Guide Plus ???
Sounds more like Guide Minus to me.
What happens when the provider throws in the towel? (see recent item re: 4TV/Digifusion)
Review score marked down to 0% accordingly.
With a built-in Blu-ray recorder and dual Freeview HD tuners, Panasonic’s DMR-BW880 is something of a novelty among Freeview+ DVRs. Other tasty nuggets include a 500GB hard disk, the VieraCast Internet video portal, DLNA networking, Gracenote CD database access and playback of many common audio and video formats. Along with its …
You are spot on that the advert ridden EPG sucks.
It's the same on my Panasonic TV.
I actually wrote to them about this and they were totally unrepentant.
My TV is due for replacement for a larger screen model and I'd buy another Panasonic in a heartbeat - except that I can't bear the EPG so it'll be a SONY for me instead.
What sort of TV company can't write their own EPG?
Having worked in the industry, I have an idea (guess) as to why Panasonic are using this advert-laden EPG.
It might be (and I say MIGHT, but I bet I'm close to the truth) that Panasonic have licensed some patents off the people behind this EPG and part of the license is that they MUST include the EPG with the product. I know that such a scenario raised its head where I was working (not Panasonic). This would also explain why Panasonic are very reluctant to talk about it or do anything about it... because they can't without breaking the terms of the licence they have.
Unfortunately, this whole business is such an absolute minefield as far as patents go that if you want something dead obvious like displaying a mini-video of the channel your watching while displaying the EPG then you have to pay someone for the privilege... which is why you don't see this specific feature (and many other very obvious and useful features) in these products - because they all cost money in patent licenses. It's a shite situation and is why all these types of products are never as good as the engineers would like to make them.
I know that they ignore individual questioners but perhaps the press will be different?
Also, I'd like to point out that while the adverts are annoying it is the fact that there is not very much room left for actual program information that really rankles.
On a Sony you can quickly view upcoming programs for hours ahead and for more channels at a time than the Panasonic. That's what really annoys..
If it's a question of paying patent fees then lets remember that Panasonic TVs etc are among the most expensive out there. Surely Panasonic can afford to pay licence fees if much smaller companies can.
They can manage to knock up a different EPG - their Freesat units show that. But I suspect that somewhere along the line, someone lumbered them with a contract to use Guide+ which they can't easily get out of.
Somewhere I have a pretty meaningless statement that they gave me about it, which I suspect is the result of many calls over the years. I'll try to post that on my blog sometime this weekend.
Glad the ads are getting high profile at last! Since when does expensive kit legitimately come with more ads? Unfortunately it seems most buyers don't know until it's too late (including me) - so the more publicity the better.
I wrote to them too, they an absolute eternity to reply, and said they won't be doing anything to remove them. They also gave some BS about moving to the new platform in the UK. Who knows why, my old panny telly has a perfectly functioning freeview EPG that looks almost exactly the same, except without the ads.
And yeah, what does happen when GuidePlus throws in the towel like the 4TV EPG just did?
Definitely marked down to 0% - if not lower. Go out and buy absolutely anything that doesn't have a Panasonic label on it.
"Image quality however does drop-off just a tiny smidgen with recordings"
Any reason for that? It should be storing and recalling the data stream as-is, which means absolutely no difference between live and playback viewing. Would actually take rather special effort to do otherwise, unless it's some nasty byproduct of DRM or something.
Maybe the machine is re-encoding the stream? If it is then that would explain the drop-off in quality. Don't assume that this is not what it's doing - I know it makes sense to record the stream directly but that may not be what is happening (I know of several devices that re-encode). Common sense rarely plays a part when it comes to consumer electronics.
I have been put off buying a new Panasonic because of the ad-laden guide.
A little research yielded the interesting bit of info that if you do a factory reset, and select 'shop' rather than 'home' as the location NO ads display. I can't vouch for the truth of this, not being either rich or reckless enough to plump down a few hundred quid on the offchance that it's true, but if it is, it strikes me as a terrible act of deceit on the part of Panasonic (in addition to the painful infliction of more adverts on their customers) that potential customers would see one thing in the store displaying the Panasonic gear and experience another thing once they got the device home.
Anyone giving it a go (reset and selecting 'shop') let us all know if it's true and maybe the Register can do a follow-up asking Panasonic about the need for two different settings and different viewer experiences based upon whether the viewer has put cash in their hands or not.
