back to article It's time to burn the schedules and seize control of OUR TVs

Freesat's redesigned user interface for its set-top boxes is a welcome improvement even if it is aping YouView. But the way in which we command and control our TVs will remain locked in the last century until everyone knows just what a modern telly set can do these days. Using a television used to be very simple, back when TVs …


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  1. AndrueC Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    > live TV is available from a menu but not considered something one would want to get involved in.

    That's the way I've been using Sky+ since I first got it. I only wish Sky PVRs had a 'jump forward' facility instead of the poorly implemented 'fast forward'.

  2. NoneSuch Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    The downside of "Smart TV's" is you will have someone looking over your shoulder seeing what you are watching. Will the government yank you out of a queue at the airport for a special search because you watched a doco on Al Qaeda last night? Or is it just a matter of time before advertising gets involved "suggesting" programs to watch.

    As always, technology is a double edged sword.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: advertising

      Just wait until the tech advances enough that instead of holding a can of Coke (or Moxie), the actor will hold a green-screen friendly can. The label will be applied depending on which market you're in and which company bids highest...for each showing of the program.

      1. JimmyPage

        Re: re: advertising

        You are aware that we're already there ?

        SFW link

      2. Test Man

        Re: re: advertising

        A bit like the recent England game then.

        1. Enrico Vanni

          Re: re: advertising

          @Test Man. You mean the Italy v England friendly played in Switzerland? I had the benefit of being able to watch that game on both UK and Italian 'terrestrial' TV. ITV pictures were taken from cameras on the opposite side of the stadium from those for the rest of the world which saw normal pitch-side electronic billboards, while UK viewers were treated to real-time electronic overlays superimposed on on static billboards on the other side of the pitch. The fact that the overlays were crap and got switched off a third of the way through the transmission because players were 'disappearing' in close-up shots gave the lark away!

          1. Test Man
            Thumb Up

            Re: re: advertising

            Yep, that's the game!

    2. BlueGreen

      re: Smart TVs

      I don't have a tv and haven't for a looong time but do occasionally avail myself of my various mates' boxes when I'm catsitting (like now).

      Trouble is, I often don't because there's usually two controllers and sometimes three, so unless I'm given a quick recap before they go, I often can't get them working. The main problem isn't choosing channels, it's usually trying to suss what input I should choose, and where on the menu these inputs are specified. I've spent 20 minutes trying to get a picture. I'd rather spend 20 minutes playing with el moggy.

      But trouble is, it often *is* channels. Over the years I've noticed there's steadily less on so if I do watch anything now it's either the news, or Airport, or one of the programs where they follow round coppas who are trying to rein in endless low-level scrotes (poisoning the mind of so many people watching with the impression that this is the norm in real life. It isn't. I do use the word Poison carefully here).

      Nothing else is remotely interesting. There's bugger all on IME. Partly I've grown up and got picky, but undeniably quality has nosedived (or been pushed sideways into paid channels).

      And the other trouble with smart TVs, well, I was watching something a while back and the box went alarmingly dark for a couple of seconds then came up on a different channel. It had rebooted. Are we at a stage now where tvs are so complex we can't rely on them to do their job? Seems so.

      1. Chris007

        Re: re: Smart TVs@ BlueGreen

        "I've spent 20 minutes trying to get a picture. I'd rather spend 20 minutes playing with el moggy"

        Hmmm. Watch TV or play with a pussy - no contest really :)

  3. frank ly


    "Keeping a list of directors, actors and subjects of interest for automatic recording is also a TiVo-owned concept,"

    How the heck can TiVo 'own' a concept and have patents on it?? The concept of advice based on known previous likings has been implemented by family, friends and colleagues for ages, ever since the mass production of novels.

    1. dotdavid

      Re: WTF?

      Wait, are you saying that the US grants patents on silly things?

      Never heard that before.

    2. Joseph Lord

      Re: WTF?

      For a real eye opener look at some of the patents awarded to Gemstar (now Rovi). They basically claim any and all EPGs and certainly used to use them to bully manufacturers into including their guide.

    3. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: WTF?

      "Keeping a list of directors, actors and subjects of interest for automatic recording is also a TiVo-owned concept"

      Damn - now I'll have to erase my frontal lobe cortex ... I'm sorry TiVo, I didn't mean to infringe on your patent by thinking. What the heck are they going to patent next - I'm off to the patent office to patent whacking off.

  4. Pete 2

    You can lead a viewer to VoD

    ... but you can't make them watch it.

    ISTM there's a vast proportion of the TV audience (across all age groups) who's TV watching style is simply to vegetate in front of the goggle box and watch the least-worst programme on the 2 or 3 prime channels. Where "prime" is a movable feast depending on whether they're a habitual BBC watcher or an ITV fan.

    For the rest of us, possibly the minority of the population - maybe even a small minority, the main feature of a PVR is to skip advertisements. If I had to give up every feature of mine, except for FF I wouldn't be that concerned. The explosion in new channels hasn't really increased the breadth of programming available - it's main function has been to increase the number of repeats and +1's thereby obviating the other main function of a PVR: to prevent missing a programme due to schedule clashes (though obviously, the abillity to watch stuff according to one's personal timetable is nice, but see above: re. vegetating).

