Drive Compatibility:

Short version -
I have personally tested and used the Maxtor QuickView (300 GB - 5A300J0) and Seagate DB35 (500 GB - ST3500841ACE) lines of drives in my ReplayTVs.  Both of these lines are intended to be used in DVRs and should work fine in any ReplayTV.  I have also tested and used Western Digital (300 GB -
WD3000JB) drives with no problems.
 (The Maxtor QuickViews are 5400 RPM, while the other two brands are 7200 RPM drives.)  Drives you should avoid include the Maxtor Diamondmax 10 line, Seagate 7200.9 and 7200.10 lines, Hitachi 400 GB, all Samsung drives, and the Western Digital WDxxxxAAJB line of drives will not work in a 5XXX series ReplayTV.  (WDxxxxJB drives work, WDxxxxAAJB drives won't work in 5XXX series ReplayTVs). Many of the newer, larger drives have not been tested thoroughly since many users stick with drive lines that are known to work in ReplayTVs and larger drives may best be suited for use in a computer to act as a WiRNS or DVArchive ReplayTV server.

Long version -
ReplayTVs and ShowStoppers have an IDE/ATA controller.  (Also referred to as Parallel ATA.)  Serial ATA drives will not work, since they have the wrong drive interface to use in a ReplayTV or ShowStopper.  Many IDE/ATA drives will work, with the exceptions noted below.   Note, however, that newer firmware in some previously compatible lines of drives may make newer drives incompatible with ReplayTVs. 

Most ReplayTVs come with 5400 RPM, 2 MB cache Maxtor drives.  Those types of drives are plenty fast for DVR use, although some people report the user interface operates a little faster with 7200 RPM drives.  Please note that 7200 RPM drives generally produce more heat than 5400 RPM drives, so when using a 7200 RPM drive in a pre-40XX series ReplayTV, you should seriously consider adding a fan of some kind (40XX series ReplayTVs and later already have a fan).  With the exception of the drives noted in the next few paragraphs, any 5400 or 7200 RPM with any size cache should work fine in a ReplayTV.  (Pre-40XX series ReplayTVs will use no more than 137 GB of a drive, regardless of the actual drive size, due to limitations of the controller.)

Most Samsung hard drives and the Hitachi 400 GB drive will not boot in a 5XXX series ReplayTV.  This is due to some incompatibility between these drives and the controller.  (At one point, no Samsung drive would boot in a 5XXX series ReplayTV, but there has been at least one report of a Samsung booting in a 5040.  It's possible Samsung has changed the firmware and that some Samsung drives will now work in a 5XXX ReplayTV:  YMMV). 

There have also been some problems reported with the Maxtor DiamondMax 10 line of drives.  Early reports indicated problems with the 16 MB cache versions, but there's also been at least one report of problems with the 8 MB cache version.  These drives will boot, but there have been reports of stuttering, sluggishness or other problems.  Although a few other users have also reported no problems with the Diamondmax 10 line of drives. Beware of any site selling pre-loaded upgrade drives that's still selling Diamondmax 10s for use in ReplayTVs.  There have been enough reports of problems that the risk of getting a flaky drive just isn't worth it.

Newer Seagate drives may also prove to be problematic in 5XXX series ReplayTVs, specifically the Seagate 7200.9 line of drives (these have either 8 or 16 MB cache, see this thread) and the 7200.10 line of drives.    Seagate 7200.8 drives have had no reported problems in ReplayTVs (the 7200.8 series can have either 8 MB or 16 MB cache). Though recently, even boxes that are labeled as 7200.8 drives may likely contain 7200.9 drives that will be incompatible with ReplayTVs.

The Western Digital WDxxxxAAJB line of drives will not work in a 5XXX series ReplayTV.  (WDxxxxJB line of drives work, WDxxxxAAJB line does not work).

Keep in mind that just because a drive boots in a ReplayTV does not necessarily mean it is completely compatible.  Like the Maxtor Diamondmax 10 line, newer drives may boot fine, but may cause problems after days or weeks in operation.

To take the incompatibility of some types of drives a step further - it would appear that the incompatibility of some drives is likely tied to newer firmware versions.  As the drive makers extend firmware changes into other models or lines of drives, you may encounter drives other than those listed here specifically that will not boot in a ReplayTV.  This may particularly apply to drives from Hitachi, Samsung, Maxtor and/or Seagate.

Summary:

-Most Samsung hard drives and the Hitachi 400 GB will not boot in a 5XXX series ReplayTV
-Many problems reported with Maxtor Diamondmax 10 drives in ReplayTVs
-The Seagate 7200.9 and 7200.10 line of drives may have problems in 5XXX series ReplayTVs
-
The Western Digital WDxxxxAAJB line of drives will not work in 5XXX series ReplayTVs
-Other drives from those same drive manufacturers may or may not work in a ReplayTV

Other currently produced brands or models of hard drive should work.  Seagate drives have been popular replacement drives because of their 5 year warranty.

So is there a drive or line of drives that's a sure thing to work in a ReplayTV?  There's no easy answer.  Maxtor makes a line of drives specifically designed for use in PVRs - the QuickView line.  Seagate also makes a PVR specific line of drives - the DB35 series.  These drives handle error correction differently than a standard PC drive - and are good choices for replacement drives.  On the other hand, newer firmware may at some point make these drives also incompatible in ReplayTVs.  Most recently I used Western Digital 300 GB (WD3000JB) drives in my 3 ReplayTVs and they worked great. These drives should still be readily available.  I tried Seagate DB35 (ST3500841ACE) 500 GB drives in my 3 ReplayTVs, but found the low frequency rumble they make while running to be too annoying, although many people are not bothered by it.

At one time, drive compatibility was fairly easy to define - most drives worked, while only a few drives did not.  If you encounter problems after an upgrade that you believe may be related to the type of drive used, your best bet would be to at least test the ReplayTV using a different type of drive.  The vast majority of ReplayTV problems are caused by a hard drive problem or corruption of the software on the hard drive.

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