streaming will be sufficient :)
 

Black Hole

May contain traces of nut
My reason for going HDR-FOX when they came out was that a PC-based solution was too expensive and there were no DVB-T2 tuner dongles. No doubt the situation has changed over the last 5 years.
 
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TonyC

Member
Thanks all, some interesting points.

Neil: I maybe wasn't clear, but I do have an HDR-Fox T2 already, with CF - and agree, it is absolutely brilliant and clearly better than anything else around if you want to do things out of the ordinary.

Like BH and cdmackay, I have looked into a PC-based solution as an alternative but even just a pair of USB DVB-T2 tuners costs over £100 so a second-hand 'Fox is a better bet. It did occur to me that if they all seem to be dying at 5 years, there would be no point buying a spare since that would also be dead by the time I needed it - but the experiences recorded here suggest not. Time to set up an eBay search!
 

NeilN

Member
Tony: Just been on eBay myself cos I'm considering buying 3rd T2 as a backup/spare. There are quite a few T2's on auction at the moment. So you'll have plenty of choice.
 

cdmackay

Active Member
Like BH and cdmackay, I have looked into a PC-based solution as an alternative but even just a pair of USB DVB-T2 tuners costs over £100

You can get a dual-tuner for about £80, but yes, it's not cheap, especially if you want DVB-S too, as I do.

Still, had the software been up to it, several years ago, I'd have spent the money doing it properly. But MythTV, then, seemed a terrible mess, so I gave up after a few months. I'm sure Kodi is much better...
 
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