28 reviews

Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8300HD

$600.00 Released January, 2001

Product Shot 1 The Pros:Dual tuners can record two shows at once. Can record both HD and SD content. Straight-forward operation.

The Cons:No 30 second skip feature. Annoying UI nuisances like search by title. Search alphabetically only allows first character and is only for current day. Try seaching for something like Chuck and having to go through 150 entries to get to it. How about allowing more than first character and show upcoming times after selection.

The Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8300HD is a high-definition personal video recorder (HD PVR) available with many cable subscriptions across North America. It features a 160 GB hard drive capable of recording 90 hours of SD or 20 hours of HD content.

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Product Shot 2 The 8300HD has a dual digital tuner that is capable of watching and/or recording two programs at once with only one cable hookup. The dual tuner also allows for picture-in-picture (PIP) functionality. It comes loaded with an interactive program guide (IPG) to navigate channels and initiate recordings. It features a 1/4 display of the current program while in the guide. The 8300HD has many of the same features as the popular TiVo HD including "season pass", pausing, rewinding, fast-forwarding, etc. It is often referred to as the SA 8300HD.


  • dual-tuner high-definition personal video recorder
  • capacity: 160 GB - 90 hrs SD / 20 hrs HD
  • includes interactive program guide with 1/4 screen program preview
  • picture-in-picture (PIP)
  • upgradeable storage with eSATA port
  • video outputs: 1 x HDMI, 1 x component, 1 x RCA, 1 x S-Video
  • audio outputs: 1 x digital coaxial, 1 x S/PDIF, 2 x RCA stereo
  • connectivity: USB, Firewire, SATA
  • includes remote
  • output recorded programs to VCR using S-Video

Interactive Program Guide

There are two different interactive program guides that come bundled with the 8300HD:

Figure 1: "SARA" interactive program guide Figure 2: "Passport" interactive program guide

Availability and Pricing

Typically, the 8300HD can be rented from your digital cable provider for a fee, or can be purchased separately for around $399. The box has to be activated by your cable provider before it can be used.

User Reviews (35)

Add Pros & Cons
  • 7

    Dual tuners can record two shows at once

  • 6

    Can record both HD and SD content

  • 5

    Straight-forward operation

  • 5

    Powers down the hard drive when not being used.

  • 3

    Can get it for free with your cable subscription

  • 2

    You can throw in a new internal Western Digital Caviar Blue (WD5000AAKB) 500GB ATA-100 drive to up it from 160 gig to 500 gig for under $100

  • 9

    No 30 second skip feature

  • 6

    Annoying UI nuisances like search by title

  • 6

    Search alphabetically only allows first character and is only for current day. Try seaching for something like Chuck and having to go through 150 entries to get to it. How about allowing more than first character and show upcoming times after selection.

  • 6

    Recorded listing does not show original channel as well as show info without having to press info enter/info exit (A) for each recorded item

  • 4

    Can not list future upcoming times for a show or a record series option.

  • 4

    No IR extender so you can close entertainment center door and connect 10 ft range extender to control box.

  • 3

    A B C buttons to handle responses instead of using the directional pad and center select.

  • 3

    Doesn't remember the position you stopped playback on your recorded episodes. It will only remember the the last show you watched.

  • 2

    Jumps to "live" viewing when watching and recording a program and the program ends

  • 1

    If recording two shows at once, you can only watch those channels

  • 1

    have been through 3 boxes

  • 0

    not compatible with Samsung tvs. who's boycotting who?

  • 0

    No categorized search like Movies, Sports, etc.

  • -2

    Have to keep resetting the unit just to keep it working "Normally"

Comments (11)

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mark: #scientific_atlanta_explorer_8300hd scientific atlanta explorer 8300 hd dvr. Has anyone else had this mesage when trying to play recorded programs? - disk trouble there are problems with the program storage disk recording and playback are not available at this time. I have about 350 recorded programs on several external drives. Is there a way to transfer recorded list to a new dvr box or change out internal hard drive to be able to save recorded programs from being lost? Jun 15, 11
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redturbo917: #scientific_atlanta_explorer_8300hd Hi Tiguy,

We have the same 8300hd from Charter Cable.

It makes sense that the box would want to format the drive. I am also assuming you connected the external drive from the rear connection. Having said this, how did it not work? Was the 9300hd funcional, as if the external drive was not there?

I am also wondering about the USB slot in the front. I am with you, we should not have to work so hard to use such a product.

Mike Dec 31, 08
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tiguy10: #scientific_atlanta_explorer_8300hd I need help.

I have the 8300hd and tried to connect external drive to it.

When I started the 8300hs it ask to format it, I accepted.

But, I do not know why, it does not work???

I have a Vantec NexStar 3 Hard Drive Enclosure - eSATA, USB 2.0, Aluminum and an SEAGATE hard drive.

Thanks Sep 29, 08
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desjardinsy001: #scientific_atlanta_explorer_8300hd I meant the 8300HD is a real PVR because it is all in one, as for Tivo it requires IR Blaster to control an external source, and building one yourself would be the same way today (unless you don't want digital content and use only basic cable) Dec 22, 07
comments (2)
Erik: #scientific_atlanta_explorer_8300hd Just a minor correction to Omar's point. There are only 2 tuners, so you can't record 2 and watch a 3rd. At any time, you can only be watching, recording (or PIPing) up to a max of 2 shows at once. A little message popups up to warn you if you try and make it 3. Dec 18, 07
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Omar: #scientific_atlanta_explorer_8300hd @desjardins: What's the difference between "real" PVR and TiVO PVR? After having this box for the past few days I really can't see it getting much better. I mean, you can record 2 programs while watching a 3rd, at the same time! Plus the OnDemand service interface is 100x faster than the standard cable box, which makes it go from supremely annoying to actually usable.

Last night I finally set up the universal remote that ships with the box (from Rogers). It now controls the TV, and the receiver and does a decent job of it. Going from 3-remotes to 1 is a million times better, and I can control each device to a pretty good degree, changing input sources, menu options, etc. Dec 18, 07
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desjardinsy001: #scientific_atlanta_explorer_8300hd Until we have cable cards here in canada we won't be able to do a real PVR, we can only do Tivo Like PVR with IR Blasters, which kinda suck. Dec 13, 07
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Erik: #scientific_atlanta_explorer_8300hd

It's all done by your cable provider. :( The AVS Forum is a fantastic resource for information about the SA 8300HD.

Oh, how I wish they opened up the digital cable box world like what Google is doing with Android. I want to develop my own PVR interface, or better yet get some open-source development action going. Compare the clunky interface on the 8300HD to XBMC and you'll know what I mean.

(I still love this thing, though..don't tell Roger's)

Dec 7, 07
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desjardinsy001: #scientific_atlanta_explorer_8300hd Erik, you mentionned Sara and Passport tv guide, I have only seen Sara version, can I get the Passport or is this depending on the cable provider? Dec 7, 07
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desjardinsy001: #scientific_atlanta_explorer_8300hd The Videotron (Quebec, Canada) version enables the eSata interface which lets you add an external hard-drive. You can buy drives from the cable provider, but you can easily make your own by buying an eSata enclosure and a Sata drive from a store like TigerDirect.com. Dec 7, 07
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Erik: #scientific_atlanta_explorer_8300hd I have the SA Explorer 3250HD and have had thoughts of trying to get it to record HD via the firewire port, but alas, the firmware doesn't enable firewire. This looks pretty sweet. Recording 2 shows while watching a third seems pretty intense, but I'm sure it has it's uses. Nov 7, 06
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