Taking a Look Inside the Samsung SMT-H3270 DVR

I just found out that Time Warner has finally started to deploy the new Samsung SMT-3270 DVR units here in the midwest.  As usual my region seems to be the last place to receive any new products or features from Time Warner.  We are still waiting for Docsis 3.0 cable modems to get rolled out, hopefully we’ll see that happen this year.  Apparently the east coast has had access to these boxes for quite a while.  From what I understand the Samsung units will be replacing the current Scientific Atlanta (Cisco) boxes.  I’ve had an SA 8300HDC for quite a while now and its been fairly reliable.  Although ever since TW deployed their new software I’ve been noticing several bugs.

Since I love checking out new devices I decided to see if I could get my hands on one of the new DVRs.  After going to a couple of different TW locations I finally found got a hold of one.   I decided to write this post to share some of my initial thoughts and findings about the device.  I’m curious if anyone else has done any hacking on these devices yet.  From the few posts I read over at AVSForum.com it doesn’t sound like anyone has found much yet.

First Look

Overall I like the design of the unit, I’ve always preferred black over silver so I’m glad that fad is passing.  The front does have a high gloss finish to it that catches fingerprints though.  The first thing I noticed was the ethernet port which is very exciting!  According to the users guide this is for connecting another DVR to.  I’m guessing this will be how Time Warner will be providing the multi-room DVR they keep talking about.  The store rep that I spoke with said they are still “testing” this feature, who knows when it will be released.

This unit has a nice selection of ports available

  • COAX RF Input
  • Cable Card
  • 1394 FireWire
  • E-SATA
  • Composite Video / Audio
  • Component
  • SPDIF
  • HDMI
  • Ethernet
  • USB

Getting Inside

To open the DVR up you’ll need to remove three screws on the back and one on each side.

It takes a secure torx bit (T-10H) which is like a normal torx bit with a hole in the center. You can get an awesome security bit set on Amazon for 6 bucks, so far its been able to open everything I’ve ran into.

 

Mainboard

Samsung manufactured the board and holding up to their normal standards the board is very high quality.  The mainboard uses all sold state capacitors.  On the left side next to the cable card slot you’ll see

 the dual digital tuner.  Right above that is a Broadcom BCM3254KPBG, this is a QAMLink Set-Top box single-chip front end.  Essentially this is the cable modem part of the box that allows it to be managed and to retrieve data as well.

In the middle of the board is a chip with a heat-sink on it.  I didn’t pop the heatsink off to identify the chip because I was going to have to disassemble the entire unit to get to the back of the board.  I’m pretty sure this is the process that handles the video encoding/decoding which is CPU intensive and would necessitate a passive cooling device.  Scattered throughout the board some some Samsung RAM chips and a couple of flash chips.  There is a solder pad on the lower left next to the cable card that is labeled “MOCA” which stands for Multimedia over Coax, apparently this model does not have that feature.

There are a couple of 14-pin solder pads which could be JTAG ports, I probably won’t solder a pin header onto this unit since TW owns it but I may try to find one on eBay to do some testing with.  Broadcom doesn’t usually release spec sheets for their parts unless you’re a customer so trying to track down JTAG ports usually requires a oscilloscope and patience.

Front Panel

To remove the front panel take of the main cover, then disconnect the ribbon cable that attaches the front panel to the main board.  Then carefully remove the front panel cover by lifting up on the black plastic clips.  There are a few standard phillips screws that secure the circuit board to the front panel cover, then it just snaps out.

The IR sensor is located just to the right of the power button, there is a small circle where it is located.

Front Panel (Arrow points to IR Sensor Location)

Power Supply

The power supply isn’t very big but it really doesn’t need to be.  I’m guessing the power draw of this box is pretty low, I’ll have to put a watt meter on it to confirm that though.  It uses liquid filled caps like you typically see in cheap power supplies.  There is one set of leads going directly to the main board and another is a SATA power connector for the hard drive.

Storage
For storage this model has a 320GB Seagate Pipeline SATA 2 hard drive (ST3320311CS).  The drive has an 8MB buffer which is nice but only spins at 5900RPM which is odd because typically you see either 54K or 72K.  According to Seagate’s website the Pipeline product line is specifically designed for use in DVRs.

The docs also mention that they are designed to run cool and quite with an annual failure rate as low as .55%.  AFR is calculated by dividing the number of hours in a year by the MTTF (mean time to failure).  So basically this means you have a .55% of your drive failing each year.  I can say that it is one of the quietest mechanical drives I have ever heard.

I’ll probably be replacing this with a 1 or 2TB drive, I’ll post the procedure when I do.

File Systems

Since I had the box opened up I decided to remove the hard drive and connect it to my PC to see if it had a recognizable file system on it.  The Scientific Atlanta boxes I have examined in the past have either used disk level encryption or some obscure file system that only they can mount.

I used a USB to SATA adapter to connect the drive to my Linux box.  I ran fdisk on the drive and to my surprise it was a standard linux file system!  This was a very nice surprise to find.  There were three partitions, one small partition, a swap partition, and a large partition.  The small partition contained some folders with program guide information and some other interesting files.  The larger partition is used to store the recorded programs.  The OS is not stored on the hard drive, it is most likely located in flash and mounts the hard drive for storage.

File Formats

I connected the box up and recorded a show so I could take a look at the format of the recorded data.  Since its using a standard linux filesystem you can mount the partitions easily.  Each recording creates four files.  The file without the extension is the video itself which is either encrypted or in some format I can’t identify.  The other files contain a few strings but are mostly unreadable.  If you’re interested in taking a look at the files let me know and I’ll upload them.

4209672536921 – Main Video File (no extension)
4209672536921.drm – Probably contains copy protection information
4209672536921.inf – Information?
4209672536921.nav – Navigator guide info?

Source Code

This DVR is running STB Linux and since its GPL software Samsung has posted the source code on their website.  This could be helpful in gaining shell access to the device.

