BBC iPlayer To Launch On TechniSat, Harvard (pt2)

BBC iPlayer on TechniSat, Harvard

Following on from the disappointing delay of BBC iPlayer onto TechniSat and Harvard receivers, it looks likely that the service will be added over the course of the next week or two.

TechniSat have confirmed a scheduled inclusion on the 25th March 2010 with Harvard Group (Grundig, Bush, Goodmans) and Sagem expected to follow on the 30th March 2010.

Panasonic receivers (DMR-BS850, BS750 and XS350) have an update happening tomorrow (24th March 2010) though we don’t know whether this includes iPlayer; unfortunately we have absolutely no news on Panasonic and LG televisions yet!

Note that iPlayer will only be available on Freesat HD and Freesat+ receivers/idtv’s.

Hopefully all will go according to plan this time 😉

BBC iPlayer To Launch On TechniSat, Harvard

BBC iPlayer on TechniSat, Harvard

We have been tipped off that TechniSat will be receiving BBC iPlayer as part of their new software update due for release on the 16th March 2010.

In the same week, and maybe on the same day, Harvard Group is expected to also launch new software to give access to iPlayer, though at this stage we do not know if it will be their entire HD range of Grundig, Bush and Goodmans.

According to What Hifi, Sagem receivers will also have BBC iPlayer on the 15th.

iPlayer is currently available on Humax receivers and Sony IDTV via the red button home page or using page 7001.

Harvard Release Software Update Cure

Harvard International today released version 1.8.1 of their software for the Bush, Grundig and Goodmans Freesat HD receivers; curing the problems from the previous software release.

It took Harvard International a few weeks originally to acknowledge the problem, followed by a large scale process of collecting and replacing customers receivers; and now finally a software update has been made available for download (OTA) which seems to resolve the original problems in just 5 minutes!

We managed to obtain a couple of units suffering from the initial update of which the Bush has now been updated and appears to be working fine. We will report back on how the Grundig fairs shortly.

So if anyone is still in posession of one of these faulty units, set it back up and providing it will operate for a short time, make sure the software update option is set to automatic within the menu, then return to standby; the download should automatically happen within a few minutes.

Let us know your results.

Official Harvard Statement On Box Failures

Following our post regarding the software Update which caused some Goodmans, Grundig and Bush Freesat boxes to fail, Harvard International have released the following statement:

As a result of a recent over-the-air download to Goodmans, Grundig and Bush Freesat HD digital boxes, some boxes have experienced problems. Whilst the number affected is limited, the cause of this problem is nevertheless under urgent and active investigation by Harvard International in conjunction with its suppliers.

Meanwhile, Freesat viewers who have reported this problem are each being contacted and arrangements are being made to ensure they can continue to enjoy the full Freesat service. This process is ongoing and will be completed by Sunday 25th October.

This issue concerns Goodmans, Grundig and Bush Freesat HD Digital Boxes only. Freesat viewers and owners of these boxes who are experiencing this problem, and who have not already provided their details, should contact the Harvard Helpline T: 0871 230 1777. We can assure all affected customers that they will receive a satisfactory resolution based on their specific requirements.

Harvard International wishes to apologise sincerely to the Freesat viewers and users of its Bush, Goodmans and Grundig Digital Boxes who have experienced this problem, and who have been inconvenienced by not being able to access the Freesat service.

Software Update Causes Mass Box Failure

A software update carried out on all Bush/Goodmans/Grundig Freesat receivers on Tuesday 13th October 2009 has caused a large number of them to fail.

The faults include inability to change channel, loss of picture and/or sound, , no satellite signal, constant rebooting, to the extreme of unable to switch on at all.

Harvard Group (previously Alba) who are responsible for these brands are aware of the problem and have been telling customers to expect a new software download in the next few days, though that leaves many without viewing until then.

Freesat have released an official statement as follows;

Freesat has been made aware of a problem with a recent automatic update made to Goodmans, Grundig and Bush freesat HD boxes causing a number of boxes to freeze. The box manufacturer is working hard to resolve the issue as soon as possible. No other freesat boxes or TVs are affected.

Goodmans To Launch Freesat+ PVR

Goodmans Freesat+ PVR Digital Box
Click to enlarge

Harvard PLC have finally confirmed the launch of their new range of Freesat+ PVR’s, to compete against the Humax FOXSAT-HDR which has been available for almost one year uncontested.

