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128X 4 Channel Record PVR Set To Hurt Freeview
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128X 4 Channel Record PVR Set To Hurt Freeview - 18-January-2010, 16:36

128X 4 Channel Record PVR Set To Hurt Freeview

Set top box manufacturer Topfield and IceTV, who won a major court case in the High Court against free to air TV station Channel Nine last year, are set offer an alternative to Freeview.
The Topfield set top box will allow consumer to record four TV stations at once including HD content, while watching a fifth station at the same time. The device will have AD skipping and the ability to fast forward at up to 128 frames per second. Due to go on sale the first quarter of 2010, the device will have DLNA streaming wireless and Internet connectivity as well as a 1TB drive.
The inclusion of the IceTV Guide guarantees that no advertising will be included in their fast forward service, as opposed to the new MHEG 5 Freeview offering, which will restrict consumers to a 30 frames per second fast forward as static advertising is delivered to the display screen.
The IceTV guide that is used by several set top box manufacturers including Topfield and Beyonwiz as well as manufacturers of Window Media Centre devices will also be able to deliver meta data information on content downloaded over an IP network in the future.
Currently several TV vendors in Australia, as well as a major telecommunication carrier are looking at using a customised version of the IceTV Guide to deliver content in Australia.
In April the free to air TV stations are set to launch a new version of Freeview using MHEG 5 technology. This technology will be incorporated into TV's, PVR's and the Sony PS3.
This will give the free to air TV stations greater control over Freeview certified devices including fast forward speeds. It will also allow them to deliver advertising as consumers fast forward. It will also adjust record times to add extra time to programs that start and finish outside of the advertised time.
However some industry observers are concerned that data gathered by the free to air TV networks via their ownership of Freeview and the delivery of their software to a wide variety of entertainment devices, will be used to determine program viewing habits in the future.
Colin O Brien a director of IceTV said "we are currently talking to several TV vendors, telecommunication Companies and set top manufacturers re a customised version of our new IceTV program guide. Freeview is a major concern to many of these vendors because it actually restricts what you can do through the use of MHEG 5 technology. Retailers are also finding that Freeview delivers little if any consumer benefits" he said.
"The new MHEG 5 technology which will be built into all Freeview enabled devices is what the free to air TV stations want, because without it they run the risk of losing their advertising audience. A lot of mature viewers are now moving to using video on demand technology that is IP enabled. This allows them to record a program and skip through the advertising. More importantly it allows consumers to watch content when they want to watch a show with new IP enabled TV's set to deliver new capabilities this year" he said.
He added "Freeview is all about restricting what people can do. There is also concern that by using MHEG 5 technology that viewing data can be collected unbeknown to the user and then given to research Companies. This is the spy in the box concept which has concerned a lot of people in the past".
"Phase one of Freeview, that was launched last year, offered no benefit to a consumer over what IceTV offers. Channel Nine has already tried to restrict IceTV because they knew we could deliver a superior service to Freeview. With our model which is subscription based we are able to build out customised widget interfaces based on IceTV technology. We can deliver a lot more than just an EPG service. We are a real threat to Freeview because we have no restriction which is what Freeview is trying to implement on consumers".
Robert Bonanno, Marketing Director at Topfield said "We are selling both Freeview compliant and non Freeview set top boxes. We are set to offer a superior service that in the future will include the ability to record up to four separate channels at once while watching another channel. This will be on a non Freeview Topfield product. Users will be able to fast forward up to 128 frames per second and have AD Skipping technology".
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