The source package includes the following files

  • busybox.bz2 (Unix utilities optimized for embedded devices)
  • dhcpcd.bz2 (DHCP client)
  • fdisk.bz2 (Disk partitioning utility)
  • stblinux.bz2 (Core operating system)
  • tftpd.bz2 (TFTP server)
  • uClibc.bz2 (C library optimized for embedded systems)
  • xfsprogs.bz2 (Utilities for managing the XFS filesystem)

Samsung_SMT-H3270_users_guide

Samsung SMT-H3272 users guide

Samsung SMT-H3272 spec sheet

Diagnostics

You can find lots of interesting information in the diagnostics screens.  To get to these screens hold in the select button on the remote for 10 seconds then press the up directional key.  A couple of the screens are password protected.  I attempted guessing the code but I didn’t have any luck.  Its a four digit code so there are 10,000 possible combination which would take some time to brute force.  The bottom option on the main diagnostics page ‘REBOOT STB’ is a convenient way to reboot the DVR without having to unplug the power cord.

Onkyo Compatibility Issues

I discovered a very annoying bug while testing this unit.  After connecting it to my Onkyo receiver via HDMI and booting up the box the guide would not open.  It apparently had booted up into a very basic state where the navigator was not running.  Earlier I had connected the DVR to one of my old monitors using a composite cable and the guide worked just fine so I suspected it was an HDMI issue.  I tried disconnecting the reconnecting the cable without any luck.  I was able to get the guide to come up by disconnecting the HDMI cable, powering off the box and letting it completely boot up.  I then powered on the DVR and reconnected the HDMI cable and the guide loaded just fine.  There must be some kind of HDCP handshake problem between these two devices.

Future Testing

When I get some more time I plan to do some more experimenting with this box.  I would like to check out the Firewire and E-SATA ports to see if they are enabled.  If the E-SATA port doesn’t work I will probably swap out the internal drive for a larger one.  If you have any information about this DVR that you would like to share please leave a comment.

Update – 2.21.2011

Last week I went to pick up another 3270 box so I could do some more tinkering without having to disconnect my primary DVR.  The first two TWC stores said they were out of the boxes and couldn’t seem to understand why I wouldn’t accept a different box.  Finally at the third location the clerk said she had one, success!  As soon as I got home I realized I didn’t get the same box, they had given me a Samsung SMT-H3272.  The 3272 looks identical to the 3270 other than the different model number on the front of the box.

So what is difference between the 3270 and the 3272?

There are a few key features that make the SMT-H3272 a better box than the 3270.

1.  The SMT-H3272 has a MOCA module soldered onboard

MoCA (Multimedia over Coax Alliance) is a standard for home networking over coax.  This allows the DVR to communicate with any other MoCA enabled device in your home using the existing coax cabling.  You can check the MoCA device status using the diagnostic menu, its found under Home Network on the main menu.  From what I’ve read basically MoCa means multi-room DVR capability.

2.  500GB Internal Hard Drive

I was thrilled to see the 3270 had a 320GB drive but finding a 500GB drive installed is awesome! Like the drive in the 3270 it is also a Seagate pipeline SATA drive.   More space is better when it comes to HD recordings.

3.  The Ethernet port is enabled

I was very excited to see that the 3272 had a functional Ethernet port!  Having network access could be a huge factor when it comes to exploiting this device.  The box pulled an IP address from my DHCP server after it finished booting.  The first thing I did after I found its IP was run a port scan using Nmap.  To my surprise there are a variety of TCP and UDP ports open to play with.

Great Suggestion From “B”

PS: don’t forget to use the -A -p 1-65535 options with nmap ;)

TCP port scan results
UDP port scan results

I opened up Wireshark to do some testing and noticed this the DVR was sending out a ton of SSDP (Simple Service Discovery Protocol) packets.  The box seems to be aggressively advertising itself as a UPNP server.  Below is some of the data contained in the packets its sending out.  I’m not sure how to interface with it yet but I’m assuming this has to do with DLNA.  It sounds like this would allow you to stream video’s from the DVR to another device.

http://192.168.10.192:8888//upnp_descriptor_c7ba4624-bd50-11db-
Linux/2.6.18-5.0 UPnP/1.0 MediabolicUPnP/1.8.225

Some poking around at port 8888 shows that it is running a Mediabolic web server.

Content-type: text/html
Content-length: 31
Server: MediabolicMWEB/1.8.225
Connection: keep-alive

All of the TCP ports seemed to connect when I tested with telnet which is a good sign.  Things really started to get interesting when I looked at the UDP side .  Both SNMP and TFTP are open as well as a couple of RPC ports.

4.  The Firewire port is enabled

More great news, unlike the 3270 the Firewire port is active on the 3272!  As soon as I connected my laptop to the Firewire port windows recognized a new device has been connected.  Three new items showed up in device manager as you can see in the screenshot below.  A quick google search didn’t turn up any drivers for it though.  I looked on Samsung’s site and couldn’t find them either.  If anyone has them or knows where to find them please let me know.  I’ll certainly be doing more searching to locate the drivers.  Having access to a working Firewire port would be a great way to record TV or shows off the device in high quality.

Device Manager - SMT-H3272 Firewire devices

Now what?

As you can see the list of things to experiment with just got a lot longer.  The 3272 is a lot more open as far as connectivity is concerned.  My hope is that with the additional features enabled on the 3272 I will be able to uncover some information that will be useful for both the 3270 and 3272 models.

To Do List

  • Enumerate TCP and UDP services
  • Look into uPNP DLNA service
  • Test the eSATA port on the 3272
  • Pinout and test serial / JTAG ports

Update – 2.26.11

I was able to gather some information via snmp from the box.  It turns out that it will respond to a snmp community string of public.  You could use SolarWinds on Windows or just the standard snmp utilities included with Linux.

To do this linux run the command below, insert the ip of your own cable box.

snmpwalk  -c public -v2c 192.168.10.192 .1

You can download the complete SNMP walk and check it out if you’re interested.

There was quite a bit of hex in the SNMP output so I ran it through a hex to string converter and out came some HTML.  I copyied the HTML code into a file and opened it up with Firefox.  It appears to be a bunch of diagnostic output for the cable card.