The initial models to launch will be the Goodmans GFSDTR320HD offering a 320GB hard drive to match the Humax; and the Goodmans GFSDTR500HD with a much needed larger 500GB hard drive for those who constant run out of space recording standard and high-definition programmes.

Information on these models is presently limited, but prices are expected to range from £300 to £350 depending on hard drive size. These prices are an RRP so expect lower, as Harvard PLC (also known previously as Alba Group) actively reduce trade prices where ever possible; whilst Humax generally retain an unmoveable trade valuation.

There is also expected to be like-for-like versions with the Grundig and Bush name too, with matching specifications.

Argos currently have both units displayed on their website:

Goodmans GFSDTR320HD Freesat+ PVR (320GB)
Goodmans GFSDTR500HD Freesat+ PVR (500GB)

Shortage Of Freesat SD Boxes Continues

Once again there appears to be a shortage in supply of Freesat SD Digital Boxes. At present all Freesat SD receivers are manufactured by Alba Group, in the brand names of Grundig, Goodmans and Bush.

It would seem that Alba Group have taken the decision to build to order only, rather than producing large volumes to meet future demand.

Whilst this can be understood from a financial perspective, especially in today’s market, it doesn’t exactly promote Freesat in a good light when the low cost option is not available in-store or online.

There is certainly a good opportunity for further manufacturers to come on board and build low cost options to compete with Alba Group’s lack of supply, but it seems those already in agreement with Freesat (Humax, Metronic and TechniSat) don’t see standard-definition only boxes as a priority.

We can’t seem to get a response from Alba Group on why they have taken this approach, but will pursue Freesat for their opinion on the current shortage/situation.

Freesat SD Digital Boxes set for return

Little has been known of the reason why Alba Group have not been distributing Freesat SD Digital Boxes to retailers for some time. Most retailers ran out of stock a couple of months ago when availability dried out.

It seems now that Grundig, Goodmans and Bush branded receivers are due a come back within days, with one big difference…price! It appears that due to the weak pound, plus possible increases in manufacturing costs, that the trade price has increased by approx. £15 per unit, so expect the new retail price to hover around £65, not leaving much of a margin between the SD and HD variants.

The rumours of a 2nd generation box are true, which should launch around April/May, but are not the reason for the lack of supply over the past few months, this is believed, although not confirmed to be down to lack of component availability, i.e. Alba Group had not anticipated the high uptake of their Freesat receivers and didn’t have enough parts ready!

With availability again of SD boxes, plus the announcement of new products from Panasonic and TechniSat, sale volumes of Freesat, which are currently at 250,000 should rocket…no wonder Freesat are considering a large advertising campaign this Spring.

Shortage Of Freesat Everywhere

Freesat must be absolutely furious at the moment, having announced a fantastic 200,000 sales in 8 months since May 2008, it appears that the majority of retailers have no stock of the biggest selling products.

Alba Group have not distributed any Grundig or Goodmans SD/HD boxes since October/November 2008, and with Argos now owning the Bush brand, these are unlikely to be seen for sale anywhere but Argos. We are waiting for confirmation from Alba Group, but it’s been hinted that a 2nd generation box is in development which might mean no supply until February or maybe even March!

There’s no such issue with Humax’s HD Freesat box (FOXSAT-HD), they are still available everywhere, but the PVR version (FOXSAT-HDR) remains in very short supply, with no distribution since before Christmas! Humax have indicated that the PVR’s will be available from the major retailers and independents this week, but not in large volumes, with increased quantities expected from February. We of course will let you know when/where stock becomes available, alternatively visit Maplin who are taking pre-orders with an estimated delivery date of 14 days.

Panasonic’ supply of Freesat IDTV’s seems fine, no major issues on any of their screen sizes. John Lewis have said to a number of potential customers that the 42in Freesat Plasma (TH-42PZ81) has been discontinued. Panasonic have confirmed to us that this is certainly not the case and both the LCD and Plasma’s have all been selling very well.

Hopefully all these shortages are just a blip, a result of Christmas shutdowns etc; using the excuse of the present economic climate shouldn’t be much of a factor given that the large majority of the distributors have firm orders placed, they just can’t get the supply.

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