    If I had the choice, I'd dump broadcast TV in an instant (and the licence fee that goes with it). I'd much prefer an Amazon style of consumption where I paid the going rate for the programmes (ad-free 'natch) I like and received a set of suggestions of "other people who watched .... also liked ....". With a bit of forethought, that feature could even be automated by monitoring which programmes were watched from beginning to end, rather than cancelled mid-stream. Just so long as I don't get promotional on-screen inserts when I'd trying to watch the footy.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: You can lead a viewer to VoD

      When I think VoD I think of a system like YouTube (but with better content and video quality). A system where all the content that the distributor has the rights to is available immediately. If I want to watch the next season of CSI in one sitting I should be able to. I shouldn't have to wait for C5 to dribble it out episode by episode, week by week. ABC Studios release it to C5 and bam! I can watch all the episodes.

      Okay so some series are released to broadcasters before all the filming is complete but the functionality I want here is complete freedom from broadcaster's scheduling. If a 'show' is complete I want to be able to watch it.

    2. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: You can lead a viewer to VoD

      10 years ago I was trying to tell people that this is the way TV was heading, with a reduction in the importance of scheduled programming and a move to on-demand viewing... and in a lot of ways we're still not much closer to it.

      There are, in general, 3 different type of viewers / viewing habits:

      Some people like to have programs at set times because it allows them to schedule their lives (*) around something fixed and gives them a routine to follow, which makes them feel comfortable and secure. These tend to be the same people who go apoplectic when there's a schedule change due to something they're not currently interested in such as live sport or significant news event. Advertising can be sold on the time slot due to the age old established profiles of viewers during these fixed times.

      Others like to watch what they want to watch, and are happy to wait for it to be "released" at a certain date and time but want to want to watch it at their convenience. In other words, these are the record it and watch it later people for which series link and smart EPG recording is so useful. Advertising can be sold in the breaks in these programs based on the program itself, however the slots before and after the program are of little value in this regard. Due to the recorded nature of the programs and therefore the availability of the fast-forward function, the adverts either have to be very recognisable or direct so they can be spotted even at 16-32x playback or embedded within the program itself as product placements. The viewers in this category are typically considered more affluent than the scheduled program watchers.

      Another group are more "grazers" - they pick and choose what they want to watch in fairly arbitrary ways. With no real regard for schedules or planned recordings they tend to watch odd singleton items or pick up on series after (or part way) through their release. For these people, catch up TV and on-demand services are the enabler however advertising is hard to put in place as they are usually quick on the fast-forward function which leaves either non-skippable advertising (usually at the beginning of a feature) or product placement. Viewers in this category are generally of two camps - those who are happy to pay for content (such as on demand films) and those who aren't.

      Most real people transition between these viewing profiles to some extent, for example using the "catch up" features to catch up with a scheduled series and then to switch to watching it live when it is released.

      1. Test Man
        Thumb Up

        Re: You can lead a viewer to VoD

        I'm definitely the second group. As I have a Freeview+ HD box, I'm not desperate to watch the programmes the moment it's being broadcast. I let the box record it and watch it later, even if it's 2 mins later or 2 months later, leaving me free to continue what I'm doing until I feel like watching the programme.

        1. bobbles31

          Re: You can lead a viewer to VoD

          Same here except if a film is just starting on a channel that carries ads I hit the record button go for a smoke and come back safe in the knowledge I have enough recorded time banked up that I can skip the adverts.

  5. BoldMan

    I have plenty of choice on offer from my TV but life away from TV also offers lots of choice so I don't get around to watching must of this sort of TV. I've got DVD boxed sets that have had barely watched and I can't see when I will get around to watching. However if I see something on the TV Schedule I want to see, I will make an effort to put aside all the other interesting thing I could be doing and set aside that hour or whatever to watch. However, if that hour was offered up in a list of things that I COULD watch whenever I had an hour free, I wouldn't probably ever get around to watching it.

    I don't want to spend my life in front of a TV endlessly choosing what to watch. I'm happy to look at Radio Times and see what is on and arrange my schedule around that. I can't see offering me MORE choice would help in any way.

    1. JetSetJim Silver badge


      > I don't want to spend my life in front of a TV endlessly choosing what to watch. I'm happy to look at Radio Times and see what is on and arrange my schedule around that. I can't see offering me MORE choice would help in any way.

      You've never tried to cancel a Sky subscription, have you? I said "I don't use it", standard response is "you need more channels". Blech

  6. Drat

    What's hot

    Maybe we will gravitate towards a my favourites, recommended and what's hot style of viewing. Most people freeze with too much choice , you really just want to choose from things that you want while having a route into new things that you might like.It might be lazy but if my TV could guess what I might want to watch and lay it out on a plate for me then that is cool, I have to do enough thinking at work I like to relax when I get home.

    On the other hand I get far more enjoyment from playing football with my daughter in the garden so maybe I should just unplug the dam thing!