Some interesting OID’s

.1.3.6.1.4.1.4491.2.3.1.1.4.4.3.0 = STRING: “10.2.X.X”

.1.3.6.1.4.1.4491.2.3.1.1.3.2.3.0 = STRING: “smtH3270_twc_v4510_0902_RLS.img”

.1.3.6.1.4.1.31621.1.1.1.3.1.8.3 = STRING: “br0”

1.3.6.1.4.1.4491.2.3.1.1.4.4.5.1.1.1.3.0 = STRING: “Cisco CableCARD CA Screen”
1.3.6.1.4.1.4491.2.3.1.1.4.4.5.1.1.1.3.1 = STRING: “Cisco CableCARD/Host ID Screen”
1.3.6.1.4.1.4491.2.3.1.1.4.4.5.1.1.1.3.2 = STRING: “Cisco CableCARD IP Service”
1.3.6.1.4.1.4491.2.3.1.1.4.4.5.1.1.1.3.3 = STRING: “Cisco CableCARD DAVIC Info”
1.3.6.1.4.1.4491.2.3.1.1.4.4.5.1.1.1.3.5 = STRING: “Cisco CableCARD CP Info”
1.3.6.1.4.1.4491.2.3.1.1.4.4.5.1.1.1.3.6 = STRING: “Cisco CableCARD Diag Screen”
1.3.6.1.4.1.4491.2.3.1.1.4.4.5.1.1.1.3.7 = STRING: “Cisco CableCARD ASD Info”
1.3.6.1.4.1.4491.2.3.1.1.4.4.5.1.1.1.3.8 = STRING: “Cisco CableCARD DSG Info”

RPC Services

Nmap showed that RPC bind was listening on a few ports.  By running a few commands with rpcinfo you can see there are a couple of interesting processes listening.

rpcinfo -p 192.168.x.x
program vers proto   port
100000    2   tcp    111  portmapper
100000    2   udp    111  portmapper
302520656    1   udp    744
302520656    1   tcp    746

rpcinfo -u 192.168.x.x 100000 2
program 100000 version 2 ready and waiting
rpcinfo -u 192.168.x.x  302520656 1
program 302520656 version 1 ready and waiting

Sam Kear

Sam graduated from the University of Missouri - Kansas City with a bachelors degree in Information Technology. Currently he works as a network analyst for an algorithmic trading firm. Sam enjoys the challenge of troubleshooting complex problems and is constantly experimenting with new technologies.

94 thoughts to “Taking a Look Inside the Samsung SMT-H3270 DVR”

  1. Great information! Thanks for posting. Were you able to figure anything out with regard to the copy protection system that’s built in? The manual mentions something about Macromedia copy protection and that you shouldn’t try and run the 3270 through a VCR. I used to run my old DVR through a Samsung DVD Recorder, which produced nice copies of things that I wanted to save from the DVR before deleting. But I’m not sure if that’s going to work anymore.

    Thanks,
    Sam

    1. Hey Sam, thanks for your comment!

      I did see where they mention not to try connecting a VCR in the manual. I’m curious if Macrovision is really enabled or if they are just telling us it is. I have an older video capture card that might be able to get around the copy protection. I will test it this week and update my post with the results.

      I’m also trying to get the firewire port working. I think it would probably provide the best quality as far as video capture options.

      I need to stop by the Time Warner store and pick up a second 3270 so I can do testing without having to disconnect my primary DVR. I’ll post an update as soon as I figure something out.

  2. TWC has been telling me for over a year they were going to enable the esata port on my cisco dvr and now on my 3270 so my 1TB expander would work again. Everytime I follow up they say the software is in beta. Is the esata port controlled by the navigator software or by a switch on the board? If by the software, is there any way to bypass the internal hard drive and use an external expander without physically replacing the internal drive, perhaps by plugging the expander directly into the motherboard?

    1. That sounds like a typical Time Warner response to a question about these boxes. The state of the esata port (enabled/disabled) is controlled by software. Most likely either in the OCAP middleware or STB Linux configuration. There is only one internal SATA port onboard so you would have to replace the existing hard drive.

      I’m currently working on trying to get access to the firmware via the JTAG port which will hopefully lead to control over the OS of the device.

      It’s really disappointing that Time Warner has disabled so much of the functionality in these boxes. Besides the esata port I would love to be able to use the firewire port as well.

      1. There is an option to mount eSata drives under the password protected diagnostics screen found in the extended diagnostics menu. The password for my 3272 is “TIME” or in numeric form 8463 ousing the numeric keypad on the remote.

        1. Thx for info – made it to Password protected Diagnostics screen – can you tell me what next? I have 12 options, none says eSata

  3. Last week I went looking for another 3270 and ended up with a 3272 box. I’ve updated this post with some information about the newer model.

    This post will probably remain a work in progress for a while. As I find new information I will pass it along.

  4. Was there anything on the box that wasn’t part of the source that Samsung has posted? I’m thinking I’ll look to get an interactive shell with command injection with the webserver, but I’m wondering if some proprietary code might be a better vector.

    PS: don’t forget to use the -A -p 1-65535 options with nmap 😉

    1. Hi B , thanks for stopping by!

      Besides the source from Samsung there is the OCAP, and ODN software. Although I’m not sure if either of those interface directly with the network.

      OCAP JAVA Middleware
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenCable_Application_Platform

      ODN – OCAP Digital Navigator (The guide software)

      If you run rpcinfo -p 192.168.x..x you can see there are a couple of applications that seem to be listening for remote commands (3rd party apps maybe?)

      I added some info about SNMP to this post that you might be interested in. I’ve also included your excellent tip for Nmap, thanks for sharing.

      I would be very interested to hear from you if you discover anything else.

  5. Samsung boxes are very picky with larger drives. Seagate Pipeline units tend to work the best. Most of the time, they just flat out wont work with drives from other manufacturer. It’s best to get a 1TB or 2TB drive from the same drive line as the one that came with the box.