I agree with the previous comment - if the author feels that the quality drops off with recordings, he either better have a good reason for this, where none seems to be present, or it drives a coach and horses through all of his review (s). I have the machine, and felt that most of the rest of the review was reasonable, but would love the author to explain himself on how a direct copy of the bit stream loses quality. Are we back in the "golden ears" HiFi review era?
Back in 1975 Telefunken cranked up the record player to 21 by offering a mechanically scanning video disk system. It was able to record 10 minutes of video on an ultra fine groove.
This is not much different. It's a harddisk recorder with a disk far to small to be usefull for anything and they try to compensate that by adding the weirdest thing, a Blu-Ray recorder.
I've never got this whole hard disk recorder with DVD-R/whatever thing. 99% (unproven) of recording use of VCRs and PVRs is for time-shifting purposes, not archival. But because the original VCR by necessity established itself by the use of removable media, the big industry players push the technological replacement rather than what people actually want (or would want if they didn't get blinded by marketing) and use. To cap it all, historically these things were frequently lobotomised with single tuners and still cost more than the equivalent hard-disk-only twin tuner PVR - quite often because they were (and still are) sold by the rip-off household brands with technological agendas to push. The latest Humax may still be overpriced at £350, but at least you're not paying a £450 premium for an optical drive you'll probably never use for anything other than bought movies.
Their grasp on reality must be pretty fragile if they think this is worth 800 quid. It looks like it needs more development and a corresponding drop in price. I do like recorders with a built in optical drive to archive recordings (I have a Sony one myself) but this looks anything but the finished article and that terrible programme guide would be an absolute deal breaker for me.
I have a Panasonic Freeview (standard def) hard disc and DVD recorder, which has an identical remote, apart from the word Blu-Ray. The EPG has no ads, but otherwise looks like the screenshot in this article, so they can do it. It gives fantastic feed through pictures using the built in upscaling to 1080i (the best my Panasonic TV does), much better than the TV directly, as the TV doesn't upscale.
The area where it falls down is in playback from DVD and hard disc even when recording on maximum quality or using commercially recorded DVDs. A recording I watched Saturday was smearing terribly. It may be mine is getting "old" (about 2 years) but I don't think I will risk Panasonic for my next - Freeview HD - Hard Disc Recorder, especially at those prices, with adverts.
"you really shouldn’t have advertisements foisted upon you when you’re paying this kind of price"
Errr..... Sky have based a whole business model around this idea. Charge the mugs a fortune for (mostly crap) TV then double the number of adverts they get to enjoy. Seems to work for them.
..and they must have ads in the EPG for Freeview (pretty sure they're not in the Freesat EPG), but to be honest I'm not 100% sure because when I'm looking at the EPG I'm looking for guidance on what programmes are coming up.
If some adverts are enough to put you off buying a TV (rather than bad picture quality, size etc.) then can I respectfully suggest that you go outside, take a deep breath and go on a hunt for a little bit of perspective.
It could be partly related to patents and intellectual property, as one previous commenter mentioned.
But I also believe that Panasonic get a slice of the ad revenue in exchange for hosting the GuidePlus system.
With their Freesat products it's different. Freesat mandates certain aspects of the EPG look and feel as part of their licensing scheme, so manufacturers don't have such a free hand.
I use a disc recorder extensively in "normal" definition. I record stuff, then I watch it, then I delete it. You don't need a massive HDD to do that. Stuff I want to keep I buy on the appropriate disc format. I have the facility to record from HDD to DVD now, but seldom, if ever use it. Its useful to have the facility, and I will buy a device with this functionality if it meets other more important criteria first.
A decent, ad-free EPG is more important!
Yes they are incredibly off putting, particularly as they change ad each time you page up or down the guide or sometimes just on viewing one single page. Hopefully one day their contract with Gemstar will be changed, in light of consistent negative customer feedback.
Based on some web research I tried inputting a non-existent postcode after a factory reset, on the basis the TV manual says ads may not display correctly without a valid postcode. But this only gave a temporary reprieve; ads reappeared after a few days. I've also read setting viewing environment to SHOP not HOME could work but I'm not confident that won't have disadvantages somehow in other setting options (Panasonic customer support didn't recommend).
But what has worked in the past week has been to do the reset, then avoid leaving the tv in standby overnight. I understood from customer support the ads download overnight. So this way, so far, you get the EPG but no ads. Unfortunately I don't know how long they take to download and it may also be they can download during the day in standby.
So I've taken to the extreme of always turning the TV off at the switch if I'm not watching for say 30 minutes. It's an inconvenience but better than those intrusive ads. I don't think unfortunately this would work for DVD recorders as most people always have it powered on at the mains.
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