Intelligent PVR Convergence: HDD+DVDR+EPG+(Freeview x 2), yes?

Discussion in 'Digital TV & Video Players & Recorders' started by dalinian, Sep 19, 2005.

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  1. dalinian

    dalinian
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    I have sent the following to the list of PVR manufacturers listed at the end of the message. While awaiting their replies, which I'll summarise in follow-up posts, I'd be interested to hear the views of contributors to this forum.


    Dear Citizen,

    I'm intending to buy my first Personal Video Recorder to use in the UK and, having reviewed appropriate web forums and sites, your company seems to be one which may be able to meet my desires. From the range of current technologies available, myself (and many others it seems[a]) would like an integrated machine incorporating:

    A. MANDATORY
    1) A Hard Disk Drive: at least 160GB in capacity -- primarily for time-shifting temporary recordings of TV/radio broadcasts, and also for pausing and chasing live TV/radio
    2) A DVD Recorder: as multi-format as seems optimal -- primarily for creating permanent archives of recordings, and also to enable simultaneous recordings of broadcast TV/radio from two different channels
    3) An intelligent Electronic Programme Guide: from which recordings can be specified and automatically titled -- incorporating the best 'set-and-forget' features of TiVo et al, such as named favourites, suggestions, wishlists, series link and season pass [c]
    4) TWO Digital Tuners: DVB-T to receive all Freeview TV/radio channels

    B. OPTIONAL BUT PREFFERED
    5) A Top-Up TV card slot: to expand digital terrestrial TV reception to the maximum number of channels available, on both digital tuners [d]
    6) An external-video-in (SCART?) socket: to enable the connection of, eg: a Video Cassette Recorder, for archiving previously recorded content from video tape to DVD Video disk

    Since we know that the analogue TV signal will be gone by the end of 2012, an analogue TV tuner in a current PVR product seems obviously anachronistic. Many people are now familiar with and enthusiasts for watching one channel while recording from another; and two digital tuners (with picture-in-picture[e]) would best allow this functionality to successfully (and simply) negotiate the analogue TV switch-off. The additional advantages for the 63% (and climbing) of UK households with at least one digital tuner already installed would include watching one channel while recording from TWO others: one to the HDD and another to the DVDR.

    Please let me know if any of your current or immanent UK products (due for retail release before 31 Dec 05) meet these criteria; and if any of your products come close, please feel free to draw them to my attention.

    Given that technology maturity scales with implementing global standards, the least mature component is the EPG. Now that the European Telecommunications Standards Institute http://www.etsi.org has published the TV-Anytime Phase 2 Specifications, please let me know roughly when you anticipate your company will retail release a PVR using an EPG based on TV-Anytime rich metadata [c].

    Thanks in advance for your time and attention. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Warm regards,

    Tim Jones
    =============================================================
    "Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations
    which we can perform without thinking of them."
    Alfred North Whitehead
    =============================================================
    Notes
    [a] HDD+DVDR+EPG+(Freeview x 2)
    HDD DVD DVR PVR Freeviewx2 http://www.radioandtelly.co.uk/cgi-bin/forum/YaBB.pl?board=recorders;action=display;num=1126163866 (08 Sep 05)
    The great PVR debate http://forum.digitalspy.co.uk/board/showthread.php?t=275526 (31 Aug 05)
    Twin Tuners (Freeview) PVR - HD and DVD recorder http://forum.digitalspy.co.uk/board/showthread.php?t=273785 (28 Aug 05)
    Pvr/dvd/freeview - All In One? http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=238756 (27 Aug 05)
    Fancy a TopView ... wish it had a DVD player as well http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=232405 (04 Aug 05)
    Why is it so difficult to buy a good FreeView PVR in the UK? http://www.readybb.com/pvruk/viewtopic.php?t=131 (09 Jun 05)
    Freeview + DVD-RAM + PVR? http://www.readybb.com/pvruk/viewtopic.php?t=80 (13 Dec 04)
    I can't be the only one who wants this!!!?? http://www.readybb.com/pvruk/viewtopic.php?t=69 (05 Nov 04)
    PVR DVD all-in-one unit http://www.readybb.com/pvruk/viewtopic.php?t=7 (24 Mar 04)

    Archiving to DVD
    Freeview DVD recorder http://forum.digitalspy.co.uk/board/showthread.php?t=243849 (02 Jul 05)
    Archiving... http://www.readybb.com/pvruk/viewtopic.php?t=113 (27 Apr 05)