    MR-DVR is only for Signature Home subscribers and it requires a technician to come in and install a Coax filter, as it uses Coax, and not Ethernet.

    1. Hi rv65, thanks for sharing the tips on hard drive compatability.

      This is the first I have heard about their signature home offering, very interesting stuff. I assume they would have to swap out all of your DVR’s for ones that have MOCA modules if you sign up for the SH package.

      Any idea if they plan to support the use of Ethernet for anything?

  6. No ethernet, and it’s just there doing nothing. I think they use it in Korea, but no plans to use Ethernet. Just be careful, as TWC could come after you.

    Only the 3272 has the MoCA radio, as the 3270 doesn’t have it. There is also a Cisco and Motorola box as well. Cisco boxes are much better with internal drive swap, but they are slower, and don’t have the 16:9 ODN UI.

    SH and MR-DVR include professional installation, so the MoCA issue is no biggie. Standalone MR-DVR sub’s have to pay for installation, as it’s expensive to do a truckroll.

    I saw a demo, of a Motorola MR-DVR box communicating via MoCA and DLNA, and the PS3 could see the recordings that were on the STB.

  7. If a PS3 can view the MR-DVR recordings, then any DLNA uPnP device supporting DTCP-IP should be able to access the recordings. The key is to have DTCP-IP compatibility, as it’s a DRM system that TWC’s MR-DVR implementation uses.

  8. Yay, I managed to capture the video and audio for a few seconds! After which, CapDVHS crashed.. Will try again with on a different PC later.

    1. Hey KMS, thanks for posting the link for the drivers! I will give them a try this weekend. Let me know if you have any luck getting them to work.

      1. Hey Sam, you’re welcome. Well, I have some good news and some bad news. I confirmed that the drivers should work on any 32-bit Windows system, and viewing and capturing successfully works with VLC media player.
        The big problem is that most channels carry a CCI flag, which causes the box to encrypt firewire output. You can check the flag in the extended diags. menu (select + up). If it’s anything other than 0, firewire output is unusable without special hardware. Looks like I got my hopes up too early…

        1. I’m surprised you could get the 3050 driver to work. The 32xx boxes are Linux based, while the 3050 runs vx.Works. HW wise the 3050 is older, and runs a Conexant ARM chip. Samsung 3090 and 32xx use BCM chips. 3090 uses the BCM7400 while the 32xx uses the BCM7405 CPU.

  9. Some Clarifications….

    The output on the IEEE-1394 port will often be encrypted using DHCP (as mandated by the FCC), but for some channels (such as your local broadcast channels) the feed should be in the clear. Your PC is not a DHCP-certified device. For the channels in the clear, you should be able to get the MPEG transport stream straight on to your PC’s hard drive – the idea behind the mandate was that digital content would be recordable by 3rd party devices.

    Enabling the eSATA port is firmware-level stuff, WAAAY below the OCAP stack. OCAP is just a flavor of Java, so think of it like you think of Java on your PC. It is what programmers often call a “sandbox” – you can’t do low-level stuff like that in OCAP.

    I have only had luck getting my Time Warner 3272 to stream to a PS3 (using DTCP-IP encrypted DHCP) once. Oddly, it lists recordings that have been deleted (so I think that the DHCP server must read straight from the filesystem somehow).

    I only have one TV with digital cable, but the manual definitely implies and my PS3 testing (over the Ethernet port) also implies that the multiroom DVR functions are designed to work both over Ethernet and MoCA.

    Note: the Playstation 3 is by far the most common device with DLNA + DTCP-IP support. The DLNA is unfortunately as clear as mud in making the different levels of support and capability clear.

  10. Sam, I am in the process of switching from an SA 8300 HDDVR to a Samsung 3270. I am a TWC subscriber. From a quick check of you site it doesn’t apprear there are an eSATA drives that will work on this unit. Is there any updates on that. I have a Apricorn 500GB XPander on my 8300 that supposedly won’t work due to the 3270 supporting Cable Card. Any new info would be appreciated.

    Thanks, Ron

  11. Sam, do you know where the IR receiver is on the front of this unit? I need to attach an extender and I can not find it behind all that black, shiny face plate!

    1. Hey cbernad,

      The IR receiver is located just to the right of the tiny power button on the front panel. There is a small circle in its exact location.

      I added a section to the post called front panel that contains a picture as well.

  12. Hi,
    I have a SMT-H3270 DVR from TWC, and since I got it, I have not been able to record to my DVD recorder. This drives me insane because I’m trying to record some college baseball games that will never be shown again or sold. I saw that you & Sam discussed this a little a few months ago, and it sounds like the DVR is specifically not allowing recording. I tried playing around with recording from the TV to the DVD recorder, but I can’t get that to work… the TC hardly has any “out” connections. Is there some middle piece that I could buy to get this to work. Any ideas would be appreciated. My DVR is about to fill up with the College World Series!
    Thanks,
    Bonnie

    1. I have the Samsung SMT-H3270 DVR from TWC and a Sony RDR-GX330 DVD Recorder.

      The front composite video input (line 2) on the Sony will record to DVD from the rear composite video output on the Samsung.

      The rear composite video input (line 1) on the Sony will not. It just records a grey screen.

  13. Thanks for the in depth review. I actually just got a Cisco 8640HDC from my cable provider. My only problem with the box is that it makes really loud buzzing noises (sometimes louder than my TV), which is why I’m returning it and hoping to get either one of these Samsung boxes.