  7. johnnytruant

    my friend's four-year-old

    Doesn't understand broadcast TV. For him, TV is where his programmes are. He watches exactly what he wants, exactly when he's allowed to. Sometimes he's at houses where TVOD isn't available and he genuinely doesn't get why he can't watch Octonauts or Chuggington. Making you wait until something is "on" is not what a TV does in his world.

    1. Alex Walsh

      Re: my friend's four-year-old

      My two kids are the same. Wrote a blog post on it in fact:

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: my friend's four-year-old

      It's exactly the same with my four-year-old son! As parents, we prefer on-demand since we determine what he watches (well, for the time being, I guess). There are no adverts for the latest toys, fast food joints, confectionery, etc.; there are no trailers for the next programs. In our own home, so far so good. The trouble begins with trips to others' houses and, more recently, our hotel room TV. At that point we had to threaten to have the TV removed to maintain authority.

      And he's crazy about Octonauts as well!

    3. Ambivalous Crowboard
      Thumb Up

      Re: my friend's four-year-old


      My four year old also loves his Android pad with specially-designed icons that launch certain programs, and dislikes when he has freeview only and has to be shown what ever is showing.

      However, if he has the ability to choose what he wants to watch, he would rather watch 30 episodes of Octonauts back-to-back than to have a varied broadcast.

      I don't think broadcast TV will go away, and I don't think that it should be ditched either. Only by being forced (comparably) to watch something do you know if you like it or not. How many people do you know that will risk an hour of their life to try something new or use an hour to catch up on a series that they already like?

      1. Lee Dowling Silver badge

        Re: my friend's four-year-old

        My kid is the same. Even from baby-like times, "computer" was synonymous with "device that plays my favourite video when Daddy presses the button". And TV was the same.

        Broadcast TV is all but dead - it's only a matter of time - because I do the same thing myself. If I hear from a friend about something I should watch, I try two episodes. Anything less is potentially skipping something quite good by accidentally hitting a rubbish episode. Anything more means I should go out and buy it for myself. Then I go and buy a boxset.

        Waiting for things to come on TV is like a token-ring network, newsgroups, gopher and batched email - dead.

        I don't think the alternative is VoD (because that has problems - and pricing - of its own), but just pre-recorded content on personal devices. A bit like music - nobody really listens to the radio for the latest /greatest / favourite songs any more. It's background noise and a nice mixture for those who need something playing. Their music is stored in pre-recorded content on devices they own and they have EVERYTHING they want on there and NOTHING else.

        If you hear a song on the radio that you REALLY like, do you a) Go and google somewhere to buy it, b) wait for it to be played again on some radio station?

        It's a *good* thing. I'd rather my daughter chose what to watch than watching mind-numbing adverts for things she's NEVER going to get crammed in between programs that she doesn't like, don't hold her attention or I disapprove of. And then, when it is a rainy day, she's quite happy to go watch some pre-approved DVD that I know is "appropriate" for her for the millionth time (hell, I did stuff like that when I was a kid too, even WITH a plethora of TV available) rather than being bored by, and subjected to, blatant commercialism which I might have to "censor"/"audit"/"veto" constantly.

        And thus, TV by its very nature, removes its own funding source (advertising) unless it moves onto VoD or ruining pre-recorded media (which is fine - do that, and I'll find a way to UNDO it just like I did for DVD CSS, etc.)

        1. I'm Brian and so's my wife
          Thumb Up

          Re: my friend's four-year-old

          > ... watching mind-numbing adverts for things she's NEVER going to get

          That made me laugh because I remember the desperate yearning advertising would cultivate in me as a child for stuff I didn't really want or need!

          That said, I do still fight the urge to upgrade various tech devices to this day, but at least it's my money I'd be spending...

      2. CCCP
        Thumb Up

        Re: my friend's four-year-old

        @Amb... Cr... (can't even spell your handle...)

        Indeed, broadcast won't go away because it provides, amongst other things, "event" viewing for families. It's that circa 7-8pm time on Saturdays when you can sit down and have a laugh (in my case ironically of course) and watch something light and probably fatuous like , cough, Strictly Come Dancing.

        For one thing, shows like that provide a natural to bed time, which is handy.

        The rest of the time, the kids just OD on recorded The Regular Show or whatever.

      3. PerlyKing Silver badge

        You don't know what you like

        @Ambivalous Crowboard said, "Only by being forced (comparably) to watch something do you know if you like it or not." As the old saying goes, you don't know what you like, you like what you know....

    4. deshepherd

      Re: my friend's four-year-old

      Ditto everyone else - been there done that. We got series 1 TiVo when our sons were 5 and 1 and both immediately made the association TV == TiVo and were very put out at other peoples hosues to find they couldn't pause TV etc and got used to idea that a collection of their favourite programs would be already recorded waiting for them to watch. Still the same today 11 years later ... only difference is the selection of programs has moved on from Telletubbies/Tweenies to Futurerama/Castle. Meanwhile, there is still a role for "live TV" ... its called endless reruns of TopGear or QI on Dave!

