Review: Iomega DVR Expander Drive

When is an external hard drive not a hard drive? Apparently, when it’s a DVR expander. In a perfect world, these glorified drives would be wholly unnecessary, as any device fitted with a USB, Firewire or eSATA port would work seamlessly with a similarly equipped external HDD.

Instead, we get various iterations of DVRs, each with crippled or non-functioning expansion ports. And once we’re done silently cursing the darkness and/or clogging them up with unwatched episodes of Golden Girls, then we get to choose from range of special purpose drives – each “certified” to work with this or that digital video recorder.

Sure, there are various workarounds and hacks that promise to liberate these locked down ports and let you use whatever run of the mill external drive you have laying around. But if you want a quick fix to your dwindling DVR storage problem, your easiest choice for now is DVR expansion.

Iomega’s own $190 solution is a 500GB drive that plays nice with two DVRs in particular: Scientific Atlanta’s 80GB standard definition 8300 and the more recent 160GB 8300HD model. We tested the drive out on the latter model and found it more or less did what it promised. It even worked with a neighbor’s Series 3 TiVo, which (to its credit) is known for being something of an eSATA slut.

Set up in both instances was quick and painless, and involved simply turning off the DVR, plugging in the Iomega drive, and then turning everything back on again. Voila, no more having to choose between Emmanuelle: The Art of Love and the latest episode of Mad Men.

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