  14. following up on Bonnie’s question, my parent’s recorded several games of the college world series and they want to save these either to a external hard drive, DVD, etc. for future personal use. Any way to save these games permanently?
    Thanks
    Mike

  15. This was an absolutely brilliant review! I don’t find a lot of TWC enthusiasts that are as thorough as you are. I have the 3270 box and I absolutely love it. Even with the OCAP version of Navigator/Mystro (there are two builds of the Navigator software… One for boxes w/o CableCard support, one for boxes with CableCard support, the former being much faster and more responsive) this box is speedy. Super fast boot time, smooth as butter fast forward and rewind without any lag in UI, and no “Please wait…” black screens of death when launching an On Demand channel or searching for a program in the guide. I went through about 5 Scientific-Atlanta Explorer 8300HDC units in the past 3 months. I’m not exaggerating. After a week or two (in the worst case, later the same day I brought the unit home) the hard drives would fail and throw the box into a reboot loop. One box wouldn’t pull the proper Navigator release and gave me a channel lineup from a completely different part of the country (major WTF) and one had continual provisioning/authentication errors with the CableCard. Each time TWC expected me to make a trip into town to exchange the box myself. What’s the point of having a DVR if you never get a chance to watch your recordings anyway? Its not so much that the SA/Cisco boxes were poor quality. They used consumer drives (Maxtor PATA/IDE) that were not designed to be used 24/7/365 in devices people stuff into entertainment centers with no cooling mechanism. TWC quality control didn’t bother to run any diagnostics on the drives before recycling the boxes (most likely because a QA department doesn’t exist… I popped one of the drives into one of my machines I use to diagnose customer’s drives and it threw a basic S.M.A.R.T. error… The absolute basic primitive “I’m going to die any second” warning). I’m in the North-East Ohio area, even though I live in Western Pennsylvania (2 houses down is the Western PA division, which is former Adelphia territory, with a completely different channel line up, Navigator version, etc.) and I knew these Samsung boxes were out there but never could get my hands on one. Finally I threw the shit-fit I was entitled to after 5 box failures and a tech was sent out with the specific instructions to bring a Samsung DVR.

    So far I’m incredibly happy. One thing to mention: even though every set-top box has the warning labels advising you not to stack devices on top, not to throw in a cabinet, etc., with this model Samsung really means it. I had a DVD player stacked on top of this box and it would overheat and do all kinds of funny things…. lock up mid-playback, fail to reboot, fail to authenticate the DRM for saved recordings, picture flicker like a bad cable, etc. I set the box next to all my other kit in the open air, and rebooted, and haven’t had a problem since.

    Also, in most cases, the password for the Samsung diagnostics is the last 4 digits of the model number or the MAC address. I’ve come across a ton of Samsung boxes my clients with TWC have, and very rarely is that password pattern not the case.

    Sorry for the rambling post. I really appreciated your post and wanted to share what I could.

    – SMK

    1. Hi Steve, I’m glad you enjoyed the write-up!

      I know exactly what you mean about the SA8300 units, I’ve seen several of them die myself. There are few things worse than losing a DVR full of shows that you haven’t had a chance to watch yet.

      Thanks for taking the time to write such a great comment!

  16. Thanks for the in depth work on this Sam, any recommendations for an IR extender? My box sits low and line of sight to it is obstructed, by coffee table and occasionally my cat :-),

    steve

  17. Hey stevo
    I have a 3272 with a 500 HD is there anyway i could salvage the drive for a backup storage disk or even a system disk drive?? I noticed you said it had a 5900RPM. Would that make my computer slow or something?

    1. Sure, you could add the drive to your computer for additional storage. It’s not that fast of a drive but it would work well for backups or long term storage, stuff that doesn’t have to be super fast.

  18. Is there anyway to copy the HD contents from one box to another new box. There is a usb plug in on the front of the box. There is suppose to be away to copy a recorded program to a VHS recorder.

  19. Great post on the 3270 – if you get any info on using the eSATA port with ext hdd will be looking for a post. TWC says the the 8300 is the only one that the eSATA port works on but hope you find a way to use it on the 3270. Thanks again for the post.

    1. Just got a pair of 3272s yesterday and was surprised when it didn’t dance a jig when I plugged my eSATA drive into it like the 8300HD did. This really helped me understand that there’s basically nothing I will be able to do to fix that. I will also be standing by for the first word that an update has been pushed to the box to change all that. Sam or anyone else, please shout when the levee breaks.

      1. Go into diagnostics and try mounting the eSata drive. Ther are options to mount with and with out checking the drive. I have mnot tried this but it may be a solution to your delima.

  20. I just traded in my 8300HDC (after 2 days with it – my 8300HD had lost all of its recordings that weren’t designated as save forever) for a 3272. The TW rep said that the 3272’s record time is 30/120 hours. I thought the 8300 was 20/80. If the 8300 was 160gb, and the 3272 is 500gb, why isn’t the record time 3 times as long?

  21. We have had the SMT-H3272 from TWC for several months. Along with their “Signature Service” which costs an arm, a leg and our first born, and the new remote (UR5U-8780L-TWY). I have been extremely dissatisfied with the remote control. There is such a lag in time from when I push the button on the remote and when it is sensed by the cable box. For example, I will push 1120 and the box will only read 20. It is extremely frustrating because it’s the oldest technology on the box and the least sensitive!! I purchased a Next Generation Remote Control Extender to see if that would help. It senses the RF signal from the remote, but when the eye is directly in front of the cable box, it still has a significant delay in detecting the signal, if it’s not dropped altogether. This leads me to believe it’s the box, not the remote. I have changed the batteries, gotten replacement remotes, changed the angle, had TWC on the phone and at the house several times, and nothing. Does anyone have any advice?

    Thanks so much!

  22. Pretending someone I knew had one of these boxes ‘to spare’ what cool things/tinkering can be done with it? Sort of new to this technology as in tinkering and its possible that someone may have a spare to do some cool testing with it. Any ideas-info would be great! Thanks

  23. I’m curious. Would this DVR box work with my Comcast Cable? Because the CISCO box they rent to customers sucks. I’ve had to replace mine 3 times already.

    1. Comcast would have to activate the cable box in order for it to work on their network. I’m not sure what the FCC rules are on allowing customers to supply their own cable boxes.

      I’ve heard of instances where Comcast has activated cable modems purchased by individuals but I’m not sure about DVR’s.

      My instinct says they probably won’t but you might give them a call and see what they say.

