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back to article Panasonic slaps Freetime EPG on 2014 smart tellies

Freetime's neat, easy-to-navigate electronic programme guide (EPG) has never been a feature of standalone TVs, but at a joint event in London this week, its new partner Panasonic announced it will feature on 90 per cent of the panel maker’s 2014 TV range. If you're based in the UK and the name Freetime rings a bell, it's …

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Silver badge

A high risk investment

I recall the early "HD ready" Freeview sets, which turned out to be incapable of accepting HD transmissions because the tuner wasn't compatible. I'm guessing that we'll see the same thing here.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: A high risk investment

The first 4K transmissions will likely be IP based (e.g. Netflix or iPlayer), so a dumb 4k panel is probably the best option for early adopters.

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Anonymous Coward

will it spam?

probably

and the rest of the "features"... well, I do hope, like with smart phones still able to make a call, with those tellies you might still be able, after careful navigation, to find a tv channel. Not that I need or want to in the first place...

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Anonymous Coward

Dear Panasonic..

What consumers really want is a reasonable sized screen, say 55" to 65" with 4K for sub £1000. delivery me this and my cheque will be in the mail.

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re Dear Panasonic..

If that's all consumers are after then their needs are going to be met by the likes of Technika and Bush long before Panasonic. But if their needs go beyond the numbers and the actual quality matters, then it could be a long wait...

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If they integrated this EPG and the catch up services into a 1080p 3D TV at a screen size that is sensible in a flat (e.g. 40") I would buy one today. Forget trying to use 4K to drive growth, just give me a current generation TV with this kind of software! I've been struggling with a Samsung "smart" bluray player that randomly drops support for apps at periodic intervals, and the ones that are available (like iPlayer) are awful to navigate.

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Anonymous Coward

All I want

Is something worth watching.

SD

HD

FULL HD

4K

Hell, even B&W and 4:3 content will do

Too much to ask?

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Silver badge

Re: All I want

I enjoyed the Alec Guinesss version of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy on YouTube... More recently, True Detective was excellent. There is a world of good stuff out there, but discovering it can be tricky. Who knows, you might develop a taste for Soviet-made 'Easterns' films...

However, good content benefits from a coherent way of finding and viewing it. Using an IR remote control to navigate on-screen menus isn't a great experience. One of the better methods I've seen is using an app on an iPad that allows you to search YouTube and then instruct a PS3 to play it on the big screen. There's no technical reason that a generic tablet couldn't be used with a generic set-top-box to navigate both broadcast and streamed video services in a similar fashion.

It'll get there.

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Ratios

How fitting that in an article about widescreen televisions, the aspect ratio of every screenshot is wrong.

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Re: Ratios

Indeed - I still despair over the amount of friends' houses I can go to and they'll be watching something on TV, seemingly oblivious to the fact it's stretched and distorted beyond belief because they've got the aspect ratio settings wrong. I mean, 16:9 has only been mainstream for what, 10 years now? Still, I suppose if it doesn't bother them. Though I guess these are the same type of people who horrendously resize clipart and photos without holding the shift button down...

Time for one of my pills I think.

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Silver badge

Re: Ratios

I hate the stretching of older content. I might be a couple of minutes into an episode of Father Ted when I notice Dougal's head is strangely wide, placing him in the 'uncanny valley'.

Is it actually broadcast like that, or is the TV set trying to be helpful? If the former, could a TV be told to 'unstretch' the content? Or is it easier to just download the content off the internet that someone has ripped from a DVD?

When the BBC show older content on iPlayer, they don't stretch it. However, since I have a 16:10 monitor, I have black bars at the sides and at the top and bottom of the image, since it isn't very smart about filling the screen.

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Re: Ratios

its definitly not broadcast like that. Some people dont like black bars down the side of programmes, so are happy to have ridiculously mis-proportioned people on screen. Persoanlly i think its daft. And dont get me started on on contrast...... sweet jesus some peoples TV's look as if all the actors have set there tanning boothsto the "dale winton" setting

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Re: Ratios

@Dave 126. Does your remote not have a "ratio" button on it (sometimes an icon of a screen with 4 arrows pointing outwards in it)?

There's also normally a setting for how to display 4:3 content somewhere in the settings menu.

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Re: Ratios

It's my mate's TV, but yeah, it must be set to 'Auto' or somesuch. What can't be turned off is its 'feature' to turn off after X minutes of inactivity on the part of the viewer... since my mate uses a Freeview box, the TV remote isn't touched after the TV set is turned on.

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Anonymous Coward

Presumably this will only be rolled out for new sets - nothing for those customer's who've bought a set recently despite the thing running an 'operating system' that could be updated.

The existing 'smart tv' interface is a confusing mess. There's some good functionality there but it's far from easy to use.

