Time Warner Cable recently started rolling out their new enhanced DVR service in Kansas City and many other markets across the country. In this post I’ll be sharing some information about the hardware Time Warner is for this new service, the Arris DCX3600-M advanced video gateway.
Upgrading to Enhanced DVR
Once I heard this box was starting to be deployed in Kansas City I headed down to one of Time Warner’s retail stores and requested to exchange my DVR for the new models.
I didn’t have any issues obtaining the one of the new units but I did discover that the enhanced DVR service was going to cost me an additional $3 /month per box on my bill.
Currently Time Warner charges $12.99/month for each standard DVR, and $15.99/month for the Enhanced DVRs. More details on Time Warner Cable’s pricing can be found on their retail price notification document.
Known Issues with the DCX3600-M on Time Warner Cable
Below are known issues with the DCX3600-M which have either been observed by myself or reported by other users.
- Composite Audio Output RCA outputs do not support stereo (only mono)
- Picture in Picture (PIP) feature does not work
- 6 digital tuners (BCM3128)
- 1 TB hard drive
- Built in Docsis 3.0 modem with channel bonding (8 x 4)
- Multiroom DVR support (MoCA 2.0)
- Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 support
- 3D capable
The Arris DCX3600-M boasts some fairly impressive hardware specs, most notable are the 6 digital tuners, and the massive 1TB internal hard drive.
With 6 tuners you can record up to 6 different channels at the same time and still watch a previously recorded show. Or you could record 5 shows at the same time while watching live TV on the 6th tuner.
Input Output Ports
- Cable in (RF Coaxial)
- Component out (YPbPr)
- Composite out
- HDMI out
- SPDIF optical audio out
- USB 2.0 (2 ports)
- RJ45 ethernet (10/100/1000Mpbs)
- IR input
- DC power input (12 volt)
For more detailed port specifications consult the DCX3600-M users manual.
As you can see from the photo above the Arris hardware designers opted to add a fan to the DCX3600 to keep it cool. The fan appears to vary in speed based on the temperature of the box.
The fan is very quiet, the only time I’ve been able to even hear it is when the fan runs at max speed while the box it booting up. During normal use I’m not able to hear any fan noise whatsoever.
The fan is a nice addition considering the numerous problems with overheating some of the previous Time Warner cable boxes have experienced.
Internal Hard Drive
The DCX3600 utilizes the Western Digital WD10EURX 1TB SATA hard drive. This model uses WD GreenPower technology which is designed to provide power conservation and cool operating temperatures.
Western Digital classifies this drive as an AV class storage device which is specifically designed for video recording and playback in a 24×7 always on environment.
According to WD’s specs for this drive it can deliver continuous playback of up to twelve HD streams at the same time. This feature becomes more important if you are using Time Warner’s multi room DVR service.
In a whole home DVR configuration the DCX3600-M would function as the master box and other slave boxes would communicate to the master over coax using MoCA technology.
On DVR / HDD status page (d13) you can view the SMART diagnostics information for the internal hard drive which is useful to determine if the hard drive in your DVR is about to fail.
Front Panel Display
The front panel of this DVR has a very clean, minimalist design.
The power button is located on the lower left side of the box, the button is illuminated with a blue LED while the unit is turned on. Most users have found that the DCX3600 has a substantially brighter display and if placed in your bedroom it may keep you up all night.
The clock is brighter than the power button but the clock can be turned off by pressing the settings button on the remote then going to display \ clock options.
The power button goes dark when the DVR is turned off so with the clock disabled the unit is almost completely black (unless a show is being recorded).
AC Power Adapter
The DCX3600-M does not have an integrated power supply and requires the use of an external power brick to provide the 12 volts DC power required by the cable box.
I find these external power bricks to be a bit annoying since they add extra bulk and wires to my home theater area but these seem to be the trend in most newer boxes.
The power adapter is made by Delta Electronics, model number EADP-40MB. The adapters accepts an input voltage of 100-240 volts and produces an output of 12 volts DC at 3 amps.
I was able to access the diagnostics menu on the DCX3600-M by holding down the select key for about 10 seconds then pressing the up key. This seems to be standard on all Time Warner Cable boxes using the OCAP software.
From the main diagnostics menu you can access the extended diagnostics page shown below. In the extended diagnostics you can access tons of information on the status, and current configuration of the cable box.
The interface / port status page is useful to see which ports on the cable box have been enabled or disabled by Time Warner.
Interestingly I couldn’t find any information relating to the status of the eSATA port. At some point in the future I may attempt to test the port to see if the box will recognize an external drive but with a 1TB hard drive built in I highly doubt I will run out of storage space any time in the near future.
Should you upgrade to Enhanced DVR?
There are three main groups of people who will benefit most from upgrading to Time Warner’s enhanced DVR service, if you fall into one or more of these categories then you should definitely consider upgrading.
- People who constantly run into issues where 2 tuners isn’t enough.
- Whole house DVR subscribers
- Users that are constantly out of storage space on their DVR.
If you don’t fit into one of the above categories then you probably won’t receive much benefit from making the switch. The DCX3600-M is a great cable box but it isn’t a revolutionary piece of equipment that you can’t live without.
This may change in the future as Time Warner releases software updates that take advantage of more features that this new DVR has to offer.