  24. Here are some basics you may already know and/or have covered on this equipment, but may yet be useful. The TW boxes, both Cisco and Samsung models that have a 2 at the end of the model number are MOCA enabled. At least wo MOCA filters are required for proper functionality of all boxes and modems in the house. The MOCA network can typically support up to 16 enabled devices. TW typically will have the ethernet, firewire and esata ports diabled on all boxes, but some may slip through the cracks. It is also possible that there has been a change in procedure and these ports aren’t being shut off on this equipment. Both Samsung and Cisco boxes are 3d and MPEG4 capable, as well as containing a built-in cable modem. The Signature Home base package in most markets costs $199.00 per mo. plus tax and comes w/ 2 MR-DVR’s. It also includes the digital phone service as well as the 50×5 Wideband DOCSIS 3 internet service where available.

  25. Have you had any luck swapping out the hard drive for a larger hard drive? I tried dropping a 1T Western Digital drive into mine with no formatting or anything and it (obviously) failed to recognize the HD. I tried using clonezilla to clone the existing drive to my new drive but it failed to clone correctly.

    I thought maybe if you could initiate a reformat of the drive via the cable box, that might work, but alas, I do not know the diagnostic password to get into that part of the ODN software.

  26. Is there no way to get an HD video from the box or an external hard drive into a format that other devices can read? Is all the information encrypted on the HD?

  27. I’ve also just gotten the samsung smt-h3270 box here in NYC, and have been unable to get my external drive connected successfully. It worked fine on my SA8300 box. Even attached to a regular PC to make sure there wasn’t a partition from the old box that it couldn’t wipe for some reason. Drive is fun, get failure in the diag screens when trying to interrogate the ESATA port. I’m a bit hesitant to factory reset, will that brick the box here on TWC? Anyone else gotten further? -lj

  28. No, you can’t get Netflix, connect your computer to your DVR, or get video files off of the DVR. (To the people who asked.) It just doesn’t work that way.

    The problem I have with this DVR is that if the DVR storage is 100% full, it doesn’t delete the oldest program like it’s supposed to. It just doesn’t record my newest shows. It thinks it’s recording (red LED light comes on and everything) but the show doesn’t save. I know most people don’t use their DVR like this, but I don’t like to erase shows after I’ve watched them. That way whenever there’s nothing on, I can just rewatch some of my recorded shows. Therefore, I like to leave my DVR full, and have it delete the oldest stuff whenever it needs to record new things. I’ve done that on all of my other DVRs, but I can’t do anymore since getting my 3270. It’s really frustrating.

  29. I’ve been using my PS3 to watch DVR recordings from my TWC Samsung DVR through MoCA. Bought a MoCA adapter kit to connect my PS3 from the bedroom to the router in the home/office via the coax cabling in the house. The PS3 is also able to see the DVR on the same MoCA network and after enabling DTCP-IP on PS3, I see a SAM-DVR server that lists out the recordings and I can play them as easily as playing from a NAS. The quality is as good as from a STB which was really surprising. The only drawback is that some of the old DVR shows I’ve already erased still show up on the list but don’t play.

    I have read that Time Warner is planning to support PS3 and Bravia TVs in a deal with Sony, so this might be the first new service that’s coming up.

  30. I just got the 3272 model and when i hook it up and turn on to begin boot up process my box says “ERO1” ive called TWC and tried many things other then that but cant find a fix for this issue. I have no idea what could me wrong would love some insight on this situation if possible!

  31. Hi, I have a problem similar to a previous post <> This wasn’t the case when the 3272 was installed. Is there a fix?

  32. Great posts! Happy I came across this site.

    Has anyone put a 2gb drive in a 3272? If so, can one just create the three linux filesystems on the new drive and copy yhe contents of the two non-swap flesystems from the old drive to the new drive, then use the new drive?

  33. The password for the samsung diagnostics is “TIME” without the quotes. This works for Bright House and I assume Time Warner devices also. Simply type it in using the numbers on your remote keypad.

  34. I came back to state this password works for at least one 3272 box in the Tampa/St.Petersberg Florida district that operates under Bright House. You will find reformatting options and options to mount an E-Sata drive.

    There is also a factory diagnostics mode which can be enabled. Should you do this you can return to your normal boot only by holding the ok/select key for 10 seconds followed by the up arrow key above select. Then you will need to return to the screen where you enable factory diagnostics mode and disable it. At that time the system will reboot and normal STB operation will resume.

  35. Hi Hackmo,

    Would you suggest using the password, and enable the mounting of an external ESATA instead of removing the 500GB, and tranfering its partion data to a 2GB drive and dropping the 2GB drive into the 3272?

    Thanks.

  36. OK — Anyone that wants a larger drive can do it if you have a linux box and can temporarily free up two SATA connections. I went with a 2TB Seagate Pipeline, as the disk installed in the box was the same variety just in the 500GB size.

    This is what I did.

    1. Removed 500GB disk from the 3272 DVR
    2. Temporarily unplugged my two DVD drives from my server and used there sata connections to plug bothe the 500GB Seagate Pipeline (from the 3272) and the new 2TB Seagate Pipeline I purchased into the server.
    3. Booted up the my linux server (running ubuntu 12.04) an ran gparted.
    4. copied and pasted the three partitions from the 500GB drive to the 2TB drive. The first two partitions are small, and were at most 9% full so they remained the same size on the 2TB drive. The final partition that holds the digitized recording was 91% full on the 500GB drive. I copied and pasted that partition to the new drive and told gparted to grow the pasted partion to the remainder of the space on the drive.
    5. After about 3 hours of copying and growing partions and filesystems I had the 2TB drive with exact duplicates of partitions 1 and 2, and an exact (but grown) copy of partions 3.
    6. put the new 2TB drive back in the 3272, and it boots right up.

    All my recordings showed up, and it cleanly reports 21% utilization, comared to 91% utilization with the 500GB drive. So far been running for 3 days with no issues.

    Scott.

    1. Hey Scott,

      Thanks for providing a step by step guide for this! This is a great option since so many providers are disabling the e-sata ports preventing external storage from being added.

