Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8300HD Cable Receiver Reviewed

Published On: December 31, 2008
Last Updated on: October 31, 2020
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Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8300HD Cable Receiver Reviewed

This receiver allows you to easily add external hard drives if you need to increase storage capacity and it permits the recording of two shows simultaneously. The biggest drawbacks are that it takes time to switch between standard and HD channels and it sometimes freezes up and rebooting takes about 15 minutes...

Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8300HD Cable Receiver Reviewed

By Author: Dr. Ken Taraszka

Ken Taraszka M.D. is an anesthesiologist by trade based in Tampa Bay, Florida. Ken is also a professional audiophile and home theater writer specializing in AV preamps and all facets of the audiophile market. In the past, Ken has been a staff writer and editor at He has also at times been a frequent contributor at


In the modern world of high-definition TV, most people get their feeds from either digital cable or satellite. I have chosen cable. The 8300HD is the best box my Brighthouse Networks provider offers. An HD cable receiver and HD DVR offering a 160-gigabyte hard drive that allows up to 20 hours of HD recording or 90 hours of standard-definition recording, the SA 8300HD offers composite, S-Video, component and HDMI outputs, as well as both optical and coaxial digital outputs and even stereo analog outputs and, of course, an RF input and output, too.

The 8300HD includes two tuners, so you can watch one show while recording another and, when you are recording two different shows, you can still watch movies in your queue. The unit outputs Dolby Digital 5.1 for your receiver or AV preamp to decode for surround and has stereo analog outputs, too. From my company, the box costs an additional $7 per month for the HD DVR feature. The DVR in this unit is pretty simple. You need to go through the program guide and select the shows you want to record and highlight them. There is no search feature like those on the older ReplayTV and TiVo, but you can select to record only first-run episodes or record the show any time it airs. The included remote is basic, but handles all the functions well.

Competition and Comparison
To compare the Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8300HD cable receiver to its competition read our other reviews, including the
AT&T U-verse DVR and service review by Andrew Robinsn and the Tivo Premiere HD DVR review by Adrienne Maxwell. You can find information on all kinds of products by visiting our Satellite Receiver and HD DVR section.

Read The High Points, Low Points and Conclusion on Page 2


High Points
• While only HDMI 1.0 spec, the HDMI output does have HDCP copy protection, so it will work with all current displays and receivers.

• The rear SATA port allows you to easily add on external hard drives to increase storage capacity if the internal recording time isn't enough for you.
• The 8300HD responds fairly well to controls and also switches channels quickly, though it can take a bit longer going from an HD source to an SD source and vice-versa.

Low Points
• The 8300HD freezes up, requiring a full reboot, which can take up to fifteen minutes, depending on when you start the process.
• Switching from high-definition to standard-definition channels is slow.
• If you receive this unit from your cable provider, be sure to download the full manual on line and set up the unit properly to your set. I found many native HD formats turned off on every one of these I've been through and, if not corrected, this can seriously limit the quality of the picture you see for HD sources.

The Scientific Atlanta 8300HD cable receiver and HD DVR isn't a bad unit. It offers all you need from a cable box, including an HDMI output and both optical and coaxial digital outputs to feed surround sound to your system. The box does tend to freeze up from time to time, requiring hard reboots to fix, and these can take a while at times. The rear SATA port that allows additional DVR storage space is a nice touch for those who want to store large volumes of shows for later viewing. I strongly encourage anyone who has this box to download the full manual and be sure to set it up properly for your TV, not just what the cable company has it set to, as you will vastly improve the video of this receiver.

Read more HD DVR, TiVo and Digital Cable box reviews here...

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