Layer 3 Streaming DVR

Discussion in 'Internet Television Hardware' started by jackdemcak, Aug 3, 2017.

  1. Has anyone experienced the Layer 3 Streaming DVR? I am told that its picture quality surpasses Dish and Direct TV. Although it currently lacks the apps that Roku provides (they say Netflix and Hulu are coming soon), it has the potential to offer the functionality of a high picture quality Dish or Direct TV and Roku in 1 box.

    Their Platinum package of 250+ HD channels and locals is less costly than Dish's Top 250. They provide the full time 4K NASA channel. No contractual commitment is required.

    They offer a 21 day no obligation trial. I have taken them up on their free trial offer and will report what I find when the unit is installed in the next few days.

    Jack D.
    primestar31 likes this.
  2. Since their service area is very limited at this point (six TV markets?), it seems like asking around in your area is probably going to bear more fruit. They've only been operating in your area 105 days or so.

    They seem to be somewhat evasive about what the year two rates are and that's never a good sign.

    The fact that they carry Pac12 and Epix will turn some DIRECTV heads.

    I'm not optimistic about a full HD + UHD lineup working out all that well with a 1TB hard drive but if they have a good on-demand setup, it might work.
  3. I now have used the Layer 3 DVR for 5 days. Here are my initial impressions:

    I don't know the minimum internet speed to allow the Layer 3 DVR to stream 1080P and 4K programming without delays or reduced picture quality. I have a 25 Mbps internet line so I did not expect to see any of these problems. I was right, the transmission runs without delays and the picture quality is excellent for 1080P and exceptional for 4K.

    To test picture quality, I recorded the same soccer match on my Dish Hopper 3 and the Layer 3 DVR. I then viewed both the Dish and Layer 3 recordings on a 65 inch 4K LG OLED TV. My normal viewing position is 12 feet from the TV. At that distance I cannot see any significant difference between the 1080P picture produced by Dish and Layer 3. Both are very watchable. The streaming 4K picture produced by Layer 3 is a different story. The picture quality is as good, maybe even better, than that produced by the demo TVs in Best Buy that use 4K blue ray disks for their programming source. The streaming 4K picture from the Layer 3 full time 4K NASA channel is noticeably better than the 4K picture produced by my ROKU Premier unit.

    The Layer 3 DVR is plug and play. All that is needed is to attach it to the internet, connect it to the TV with a HDMI cable, power it up, and then make a phone call to enable it. The remote units are equally simple to install. They do not attach to the internet. They communicate with the Layer 3 DVR via private wi-fi network created by the Layer 3 DVR. I installed a remote unit 33 feet (through 3 walls) from the Layer 3 DVR. It started up immediately and connected with the Layer 3 DVR. I have not had time to see how the remote unit performs.

    When the Layer 3 unit turns on it displays its home page containing 5 preview windows. These windows display currently live shows that the unit believes the user may be interested in viewing now. It also gives a clickable list of 8 other currently live shows that might be of interest to the user. I was told that the unit keeps track of the viewing choices for as many as 5 users and it adjusts the content of the start-up preview windows and the clickable list to match the user's latest viewing preferences. I could not verify this claim because I am the only user and it is too soon for the unit to make any informed choices as to my viewing preferences.

    After about half an hour of trial and error clicking on the user interface, I realized that my expectations for the system have been colored by my more than 20 years with Dish Network. I did not find the user interface to be particularly intuitive so I decided to contact Layer 3 customer service to ask for help. The first thing I learned was that layer 3 has no customer service. They have a user service concierge. When I told them that I thought this was a bit pretentious I was told that they expect to earn the reputation as being the industry leader for "white glove customer service". I hope they an keep this promise. My concierge was very helpful. He patiently guided me through the use of their user interface. The interface has all the controls needed to find, record, and playback programs. I just didn't know where to find them. Unfortunately, Layer 3 has not published a user guide. This forces me to call the concierge every time I run into a problem, but so far they always answer the phone quickly and give me advice that works.

    I set several timers to record future shows and they all worked. I have not tested whether all 8 tuners can be used simultaneously for recording.

    From what I read on the internet, a big complaint from users is that the Layer 3 remote controller does not have skip forward 30 sec and skip back 10 sec buttons like the Dish Hopper has. There are only FF and REW buttons. I agree with this complaint. I told my concierge that it is frustrating to use FF and REW buttons because I always overshoot or undershoot when skipping commercials. I was told that they are working on a fix to this problem (have you heard this before?). I have a Harmony controller that I programmed to skip commercials when using the Dish Hopper. I called Logitec to see if they can help me with this Layer 3 skipping problem. The Logitec gurus tell me that Layer 3 support exists for Harmony controllers and it is currently being upgraded. They are helping me come up with a sequence of Layer 3 DVR commands that will skip commercials.

    To sum it all up, the Layer 3 DVR has excellent picture and audio quality. The look and feel of its user interface is not what I prefer but so far it has been responsive, reliable, and is fully capable of meeting my needs to find, record, and replay programs. The customer concierge service is excellent.

    Again, these are early times. I may change my opinions by the time the Layer 3 DVR's 21 day no-obligation trial expires. Time will tell.
  4. Thank you osu1990 for the helpful links you provided.
  5. I appreciate the thoughtful first look.
  6. Last Friday evening, on the 6th day of my Layer 3 DVR use, I found a situation which caused the playback of a recorded program to freeze the system. I cycled the power on the unit and the problem went away, but I was able to reproduce the error again. I called my concierge. I was connected immediately. (Either they have very few users or the system is very reliable.) When I described the problem my concierge agreed that although a power reboot allowed me to continue using the system, the reboot did not fix the problem. She said she would schedule a technician to come to my house who would either fix the problem or swap out the unit. It was too late to get a technician to come to my house that night. Technicians in my locality were fully booked on Saturday, but Sunday morning at 8 am was available. The technician arrived at 8 am on the dot. The problem was not fixable so a new unit was installed, but it did not boot up and start running. A second new unit was installed and it also would not start up. The technician then discovered that my internet cable was dead.

    I have a complex internet system that supports three computers, a BitDefender Box and over 20 home lighting and heating/AC controls using Amazon Alexa. The technician was not cowed by the tangle of wires when I showed him how everything was connected. He worked with the Cox telephone hot line and eventually eliminated the modem as the source of the problem. After methodically checking all the various connections he discovered that the router was intermittently dropping the connection with the internet. He helped me perform a red button reset (not a simple power off-on) of the router. This fixed the problem. The replacement L3 DVR booted up and connected with the remote unit in my bedroom. Although he was scheduled for a 1 hour visit, the technician eventually spent over 3 hours fixing on a problem that was not caused by the Layer 3 unit. I think this is worth calling "white glove service" .
  7. I hope you gave him a good tip before he left! $20 tip would not have been out of line for that sort of service.

    Yes, Layer 3 might say he didn't go over and above since that's their "schtick", but I'd say a job like that IS "over and above", and should be rewarded by the end-user.
    osu1991 likes this.
  8. Thanks primestar31 for the comment. It is rare to find a tech service tech who is so competent and dedicated to helping the customer - - - and yes, I did tip him $20.
    primestar31 likes this.