All entries for Friday 03 February 2006

February 03, 2006

TVDrive trial day one– hardware fault

So I was browsing the Telewest site last year, and saw a link called ‘TVDrive’. Being a naturally inquisitive person, I decided to look into this. There was little information save for the promise that a system similar to Sky+ would be available at some point in the new year. There was also a form to fill in for information, which I duly did, thinking nothing more of this until last Friday (27th Jan).

Some chap from Telewest called, and offered me the chance to be involved in user trials of the new box. I said ‘yes’. He then proceeded to tell me that I would be paying half price for the first three months- I said ‘yes’ again’- that I would have a direct dial number to report faults – ‘yes’- and that I would have the right to cancel at any time in the first three months- ‘yes’. I think he was required by contract to give me the whole spiel before he could accept my agreement. But it was rather amusing.

The box was installed this morning at 11:30 and I have only had a few hours with it so far; I had to come into work for a meeting (which was moved to Monday anyway), and left J to take instructions from the installation guy.

Being as this is a trial box, I didn’t expect the system to be completely reliable. That having been said, it appears that we have a hardware problem. Two hours after the installer had left, it began to have 4 types of problems:

- the screen froze for a few seconds, then either normal service would resume, or the system would reboot.
- the picture and sound continued as normal, but the box ceased to respond to input from both the remote control and the buttons on the front panel. We rebooted to resolve this (pull power cable out of back of box, wait 10 seconds, then replug and pray). Using the ‘Reset’ button on the front would resolve the problem, but only for about 10 minutes.
- the system abruptly brought up an error stating that the smart card was invalid, or that it was not inserted, resulting in us only being able to watch terrestrial channels. This could generally be resolved by removing and reinserting the smart card while the system was running (not sure that this is right)
- the system hung on occasion for up to 10 minutes during restart (black screen with white Telewest name and logo, with ‘Please wait, loading data’ along the bottom.

One of the above problems would manifest itself at least once every half hour. J called in the faults, and the area manager came by while I was on my way home at 6pm; he swapped out the old box but didn’t have a replacement for the smart card which plugs into it. He warned that the problem was probably due to the smart card being faulty, and asked J to call him back at 10pm to tell him how we were getting on. One thing about this- the customer service so far is fantastic!

The new(est) box is still exhibiting the same problem, so I think we’ll be getting a new card tomorrow morning. In the mean time, I shall play with the box a little (depending on how long it will behave for). It’s not well.

Minor problem- no manual or user guide (apart from the crashing boor on the Telewest channel, but he makes me angry and nauseous). But the remote has many buttons which have the same labels as on our previous remote, so I think it will be easy enough to work out.

Point the first: this box has a hard drive.
Point the second: it also has an ethernet port.

Tee hee.

I wonder what operating system it’s running :)

February 2006

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