According to Foxtel, one of the problems annoying owners of Foxtel iQ2 boxes for the best part of a year have finally been fixed with a new software upgrade.
A little background....
Last year we reported on this annoying tendnecy of the iQ2 box to cutoff some of the program you were recording, if it didn't stick exactly to the planned program schedule.
A number of our readers told us they were experiencing numerous iQ2 recording problems, because the commercial networks were routinely in the habit of going overtime in their timeslots or providing Foxtel with inaccurate programming schedules.
If an important sporting event was pre-recorded using the iQ2 at 8pm for instance, the iQ2 box would start recording exactly at that time and create no extra space (or buffer padding) if the game went into overtime (which routinely happens in sport) or worse, if the game was delayed until later.
Most of the time, you would lose the remaining minutes. It also happened to us during the Underbelly 2 double header premiere earlier year, which ran way past the allocated timeslot. As Adam Turner wrote, he was driven towards catch-up TV as a last means of obtaining the missing minutes of the second debut episode, because of this iQ2 glitch.
Until now, Foxtel has offered a standard, but generally insufficient 10 minute buffer as a solution to the iQ2 woes. However, even that work-around had to be set manually, which mightn't be a simple tweak for every family who use iQ2.
Certainly my parents still ask; What's a buffer? No Mum, it's not something you use to wax your car.
We questioned Foxtel about the recording issues last year, and they informed us that the problem would be solved by the end of the first quarter this year.
Foxtel Executive Director of Sales & Product Development, Patrick Delany, said that from this week, all Foxtel iQ2 units will start to receive a software upgrade and newly updated EPG with the option of a program-by-program recording feature (a key reason for TIVOs simplicity and popularity).
In addition to the program-by-program recording mode, the buffer has also been extended from 10 minutes to 20 minutes, ensuring iQ2 users are given a choice for either recording style.
Other useful updates:
- You can now listen to the audio of the currently viewed channel in the EPG, without missing out on what's going on as you browse the other channels.
- The On Demand menus have now been split between free and Pay-Per-View titles, making it easier to select from HD FOXTEL Box Office movie and the bonus On Demand content
- Once rebooted, the iQ2 now automatically now returns to the most recently watched channel and volume setting. This is a great feature, considering how often the IQ2 boxes tend to reboot. Plenty of readers have pointed this out to us.
Is the iQ2 perfect now?
Yes and no. By and large, it's a good week for iQ2 owners, if simply because we won't be at the mercy of wonky TV scheduling any longer. Live TV events (such as concerts), which rarely publish their finishing times, should no longer be a cause for concern either, thanks to these updated features.
We recommend the program-by-program recording option, because that feature will be the most effective in preventing show overrun and ensure lengthy sporting events don't get cut during regular overtime occurances.
The 20 minute buffer, while useful, won't catch everything that goes over that time (yes, it can and does happen). There are plenty of good examples of telly shows that run way past their schedule (over 20 minutes), and an extended buffer won't be any help in any of those circumstances.
Plenty of readers have also contacted us about iQ2 hardware problems (just read the comments on our story here, for example), including continuous rebooting, freezing and loss of recording data. Whether or not this update solves all those issues remains to be seen.
As for all those IQ1 users out there, FOXTEL told us last year "that if the program by program recording style is a success, then the iQ1 may be next in line for an update". If you've been thinking of upgrading your hardware, now's a good time, otherwise you can always hope for a software upgrade.