I initially reported on Gefen’s HD DVR during CES, and then again last week when Zatz Not Funny got their hands on one. The real standout feature of the box is the HDMI input. That’s pretty much unheard of. HDCP is normally felt to preclude recording from HDMI. But Gefen claimed they were compliant as they preserved the HDCP flags on their HDMI output.
However, there was a wee loophole. The recordings on the drive were unencrypted. If you pulled the drive and connected it to a PC you could copy the raw H.264 files, as Dave Zatz discovered. A perfect HD piracy tool. Well, CNET News.com reports that Gefen is closing this loophole and will begin encrypting the drives. Why didn’t they do that from the start? Well, they had this to say to CNET:
Gefen did not anticipate that users would void warranty to crack the unit and use the internal drive in this fashion. The company is currently in the process of encrypting every internal drive of every HD PVR so this situation will be corrected.
So, either Gefen is run by truly oblivious individuals or they’ve managed to avoid reading every tech blog in the world. The very first thing we geeks do is violate the warranty and open the box up! See also my TiVo reviews with internal photos. Gefen was really surprised that someone a) opened the box, b) tried connecting the drive to a PC, and c) posted the results online? Really? I’d be surprised if someone didn’t do that with a new product! Since the boxes are not network connected, I don’t know how they’ll address units in the field. They may release a firmware update users can load over USB or SD – but they can’t force anyone to do so. If you run out and buy one now you might just get one from pre-encrypted stock. I’m just saying…
Now, if you’ll pardon me, I need to visit Gefen HQ. I have this old bridge over the East River that I’m looking to sell.