    [c] EPG sophistication
    Freeview PVR with series links? http://forum.digitalspy.co.uk/board/showthread.php?t=280028 (13 Sep 05)
    Is there a freeview pvr that does season passes like a TiVO? http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=237055 (21 Aug 05)
    Poll: If TiVo return to the UK would you buy one and be happy to pay for an EPG? http://forum.digitalspy.co.uk/board/showthread.php?t=221870 (24 May 05) and most especially: 'In order for a PVR to be genuinely useful it needs to have a sophisticated series-recording option' http://forum.digitalspy.co.uk/board/showpost.php?p=4810624&postcount=68
    Season-pass / Series-link http://www.readybb.com/pvruk/viewtopic.php?t=107 (25 Mar 05)
    TiVo: http://www.tivo.com/1.0.asp
    TV-Anytime: http://www.tv-anytime.org "Manufacturers of Personal Video Recorder (PVR) products today must rely on proprietary solutions and partnerships with specific service providers, due to the absence of industry standards. This leads to vertical market implementations and restricts viewers to a single service provider. Standardization, on the other hand, will lead to economy of scale, interoperability and market growth. The advantages of such standardization for consumers and the industry are expected to be substantial." "The TV-Anytime specifications now offer all sectors of the industry the tools that will allow consumers to search for, find, select and enjoy the widest possible range of content, from the broadcast, VOD, mobile and IPTV world. These specifications will help in creating a flow of rich metadata from content providers and advertisers, to broadcasters and service providers, and then ultimately to consumers, making the television viewing experience both simpler and richer."

    [d] TopUp TV
    PVR, with a slot for Top Up TV? http://forum.digitalspy.co.uk/board/showthread.php?t=280730 (15 Sep 05)
    Freeview PVR + tutv http://forum.digitalspy.co.uk/board/showthread.php?t=280378 (14 Sep 05)
    Boxes with recording & Top-Up TV http://www.radioandtelly.co.uk/cgi-bin/forum/YaBB.pl?board=recorders;action=display;num=1123325798 (03 Aug 04)
    The need for CAMs and Pay TV http://www.readybb.com/pvruk/viewtopic.php?t=16 (28 Mar 04)
    TopUp TV http://www.readybb.com/pvruk/viewtopic.php?t=13 (24 Mar 04)

    [e] PIP popularity
    Picture inside picture http://www.readybb.com/pvruk/viewtopic.php?t=128 (06 Jun 05)

    =============================================================
    DISTRIBUTION

    Manufacturers
    Fusion, Humax, Inverto, JVC, PACE, Panasonic, Pioneer, Reelbox, Sagem, Samsung, Sony, Thomson, TiVo, Topfield

    Forums
    AV Forums > Audio Visual Sources > PVRs & VCRs
    Digital Spy > Media Zone Forums > Digital Video Recorders
    pvruk Forum > Freeview DVRs
    Radio and Telly Forum > Equipment > Digital recorders
    ...to where I shall also post summaries of manufacturer replies
     
  2. Cyril

    Cyril
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    Don't forget that there is a lot of great radio available in this country, and a PVR should also have series links/season passes/wishlists for these programmes, which will also require sophisticated metadata in the EPG.

    Wired and wireless transmission and control over networks and the internet should also be mandatory.
    An active USB port (not the crippled Sky+ stuff) and/or ethernet connection is super-cheap nowadays so there should be no excuse for including them.
     
  3. dalinian

    dalinian
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    After 16 days, here's a summary of responses so far, formatted as follows. I'll edit revisions into this message.
    MANUFACTURER====================================================
    Manufacturer suggestion(s). HDD+dvdr+EPG+(FREEVIEW x 2) - spec comparison PRESENT absent
    Supplemental questions from me to manufacturer (or my comments/questions to forum participants).
    Manufacturer's response to supplemental questions.

    FUSION====================================================
    Suggested their FVRT 200 recorder. HDD+dvdr+EPG+(FREEVIEW x 2)
    Does Fusion have any plans to retail release a similar recorder with an internal DVDR in the next six months?
    Also, could you please let me know roughly when you anticipate Fusion will retail release a PVR using an EPG based on TV-Anytime rich metadata?

    Awaiting reply

    HUMAX====================================================
    No response so far.

    INVERTO====================================================
    No response so far.

    JVC====================================================
    No response so far.

    PACE====================================================
    No response so far.

    PANASONIC====================================================
    Suggested their TUCTH100 recorder. HDD+dvdr+EPG+(FREEVIEW x 2)
    However, there is a Panasonic model that comes closer to meeting my criteria: the DMREH60D recorder. HDD+DVDR+EPG+(FREEVIEW x 2)
    Indeed I mentioned this in my original message, and asked you to answer two specific questions about it. I am concerned that your reply makes no mention of this model nor responds to my questions about it. Please review my original message, and respond to the two questions therein about the DMREH60D recorder.
    While waiting for your initial response, I checked for high street retailers (since I have ethical objections to credit cards) who stock your DMREH60D recorder. According to their own web sites, neither Argos, Comet, Currys, Dixons, Gultronics, HiFi Confidential, Jessops, John Lewis, PowerHouse nor Richer Sounds are selling this model. So my third question is:
    Q3) When does Panasonic UK expect the DMREH60D recorder to be available in high street stores in London?