      1. Magnus Ramage

        Re: my friend's four-year-old

        If you're in a VOD world (Virgin's TV catchup in our house but likewise iPlayer etc) you're still somewhat at the mercy of the channels, or at least their copyright policy. There's no good explanation that will satisfy my almost-three year old as to why he can watch all the episodes of In the Night Garden he likes on catchup, but can't watch Baby Jake or Thomas.

    5. Test Man
      Thumb Up

      Re: my friend's four-year-old

      Yep, this is the thing. Soon, there'll be a whole generation of viewers who won't have experienced broadcast schedules or TV as us oldies have. Us adults are accustomed to waiting till broadcast time to watch a programme, but I can see youngsters in 20 years time just not bothering with this as they can watch stuff at any time after it's been "released" (will be new name for "broadcast") in a wide range of formats.

      Hell, I can see a time when film format releases (for example) converge, so that you can watch it on your phone, TV, computer, console, set-top box or big-screen cinema all at the same time at appropriate price points. There'll be no big-screen cinema releases first, then DVDs 12 weeks later, then streaming services later, then TV broadcasts after a year, it'll all be multiple viewing formats all at the same time.


    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: my friend's four-year-old

      To all those of you with a 4-year old (and there seem to be many on this thread!), can I suggest that you acquire foreign language, on-demand cartoons and then allow your child to watch as many as he/she likes, provided they are not in English?

      I did this with my son (except back then it was analogue satellite!) and the channel of (his) choice being Super RTL. Now aged 16 his German is fluent and learning it was effortless.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: my friend's four-year-old

        That's a great idea :)

  8. Chad H.

    Workers of the world unite...

    You have nothing to lose but your TV guides....

  9. davtom

    "If I had the choice, I'd dump broadcast TV in an instant (and the licence fee that goes with it)."

    You do, actually. You could use on-demand services, as long as you do not watch anything live. You'd have to detune your television receiver equipment and unplug all aerials and satellite dishes to be safe from prosecution.

    The only thing is, if you're into sports, you'll probably want to watch those live. Even though you have to pay a provider for the privilege, since these are live broadcasts, you still need the TV licence. You could choose just to watch those when they are streamed by on-demand services instead.

    1. Ambivalous Crowboard

      Being safe from prosecution

      "You'd have to detune your television receiver equipment and unplug all aerials and satellite dishes to be safe from prosecution."

      No - you'd have to not own a device capable of receiving a live broadcast, to be safe from prosecution.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Being safe from prosecution

        Nope, just not using it is good enough.

        "A reminder of the law

        The law states that you need to be covered by a TV Licence if you watch or record television programmes, on any device, as they're being shown on TV. This includes TVs, computers, mobile phones, games consoles, digital boxes and Blu-ray/DVD/VHS recorders.

        You don't need a licence if you don't use any of these devices to watch or record television programmes as they're being shown on TV - for example, if you use your TV only to watch DVDs or play video games, or you only watch ‘catch up’ services like BBC iPlayer or 4oD."

      2. King Jack

        Re: Being safe from prosecution

        "No - you'd have to not own a device capable of receiving a live broadcast, to be safe from prosecution."

        You can not be prosecuted for owning a TV, video or PVR, etc. You do not need to unplug or detune anything. Just do not watch 'live' TV. It is up to the prosecutors to prove that you are offending. Also do not sign anything to make the prosecutions case or let a stranger into your home.

        Try reading the terms on the TV licensing site instead of spreading shite.

      3. Andy 115

        Re: Being safe from prosecution

        Not sure if your post was being sarcastic, but if you were being serious, you are wrong....

        There is NO requirement to unplug or de-tune when you stop paying for the TV license; the ONLY requirement is that you DO NOT USE the equipment (de-tuned or otherwise) to "watch or record television program's as they are being broadcast"

        A member of the Crapita Gestapo may try and con you in to thinking otherwise, but ask yourself why? Hint: they get bonus / commission based on successful prosecutions

        The only way you can be SUCCESSFULLY prosecuted, is by said Gestapo WITNESSING you "watch or record television program's as they are being broadcast" OR you confessing to them that you do it

      4. unwarranted triumphalism

        Re: Being safe from prosecution

        The TV Licensing people do not agree with your interpretation. Please read paying particular attention to the paragraph highlighted in yellow.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Being safe from prosecution

        That's completely false. It's use, not ownership, that decides if you need to pay. Just like fishing rods. Check the law. The TV Licensing Authority (TVLA) recently removed this helpful paragraph from the FAQ part of their site:

        "Q What if I only watch videos?

        If a television or video recorder (VCR) can receive signals, then you need a licence. However, you don't need a licence if the equipment is not connected to an aerial, satellite receiver or cable and you only use it to watch pre-recorded tapes. This sometimes happens in schools and colleges."

      6. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Being safe from prosecution

        False. Ownership doesn't matter. Use does.

    2. Pete 2

      Watching "live" by PAYG

      > The only thing is, ...

      Yes, the gap is that there's no mechanism for a subscription service to take a payment from a viewer for a live programme and then pass that on to the government to bung to the BBC in lieu of having a TV licence. I also suspect that the very last thing the BBC wants is to have their income linked to ratings.

