Discussion in 'Freeview & YouView' started by GrahameD, May 10, 2005.
Is the website www.netgem.co.uk
Site seems to have been down for a while.
Company in trouble?
Company in trouble? Yes, AFAIK they've never made a profit and recent action has alienated almost all their existing customers.
If you were looking for the user forum they've removed all links to it since it turned 99% hostile to Netgem, try forum.netgem.com/
If you just wanted product info I can summarise it: the 'new' iPlayer+ is a BT iplayer with new software NOT a new box.
If you wanted product support - on the evidence of recent forum posts they don't seem to offer it. There's no new firmware for existing users or any hint about when to expect it and their broken promise to add the EPG is now over a year old.
[EDIT] for dyslexia
I wanted the product specs. What has angered users?
Broken customer support
But mostly its the way they're ignoring their existing customers, keeping us in the dark about when or even if they will ever fix the many,many bugs and omissions in the software. The iPlayer is a great idea that's nowhere near finished and Netgem show no sign of caring.
I think what we need is an EU or UK law that protects consumers from buggy software.
Phones have it,
cars have it, MS write loads of it.
Anything embedded , us consumers need protection.
I like the NZ style where warranties are for 6 years or normal life expectancy of goods, not just 12 months.
All software has bugs. The Netgem software is almost bug-free and, considering that it's much more complicated than most Freeview boxes, I'm impressed that it works as well as it does.
Netgem last updated the firmware in January - hardly "no new firmware for existing users". What has annoyed a lot of forum members is that the iPlayer doesn't yet support the 7-day EPG. Or more accurately, what has annoyed them is that Netgem have a policy of not announcing new features until they're delivered, which means that they won't tell anyone when the 7-day EPG is coming. Apparently they've promised it but because it isn't here yet a lot of people are upset.
Netgem have said many times that they never announce what they're working on or what's coming. That doesn't stop people from moaning about it though!
Here's a link to a comprehensive review of the iPlayer:
Radio and Telly review
As long as you understand that there's no 7-day EPG yet - and possibly never will be - I can thoroughly recommend the iPlayer. It looks cool, can surf the web, check your email, play your MP3s, show your photos and do lots of other funky stuff. It can also produce component video output with the right cable.
Netgem built the iPlayer on Linux and somehow managed to turn an OS capable of running literally for years without problems into one that struggles to stay running for even a day in my experience. My wife has crashed ours repeatedly just by changing channels and its riddled with annoying problems.
That January update was a bug fix release we'd been waiting 8 months for. We spent those 8 months with an STB that would crash if left on too long, forget its network connection EVERY BLOODY NIGHT and revert to dialing its non-existent phone connection, would crash after browsing 20 or so pictures, crash on many,many websites, crash if content changed on FTP servers serving its streaming function... the list was endless.
And Netgem sat around doing nothing about those reported bugs. The now 14 month old broken promise to support the broadcast EEPG is just the final straw for many.
[EDIT]I didn't make it clear that even with the bug fixes the box still crashes, is still riddled with minor and not so minor bugs. The update even broke some of the features that did just about work. And yet again Netgem are sitting around ignoring the bug reports.
I reckon you must have a faulty box. Mine hasn't crashed since I bought it about six months ago. I use it to connect to my network wirelessly and I play my music from my PC on it, view photos from the PC on it, surf the web on it and watch a lot of TV on it all without problems.
Apart from the lack of a 7-day EPG it's perfect as far as I'm concerned. I knew nothing about the promise and bought it thinking that it only had now-and-next, so I don't feel cheated like some users do. I guess if I'd bought it on the assumption that it was about to have an EEPG I might feel a bit differently.
Netgem have, in the last few weeks, brought out the so-called "iPlayer+" which does have the EEPG. Bearing in mind that this is the same hardware as the non-"+" BT version, I suspect that the EEPG will be available for the rest of us soon.
I'm somewhat puzzled. Even its loudest fans on the netgem support forum admit to crashes browsing websites (there are 2 active threads at this moment about them).
6 months puts you using version 4.4.2, a version Netgem themselves admits had severe problems browsing ftp servers (your photo browsing).
Netgem also admit it had problems with network adaptors *for some users* (we'll never know what proportion and they ignored the reports for 8 months in any case).
I have never seen the notorious 'green flash' problem viewing TV but I fully believe the reports of others that have, especially since Netgem seem to believe them.
You see no problems? That tells me you're either very lucky, a very light user or both, it doesn't prove an absence of problems. The current firmware is better but still has problems and again Netgem aren't dealing with them with any hurry.
My box is indeed faulty. It contains broken software. All the signs are Netgem have abandonned the product so its not going to get fixed.
Yeah, but if all you want is a freeview box with component & SPDIF outputs it's not too bad.
Personally, I'm amazed and grateful they're still doing any software upgrades. Considering the price of these things, there's not a lot of money in it for them to fix what must be features that virtually none of their customers use.
To be honest I don't use it a great deal for web sites as navigating pages with only a keyboard is too awkward. I use it for web browsing a couple of times per week and it has never crashed yet. It handles some pages badly - some so badly that they're virtually unusable - but that's mainly down to page design, such as with sites that use a lot of flash. Maybe I'm just lucky in that the pages I use it for aren't ones that crash it. I've heard that eBay used to crash it instantly, not sure whether that's still the case.
However I use it a lot for watching TV and I set a lot of timers so it's turned on all the time. I also use it a lot to play MP3s streamed over my wireless network from my PC. Neither of those activities have crashed so far, although I have heard that it will lock up if the PC that the music is being streamed from shuts down while it's streaming.
Anyway I think GrahameD has his answer - some people love it, some people hate it. If you want to do a lot of web browsing or if you want a 7-day EPG then you'll probably be disappointed, although it's a much better web browser than any other Freeview box! If you want a box that has very good sound & video outputs and can also play music & pictures - over a network or from a USB drive - then the iPlayer is for you.
I bought the + version from BT over the weekend. I wanted primarily, a freeview box that had component out and SPIDF.
I'd have bought it without the web browser or the MP3 player as It's to be used alongside my MCE2005 HTPC. I was interested in networking it with my wireless network but note it only supports a few rather obsolete wireless access modules (it didn't want to know about my Belkin 58g USB dongle) but that's by the by. I wanted a discrete freeview box for the radio channels by the way, you don't get those with MCE.
Picture and sound are immaculate. To that end it's worth the £89 I paid for it easily. I also have a Sony which now has the benefit of an RGB scart to component convertor for the bedroom TV as a comparison. The Sony only got relegated to the bedroom as it only had RGB but now the convertor has made the picture even better so it might get swapped back again. The trouble with these Hi Def LCD sets is they have loads of hi end connections component (2) DVI (1) and VGA (1) but only one RGB enabled scart. However, so good is the PQ from these connections, the scart socket is now unconnected.
I'm happy with it as it stands although the epg is very hit and miss (but once you've seen the MCE2005 epg, the ordinary freeview boxes offerings are a bit behind). I did see 7 day epg on Sunday morning. Sunday afternoon however, I got no epg (i.e. the listings were blank) and after pressing the live button (blue) several times, it reluctantly gave me now and next for most (but not all) the channels. I can fully understand someones anger at that unreliability if it's the main source of TV.
It did upgrade itself over it's own modem and whatever number it dialed and quite quick too. I even went out and bought a top up TV startup pack (for it has a slot in one side) but decided to start my subscription later in the week.
It's remote however gets my vote as the worst looking remote ever. Brown and translucent. Is this what is 'in' in French living rooms (The sets origins I beleive) Operating it is a bit tricky too but maybe I'm just not used to it.
With BT backing it (or selling it at least) I'd hope for a sharp increase in customer support, especially it's potential as a media extender - but not unless it can use 58G wireless products - which is what most broadband users with wireless will be using nowadays.
I can see why it frustrates already but..... it is probably capable of producing at least equal best picture quality this side of HDTV, imho of course.
They've released a software update for the non-BT iPlayers to give them the 7-day EPG as well now. Apparently - and I can't confirm this - the problem with missing EPG info is a general Freeview issue and isn't specific to the iPlayer. If it can't get the info due to problems at the broadcaster's end then it can't display it.
Did you know that the iPlayer can output component video? You'll need a special cable but the signal won't have to go through any RGB to Y/Pb/Pr conversion process.
It's possible to get around the lack of support for wireless-g devices if you really want to. You can buy wireless adapters that connect to ethernet ports ("wireless to ethernet bridge" - Linksys Wireless-g Ethernet Bridge) and you can buy ethernet ports that connect to USB ports ("USB to ethernet adapter" - Belkin USB to ethernet adapter ) so in theory you could connect both to the iPlayer. It would think it was connecting to ethernet. I believe that you have to configure the wireless to ethernet bridge by connecting it to a PC first.
Nowhere near as good as if the iPlayer supported wireless-g USB devices directly, but a solution that could work if you really needed it to.
Yes the remote sucks - but the One For All 6-in-1 learning remote has codes for the iPlayer so you can replace it and all your other remotes with a single, far less ugly one.
I'm more than happy with the BT i-player+ but then I've only just had it!
Beware of buying some of the WIFI Usb adapters. Even if you can get some of the kit,the firmware may not be compatible. This is certainly the case with most Linksys WUSB11's. V2.8 works but most suppliers have V4.0 (or something) that wont work.
The BT Voyager 1010 will work like a dream and although discontinued it's still being sold by some suppliers for less than £15. It connects to my wireless router/modem with no hassle at all and I can surf with the i-player on my 2Mbps Broadband connection with ease.
So you would say that the Sony through a converter still has the edge on the Netgem for PQ?
I am looking to connect freeview to my bedroom TV, but can only use component. I have the Sony as well, so it is a choice between the £90 Netgem and getting a converter. I have no need for Top up TV or any of the other Netgem facilities, so keeping the Sony may be best if PQ is better.
What converter do you use?
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