    Awaiting reply.
    This from Comet Customer Services:
    "I have now recieved the information from our supplier, [...] DMREH60D is a UK only model. The "D" is for digital as the European models are analogue only. All references to programme guide for DMREH60D refer to the DVB EPG (i.e. - 8 days of programme info) - to use the example quoted, quick start works when one presses the guide button by taking one straight to the freeview programme guide."

    PIONEER====================================================
    Suggested their DVR-530 and DVR-630 recorders. HDD+DVDR+EPG+(freeview x 2)
    Does Pioneer have any plans to retail release similar recorders with internal Freeview tuners in the next six months?
    Also, could you please let me know roughly when you anticipate Pioneer will retail release a PVR using an EPG based on TV-Anytime rich metadata?
    "We can not comment on products that are or are not in development, we do not have any plans to replace the current line up of DVD recorders until March/April next year and the specifications of the new recorders will be announced then.
    Regards."
    Customer Relations, PIONEER GB LIMITED

    REELBOX====================================================
    Email to information@reelbox.co.uk bounced; enquiry re-sent to customer.service@reelbox.co.uk, sales@reelbox.co.uk and support@reelbox.co.uk
    Awaiting reply

    SAGEM====================================================
    No response so far.

    SAMSUNG====================================================
    "With reference to your email regarding our VCR's (sic), you can view the full range of of VCR's we have available at www.samsung.com/uk."
    Samsung Electronics UK, Customer Communication Center
    Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear -- beneath contempt.

    SONY====================================================
    Suggested their RDRHXD710 and RDRHXD910 recorders, "Although there is no information on these products on our website as yet." HDD+DVDR+epg+(FREEVIEW x 2)
    From what information I can find out about these machines, I can see reference to "Videoplus+, PDC, & Manual Timer Programming" but not to any programming via an Electronic Programming Guide. Do these recorders provide an EPG from which recordings can be specified and automatically titled?
    Awaiting reply

    THOMSON====================================================
    Sent a draft spec sheet for their DTH 8550 E recorder. HDD+DVDR+EPG+(freeview x 2)
    1) Freeview x 2 (A) -- the 'Tuner' section makes no mention of the DVB-T DTTV standard; please could you confirm that the DTH 8550 E only has one internal analogue TV tuner?
    ANSWER : Contains a single one internal analogue TV tuner
    2) Freeview x 2 (B) -- does Thomson have any plans to retail release a similar recorder with two internal DVB-T tuners in the next six months?
    ANSWER - No available information for the moment.
    3) EPG -- for how many days ahead does the Naviclick program guide provide information; and from where does it collect its program data?
    ANSWER - 7 DAYS
    4) TV-Anytime -- could you please let me know roughly when you anticipate Fusion will retail release a PVR using an EPG based on TV-Anytime rich metadata?
    ANSWER - No available information for the moment.

    TIVO====================================================
    Email bounced.
    Does anyone have a UK or US email or enq.web.form address for TiVo?

    TOPFIELD====================================================
    No response so far.
     
  4. dalinian

    dalinian
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    I was thinking of Freeview tuner 1's channel recording to the HDD, while Freeview tuner 2's channel is recording to the DVDR, at the same time. And if the HDD can make two simultaneous recordings, so much the better.

    <blush> Oops! Well spotted, mobily -- sorry, just a typo, but of course I mean 'at least 160GB'; and thanks to CJL/Cliff for pointing out that's cap G for Giga and cap B for Bytes.

    Excellent point - there's certainly stuff on BBC R4 and BBC7 for which I'd like to 'set-and-forget' programmed recordings. Do any of the current EPG equipped PVRs allow one to do this?

    I was trying to confine my 'now?' spec to components that several PVR manufacturers have already produced in retail models. I agree that since it's increasingly clear that this can only be a 'future?' spec, there's no reason why we shouldn't demand/expect a higher HDD capacity.

    Good points - and I hope they will emerge in more potential PVR purchaser's 'future?' specs and in future PVRs.

    My reason for approaching the PVR manufacturers in this way was twofold:
    1) to maybe get to hear about an upcoming PVR that comes close enough to be worth buying now, rather than having to wait for the manufacturers to catch up with logical customer demand (still waiting); and
    2) to remind the manufacturers (assuming they follow these forums) that folks have been asking for this kind of PVR for a year and a half.

    At the risk of opening the floodgates of pessimism, cynicism and nihilism, I'm tempted to ask ... why? If multiple posters have been asking for this kind of PVR for the last 18 months, why have the manufacturers so far only produced sub-spec machines?
     
  5. Cyril

    Cyril
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    Only TiVo, as this was requested by UK users in 2000.
    In fact its better IMHO than many dedicated radio recorders!

    Sky+ metadata for radio is limited.
     
  6. dalinian

    dalinian
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