  37. Regarding the handshaking issue between the Onkyo receiver and the Samsung box, I had a similar issue with a Marantz SR-6006. When the Samsung box booted with the HDMI cable installed, I was not able to pick up the time, the guide or any On Demand service. As with your setup, if the box was booted without the HDMI inserted, everything came up fine.

    The problem went away when I used an HDMI cable with a ferrite core shield, such as Monoprice item number #3871. No problem with booting the Samsung box now…everything comes up just fine.

    Thanks for the article…I learned quite a bit from it. I have the 3272 box with the Signature Home package.

  38. Thanks a ton to Sam for this site & info and thanks Hackamo for the password!!! it worked for Brighthouse Orlando area. I have been having issues with recordings being choppy even when the original feed was good.. So I have now re-formatted the HD. I will do some testing and see if this fixes my recording problems. Brighthouse has gone to a new screen look (it’s all grey now with new options) and it has been buggy so I’ll keep you all posted on that as well. The format went well in at least the box did come back after it. I was afraid I might loose the main files required to run on Brighthouse, but it is back.. =o) Thanks again!! I’ll post updates as I continue to play.. Pacdog…

  39. I just replaced an older SA DVR with a H3270 from TWC. Right away I noticed that I do not see the box that tells me that I am receiving a 1080 broadcast vs 720 (or vice versa) when changing channels. In fact, HD programming I see is not quite as sharp with the new Samsung DVR. When powered on, it tells me I am getting 720 X 480i 60Mz and then never changes. I am using an HDMI cable, as before. Am I missing something? …thank you.

    1. How did you do this, I cant find out how to do these 3 things;

      1. Set resolution to 1080 and to make it stretch so I dont see the black bars on the sides.

      2. I am hearing impaired and need close captioning: I cant find where to turn this on.

      3. The DVR is turned off, how and where do I go in settings to turn it on, so I can record programs. This one has a 500gb hd so looking forward to using this.

      I am currently using it on W.O.W. (formerly knology) and it works awesome, only took 6 phone calls to tech support and 3 techs coming to house: 3rd tech came 2 times, but finally got it working. They apparently dont use these boxes, so it was a learning experience for both of us!

      Ray..

  40. Your article “Taking a Look Inside the Samsung SMT-H3270 DVR” I have 3272 which reboots everytime I try to stream tv (twc) to mini. Is twc preventing access or is the something I missed. Browser sees the 3272, opens it, vlc comes up but reboots 3272 when I hit play. Any thoughts.

    John

  41. What is the USB connection on the front of the 3272 used for? I can connect an external USB Hard Drive to it and the drive spins up but not sure if there is some way to access the drive and possibly copy recorded shows to the external drive…

  42. I have the 3272 Samsung DVR. It has a USB port in the front but when I plug a flash drive USB into the port, nothing happens. I can’t see the files, the device or the port. The drive flashes but the BrightHouse universal remote doesn’t seem to a button to access the USB on the 3272.

    I called Brighthouse tech support, who were very polite but they had no idea how to use the USB port.

    Suggestions?
    Thanks

  43. What up Sam. I got a question for yah. Feel free not to answer if it’s an uncomfortable subject. But as I booted up my Sammy SMT-H3272 for the first time in a while, because we just laid down new hard wood flooring throughout the house, I noticed it do an automatic firmware update. What’s the chances of intercepting this download, or even grabbing it from flash so we can Mod the crap out of it?

  44. Hey Sam,

    great write up on the Samsung,I have a SMT-H3260 ,I just bought a SMT-H3270 ,how can i use the DVR (or the whole box) on the TWC system without paying for their expensive DVR rental charge ?Now i’m not trying to steal from them I’m already buying all their cable and internet service .I just wondering if i can use my HD(H3270) in their box or make my box use their MAC address ?

  45. This was great info Sam, thanks for all the detail, I tried one of the WD DVR eSATA and it didn’t work for the H3270 just like you suspected, its eSATA port is disabled.

    I do however want to expand on post #64.
    I was also able to replace my hard drive with a 2TB by burning some bootable programs so I didn’t have to have a Linux installation, I just booted to free linux freeware CDs.

    1) Removed 320GB drive from DVR
    2) Boot to clonezilla (drive copy freeware)
    3) Save the disk clone file to an external hard drive (had to run repair disk because I had turned the DVR off without powering down safely, it error’ed out when i tried to clone it without repairing)
    4) Restore the clone onto the new 2TB drive
    5) Expand out the drive with gparted (drive resizing freeware)
    6) Replace 2TB drive in DVR
    7) Powered on, went from 43% free to 8% free

    The wife is now a happy camper, the heads up that it was a linux file system really helped out thank you much!

  46. WHDVR Samsung SMT-H3272 channel changes when setting Sony Bravia volume via remote.

    Today I upgraded to BH CFL’s whole house DVR system. The DVR is a Samsung SMT-H3272.

    I have a BIG PROBLEM!

    Whenever we set the volume for the Sony Bravia using either its native remote or the cable remote, the volume action fills the channel field of the Samsung DVR with “000”s and thus it reverts to one or another BHN tutorial guide channels. This did not happen with the old SA-8300HD.

    The BH remote was programmed to control the recently replaced SA 8300HD and the Sony Bravia and worked properly with the SA 8300HD.

    The same remote is being used with the Samsung SMT-H3272 without reprogramming the remote. The difference is that the Samsung responds to Sony commands.

    The newly installed Explorer 4642HDC which slaves from the Samsung does not have this problem if I bring the Sony remote to the bedroom and press its buttons.

    It is as if the designers of the Samsung improperly coded their IR receiver. If I remember correctly the Sony operates around 38 KHz carrier while BH set top boxes operate at 56 KHz. So should not receive anything at all.

    Can you try to duplicate this behavior? the misbehavior occurs regardless of whether the BH remote or Sony remote is being used. I see no work around. Anytime the volume is adjusted, the Samsung DVR changes channels. This is a BIG problem.

