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Sony Television Entertainment

Sony DVR Useless After Rovi Stops TV Guide OnScreen 321

New submitter speedlaw writes "Rovi has just announced that they are stopping the TV Guide OnScreen service as of April 13th, 2013. This was announced via the service itself. This is an on-air listing service that provides listings over the air, as part of an OTA TV signal. Many devices, notably the Sony HDD 250 and 500 Digital Video Recorders, will no longer function without the clock-set data this stream provides. When other companies decide to stop supporting something, they don't make older systems useless. Worse, Sony never came out with another DVR in the U.S. market. Why do we have to rent them? How do we get Sony or Rovi to provide at least a software patch to set the clock so the DVR can at least retain 1980s VCR functionality? Sony admits there is no fix. A thread on AVS forums has a bunch of information on TV Guide OnScreen. The TV stations who broadcast the data have been ordered by Rovi to disconnect the data inserters and ship them back. I have a TiVo, and yes, I know all about HTPC, but this data stream was 'lifetime listings' like TiVo has 'lifetime listings' — now that Rovi is looking to cut service, my two DVR units are about to become useless."
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Sony DVR Useless After Rovi Stops TV Guide OnScreen

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  • by davester666 ( 731373 ) on Sunday November 11, 2012 @03:23AM (#41948045) Journal

    Hello...it's Sony. You should be surprised that it worked this long.

  • rms is right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MadTinfoilHatter ( 940931 ) on Sunday November 11, 2012 @03:24AM (#41948049)
    This is why proprietary software is a bad thing and we should avoid products like this.
  • by xlsior ( 524145 ) on Sunday November 11, 2012 @03:52AM (#41948133) Homepage
    So a lifetime warranty means it's warranted until it breaks down?

    Pretty much, yes.

    "Lifetime product warranties" typically cover the 'reasonably expected' lifetime of the product the product in question, not your lifetime.

    If anything, 'lifetime warranty' can be a much worse deal than a predefined number of years, since it's so vague. It's often used in sales since it sounds like a great deal to the uninformed buyer, but in reality it's pretty much the ultimate weasel-word.
  • Re:rms is right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Onymous Coward ( 97719 ) on Sunday November 11, 2012 @04:08AM (#41948161) Homepage

    In particular, this situation indicates why tivoized [wikipedia.org] systems are a bad thing and why the GPLv3 was necessary. Not that this system had GPL'd software in it necessarily, but if it had, it would have needed the updated, v3 license to allow customers to run their own mods to make the hardware work for them.

    Oh, wait. Are the Sony HDD 250 and 500 DVR systems digital signature-locked to prevent modified software from operating?

  • by dokebi ( 624663 ) on Sunday November 11, 2012 @04:08AM (#41948165)

    Dude, Sony discontinued this product 7 years ago. I'm sure you've gotten your money's worth out of it.

    Think about it this way: If it died of hardware failure instead, would you be so upset? Likely not.

  • by wvmarle ( 1070040 ) on Sunday November 11, 2012 @04:39AM (#41948231)

    It probably violates someone's copyright or patent. Or that's what they think may be the case. Better be safe than sorry, consumers be damned. They're anyway supposed to just consume the advertising with intermittant fragments of some mildly entertaining show, instead fo recording it and remove the ads.

  • by wvmarle ( 1070040 ) on Sunday November 11, 2012 @04:42AM (#41948237)

    And "plays for sure" can't have hurt many customers. For starters those devices never sold well, secondly there can't have been much content sold for it either, with so little uptake on the hardware side.

    That was mostly MS screwing over their business partners. But then, MS business partners are probably used to that already.

  • Re:rms is right (Score:4, Insightful)

    by theNetImp ( 190602 ) on Sunday November 11, 2012 @04:42AM (#41948239)

    Proprietary software isn't the problem here, proprietary APIs are. If there was an open API that could be switched too this wouldn't be an issue.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 11, 2012 @05:40AM (#41948379)

    The problem is it didn't suffer a hardware failure. This is like if your car suddenly stopped working because Ford wants to sell you a new one. Yes the engine could've died, but it didn't, it would still work just as well as yesterday if they didn't put the equivalent of a time bomb in the software.

    Were the customers aware of this time bomb on the moment of purchase? And I don't mean hiding it in legaleze, was it written in the box that the device would stop working in 2012?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 11, 2012 @05:54AM (#41948405)

    Sony used to be the brand of high quality products. All my old Sony tape players and other hardware still works. It can take awhile for people to lose their impressions of a company, especially if they don't understand why their devices stop working. "Computer tech just does that sometimes"

  • by guttentag ( 313541 ) on Sunday November 11, 2012 @06:05AM (#41948429) Journal

    Dude, Sony discontinued this product 7 years ago. I'm sure you've gotten your money's worth out of it.

    Think about it this way: If it died of hardware failure instead, would you be so upset? Likely not.

    The appliance that heats my home is 50 years old. The manufacturer has been out of business since before I was born. Thank God they didn't have this mentality or I'd be in big trouble right now. Remember that the next time you're considering a Sony product. I do. I grew up with everything Sony, but ever since they took functionality away from my PS3, over and over, I make a conscious choice not to buy their products. Even if I don't see a suitable alternative (which sometimes does happen with mid-range headphones), I'll leave the store without buying anything. Every time. You might say I got my money's worth out of the company, so I'm done with it.