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Of course it will be new sets only. The stats showing the decline in UK TV sales says it all - obviously everyone who wanted a flat panel TV has bought one in the last three years. If Panasonic added this new tech as an upgrade, people would hold on to their tellies for longer.

totally agree with you about the dog's breakfast that is the current crop of 'smart' TV functionality, though.

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Anonymous Coward

Once bitten

I have a 2011 top of the range (at the time) Panasonic TV. Dual core processor. Great picture. Not many "apps" but I am happy with Netflix, iPlayer, Youtube etc.

However, Panasonic abandon their customers at an alarming speed. The GUI is dire, but of course it's just software and can be updated.

No chance. Panasonic want me to buy a 4K TV if I want a new GUI.

Yes, the better picture is worth it, but soon Samsung will catch up and customers will value brand service.

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tsf

Re: Once bitten

Tell me about it, my 2011 Panasonic GT30 doesn't have Netflix, or even any on demand english speaking mainstream movie service after the demise of AceTrax I only have asian movie on demand channels left.

And don't even get me started on Youtube, as it's the old GUI you can't jump to a time, rewind or fast forward, so if you have to stop watching an old movie, your only option is to start again from scratch and watch through at real time. It beggars belief how it was designed this way in the first place, but Panasonic rubs salt into your wounds by implementing the new improved app on new TV's and leaving you starded and ignored.

Panasonics abandonment of existing customers is shocking, you get about 18 months of generally minor updates, very few new apps, all pointless, and then they completely forget about you, despite making a big deal about the expandability of the viera connect service.

The experience has eliminated any goodwill I had toward Panasonic, and now they don't even make Plasma's they can't even play the picture quality card.

I'll never again buy Panasonic or recommend them, which I have been happy to in the past.

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Silver badge

Re: Once bitten

It's not just Panasonic, all the TV manufacturers do the same. It's the nature of the TV industry.

They gain nothing by updating extant TVs, because all that will do is delay the time when the customer buys a new panel.

Which is why I do NOT want a "Smart" TV, just a really good panel - and the less onboard processing the better.

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The first 4K transmissions will likely be IP based (e.g. Netflix or iPlayer), so a dumb 4k panel is probably the best option for early adopters.

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Joke

heard you the 1st time. Although you seem less cowardly this time around.......

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Silver badge

Perhaps, but few have access to enough ISP bandwidth for streamed 4k content without horrendous compression artefacts (which removes its single advantage).

Add to the a whole new dimension of DRM that Sony, etc, are talking about for 4k content and I for one will wait and see before buying something that expensive.

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No Ads

I hope the new EPG is ad free, unlike previous Panasonic aberrations.

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Bronze badge

Re: No Ads

Quite. The ad-infested EPG is what put Panasonic firmly on my do-not-buy list. Shame really as they have had some fairly decent kit. With set-top boxes (Sky/VM) its less of a real issue and more a principal. It's not like Panasonic is discounting the TV because they're pocketing the ad revenue.

The new EPG looks pleasingly free of ads. If that trend continues, I might be able to reconsider Panasonic as an option again.

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EPG not so hot, requires work

I've got a Humax pvr with the freesat/freetime epg on it. I set up my favourites channels, but it's not possible to have the EPG default to showing the favourites. I display the EPG, press list, select favourites and press enter. Every time.

It's not possible to search the EPG for programmes of a particular genre, so looking at a list of films for the coming week (or the evening) isn't possible. When I queried this, I was initially told that it was impossible to do because it would require an enormous team of people to collect and collate the information about the programmes to be able to classify them. Strange because Humax freeview PVRs have been able to genre search more more than a decade.

There are other usability issues and the Freesat/Freetime people seem to be reluctant to do much about them. I'm not sure I'd consider the EPG in its current state to be a bonus...

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Silver badge

Re: EPG not so hot, requires work

That is very odd, as my Humax does genre-searches, and the EPG data stream itself contains that genre information.

It's often wrong, but it is there.

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HDCP?

Is that screenshot trying to sell HDCP as a *feature* when it's entire purpose it to prevent you from using your device if someone else doesn't want you to?

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Joke

Re: HDCP?

The slide clearly says that it is to ensure that it "plays reliably". Reliability? Does it not play reliably without HDCP??

Yeah right.

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Silver badge

Re: HDCP?

Best way to play reliably is to get DRM-free content via TPB. Of course, the industry can't see yet why paying for something should be the nicer experience.

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Reason for the failure

As manufacturers get ever more greedy for profits, they'll sell you stuff that has the latest gimmicks, despite knowing full well they'll go out of fashion in today's dog-eat-dog climate within a few weeks. The answer is simple - only buy what you really need, and, make it last as long as possible. Stop being a good, law-abiding consumer!

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All I want...

...is a 4K OLED

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Silver badge

Re: All I want...

How much money do you have?

I saw the LG 77" OLED in John Lewis last week. Looked gorgeous.

Ever so slightly more expensive than I could afford though, you may need to sell a couple of small children as spare parts.

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