      1. John H Woods Silver badge

        Re: Watching "live" by PAYG

        "I also suspect that the very last thing the BBC wants is to have their income linked to ratings."

        I think you'll find that most people who support the concept of a public service broadcaster would rather it stuck to its remit (to inform, educate and entertain - probably in that order) than chase ratings.

        1. Pete 2

          Re: Watching "live" by PAYG

          > would rather it stuck to its remit ...

          I certainly would. The problem with the remit is that since the Beeb get financed by government with our money, they have an obligation to show programmes that people want to watch, not ones that people should watch because it's good for them. Hence they will always have one eye on the ratings, in order to justify the billions that's dropped in their laps every year. But also, making popular programmes helps them fulfill their unofficial remit - which is sticking it to the commercial channels.

        2. Pete B

          Re: Watching "live" by PAYG

          Exactly! I was starting to think I was alone in my viewpoint that the BBC as a PSB shouldn't necessarily be chasing ratings; I see their job as to provide the bits that commercial TV doesn't. If the manage to get big ratings then grate, but it shouldn't be their primary goal. I do realise that in my ideal they wouldn't show a lot of sport, soaps and such like, but it's not as if they're not available on the commercial channels.

        3. AndrueC Silver badge
          Thumb Down

          Re: Watching "live" by PAYG

          The BBC's excuse for having a license fee failed many years ago. They pander to the lowest common denominator and chase ratings just like the commercial channels do for the most part.

  10. Lord Voldemortgage

    Fogey Baird

    I still like seeing what's "on". If there's nothing I want to watch then I won't bother.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fogey Baird

      "I still like seeing what's "on". If there's nothing I want to watch then I won't bother."

      That sounds idiotic to me. So you'll only read a book from a library if it was published on the same day you visited the library, turning your nose up at all the other books the library carefully found and kept for you. Why would you restrict yourself in such a dumb and stupid way, and not bother to check out what other fantastic books were available that had been published in the past?

  11. TeeCee Gold badge

    Oh I dunno.

    Then ability browse what's on now and go; "That might be interesting....." is the vitally important horizon-broadening bit.

    Effectively lumping everything into the back catalogue is bound to fall foul of the "app store" problem. There may be a gem in there, but if you don't know what it is and it's not being actively touted, you'll never find it.

    The Tivo approach is a disaster. That way lies an entire species of blinkered arsehats who never see anything that doesn't reinforce their own world view.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oh I dunno.

      "The Tivo approach is a disaster. That way lies an entire species of blinkered arsehats who never see anything that doesn't reinforce their own world view."

      Ah, so that explains its popularity in America! (I realise there is a certain irony in me making this statement)


      Re: Oh I dunno.

      The Tivo approach is no different from the original TV approach from the 50s. The only thing that has changed is that what you choose is watched on your own terms. People were avoiding things like Hee-Haw and Lawrence Welk long before time shifting technology existed.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oh I dunno.

      "There may be a gem in there, but if you don't know what it is and it's not being actively touted, you'll never find it.

      The Tivo approach is a disaster. That way lies an entire species of blinkered arsehats who never see anything that doesn't reinforce their own world view."

      Those two together prove you don't understand how TiVo works, which is a great shame as it's been in this country for 11 years now. It's brilliant at finding gems buried in schedules without you having to spend time scouring for them yourself: approx 8500 hours per day of Sky non-premium channels. Just use Wishlists for a few actors and directors, Suggestions find other similar programmes, and of course set Season Passes for the series that you would watch anyway. It does all the work for you. Its goal is to fill the disc all the time to give you more choice. There's no way I would have found older movies on random channels without the Wishlists for my favourite actors.

      And it's not as if you suddenly stop talking to friends and family about what programmes they are watching.

  12. mark jacobs

    Safety in Numbers

    I believe that the majority watch TV the old-fashioned way because they don't feel "alone" when watching live TV. It's as if there are thousands of others whose consciousnesses are all pointing the same way as theirs. It's kind of comforting! Video on demand doesn't quite have the same feel. However, I am in the minority and prefer watching exactly what I want, when I want and without adverts. But that's just me - born to be outside of the masses, like a dog rounding up sheep...

    1. AndrueC Silver badge

      Re: Safety in Numbers

      > It's as if there are thousands of others whose consciousnesses are all pointing the same way as theirs

      Maybe that's a major reason why I prefer time-shifting :)

  13. Steve Button

    won't record them automatically as that would risk infringing on TiVo's patent??

    Really!? Seriously!?

    So TiVo "invented" that idea did they? FFS.

    I used to like TiVo, but this is beyond ridiculous. Fucking patents.

  14. a well wisher

    But if my TV could guess ....

    " but if my TV could guess what I might want to watch and lay it out on a plate for me then that is cool, "

    I though that is/was the basic premise of the TiVo box

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But if my TV could guess ....

      "I though that is/was the basic premise of the TiVo box"

      Correct, and it does that (the Suggestions feature). Which can be turned off if you like, say like me you only have time to watch the TV you've also explicitly told it that you want (ie normal recordings from Season Passes which it schedules for you without you ever needing to know or check what time the programme is on).

  15. Jonathon Green
    Thumb Down

    ..."users who don't want to venture too far from their comfort zone, namely the electronic programme guide (EPG)."

    I'm not so sure it's the users who are clinging to the EPG model, in my experience every user who's spent more than about 30 seconds in front of a TiVo (and this includes my 80-something Mother) is perfectly happy without Ye Olde EPG, the content providers however are another matter...

    A prime position in the EPG is a valuable marketing tool (and sometimes a revenue stream) for Sky et-al and I don't see them relinquishing control of the interface without a struggle.

  16. Magister

    Eeeh, when I were a lad...

    ... us only ad 2 channels, all in glorious monochrome. But the programmes were better. Even the test card was more enjoyable than some of the garbage that gets pumped out these days.

    It's no good offering me access to download stuff across the net if there is nothing that I think is worth watching; or if my connectivity is so piss poor that it would take a week to download a 1 hour package.

    Damn; I'm a misearable old git.

    1. Reading Your E-mail

      Re: Eeeh, when I were a lad...

      2 channels ?!?!?

      You were lucky, we had 1 channel and it was only black, it broadcast for 2 minutes a day.......but we were happy!!!

      1. Lee Dowling Silver badge

        Re: Eeeh, when I were a lad...


        When I was a kid, we had to scribble on bits of paper for days and swish them through an empty cardboard box at 12fps to get a few seconds of "TV".

        On good days, Dad would let us turn the light on so we could see what we were doing.

      2. cosymart

        Re: Eeeh, when I were a lad...

        1 channel!!! we had to make do with a crystal set radio with a cats whisker in my day. By eck these young uns have it easy. :-)

        1. This Side Up
          Thumb Up

          Re: Eeeh, when I were a lad...

          When I were a lad we 'ad b/w telly that'd receive Home, Light, Third and TV. It 'ad 12" tube at top and 12" loudspeaker at bottom. Nowadays you can 'ave 55" screen with 2" speakers round t'back. No darn use at all.

          1. Test Man
            Thumb Up

            Re: Eeeh, when I were a lad...

            Remember in the old days you'd buy a newspaper and circle the programmes you wanted to watch? Nowadays you simply press the Record button when highlighting the programme in the EPG.

    2. CCCP
      Thumb Up

      Re: Eeeh, when I were a lad...

      ...indeed we only had a b/w telly.

      Then we upgraded to a colour telly with an ultrasound remote control. A Telefunken IIRC. It was fantastic, but not in the way you think.

      1) You could use the remote to send dogs crazy - like a portable dog distraction device

      2) The telly would pick up sounds from any source, e.g. the hoover, and randomly switch on/off

    3. mark jacobs

      Re: Eeeh, when I were a lad...

      Well, we 'ad it tough. Our Dad would smash our eyes until we saw stars, and we called that "TV".

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Eeeh, when I were a lad...

      In my day we didn't 'ave t'new fangled telly. We 'ad books an' playin' t'outside.

      An my kids, they 'av pretty much no tv either, nor faceboook, an if catch'em on yoohoo-tube they'll be in for 'an 'iding. In fact, I lock t'computer up witha pahssword.

      Norw, ya can't 'ave an iphorn either!

      Mythtv is strictly for t'grownups and only ahfter kids are tucked up in their beds.

  17. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Am I alone?

    Sit down. Scan EPG. Anything on in the next few minutes, or in a couple of hours, that might interest me? No? Anything recorded I'm interested in? No? Get up and do something different then...

    Life need not revolve around the TV. I don't 'consume' TV, and the very concept of looking for something online/ondemand simply wouldn't occur to me. If there's something there, I watch it; if there's a film that might interest me I'll probably record it simply to skip past the adverts, if the channel is that way inclined. But I won't seek something out on the offchance. There are still too many books I haven't read, tomatoes I haven't pruned, paragliders I haven't crashed, friends I haven't chatted with, model planes I haven't built (and/or crashed), games I haven't played with granddaughter...

  18. This Side Up

    Linking episodes from a series?

    It's a total epic failure. The system is completely incapable of handling the situation where a series flips between one channel and another (e.g. Michael Portillo's Great British Railway Journeys) or when a single programme such as the Wimbledon Tennis Championships transfers from one channel to another.

    1. Test Man

      Re: Linking episodes from a series?

      True. Also, some devices seem incapable of just recording a series on one channel, opting to change the recording schedule to record repeats on a completely different channel, even if you have watched the exact same recording already and deleted it, then deleting the next programme in the series off the schedule (I'm looking at YOU, PlayTV!).

    2. mrtickle

      Re: Linking episodes from a series?

      TiVo handles these two sitations perfectly with a Wishlist for the title, and it has done for the last 11 years.

      It's a crying shame that the competition can't even get BASIC PVR functionality like this right, before they worry about bells and whistles. If it can't do this it shouldn't legally be allowed to be called a PVR.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Linking episodes from a series?

        mythtv is also fine.