  • by SpzToid ( 869795 ) on Sunday November 11, 2012 @07:11AM (#41948623)

    No, I think this should ding Sony's 'green rating', because of a too-short lifespan and no little-to-none recycling-to-keep-in-use options. Is everyone expected to suddenly buy a new TV set every now and then? Gimme a break. All Sony has to do is allow user-mods to happen. Imagine if a classic car owner was not allowed to 3d-print the broken dashboard controller-thing just to keep it alive. I dunno, something like a plastic turn-signal lock doo-hickey which otherwise makes the car illegal (except when hand-signals are used). Same difference.

    http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/climate-change/cool-it/Campaign-analysis/Guide-to-Greener-Electronics [greenpeace.org].

    Admittedly I am biased because I see an old PC, and I think, 'will it run linux?'

    But then again, this is Sony that refuses even the U.S. Military the right to run linux on their paid-for playstations. Apple lost its soul a long time ago, and Sony continues to show them the way.

  • Why accept this? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Sunday November 11, 2012 @07:27AM (#41948659)

    Why do you so readily accept electronic end of life as being normal?

    My SEGA Mastersystem still works.
    My SNES still works (and you can still buy controllers for them too).
    My sound system is much older than 10 years.
    I still have a working CRT TV, and a working VCR.

    Incidentally my grandma has several working pieces of electronic equipment from World War 2.

    Why are you so quick to accept that electronics need an end of life, and especially one so short? This is not the death of the medium which the DVR uses like say the move from analogue to digital TV was. This is a piece of gear with a really poor design flaw that for some reason depended on a proprietary 3rd party signal to work. Why would you accept that this 3rd party should decide when you can no longer use your electronics?

  • by _xeno_ ( 155264 ) on Sunday November 11, 2012 @07:28AM (#41948661) Homepage Journal

    These days? Because if they did that, then people could record the shows, and skip the ads. And that would be terrible.

    At least if you're a TV network who wants to milk the most ad money you possibly can. Don't forget, getting up to go to the bathroom during the commercials is theft.

  • by peragrin ( 659227 ) on Sunday November 11, 2012 @07:31AM (#41948665)

    If you think this is bad wait a couple of more years for smart tv's to start needing these kinds of updates.

    People expect their tv's to last 10+ years without a simple software update some of those tv's won't be working right.

  • Re:Bashing onwards (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bfandreas ( 603438 ) on Sunday November 11, 2012 @09:30AM (#41948953)

    Rovi (corporation) used to be called Macrovision.

    That snippet alone would have explained about eveything. Why was this omitted in the submission? So basically Sony built a system that relied completely on a service provided by Macrovision and the customers got completely screwed over?

    I am Jack's complete lack of surprise.

  • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Sunday November 11, 2012 @09:52AM (#41949025) Homepage

    An area of computer tech NOT mired in bogus trivial patents? THAT would be the thing that you need to defend. The original jaded comments were very much consistent with the state of current patent law.

    Just consider Tivos own patents and the fact that someone else sitting on a patent jury managed to get a redundant patent.

    The PTO can't even keep track of it's own nonsense.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 11, 2012 @11:13AM (#41949449)

    Why don't the channels just broadcast the programme data alongside the actual programming?

    Well, that's a legitimate question. ... Either way, you're asking either one (or several) large television network(s) to suddenly make a change to the way things are broadcast, or you're asking a large (multinational) company to provide open access to their closed system.

    Let PBS broadcast the clock signal. Have the large networks throw some cash at PBS to provide the service. It could help shorten their annoying fundraising weeks and may prevent Congress from trying to eliminate them from the budget.

  • by segedunum ( 883035 ) on Sunday November 11, 2012 @12:14PM (#41949863)

    If you think this is bad wait a couple of more years for smart tv's to start needing these kinds of updates.

    I know. I'm wandering around various stores laughing at these 'Smart TVs' with stuff like YouTube and Netflix on them and thinking to myself 'What happens when this needs a major update in a couple of years, someone changes their interfaces or Netflix goes bust?'. It'll also be a cold day in hell before I plug an ethernet cable into a TV and give it access to the internet. I hate to be cynical, but us technical people always know this crap goes badly wrong.

    If I want this shit I will plug my computer into the TV. In the meantime just display the damn picture on the screen.

  • by nabsltd ( 1313397 ) on Sunday November 11, 2012 @01:03PM (#41950169)

    One of the issues with this method is that each channel only sends its own guide data, as they have no incentive to let you know what is showing on other channels. This is the way it is done in the US.

    The problem is that to see what's on another channel, your TV has to tune to that channel. If the TV has enough memory and the channels send data for long enough, the TV can just do this sort of tuning when it is "turned off" and it would work fine. But, without memory or extended guide data, there is no way to check the guide for channels that you are not watching without stopping viewing of live TV.

    A DVR should always have plenty of memory, and if it has more than one tuner then most of the time you shouldn't have an issue even without extended guide data, but without extended data, there would be times that shows would not record because all tuners were in use for current recordings and could not be used to see what's coming up.

  • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Monday November 12, 2012 @12:12AM (#41953967)

    "... they have no incentive to let you know what is showing on other channels."

    There is a ridiculously simple -- and INEXPENSIVE -- solution to this problem:

    [1] Each broadcast or cable channel publishes its schedule and program info to a central database at the FCC.

    [2] The FCC broadcasts -- free -- all this information, on a specified band and standardized format.

    [3] Problem disappears.

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger