I wanted to go on record with Rogers on the topic of PVR power consumption, but after contacting support I was flat out told there, literally, was no email address or avenue for me to do that. Although perhaps pointless, I’m posting here in the hopes that the right people from Rogers will take notice.
I have been a Rogers cable customer for over 15 years. I have basic, analogue cable and to this day refuse to step up to digital for one reason only: the make and model of digital set-top boxes, and especially PVRs, offered and supported by Rogers are negligently engineered in terms of power consumption (based on what is offered in Atlantic Canada).
After examining the first Rogers PVR many years ago, it was evident that the direction taken was wrong. Its not that the PVR consumes ~30 watts when recording or watching a program. It’s the ~30 watts consumed perpetually, 24/7, when the device is being asked to do NOTHING (when you turn your PVR off, the display may change but rest assured it is most definitely not off in any sense of the word). Think I’m nitpicking? Its been all over the press lately, and its not just Rogers. The electricity (and by extension fuels) wasted by these boxes across North America is staggering. Why should it be buffering 30 minutes of video in the middle of the night? Do people really wake up at 3:00am and demand they be able to watch the previous 30 minutes of the last channel the box just happen to be on? I submit an emphatic “no”.
30 watts may not sound like much, but one has to realize this is an “always” 30 watts. By comparison your refrigerator may consume much more, but it does so at intervals through the day. To give this perspective, a PVR plus a digital box (typical compliment in many homes) together consume about as much over the course of a year as a modern full size refrigerator.
I cannot stress this next point enough: there is no reason for this waste of electricity. Do not be swayed by marketing department double-talk or the rhetoric from customer support. Its just sloppy, poor design on Motorola’s part. Yes a PVR needs to get updates in the night, or be ready to perform a requested recording, but none of that requires full power 24/7. The notion that customers would not put up with a power-on boot time in the morning of a couple minutes is nonsense: that notion comes ONLY because service providers at large have left their customers ignorant of cost incurred, both financial and environmental, for that 2 minute convenience.
I want to be clear on another point here: its not the money. No, really. If Rogers told me they would give me a $30 credit every year to offset the cost of electricity I still wouldn’t take their Motorola. It’s the fact that this waste of electricity is simply not necessary. There is no legitimate excuse (other than perhaps Motorola saved a few pennies in their manufacturing and Rogers saved a couple at acquisition).
You can read about PVR models which have already hit Europe, consuming a modest 23 watts when on, and 13 when turned “off”, a state where the box is not recording or outputting video, but will still turn on almost instantly. They then go into a deep sleep state at 11:00pm where the draw is just 1 Watt (commensurate with the standby consumption of most modern consumer electronics). The issue of getting updates and/or remotely programed recordings is solved by the units briefly waking up every 15 minutes to check in with the network. Smart. Just plain smart.
Ultimately all I can do is “vote with my wallet” by not buying any of the current crop of boxes and/or digital service, but I feel its only fair and productive if Rogers is informed on why this is my decision. Its not programing cost, its not quality of video. It’s the fleecing of the customer by Rogers’ choice of poorly engineered hardware and a “look the other way” attitude on power consumption. This has become such a big issue that out west that BC hydro has gone on record recommending the TV service provider with the most efficient PVR! I hope other utilities across the country follow suit.
Further reading for those interested:
Post Script: According to several anecdotal sources, the Cisco 8642 PVR (available in Ontario only) does have an actual sleep state where power consumption is about 1 watt, as well as a light sleep state of about 22-23 watts…..BUT its up to the service provider in question to enable or disable these features. Just wondering if anyone in Ontario has looked into one of these boxes in this regard and can comment.
I am not 100% postive on the 8642, but when it it is started up, speicaly after being off for a while, it does sometimes take a second or two to respond.. so i would think that its fully comming out of sleep, i cant be positive.
I know the older 8300 did go to sleep, you could hear it spin the hard drive up, about once an hour, then spin back down... and i did have a power checker thing at that time and checked it.
Rogers may not have much of a choice right now, if they are in a contract with whoever for that region... well they do have a choice, but may have to pay boucoup $$ to get out of it. Once that contract is up, they could look at another choice.
Unfortunately, that my be your only option if you wish to stick with rogers. Very shortly you will loose your analog cable signal. You might start to do some research on satalite providers then and find the one that uses less power there?
This is a very well written article on a subject that also greatly concerns me. I regret to say that I am using a Motorola pvr and am dismayed at the unnecessary power consumption you have pointed out. Unfortunately, nothing has changed in the past year. I will reconsider my continued usage. Thank you for posting your information for all to read.
I don't understand why this is such a big deal, Yes they consume a bit too much energy but everything in the house consumes at a fast rate also. Why would this prevent anyone from having one is beyond me. Unless this person count his/her pennies every day 365 days a year I can not grasp this at all. I sincerely believe that the OP is on a mission.
To each their own I guess.
Have you any idea how many people use at least one pvr in their home? It's the total unnecessary energy consumption used glabally that adds up and only individuals can reduce it one by one, device by device.
You both bring up good points.
As with any topic especialy like this, there are 2 sides to it.
The convienience side.. (people who want the convienence, but in the end use MORE power for their convienences)
The conservative side.. (people more concerned about saving energy, both for personal and environmental reasons)
There is no saying one is right or wrong, and this is not a place for THAT argument.
Many devices now a days, are ALWAYS on in some form, due to the nature of how/what they are. And sometimes they NEED to be, you cant just 100% unplug them (your tv maybe you could.. but a PVR? 10+ mins boot time.. needs to be on to record, etc).
Each person needs to make the decsion, and do their part, how or what they can. Unplug stuff that doesnt need to be pluged in all the time, etc.
Unfortunately Rogers (and other providers) often get into contracts with hardware providers.. which makes them to CHANGE them, while it could happen, can take a LONG time (contract to end, source new stuff, etc).
What we can do/hope, is that over time, the new devices, are a much lower power draw, better designs, etc. Technology changes and as it becomes cheaper will drive this (putting in a SSHD for example). That newer boxes will be better.
You see this in many other things... your furnace, fridge, appliances, etc.. their power rating, is MUCH lower than older ones, as they learn to make them use less power.
In the end, its everyones personal choice. You can choose to use a PVR, other box, or not. The lowest power draw right now, likely, would be a DTA, which would give BASIC tv viewing, but no specialty, no HD, no on demand, etc.
Well, if you're going to obsess over power consumption, you'd better keep everything unplugged unless you're actually using it, like the green zealots would want you to do. Are you more concerned about your Hydro bill, or are you a Global Warmist? If it's the former, just make sure you vote out Ontario's Liberal government so we can get rid of the corruption and wind farm subsidies. If the latter, educate yourself.
Seriously, do people even turn off their desktop computers anymore? I just checked my PVR (a SA8300SD) and it's barely warm, so I doubt it's burning 30 watts just sitting there on standby. I suppose if you really want to know the power consumption of your PVR, you should contact the manufacturer.
I'll add my 2 cents to this as well.
I too have measured the power consumption of the current devices. An 8642HD PVR measured at 24 watts when idling 'OFF' which as everyone knows is never off. When recording the consumption goes up to about 28-30 watts I found. The non-pvr version 4642HD measured at 16 watts on or off.
You can't do much about the PVR as it needs to run all the time to make sure you don't miss a recording you want and given that it takes about 15 minutes to re-boot one of these things.
I installed timers however on my 4242HD boxes (2 of them) to come one when I use them since they're not used much of the day. I found however that you have to have them come on a few times a day for at least a half hour otherwise the Rogers network will disable the device from the network and you have to go online to the Rogers site and to re-enable it.
I also run a computer in my home theatre for everything else and I wish Rogers provided an add-on card or a USB-based device that would leverage the computer for display and recording activities. I wouldn't need their PVR device at all if they offered something like this and would also use less power. There are many cards on the market that can do this already with QAM clear cable signals (which are now disappearing), however given the proprietary nature of cable networks for HD this isn't currently allowed. It woudln't take much to make this work.