        Although it doesn't pick up things when the title changes (such as adding "Season Final" to the title instead of the subtitle) - but then, that's what torrents^H^H^H^H^H^Hcatchup-tv is for... ;)

        I should probably dump the entire EIT, normalise it and upload it back to the database.

  19. Inachu


    I find LG TV are a fine product indeed. Well the sound kinda suck but other than that its ok.

    Other than the above I want to know why they removed PIP(picture in a picture)

    I grew up on that and now LG does not support it?!?! WTH!

  20. This Side Up

    Set top boxes

    Why do people keep calling these things "set top boxes"? How many people put them on top of the set? How many sets actually have tops that are both flat enough and deep enough to put equipment on? If it's a digital tuner or a DVD recorder or a hard disc recorder than just say what it is. It doesn't matter where it's located.

  21. Wokstation

    perhaps when my line speed is >=1mb

    Perhaps then I will be able to use VoD, but until then...


    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: perhaps when my line speed is >=1mb

      My line is 12mbps - but the internet streaming is definitely a second best quality compared to Terrestial TV liveTV broadcasts. The iPlayer picture tends to show compression blocks when a new scene has lots of detail. On a live "watch now" stream the frames may suddenly speed up after an otherwise unnoticed hesitation.

      However - the new iPlayer function to "restart" a live TV programme when you came in part way through is useful - plus the pause facility. Pity they don't do it for their radio programmes too.

      It is annoying when a BBC TV programme is not shown on the internet streaming in real time due to copyright restrictions.

      1. P. Lee Silver badge

        Re: perhaps when my line speed is >=1mb

        I haven't looked closely and I may be completely wrong, but if you use a wireless device, you can improve things with a local proxy (assuming http streaming). With a wireless device, you are most likely to need retransmits (++latency) in the last few meters of network. A local proxy *may* prevent the need to go back out to the internet for content.

        I only tried this once and it could have been a fluke that when I switched to the proxy things got better, other commenters please chime in. Does squid do anything clever to improve things with streaming? Could it be made to pre-cache content and ask for the entire file as fast as possible, even if only a small bit of it has been requested?

    2. Emmett Jenner

      Re: perhaps when my line speed is >=1mb

      I pity you. Real shame. I've been using VOD for years.

      As someone mentioned earlier, being able to get around having to watch adverts is a godsend. I'm not too bothered by one advert at the begining of a clip like when you watch YouTube but the rampant brain-washing-cram-cram-cram rubbish you have to put up with on some of the freeview channels really drives me crazy. Reliability would be nice to have as well. So many of these modern devices crash or fail to function properly and there's no real mark of quality you can trust as all the boxes are more-or-less the same sort of china quality.

  22. Gareth Perch

    TV in my youth was a nightmare - waiting what seemed like forever for pretty much the only watchable TV programme on a Saturday, which wasn't even that great (The Pink Panther cartoon) which was surrounded by news and sports programs (hours upon hours of teletyped results). I don't even like sports.

    I haven't had a TV or TV licence for years, since I bought a projector, which I replaced with a full 1080P 3D one nearly a year ago. I appreciate I'm in the minority (most people probably like to have the curtains open during the day).

    I don't have to suffer adverts any more - if I'm at someone else's house, the blatant lies oozed at the viewers just serve to annoy, and the 10 minutes of film followed by 10 minutes of ads is just a joke. I even find the news distasteful (see Charlie Brooker's excellent Newswipe to see how all the news channels and newspapers do exactly what the psychologists and experts say not to do, if they want to avoid sensationalising the news and nurturing copycats).

    I download movies and music and if I like them, I buy them on blu ray / CD - although sometimes I have to wait to do that, because of artificial delays to maximise the publisher's profit. I'd be happy to pay for TV shows on blu, but not £37 for 12 episodes - even of the excellent Dexter. On blu - perhaps £1 per episode while it's current, 50p if it's already been on TV but it's just come out on blu, or less when it's older than that. Most of the TV shows I watch are US (Dexter / Castle / Chuck / House / Greys and lots of others) and if I discover a new show (recommended by a friend or a random download of a s01e01) then I get to watch them in bulk, which is great when the show's really good and has been running for a number of seasons. Waiting for it to make it over the pond and watching the ads is not the way it should happen. Unfortunately, rights holders are (naturally?) tight with their IP, so would rather lose sales to downloaders than make it available everywhere at once.

    It's a shame that the downloaders get a better experience than the legitimate purchasers (no ads, no piracy warnings, works on any kit, watch it when you like, watch it again years later, transfer to any device).

    I don't believe that downloaded content in its current form has much value in itself - probably because there are ways to get it for free (sorry). If there is value added to the downloaded content (for example a 24bit studio master that is better than the CD) then I'm happy to pay for a download, but not for a poor quality MP3, which (unfortunately) a lot of people are happy with (I expect due to the poor quality hardware they're playing it on).

    I have over 90 blu-rays, loads of DVDs and even laserdiscs, as well as 300 CDs (most of the music bought in the last century - not due to piracy but due to only about one CD a year that's worth buying) so at least I've made some sort of contribution.