  47. Great review, but do learn the difference between “your” and “you’re”. You’re a graduate of your university after all…

  48. Hi,
    Again this is a great review. have you tested the UPnP / DLNA? I’m running NAS4FREE and i’m looking for option for streaming

    Thanks

  49. Samsung boxes with the new v7.2 program guide are now native 16:9, but if you set the aspect ratio to 4:3, it will show the stretched guide. Only Charlotte has this new guide.

  50. A few questions on the SMT-H3270:

    – Can you tell the additional 2-prong AC plug on the back of the box to turn on/off with the box?

    – The box seems to turn off after laying dormant for some time (like overnite). Can I disable this feature?

    Thanks!

  51. Hello I have the same box, I just took the hard drive out and tried to mirror the drive but I couldn’t mount it, do you have any advice on this matter because I would love to use my 4 TB in this DVR

  52. Great article! I’m finding the comments to be good stuff, too.

    If the ‘TIME’ password isn’t working, I’ve also seen that ‘4321’ is pretty commonly used as well.

    Once I return from work, I’ll be attempting to use the H3270’s diag to reformat its hard drive (and perhaps a factory restore, if available) to attempt to resolve numerous recording and playback issues we’re experiencing about 6 months into its use. While I doubt I’ll go through the trouble of opening it to replace the drive (being a Time Warner leased box), I will certainly refer back here and update with results. Worst case scenario, I’ll hit the TW stores in my area until I get the upgraded box.

    Thanks!

  53. Has anyone been able to pull the firmware and mod it? I am desperate to get the eSATA port working on my Samsung SMT-H4372. I tried using the password protected diagnostics. No dice. It attempts to Mount/Format the drive, but the dialogue disappears literally faster than a blink of the eye. Even in Factory Test Mode. When I run diagnostics on the eSATA port, there is a message in red text that reads something to the effect of, “Failed Data Acquisition” or “Data not available.” As an Engineer, I can say that there is a solution to every problem, no matter how technical that solution may be. In certain cases, especially with something so deeply veiled in proprietary security effort, that solution may be available only to the manufacturer without significant investment. I don’t believe that to be the case here. Either the firmware can be altered or there is a physical jumper or obstruction to mounting the port on the PCB itself. I’m not an expert with Linux. I’m far more familiar with Hexadecimal code, oddly enough. I don’t know if anyone else is as committed as I am to solving this problem, but I will need technical expert’s help and you, Sam Kear, seem to be the guy. I am sick of nonsense blocking of technology that seems to only serve the purpose of inconveniencing the customer.

    1. TWC wants you to pay for that. They’ll set up a service appointment 2-7 business days (depending on area and supply/demand for installation techs) from scheduling. When they arrive, they’ll have no idea what you’re talking about, and have to spend 20 minutes going from dispatch, to lvl1 tech support, and finally lvl2 ts to discover that this model is “not capable of doing that” (even though it very obviously is). They’ll then proceed to educate (sell) you about a newer stb that is, but they don’t have any with them and it will be more expensive to lease. When you finally do get the newer one, it will be disabled on it, too. Proceed to your nearest store to turn in all equipment, cancel all services, and then get a different provider (heads up though, Comcast is even worse).

  54. I am looking to replace the 320Gb Seagate Pipeline ST3320311CS in my Samsung smt_h3270 with something larger and thank you to the helpful earlier posts on how do do this.

    Can you help with which larger hard drives should work?

    I see 2Tb Seagate Pipeline HD ST2000VM002 (3Gb/sec) and less expensive ST2000VM003 (6Gb/sec).

    I also see 3Tb and 4Tb (6Gb/sec) Seagate ST3000VM002 3TB and ST4000VM000 4TB.

    Which hard drive(s) have you had success with?

    Many thanks for your help!

  55. I just purchased this model (after market) for TWC/Spectrum. It works okay for watching cable but has limited capability I cannot access on demand stuff or any DVR functions. Can anyone help?

  56. Updating my post from November 1, 2016, I have successfully upgraded the original 320G drive to 2Tb twice (I had to RMA the first 2Tb drive as it vibrated and I repeated everything on its replacement). Here is a list of what I did and many thanks to posters above who already documented much of this.

    1. Bought Seagate Video ST2000VM003 2 TB 3.5″ SATA 3Gb/s Internal Hard Drive for $67 from Newegg.

    2. Removed DVR cover and front panel as described in Sam’s article at the top of this thread. To separate the front panel from the chassis, you need to disconnect the ribbon cable at the main board – it pulls straight out (carefully).

    3. Removed the hard drive that is held in by 4 screws and disconnect the 2 cables (data and power) from the hard drive.

    4. Connected that drive plus the new one to computer.

    5. Booted Clonezilla live (drive copy freeware available at http://clonezilla.org/clonezilla-live.php) When you boot, I got a couple of messages – something about missing folders I think – but it booted and worked OK.

    6. Copied directly disk to disk (not via an image). Do not select the default options. I am not sure how many options I really needed to change , but the following worked:
    i. Unchecked Auto adjust for NTFS.
    ii. Changed to clone sector by sector – I am pretty sure you MUST select this option.
    iii. Unchecked resize – I don’t know whether it would have worked had I let Clonezilla resize, but I was more comfortable resizing separately where I could see better what was going on.
    iv. After changing the above options, in the interactive questions that followed, I selected to clone the boot loader.

    7. When cloning is complete, powered down and removed the original hard drive, leaving the new cloned drive in the computer.

    8. Booted Gparted live (drive resizing freeware available at http://gparted.org/livecd.php) – I got and ignored the same missing folder messages that I got with Clonezilla – and expand out the drive to its full capacity.

    9. Reassembled the new drive into the DVR (not forgetting to connect the ribbon cable).

    10. Started up the DVR and it showed only 11% used (the original drive was almost full). It seems to be running fine for a couple of weeks now, so hopefully all is OK.

    Hope this helps and many thanks to everyone who has contributed.

  57. Sam,
    What is the best External Hard Drive to connect in the Sata Port on the back of my Samsung Time Warner Cable Box? Is there any USB/Sata adaptor? I noticed that mostly external HD only come with USB cable.
    I really appreciate if you can respond asap.

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