    Like I said in a forum years ago, charge me one monthly price (I think I said £30 at the time, maybe £50 now) for me to consume what I like ("stream" any music, any film, any newspaper, any magazine, any book, any game, any image, from any era), when I like, and split the money to pass to the relevant parties according to how much I used each item - and I'll buy into that scheme. Sadly, because so many companies own the rights to all this stuff, that'll never happen. Apart from that, it seems that you'd be lucky to get even all that Sky offers for £50 a month, never mind the other stuff.

    I paid for a month of LoveFilm and for a month of Netflix, but because the alternative (downloading) offers so much more choice, it all seemed a bit limited. Even the shows they did have didn't have all the seasons. Logging on to either service in the US offered much more choice, which I'm afraid is a situation I won't pay to prolong.

    I appreciate that if everyone did what I did, they wouldn't produce the content any more, as there wouldn't be any profit in it, unless you care to multiply all the stuff I've actually bought by all the people that buy even less than I do...

    "You wouldn't steal a car" - no, but I'd drive it through a device that makes a perfect copy of it, that has no detrimental effect on the original.

  23. Christian Berger

    For me TV is like a download service

    I have my VDR set up for some search words. When a show comes containing such words, it'll record it. Simple as that.

    However in the UK you still have decent live TV. You can turn on your TV set and have multiple decent TV shows right after each other. TV in the UK is not just hurling crap at the viewer but providing a "habitad" for the programme.

  24. Zack Mollusc

    To whom it may concern

    If anyone is going to develop a new user interface paradigm to TV, here is what I want:

    Let me pick stuff from a program guide, record the stuff and stuff that has similar titles/description and dump it on the LAN share I specify (without DRM, obviously). Keep doing this till there is no space left.

    That's about it really.

  25. mickey mouse the fith

    There are so many repeats on freeview that often there is bugger all on you havnt seen already, I mean how many times are they going to show those bourne films or the same episode of family guy?

    With the +1 channels repeating the repeat you already watched 4 months ago theres no real compeling reason not to cherrypick with a pvr or obtain stuff from other sources.

    I personally hook up a laptop to the telly and watch streaming media far more often than over the air programming as I can watch something that suits my mood at that moment, rather than whatever inane drivel the freeview channels are beltching out.

    Btw, youtube is much nicer to watch with adblock enabled, no annoying popups over the video to ruin the atmos.

  26. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    Oh, yes?

    "...Today's tellies will show us anything - yet viewers are stuck in the 1980s..."

    Mine won't. I gave up having a TV a few years ago. It actually gives you time to do things instead....

  27. jim 45
    Thumb Down

    Ok I know what was wrong with "Bob". What does that have to do with Metro?

  28. Pete B

    "Then ability browse what's on now and go; "That might be interesting....." is the vitally important horizon-broadening bit."

    Yeah - but I do this by once a week going through the listings and telling my Mythtv set-up to record anything that looks as though it might be interesting. admittedly I do have a small backlog of around 12Tb of interesting stuff to watch now, but hey I might get the time eventually!

  29. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge


    sounds truely excellent technology, to give the viewer exactly what he wants when he wants it (or she of course)

    Now all this viewer wants is some decent TV to actually watch, how about a nice science program or 3 where it is'nt dumbed down to the level of a 4 year old... some of us can cope with complex mind bending maths (but not too much)

  30. Long John Brass

    MythTV FTW

    Been using MythTV for a few years now

    I find it hard to imagine having to work my schedule around TV viewing habits anymore

  31. Richard Lloyd

    Media centre software is the way to go

    I used to believe that dedicated set-top boxes (or built-in recording facilities on recent TVs) were the way to go, but when you look at it, they're quite limited:

    * Firmware is often buggy and eventually abandoned not long after a newer model comes out.

    * If you don't like the firmware (e.g. the UI is annoying or missing important features), then you're stuffed - there's no way to change it usually.

    * If you're on the Freeview HD platform, then good luck trying to export HD recordings unencrypted. Ludicrously, the Freeview HD specs don't allow you to do that (even though Freeview HD channels are actually broadcast unencrypted), yet they do allow SD recordings to be exported unencrypted. 100% inconsistent, IMHO.

    * A fair chunk of recorders don't bother allowing you to record multiple channels (e.g. 3 or 4) from the same multiplex/transponder simultaneously - it doesn't help that none of them seem to come with SSDs either to alleviate access times when recording multiple programmes.

    * Very few recorders come with a Web interface to mirror what they do on the TV's UI (i.e. a full Web EPG, recordings list etc) - the ability to set recordings, stream them to another machine etc. without turning the TV on is a very useful feature.

    Once I realised the above issues, it was a no-brainer for the Olympics to set up media centre software with sat+terrestrial TV tuner cards, SSDs, large hard drives and I got an extremely flexible setup that could do far more than any set-top box currently does (yes, including a full desktop with browser etc. using a wireless keytboard and mouse). For the record, it was Ubuntu+XBMC+tvheadend that did the trick for me - no-cost for the software too! I think tvheadend's backend Web interface is nothing short of super impressive - I doubt any other media centre Web interface comes close (most media centre software seems to think Web access is a minor feature: I think it's massively important myself).

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